Things your Photographer wished you would do... no really... seriously. I can dream, right?
Over the years, I've worked with more than a few brides. Some were easy to work with, and some didn't want to make the photography aspect any easier. I can't and shouldn't complain... it's not their job to make my job any easier or better. But there are things they can do to help me out that will make their wedding pictures better. A happy photographer is a good photographer!
1. Group Pictures. It's important to get all the grandmas, all the nieces and nephews in the group picture at your wedding. Think about a place around the venue where the group pictures will look good. Avoid distracting backgrounds, and make sure there is a large shady area so that no one is standing in bright light. Make a little list of who should be in the group shot. Designate someone (I like using the maid of honor) to round up everyone who needs to be in the group picture. If the group picture will be made indoors, let me know a few days in advance so I will be sure to bring my studio lights with me.
2. Give me Portrait Time. There's no rule set in stone that says the portraits and group shots should be done right after the ceremony, but that seems to be the easiest time. Plan on giving me at LEAST 30 minutes after the ceremony. (an hour is gravy!!) We can move you to our little portrait area and let the other guests get started with the reception. The best locations are areas with trees, shrubs, water, field of flowers, old building, barn, railroad tracks, meadow, rocky riverside. If we are dreaming about the PERFECT portrait session... it would happen right at sunset. That's when we'll get the best light, and possibilities of different effects (backlight and silhouettes) can make some spectacular portraits.
3. Bride's Dressing Room. I think pictures of the bride getting ready make great pictures. Pick a room with a little room to move around. The best room would be one with lots of windows, and lots of natural light. (please stay away from florescent lights!) Bring light gauzy fabric that we can use instead of heavy drapes. Decorate the room like you would any other part of the wedding venue. Have your bridesmaids clean up all the non-wedding messes like piles of bluejeans and underwear (don't laugh... I could show you pictures). Bring lots of candles. This is not just a place to get dressed... it's a place to reflect on your life. Bring some music.
4. Modesty. On your most important day, I wouldn't dream of making you feel uncomfortable. Some brides are okay with having a male photographer in the room while the bridesmaids help her get into her dress. I will always discuss this ahead of time so that we are clear on when I should take pictures and when I should step out. Occasionally I'll have my partner Judi shooting the wedding with me, and if you'd feel more comfortable with a female taking the pictures, we can do that.
5. Light at the Reception. I like taking pictures of the dancing at the reception. A little creative light goes a long way in making these reception pictures look awesome! Christmas lights and hanging bulbs, and rope lights give it a party atmosphere and make great background lights in the pictures. If you hire a DJ and they use moving lights, strobes, laser lights etc... keep in mind that those lights will affect the quality of pictures that I can take during the dancing. Since it changes the amount, color, and intensity of light, my exposure will be constantly changing, and I'll have to compensate with more flash to try and overpower the lights from the DJ. We can work a compromise with the DJ to cut down his disco lights until we've finished doing reception photography
6. Videographer Spot Lights. Videographers use bright LED lights while filming at the reception. This has the similar effect of the DJ's disco lights. It will ruin many good images. Sometimes I can work with the videographer, and use his lights to help light my picture. The problem is, sometimes it works, and sometimes it makes it worse. Let's say that you are getting ready to toss the bouquet, I get myself and my camera ready for the shot. Just before you throw, the videographer turns on his spotlight, and it changes the light completely. It's impossible for me to recalculate and change the settings for exposure on my camera in time to get the shot before the moment is gone.
7. Tossing the Bouquet. This is a great shot that I want to include in your wedding album. Take your time and don't rush this part. Be sure I'm in position and have my camera set up for the throw. I want a picture of you looking over your shoulder before you do the throw. Take a moment and look up. Don't be the bride that tosses her bouquet into the ceiling fan. (if you do,.. I'll still take the picture, and I'll be the one laughing). Yes, we can call for a "Do-Over" if you threw it the wrong way, and it bounced off your father's head. This part is tricky for me. There have been some weddings where I nailed the picture, and some where I didn't get the shot. I'll leave it up to you if you want to have a do-over to get the picture. Ask me if I got the shot.
8. Be aware of the Photographer while you're dancing. During the formal dances like the first dance or the father/daughter dance, you can ignore me completely. I'll be circling around you looking for that perfect shot. This is a good time to whisper things to your husband and father. Later in the evening, it would be great when we get to the fun dancing if you and your wedding party would occasionally turn towards the photographer a little bit. I hate getting pictures of the backs of everyone's head. Show off for the camera! let your hair down and dance!
9. Feed the Photographer(s). Be sure and tell your planner or caterer to save a plate for the photographer.
10. Putting on the Rings. Be aware of where the photographer is during this part of the ceremony, and open up your body position a little so that I can get a good picture. This is one of those MUST HAVE shots. It's also (sometimes) the most difficult for the photographer to get a good angle. Some couples without thinking block the photographer with their body. To turn this moment into a great picture, remember to hold the ring on the sides as you slide it on their finger. This gives the photographer a better view of the ring. You can practice this in front of a mirror with your fiancee and you'll see what I mean.