Thursday, 17 October 2013

Advice to the Bride & Groom: Getting the Best Wedding Photos

Advice to the Bride & Groom: Getting the Best Wedding Photos



As many of you know, I do a whole lot of wedding photography during the summer months. For many photographers, it's the bread and butter to their art, a lovely consistent income which helps them sleep at night. For many brides and grooms, it's the source of a lot of frustration when things don't come together, but also happiness when their wedding photography works out great!  

I wanted to write this post as 
1) an aid for photographers to send their clients 
and 
2) a helpful post for the brides and grooms of this world, which explains what they can do to help their photographer get the best wedding photos possible.

I hear a lot of complaining from the photographers I meet about clients who don't "understand" photography or themselves, and a lot of grumbling from clients about incompetent photographers who don't deliver their vision. In some cases, both parties can be in the wrong, but a lot of these issues can be resolved with a simple explanation BEFORE the big day!! So, listen up, take note. These simple things will give any photographer a great advantage, and get YOU better pictures.



1) Lighting.

Lighting is always a factor, always! Photography is the "drawing of light" after all :) Here are a few key points to remember if you can't afford movie-style light set ups...

SITUATION
Small & dim light sources (especially fairy lights etc) are not particularly strong, and especially in darkness/at night when there are no other light sources available. Dark rooms = dark shots. 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
To combat the darkness (as most photographers will assume you do not want a set of black photos) the photographer will have to use a low aperture, such as 1.4. This will make your pictures very creamy, blurry, with only one or maybe two people in focus given that they are "on the same level". Do not expect everyone in the room, or even on a table, to be sharp. Personally, I like using a low aperture! 
Another method of brightening a photo is using a high ISO. This will make the pictures grainy. If you do not like grainy pictures, it may be worth considering hiring a photographer who is skilled with flash. Again, some people don't mind/kind of like grain on photos. Always check with your photographer.
SOLUTION
If you don't want flashed-out pictures but want to keep the cute, fairy light esque light set up, you can either grow to like creamy, grainy pictures, or ask for lights to be turned up at key points (e.g speeches, first dance). Alternatively, you can always rent some continuous lighting and aim it at the top table etc. 



This tent had other lighting as well as fairy lights! = happy rosie


SITUATION
Colour lighting - popular at discos. Purple/pink very popular. Looks awesome in person, terrible on pictures! For many photographers, this is a nightmare situation, especially if you do not like using flash. 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
It turns your entire skin tone one colour, again blue/pink/purple seem to be very popular, which makes your face just blend into one big blob and very hard to rectify in post-processing. So unless you like the smurf look, it's best to have an alternative light set up to hand.
SOLUTION
Again, bring the lights up for key moments or ask for them to be on a "natural" or "white" setting (if the can be changed). 

Pink lighting, this one was backlit so not as hard to combat. Entire rooms with this is a different story :P

SITUATION
Really bright sunshine, everywhere!
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
If there are no shaded "pretty locations" that the photographer can suggest moving you/guests to, or you are determined to have a photo in a certain location in said lighting, you can expect squinty eyes, hard shadows and not a very flattering picture. Unless of course the sun is setting, when it can look quite nice.
SOLUTION
Many people cannot control this, but try to plan the times you are outside/in situations which may have bright sunshine to be later on in the day. Formal photos at 2pm are a recipe for disaster if you don't have shade. The photographer can position you with the sun behind you or slightly off to you, however if the backdrop then turns into the car park when you wanted it to be the church then it's not going to work! So chat to your photographer about possible locations you can use in this situation.


(the beauty of shade!!)


2) Space

Space is something I rarely hear ANYONE talk about! But it is very very important. I love shooting with my 50mm 1.4 lens, however during the speeches I often find the tables/chairs so close together that I cannot get far back enough to get both the bride and the groom in the shot. I then have to switch to a not-as-pretty lens to achieve this :(


SITUATION
Small room/no space for photographer to manoeuvre to either get different angles or limited amount of people in the frame. 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
As I mentioned above, your photographer will have to use other lenses in order to get more than one person in the frame if there is very little room. A popular lens used by photographers for this is a 24-70mm lens, which will allow for more people but lacks the aperture to combat low light and subsequently your pictures will be more grainy. 
SOLUTION
Make space if you can :D If you can't, consider asking the speaker of the speeches to stand somewhere else. This helps not only by allowing the photographer to move around the room more easily, but also stops them from blocking the guests view of the bride and groom, as the guests are now facing the speaker.

loads of space, yay!

SITUATION 
Big old centrepieces 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
During the speeches, a lot of photographers STAY LOW. We sit while we shoot, because if we were to stand in front of the top table and take our pictures the guests wouldn't be able to see you! We'd ruin the video and generally look pretty rude. So sometimes, big old centrepieces can obscure important things (like a bride) and prevent awesome shots. 
SOLUTION
Move the centrepiece from the top table during speeches to somewhere on the table where it is less likely to obscure someone

A lovely, small centrepiece :D

SITUATION 
First dance on a small dancefloor/guests who really want to get close to the action ;)
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
Again, due to low light situations (and fast movement) for the first dance, popular lens choices would be 85mm 1.2, 50mm 1.2/1.4, 35mm 1.4/2f
This means that if your guests are cramming the dance floor, your photographer is not going to be able to back up enough to get your whole body in the shot. 
SOLUTION
Get the DJ to ask everyone to back up/ create a circle using a reference point/setting some chairs out for elderly folk as a barrier!

loads of room to use my 50mm 1.4... lovely


3) Surprises!

SITUATION Surprise! We broke out into a dance/song/important moment which the photographer had no idea about
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
The photographer to run round flailing his/her arms whilst trying to locate the correct lens for the situation, thus missing important surprise or capturing things like arms & feet because they had a 70-200mm lens on (aka paparazzi lens!) 
SOLUTION
LET US KNOW :D We won't tell!!! promise!!!!!




These guys pre-warned me about their AMAZING SINGING WAITER/CHEF! This gave me good time to get my lens selection out and camera ready!


4) Running out of time

SITUATION 
Something has happened at the wedding and the schedule is behind. We don't have as much time for portraits/formals etc. 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
A stressed out couple, a grumpy time-keeper (dinner starting at 4 is more important than getting pictures, every single time :( sadly) and a panicked photographer trying to rush things. Cue Uncle Bob being in the toilet JUST when you need him!
SOLUTION
As a photographer, I ALWAYS have a back-up way of doing formals when these situations arise. Lists are not provided or get lost, not enough time to do everyone... so, I do this. Very simple.

Bride & Groom : Bride's Immediate Family
Bride & Groom: Bride's Parents
Bride & Groom: Groom's Immediate Family
Bride & Groom: Groom's parents,

That's the important stuff. Next up, Bride on her own with parents ETC ETC. But as long as those main ones are done, the rest can be done later on, after dinner etc. 

Quick, simple portraits!

5) The unplugged wedding ceremony.

SITUATION
This is not necessarily a problem, but it is becoming a preference for photographers. Particularly as the bride walks in, and bride & groom exit, there always seems to be an "Uncle Bob" who steps out into the aisle and completely ruins the shot for the photographer. 
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
Uncle Bob. Everywhere.
SOLUTION
Get your officiant to ask your guests to put their cameras away for the ceremony, or compromise and ask them to stay out of the aisle at the very least. Explain that the photographer wants to see happiness on people's faces during these important moments, not iPhones/cameras/dinner trays iPads covering their beautiful faces!

This is a good time to take shots :D

This is a great time to stand, clap and cheer :D Imagine if someone had stepped into this shot!

6) Post getting-your-picture blues.

SITUATION
You got your pictures back. You either 1) hate them 2) want more 3) have issues with the style 4) have any issues at all
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
A very upset photographer. Regardless of whether they are pro or beginner, we ALL want you to LOVE your pictures. Which is why I am writing this blog post. We ALL have worked HARD on your pictures. This does not mean you should not raise these issues, but please tread carefully.

Steps to raising an issue:
1) Re-read your contract first. If you signed a document stating that you are only to recieve 10 pictures, I wouldn't go in all-guns-blazing when you only get 10 pictures.
2) Be NICE. I once re-edited an entire wedding for a couple because the bride was SO lovely in her approach about some colours I had edited. I didn't have to, I could have just referred her to the contract and said it was "my style" which she booked. But she was so lovely, I wanted her to love them even more. Being nasty never made anyone go "here, let me throw my schedule out of the window to help you"
3) Be specific and offer a resolution. Remember - you booked your photographer, it was your responsibility to research their portfolio and ask questions beforehand/explain what you wanted. If there are minor tweaks/adjustments that you would like, be nice and ask if they would do them. Saying things like "they are so bad" "we had to get our friends to edit them" will NOT go down well if the contract has been upheld, and it is purely a difference of taste.

SOLUTION
Be nice, be fair and be considerate. You are the customer, but they are also human beings. Wedding photography is such a personalised service, it isn't like ringing E.on to complain about your bill or buying something from e-bay and giving an invisible person an earful. This is someone who shared your wedding day, and was part of it. If you leave things on a bad note, you might feel like you can't look through your wedding photos without feeling angry. And no one wants that!

I hope this blog has explained some things that normal non-photo folk might not have understood properly before hand, and also given some good tips on what helps US during your day. We're on your side, and we're here to help YOU and get great photos for ourselves, too. The best thing you can do is communicate with your photographer. Send visuals, mood boards, explain concerns and worries with them. You aren't just hiring a wedding photographer, you are hiring a team mate and a friend. :)








74 comments:

  1. Thanks for this Rosie! Great for sending to clients!! :-)

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  2. HAHA this is so good and so true! Will definitely be sending future clients here! Thanks Rosie!!

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  3. This was such a great read & so helpful! Thank you for sharing your wisdom here, Rosie :] xx

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  4. This is absolutely great! I wish it was in German though, so I could just send it to the bride & groom, but oh well.... :,D

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  5. This is wonderful I am going to post it on my facebook page for my clients to read.

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  6. Great post, says everything it needs to say and that last line is sublime, well done Rosie! xx

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  7. Thank you so much for writing this. I will send it to my clients along with the contract. You ROCK, Rosie. :)

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  8. Thanks Rosie!!!!
    I am a BRIDESMAID at one of my best friends wedding next year... She has asked if I can take some pictures of the morning and of the evening (if I can)...
    This has helped me haahaa

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  9. Perfect pictures and text!!
    xoxo :)

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  10. THIS is so very perfect! thank you soooooooooo much!!!

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  11. This is fantastic, I will definitely be sharing it. Thank you :)

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  12. Hi,

    Nice photos, Calgary Photographers offers many special packages with discounts for newly married couple. It also provides tips about getting nice pictures for bride and groom, thanks...

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  13. So well written and you offered great tips! Thanks Rosie

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  14. I think what you wrote is quite refreshing, because you're not just talking about photographer's pet peeves about wedding clients. It's relatable on all fronts! You get a solution and YOU get a solution! Everyone gets a solution!

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  15. What an excellent post. I gave up on being a wedding photographer after ALL of these things happened at the wedding of a friend :( It is refreshing to think of the photographer as a partner in wedding success!

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  16. Rosie thank you so much for this post, its amazing how you wrote this right when I needed it. :) Thank you

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  17. What's going on with your alopecia, Rosie? Do you wear extensions? I have alopecia too.

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  18. Thank you I am glad my blog is so informative and helpful

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  19. Thank you for your comments i hope you will share the blog with others.

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  20. Truly inspiring. I love reading through an article that will make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

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