“The Wedding Planning Series” hit the big time this month!
I’m so incredibly honoured that Sarah Evans over at Blush Guide asked me to take part in a two part guest post series, part two of which was this article on how to improve your wedding photography experience. After four years of being a Toronto wedding photographer, I’ve come to realize that every single bride asks the same exact question immediately after the booking process. “How do I have the best wedding photos possible?” There are so many small factors that determine what your images will look like, but I’ve narrowed it down to the five most important things that will immediately give you a leg up towards better wedding photos.
1 — Choose the right photographer.
I know that I am not the only person who cringes when they hear the phrases “my parents booked our photographer for us”or“we’ve decided to hire a friend who will shoot them for free.”Choosing the right photographer is the first and most important step to having the wedding photos of your dreams, and taking the time to do your research in order to make an informed decision is essential.
Start off by defining a style of work that you gravitate to, take the time to find a photographer that fits within that style, and make steps towards building a trust with that person. This is one of the vendors who will have the biggest impact on your wedding experience, and other than your bridal party, you will be spending the most time with them throughout the day. Always ask to see full wedding galleries, read their online reviews, and meet with them in person.
2 — Have an engagement session.
Over the years, I have heard so many reasons for why a bride does not want to book an engagement session: it isn’t in their budget, they have a friend who offered to shoot one for free, or they’ve even had an engagement session from another wedding photographer when they first became engaged. No matter what the reasoning, engagement sessions are crucial for an easy, smooth, and stress-free wedding day.
In the same way that makeup artists offer a trial for makeup before the wedding day, photographers offer a trial in the form of an engagement session. By deciding not to include one in your package, you’re also deciding that the first time you will ever be in front of their camera will be on one of the most important days of your life. Despite being a great excuse for more professional photos of the two of you, they’re also a way for your photographer to see how you interact naturally, which poses work best with you, and even which parts of yourself you may be insecure about. It is also the only way to be able to pinpoint and address any concerns you may have about your images prior to the wedding, and makes it a lot easier for your photographer to really grasp what you are looking for.
3 — Take lighting into consideration.
The way a photograph looks is determined by so many factors like posing, post-processing, but most importantly, light. With natural light photographers dominating the wedding industry, planning out your day with lighting in mind is one of the easiest ways to ensure that they will produce their best work.
The most common place that I see this come into effect is in the morning inside of the “getting ready” location. Oftentimes brides will choose this location based on convenience, but it is just as important to think about how it will change the appearance of your images. A room with a massive window and lightly colored walls that bounce natural light everywhere will give off that “light” and “airy” vibe that so many people are after. Whereas, in a location with lighting fixtures as your only source of light and dark wood walls, that just isn’t possible.
This also comes into play very frequently during the reception when some couples opt to have brightly coloured uplighting or laser lights that flash during their dances. Most professional photographers are able to compensate for this by using flashes, but in some cases they will still cause some skin tones to look unnatural. To combat this I strongly recommend sticking to lights that do not have a colour filter on them.
4 — Plan out your timeline with your photographer in mind.
The timeline is the one thing that will either make or break your wedding day. Even if you are working with a wedding planner, it is always a good idea to talk to your photographer about how long they typically take to capture certain aspects of the day. Each photographer works differently, and provided they are experienced, should have a general idea of how much time they will need. Working with them well in advance will not only mean that they will be calm and collected throughout the day in order to shoot their best work, but it will also mean that you will be more relaxed as well; nothing stresses out a bride more than a visibly frantic photographer who is trying to squish an hours worth of work into twenty minutes.
Planning your timeline in advance with the help of your photographer also goes hand in hand with considering lighting throughout your day. Depending on their specific style of shooting, they should be able to help you with deciding on when to time the major portions of your wedding. For example, many people who are having an outdoor ceremony don’t take into consideration that during high noon the light will not be flattering for photos. Your photographer should know when the ideal time is for them to be photographing portraits, and timing these events to match will always result in better images.
5 — Communicate.
So many people who were married before I started my career in the wedding industry have told me about how terrible of a job their photographer did on their wedding day. My immediate response is “well, what did they do wrong?” and most of the time, the responses I receive are along the lines of “they missed such and such shot.” I am definitely not excusing the photographers who miss important moments throughout the day such as you walking down the aisle or your first dance, but sometimes things get skipped over simply because they were never mentioned. If you have an antique handkerchief that was passed down from your great-grandmother and keep it inside of your clutch the entire day without mentioning it, we have no idea it even exists, and definitely do not know to take a photo of it. These little lapses can be easily avoided if you take the time to sit down with your photographer prior to the wedding and talk to them about what is most important to you throughout the day. It is also a great idea to put serious thought into what group photos are important for you to have for your family, and pass a list off to your photographer so that they have this on hand.
Images above photographed at the Erich McVey Workshop in Elk, California at Navarro River Redwoods State Park | Creative Direction & Styling: Ginny Au assisted by Charlene Tea | Art Direction: Kaela Rawson for Ginny Au | Floral Design: Soil & Stem assisted by Tess Comrie | Hair & Makeup: Mimi & Taylor | Silk Tunic: The Row | Skirt: Alexandra Grecco | Ribbon: Froufrou Chic | Models: Nata, Braeden, Hailee, and Devon for Option Model & Media | Tony and Hannah Culver for Muse Model Management | Sponsors: Neve Albums, PhotoVision, Fuji Film, Pixieset, Once Wed, Make & Stow
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