Your wedding album will most likely become your most treasured souvenir from the most spectacular day of your life. With that in mind I asked one of the UK’s finest wedding photographers, David Pullum, to write a guest post on getting the most out of your wedding photography. Over to you, David!…
IF YOU CAN… CHILLAX
The best way to get great wedding photos couldn’t be more straightforward – just relax and enjoy your day! There really is very little else that I ask for from my Bride and Grooms – its that simple. Of course the lead up to a wedding, and the planning of it all, can be stressful, but the day itself is a time to try to forget all those stresses and strains and just enjoy the excitement of two families coming together as one.
As a wedding photographer it’s really important that my clients like me. That sounds strange, I know, but I’m spending upwards of 8 hours in their company so it’s vitally important that they are fans of, not only my work and photographic style, but of me too!
Personally I choose to use very little direction when I’m shooting a wedding. I’m happy to observe and listen and I don’t want to dictate and be the centre of attention. There are times however when I have to take the lead as family formals and couple shots are really important at any wedding, and this is when I have to take control, organise the shots and tell my couple how and where to stand.
Family formals are one of the most important sets of images that I take during the day so it’s vital for me to liaise with the couple before their wedding to formulate a definitive list.
The formals are a record of who was there on the day, and the most important members of the family and close friends, I will never limit those and I have been known to take upwards of 50 formal shots at a wedding. If I limit them to say five, that for me is just a barrier I am placing in front of the client which says “don’t book me”!
If I do have a long list it’s really important that I have as much co-operation as possible from Best Men, Ushers and members of the families. All of the aforementioned will have the same list as me and as I start to photograph, those assigned to helping me are always three groups ahead of me, getting people ready and in position. I do this at every wedding and I struggle to remember a wedding where it’s taken me longer than 40 minutes to complete all of the family requests.
I normally allocate at least 30 minutes for couple shots – I’d love more but the reality is that at a lot of weddings I will be lucky to get even 30 minutes, so I work with whatever I am given. The shortest time I was given was 38 seconds, the longest 1.5 hours, so Ive learnt to get what I need within the timeframe I am given.
I like to meet as many of my clients as possible before their wedding day, but of course that’s not always feasible. My clients are busy people and it’s not always workable to arrange a meeting so that’s when Skype comes in handy!
My role as a wedding photographer is to show the personalities of my clients, and to highlight the relationship between the couple as well as their close family and friends. Without meeting the couple prior to their wedding day, that job is so much harder. To walk into a wedding and not know the Bride or Groom scares me too much.
I am a huge advocate of flash and video light. I remember a well known photographer saying that natural light was the worst light to work with, and in some respects I completely agree. I have all manner of gadgets, gels, grids and lights to help me achieve the look and get the moment that I want.
If I relied on natural light for the whole wedding I would be doing my clients a huge disservice. As good as the modern day camera is, there are still many instances where, if the light is bad, the camera can’t focus (or struggles to focus) and you lose the shot. I don’t want to miss any moments so I will use everything at my disposal to get that shot. Refusing to use flash because its obtrusive is nonsense, the only time I will refrain is when I am in a synagogue or church and the officiant is adamant I can’t use flash.
Getting the right make up artist who knows exactly what they are doing, is crucial not only for the bride, but for the photographer too! I am no make up expert, but over the last 10 years I have seen both sides of the coin, and I can certainly tell the difference between a good one where the make up lasts all day, and an inferior one where it has faded even before the ceremony has begun. I guess like any business you get what you pay for.
ENGAGEMENT SESSIONS ARE BY NO MEANS IMPORTANT
I know some photographers include engagement sessions or give them away for free, but I’ve always been of the opinion that they don’t truly represent what happens at the wedding itself. As I have alluded to before, I rarely get more than 30 minutes of couple shots on the day, and so a two hour engagement session where I’m asking the couple to smile and ‘do this’ and ‘do that’ can put them off entirely. Of course I’m happy to photograph engagement sessions, but I try to make it as natural as possible.
CREATE AN ACTUAL WEDDING ALBUM
Wedding photographs along with the film are the only physical memories that remain after your big day is over. I have a passion for the printed product and so albums are a really important part of what I do, to the extent that all my clients receive a wedding album. I want them to feel, touch and treasure their wedding images, to show their friends, children and grandchildren. A disc has a shelf life, as does a hard drive, a good wedding album will last a lifetime.
All images by David Pullum. David photographs weddings through the UK and is also available for destination weddings.