Here's a shot from the venue of yesterday's wedding at a private residence in Timber Ridge, overlooking Lake Windermere:
Wedding photography is not something that I ever envisioned doing ... the stress, the long hours, the lack of control ... and yet, I have just completed the third wedding that I've assisted and/or second shot at!
I think that, once I develop my own workflow, it's something I could do on a regular basis.
To my surprise, I have found that I love being in a position to capture the raw emotion, when even the most self-conscious people forget that there's a stranger pointing a large camera at them, and give themselves up to the special moments of the day!
I have one more assisting job scheduled for this season, in October, and I think I'll be helping with one in mid-April, too.
My first job as primary photog at a wedding will be for a friend, while we're on holiday on Maui, in early May! At the rate I'm going, I am comfortable that the experience I'm getting assisting with other pro's jobs will stand me in good stead to do my own thing by next spring!
Even though I don't have a great deal of experience in this discipline of photography yet, here are a few thoughts for prospective wedding photography clients to consider, that will help make a wedding day extra-special (and less stressful). If you have any thoughts either for or against my observations, I'd love to hear them - this is all a learning process!
- Photog's take LOTS of photo's ... we don't do this because you're doing anything wrong ... we're just making sure that everyone's expression is right, everyone's eyes are open, etc. We always take several shots of the same scene to ensure that we have the shot "right". We try to get a variety of angles of the same scene, too. There are no do-overs at weddings so it's best to cover all the bases, the first time around!
- Elevate photography from being one of the "miscellaneous" services at your event, to being one of the most important considerations - and allow plenty of time for it. Just think: "Do I have anything tangible to remember my wedding day?" Yes, you have the photo's! Of course, you have the rings. You might have the dress, you might have copies of invitations and a few other nicknacks. Just don't say "I have the memories" because, with the stress and the exhaustion of a very long day, you probably won't remember much of your day without the help of great photographs!
- Consider timing your day so that photo's can be taken during the golden hour - as the sun's coming up, or as the sun's setting. It's the most flattering light for you and your partner, and your guests. Usually, depending on the location, the environment and the season, this lovely quality of light lasts for an hour or so after sunrise, and for a couple of hours before the sun sets.
- Consider scheduling 15 minutes for a "first look". This is a session, usually arranged just prior to entering the venue to exchange vows, where it'll be just you, your partner, and your photographer/s: No parents/bridesmaids or groomsmen/guests/other onlookers. We'll set the scene so that the groom sees the bride for the first time in a quiet location, where you'll have the time to really take in how wonderful you both look, and share some exquisite private moments that we'll capture for you: The delight (and joyful tears) when you first see each other, those whispered endearments. These moments rarely happen, and cannot be captured photographically, at the head of the aisle with hundreds of eyes watching you!
- Ahead of time, give us a list of the photo's you want us to capture for you, so that we can be aware of them, watch for them, and be ready when they happen. This includes a list of the specific formal arrangements you want captured. No matter how casual your event is, or the style of photography you want at your wedding, there's going to be a list of photo's that you will find is a "must have". It's always best to go through your guest list and think about these photo's in advance, plan for them, and allow plenty of time for them - they always take longer than expected. Your day will go much smoother if you don't spring unexpected demands on your photographer, who will have to not only find the time for the extra shooting, but also scramble to find a suitable location for an unexpected group shot, etc.
- If you've seen a particular photo set-up that you love, eg: the wedding party jump shot, let us know ahead of time so that we can create the opportunity to shoot the photo for you. Try to think of a way to put your own spin on it, too ... the last thing you want is an album full of photo's that are the same as everyone else's!
- About locations: If there's something or somewhere at the venue that you want included in your photo's, let us know ahead of time so that we can do any advance scouting necessary to determine lighting needs, angles, etc. Without advance notice, photography at a surprise location might not be possible!
- While you're working with the professional photographer, remember to look straight at the lens of the photog's camera - not at other guests and their cameras. This establishes a direct, personal connection between you and the viewer of your photograph. And yes, even in a big group photo, if one person isn't looking at the lens of the camera that's taking the photo, people who view the photo CAN tell that they're not paying attention!
- Don't worry if it's overcast on your wedding day! Anything except bright sunshine and brightly dappled shade is great for photo's!
- Have someone in your wedding party whose sole responsibility it is to wrangle guests for your photo's. Remember that the photog doesn't know everyone in your family and won't have the time, or be able, to delegate searchers to quickly locate the forgetful aunt or uncle who's wandered off at a critical moment in the proceedings.
- If you're having a rehearsal, consider inviting the photographer to watch how you plan the movements of the ceremony. This ensures that the photographer/s will be in the right place at the right time, to capture those special moments!
- Consider having a cell-phone and camera-free event. Or at least ask that your guests refrain from photography during the ceremony and other pivotal moments unless the pro gives them the go-ahead to step in and take pictures. You pay a great deal of money to have a professional photographer (or two or three!) capture the special moments of your day - you don't want to risk missing shots! Too many wedding photo's are ruined by a forest of arms holding up glowing lcd's on phones and small cameras, or lasers from p&s cameras marking a wedding dress with blue or orange or green dots during the first dance, or people stepping in front of the pro's camera to photograph a fleeting moment only to ruin the shot, never to be included in the professional wedding collection you've paid for.
- Most wedding photographers will have you sign a contract for their services. Please be sure to read it before signing it and, if you don't understand something, ask - there's only one stupid question, and that's the one you don't ask! Apart from the obvious sections about dates, times, locations, payment plans, etc, one of the clauses included in many modern agreements is that the professional photographer will not be held responsible for shots ruined by guests' interference in his/her work. How you, as the bride and groom, address this issue (or not) with your guests is up to you.
I hope this helps anyone in the planning stages of a wedding ... no doubt I'll have many more things to add as I expand my knowledge of wedding photography!