Ten things…

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Left: A candid moment during a busy day, this shot shows a couple with eyes only for each other (image by www.stevieweir.com), Right: The symmetrical setting of the staircase frames this magnificent train and veil (image by www.alanhutchison.co.uk).

…you always wanted to know about wedding photography but were afraid to ask!

Words by Ann Russell

You’ve found the venue and dress of your dreams but there’s something playing on your mind – wedding photography. With a wealth of choice and huge variations in style and cost, it’s easy to feel lost in a minefield of photographic jargon. So how do you pick the right photographer for you? And what questions should you ask to get the best package possible? We spoke to three wedding professionals to get real answers to 10 tricky photography questions so you can focus all your efforts on enjoying your special day.

I’M WORRIED ABOUT MY FIGURE, HOW CAN I LOOK MY BEST?

Whether you’re tall, slim, petite or curvy every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. If you’re worried about being photographed, discuss flattering poses that will show off your shape in the best light. Slight movements of your hips and shoulders can make a big difference, advises Alan Hutchison of Alan Hutchison Photography (alanhutchison.co.uk). He avoids posing brides straight on and asks them to “turn to the side and shift their weight onto their back leg so the body forms a natural curve that tricks the eye into making them look slimmer.” Alice Alves of Alice Alves Photography (alicealvesphotography.co.uk) recommends: “busty brides should avoid sitting down in their photographs because strapless dresses push everything upwards which creates a less flattering shape. Lots of brides are conscious of their upper arms so the best advice is to keep them relaxed and hold them loosely against your sides.”
All eyes will be on you so it’s easy to forget that other members of the wedding party might be camera-shy. “Mothers of the bride and groom are often the most nervous about being photographed. The couple themselves might have had a pre-wedding or engagement photo shoot so they’re used to the camera,” explains Alice. “When people are nervous they tend to talk, look away or look down at their feet. All it takes to look good is a few minutes of focus on the camera and a relaxed smile.”

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Reportage-style photography can nail down the little details, such as “I do” on the sole of the bride’s shoes, in a cool, spontaneous way (image by
www.dreamdayphotography.co.uk).

WE’RE ON A TIGHT BUDGET

We’re on a tight budget, can I have a discount?
Every savvy bride keeps tight control of her wedding budget so there’s no harm in discussing costs with your photographer. Many photographers publish package prices on their website so find someone that suits your budget and find out if they’re willing to negotiate. If you’re particularly keen on a photographer but they’re out of your price range it’s still worth asking if they can accommodate your wedding. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a discount,” advises Alice. “People often feel shy about asking the question but most photographers will tailor their packages to your needs and have various ways of cutting costs. For example if you’ve ordered a wedding album the photographer can offer a simpler layout or an album with fewer pages.”

We are all immersed in social media and want to share our wedding photos with the world. Some even create a personal hashtag.

I WANT EVERYONE TO SEE MY DRESS. CAN I POST MY IMAGES ONLINE?

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we’re all immersed in social media and will want to share our wedding photos with the world. Some couples even go as far as creating a personal hashtag for extra buzz on their big day. So it’s inevitable that snapshots of your dress will reach the web before you’ve seen your official photographs. Grant McKelvie of Dream Day Photography (dreamdayphotography.co.uk) reveals: “I’m quite happy for couples to share my pictures on Facebook. The online images I provide have a small logo in the corner so people know they’re mine. It’s good for publicity and almost acts as free advertising. You never know which one of the bride’s friends is looking for a photographer.”

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A sweet moment as a bridesmaid adjusts the bride’s veil (image by www.alicealvesphotography.co.uk).

I’M CONFUSED ABOUT COPYRIGHT. WHO REALLY OWNS MY IMAGES?

Copyright of your wedding photos belongs to the photographer. Fact. Typically photographers sell the couple a CD, DVD or memory stick that holds the images and grants them a usage license that allows them to print and upload the pictures online for personal use. Some wedding photographers will provide the couple with a low-resolution set of images that are optimised for online use and carry a tag or a watermark crediting the original photographer. “If you purchase high-resolution images from a photographer then you’re typically free to share and print them for personal use,” says Alan. “There’s usually a clause in wedding photography contracts that gives the photographer permission to use the images for the promotion of his or her business,” he adds.

I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MY PHOTOGRAPHS! WHEN CAN I EXPECT THEM?

You shouldn’t have long to wait. Most photographers aim to have your images edited by the time you return from your honeymoon. They understand that after the hype of your wedding day and the excitement of the honeymoon couples, are desperate to see their photographs. “I heard of one bride who waited seven months for her photographs,” sighs Alice. “That’s completely unacceptable! You should expect to see your pictures between two and three weeks after your wedding.”

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Relaxed, smiling, totally at ease in front of the camera (image by www.craig-stephen.co.uk).

WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET A SPOT OR A RASH ON MY BIG DAY?

Pre-wedding nerves can result in a few unwanted blemishes but rest assured your photographer should have the skills to smooth out your skin using post-production software. “I tend to Photoshop the groom more than the bride as her skin will look flawless from weeks of preparation whilst men typically have little stubble marks or areas that need retouching in close up shots,” shares Alice. “I also spend lots of time ‘cleaning up’ church steps and doorways that need a little sprucing up after the event. Every single photograph is closely scrutinised and edited to provide the best results.”

MY UNCLE/COUSIN/FRIEND IS A KEEN PHOTOGRAPHER. DO YOU MIND IF THEY TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS TOO?

Every family has a photography enthusiast who will love capturing the big day so how do professional photographers really feel about snap-happy relatives getting in on the act? “I don’t mind family members taking photos of the couple whilst I’m working,” Alan says. “It’s a sign of the digital age we live in. All I ask is that they stand directly behind me so that the bride and groom aren’t distracted.”

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It’s important to capture the key moments of the big day, such as the groom’s speech (image by www.bobdougalphotography.com).

A FRIEND HAS RECOMMENDED YOU FOR OUR WEDDING. SHOULD I TRUST THEIR JUDGEMENT?

It’s advisable to complete some due diligence in this case. Do you like the style of their wedding photographs? Personal recommendations can work well but only if you’re looking for a similar type of photography. “Around 70% of my work comes from recommendations, referrals and word of mouth,” Grant shares. “We attend seven to 10 wedding fairs a year but it’s typically referrals that bring in the work. In many cases we’ve photographed a wedding and subsequently had bridesmaids ask us to attend their big day. Before long you become the family photographer.”

WHAT COMMON MISTAKES SHOULD I AVOID ON OUR WEDDING DAY?

“On their wedding day the most common mistake brides make is to underestimate the amount of time needed for group photographs. We suggest allowing five minutes per family group and a maximum of 10 group shots in total,” advises Alan. Some forward thinking before the day itself makes all the difference and will give you confidence in your photographer’s ability and credentials. “When you first meet a photographer there are three fundamental questions you should ask: How long have you been working for? Do you have an insurance policy? And are you a registered member of the Master Photographers Association? As members of the MPA we undergo strict examinations which means we’re qualified to a high professional standard,” says Grant.

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Children are a key part of many weddings and a clever photographer finds inventive ways of including them in the pictures (image by www.alicealvesphotography.co.uk).

ANY WORDS OF WARNING?

“One of the biggest red flags couples should look out for is poor exposure. It’s essential that your photographer understands lighting so they can pick up important details like the lace on your wedding dress,” recommends Alan. “Couples should always ask to see a full wedding,” adds Grant. “That means every single photo from the start of a wedding to the very end, not just the best bits. This will give you a better impression of the photographer’s style.” Alice agrees: “Make sure the photographer is able to capture the most important shots of the day – you looking happy, pictures of both sets of parents and a full group shot of all the guests.”