I am fortunate to have had a lot of experience as a wedding photographer. In the past 5 years, I’ve photographed roughly 130 weddings and along the way I’ve noticed a few key things which I feel can help with making wedding photos the best they can possibly be. Below are my Top 10 Tips and Tricks for Better Wedding Photos. I’ve summarized these ideas in a handy infographic, but I felt I should elaborate a bit and provide a few more details of why I feel these 10 Tips are so important.
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10 Tips for Better Wedding Photos
1.) Schedule an engagement session.
Engagement sessions are wonderful ways to practice being photographed. This may sound silly in a world full of selfies and Instagram, but really – having a professional photographer point a big camera at you can be a little overwhelming for some. I know, because even as a photographer I find it a little uncomfortable being the subject of a portrait. Your photographer will likely give you little tricks throughout the session to help you look your best. It’s also a fantastic way to get to know your photographer’s style of interacting with you during portraits. I find engagement sessions especially good for grooms, since they are not generally that into having their photos taken. By the end of the session, my clients usually tell me it was actually FUN even though they were nervous when we started. By the time your wedding day rolls around you will feel like a pro, and that intimidating camera will have you saying, “I’m ready for my closeup!”
2.) Plan a generous timeline.
Wedding days can be hectic and the last thing you want to worry about is if your hair will be done in time to walk down the aisle. One thing I’ve found that makes couples feel much more relaxed and less stressed is having a generous timeline. If you think something is going to take 15 minutes – plan for 30. It is much better to have 10-15 extra minutes to sit down and catch your breath, than it is to feel you are 10-15 minutes behind and have to rush through things to get them back on track. In addition to alleviating stress, you will have more time to relish in the little moments of the day.
Wedding planners can help in many ways, but they are especially helpful in planning and directing timelines that consistently work well, so think about hiring one – it’s one less thing you have to worry about!
3.) Hire a professional hair stylist and makeup artist.
You may have a friend who is really fantastic at doing hair or makeup, but on your wedding day – go pro. Professionals know professional tricks to keep your hair and makeup beautiful throughout the often very long wedding day. Makeup artists know just the right shades to flatter your best features and reduce shine. Even if you’re not someone who normally wears makeup, an artist can prevent you from looking washed out and make you look like the most amazing and naturally beautiful version of yourself.
Professional hairstylists create styles that can last all day and look fantastic from all angles. Also, go for styles that keep your profile visible from the side. When you’re standing at the altar saying your vows, it is nice for your family and friends to be able to see your face, and it’s nice for your photographer to be able to capture the emotions you’re experiencing as your husband looks into your eyes and asks you to be by his side forever. :)
4.) Keep the bridal/groom prep areas neat and tidy. Choose rooms with lots of natural light.
The background of photos are very important and should not be forgotten. Wedding days can get messy with plastic dress bags, empty drinks and random pieces of used wrapping materials. It is super important to keep these things hidden from view during the prep time. Another very important aspect of this day that is often overlooked: choose a getting ready room with lots of natural light. Artificial lighting can be not so flattering and not only will a bright room help your photographer, but many makeup artists prefer natural light for applying makeup.
5.) Wear something nice before putting on your gown.
Most brides know to wear a button up shirt that can be removed without messing up hair and makeup, but also keep in mind that whatever you wear will be visible in your photos. Choose something cute and flattering. It may not be the most important thing you wear on your wedding day, but it will still be in some very important photos! :)
Another tip: It is best that anyone helping the bride get into her gown (mothers, grandmothers, bridesmaids) be dressed and ready before the bride. Everyone should look their best at this key moment of the day.
6.) Plan your schedule around the sun.
It is imperative that you plan your schedule around what the lighting will be like during different portions of the day. This is particularly essential if your ceremony is being held outdoors. Positioning of subjects must be strategic and meticulous for harsher early afternoon sun, but this is simply not possible during a ceremony, as it is a portion of the wedding day that requires purely photojournalistic/candid coverage. Talk with your photographer and get their advice on the best times to schedule any periods when photos will need to be taken outside – especially during formal portraits of you as a couple!
7.) Have a cocktail hour.
Cocktail hours are nice for many reasons. Not only do they give your guests a place to gather and relax after the ceremony (when most formal family photographs are being taken) but they also provide a bit of time for your photographer to take photographs of the details in the reception area. Months of planning and a lot of expense usually goes into reception room decor choices, so photographs of the scene while it is still neatly presented can be very important to couples. Another good reason to have cocktail hour is that it gives your photographer time to put in fresh batteries, set up any off camera lighting, and make other preparations for photographing the reception.
8.) Put your wedding cake in a nice location.
One detail that is sometimes overlooked is the location of the wedding cake. Be sure to check with your venue beforehand and make sure they have chosen a beautiful location for your wedding cake. The background should be free of distracting elements, such as fire extinguishers, restroom signs, cords, plugs, etc.
9.) Do not eat during toasts.
It is almost impossible to get a flattering photograph of someone while they are eating. This is why photographers do not photograph guests during the meal. The same rule applies to toasts – even if the venue offers you a salad or hors d’oeuvres during the toasts, do not eat until all of the toasts are done. You will definitely be photographed at this time and good photographs can’t easily be taken if your mouth is open with a piece of spinach between your teeth.
10.) Most importantly: Relax and relish all of the little moments
Feeling comfortable and relaxed will make your photos more natural and the best they can be. Don’t stress — be happy! All of your family and friends have come together to celebrate the beginning of a new era in your life. Don’t forget to treasure the tiny moments going on around you, because this day you have been planning for so long will be over so much more quickly than you may realize. These are memories you will cherish for a lifetime. While you are living in the moment and enjoying your family and friends, your photographer will be capturing all of the fleeting glances and loving gestures between you and your loved ones.
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10 tips and ideas for better wedding photos
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