The A - Z of Wedding Photography
20 Jul 2011
The A - Z of Wedding Photography
There is so much to consider when it comes to the photography for your wedding, but this A - Z guide should make it a little easier.
Check whether your photographer is going to provide a proof album containing all their usable shots for you to choose from before they go to the post-production stage. The images you choose for your final album might be very different to the ones they’d choose, so this might be a box worth ticking.
Some wedding albums are bought part-assembled by the photographer, leaving them to just slot in their shots later. If you have the money in your budget it’s well worth going down the bespoke route as then you have the choice of cover material, weight of the paper, edgings and mounts.
Coffee table book
This is one of the latest album trends. Photographs are presented in a bound, hard cover book, usually complete with a dust jacket, in a refined, magazine-style format. This is quite a specialised look to pull off, so it’s worth checking whether your photographer designs books themselves or sub-contracts to a professional album compiler.
Decide beforehand whether you want to record everything about your day - the rings, shoes, flowers, table settings, menus, favours - and make sure your photographer is aware of this. Similarly, if you don’t want to pay out for shots of the chief bridesmaid’s silver slingbacks, let them know before they start snapping.
Expect the unexpected
No wedding day is picture perfect - they would be very dull if they were - so why not embrace the bloopers? If it rains, the groom forgets to do up his fly or your new mother-in-law’s hat flies off and gets stuck in a tree, encourage your photographer to capture it all for you to laugh at later.
Formal or informal?
Do you want to tick all the boxes on the textbook formal poses or give your photographer carte blanche to be creative with his angles, lighting and groupings? Make this decision early on as it can have an important impact on your choice of photographer.
You can pay as little as £300 to as much as £10,000 for your wedding photographs, depending on the level of service and finish you require. A mid-range package of around £1,500 should get you coverage of your preparations, ceremony and line-ups, a contemporary matted album and (if you’re lucky) an online storybook and a CD of proofs.
Gratis or good?
Asking a friend to photograph your wedding for free will undoubtedly save you money, but you’ll probably have to make do with an album of slightly out-of-focus shots. Even if your pal is a professional photographer, think twice about asking them - one bad set of pictures could mean the end of a beautiful friendship.
There is a growing trend for brides to present their grooms with a secret boudoir album of themselves in saucy poses. Making it tasteful rather than tacky is a skilled photographic job and you have to make sure that both you and your photographer are happy to give it a whirl.
If you’re baffled by photographic jargon like reportage (non-obtrusive, documentary-style photography) and flush mount (images mounted directly on to card, flush up to the edge), ask your photographer to explain. Otherwise you could end up with flush mount reportage when you really wanted a digital flipbook.
Knowing me, knowing you
If you plump for a photographic company rather than a one-man-band, make sure you meet the actual person who’ll be covering your wedding well before the big day itself. A personality clash when you’re already at the altar is ill-advised.
Location, location, location
Check that your photographer is familiar with the location of your wedding and, if not, suggest they scout it beforehand to nail down their positioning and lighting. You might even want to join them for a few test shots.
Some black and white images can look dated and dull but, with the right photographer, they can look timeless and magical. If you’ve got your heart set on black and white, make sure it’s something your snapper is comfortable with and experienced in.
If you want the majority of your photographs to be taken outdoors, the best light happens one to two hours before sunset. If your wedding party is indoors, opt for a room with plenty of windows and not too any dark nooks and crannies. Natural light is the most flattering for any bride.
Make sure you schedule in some one-to-one time with your new spouse during what is usually a hectic day so your photographer can get some quieter, more intimate shots for your album.
Help your photographer to mine the depths of their creativity by providing a range of props. Order an extra single bloom from your florist and cut an extra length of ribbon, bring along an invitation and even an extra garter if you’re feeling frisky - anything that will add extra depth to your finished album.
Interviewing photographers is just like any other job interview, so don’t be afraid to question them in detail and ask for references. If a photographer tries to avoid giving you contact information for previous customers, avoid them.
Round ‘em up
Nominate a family member - or one from each side - to act as director of the shoot. It’s their job to round-up all the relevant people for the all-important family shots.
There’s nothing worse than getting your album back and realising there’s no picture of Grandma Gertie. Make sure you compile a shot list for your photographer setting out who needs to be captured for posterity.
A lot of people put single-use throw-away cameras on every table at their reception in the hope of getting an array of candid shots. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to get a pile of blurred, cockeyed pictures of people you don’t recognise pulling daft faces and bearing unmentionable parts of their anatomy.
Some photographers now offer to upload a series of photographs of the ceremony, family line-ups, etc on to a computer screen at the reception or evening celebration, so guests can see a rolling slideshow after the wedding.
Value for money
Agree a price up front with a detailed schedule of how many shots you require, key aspects you want recording, style preferences and how you want the final shots presented.
Who owns the pictures?
Copyright of wedding images usually remains the property of the photographer unless otherwise specified. However, they will often license clients to reproduce images for an agreed fee.
You’ve enjoyed your big day, relaxed on honeymoon and now it’s time to trash your dress. Some brides are now choosing to enjoy one last photo shoot of them rolling in a muddy puddle or wading into the sea in their frock. You’ll either love the idea or hate it.
Don’t be swayed by other people, only you can decide if a photographer ticks all your boxes. If in doubt, ask yourself this simple, gut-reaction question: would you invite your photographer as a guest?
If you’re still in doubt, sleep on it.
Malcolm Rouse: 01904 633476, www.malcolmrousephotography.co.uk