Monsoon weather. Faulty cameras. Long delays. We’re not saying any of these will afflict your day – but how would your photographer cope if they did? Nicole Conner hears about plans, prep and all the tricks that go into getting the best shots
As our national bard so memorably put it: ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.’ No matter how hard we plan something, Robert Burns knew, life can sometimes chuck a great big spanner in the works, and no exceptions are made when it comes to tying the knot.
Luckily, wedding photographers are experts at what they do, so you’ll be in capable hands should problems arise with anything camera-related. We’ve chatted to five of the best in the business, who shared their solutions to some common concerns you may have about the day.
When Alanis Morissette sang about it raining on your wedding day, chances are she had Scotland’s notoriously changeable weather in mind. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about a downpour or gale-force winds on your big day, other than making sure you have a plan B ready so that memorable shots can be captured come rain, hail or shine.
“Even if the forecast is good, it’s always worth scouting out the best locations inside the venue as there are usually some gems to be found. And it really helps if the weather does take a turn for the worse – you know you’ll still be able to get some great shots,” says Allan Forrester of Biggar Picture Photography.
While doing a recce of the venue, he will chat with staff to find out which rooms (away from the busy wedding) can accommodate family or group shots. If all else fails, however, Allan always has several trusty umbrellas on hand: “I take them everywhere with me just in case,” he laughs. “I also find out how comfortable the couple are with venturing out into the elements on the day.”
Why not turn bad weather to your advantage? Rain, snow and a bit of a breeze can all contribute to some fantastic photographs if you’re willing to risk your hairdo!
No stage fright
Unless you’re a model, in which case this may not apply to you, you’ll probably be somewhat nervous in front of the lens. It’s not every day we have to take a starring role in photoshoots that’ll be hanging on our walls forever, and the prospect can feel daunting.
However, your photographer will work hard to put you at ease – they want to get the best shots, and you being relaxed is an essential part of that.
“I never pressure people, and my style and workflow are very laid-back,” promises Dougi of Dougi McMillan Photography, who admits he’ll tell you really cheesy jokes to get you laughing and ease you into your shoot. He also asks his couples to walk, talk to each other, have a cuddle or play some games in order to break any tension that might be there.
Allan offers a complimentary pre-wedding shoot with all his packages because he knows there will be at least one nervous person in most couples. His view is that practice makes perfect: “These shoots really help – people soon realise how relaxed my approach is and how easy it is to be photographed.”
This is echoed by Dougi, whose clients also get a pre-wedding shoot when they book in for a full day with him. He believes it allows you to get over the camera pointing at you and get a feel for how he’ll operate at the wedding. It usually works so well that most people forget he’s even there on the day.
If couples are still reserved in front of the lens, Allan’s solution is to put a little distance between himself and them: “It’s easier to forget you’re being photographed when the camera isn’t right there in front of you. I try to keep my approach on the wedding day as chilled and comfortable as it is on the pre-shoot.”
You’ll be posing like Kate Moss in no time. Say cheese!
In sickness and in health
In the age of Covid, we’re all too familiar with how quickly plans can go awry if someone falls ill. So what would happen if this someone happened to be your photographer? Cara of Cara Frew Photography says if the worst was to happen and she was unable to make it, she has a trusted photography network who would step in to cover the day. “It’s good to know there are backups if needed,” she adds. To go towards the cost of your new photographer, she’d also refund your payment, taking money worries out of the equation.
Samantha Mosca at Tower Photography in Glasgow also works with a number of local and national photographers who can be relied on to deliver services at the last minute: “In my contracts I make it clear that it’s up to me to find and pay for a replacement photographer should any emergency or illness keep me from working on your wedding day,” she explains.
If all options were exhausted and nothing could be done to replace her on the day, Samantha says she would refund her fee and offer a post-wedding shoot to make it up to the couple.
A full memory card or dead battery has no doubt caught out many of us budding photographers at exactly the wrong moment, and although Dougi assures us this is highly unlikely with a professional, it’s always good to have options. “I use multiple camera bodies, lenses and flash units as well as two cards to record images so I have copies of everything,” he tells us.
To make sure all your pictures are stored safe and sound, the Fife-based photographer then backs them up on multiple drives and the cloud to safeguard them.
“If all my kit failed on the day, God forbid, I would still cover the event with my phone. I’d take 4K video and stills until a colleague was able to dash over with a replacement camera body,” he says. He is confident a situation like this would never happen to him as he prepares meticulously for every job, but you’re in safe hands if it did!
It’s about time
“A lot of my couples have told me they really don’t want to spend a big chunk of their day posing for pictures and that’s why they’re attracted to my natural and relaxed style,” says Victoria of Glasgow-based Victoria Charlotte Rose Photography. “They’re often under pressure from parents and grandparents to change this, though.”
Her solution is to ask for a shot list before the wedding – if it’s mammoth, she’ll explain it will take a certain amount of time to get the job done. Her next step is to lay out a few options: go ahead with the list in the knowledge that it will eat into the time to catch other candid shots; have a few pictures taken with people who have requested them; remove some of the shots that could be captured more candidly.
Samantha at Tower Photography prioritises transparency in her work, so she’ll be clear and honest about what you can expect, especially in the planning stage. “I am always happy to work quickly, and I can be loud and bossy if needed – these are ideal attributes for directing large groups of people,” she laughs.
If there are delays on the big day, it isn’t the end of the world, Samantha adds: she has shot plenty of weddings where things have fallen behind schedule and everything has still turned out fine. “If it happened, I’d be as quick as I could and do my best to get things back on track, getting all the necessary shots while facilitating other vendors and the venue.”
The small hours
A photographer following you about all day might feel a bit too Big Brother for your liking, or perhaps you and your other half are planning a romantic elopement and only need someone around to take pictures for a few hours – so can photographers accommodate this? The answer, you’ll be happy to hear, is yes.
Cara, who is based in Ayrshire, offers her services at an hourly rate, so you can book her for the amount of time you require. “There is a minimum requirement of two hours’ coverage for this service, but this suits people who are looking for a much more relaxed day,” she says.
Dougi tailors every wedding individually and helps his clients to work out which package works best for them: “It means they get the coverage and photographs they want.”
“Most venues will have at least one interesting feature or texture or some nice lighting somewhere already there – it’s just about finding it,” says Biggar Picture’s Allan. So even if your venue isn’t the most Insta-worthy place on the planet, a skilful photographer will still be able to produce strong results.
The South Lanarkshire-based photographer explains that some of the tiniest, simplest details can make for great images. And if all else fails and the backdrop is still not up to scratch, he can do tight crops or blur the background out slightly using big apertures: “This means the focus is nicely on the couple and not on the venue,” says Allan.
All the angles
We’re all glued to our phones these days, and your guests will be no different as they excitedly try to get their own snaps of you walking up the aisle and during the ceremony. But what happens when they inevitably get in the way of the professional you’re paying to capture the key moments?
Victoria says the trick is simple: opt for creativity! “I try to work around family and friends, as I know they’ll be eager to take pictures – it’s important to understand the wedding is all about the couple and their guests,” she says.
She stresses she’d never make guests feel they’ve misbehaved if they accidentally block her view: “I just make sure I do my job and still get the best photos possible.”