Guide For Brides: Helping Your Photographer To Get Better Photographs

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

All images and words by David West Photography

There are literally hundreds of guides to help you choose a wedding photographer, thankfully, this is not one of those. Below you will find a few little snippets of advice that a couple planing their big day may have previously given little thought to, but can very much enhance the overall look of your day, both in person and through your photographs. It’s a guide on how, with a little bit of forethought, you can help your photographer to help you.

For most brides and grooms, their wedding is a day full of firsts; first I do’s, first kiss, first day as part of a married couple. You spends months, even years and thousands of pounds thinking about and planning every moment and meticulous detail to ensure your day is the definition of perfection. In my profession as a photographer, I have gained vast knowledge and experience over the past five years that have allowed me to offer you some useful tips and tricks that will hopefully help you to get the most out of your wedding photographs.

Permission

Yes! You may need it. For most couples, the legality and commitment of the actual wedding ceremony is the most integral and special part of their whole day. Sadly, it is a fairly common, but unknown practice that some religious venues do not allow photographs to be taken throughout the legal ceremony, if at any point at all. Strangely, there doesn’t really seem to be any set pattern or rules regarding this and seems to be strictly down to your Priest/Vicar/officiates views. This may be something to consider when choosing your venue. Make sure to ask your Priest/registrar if you have photographic permissions throughout the ceremony (not just the start or end) or if there are any restrictions to be followed before the big day to avoid any last minute disappointment and maybe try to negotiate ahead of time and prevent your poor photographer from being banished to the back of the church, or out of it completely!

Read your contracts from every vendor, not just your venue or photographer, on some very rare occasions some make-up artists are adding clauses to not allow any photography or video during the bridal preparations, resulting in no record for that part of the day.

Position

This is an important one! Every bride or groom wants to relive the moment they saw their husband turn around and catch the first glimpse of their soon to be spouse walking down the aisle, or seeing what they looked like themselves and the emotions they felt whilst walking towards their happy-ever-after. However, this view is often not possible when your bridesmaids or even potentially your priest are walking down the aisle and block the shot. This is something that can easily be avoided. Find out if your Priest likes to walk down the aisle before you and if so ask them to go quite some distance ahead of you. It’s also nice to be able to get photographs of your bridal party as they walk down the aisle, so leaving a decent sized gap between yourself and your bridesmaids will make this possible as well as the aisle to clear for you to have centre stage whilst arriving to your soon to be husband.

‘Unplug’ Your Wedding?

One of the latest trends to hit weddings is to ‘unplug’ your day. This involves inviting all of your guests to leave their cameras and smart phones at home or at least refraining from using them throughout the day. It is also common for the couple to ask that no photographs are uploaded to facebook until they have received their professional photographs. This allows your guests to fully enjoy their day without any distractions, prevents you posing for pictures all day long and leaves the photographer to do their job with as few obstructions in their way as possible. This ensures that no important moments, such as walking down the aisle, go missed due to guests blocking views by trying to get their photo etc.

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss, Right?

Well maybe not. At some point in your wedding your going to hear those words : “You may kiss your, Bride or Groom” this is pretty momentous and your photographer will of course be poised to catch it, so give them a chance and make it last a few seconds won’t you? A micro kiss is or a peck, is difficult to catch at the best of times so doing it behind a pew a vicar and a big display of flowers usually will test your photographers contortion skills to the limit. Let’s not forget this is your very first kiss as a married couple, and once you stop anything after is well… just a kiss.

Kiss with gusto, passion and romance, do it because you want to not because someone told you, your photographs will thank you for it!

A Dusting Of Confetti

The confetti shot always makes an amazing wedding photograph, often showing laughter and emotion of not just yourself but your guests too, so don’t just stand there. Let yourself go while your guests shower you with love, kiss, hug, fist pumps. Hell punch the air – just do something to show what your feeling, something to note. Not all guests remember or even think to bring confetti so you may want to add it to your shopping list. You can buy large quantities from online stores like Ebay or Etsy, but do remember to buy the biodegradable kind as most churches and certain venues won’t allow anything but.

Add Contingencies

Like in life, things often take alot longer than you expect. Small things, such as the time it takes to simply travel between your two venues, are often overlooked and therfore missed out of your timing schedule. Things like this can really add up and the result is the time must be shaved from somewhere else. To prevent this, try to add a little extra time to each of your estimations, it seems silly but will result in a much more accurate plan of your day. This will give you reassurance that everything you want will fit in to the time provided and, more often than not, leave you plenty of time to relax, mingle with friends and family and thoroughly enjoy your day.

Speeches Before Wedding Breakfast?

If not for anything else, spare a thought for the best man! As you can imagine, the nerves often get the better of best men with the intense pressure of the looming speech! But from a photographic perspective, think of the tables. You spend all that time planning and preparing for your tables to look fantastic, so show them at their best! When speeches take place after the meal, the tables are scattered with glasses, bottles and napkins, and honestly, look a little worse for wear. Speeches before hand ensure that your tables look as fresh as a daisy, and the napkins are clean just incase you need to have a little dab at your eye!

No Need To Shout!

You may or may not require photographs of your family members, father, mother, Aunty Mable etc, – AKA ” The Formal Photographs”.

While these are important photographs it’s worth bearing in mind they can be quite time consuming as more often than not, someone is missing, toilet break perhaps, checking in, or in most cases, The Bar! As with most things in life, preparation is the key. Inform your photographer in advance of the images you require as well as the people you would like in them. Believe me no photographer wants to shout out to your guests and be known as a “shouty photographer” if possible assign the corralling of guests to someone in your wedding party who knows everyone, or as many people as possible, one person for each side perhaps? Try and keep your number of photographs to the minimum, each image can take around three minutes eating into valuable time, so if you do require a photograph with each individual person.. assign enough time for them!

Food For Thought

Although not a requirement, its always appreciated by your photographer if you offer them food, quite often your venue will not serve food to the public leaving the photographer with no choice other than to eat a stale cold sandwich or worse, leave your wedding in search of food risking missing that image you just know they would have captured had they just been there!

A simple sandwich would do in most cases just to keep their strength up and make sure they’re firing on all cylinders to capture the rest of your day without leaving the premises.

Don’t Stress The Dress!

Brides spend months searching and trying on hundreds to find the perfect wedding dress, it’s probably the most planned aspect of your day and as a result a major part of your wedding. It also more than likely cost you a small fortune, however, the reality is, it is going to get slightly dirty. Even just walking along a carpet is going to pick up a bit of dirt. Dont let this put you off and don’t avoid going outside to prevent it from getting dirty. You wont be asked to drag your dress through a soggy muddy field and photographers these days can hide a multitude of sins with a little photoshop magic resulting in your dress looking as good as new on all of your photographs. Dont spend your day stressing over it, just let it go.

Something Old…

On a cold day, and this particularly applies to a winter wedding, it can get a little uncomfortable being outside for portrait photographs (although definitely worth the results!). To make things a little more comfortable for yourself, it may be worth bringing a warm jacket or throw to wrap around you in between shots to keep some of your warmth. You won’t win any awards for the most glamorous wedding look, but it is practical and no-one will ever know you cheated!

You may have bought the perfect pair of expensive bridal shoes and want to get your wear out of them, however, fairly often your wedding venues best photographic locations are on a grassy field or in between trees. Understandably, you don’t want to ruin those new designer heels, so to preven you sinking your heels into the mud and them being stained forever, its worth considering bringing a spare pair of flat shoes that you dont mind getting potentially a little dirty or potentially a pair wellies. The best thing is you will be a little more adventurous in where you will venture, resulting in more interesting photographs and you will never see them under all that dress!

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

Face The Light!

When planning where you are going to stand during the ceremony or positioning of the top table don’t just stick to what is considered the norm. For the most part, you’re limited by the venue, but do ask what your options are and if possible try to ensure you are facing the largest light source, which is usually a window, and avoid having your back towards it. This natural light is the most flattering on you and will ensure your photographs are the best they can be. Having the light source behind you means you are heavily backlit which is very difficult to combat with a camera, especially without flash, and will result in your images being fairly dark. This is the same with your top table positioning, Couples tend to have the window view behind them for people to admire, however, try to face the window rather than having your back to it, that way you can enjoy the view too 😉

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

It’s Too Dark!

When a photographer states that they are ” Natural or Available Light Photographers” only, this usually means that they don’t use flash or any additional lighting.  Any good photographer will always utilise the available natural light to its fullest, but for those moments when the light is poor or just non-existent, it’s definitely in your best interests to find a photographer who is capable in all lighting conditions, that way you’re covered for all eventualities, from orange rooms, yellow tipis to dark castles. Especially during the winter months, you may even need a photographer who specialises in low light conditions, as in winter the sunset falls in early afternoon. So don’t be put off by the cold or the darkness, if your photographer approaches you and asks you to step outside for a few evening photographs, I’m sure he has something like these in mind!

 

Photographers And Videographers Who Work In A Similar Way

If possible try and find photographers and videographers who have a similar style or shoot in a similar manner. It is important that the two are able to work alongside each other rather than competing for positions and getting in each others way. From a photographers perspective, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid videographers who use large tripods from being in the background of shots. There are lots of videographers who work with handheld cameras, similar to those of photographers, which allows us to work around each other and preventing us from, most of the time, being in each other’s shots.

Care To Dance?

We totally understand that your first dance as newly weds can be a nerve racking experience, all those eyes on you with the fear of messing up your dance moves, but try to fight the urge to invite your guests up with you too early. Give plenty of time for the photographer to catch those special moments of just the two of you caught in the moment. Photographs of the two of you having fun with your guests will most certainly follow as you boogie the night away , so try to battle the nerves and the results will be a priceless memory.

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

Be Brave!

The best photographs are always from the couples who are brave and willing to try something new! Wheather it be battling the weather for a dramatic rain shot (You would always be under cover so don’t worry about your hair!) or hopping over a fence to get to an interesting location, the resulting images will always be more than worth it! After all you get out what you put in.

Trust Your Photographer!

Chances are you spent hours searching through huge amounts of photographers work to find yours, and booked them ultimately because you loved their work. So trust their judgement! Sometimes ideas or things they ask you to do may seem a little wacky and you may seem a little silly, but the result in the camera is a totally different scene. You have seen their portfolio and what they can do and you have booked them for that reason, Please don’t send them a list of pinterest images and ask them to recreate the California sunshine in highlands of Scotland, most of those images are styled and took days to set up, your photographer will have literally minutes.. By all means give them ideas of images you would like, but be realistic in your ideas, trust their creativity and just go with it!

The results will be worth it!

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

Good Isn’t Cheap, And Cheap Isn’t Good!

There are a huge range of photographers for you to choose from, all varying in style and price, however you really do get what you pay for. After all good isn’t cheap, and cheap isn’t good! If a photographer seems to be giving you a too good to be true deal, ask yourself why? The time, effort, experience and quality that comes with a premium photographer will make them worth more than every penny. Make sure you take the time to really look at your potential photographers work and love everything they do before you book them!

But remember, you really do get what you pay for!

Finally…You Got To Be In It To Win It!

At the end of the day your wedding day is exactly that, a wedding not a photo shoot. A good photographer will be able to get amazing images for you in a very short window of time, but only if you take part. Of course it’s important to get lots of photographs of you both as well as your friends and family enjoying your special day – images that you can look back on for years to come, but it is also important to enjoy your big day and relax. A large part of your day should be natural photography, capturing the moments you lived through, but also the moments you didn’t even realise had happened, from the tears to the laughter and everything in between. A good photographer will capture this for you.

Remember, this guide is exactly that, a simple guide to help you get the most from your photographs and help your photographer to help you, don’t try to cram too many things into your day, everything in moderation 😉 The most important thing is…

HAVE FUN!

David West Photography - Guide For Brides

Award winning wedding photographer David West is available for wedding in the UK, Europe and internationally.

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