Wedding Photo Tips and Advice

Wedding planning can be taxing, both physically and emotionally. The stress will definitely get to you at times. Throughout my 14+ years photographing weddings I've learned a few things that will hopefully help make your wedding planning experience easier and more enjoyable. Not to mention, most of these things will help your photos look better, bonus!

1) Lighting. Lighting is number one for your wedding photos! Its something not many people think about, however, it can really make or break a photo. When deciding on when to have your ceremony you should visit your venue different times on different days before picking a time.

Outdoor Ceremony: During the summer months you'll want to look for shade! If your friends and family are sitting in direct sunlight at 3 pm on an 85-degree day, they aren't going to be too happy. If you can't find shade, push your ceremony as close to sunset as you can. If at all possible, also position the sun behind your officiant so that the sun is not in your eyes. When the sun is above you it makes those 'raccoon eye' type shadows, and when its to one side or the other, one of you may have direct sun on your face during the ceremony while the other's is shaded. 

Indoor Ceremony: Visit your venue and select a time for the ceremony when the sun is really filling up the entire space. Often times couple’s visit their venue at the “perfect time” but plan the ceremony for a different time of day. This can lead to your venue looking entirely different from how you remember it. Look for the amount of natural light and which angle it's coming from. 

This leads me to number two...

2) Sunset Photos. Hands down, the best time of day to take photos is sunset. If you are lucky enough to have a beautiful, sunny day with a great sunset, I suggest dipping out of your reception for about 15 minutes to take a few photos. This also allows you both to take a break from the guests and breathe for a little bit. That being said, every wedding day and couple is different. If you're in the middle of your reception and enjoying yourself and don't feel like taking sunset photos, then don't! We can always play this one on how you feel the day-of. 

3) Getting Ready Locations. When deciding on where you will be getting ready on the day of your wedding remember, your getting ready space will be photographed quite a bit. It will also set the tone for your wedding album, so you should LOVE the space that you’re getting ready and dressed in. Hotels can be cramped and restricting. Its often hard to fit 8+ girls in one room along with hair and makeup, food, bags, etc. They're very hard to keep clean/clutter-free and often don't have basics things like a pretty place to hang your dress. Even hanging it from a window may mean having an air conditioner in your photo. 

AirBnB’s or VRBO's are another option. They're typically brighter, bigger, and have more spaces to take portraits in. This isn't always the case, depending on the space you rent, but there are tons of options out there. 

The other option is getting ready at your venue. If you have a beautiful, well-lit venue that will allow you to arrive earlier in the day, it may be a good option for getting ready. Some venues have dedicated getting ready suites while others don't. Talk to your venue and see what options you may have. 

4) Hair and Makeup. Hair and makeup for the bride should be scheduled way in advance of any first looks or getting dressed. Hair and makeup are notorious for going over the allotted time. It’s much better to start earlier than to have to give up your first look or any planned photos because we've run out of time. Perhaps the Bride's hair and makeup should be done somewhere in the middle of the pack rather than last. You can always do touch-ups!

5) Rain. This is the most frequently asked question, "What do we do if it rains?" Everyone thinks that their photographer should have all the answers and know every place to go if it rains. Sadly, this isn't the case. If you choose an outdoor venue try to find one that also has a decent indoor option as a backup. Most museums, hotels, historic buildings, etc. that make for beautiful photos, require a photo permit (usually $75-300) and at least 2 weeks notice. If it's not raining too hard you can also get clear umbrellas. Natural light is the best, so if possible, taking a few outdoor photos with the umbrellas would be really beautiful! Side note: Try not to get the bubble umbrellas. The bubble ones are super cute for the bride and groom photos but don't work well for the entire wedding party. 

6) Videography. Both photographers and videographers want to create stunning images for you on your wedding day. Although most of the time true professionals can easily get in sync, we both have different ways of working.  It's best to decide up front which is more important to you and let that be known to both your photographer and videographer. Whichever is most important should be the one running the show, and calling the shots during the portrait sessions. You will inevitably have to add in more time for both of us to get what we need, but in the case of a time crunch its good to know which is a priority to you as a couple. Another question to ask when choosing a videographer is how much equipment they use. Some video crews use huge tripods, super large cameras, and other intrusive pieces of equipment. That's not necessarily bad if the video is your priority. But, it can start to look like a movie set instead of your wedding day. How many cameras do you really want on your during your getting ready? How many during your portraits? While 3 cameras may be fine for the ceremony, it may make you uncomfortable during your portrait session. It may also make your guests hesitant to dance during your reception if they have 4 cameras pointed at them. Research a few companies to know what they are going to show up with on the day of your wedding.