From the dress and invites to the cake and favors, every aspect of your wedding day is important. Still, you want to pay special attention to the photographer you hire to shoot your event—after all, your friends and family will treasure these photos for years to come, so it’s crucial that your photographer captures all of the beautiful moments from your big day. Read on for our top tips to make sure your wedding day pics are perfect in every way.
Find Your Style
“Couples should first understand what types of photos they want to have: fine art or esoteric, classic wedding look, photojournalistic or documentary, or some combination of what’s out there,” explains Michael Berman of Michael Scott Berman Photography in Brooklyn, NY, (msbphotography.com). Flip through some friends and family members’ albums to get a sense of what you like and what you don’t, and ask around for recommendations.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few possible photographers, check out their service record. Asking for references can help, but odds are they’re just going to send you to their happiest clients. Instead, check out local bridal message boards and sites to read what other couples have to say about their experience with this pro. You can also do a search through the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.
Check Out Their Work
Be sure to flip through a few of their wedding albums from front to back, suggests Pamela Luedeke of Pamela Luedeke Photography in Chicago, IL, (pamelaluedekephotography.com). “That way you can tell if their Web site is just all their best shots or if it’s consistent with the work they put out on a regular basis,” she says.
Bonus tip: If you’re going with a big company, be sure that your contract specifies that you’ll get the photographer of your choice (their name should be on the contract!) on the day.
Choose Someone Familiar With Your Venue
A photographer who has already shot at your locale will make life a lot easier. She/he already knows the best areas to shoot and if there will be any issues with lighting and such. “If the photographer isn’t at least familiar with the place—or has issues shooting there—then look for someone else,” says Bernie Restrepo, owner of Infinity Photography, Inc. in New York City (infinityphotographyinc.com).
Think about it: This person will be with you throughout most of your big day, and unlike other wedding vendors, you’ll be dealing with him/her for months (or even a year) after the event. A pro you’re comfortable with will make posing for photos less daunting—not only for you, but for your bridal party and guests, too.
“Having an assistant who shoots at a high skill level is very important,” says Luedeke. “He’s a backup in case my flash doesn’t go off at an important moment and can get ‘spy shots’ of candid moments happening while I’m doing the mandatory photos on the bride and groom’s list.”
Bonus tip: If you’re having a large wedding (300+ guests), you’ll want more than one assistant present—and request to see their work as well!
Don’t be shy about telling your photographer exactly what you want. “Show wedding or even fashion photos that you like to give a better idea of what you are looking for,” says Renee Allen of Renee Allen Photography in San Francisco, CA, (reneeallenphotography.com). “Also, let the photographer know which shots in their portfolio you liked or didn’t like.”
In addition, notify your photographer if there’s anything out of the ordinary important to capture (your dog is a ring bearer; the cake topper is a family heirloom; the groom is a chef so the food shots are important). A seasoned pro will already know to get things like the first kiss, the cake cut, bouquet toss, toasts, etc.
You want to take shots in the venue’s lush gardens, but Mother Nature might have other plans. Prevent a panic attack by securing an indoor location that is just as beautiful in advance (think a local museum or historical building). Committed to having those outdoor shots? “Have some big golf umbrellas on hand and do a fashion shoot of you kissing your new hubby in the rain under a big umbrella!” suggests Luedeke.
When it comes to gorgeous photos, nothing beats natural light. If you can’t take outdoor photos, choose a venue or shoot location with plenty of windows. If you’re getting married at night, don’t fret—simply make sure your photographer has the right equipment to light you and your bridal party beautifully (ask about this in advance).
Work the Pose
When posing, use this rule of thumb from Luedeke: While holding your bouquet, your thumb should be at your belly button. Your weight should be on your back foot, which shifts your hips back and away from the camera, making them appear smaller in photos. And stick your neck out slightly more than normal—you’ll be glad you did!