Thoughts on wedding photography.
I’ve been mulling this topic (topics?) over for a while. Literally, I’ve been thinking about some of these points for months and this actual post has been a work in progress for at least four days. I was working on rolling all of the points below under one particular title or theme, but ultimately I just want to make sure these somewhat abstract topics come out clearly the way I hope they will. These are a few things I’ve observed from behind the lens over the years and I hope you find this behind-the-camera perspective helpful to you during your wedding planning adventure. I want to take this opportunity to present a few key points from this side of wedding planning that a typical photography related checklist just doesn’t cover.
So… Let’s talk realism. There are a lot of wedding resources out there featuring fantastic wedding planning checklists. Right? Seems like there’s a checklist for everything wedding planning related: selecting your wedding boquet, how to find the perfect wedding dress, planning a beautiful reception… and on, and on. The fact is, when you have a strong grasp on what is important to you from your wedding day, these checklists can be helpful in keeping you on track during the planning process. They can also become overwhelming. Resist the urge to get sucked in. Reality is this: Your wedding is not going to be the wedding in the magazine. Your day will not have everything on the checklist. Some of the colors might look the same- but your wedding will be uniquely different because you care about different things and your personal ‘checklist’ is going to reflect that.
Your wedding will have unique and special moments that no one else will ever have at their day and, personally, that’s my favorite part. Your wedding day will be special- even if you don’t leave after midnight in a horse-drawn carriage, orchids pinned softly in your- long, flowing, braided- hair, the newest craft beer chilled in your cooler, releasing butterflies (and white doves) off to their freedom, while holding puppies, all the while being followed by a drone recording your final exit while your wedding party flash-mob dances you down the moonlit path. Yeah, those are some of the things on those checklists and in those fun magazines. So without further fluff, read on for a few things to consider with your significant other and your photographer when it comes to planning the photography for your wedding day.
How important are photographs to you?
Since you’re here, I’m guessing photography is right up near the top of your wedding priority list. If you haven’t started a priority list- do it asap. Start talking and make a list from the beginning to end of your day. What is number one? Number two? Three? Talk about the things that are most important to the two of you as a couple, and the things that just don’t make the cut. This list will help you decide how much of your time, energy, and monetary budget to invest on each category. Time and energy can be just as significant of a resource as money invested- so take a little bit of time during the planning process to make sure you’re investing each wisely. I’m very curious now to see what the lists from my couples over the years would have looked like… planning can be fun!
When it comes to your wedding photographs, what is important to the two of you?
This is important to talk through with each other prior to meeting with potential professional photographers. Questions to think about: Do you prefer a particular style of photography? Is the photographer’s personality important to you? Are you impressed by their work when you view their web and album portfolios? Do you want all day coverage? Proofs? An album? Printing rights? What matters to you? Then ask- both yourselves and the photographer(s) you interview- Can your photographer deliver this particular **style, service, product** and do they have the appropriate gear **lighting, lenses, assistants** to capture the type of imagery you are hoping for? It’s a multi-level question, but an important one.
How do you want to spend your wedding day?
Whether you’ve pictured a ceremony in the woods at your family cabin or a sparkly chandelier filled ballroom, there’s more than simply food and music to consider here. How long will your ceremony be? Will there be children present? Lots of family, or a small group of friends? There is a lot that goes into the look, feel, and vibe of your wedding day. I strongly encourage working with your photographer to create a photography timeline for your wedding day. This step will help ensure you get the most out of your time with your photographer and get to enjoy all the pieces of your day.
Communicate clear expectations, then trust your photographer.
Decidedly the most significant tool in your wedding day tool belt: Communication. The most necessary piece of the puzzle required to make your wedding day photography successful is open communication. It’s easy to get caught up in shot lists, pinterest boards, and the newest photography trends out there- but being on the same page with your photographer is the key to great images. Discussing your expectations along with a little planning- reviewing timelines, discussing family roles, and providing a clear family portrait checklist- will help ensure a successful and smooth flow to your wedding day photography in a way your pinterest board just can’t. Your photographer should know all of the other stuff- seriously. An experienced professional instinctively watches for special moments, records interactions, and captures the details of your day- almost without thinking about it. Communicate your needs and wants, and then trust your photographer to do their best work while you let go and soak up your wedding day together.
Keep it real.
Make sure your expectations align with the type of photographer you’ve chosen to hire- whether professional or beginner. Let’s be real together: Everyone has a budget and everyone also has different tastes. It’s just part of that whole time-energy-money investment piece we mentioned above. One of your budget items is going to be larger than the rest. Some folks have more time than money, and others have more money than energy… whatever your budget trifecta looks like, please keep it real. If you’re lacking in the energy department, hire a pro who’s going to truly take care of you so you can enjoy your big day. If you happen to possess extra time in your schedule and choose to hire a beginner, please don’t ask them to do super cool stuff like back lighting/up lighting/Rembrandt portraits/macro work etc. They just don’t have that skill set or necessary gear, and you’re probably not going to be happy if you’re expecting pro-level work. It’s likely though- if you’ve made it this far through the post- that you’re definitely looking for a professional for your wedding day. What’s ultimately important to me is that people are happy no matter where they’re at- that’s it. Happy is where it’s at. Photography is this highly technical art form that I have spent years perfecting to achieve just that- happiness for people. I hope these tips will help ensure that your wedding photographs meet your expectations beautifully. Happy planning to all of the couples out there.