Your wedding album is your personal story book that will be treasured for years to come. To make sure you’re 100% happy with it, read our nine steps to getting the pictures you want
Words by Jessica Kiddle
1. Think Ahead
About to book your venue? Stop – and think, warns Grahame Smith of GWS Photography. “You might think a photographer will just do their job, regardless of the venue, and while that is true to a certain extent, there are things to consider,” he says. “Couples often look through our sample albums and point out photos they love – sometimes it’s a beach wedding or a woodland photo – but they have perhaps picked a city-centre hotel with no surroundings like that.” So, when you’re deciding where to get wed, think it through in pictures. Consider the location: can you get the photos that you want to see in your album there? And think about what’s on offer if it rains.
Another important check, says Daniel Rannoch of Fern Photography is with the person conducting your ceremony. “Speak to your celebrant and find out how they feel about photography during the ceremony,” he says. “Some are happy with anything, but some really don’t like it. Don’t let it be a surprise on the day.”
2. Keep It Professional
When money is tight, it can be tempting to ask a pal to take the snaps. Think very carefully before you do, however. “Are you sure you want your friend to photograph your wedding?” asks Russell Hogg from husband-and-wife team Aboyne Photographics. “They probably can’t say no for fear of offending you, but they’d probably also admit to not wanting the job – it can be incredibly stressful being responsible for shooting a wedding. By all means encourage them to have fun with pictures on the day, but wedding photography is certainly a case of ‘best left to the professionals’. Those of us in the business have seen it all before, done it all before and can take it all in our stride.”
3. Go with Your Gut
If you have confidence in your photographer, you’ll be able to relax, so it pays to do your research. “Viewing sample albums is a good idea,” says Daniel. “But look at an example of a whole wedding, not just a ‘pick of the best’. In fact, try to look at two whole weddings – you want someone who is consistently good.”
Next up, recommendations. “You can’t beat word of mouth,” says Grahame. “The next best thing to a personal recommendation is that the photographer has a good list of testimonials from satisfied customers.”
When it comes to making your decision, however, listen to your instinct. “Go with your gut reaction,” says Alastair from Alastair Burn-Murdoch Photography.
“If you find photos that appeal to you and make you smile, that is the best sign. Tastes vary, so that is more important than choosing someone who has been recommended to you but who is not your style.”
4. Meet and Greet
The right chemistry is important too. After all, you’ll be spending a large chunk of your day with the photographer, so you need to gel. And, of course, when you’re relaxed in someone’s company, you’ll take a better picture. Alice from Alice Alves Photography recommends making appointments to see at least three photographers. If you can’t make it, try Skype or send a trusted friend or relative in your place.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Talk Money
Unexpected bills are far from romantic so it’s best to be clear on costs from the start. “Make sure you know up front what you’re getting for your money,” says Aboyne Photographics’ Laura Hogg. “Don’t be afraid to talk openly with the photographer when it comes to what is included in that shiny all-inclusive package – the last thing you want is to find out that the ‘pictures’ that you’re getting are low-resolution, watermarked wallet shots. It pays to check things out fully before you sign on the dotted line.”
6. Be Sure Of Your Style
While social media, websites and magazines are most definitely your friends when it comes to planning a wedding, they do open your eyes to lots of choice. But you can’t have it all. This means that you need to identify what you want most in your photographs and make that clear to the person who’ll be taking them. “Do you want formal portraits or a more casual approach to the images on the day? Would you prefer striking, intricately set up bride-and-groom images or charming, natural, off-the-cuff shots instead? How about group shots? These are all things to consider,” says Russell. “There is a lot to photograph at a wedding, and if you ask too much of your photographer you may find they have to spread themselves a little thin.
There will be some that specialise in one style of imagery more than another, and this process will help you to refine your selection somewhat. Talk things through with the photographers too. Make sure you aren’t asking things of them that they cannot deliver. It will save a lot of heartache in the long run.”
If you need a little help, Daniel suggests using images rather than words. “It’s really difficult to try to describe a photographic style, even if you’re a photographer,” he says. “When you go to your meeting, bring along some pictures that you like to help illustrate your thoughts for your wedding photos.”
7. Practice Makes Perfect
Just as a wedding rehearsal irons out any logistical kinks before the actual day, a photography run-through can do the same for your pictures. “If you (or your significant other) don’t like having your photo taken, have more pictures taken together. A pre-wedding or engagement shoot is ideal for the camera-shy.
It may seem like unnecessary extra torture to some, but you’d be surprised how helpful they can be in the long run,” promises Russell. “When it comes to the wedding day, you will be better equipped to deal with the photos and the poses that are required of you.”
8. Seek An Extra Pair of Hands
If you want big group shots or pictures of both bride and groom getting ready, Alastair recommends going with a pair of photographers or one who has an assistant. “It really shows when there is help to arrange groups or to help with styling,” he says.
And don’t be afraid to use your ushers. “The formal bridal shots (with family and guests) can often be the most stressful part of the day for us,” admits Stevie of Stevie Weir Photography. “Make sure you have an usher or two on standby to help organise people and let them know they are to be included in the photographs – someone always disappears and leaves everybody else waiting!”
9. Strike A Pose
Even on the day there are things you can do to ensure you get the shots you want. “While high heels are a big part of your wedding outfit, they can get pretty uncomfortable,” says Stevie. “If you are having pictures taken on the lawn or rough ground, you’ll be thankful of some more comfortable shoes to change into – why not even wellies?” His other tip? That brides simply remember to look up and smile when they walk up the aisle. After all, having fun and enjoying the moment is what you most want to see in your pictures.