10 tips for your wedding day photography

Updated: Dec 15, 2019

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Most people rightly assume that it is the photographer's responsibility to get great wedding photographs. However, this is only half the truth!

In many instances, despite the photographers best intentions and efforts, things are taken out of his/her hands which can often lead to the couple feeling disappointed that certain key images weren’t captured on the day.

With this blog post, I hope to provide some guidance on how you, the wedding couple, can ensure that you work with your chosen photographer to ensure those precious memories are captured on the day.

1. Meet with your photographer

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Elton Cilliers photographer

to discuss the type of images you would like on the day. Some couples like staged/posed images with a specific set of images needed, for example, bride with parents, the bride with bridesmaids, couple with both sets of parents etc. Other couples prefer the non-invasive/candid or documentary style of photography, where the photographer acts like a ninja, staying out of the way and simply capturing the day as it unfolds.

Whatever your preference, ensure that you discuss in detail with your photographer what you expect from the images.

If you cannot meet with your photographer face to face, arrange for a video call, it’s important to start building that relationship between couple and photographer before the day.

2. Provide as much detail of the church/ceremony venue as possible

In many instances, the photographer may not have first-hand experience of your chosen marriage venue. Information that would be useful to your photographer include:

a. What sort of venue is it? eg, Church, outdoor location, town hall etc

b. Can flash be used at the venue? Some venues do not permit flash photography. An experienced photographer will be able to cope with this however, to assist them with their packing requirements it is useful to know in advance whether a flash is permitted or not.

c. Is there parking available onsite? If not, where is the local/closest parking area?

d. Where will be bridal party cars arrive? For those bride arriving images, it’s crucial that the photographer understands where to expect the cars to arrive and stop. I have undertaken a wedding where I was told that the cars would stop at X so I was sure to be there waiting for the bridal couple to arrive only to hear the bride calling out from behind me, on foot!

e. Be sure to check out the location YOURSELF! If you have not visited the venue in person you are obviously not able to provide accurate and knowledgeable information to your photographer. In the instance of the above example where the bride arrived on foot from the completely opposite direction which I was advised, was because they got lost! The driver of the car did not know how to access the bridal drop off point.

3. Provide details of where photographs are to be taken after the ceremony.

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Bridal couple share a kiss

For many couples, they wish to attend a local venue to take the bridal party images. These typically tend to be outdoor locations. So where possible, again, please visit the location yourself prior to your wedding. Whilst there, take as many pictures of the location to send your photographer so that he/she can start developing ideas of great backdrops etc.

4. Have a plan B in place for your location images

If you are intending to have your post-ceremony images taken at an outdoor location, please do consider what you would do should the weather not be in your favour. Whilst a photographer can deal with cloudy/grey conditions unless you are happy to get wet if it’s heavily raining then having an alternative, indoor location as a backup is highly recommended.

5. Only take those that are absolutely necessary to your location photoshoot!

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Large bridal party portrait

If you are planning to head to a location after your ceremony for bridal photographs, please ensure that you invite ONLY those required. My recommendation is immediate family, parents, siblings, children, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

Why? Because when you have a crowd, all pointing their cameras or phones at you, it becomes an absolute nightmare for your photographer to ensure that your focus is on them and that everyone in the image (especially the group ones) are looking at him/her.

I have had situations where there have been 50+ people arriving at the location, each of them shouting at the bridal party to look at them, or, unbelievably, placing themselves between me and the couple/group!

Whilst an experienced photographer will be able to direct larger groups, it is almost inevitable that if others are pointing cameras at you whilst you are posing for a photograph, someone is bound to look there way therefore not looking at YOUR chosen photographer.

I will always give one or two other photographers the opportunity to photograph the couple/group I’ve assembled AFTER I have gotten the required images myself and before I gather a new group of people for the next shot.

It is your responsibility as the bridal couple to ensure your guests understand that you have commissioned a photographer for your day and that they should not interfere in any way.

6. Provide as much detail as possible to your photographer about the reception venue.

Useful information for your photographer to know:

a. Can flash photography be used? Again, some locations do not permit flash photography, typically these are historic buildings.

b. The layout of the room and tables. Knowing the layout ahead of schedule will allow your photographer to determine the best points at which to photograph from as to cause the least amount of disturbance to your guests. Most professional photographers will have a vast selection of lenses, each specialised for a specific purpose and lighting condition. It’s almost impossible for your photographer to bring ALL their equipment, therefore this information will also ensure that they pack the appropriate gear.

7. Inform your guests

..that you have engaged with a photographer to take pictures at your wedding. Whilst most people who attend a wedding will assume that images will be taken by either a professional photographer or others attending (or both) there are some people who do object to having their image taken. It is YOUR responsibility as the ‘hosts’ of the event to ensure that all your guests agree to have their image taken. Your photographer simply will not have the time to ask everyone they wish to take a photo of whether it’s okay to do so.

8. Ensure your guests are well behaved!

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A man having a drink

It’s sad that this even has to appear here, but it is a sad reality that where alcohol is involved, there can be the occasional issue. Once again as the host of the event, it is your duty to ensure that your guests behave appropriately towards anyone you engage with to provide a service at your wedding. Including waiters, catering staff, DJ, MC, photographer etc.

Most photographers will include in their contract that should they feel threatened, or god forbid assaulted during your event that they will promptly depart and you will not be entitled to a refund for any time not covered at your wedding. So it is imperative that should your photographer, or anyone else at your wedding bring to your attention concerns over a guest, that you take action.

9. Provide your photographer with a schedule of events for the day

Whether you’ve engaged with a photographer to cover the full day, half day or specific hours of your wedding, ensure that you provide them with a schedule of events and timings for the day. For example, time to arrive with the bride for prep images, time bride will arrive at church, ceremony start time, arrival at photography location and duration of the shoot there, food timings, cutting of the cake, first dance etc.

Of course, very rarely does a wedding go exactly to plan and timings, however, it is likely you have agreed to specific timings with your photographer, for example, 6, 8 or 12 hours. Whilst most photographers will not be too bothered with a 10-15 minute overrun, most will not stick around for an additional hour unless it has been agreed that you will cover this time.

So to ensure you get all the images you have agreed prior to your big day, do your best to ensure where possible, that you stick to the schedule and timings for the day.