Monday, February 9

7 Easy Things Brides Should Do for Better Wedding Photos

I'm going to be really honest here - I've been wanting to write this blog for a long time. As a photographer, I am always trying to help my brides get the best pictures possible and over the past five years I've collected a short list of the easiest things brides can do for instantaneously better wedding pictures. These items range from something more abstract (like having a conversation with your photographer) to very tangible (bring your invitation suite!) but they're all things that should take less than 20 minutes of your time and will have you thanking yourself for years to come.

1. Walk Your Photographer Through Your Day
I love to meet with my brides about 6 weeks before the wedding to talk about timelines. I know six weeks sounds a little early, but it's never too early to nail down the backbone of your wedding day. In addition to talking wedding day timelines at this meeting, I like to ask more about the wedding itself. Specifically I want to know if there is anything they have planned for their wedding that is truly unique and personal to them. If you have a surprise planned for your groom/parents/bridal party tell your photographer so they have their camera ready to capture the reactions instead of being surprised right along side of everyone else. Talk about specific decorations. If you've incorporated vintage books into your centerpieces your photographer will definitely take pictures of the decor as a whole, but if they don't know that the titles of the books themselves are important to you, they might not include those in the pictures. So make sure to point out anything and everything that's important to you. As photographers our goal is to capture your special day in a way that you're going to cherish forever. So don't hesitate! Over-sharing is still caring!

2. Think About Where You're Getting Ready
A lot of Brides don't put a lot or any effort into where they're getting their hair or make-up done and it's really a missed opportunity. When planning where you'll be getting ready make sure to consider the following things: 1) natural light - not only will the pictures be significantly better, but this will help your make-up artist out as well 2) space - make sure it's not going to be a cramped area for you, your bridesmaids, moms, hair dressers, make-up artists, or anyone else you'll have hanging out with you while you get ready 3) Wherever you go, keep it tidy - nothing ruins the effect of the first photo of you in your dress like noticing a bra hanging out of a duffle bag in the corner of the photo. Getting ready in hotel rooms or salons are normally safe bets as long as they have plenty of windows. And don't forget to apply these rules to the guys as well!

better wedding pictures tips

3. Organize a Details Bag for your Groom
Now that we've talked about where you're getting ready, let's shift our attention to the guys. While I'm with the girls, snapping pictures of hugs and happy tears, the guys are normally somewhere else awkwardly sitting around, drinking, and watching TV. Since there's not as much going on with the guys, it's a great opportunity for, Blake, my fiance/second shooter to take some male detail shots. So prepare a bag of small things that your groom will be carrying around with him on your special day and have him give it to the photographer when he arrives. This does two things: 1) it rounds out your wedding pictures as a collection for your album or prints - now you'll have some more masculine pictures to compliment the bride's detail photos 2) it helps the guys get acclimated to the photographer in the room - it might sound silly but guys generally have a harder time warming up to the camera so if Blake spends the first 20 minutes taking pictures of things, instead of them, we can all avoid 20 minutes of fake smiles and stiff bodies. To help you brainstorm, here's what we love to take pictures of: shoes, socks, cuff links, tie, flask, belt, watch, handkerchiefs, and cologne.

4. Bring Your Invitation Suite
Most brides know that their photographer is going to want to take detail photos of their shoes, jewelry, dress, perfume, flowers, etc. but a lot of brides forget to bring a copy of their invitation suite. This means everything: the save-the-date, the invitation, the RSVP card, any other inserts you included (directions, registry information, etc.) and the envelopes! It's a good idea to create your own bag of bridal details for your photographer and stick the invitation suite in there as well. You spent a lot of time and money on your invitations so you deserve to get a great picture of the finished product. Not to mention, if you're interested in having your wedding in a publication/blog afterwards, the invitation suite shot is a must have!

5. Ask your Officiant to Step Aside
This might sound a little rude, but in your last meeting with your officiant before the wedding (ideally at your dress rehearsal) ask if he or she wouldn't mind stepping aside after they pronounce you "man and wife". When the time comes for the first kiss you will always find me at the end of the aisle. I want to get the best, straight on shot of the first kiss I can and then be ready for the recessional. So if I'm at the end of the aisle and your officiant is still standing in the middle behind your and your now husband, his or her head and body can be a little distracting in the photo - you might end up with the top of a bald head sticking out above you guys or an extra set of legs down below that appear to come from nowhere. I'm not asking that they dive off the stage after they say the magic words, but just a single step to the left or right will normally stop the phenomenon of extra limbs popping out of you.

6. Don't Forget About Reception Details
Generally, the bulk of your wedding budget is going toward the reception. Food, drinks, music, and decorations add up very quickly. So don't forget to give your photographer some time (at least 20 minutes) to photo the reception in detail before any guests have access to it. You'll want to document what the room looked like before your guests have rearranged their place settings, thrown their coats over chairs, and left their bags in the corners. I realize that sometimes this is difficult, especially if your ceremony isn't at the same location as the reception, but talk to your photographer, the venue, and wedding coordinator and see if there's a way to keep the guests in a separate location for cocktail hour or some other creative way to sneak your photographer in for a few photos ahead of the guests.

better wedding pictures tips

7. Take Time for a Sunset Shoot
While first looks are gaining popularity, a lot of couples still prefer to not see each other until the ceremony. Regardless of your feelings about a first look, you should without a doubt take time during your reception for a sunset shoot. I ask all my couples if they'd be up for sneaking outside for 15 minutes during their reception, about 30 minutes before sunset. The pictures that I get to capture during a couple's sunset session are seriously indescribable and priceless for two reasons: 1) the lighting during this time is absolutely gorgeous - there's a reason photographers call it "the golden hour" 2) the bride and groom are generally in party mode at this time - they've already eaten, the groom generally has a few drinks in him, and all the things that might have been making them anxious or stiff in earlier pictures are over; now it's just time to party. And bonus: it gives the couple a few minutes to be by themselves and soak everything in. All of these factors combine into great, intimate pictures that really can't be captured any other time in the day.

better wedding pictures tips

So that's it - 7 easy things you can do to help your wedding pictures WOW you for the rest of your life! 
Married couples - did I miss a tip that you did on your big day that paid off in your pictures? Leave them in the comments below!

Keep smiling!



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