Get pictures you’ll want to keep forever with our wedding photography top tips
Above: Fun group shots can produce memorable photos. Photo by Jen Owens Images, www.jenowensimages.com
First off, you need to find the right photographer for you, so look through wedding magazines and online at websites or blogs. You’ll soon start to get an idea of the sort of look you like and who might be best placed to capture your day. “Researching photographers can be quite a task as there are so many to choose from and it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming,” says photographer Nikki Leadbetter (nikkileadbetter.com). “I would recommend talking to other people, looking at wedding blogs that show different kinds of images, and sitting down with wedding magazines and a computer. You’ll soon get a feel for a photographer’s style from their website.”
You’ll be spending a lot of time with your photographer on the day, so make sure they are fully aware of what you want and are good at dealing with people – they’ll be the ones prising Auntie Irene away from the bar so she can be part of those all-important family shots! “It’s not just being a photographer, it’s about understanding what will work best for the bride and groom so they enjoy having their photos taken on the day,” explains photographer John Parris (parrisphotography.co.uk). “We also deal with guests getting from A to B, having fun and relaxing the whole wedding party.”
It’s never too early to start the search for your wedding suppliers, especially your photographer. Those who are in high demand can get booked up a year or more in advance. Weekends in the summer months are particularly popular, so if you’re sure you’ve found the snapper you want, don’t waste any time securing them for your date. “Of all the wedding suppliers, photographers tend to get their diaries filled up fastest. I would advise couples to book their photographer as far in advance as possible – pretty much as soon as they have a confirmed date for the wedding, in fact, especially if they have a particular photographer in mind,” says Nikki Leadbetter.
If the worst happens and your photographer falls ill and can’t attend your wedding, make absolutely sure your day will be covered before you put down the final deposit. Photographer George Lammie (georgelammie.com) says, “I am a member of the Master Photographers Association (thempa.com) which will provide another photographer if I fall ill. I also have a network of other photographers who’d be able to cover a wedding if I was unable to shoot it.” Most photographers will have contacts who can be relied upon if necessary – make sure you raise this issue long before the big day.
Above: Spontaneous moments make for some of the best snaps. Photo by Natural Weddings, www.naturalweddings.net
Once you’ve drawn up a shortlist, it’s time to set up meetings with your preferred photographers. These meetings are crucial, giving you a chance to check out a variety of photographers’ work, get a sense of their different styles and see if you feel at ease with them. “We’ll have a nice cup of tea or coffee and sit down with the clients in our comfortable studio to look over our complete wedding albums and view an audio-visual showcase of our work,” says John Parris of a typical first meeting. “We ask about what the couple have planned for their day, and who they’d like us to include in their photos.”
It’s a two-way process, as George Lammie explains: “The meeting allows me to find out more about the couple and their plans. The key aim of the meeting is to identify exactly what their needs are and then to explain how I would cover their wedding day for them. I’ll show them examples of my work, and they can look at the different styles of wedding album that are available.”
Meeting your photographer is a great opportunity to ask about style and look, as well as to query practical details such as timings and budgets. Make sure you don’t leave with any unanswered questions – a thorough and frank conversation will reassure you that you’ve picked the best photographer. “Meetings are to find the best possible options for each couple’s needs,” says photographer Will Robb (willrobbphotography.com). “Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to any potential wedding photographer and find out as much as you can – you’ve got to make sure they’re worth your investment.”
Don’t be scared to call them up if something comes to mind after you’ve left the meeting, insists Nikki Leadbetter: “The meeting is a good opportunity to chat through your ideas and expectations and to discuss in more detail the various packages and options offered. But I’m also happy to meet my couples for a coffee at any point in the process if they want to go through things again,” she says.
Tracy Gow Photography, www.tracygowphotography.co.uk
Every successful wedding photographer has a style of their own, from reportage to romantic, and classic to photojournalistic. By looking through magazines, websites and photographers’ portfolios, you’ll get a good idea of which you like best and which would suit the mood of your celebration. Most photographers are more than capable of working in more than one style, so if you like the idea of candid shots but you still want some formal group pictures too, tell them about this well before the big day. “When thinking about styles of wedding photography, a couple should consider how they want their wedding day to be remembered,” explains Will Robb. “A photojournalistic style would create a story of how the day unfolded, like you’d see in a weekly news magazine. A more formal approach, concentrating on carefully composed shots, would look more like a classic spread in a fashion magazine. It’s common to go for a mixture of both, but it’s all down to personal preference.”
The best photos are those that show the couple and their guests relaxed and having fun, not forcing a smile or posing stiffly. Your photographer will be well trained in the art of helping you shake off the nerves, so listen to their advice and have a good time. “Try to be as relaxed as possible and don’t let yourself be forced into poses that are unnatural or feel fake or cheesy,” recommends George Lammie. “Your real smile shines through when you feel at ease with the photographer and when the images are being taken in a relaxed and informal way.”
You can check out your smile in the mirror and practise your favourite poses, but the best way to get a good idea of how you’ll look on camera is to have lots of snaps taken. Many photographers offer pre-wedding or engagement shoots to help couples practise feeling comfortable while having their picture taken. “Engagement shoots give you a chance to get used to being in front of the camera, so come your wedding day it won’t feel so strange,” says Nikki Leadbetter.
For more on pre-wedding shoots, see our special feature on p.163.
Your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life and you want your photos to reflect that. Most couples say their favourite shots are those that capture the spontaneous, fun moments you never want to forget, so let go and relax. “A sudden hug, kiss or something a bit cheeky can really add something brilliant to a photo,” says Will Robb. “For more informal group shots, it’s good to bring a fun element to the shot rather than trying to orchestrate a natural-looking pose – for example, asking everyone to hold a glass and toast the couple, getting the group to lift up the bride and groom, or getting everyone to look out from behind a bush or some trees can elicit a really fun and natural atmosphere in the shot.”