Newly Weds Kissing

How to get the best out of your wedding photographer

Leading wedding photographer Julie Michaelsen shares her top tips on how to use your photographer to get the best memories and keepsakes from your special day.

When it comes to your big day, your wedding photographer can be one of the biggest decisions (and investments) you will make. With weddings being the whirlwind they are, capturing each treasured moment with minimal fuss is key, which is what any good wedding photographer should be relied upon to do. But the responsibility doesn’t lie completely with them – they need your input in the run up to the wedding to ensure you have pictures you’re happy with, so communication between everyone is key.

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Firstly you need to decide what type of photographer you want in the first place, which should give you a basic idea of what to expect and you can go from there. What’s their general style? They might favour ‘reportage’ i.e. documenting your day purely through natural shots where people are unaware a photographer is even around. This can be less stressful for the bridal party and guests, but you might not end up with the types of photos you were after where the right people are together at the right time. In that case, you might prefer a traditional photographer who calls guests over to pose for photos and directs everyone, which you’re probably familiar with from attending other people’s weddings. Or you could go for the more creative photographers who have a brilliant eye for detail and will make the most of the scenery and backdrop to make your special day look like even more of a fairytale.

Whoever you decide to go with, it’s so important to meet your photographer prior to booking them. Aside from your friends and loved ones, this person will be shadowing you throughout the day, so you need to make sure it’s someone you can get along with. One of the biggest complaints couples have is that they clashed with their photographer, so face-t0-face meetings are crucial, to see if you ‘click’ (pun intended) and are on the same wavelength. If they live too far away, a Skype chat is better than nothing.

When you employ the services of a wedding photographer you are getting access to their secret wealth of knowledge. Especially if you don’t have the benefit of a wedding planner, a photographer can become very valuable in telling you things you wouldn’t know. Here are a few things you should be asking them about…

Bridal Photography Detail
Photo by Izabelle Acheson on Unsplash

Make the most of their contacts

Get recommendations of trusted wedding suppliers who they have worked with before and who they know provide excellent service and customer satisfaction.

Work out timings

Ask them what wedding schedules work best and will give you enough time to get the photos you want while also giving you enough time to kiss and hug your guests. They know how to help you look your best with flattering lighting, posing etc.

Make sure you ask how to get your family photographs done quickly and efficiently so that you can get back to your party!

And how do you get the best photographs of you on your big day? (Who should walk down the aisle first in order to get photos of all your bridal party, asking your registrar or priest to take a step to the right or left as they pronounce you man and wife so that they’re not in the background of a first kiss! So much to think about!)

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Ask what they need from you

A wedding photographer will often tell their clients what they need in terms of timings, but openly telling your photographer that you’re willing to work with them to get the best photographs possible is music to their ears. Knowing that the couple value their photography and are willing to work together is so valuable and a great starting point for you to get excellent photographs.

Feed your wedding photographer(s)!

This is a standard addition to most wedding photography contracts, but ensuring your photographer eats at the same time as the rest of the wedding means that if you’re having your speeches after the meal your photographers are refreshed, energised and ready to do their best for you. Communicating this to your venue and caterers is really important and your photographer will thank you.

Bride and Groom Sunset
Photo by Peter Gonzalez on Unsplash

Give your wedding photographer time and trust

Julie says: “I always tell my couples that I need 30 minutes from them on the wedding day in order to get the type of photographs they see on my website. If a couple can’t provide their photographer with the time they need they must also be aware that it will have an affect on the amount of images and potentially the quality. Make sure that whoever you pick to be in charge of your wedding photos is someone you trust. Being micro-managed by a couple will distract your photographer from getting the kind of shots that you fell in love with in the first place. I always tell my couples that I will not recreate other people’s photographs and that I need to work more organically than that.”

Trying to replicate other photos makes your own much less original. All photographers have their own process of how they feel they work best; that might mean doing a venue location scout before the wedding day or the morning of the wedding. Asking your photographer how they work and what you should expect from them is a great way for everyone to manage each other’s expectations right from the beginning and avoid crossed wires later on.

Bride and Groom Sunflowers
Photo by Izabelle Acheson on Unsplash

Don’t expect them to be mind-readers

“I have lost count of the amount of friends who when asked have said that they didn’t have a photos of just them with their mother in law, or just them and their sister, or just them and their father…when I ask whether they specifically asked this of their photographer, they often say that they didn’t. I try to mitigate this happening with my couples by doing two things. Firstly in our pre-wedding consultation I ask if there is any one guest who there absolutely must be a photograph of or with them. I suggest sisters, brothers etc. I write it down in a pre-wedding form which my couples then sign off, this way there is a record of what they asked for which is helpful in later conversations.”

“On the actual wedding itself I make sure to grab the bride and mother-of-the-bride/mother-in-law/grandfather to ensure I get a few individual shots of them even though they didn’t necessarily ask for them. Worst case scenario they never use that photo but best case scenario they did actually want this and that person is important to them but forgot to ask. They may even decide to use these photos as a thoughtful gift.”

“My worst nightmare would be a client asking me for a photo that I knew didn’t exist so if there are photos you must absolutely have or you’d be disappointed if you didn’t have, please please make sure you ask for them!”

www.juliemichaelsen.com

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