TIPS FOR GREAT WEDDING PHOTOS
Hey there love birds! We are so excited to document your wedding day, when you'll be at your happiest and surrounded by those dearest to you. We want to help make your day amazing, and our ultimate goal is for your photos to bring you right back to all of the emotions and experiences that make up the day. Therefore we've compiled our top advice for how to make your photo experience as awesome as possible - some tips from our past couples and our own wedding day included.
To sum it up, the two most important things (in our opinion really the only things that matter) for great photos are:
PEOPLE. You two, participating to the fullest with each other and your people. This is not only our top priority for photos, but more importantly so that you can have the best and fullest experience. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in details, logistics, and opinions, and this will of course happen on such a busy day. However, you’ll never regret being present with each other, experiencing the day and feeling your emotions. This is also key to the most important photos: the ones that show real emotions, honest personalities, and unscripted moments that make up your day.
LIGHT. Great, intentional lighting can make the most modest of weddings look extremely elegant, while poor lighting can make the most beautiful moments and luxurious decor look average. There are simple tips throughout to incorporate for the best lighting conditions possible, to set us up for the best photos possible!
A quick note: weddings are live events, and as photojournalists we are used to being adaptable in many varying situations. If all of these tips don't work for your day, please don't sweat it! We will make beautiful photos no matter what - considering these just tips the scales in our favor a bit.
IT's ALL ABOUT THE LIGHTING
If you take one thing away from this, please let it be this! It’s our job to think about light A LOT. If you've done an engagement session with us, you're probably aware of our light-loving nerdiness. Great photographs require beautiful, intentional lighting so before anything else we’ll be on the hunt for the best and most flattering light each setting has to offer. We are used to working within unpredictable and challenging lighting situations, but there are a few things we can do to set up for success. Planning your timeline, locations, and settings with lighting conditions in mind is highly encouraged, and we’re here to help! Overall:
Outdoors: We LOVE shooting in natural light, and different times of day offer different advantages and challenges.
The very best natural light is about 20 minutes before and after sunset, so we will always recommend to set aside some time for couple portraits around then. This time of day provides beautiful directional light - think warm golden rays, soft/even shadows everywhere, and (our favorite) the romantic blue-ish tones of twilight.
On sunny days the hours around noon (between about 10am-2pm) in full sunlight are most difficult. The harsh sun creates wacky skin tones, garish colors, unflattering shadows, sweating, and squinting, so we avoid it when possible. It’s often necessary for some photos to start then, so we’ll seek shade for portraits at this time. If it's overcast, we'll be very happy!
Indoors: When shooting indoors we try to avoid "mixed lighting" - a combination of natural daylight and artificial lighting which mix together in strange and unflattering ways in photos. Natural light alone from a window source is best when possible, so we'll place you near windows and turn off indoor lights when we can.
Second to great lighting, time is your best friend on a wedding day! Simplification of a wedding day schedule is the best way to de-stress, slow down the day, and make for a more relaxed and enjoyable experience for you and your guests. Breathing room within your timeline is always a plus. If events get behind the extra time makes things less chaotic, and if everything is on schedule you get to spend more time with each other and your loved ones - which means more great candid photos of everyone!
The best way to simplify is to reduce the number of locations and travel time. We don’t recommend adding extra locations for photos, especially if the ceremony and reception are in different spots. Extra locations can lead to a focus on logistics over the good stuff (bonding, emotions, fun!). We encourage sticking to your venue(s) if possible, and we promise we'll find great places to shoot!
Embrace that weather - it can become a unique defining character in your wedding story! Whatever nature throws our way on your wedding day, don’t worry. Overcast days provide beautiful, even, flattering, light with much less limitation than sunny days. Rainy days are cozy, lovely, and force us to think more creatively than normal. Wind is also a favorite of ours - it creates amazing movement and life in photos. We’ll always shelter you from extreme rain, wind, heat, and cold to make sure everyone is comfortable.
Getting ready images are a great way to set the scene as you prepare for the day ahead with your closest loved ones. This part of the day is rich with emotional moments, and great lighting can help us capture them in a more elegant way. When choosing getting ready locations, it's ideal to set up in a space with lots of natural light from large windows. Your home/a family member's home (or even an Air BnB/VRBO rental) can lend more space, personalization, and natural light than a cramped hotel room. Many newer venues come equipped with great getting ready rooms, which helps with timeline and location simplification as well.
Important: if possible please choose getting ready rooms that have plenty of natural light, the ability to turn off mixed yellow overhead lighting, and not a lot of clutter. This will help add a major level of elegance to your getting ready photos! Yellow/florescent artificial lights will impact our photos pretty dramatically, and makeup applied in this lighting can cause yellow/green skin in photos since we shoot in natural light for the rest of the day. A pro makeup artist will know this, but let's communicate with your hair/makeup artists ahead of time so that we're all on the same page about the lighting conditions that will work best for all of us.
If your hair or makeup artist does not set up with you facing a window, we recommend that they do so before we start shooting. Reducing clutter by designating a separate room (or corner) for “stuff” also helps make for great, clean photos.
Don't forget the guys - great lighting and de-cluttering apply to the groom's room as well and will help your photos feel more cohesive!
We LOVE first looks (when the couple sees each other privately before the ceremony), and we've found that our couples do as well. A majority of weddings we photograph include a first look, and this route has tons of advantages. You get the excitement of seeing each other before being in front of all of your guests, and it can help calm nerves by building in a (rare!) private moment together before the whirlwind of the day kicks off. We keep first looks as private as possible, backing off so you can enjoy such a special moment together.
First looks also make for a friendlier timeline - we’re able to get a quick set of couple portraits and at least some group portraits when you’re at your freshest pre-ceremony. That way everyone can head right into celebrating after the ceremony without standing for formal portraits. From our own wedding experience it was one of our favorite parts of the day. If you're still up in the air about a first look, we're happy to chat more!
Important point: we see couple portraits primarily as a time for you two to connect on your day! We don't want you to simply stand in front of the camera together - it's very important to us to make this time alone with you just as special as the rest of the day. We'll get your focus on each other as much as possible so you can slow down and soak up each other's company before heading back to the celebrations.
We suggest building in about 45 minutes total of couple portraits throughout the day, usually divided between the first look, after the ceremony, and (most importantly) at sundown. Many of our couples love a quick break from the action at this time to re-connect and be in the moment together. On that note, building in even just 5-10 minutes of alone time for the two of you sometime during the day is a great idea. Past couples have enjoyed this small amount of time together immensely.
We’ll work with you to create “VIP lists” for formal portraits of your friends/wedding party and families through our Timeline Survey. We are efficient with formal photos, keeping things relaxed and upbeat, and we'll typically build in more time than we need in case anything or anyone is running late. Extra time is great for more bonding time, and more honest and relaxed candids of your people!
Formal portraits are a part of the day where we discourage others from photographing over our shoulders to get their own cell phone/camera photos. We do so to help cut back on distraction, people looking in different directions, and to keep things efficient.
Side note on bridal parties: if you have opted for a small one, or none at all, that's great! We'll still take any group or individual friend photos you'd like throughout the day.
During a beautiful moment it's natural to want to somehow capture and share it, and these days just about everyone has the ability to do so constantly at their fingertips. To preserve the special energy and focus during something as significant as a wedding ceremony, many of our couples opt for unplugged ceremonies - when guests are asked to refrain from being on their devices and taking photos.
We recommend that guests pack away their phones/cameras for a few reasons. From our perspective, guests can be unaware that they are interfering with our composed photographs by blocking shots during crucial moments (especially during big ones like your walk down the aisle and the first kiss), or by using flash that clashes with our exposures. The end photos themselves also just don't look as nice with a bunch of arms raised with screens.
Arguably most important: presence! When walking down the aisle, it's much nicer to see faces of loved ones (and have a clear view of each other) than a sea of devices. Without screens between you, your guests will be more able to fully appreciate the intimacy and emotion of the ceremony that you have invited them to participate in. Guests with screens are also distracting to others trying to enjoy the moment organically.
The best way to communicate this message? Listing that the ceremony is ‘unplugged’ in your program, a sign near the entrance, and the officiant making an announcement before the processional (this seems to work best) all work great. Helpful phrasing: “Unplugged Ceremony: We invite you to be fully present during our ceremony. Kindly turn off all cell phones and cameras and enjoy this moment with us!"
For the majority of the day when we aren't directing portraits, we’ll enter ‘fly on the wall’ mode to cover the many beautiful candid moments that unfold between you two and all of your loved ones. We love getting to know our Clients' VIPs throughout the day, making sure they're comfortable with us so that their real personalities and emotions show in your photos.
These photos are our favorite to take, and they were our favorite from our own wedding - the honest and unscripted moments of the day.
DO YOU, and LET IT GO!
Our biggest piece of advice: do what makes you two happy and HAVE FUN!
This is a chance to share your life and relationship with those you love most. We can't encourage doing it "your way" enough. If that breaks from traditions that really don't make much sense for you, then so be it! Drop the little things (they really don't matter in the long run), enjoy each other's company, soak up the support of your loved ones, and let those emotions flow freely. Great, honest emotion equals great, honest photos. Your joy will be contagious, and that's what everyone will remember most. You only get to do this once, so why not give it all you’ve got?
It's our job (and our passion) to capture emotion and experience as it happens. We won't need a shot list beyond what our Timeline Survey asks, and we'll produce images you will adore by documenting the day organically as it unfolds. We may take you slightly off the beaten path from where everyone else takes their wedding photos, we'll let you know that it's OK to get your dress a little dirty for the sake of a memory, and we’ll definitely encourage you to express your love for each other openly and truthfully whenever possible.
Thank you so much for entrusting us to document your day - it means the world to us, and we can hardly wait!
VENDORS WE LOVE
Here are some vendors that are amazing at what they do, including being great people that just add a little something extra special to the planning process and the day.
We highly recommend hiring a planner to execute details and logistics of the day so you and your loved ones can enjoy every moment!
These teams do an amazing job:
Bre Is Fun
*Maven Events offer a complimentary assistant for your day if referred by us!
Fab Event Design
Laurel Wedding Films
Sky Focus Films
Selfie & Co