What Your Photographer Wishes You Knew
Here are 17 things your photographer wishes you knew and that will help you get the best out of your time together. Most of these I've heard straight from the photographer's mouth, some have filtered through to me from the numerous weddings I've attended and others are things I've picked up while working with photographers at the magazine. Not every photographer works the same way, but keeping these things in mind or bringing them up when you're first talking with a potential photographer will save everyone frustration or worse.
- He or she does not know who your college roommate, Great Aunt Jane or likely-to-get-smashed-and-do-the-worm uncle are. It’s a very good idea to designate a friend or family member who can identify the important people for your photographer – chances are, you’ll be too distracted by everything else to be the guide.
- Photographers are not mind readers. It's important to discuss what is and what isn't important to you before you get rolling. Complaining after the fact that you missed certain moments doesn't do anyone any good. Communication is important!
- Buffer time. Typically you hire a photographer for a certain amount of hours. If you tell him or her your hair and makeup will be done at 2, then he or she will be there at 2. There’s a 99.9 percent chance getting ready will run over. Plan in some buffer time so you’re not rushing photos later. No matter how good your photographer is, he or she cannot squish an hour's worth of photos into 20 minutes.
- Despite what The Knot and virtually every blog and wedding magazine tell you, the details are not that important when it comes to photos. The pictures you cherish and frame will be people, not the perfectly coordinated centerpieces and table settings. So stop obsessing over Pinterest already!
- Have an engagement shoot. I was convinced that this was too corny for us. Now I have a collage of the engagement photos on our living room wall. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to loosen up and get to know your photographer.
- If you do family and wedding party portraits before the ceremony, then you’ll be itching to get to the wedding already. If you do them after, then you’ll be thinking about all the booze you paid for and are not currently drinking. Think about all the times you’ve had everyone you love together, dressed to the nines and in a pretty setting. I bet that’s approximately never. This is a one-time chance to take photos you’ll hold dear for the rest of your life. Take a breath, bring a flask if you have to and don’t rush through the moment.
- First look. A co-worker highly recommended this to me. The first look – where you and the spouse-to-be first see each other all gussied up – is a nice chance to spend a few quiet moments with each other before the madness begins. It can also produce some lovely photos. Not everyone is into it – many still prefer the traditional method of staying apart until the ceremony. If this is something you want to do, you'll need to plan it into your day – springing it on the photographer day of is not a great plan.
- Just be you. The best photos happen when you’re not consciously trying to pose. Have fun, laugh, eat, dance, drink, talk and let the photographer handle the rest. Despite what Madonna says, there is something to striking a pose. Unless you’re a professional model, leave the hip popping and pouting to the professionals. You’ll just look like a duck-lipped weirdo who can’t stand up right.
- Photographers, like most people (and other wedding vendors), get hungry. Some will include being fed in the contract. Count them in your final catering total. Also, make sure he or she eats when you do. That way you're on the same schedule and nothing will be missed.
- The shot list. Yes, discussing what you really hope to capture is important. However, handing over a mile long list to your photographer is likely not all that welcome. Try to pare it down to what you really, truly need. Formal portrait after formal portrait does not let your photographer tap into his or her creativity, nor does it tell the story of your day.
- On that note, let your photographer be creative! If she suggests something, roll with it. Even if it seems weird (within reason – don't let someone make you feel uncomfortable). These often turn out to be winners. Numerous times when tagging along on shoots I've thought some version of the following: "This guy is nuts. What, exactly, is he looking at? I don't see anything so special." Nearly every time those have turned out to be my favorite shots. One of these days I'll learn not to question.
- Be happy! Attitude influences body language and thus the quality of your photos. Besides, it's just nice to let go and enjoy yourself. The one piece of advice my legions of now married friends all tell me? It goes by in the blink of an eye. Don't forget to have fun.
- No, you can't have your photos the next day. Just because we've come to expect instant gratification when it comes to digital photos does not mean that you can have them that moment. Editing takes time. Photographers also have other clients and schedules to keep. Be patient – it's worth the wait.
- And no, you can't have them all. Even good photographers capture duds. They want you to have the best photos so you're happy and they want their work to be represented in the best way possible. You each benefit from a curated selection.
- Don't constantly ask to see photos as they're being taken. You can see them at the end when they are edited. Chances are, if the photographer is really excited about a shot, then he or she will offer a sneak peek. Otherwise, relax.
- Photographers typically post some preview or limited shots on their blogs and social media. Don't be a jerk and crop out the logos when you share them. You'll get your own high-res, non-logo photos soon enough. Do the photographer a solid and include the logo. Many photographers have very specific photo release/ownership language in your contract – make sure you know what the agreement is from the get-go. How did you find your photographer? Chances are you looked at other weddings he or she shot. Now someone will look at yours. You get fantastic photos and your photographer gets advertising. If you are absolutely adamant that you don't want photos online, you must hash that out when first creating a contract. Not all photographers will be down with this.
- Don't freak about getting your dress dirty. It's going to happen no matter what. This is a general piece of advice, but if you refuse to take certain photos in certain places because you might get dirty, then you're doing it wrong. That's why professional cleaners exist.