From the editor: So we all know that having amazing wedding photos is so very important. One half of this equation is to have a fabulous professional photographer, but the other half is… YOU! So the question ends up being… what can YOU do to ensure that you have awesome photos? Well friends, I’m excited to let you know that the amazing photographer Angela Shae is here with us today, and she’s sharing insight about just that- how to have amazing wedding photos!
How To Have Amazing Wedding Photos
There are definitely ways that you can make what is already an incredible, love-filled day look even more amazing in photos. The truth is, sometimes really small adjustments can play a big part in how your photos turn out. Throughout my years of photographing weddings, I’ve seen and captured many types of weddings. To be completely honest with you, the key to having great photos isn’t always about the wedding itself- it’s more about understanding how you can work with your wedding photographer to achieve great results. So here are some tips on how you can ensure that you have awesome wedding photos…
Hire a photographer you can trust.
Make sure you know exactly what their work looks like- not just their main portfolio, but their blog posts as well. This allows you to see how they would capture the entire wedding day. There are so many photographers out there right now, and I’m certain that every bride can find someone whose work she loves.
There are many different styles of shooting as well, so focus on finding someone who would photograph the wedding the way YOU want to remember it. Are you hoping for someone to capture a lot of emotions and candids? Or someone who can create artistic and creative portraits? What’s more important to you? Figure out what kind of style you like. Do you like the colorful contrasty look or do you prefer high-key look with not much contrast?
When you hire someone you trust, their suggestions in regards to lighting and locations are easier to agree on because you have the assurance that the photographer knows what will be best for photos. One thing that’s important to remember as well is that the wedding is about you and your partner celebrating your love- not about photography. A good photographer will be able to get all the shots they need without making the whole day about themselves and without being super disruptive.
Getting ready photos.
Sometimes a getting ready location isn’t a big, beautiful bridal suite with fabulous light. It could be a crowded hotel room or your parents’ home, complete with with dark rooms and small windows. I believe that no matter what the location is where you get ready, it can still be photographed in a beautiful way- you may just need to make a few small “tweaks” to achieve this. For example- instead of trying to get your make up done in a tiny bathroom, consider what would look better for photos. Grab a mirror, your hair stylist and makeup artist and find a naturally well-lit area.
Hire professionals for hair & makeup!
On the note of hair stylists and makeup artists, please hire professionals- especially for your makeup. A professional makeup artist understands what kind of make up will look good in photos- that’s why they are the professionals. Also, no matter how many years you’ve been wearing makeup, you could never achieve the incredible result a makeup artist can. They just know how to work magic, and I’ve seen it demonstrated time and time again.
Invest in a wedding stylist.
Another great professional to invest in is a wedding stylist. Not only will they help you in the initial planning phase to make sure your wedding looks cohesive and well styled, but they will be present during most of the wedding day to make sure everything looks beautiful. And now you’re probably wondering how is a wedding coordinator different from a stylist! Well, a coordinator makes sure that things run smoothly, that vendors are on schedule, etc; whereas a stylist makes sure everything looks beautiful and admirable. Coordinators often have a lot on their plate with running the wedding day, and sometimes they can’t notice every last detail. A stylist also works with the photographer to arrange details that need to be photographed. Even though most photographers do just fine on their own, I don’t know a single one who would turn down the opportunity to have a professional style the details for them, giving them extra time to photograph all of the getting ready action!
Have a first look.
First look photos are honestly one of my favorite parts of the wedding day. If you’re a couple that has decided not to see each other until the bride walks down the aisle, that’s totally fine. However, I always encourage my couples to do a first look. While a first look while walking down the aisle is very classic, there’s not much room for emotion. You’re surrounded by a crowd of people, everyone is watching… the father somewhat hastily gives the bride away and you jump straight into the ceremony. There’s usually no time for the groom to tell the bride how breathtaking she looks or to pull her close for a tight hug. The first look before the ceremony gives the two of you time alone with each other to take the moment in. I always encourage my couples to meet at a place that’s sentimental to the two of them (if possible), like a park where he proposed or their favorite hangout spot. Also don’t rush through this part- you want to be present in the moment. Sometimes it’s better to ask the bridal party to wait somewhere while the bride goes to see the groom so it’s more intimate and private. And of course, don’t forget to ask your photographer what spot has the best lighting for photos!
Invest in a second photographer.
If the photographer you are hiring offers the option to bring a second photographer, do it. You seriously won’t regret this decision. The main photographer cannot be in two places at once and having a second shooter will give you two completely different perspectives of the day. Having a second photographer will also provide extra coverage. For example, when the main photographer is taking photos of the bride getting ready, the second can document the groom and groomsmen; when the main photographer is taking family photos or bridal portraits, the second can cover cocktail hour. And finally, while the main photographer is covering all the important things that are happening right after the ceremony, the second can make sure to grab photos of the venue and decor before the guests arrive, while it’s still perfectly set up.
Family formal location.
Even though the family formals aren’t always the most fun and creative photos, they are still important. Consult your photographer about where the best spot to take these would be. Also make time for these photos in your wedding day timeline. Most couples assume/hope that this part happens fairly quickly but it usually takes twice as long, if not longer than expected. While the photographer may have met some of your family, you can’t expect them to remember and know everyone who needs to be in the family photos. Designate an outgoing bridesmaid or relative who knows everyone on both sides of the family to coordinate this part. Provide this person with a list of all the photo combinations you want to have. Be specific and list each family member you want in each photo combination so that the person directing these photos doesn’t accidentally forget someone. Having a list also helps this part go a lot smoother, quicker and more organized.
Make time for “the golden hour”!
When I go over the wedding timeline with my couples, I always insist that we make time for photos during “the golden hour” (slightly before sunset), even if it’s only 20 minutes. These are always my (and later the couples’ as well) favorite photos. The light is usually pretty magical and the couple is more relaxed, making for incredible photographs. The reason these photos turn out so great is because of where the sun is located. During this time of day, the sunlight is softer, making skin tones look creamy. This time is also great because the newlyweds get to escape from all the noise and get to spend some alone time together- talking, giggling, being close, laughing and hugging. It’s also very essential not to stage these photos- aside from a couple formal portraits. I believe that the best type of photographs are those that have genuine emotion. Years down the road you want to look at your photos and experience what you were feeling that day all over again. Don’t concentrate on what pose looks good- just enjoy a few minutes with your love away from the party. Get lost in that moment and in each other.
Have a realistic timeline.
In order not to feel stressed during the day and have everything run smoothly, make a realistic timeline and leave extra time in between each part of the day. This will help to keep you happy and relaxed and will give the photographer plenty of time to capture everything they need. Although most photographers are used to working under pressure, you can’t expect them to deliver mind-blowing, creative images with a wedding party of 16, while being rushed to get all the different combinations of images in 15 minutes. Be realistic and understand that most likely, things might run behind schedule. It’s better to have an extra 30 minutes to sit down and relax with the wedding party than to be “go-go-go” the entire day with everyone stressing out.
And there you have it! If you follow these nine guidelines, chances are good that you’re going have some *amazing* wedding photos!
If you have any questions about any of these tips, please ask in the comments, or feel free to contact me!