Getting the best from your wedding photographer

Following on from my post about choosing the right photographer, I thought I would share a few thoughts about how to ensure you get the best results from the relationship.

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Make sure you take the time to meet with your photographer a few weeks before the actual wedding.  Quite often a year may have passed since you first met and made the booking so it’s a good chance to reacquaint yourselves but more importantly it is a chance to go over the exact details of the day.  It’s not always possible to meet in person, if that’s the case, then a telephone call is the next best thing, and failing that email is a last resort. But I do believe it is best to meet face to face.

Confirming the schedule

When you book your photographer, you will have most of the details such as venue, time of ceremony and the time people are sitting down for the wedding breakfast. However things change so this pre wedding meeting is a great time to confirm all the final details. This will include things like the address the bride is getting ready, what time the make-up person is arriving, times of speeches etc. These are all really important and it allows your photographer to plan his day. Where and when he needs to be is important not only so he doesn’t miss any important events, but also so he can plan for things like the lighting conditions for certain shots.

The schedule has an important part to play in the final images. As the day progresses, so the light changes and therefore the look and feel of the photographs.  So bear this in mind and mention it to you photographer. Ensure he is able to shoot a first dance at 10pm using flash as opposed to 6pm using natural light. But also bear in mind that the same two pictures will have a different look and feel to each other which may differ from your expectation.

Also some photographers will only stay to a certain time or will charge extra if they have to stay later. My pricing does not put a time limit to the day as I am fully aware that weddings rarely run quite to time. However, even I like to get home at some point, so make sure you are both clear about what’s expected.

Group and posed shots

As a documentary photographer I prefer not to do posed and group shots and I don’t pretend not to. However I do think they are important as recording key people that were at the wedding is documentary in itself.  Be clear about what group shots you want and when you want to do them. My advice is to keep them simple and only those groups that are most important. Grooms family, bride’s family, bridesmaids and best man and ushers for example.

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If your preference is to have lots of posed and group shots and have chosen a photographer based on this, it is still important to be clear about exactly what you want. Agree between you what you want these shots to be and understand the time and impact on your day these shots will have. I recently shot a wedding for a couple who afterwards said in hindsight they wish they had more group shots. This was neither their or my fault, it just occurred to them when it was too late. Although this may seem like a decision that is made at the time of booking, getting a final agreement just before the wedding is always a good idea.

When you have agreed the posed shots, discuss when and where you want the do them.  Will it be at the church immediately after the service or back at the reception venue? If you have a list of shots as long as your arm, try and agree a timescale for doing it and agree someone who can help manage it. When I do group shots I normally arrange for someone like the best man to gather the relevant people.  If you keep your group shots to a minimum, it doesn’t need to take for ever.

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Not everyone I work with wants it but I will often spend 20 minutes doing some portraits of my couples. Again it doesn’t need to take long and it can also be a nice little break, time to gather your thoughts and reflect on the fact you have just got married.

When do I get the photos

One final thing to confirm is the turnaround time for the images. This will vary from one photographer to another and will also be impacted by things like album production. You should expect to get images on a USB stick quicker than ones printed in a hand crafted Italian leather album.  Try not to settle for as soon as possible. I quote specific times that are realistic and work hard to meet those expectations.

Enjoy your day

I love nothing more than getting to know my clients and building a relationship that I feel is more than just a professional transaction.  One thing I strive to do is build trust so that I am not one of the many things couples worry about on their wedding day. Leave me to do my thing. This is your wedding day is there to be enjoyed. The planning is over, so relax, kick back and have fun.

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