Wedding days are often hectic and a tad bit crazy. There are so many moving parts and people to keep track of that, as a photographer, it is very important to stay focused and capture epic photos. Part of my responsibility as the photographer is to capture all the different elements that go into the wedding - from decoration details, bridal party member to the first kiss and crazy reception dancing. The collection of photos I take tell a story of the biggest day in many couples lives.
And to do all this right, I as a wedding photographer must stay focused and be prepared for what is coming next. It also requires communication with the bride and groom before the wedding so they, too, know what to expect. This is my typical sequence for a wedding day.
I usually arrive to the venue early to capture as many details as I can - rings, the dress, shots of the venue. My goal here is twofold: get warmed up by shooting photos with people and scope out the scene. This is my time to get prepped and mentally read for the rest of the day
I grabbed the rings from the Maid of Honor and used a belt from a bridesmaid.
The first photos I take with people are usually the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready. These photos start with hair and makeup and end with details of the bride in her dress (earrings, bracelets, and other similar details). These help get the bride/groom and wedding party ready for photos for the rest of the day. I try to keep this time relaxed and fun, joking around a bit and setting a more casual atmosphere.
Most of the getting ready photos are with the ladies (as they tend to take longer and have more details to capture). I also photograph the groom and his groomsmen, getting details such as cufflinks and ties.
Details of the bride's hairstyle for the wedding day
Even little details like the special robe for the day.
I would estimate that 75 percent of my brides and grooms choose to see each other before the ceremony. This has become known as the "first look" or unveiling of the bride. When I first arrive and begin photography details, I also start to scout potential locations for the first look. Sometimes a bride will have this already planned out, but more often than not they are looking to me to set up the right spot and logistics. My goal here is focus on emotion - how the groom looks as he's waiting, the bride's face and she approaches and both of their expressions as they see each other for the first time that day.
I love how the bride wrapped her arms around her to-be husband before removing the blindfold.
Bride and Groom Portraits
The great thing about a first look is how naturally it flows into portraits of the two together. This is where I get to take the bride and groom away for an hour or so and to just focus on the two of them. This is my favorite part of the wedding day. It gives me a chance to interact with the bride and groom and to take our time to create beautiful portraits. This is where I get to flex my creativity muscles in a somewhat controlled environment.
The next step is to add in the bridal party. The reason I do this after bride and groom portraits is that if time gets tight and the schedule gets behind, the bridal party can always be brought into photos after the ceremony. If everything is going according to my ideal schedule I fit the bridal party in before family. This is a time to have some fun as a group, get individual photo of each wedding party member and the guys and girls together.
If possible, I will try to do family photos before the ceremony (assuming the bride and groom have decided to see each other before the ceremony). Taking family formals happens about fifty percent of the time, as for the rest of the time either the schedule is behind or not all family members are present. Either way, family formals are essential and important. It documents some of the most important people in the lives of the bride and groom, and are the key photos that they will turn to if something ever tragic happens to a family member.
This is what the whole day is about - the ceremony (well and the reception, too). My focus here is to capture facial expressions of the wedding party and family members. I look for details, such as the rings while being exchanged. And possibly most importantly, this where the first kiss occurs and must be captured. My tip to clients is to remember to smile during the ceremony and to position themselves looking at each other. Sometimes a wedding ceremony will have the bride and groom with their back to the audience the entire time. Not ideal, but you work with what you have.
This is one of my favorite ceremony expression photos ever.
This is the last part of the wedding day, but often about 25 percent of the photos I take. The reception is the time to celebrate, everyone together. It is time to eat dinner together and drink some wine (or other adult beverages). There are many events to be prepared for during the reception - bouquet and garter tosses, first dances, cutting the cake, etc. It is important to have an idea of when these will occur; make sure your photographer has the appropriate info to ensure they are ready when the time comes.
The reception is also where the crazy dancing beings, which can make some great photos! I prefer to use wide angle lenses during this time to get groups together and exaggerate the scene.
These guests were having a blast and an awesome wedding I got to photograph.
Putting the Day Together
Photographers: it is important to communicate with your clients in advance of the wedding day to get on the same page for how the day will flow. Break down the timeline into 15 or 30 minute increments and be very clear about when required parties need to be ready for photos. Schedule adequate time for each part of the photography day and allow a buffer (schedules always run behind).
Brides/Grooms: work with your photographer to set up the proper schedule and communicate with your wedding party and family to arrive at the venue on time and to be ready. The wedding day is going to be crazy and busy, a total blur at times. Be organized in advance to lessen the chances of specific photos getting missed.
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