Get the Most from Your Wedding Photographer
I've compiled 15 tips on how to work with your wedding photographer before, during and after your big day. As with any relationship, communication and trust are key. Hire a wedding photographer you want to make an internal part of your day. After all, they will be spending most of the day with you!
Before the Wedding
1. Share Meaning and Fears
Share what will be meaningful to you with your wedding photographer. Not every bride cares about the hanging-dress shot or shoes. Let your photographer know what shots are important to you, and the ones that aren’t.
If you have any photography fears, discuss them with your photographer ahead of time. Examples include the way you are photographed (avoid certain angles, unflattering poses, etc.), any family drama or other concerns that could impact the day.
2. Make Time to Meet or Chat
Your wedding photographer should be available to have a final chat with you about your wedding plans a few weeks before the wedding (if not sooner). Having a conversation will often reveal things the photographer wasn’t aware of.
It is so important you don’t keep any surprises from them. You don’t want to run the risk of having a moment missed because they took a bathroom break at the wrong time! Additionally, things can change after booking, and it is so important to run through your timeline verbally to make sure you are on the same page.
3. Send a Curated List of Important Shots
You don't need to send your wedding photographer a long shot list with obvious things like “bride walking down the aisle." However, a personal and detailed list can be very helpful. For example, an heirloom brooch on the bouquet, special jewelry, Uncle John singing a song during the reception, etc. And of course, provide a personalized formal photos list.
4. Share Sample Images You Like
Ideally, select from photos your wedding photographer took. Pick the same location if they have shot there before or one similar. Either way, send the photos with very specific comments like, “I like this pose” or, "I love this type of background." Just be aware that some images may not work at your wedding. It is best to trust your photographer will make the most of the lighting and location you have selected. However, some basic suggestions are always welcome.
5. Tap Your Photographer's Expertise for Vendor Referrals
Your wedding photographer should have developed relationships with other vendors in your area. If you need suggestions, these referrals can be valuable.
6. How to Handle the Timeline
Even if you have a wedding planner, your photographer may be very involved in your pre-ceremony timeline and scheduling the formal photos. Use his/her expertise in planning to ensure you’ll have enough time and have considered logistical issues.
Schedule a joint call with your wedding planner to ensure everyone is on the same page. They can usually help in terms of etiquette and dealing with tricky situations, like formal photos and divorced parents. We wedding photographers have seen a lot and can make suggestions to keep things going smoothly!
(Learn how to make a wedding timeline here.)
7. Create the Best Situations for Photography
While much is going to be out of your control on the wedding day, there are a few things you can do to make your photographer's job easier. And as a result, make your photos better.
- Keep your getting-ready room clean or clean it up before photos
- Select a getting-ready location with lots of natural light and enough space
- Try to stay in the moment the whole day, especially during wedding portraits, the first look and couples photos. Talking about stuff that hasn't gone right or other problems doesn't make for beautiful photos!
- Flirt and get close during portraits. Emotions and intimacy make for the best photos!
- If you have any control over the ceremony lighting, make sure it properly lights you both. (If outside, check the location at the same time of day ahead of time to determine if harsh shadows or dappled light will be present. These situations can make photography very challenging.)
- Trust your photographer.They will work harder and be more creative if they know you trust their vision.
8. Have Someone Be in Charge of Corralling Important Guests for Photos
This can be a big time saver if you have requested informal group photos during the reception. The role is perfect for a family member or friend who you want to give a role in the wedding. Having someone who knows what the people in the photo look like can be especially helpful. Sometimes formal photos can be a bit like herding cats!
9. Introduce Your Photographer to VIPs Like Parents
Often this happens naturally, but not always. Making the effort will help parents be more comfortable asking for photos and the photographer will know who they are. In addition, don’t be afraid to point out details or important people you didn’t add to your list. Let parents know they can ask for photos, or point out VIPs or family you want to make sure are photographed.
10. When Things Run Behind
Listen to your photographer's advice about timing before the wedding and plan extra time. (Especially if you or others are prone to running late!) Understand if things run late or other problems arise, it can affect your coverage. Speak with your wedding photographer on how to mitigate timeline issues by rearranging or cutting out less important things.
If the wedding runs really behind, having the photographer stay later is an option. I always let a client know if I feel I haven't gotten the coverage needed. Ask your photographer before they go for the night and extend if needed.
11. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Retouching or Other Edits
I want you to LOVE your wedding photos, and sometimes images need a bit of tweaking. Smoothing skin, removing acne or other imperfections, and removing other distracting elements are simple solutions that can really improve a final image. Other times, circumstances don't allow for the perfect image to be taken. (For example, not all eyes may be open in a large group photo.) Some images can be combined later in Photoshop. Just ask!
12. Ask About All of the Options for Using Your Images
Most wedding photographers will sell prints and albums, but that isn’t all they can do. In addition to those, I also sell proof boxes, slideshows and fine-art prints (framed and not), and I can order other custom items as well. I also offer consultations for planning wall art and, of course, for albums. Sometimes images need to be cropped differently or increased in size. I'm happy to offer this to clients complimentary.
13. If You Are Feeling Overwhelmed at Selecting Your Album Images
Having your wedding photographer give you a starting place to edit from may be the trick a couple needs to get that album started. Your photographer can also help narrow down images or completely design the album for you.
14. If You Need an Image Before Your Wedding Photos Are Ready
Not all wedding photographers are able to provide this, but there is no harm in asking. Just be specific, and you may get what you are looking to use on your thank-you or holiday cards.
15. Help! I Can't Find My Photos!
Most wedding photographers offer a time limit on keeping your photos. If you loose your USB or can’t find your download, ask! There is a good chance they will still have these images (though some will charge a fee for retrieval). I can say I have access to all of the wedding photos I have shot over the last 10 years. More than once, clients have misplaced theirs, and I was able to resupply them. (I don’t guarantee this beyond one year, but I will try to keep them as long as I can.)
I recommend clients print their favorite images. Even better, print all of the images and store in an archival proof box. I also suggest making several copies -- online, on a local hard drive, on a USB drive you can access. Redundancy is the key!