This is a guest post by Rob Clayton
A good wedding photographer should be able to take great photographs at any event, whatever the light, and whatever the circumstances. However, there are things that you, as the bride and groom, to help ensure you get the best possible images from your day
1. Do your research
Find a photographer whose work you love (not just like, but love!), meet up with him or her and make sure you’re the right fit for each other. And then trust them! If you love the photographer’s work, it will be much easier to trust them when they start taking unusual angles, or making seemingly peculiar requests, rather than you having to worry, ‘why are they doing that? Is that the best way to take this photograph or that? Etc’.
2. Discuss things with your photographer
Talk to your photographer about what you do and don’t like, and allow him or her to explain their methodology. This should give you reassurance on the day that there is a method and a purpose behind all their actions (which may not always be obvious).
3. Prepare a shot list
What you really don’t want to happen on your wedding day is to have to stand around thinking about exactly which combinations of people you want in the formal photographs (especially with all your guests stood around you!). A shot-list prepared in advance will not just take the worry away, but will ensure that the formal photographs can proceed smoothly without delay.
4. Manage your expectations
Unrealistic expectations can only ever lead to disappointment. Your photographer should be able to help guide you in this respect, but just don’t expect the impossible. For example, if you only set aside a small window of opportunity in which to take the formal family photographs, and then produce a gigantic list to get through, it may just not be possible to do them all without re-arranging the timeline (not something the chef will be prepared to do, I can tell you now!).
An example I have had personally, was a request prior to the wedding to take some pictures of the bride and groom on a beach at sunset. The wedding was in Liverpool city centre. Some expectations are just harder to achieve than others.
5. Have an engagement shoot
When I first started out, I didn’t understand the benefit of doing engagement shoots beyond getting some pretty pre-wedding pictures. However, they are very beneficial in a number of ways. Firstly, they build trust between yourselves and the photographer. By that I mean that, once you’ve seen the results of the shoot, which hopefully you’ll be delighted with, you’ll then be able to completely relax on your wedding day in front of the camera and not worry about the photographs at all.
Secondly, it can have the exact same effect on your friends and family, who will also hopefully love the engagement pictures, and therefore trust the photographer more than otherwise.
Thirdly, if you happen to be shy or feel awkward in front of the camera, an engagement shoot is the best way to break the ice and hopefully make you realize that having your photograph taken should be an enjoyable – rather than a scary – process.
And lastly, should it turn out there are things you don’t like that the photographer may not know about (eg personal hang-ups, etc), an engagement shoot should bring them to the fore ahead of your big day, giving you the opportunity to make the photographer aware of them.
6. Encourage co-operation between suppliers
One thing that can make a big difference to the photographer’s ability to perform his/her functions is if they have the full cooperation of the other suppliers. An example of this is during the bridal prep, often the make up artists will set up shop in the first area they see. However, where you are placed in a room can greatly affect the images the photographer can capture, and so a bit of co-operation on both parts can see everyone get what they want.
I’m a photographer, so its easy for me to say photographs should get priority (!), but it is a fact that, post-wedding, the photographs will be all that you have to remember the day by, and so is well worth having a word with all other suppliers to ensure the best possible results.
7. Feed your photographer…at the right time
In my experience, most people these days are considerate enough to offer the photographer a meal during the wedding at some point. However, what often transpires is that the caterer will wait until all the guests have been served (and sometimes offered seconds), before offering the suppliers whatever scraps are left. Unfortunately, by then (and especially at Jewish weddings), the action has started again and the photographer must do his/her thing, leaving their food untouched.
So when speaking to the caterer, stress and stress again the importance of feeding the photographer at the same time as the guests are served…that is the only time the photographer will get to eat, and if they can’t eat then you will be paying for a wasted meal (and the photographer will be hungry and potentially lack energy and focus).
8. Enjoy your day
Sounds obvious, right? But I’ve seen brides spend their day worrying about all sorts of little (dare I say, minor?) details. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, and it’s always worth remembering that a beaming smile looks much better on a bride than a worried brow!
About the author
Rob Clayton a professional wedding photographer based in Manchester, where he has been trading for the last 8 years. He started my career covering all sorts of live events, from concerts to cage-fights, and theatre shows to football matches, before honing in on functions, and particularly weddings. His style of shooting is to simply document events as they organically unfold in front of him, and simply offer direction on the odd occasion he thinks beneficial (so no awkward posing….ever!). He is also a member of the Fearless Photographers directory of the world’s best wedding photographers, and one of only six photographers in the North-West of England to have won a coveted Fearless award.