Professional Wedding Photographer Advice; What The Experts Want You to Know!
Congratulations on your engagement! There are so many things that go into planning an amazing wedding but don’t forget to capture each precious moment. After all, those moments on film will be with you long after your big day. They will last a lifetime and beyond.
We at Denver Party Ride asked some of Denver’s top wedding photographers their advice. See what the experts had to say!
“Wedding photos last forever, every bride and groom wants them to be extra special. What are some tips that every couple should know about to best capture the special events during the engagement through wedding process?”
There is a lot of planning that takes place between the engagement and the actual wedding, which can be overwhelming, just don’t forget to enjoy the little moments as much as the big. It’s always fun to create a photo scrapbook where both bride and groom take one picture a day up until after the honey moon. These don’t have to be professionally taken or even of yourselves, but just a snapshot of something that reminds you of your special connection. And in those times you do want professional photographs taken don’t skimp out here. These photographs, especially if taken with expertise and the right equipment, will last you generations. So be sure to choose someone who’s photo style and personality matches your relationship
-Megan O’Neill, Owner, Meg O’Neill Photography
1. Meet with your photographer/videographer! Whether that’s at a coffee shop or over video chat; having that face-to-face interaction really helps to ensure they’re a right fit for you and your fiance. During the wedding planning process we love to grab dinner or drinks with our couples and become friends so on their wedding day we aren’t strangers. This allows couples to be so much more relaxed and at ease in front of the camera.
2. Make time for the moments that are most important for you! This is done by creating your wedding day timeline with your photographer and videographer. We love being a part of the wedding planning process with our clients and when we meet with them we give them timeline examples. If photos are really important to the couple, we let them know how important it is to have enough time to capture all the special moments on their wedding day. We know how much time is needed to for the girls to get dressed, first look, etc. and we plan enough time where we don’t have to rush them through anything. Our least favorite thing on a wedding day is rushing through the special moments and that can easily be avoidable with a good timeline. We know that things can go wrong on a wedding day so we also include in cushion time.
3. Have fun! We tell couples don’t forget to have fun throughout the planning process and on your wedding day. We know wedding planning can be stressful at times so once you start feeling stressed plan a date night. Go out to dinner or for drinks and talk about anything else expect wedding planning. We also tell couples on their wedding day if they have fun and just enjoy the moments with each other, their family, and their friends we can do our job really well. Their love and joy for each other will shine through so well in the photos and film if they are enjoying the moments. It’s our job to keep track of the timeline and details, they don’t need to stress about that.
-Marissa & Lauren, Owners, ML Photo & Film
Going over your timeline with the photographer so they can help you pick out the best lighting for your couple portraits and wedding party photos. Also having a first look is always great because it helps you have more time to take photos and not stress about getting them all done after the ceremony.
-Elizabeth Burgi, Owner, Elizabeth Burgi Photography
In photographing weddings over the last 10 years, I have found that the camera can only do so much.As a photographer,I strive to capture the personalities of the couple.The love and affection between them,helping them to relax and be themselves,posing is also important,if the couple is uncomfortable, it usually shows in the shots. I love to find the unique places and things that the couple love and incorporate those things.
-Nancy Tait, Captured in a Flash Images
I like to tell my couples to be themselves. Capturing photos shouldn’t be “go stand in that pretty spot”. It’s about capturing the deep emotional connection that the two people who are in front of the lens have. Being yourself and staying relaxed is guaranteed to lead to some of your favorite photos of the both of you.
-Matt Speck, Owner, Matthew Speck Photography
Remember to relax and have fun! The best photos are the ones that show your personality – as individuals and as a couple. When you relax and unwind together the real magic happens. Let the photographer worry about light, angles, and how you look – just focus on your new partner and enjoying yourself. It will show in your photographs!!
-Kate Marie, Owner, Kate Marie Photography
Many soon to be brides and engaged couples think mostly of capturing one of the most important days of their lives, their wedding day. Now, however, it’s extremely popular to capture much more than the day and many more incredibly special and sometimes intimate moments to document. The first being surprise proposals, which are one of my favorite moments to photograph. Of course, I’m usually hired by the groom in secret to plan and capture the setup, hard work and intimate reaction and love between a couple. It’s amazing to witness and incredibly special! It’s usually one of the stories you will tell the most and now you can put images to your story. Engagement photos are also wonderful to capture photos of you two, your style, personalities and relationship. The more authentic you without suits and veils, etc. Last Brides, consider bridal photos. These are wonderful to do after your dress alterations are done and the same day as your hair and makeup trial so that you can do a “test run” of the wedding day and do some photos that we can take care of and help your wedding day timeline to be more relaxed.
-Katie Green, Owner, Katie Corinne Photography
1. Allow your story to be your story. Each person, each family, and network of friends has its own distinct character. Let this shine through and don’t try to force your wedding to be like every other.
2. Be present and relax. Once the day comes sink into it and try to release details. If you’re relaxed and present, it will come out in the photos.
3. Think outside the box for photo ideas. It’s hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime event–think creatively about where/what of your couples shots. Take the time to get somewhere extraordinary.
4. Drink…but not too much. A cocktail or three can be a fine way to relax, but be sure not to relax too much. You know what I mean.
5. In photographers we trust. Trust your photographer–you’re paying them well because they’re good. Trust their expertise even while being free/confident to shout out ideas as things progress.
6. Shoot at sunset! There’s nothing like the golden light of sunset. Shoot then. Work it into the timeline. You won’t regret it.
7. Remember why you’re here. I always tell couples to make their default attention on each other. This helps you remember the basic point–you’re here because you love him/her, focus on that.
– Adam & Brittany Beach, Creative Directors/Lead Photographers, Adam Beach Photography
Find a photographer you trust and can vibe with! Be yourself, open, and just enjoy the process! 🙂
-DiAnna Marr, Our Two Hearts
Communication is very important between a couple and their photographer. Once you have selected a photographer based on their photographic style start the communication process. A wedding day moves very quickly so building a relationship up to the wedding helps us capture your personalities in the photos. Engagement sessions are a great way to build those relationships before the wedding. Sharing examples of images you love, scouting the venue together and meeting for coffee are also good ways to build a relationship leading up to the big day. After all, your photographer is the vendor that will be with you for the majority of your wedding day.
You have to love your photographer’s work. Don’t look at budget for photography since your wedding images will be the only thing, which lasts forever from your special day. Flowers will wilt, the cake will be eaten, you might sell your dress, etc. So, when you are looking for a photographer get the one you really love! You will have those images forever!
As for your engagement session – dress up and makeup. You usually take your engagement images only once and want to look your best!
As for your wedding – discuss all details with your photographer – your timeline, your colors, your wedding theme (if you have one), etc. and share your Pinterest board with your photographer. The more your photographer knows about your special day, the better she / he is prepared to capture all important details and moments that day and nothing should go wrong!
-Tamara Gruner, Owner, Tamara Gruner Photography
Here are 3 tips to get the most out of your wedding photography:
1. Choose a photographer you feel comfortable with and whose style matches what you want. Spend time with them shooting engagements, go out to lunch, or just call them and chat about your day. Listen to their suggestions and then trust them. By the time the wedding day comes around, I as a photographer want to know my clients well enough that we’re on a first-name basis and we look forward to hanging out throughout the day.
2. Prioritize your day, and recognize that not everything can be top priority. If you know you’ll have two things you want photographed simultaneously (such as the getting ready period for both people), make sure you book a second shooter, or if you have a large family and need 50 group formals make sure you allocate a correct amount of time to this and if it is smack-dab in the middle of cocktail hour, you, your family, and you photography coverage will miss the cocktail hour.
3. Allocate time to your photography, and put specifics about that time on your wedding-day schedule. Have your photographer help you create your schedule. Understand that certain shots need the right timing of day, such as sunset shots, and in some cases might require extra time to set up. This all needs to be consider and may require adjustment to your schedule. The more you discuss it with your photographer, the more likely our timing will get you exactly what you want.
-Jared M. Gant, Owner, JMGant Photography
First and foremost, hire a photographer whose work you really love. I don’t mean a photographer whose photos you think are pretty, but a photographer whose photos you feel you can’t live without. This might mean paying a bit more, but your wedding photos are the one thing that will last beyond the day of the wedding.
When meeting with your favorite photographers, be sure to ask to see a full wedding shoot. Portfolios can be misleading because they’re a collection of the absolute best shots collected from years of weddings. Viewing a full wedding shoot (or five) will give you a much better idea of how the photographer works and what your wedding photos will look like.
Finally, trust your photographer to do what he or she does best. You’ve hired this person for a reason. Don’t worry about what other people do at weddings or expect to recreate photos you’ve seen before. Give your photographer the leeway to be creative and you’ll come away with some truly unique images that you’ll absolutely love.
Whether it’s your photographer or any other wedding vendor, the most important thing you can do is research them ahead of time. Comb through online reviews so you can get a feel for what people liked (or didn’t) about working with them. Then ask to see a couple of recently completed weddings from the photographers you’re considering to understand what their final product looks like (as opposed to a selection of portfolio images).
On your wedding day, know that no wedding goes 100% according to plan and embrace that. Some of the best parts of any wedding are the unscripted moments, and a great photographer will be tuned into capturing those. With all of the planning and preparation behind you, shift your focus to being present and enjoying all the caring people who have come together to help celebrate your love. Simply by having an amazing time, you’ll be helping your photographer document the energy and excitement of your celebration!
-Coriane Wells, Elation Expert, From The Hip Photo
Relax and have fun! Seriously, this is a special and exciting time in your lives, and your photos should reflect that. Be as natural as you can be in front of the camera, and just enjoy yourselves. And if it takes a shot or two of tequila to help you get comfortable, then go for it!
-Julie Harris, Owner, Julie Harris Photography
The longer your wedding the more time you have to relax and you don’t have to rush from spot to spot and you can actually enjoy taking pics.
Get an experienced photographer they will tell you what to do and will not stress out because they doing it all the time that will make you more relaxed as well.
Do an engagement session this will give you the practice of how to pose and how a portrait session works.
-Bryan Grant, Pixil Studio
Some people get so obsessed about tiny details that they end up not acting like themselves anymore. If you’re stressed out, it will show in the shots. To my brides: give your phone to your bridesmaid the day of the wedding. Let someone else deal with it all and just enjoy your friends and family. Besides, you don’t want shots of you glued to your phone anyway!
and while we’re on that point…
#2: TELL YOUR GUESTS THAT YOUR WEDDING IS PHONE-FREE
I know countless other photographers that would agree with me on this one: nothing ruins a beautiful wedding photo like Uncle Jim in the background waiving his smartphone around trying to get a cell phone pic. We have enough of a hard time making sure we don’t get our second photographers in the pictures, let alone worrying about your entire wedding party on their phones in the shots.
#3: HIRE A MAKEUP ARTIST
Me personally, I’m all about DIY. I don’t know the last time I’ve gotten my nails done professionally or anything of the sort. However, having a makeup artist that specializes in weddings and knows how to do skin “for the camera” makes all the difference! Even if you want to go for a very natural look – which I love – let someone who specializes in this do the handiwork. We can’t “just photoshop out” a blemish on 700+ pictures like it’s no big deal.
#4: HAVE FUN!!!!
Take a moment to be with each other. This is, after all, why you’re getting married… right? As a wedding photographer, I am one of the few vendors that spends the majority of the day glued to my couples. I have seen the good, bad, and the ugly. The weddings that stand out the most to me have rarely been the most lavish ones… They are the ones where my couples are genuinely into each other and are appreciative of their friends and family. Take a sweet moment to be with your father before he walks you down the aisle. Tickle your flower girls and play wrestle with your ring bearer. Bring your dog. Hold hands, hug everyone. These are the timeless photos that will mean the most to you down the road anyway and the ones that tell your story best after all. These are the moments that inspire me on a day to day basis and make my job easy 🙂
-Heather Erny, Owner, Erny Photo Co
For the best engagement photos, it’s all about feeling comfortable and having fun. Remember this is a relaxed time, so don’t over think it. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that you feel good in, and just remember to avoid large letters and logos. Other than that, have a drink beforehand! The best tip I can give for the wedding day, is to actually have an engagement session. You’d be amazed out how much more comfortable you’ll feel with your new friend/photographer by your side, and you’ll also already have that set of engagement images, so you can let go of your worries, trust, and fully enjoy the day.
-June Cochran, Owner, June Photography
Research lots of photographs and choose the photographer that fits your style best! Make sure the company you choose is giving you that actual photographer and not contracting out someone else. After that, provide all information your photographer asks for and trust the professional to create those stunning images from your wedding, we know what we’re doing!
-Shaun Piazza, Colorado Wedding Productions
Find a photographer you trust. Do you trust them to be on time? Are they going to make you feel comfortable on your big day or are they going to add to your stress? Invest in an engagement session with your wedding photographer. A lot of people like to go the cheap route for their engagement photos—they have a friend do it. But this is a huge missed opportunity to work with your photographer before your big day. Engagement sessions are a great way to get to know each other better. It’s great for your photographer to see how you interact with each other and the photographer will no longer be a stranger at your wedding. My last piece of advice is to do a “first look”. First looks are beautiful, but I don’t recommend them for any cheesy reasons at all. They are simply amazing for your timeline. If you do a first look than you are free to do wedding party photos, even family photos BEFORE the ceremony. Then you can actually enjoy your own cocktail hour..imagine that! Traditionally, you end up doing family photos, couples photos and wedding party photos all during cocktail hour. And that is 60 minutes of smiling for the camera with no rest. With a first look you can take things a little more slowly so you can enjoy your day.
-Jill Houser, Owner, Jill Houser Photography
Your wedding is truly an extra special event. The best advice I can give couples #1 is you are working with a real person. It is key that you meet that person either in person, skype, facetime. If you are not comfortable with your photographer it comes across in the images. You have to know that you “gel” with your photographer because wedding days can be stressful. Engagement sessions are a Fantastic way to see how your wedding day will be. Engagement sessions are a way for me to connect with the couple and see how the couple interacts. It also allows the couple to see how I work with them so that the day of you are all on the same page and know Exactly what to expect. As much as I like to be booked up for a wedding season I will Never take a wedding I don’t feel like we are a “fit” because couple’s wedding images are WAY to important. It’s important to me that every couple has the perfect photographer for their wedding day. After all you waited for a while for prince charming why would you hire just anyone because they were a money match – we are talking about forever images! Interview a few photographers, you will know when you have found the right one for you.
-Mindy Lundy, Owner, Mindy Lundy Photography
Make time to get to know your photographer aside from email; you spend a majority of your time with this wedding vendor, and a good relationship shows through in images. Even if you can’t meet in person, set up a phone call. Grab coffee if you can, and make sure all of your personalities mesh well.
Plan ahead. Make sure you are all on the same page about the timeline, details, attire, specific photo requests, etc… and then… let go. (See next tip for more on “letting go.”)
Trust your photographer. This is a biggie. Trust in the person you’ve hired (this goes for all wedding vendors, too!). Remember: your photographer does this as a profession. They know what moments to capture and what to anticipate, and if you loved their style initially, give them space to create their magic. Micromanaging on the day of the wedding does more harm than good.
Be willing to have fun with photos. Getting out of your comfort zone is ok – in fact, it’s encouraged! Enjoy the moment, be present and go with the flow.
Always have a Plan B. And know that you might even end up going with Plan C. We can plan as much as possible ahead of time, and knowing (read: accepting) that it still might go differently is imperative.
-Emily Schmutz, Keeping Composure Photography + Summit Mountain Weddings
It always helps to schedule an engagement session before your wedding day. An engagement session allows for you and your fiance to get a sense of how the photographer will work with you, so it’s one less thing to worry about on your big day. Also, be sure to collaborate with your photographer on a few locations you think would be best to capture your bride and groom portraits. Areas in or near your venue that speak to your personality and allow you to be you are the best for capturing those special moments.
-Jeff Chrisler, Owner/Lead Photographer, Couloir Creative
Spend some time looking at photography online; you’ll really get an idea of what you love about certain editing styles, poses, and camera angles. You can never give a photographer too much information about what you are looking for; the more we know about you, the more you will love your photos!
– Alyssa & Stephanie, Butterscotch Rose Photography, LLC
Communication and authenticity is absolute key. Manage your expectations with vendors that are the right fit for you. Not every couple will have the time and energy to vet and get to know the vendors that will be so instrumental to their big day – but it’s important. Try to surround yourself with vendors that not only fit your personality and style for the day but ones that will care about you and your details as deeply as you do. Be yourself, be happy – it’s going to be one of the happiest days of your lifetime.
-Mark Blake, Owner, Mark Blake Wedding Solutions
Couples wanting great wedding photos should absolutely hire a photographer who specializes in weddings. Wedding days are full of unexpected moments and an experienced wedding photographer is more likely to get great photos of those little things. Another tip: Get to know your photographer (and let them get to know you!) during your engagement session. Don’t be afraid to suggest locations or props that illustrate your relationship.
-Josh & Christie, Owners, JXC Photo
We recommend couples consider the day in two parts, the photo shoot vs. the event. Start early, do a first look and get most of the group photos done before ceremony with plenty of time and great light. After ceremony do a quick family photo set (with bigger groups) then enjoy your cocktail hour with family & friends and have the photographer follow you (at distance) so you can get more great photos with the people you cherish the most. Some of our favorite weddings include a longer 09-minute cocktail hour. If you have to cut end-of-night drunk dancing and the grand send off, it’s ok because those photos don’t often get picked for the wedding album. Protect your time together with the people your guest list and that way your wedding won’t feel like a photo shoot.
-Tom Koeting, Owner, tomKphoto
Compiled by Denver Party Ride