By: Kristen Castillo
You know what you want from your wedding photography. You’ve got pages ripped from magazines and websites and you’re planning your wedding album. Now you have to convey your photography wish list to the professional photographer who’s going to make it all happen.
There are certain shots every bride wants such as her walking down the aisle, dancing the first dance and the bouquet toss. But in between there are lots of other photo opportunities to be had. You’ve got to trust your photographer to use his or her instincts to capture all the golden moments and to work with you to figure out your other must-have shots.
Since your photographer isn’t going to read your mind, you need to envision your day and get a sense of what you want. Maybe you crave lots of candid moments or maybe you really want some nice family portraits with your parents and siblings.
Wedding photos with the family are often very important. “It’s virtually the only time everyone will be together,” says Brett Charles Rose of Brett Charles Rose Photography who tries to shoot a shot of the entire group.
“It’s their day,” says Rose. “There’s no status quo. It’s whatever they want.”
A shot list is a guide to help a photographer not miss any important photos.
“Prepare a list so we run down the checklist,” says John Schnack of Schnack Studios. “It also helps everyone who needs to be photographed – they know where they need to be.”
A shot sheet can be helpful but it can also be cumbersome if a photographer feels tied to the checklist. Don’t forget – a must-have list should be helpful, not a distraction. After all, you want your photographer to be able to shoot your event creatively without worrying about focusing on your checklist.
Your must-have list means nothing without an extensive conversation with your photographer. You need to explain what shots you want and what shots you don’t. Let him or her know who the important people are at the event and give your photographer a chance to ask you questions or share photo insights with you.
“If the bride and groom can be open and honest with the photographer, it’s always good,” says Schnack who says he’s always going to cover the basics such as the cake cutting or the first dance, but if a couple wants a specific shot, they should tell him in advance.
“The more a bride and groom can tell a photographer what they want, the better a photographer can do on the day,” says Schnack.
Aaron Thompson of AS Photography agrees, saying he recommends brides and grooms spend time during the consultation discussing expectations. “It should be a detailed process, not just a list,” he says.
Talk about what kinds of images you want and what’s reasonable for the photographer. Your photography time table on your wedding day will be limited so you need to be efficient. Rose says it’s best to allow at least two hours for preparation photos and one hour for post-ceremony photos.
It’s always a good idea to give your photographer as much information as possible, especially regarding small details. For example, if you want photos of each centerpiece, the buttons on your gown or notes in your guest book, tell your photographer your preferences before the big day.
Your must-have shots will be different from another couple’s preferences, but that’s good. It means you’re personalizing your event and images to reflect your style.
There are so many photos to shoot like the father-daughter dance, silhouettes of the couple after the ceremony, and dancing fun with the wedding party. Others include detail shots such as close-ups of rings, holding hands, glowing candles on the cake table and images of the bride’s veil, shoes or flowers.
The possibilities are huge and it’s up to you and your photographer to choose which images you really want and can successfully capture.
For example, brides often want to see the exchange of rings in photos, but typically the ceremony set-up makes that tough to shoot.
Rose suggests the bride faces toward the guests when the groom puts the ring on her hand. “If you want that close-up,” says Rose, “Face your hand out a little toward the crowd.”
One photo that’s a must-have is that first kiss. It’s a sweet moment to treasure. Make sure the tender smooch lasts long enough to be snapped on camera.
“Hold the kiss,” says Rose. “It’s all about you two people, so hold that kiss.”
Simplify the Scene
Be as organized as possible to get the best results. Let your photographer know if you’ll have a professional coordinator or someone else to assist you during the photos. Your coordinator may organize all the people you want in photos such as your bridesmaids, all your college friends or all your co-workers.
You’ll make your photographer’s job easier by helping him out with your set-up.
“Get ready in a nice space,” says Rose. “It’s money well spent to try to find something close to the spot where you’re getting married.”
If everyone can get ready at one place such as a certain hotel, the photographer can concentrate on shooting the preparations rather than driving from location to location to shoot one element of the preparations such as the groom getting dressed.
“We can get the details of the bride getting ready and the groom getting ready and we can do it all over the property,” says Rose.
Part of deciding your must-have photo list is making sure you’re working with the right photographer.
“Get to know your photographer,” advises Rose. “With my clients, I want to hang out with them, so on the wedding day, it’s just Brett behind the camera. It’s really a personality thing.”
You need to click with the person who’s going to be documenting your day from the little details to the big picture.
“The client needs to search for a photographer who matches them and takes good photos,” explains Thompson. “You have to look extensively at their portfolio to see if it meets your expectations.”
Interact with the photographer so you get a sense of how he or she works their craft. An engagement session should help you get to know your photographer better.
“An engagement session gives you a trial run before the wedding,” says Thompson. “It’s an opportunity for the bride and the groom to get to know me.”
Look for wedding photo inspiration by browsing your photographer’s portfolio and reviewing images in magazines and online. Share your preferences with your photographer and your wedding day will be camera-ready.