Getting the best wedding photos – how to get the most from your wedding photography
One of the most significant investments you will make for your wedding day is your wedding photography. We want you to get the most from this, so to help you we’ve put together this practical guide. It includes tips and tricks that we’ve learnt over the years that will help you create the best environment for high quality photography during:
- your morning preparations
- the first look
- the ceremony
- your first kiss
- group portraits
- couple’s portraits
- the meal / wedding breakfast
- speeches and dancing
- first dance
If you keep these in mind as you plan your day, it will make your wedding photographer love you…and it will help them to give you the very best wedding photographs possible.
The morning of your wedding day is a really special time: the excitement, the anticipation – and perhaps a touch of nerves. It’s a really lovely part of the day to capture, in fact some of our favourite images are taken during this part of the day.
- The room that you choose to get ready in will make a big difference to the look of your ‘getting ready’ photos. The larger the room, the better, as this allows for more room for manoeuvre and more angles and different perspectives.
- When you are doing your hair and make-up, it’s always best to be positioned in front of a window, in natural light, rather than in a dark, cramped corner with poor lighting.
- Try to keep clutter (underwear, boxes, suitcases etc) hidden and any beds made.
- In our experience, even the most naturally photogenic bride doesn’t look at her best with her hair in rollers & pulling her ‘putting-on-mascara face’! For this reason we only take a limited number of photos during the getting ready process itself and instead focus on the final touches—the last dash of lipstick, putting on of jewellery, ties, shoes and jacket etc).
- We suggest factoring-in 20 minutes between when you are ceremony-ready (with your hair & make-up finished) and before you leave for the ceremony, for some beautiful morning portraits. It’s lovely to capture the sense of excitement and anticipation of the early part of your day…and if you’re planning a wild elopement, it’ll be the last moment before the wind takes control of your hair and dress!
It’s worth considering where and how you want to see your partner for the first time on the morning of your wedding day. Some couples choose to get ready together, which can be really romantic and sweet. Others choose to get ready separately and have a ‘first look’ moment, when you see each other in your wedding finery for the first time.
- Some couples like to do this the traditional way, walking down the aisle.
- Other couples like to have a personal, private ‘first look’ moment, before their ceremony commences. This can be a really beautiful, private, emotional moment and can work well if you feel that you would like to exchange a few words with each other without all your guests looking on.
- If you will be walking down an aisle, we suggest that you allow a good amount of space between your bridal party and yourself so that they don’t obscure your big entrance!
- We strongly recommend inviting your guests to participate in an ‘unplugged ceremony’, i.e. where they keep cameras and mobile phones in their bags for the duration of your ceremony. This allows them to be fully present in the moment and really listen to the beautiful words you exchange.
- Photographs of your friends and relatives looking-on and being moved by your ceremony are really lovely. If they are tempted to get their phones out to take snaps of you saying your vows, what you will get is a sea of blank faces-behind-mobiles instead!
- It works well if your celebrant or officiant politely asks your guests to keep their cameras and mobiles tucked-away when they welcome everyone at the start of the ceremony. After the ceremony is over, they can snap-away to their heart’s content!
‘YOUR FIRST KISS’
The ‘first kiss’ that you exchange as newly-weds is one of the iconic moments of any wedding ceremony. It helps if your celebrant or officiant steps aside just before they announce the first kiss.
This allows your photographer to capture a beautiful shot of your first smooch, without the celebrant’s head peeking-out from between you. Most celebrant’s are conscious of this, but depending on the particular setting it is worth mentioning.
We know that parents and grandparents love a nice group photograph. These are the ones that often end-up framed on their mantlepiece. Like most photographers, we’re happy to take these, but we suggest limiting the number of different group permutations to a maximum of six.
- It takes about five minutes to complete each group photograph—allowing time for participants to be rounded-up, posed and a few different versions taken. It’s worth factoring this into your timeline for the day. Most couples don’t want to spend 60+ minutes posing for formal photographs when there is much more fun to be had elsewhere!
- It’s a good idea to delegate the task of gathering all the relevant people for each group photo. Use a Best Man or Bridesmaid familiar with the family members and guests that you want to be included. Remember that your photographers will not know who Auntie Vera or Tom-from-University is!
- Your photographers can suggest a good backdrop and will arrange and direct each group for the photography once they are assembled. Our own favourites are the ‘candid formals’ — those moments where all the parties within the group photos are still carrying on their own conversations; they can be wonderful montages of natural interactions.
We usually suggest allowing two opportunities for couple’s portraits during your day:
1. POST-CEREMONY COUPLES SHOOT
A 15-20 min slot after the ceremony: once you’ve been congratulated by family and friends, and perhaps while they are enjoying some post-ceremony drinks, this is a great time for the two of you to sneak away and spend a quiet moment together.
It’s lovely for couples to be able to take time out of the whirlwind of their wedding day, to pause, take a breather, enjoy that ‘just married’ feeling and to share a quiet moment together.
We also find that the excitement and post-ceremony exhilaration really shows on your faces: it’s a beautiful time to capture you at your natural, happy, most connected and loved-up selves — no posing required!
2. SUNSET COUPLES SHOOT
A 20 min slot during ‘golden hour’ (the hour before sunset) is our favourite time for romantic couple’s photos. This is when you get the softest and most flattering light. Again, it’s a nice opportunity for the two of you to pause and take a moment together.
To schedule the best time for this, Google when sunset will be in your location on your day. Then subtract 60 mins. The following half-hour will be the ideal time for sunset photos on your day.
So, for example, if sunset is due to be at 8.00 pm, then 7.00–7.30 pm would be an idea time for sunset shots. But note that if you have mountains in the way of your sunset, the sun may vanish earlier. If you arrive at your venue the previous day, make a note of what time the sun disappears. We would normally aim to recce this for our couples.
When you and your guests are eating is the one time in the wedding day that most photographers will put their cameras down and take a breather. We find that no-one looks their best with a mouth full of food!
Your photographer will really appreciate a meal too! They’ll be running around, capturing tons of beautiful images of your day and its hungry work! If they need to leave your venue to find something to eat, they may miss a really important part of your day—like the speeches. It’s also usually best to serve your photographers first, so that they will have finished their meal by the time the speeches begin.
SPEECHES AND DANCING
It’s really worth thinking about lighting for your meal and any dancing that follows. If the venue is too dark, your photographer will need to use a flash. While this can produce exciting images during dancing (more on that later), in other settings—during meals and speeches—flashes may bleach-out the subtle atmospheric lighting.
Think about the positioning of festoon lights, fairy lights and candles to create a cosy atmosphere, particularly around your nearest and dearest. This will help your photographer to create gorgeous, atmospheric evening images.
Also think about the backdrop for the people who are giving speeches—a position that is well lit, with some space behind them, works well. If you position them in a dark corner, sandwiched right up against a wall, it will look a lot less good!
Lighting is everything when it comes to your first dance. Speak with your venue regarding options:
- ideally, having the two of you picked-out in a white / cream spotlights or hanging festoon lights is great;
- multi-coloured ‘disco’ lights will affect the colour of skin tones. So if you don’t want magenta or turquoise skin in your ‘first dance’ photos, it’s worth saving these for later.
A sparkler exit can be a really fun final element to your evening. For it to be effective it needs to be dark (so, after sunset). This could either involve having your guests surround you in a ‘sparkler circle’ for your first dance. Or a super-romantic kiss under a ‘sparkler arch’ towards the end of the night.
- For maximum effect, give guests two long (18 inch) sparklers each (to hold in the same hand – for maximum ‘sparkle’). Coordinating the lighting of the sparklers is an ‘interesting’ challenge, but usually managed with a good number of lighters to get things going and then using lit sparklers to light others.
- Using short sparklers, or not having enough lighters per guest results in half the sparklers burning-out before the rest are lit… which makes for a bit of a damp-squib!
- Tip: if yours is a large wedding, you don’t need every single guest to be holding a sparkler. About 20-30 people is plenty to put-on a good sparkler show! So perhaps just allocate sparklers to your immediate family and bridal party.
We hope that you’ve found this blog post helpful. If are looking for a wedding photographer to capture your special day, feel free to drop us a line via our contact form – we would love to hear more about your plans!