TIPS FOR GREAT WEDDING PHOTOS
Hey there love birds! We are so thrilled and 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 pieces of advice for how to make your photo experience as awesome as possible - some tips from our past couples and our own wedding day included.
A quick note: weddings are live events, and as photojournalists we're 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
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. As wedding photographers 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 lightig conditions in mind is highly encouraged, and we’re here to help! You'll find lighting tips throughout this guide. Overall:
- Outdoors: We LOVE shooting in natural light! Different times of day offer different challenges and advantages.
- The very best natural light is about 20 minutes before and after sunset, so we will always recommend to set aside about 20 minutes 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.
- The hours around noon (between about 10am-2pm) in full sunlight are most difficult to shoot in. 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 (tungsten /flourescent bulbs), which mix together in strange and unflattering ways in photos. Natural light 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/travel time. We don’t recommend adding extra locations for photos, especially if the ceremony and reception are in different spots. Extra locations can create stress from traffic, permits, etc, and 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 beautiful and 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.
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 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 bustle of the day.
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 very 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!
Side note on bridal parties: if having a big bridal party sounds stressful, political, or overwhelming to you, there's no problem with keeping it to one or two people (or none at all) - we'll still take lots of friend photos throughout the day.
We discourage others from photographing groups over our shoulders during formal portraits, to avoid people looking the wrong direction, distraction, and to keep things moving. It's helpful to let people know that you'll send the professional photos to them after the wedding!
During a beautiful moment, it's natural to want to somehow capture and share it. These days just about everyone has the ability to do so 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 a photography perspective, guests can be unaware that they are interfering with our composed photographs by blocking our 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. Persons moving around are also distracting to others trying to enjoy the moment organically.
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.
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.
When the sun goes down, we'll use our flashes in a natural way that captures the feel of the event. Dressing up your venue with candles and cafe/string lights creates a warm, romantic, natural feel. Extensive uplighting and DJ lights with crazy colors and lasers can look splotchy and strange on people. We're used to combatting this, but try to discuss saving the light show for after important and sentimental first dances.
DO YOU, and LET IT GO!
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.
Our best 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?
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:
Maven Events (also floral)
Bre Is Fun
Sky Focus Films
Selfie & Co
Nora Events (DJ Sticky)
Bluewater Kings Band
Rock With U
Ashley Fox Designs
a&be bridal shop
The White Room
Hair & Makeup: