The Bride’s Guide to Wedding Photography

Forget the bridal magazines and their list of questions to ask a photographer. They have no idea!  Most magazines are “publishers” and they have no idea of “REAL WORLD” concerns with regard to questions about photography that really matter.  Most likely they have never photographed a wedding.  Yes, they publish articles, but their bottom line is getting advertisers – that’s where they make their money.

As you begin looking for your photographer for your wedding, here are some questions that actually matter. These questions come from working wedding photographers who want you to cherish the most amazing images.

  • What makes you different from other wedding photographers?  This is one of the single most important questions to ask, and I’ve never seen a magazine suggest it. Photographers are not identical grains of sand. Photographers are all different. If a shooter can’t adequately define what makes his or her work or style different, they don’t really have a handle on it themselves.
  • How would you describe your style of photography? Don’t settle for a simple one or two word answer like “candid” or “traditional.” Ask them to elaborate. “I specialize unplanned moments and emotions. I’m drawn to great expressions and interactions between people.” I’m not talking about advertising tag lines, but they should be able to define their style with some degree of detail. This shows that they have a handle on their own priorities and aren’t simply shooting at everything that moves.
  • Why do you photograph weddings?  You’re going to have to read between the lines with whatever answer you get, but it’s certainly an interesting insight into the photographer’s motivations. No photographer is ever going to say, “Because I thought it would be a good way to make some weekend cash,” even though that may actually be the truth for some. Instead you want the answer to show some real passion and drive. You want someone who’s going to say something like, “I love people and telling stories of an amazing day in their lives.” Maybe even, “It’s such an important day, I want to do create photos that are meaningful and lasting.” A bit self-serving, granted, but at least there’s some real motivation beyond a paycheck. Regardless of the exact answer, you want to get the feeling that this person is genuinely passionate and motivated to do the very best job possible.
  • If a CD is included, are the photos enhanced or are they straight out of the camera? How much enhancement is done?  Nobody ever asks this, but it’s very important. Many photographers who offer digital images simply give you whatever comes out of the camera, good, bad, and ugly. All photos benefit from some degree of enhancement.

Want to know more?  Click here and download the Free “Bride’s Guide to Wedding Photography.”

5 Tips for Getting Into Your Wedding Dress & A Note About Your Getting Ready Room

 

I love the fun and excitement of getting ready that occurs in the girl’s getting ready room.  There are lots of special moments that unfold that beg to be captured by your photographer.  Perhaps it is your sister’s special hug or gift, or your best friend’s “something old” that she has given you – all these moments are so very special.  

Here is what I hate – bags, shoes, underwear, empty food containers, water bottles and a complete mess all around the room!  Your photographer will do their best to capture the events, but honestly, let’s have your girls pick up as they go – and a firm reminder from you, goes a long way.  The benefit is that your photos will not have the distractions of the messy environment, and those photos will emphasis the event and the emotion.  Remember you will be looking at these photos years from now!

And now for putting on the dress.

 

 

Tip #1:  Always go potty BEFORE you put on your dress.

Tip #2:  Be sure your photographer is there to capture the moment.  Don’t put on the dress before he/she arrives.

Tip #3:  Putting on your wedding dress can be an incredibly beautiful, fun and captivating moment.  Most photographers recommend that you pick one person to assist you, sometimes your mother or your maid of honor.  Having less people will make the moment more relaxed, let you enjoy it, and allow your photographer to capture more of you and your dress, rather than a sea of people.

Tip #4:  To keep your hair and makeup fresh, if you are putting the dress on over your head, raise your arms up and out to protect your hair and makeup.

Tip #5:  Put on your own jewelry.  A sea of people – adjusting your dress, adding your bracelet, one adding a necklace – just way to much going on at one time.  I see people looking like they are dressing a Barbie Doll, and the bride just trying to accommodate everyone!  It’s crazy.   Put on most of your own jewelry, but if you have one piece that’s important to you (or hard to get on) have ONE person help you with this.  Shoes do require help – who can see their feet in those big fluffy or tight dresses.

And one last, little thing.  Why do all girls hold onto their boobs?  Really?  Once the dress is on, let go!    Do you want all your photos to show you holding up your boobs? 

Finally, enjoy this part of the day.  It’s really special and it’s the moment that you have been waiting for, for a long time.  Take a deep breath, perhaps even have a few minutes to yourself, and then step out and have an absolutely amazing day!

How to Choose your Wedding Photographer

The photographs from your wedding day will be a timeless memento of a truly special day. Wedding photographers can be very expensive, focus on a number of different styles, and offer a variety of levels of service. All the bridal magazines say to look at some basics like does the photographer work more classic style with a shot list or more in a photojournalistic style where they take just a few posed pictures, trying to tell the story of your wedding in a normal naturalistic style.   About 90% of the photographers today, do the more photojournalistic approach….so there needs to be more than just that to make your decision.

The PPA (Professional’s Photographer Association) recommends that you interview several photographers.  Look at samples – complete weddings if possible.  Do they specialize in a specific style – more artsy, more funk, more black & white?  Do they have a variety of shots – far away, full body shots, close ups; do they provide just basic “typical” shots like cutting the cake or do they also shoot special moments and emotions?

Do you feel comfortable with that photographer?  They will be spending most of the day with you and you want to develop good communication skills and feel comfortable with them.

One note – photography and videography are two distinctly different fields, both requiring extensive training to produce high-quality results.  Depending on your budget, you may want both photo and video coverage of your wedding – totally separate services.

So – here’s my question to you past brides and current future brides.  How much of your decision is based on price, reputation, or experience?  How did you find your photographer?  Family, friends, google search?   If you hired your photographer for your upcoming wedding or if your wedding has occurred, why did you hire him/her as a photographer?   Share with us your thought and ideas.  Send to bride@bridestlouis.com.

How to Keep Formal Portraits Stress Free at Your Wedding

Guest Blogger: Patrick Pope – Patrick Pope Photography

(www.PatrickPopePhotography.com)

 

How Many Formal Photos – and How Much Time Should I Allocate?

Ah, the ubiquitous family group shots. They’re not exciting, but they’re an important part of most weddings. The fact is, nobody really likes posing for these and everyone is much happier when they get done quickly and move on with the day. Not to mention that some venues leave only a very tight window of time for these photos.

Rather than trying to cram in every possible group you can think of I recommend going with a 6+4 list which should keep formals to about 30 to 45 minutes. A short list is greatly appreciated by guests and family as well as the wedding party and will help to ensure they remember your wedding with a smile rather than a groan.

The 6+4 List

I always recommend four groupings; bride alone, groom alone, bride and groom together, and the entire wedding party. Each of these might actually be a couple different variations. That leaves an additional six groups for family or friends.

Notice I didn’t include parents in the four recommended groups. I include those as part of the “six.” Really, I don’t even guess at family dynamics. Some couples have many sets of parents or grandparents while others have none at all.

I Want More!

You can certainly do more if you like, but the 6+4 typically list fits in a 30 minute window if everyone is on the ball. You’ll want to budget more time for more photos or if any of the six is a particularly large group. Needless to say it takes longer to position a group of 30 than a group of six.

One thing I STRONGLY advise against: Do not try to get an individual photo with each bridesmaid or groomsman. Sure, you can do it, but it’s long and tedious for you and your attendants and will seriously cut into time better spent having a good time. No matter how fast you think your photographer can power through them it always takes longer than you’d expect. Don’t do it!

Pick a Designated Photo Helper

Assign an assistant from the family or wedding party who can help gather groups and round up people. Guests don’t tend to pay much attention to the photographer, who they don’t know from Adam, but tend to listen to someone from the family or wedding party. It also helps to speed the process considerably as one group can be getting together while another is being photographed.

List or No List?

A list can help keep formals time organized, but is not strictly necessary. Groupings can also be done by request on the actual wedding day itself. Be brutal when determining which are the most important groups and prioritize your “must have” shots over your “would be nice” images. Usually immediate family is at the top of the list.

The most important thing to remember about a list: Be flexible! People wander off, time runs out, or you simply get sick of standing and smiling and are ready to get on with the day. Don’t be crushed if you don’t get each and every one, particularly if it’s a longish list. That’s another reason to keep your list short, by the way.

If it’s important that everyone, including yourself, has a great time at your wedding, a reasonable number of photos captured over a fairly short window of time will be a big hit. With just a little organization and some realistic expectations it’s not hard to get the photos that are important to you and give everyone a fantastic wedding day experience.

Photo Album or Photo Book

Weddings are a milestone in life and there’s no better way to keep those memories of that special day that a quality Photo Album or Photo Book.  So, what’s the difference between a Photo Album and a Photo Book you ask?   Here’s the difference.

One of the most obvious differences between Albums and Books is the paper type.  Photo Album photos are printed on photo paper and is protected by a UV coating.  It is then reinforced by a premium substrate that makes the pages rigid, thus insuring that the finished product has long-term durability.   Some companies offer both “thin” and “thick” width substrates.  Depending on the width of each individual page, about 50 to 100 pages are usually the maximum number of pages available.

Photo Books are printed directly onto press paper.  Some companies use a coated paper or others use a variety of specialty papers.   Since Photo Book pages do not include a substrate more pages can fit into a Photo Book than an Album.  You can generally include anywhere from 50 to 200 pages in a single classic style book.

Finally, the price point is another difference.  Photo Books are generally less expensive.

Regardless of which option you choose, the most important decision is getting those memories off the CD and making sure that those memories are preserved for a lifetime.  Technology changes rapidly and you might find yourself without those images in a few years.

TIPS about PHOTOGRAPHY for Your Wedding Day (Part 2 of 2)

 

 

 

Great Wedding Dress Photos

A couple tips to for better wedding dress photos before you put it on. – Bring a nice hanger. A nice wooden hanger is a lot better than those cheap plastic ones. It doesn’t need to be one of the fancy ones with your name written in wire.  Be sure there’s a place to hang it that’s clutter free. I often take the dress out of the dressing area for a better background, but sometimes there just isn’t a good place to hang it. Take all the cardboard and stuffing out.  Be sure there’s someone to help the photographer. It’s hard enough moving the dress around without a ton of camera gear to deal with too. A helper can open doors, keep the train off the floor, or make sure the groom doesn’t get an accidental peek if he’s getting ready in the same general area.

Do I have to do a first look?

Absolutely not! First looks are done when the bride and groom choose to see each other and do run-around photos before the ceremony; usually when the ceremony is late in the day. A first look offers an opportunity for the groom to have a great reaction the first time he sees the love of his life in her wedding finest. It makes for great photos and gives you both a little time together. However, it is by no means a requirement. How long does a first look take? Schedule about 15 minutes for a first look. It typically takes a few minutes to get everyone in place. Once you see each other, spend a little time together. Don’t rush. I have only two “rules” for couples during their first look. Rule one: whichever side the photographer is standing is the side the groom should turn to see his bride-to-be. That way you get photos of his expression, not the back of his head. Rule two: DON’T play to the camera. Just make the moment real, genuine, and amazing. What about Pinterest? Getting ready photos These are some of my favorite photos of the day. The air is charged with excitement and there’s so much happening it’s the perfect setting for real memories.

 

DON’T play to the camera.  

Don’t put your dress on before the photographer arrives. DON’T split up photographers If you have two photographers for your wedding day, do NOT split them up (one with the guys, one with the ladies, for instance). Unless your photographers produce photos that are generic and vanilla you’re going to get two very different looks from each. It makes for terrible story telling. Seriously, why would you want to pick photographers that produce bland look-alike photos anyway?

Where to get ready.

To get ready together, yet apart If your venue doesn’t have a place to get ready,find a nearby hotel.  Your photographer can go back and forth between groups yet there’s almost no risk of seeing each other. No, you DON’T want to split up photographers and have one stay with the ladies while the other stays with the guys. All photographers have a unique look and style (or should, at least) and splitting them up like that creates a disjointed story when looking at the combined photos. It’s better to have one photographer run back and forth. Make your photographer sweat a little!

What is the point of wedding photography?

Is it to preserve memories, to feel like a star for the day, or just because someone told you you need a photographer? The answer is different for different couples. Make an honest assessment of your desires before selecting a photographer, otherwise your photos might not match your expectations. The best candid photos in the world won’t satisfy if you’re looking for “fashion shoot” photography. If you feel the main point of wedding photography is to preserve real memories, pick a photographer that captures candid moments that tell a story or convey emotion. Posed photos or smile-for-the-camera images aren’t real memories.