What your Wedding Photographer wants you to know before your Big Day
Following on from Rachel of Mirabella weddings talking about what a Wedding Planner wants you to know, now it’s time for the Photographers. There won’t be that many people who have had to book and organise a photographer for a large scale event before, so this guide should give you an insight and help make that booking procedure just a little smoother…
First up, shall we talk about the weather? Well, we are British so it would be rude not to.
We are a nation obsessed with the weather. It’s understandable, we so rarely have seasons set in stone so even the summer months can be uncertain. Lee of Lee Allison photography says that rain doesn’t always mean terrible photos! In fact, when shot by the right photographer in the right way can mean AMAZING shots!
Timings are one of the things as a Bride I had NO idea about. How long should I allocate for each part? When should we sneak off and have pictures taken of just us?
Taking photos of the bridal preparation before the wedding
Bridal prep doesn’t need to be for more than 2 hours, says Lee. That’s plenty of time to capture what needs to be captured. I personally LOVE this time for photos. It’s a really raw, emotional time and the photos are candid and relaxed and just fun. I love these that Lina of Lina and Tom Photography captured when we worked together at South Farm last Summer
Rafe Abrook of Rafe Abrook Photography says of bridal prep - If the bridal party is ready in good time, and depending on the proximity of the groom party I will always try and get a few images of the bridal party together before the ceremony, or at the very least a few shots of the bride fully dressed in the window light. Father of the Bride Reveal shots like the ones below can be fantastic when I can get set up for them. Rafe’s Top Tip: Avoid having your young children in with you during Bride Prep (if you have them) as it’s a long time for them to be expected to behave on an emotional, confusing day. That’s what grandparents are for! (I agree.. I know it’s not always possible, I have 2 young ones myself, but this is a time you really need to be as ZEN as possible and it’s a LOT for little ones to take in. Not to mention, fragile dresses, lots of make-up and hot tools etc)
Why do you need a second photographer at your wedding?
Grooms! We haven’t forgotten you! Rafe always shoots with a second shooter and I think this is SUCH an essential so that your bromance bonding time isn’t neglected! Rafe says to wait for the Second Shooter to arrive! These are the key shots for them. Jackets going on, ties, cufflinks, watches – gifts being exchanged, cards read etc. Try and relax and have fun with it. NO need to look at the camera and have that awkward eye contact as your best man pins and re pins your buttonhole…
Rafe also says about venues…Your venue is going to be lovely, and even if I haven’t shot there before, I won’t need to view it beforehand. I react super quickly to my surroundings and am driven by light, composition and moments, the combination of which won’t be there at any other time than your wedding day. I will have time during the morning prep, and wedding reception and breakfast to look around and find places for B&G portraits so trust me that I will make the most of everything available to us! However with church weddings, I always ask you to check, double check and then triple check with the vicar what the rules are on photography as I REALLY need to be at the front of the church somewhere to get a good angle on you both for the ceremony. I will be discreet, quiet and respectful of the service. I even have a completely geeky silent mirrorless camera now which you could mention to sweeten the vicar. Either way it’s essential that I know in advance how the land lies with this.
Group Shots - Do you? Don’t you? How do you avoid losing hours to this really easily? Rafe strongly encourages keeping the list to direct family and bridal/groom party only to avoid losing a large chunk of your wedding reception to this. A well organised Group Shot session can be done in as little as 20 mins but there is nearly always someone we need who isn’t there so we need to budget longer. Doing the group shot of the whole wedding party makes everyone feel involved and reduces the chances of Aunties and Uncles expecting extended family group shots which can be tricky to make look good with 20 odd people to fit in. Again, we will run through this at the planning stage and I will make sure we get what you require in the most efficient way possible.
Top Tip: Make sure you get a photo of just parents & siblings without partners, even if you add in partners afterwards in a political move. My Mum insisted on having my brothers girlfriend at the time in all of our group shots and 3 months later they weren’t together! This can easily be done without causing offence- Rafe.
Lee recommends leaving plenty of time for your drinks reception. It’s an excellent photo opportunity from start to finish and the BEST way for you to circulate and catch everyone to say hello. If you’re short of time, perhaps skip a formal greeting line (because it’s a boring photo opportunity in my opinion)
Lee also has another gem of wisdom when it comes to portraits. Put aside 30 minutes and if it needs to be split into two 15 minute sections then so be it. Try and get out in that ‘magic hour’ as the sun sets so you can capture images such as this..
These images by Rafe below are fine examples of how couples portraits don’t have to be awkward/boring. Rafe specialises in capturing the LOVE as well as the fancy stuff. Worth leaving enough time if you can get yourself a photo like this, right?
Food- This may be something you haven’t even considered! But you absolutely MUST feed your photographers. They can’t be expected to lug around a petrol station sandwich and a banana all day and sustain their energies for the hours they are working. None of us would want to do a full days work with no food. Soe of them are travelling miles or staying overnight so a packed lunch isn’t always an option.
Rafe puts it like this - Whilst you all eat, we’ll take a break and enjoy the meals you have kindly provided for us. Nobody likes being photographed whilst eating and we will be running on fumes by then anyway. When you’re organising catering the venue will usually ask you if you are feeding your photographers. Once eaten we will then prepare and set our lighting up for the speeches assuming they are after the meal. Top Tip: Save a few ££ by letting us order from the bar menu if the venue has one and give us £15-£20 per head to spend as this will usually be less than an extra wedding meal!
Speeches - Have you even considered how speeches and photographers combine? You really must. Some of the best most emotive photos come of the reactions to the speeches. Rafe wisely suggests that if you want to really capture the speech photos, opt for a flat/long Top Table as it’s far easier to photograph than a round one during this part of the day.
What happens at the after party? Most photographers stay to capture at least some of this.
This is Rafe’s sage and hilarious advice- If you are having a few young children at the wedding, try and encourage the parents to keep them off the dancefloor when you want everyone dancing, or at least make sure they are adult supervised. 8 kids doing endless balloon chasing and knee slides on a dance floor is cute for the first half an hour but it will stop inebriated adults getting out there as nobody wants to drop a pint of Peroni over a 2 year olds head. Your guests want to see you both out there having a LARGE time, so even if you are like me (the world’s most reluctant bloke dancer), try and show a bit of willing when Mr Brightside comes on. All party photos below by Rafe Abrook
All the other stuff…
Expectations and reality when it comes to wedding photos
Managing expectation is something a lot of photographers agreed was something they wanted to talk about.
Lina put’s it perfectly when she said
Have realistic expectations of your photographer: if you've been pinning those gorgeous Californian wedding sunsets but are getting married in an urban town centre, your photos will be different! But trust in your chosen photographer to come up with their own creative storytelling of your big day and you'll no doubt have some wonderfully unique images of your wedding, rather than a carbon copy of whatever is on trend today!
And I agree! Make your wedding about YOU and your marriage, rather than what you think will look the best on Instagram/a wedding blog.
Rafe says - Be daring. Be original. Be brave. There is no script. Do what you want and know that if it’s something unique and crazy that I will be very excited by it.
But please let me know of any surprises being planned because I don’t want to miss the Father of the Bride dressing up as Widow Twanky and sword swallowing a large courgette. ( I mean, who would want to miss that? *Katy*)
I also want to add in one last section from Rafe about timings and expectation management, because, like I’ve said before, how would you be expected to know this? But I often hear people aghast at the length of time it can take to receive the full gallery of wedding photos. Some might even class it as moaning… Rafe puts is best explained here - I shoot 30-40 weddings per year and often shoot 5 or 6 in a busy month. Aside from March, I nearly always have a wedding queue that you will join after the Sneak Peek. Typically, full galleries are delivered to you around the 10-12 week mark although this can be less earlier in the year. Please be patient and understand that I can’t skip people up the queue no matter how many times you say my hair looks amazing. The editing process has several layers of work that I won’t bore you with here, but this is why you paid the BIG BUCKS for a proper Wedding Photographer. Attention to detail and care to ensure all images reach my own exacting standards. Rome wasn’t built in a day, even if Newport Pagnell was.
That is a LOT of very useful information. I hope this takes away a bit of the uncertainty you may feel when organising your wedding?
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any one of these photographers. I’ll pop their links below for you to find them.
Rafe Abrook - www.rafeabrook.co.uk
Lina - www.linaandtom.com
Lee Allison - www.leeallisonphotography.co.uk
Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of this series.