Tips from photographers on how to make your day magic…
So... You’re getting married soon. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, never to be repeated. Perhaps the most special day of your life. And more than anything you want your event to be captured in the most beautiful and perfect way. There’s only one thing you need to do… Hire a great photographer, right? Well, Kinda. That is a good start. But you will find even a great photographer has amazing sessions, and not so amazing sessions. So, why would that be? And is there anything you can do to make sure you’re one of the amazing ones? The answer? Yes. A lot of the time the difference between a great session and a not so great session comes down to you, the bride and groom. And there are certain steps you can take to make sure that you get the absolute best out of your photographer and videographer on the day. We have compiled a list of the most important considerations that any soon to be wedded couple should take on board. We tell this to each and every one of our clients. And now we’re putting it out here, for you :)
#1 Golden hour
You may have heard of golden hour. It happens twice a day as the sun is rising and again as it sets. Without going into too much detail, it is basically a small window of time where the lighting is soft, creamy, golden, and absolutely ideal for photography. As wedding photographers we’re mostly concerned with the sunset, as not too many people want to be married before breakfast. So, if you are about to plan a wedding, and getting amazing photography and video is a priority, you should definitely look at scheduling your couple and bridal party shots for this window. It truly is when the proper magic happens. This is when we get the cream.
Note: Depending on your location and which season you’re in, sunset times could vary quite significantly. Google the sunset times for your specific location and time of year. If say sunset was at 6pm and you had allocated 90 minutes for photos. We would ideally aim to start just before 5pm and finish up around 6.20pm. The half hour after sunset is generally still great lighting for photos.
#2 Consider your ceremony time and place
Okay. I know we just demanded an hour and a half of your day at a really specific and varying time, but…… If you are having an outdoor ceremony it can really pay to consider, once again (I know, sigh) the lighting situation. We go on about light all the time, but this one is pretty simple. If sunrise and sunset are the cream. High noon is our worst enemy. Harsh light, dirty shadows, squinty eyes and glowing white faces. That was a pretty dramatic description of midday, even for a photographer. And honestly, we face bright ceremonies all the time, we can deal with it. But if you do have the option, look for some shade or consider pushing for a slightly later ceremony start time.
#3 Family photos
In most cases, straight after the ceremony, most couples opt to get the formal family photos out of the way. Which makes sense… Everyone is together. You’re in a gorgeous area. No one has indulged in too much bubbly yet. It’s the perfect time. But please be warned. This session has the potential to blow out horribly if not organised correctly in advance. And when it does, it becomes super stressful for you guys, and eats into time you had allocated for other things. Here are our tips to keep things running smoothly.
1) Make a list of each photo you want. Sounds simple? It is. But it’s often overlooked or brushed aside as unnecessary. But seriously, make a list. It helps us out a bunch and it also eliminates the chance of offending anyone by accidentally leaving them out. Ya’ll know how aunt Cheryl can get if she’s forgotten.
2) Get your MC or bridal party on board to help organise everyone. For some reason there is an unknown rule in the universe that if you get more than 20 people together in a group, they are strictly forbidden from listening to the camera person. It’s a real thing. However provide one charming, well known, charismatic person (or 12. Maybe with microphones) and things take a miraculous turn and people do exactly what they’re told, rainbows appear, birds start chirping and the world is a wonderful place.
3) Move everyone who is not required, away from the area. Lingerers, man. Bloody lingerers. I tell ya. Get rid of them... Just kidding. But seriously, the best thing you can do to keep the family photos short and sweet is to keep the rest of your wedding group occupied and away from the immediate area. Canapes, drinks, lawn games are all good options. Also, have the celebrant or your MC give them clear instructions on where they need to be and what they can do. They’ll be happy. You’ll be happy. We’re all going to be so damn happy. Together.
#4 Crowd control
Okay so this may seem a little nit picky, but trust us, this tip is actually super important… Be sure to keep your wedding party in good spirits and let them know how important photos are to you. Honestly, all it takes is one less than enthused person to ruin what could have been an amazing shot. And we encounter this issue quite a lot, especially during the bridal party shoot at the end of the day. And we totally get it. It’s been a long day. The ceremony has just finished. Everyone else is enjoying a drink and they’ve been whisked off by some stranger who is currently jamming a camera in their face. In this situation the best thing you can do is to make sure you have some food and drink on hand for them. And pull them aside and say “hey guys. Thanks so much for everything you have done today, it’s been great. I know you want to go enjoy yourselves but these photos are super important to us so please just give us another half an hour before you join the party.” If you can keep the vibes high during this part of the day your group photos will be amazing. No doubt.
Smoke bombs, sparklers, confetti, petal throws, fireworks, flying lanterns. There are so many props you can use that look absolutely spectacular on photo and films. Some photographers will supply these things on request and other times you may need to purchase them yourself. Which ever way you go with it be sure to communicate these ideas with your photographer and even provide them with some inspo photos where possible. Also, be mindful that certain props can be dangerous, stain your clothes or be harmful to the environment. So do your research to make sure the products you use are safe.
#6 Special moments
First looks, father/mother daughter reveals, bridesmaid reveals, written letters, gifts. Having any of these types of special moments organised for your day can create unique opportunities to bring out real emotion, that might not have happened otherwise. And when they do, we’ll be there to capture them, which will bring depth to your photos and help to tell a story in your video. If you’re not sure what any of the moments we mentioned are all about, check out this video we shot for Ash + Brent. From 1.30 - 3.15 you will find an example of all of these moments. And you’ll know exactly what we mean :)