10 Tips for Amazing Wedding Photos

Ask any woman on her 10th wedding anniversary how she best remembers her wedding day and the answer is always the same;  Her wedding photos.

Years from now, when you look back on your wedding day, these images will remind you of the special moments and rekindle all those memories of love and joy.  By following the following 10 steps, you'll be much more likely to have images that you will treasure for a lifetime and create a family heirloom

1.  Make your schedule with photography in mind - Not only do you want to have adequate time to capture all the desired images, but you want to do so in the best possible lighting conditions.  Photography is 100% about the quality of light, so if you want those amazing sunset images, don't be walking down the isle at the moment the sun is setting.  A professional photographer will be able to give specific advice regarding the best time for photography as well as location choices specific to your venue.  If they are not able to give this sort of guidance, consider a different photographer.

2.  Ignore the camera -  There will be times when your photographer asks you to look at the camera and smile, but for the majority of the day, they will be shooting candid images of the wedding day.  Don’t let the camera distract you from enjoying the day.  Focus on your family and friends and simply ignore the photographer unless directed otherwise.  Oh, and don't forget to share that tip with your bridal party.  

3.  Have an Engagement Session – If I had only one tip to give, this would be it.  At Marc Billingsley Photography, we won’t even shoot a wedding without an Engagement Session.  The Engagement Session is basically a “test run” of the wedding day.  It allows the bride, groom and photographer the time to get to know each other and get comfortable with the photography process… leading to a much better wedding day experience.  The things that look good in 3D are not the same things that look good on camera.  We spend lots of time training our brides how to look amazing on camera... and your photographer should as well.

4.  Communicate – This is where most bride/photographer relationships fail.  Without proper communication, your photographer won’t know what shots are important and what style you prefer.  We often use Pinterest to create a “mood board” for brides to show us examples of wedding photos that inspire them.  This helps us to understand exactly what you are looking for with regards to images from your wedding day. 

5  Avoid “Natural Light” Photographers – Ok, so this is a controversial tip.  But, the most important skill any photographer can possess is the ability to shape light and create light when needed.  Every photographer uses natural light when the light is a good quality of light.  But when you find a photographer who advertises themselves as a "natural light" photographer, they are basically admitting that they can't create light when needed.  So what happens if it’s raining on your wedding day?  What happens if the quality of light is not perfect during your session?  A wedding can't be rescheduled due to less than perfect weather conditions.  Avoid these photographers and work with a professional who has a complete skill set and can show you examples of images taken in bad lighting conditions.  

6.  Hire the right photographer – We’ve all heard the saying “Different strokes for different folks” and the saying holds true for photographers.  We all have our own “style” and process which influences our final images.  While it is true that modern digital post processing allows us to change the look of an image drastically, hiring a photographer who imagery fits your style in the beginning can make things much easier in the long run.  If you want epic images with dramatic light, don't hire a journalistic style photographer.  If you want perfectly styled images, find a photographer who will style your shoot for you.  

7.   Trust your photographer – Providing that you’ve hired the right photographer, trust them.  There are many facets of photography that may seem odd to the general public.  When your photographer directs you to pose in a way that feels unnatural, realize that on flat two dimensional photograph, the pose will make you look more beautiful.  Often times, what works in real life doesn’t look best on a flat image.  And if you want to spend 30 minutes of your timeline trying to get images in noon day sun, trust your photographer to select the right location to minimize the shadows that fill your eyes in harsh light.  

8.   Don’t sweat the details – When the big day arrives, just relax and let it happen.  You’ve hired the right pros and they will make sure your wedding is a wonderful celebration.  Focus on enjoying the day, celebrating with friends and family & marrying the person of your dreams.  This attitude (or lack of it) will show in your imagery & give your photos the emotional content they deserve.

9.  Hire a professional Make up artist – Applying makeup for a full day photo shoot is much different than getting ready for work in the morning.  Hiring a professional can make a huge difference in the quality of imagery on your wedding day.  In addition, makeup artists can use their art to accentuate the good and minimize any flaws you may want to hide. 

10.  Smile – I know it sounds simple, but having fun and smiling on your wedding day is super important.  The best photographers specialize in capturing emotion in their imagery, so give em something great to capture!  Remember to smile while walking down the isle, cutting the cake, dancing and enjoying your wedding celebration.

Super Secret Bonus Tip!

11.  Do a "First Look" - Over 90% of the brides we work with have a "first look" for their wedding day.  While there are still some brides who want the tradition of not seeing their finance before the wedding, that's quickly becoming a thing of the past as brides see the amazing images a first look can produce.  While we all hope our groom shows emotion when he sees you 100 feet away in front of 200 guests, the reality is, it's not very private.  But... when you have 3-5 minutes "alone" to have that special moment where he can tell you exactly how he's feeling in relative privacy...well, there simply is no comparison.  And the BEST part of it... he will get even more choked up when he sees you coming down that isle.  

First looks are also fantastic for wedding photography timelines.  You are able to get some great photos before the wedding, which puts you in your reception spending time with your friends and family much sooner.  

So, enjoy the tips.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at Marc@MarcBillingsley.com and I'll be happy to discuss them.