Did you know that on your wedding day, you may end up spending more time with your photographer than your family (or even your fiancé 😳)?
Wedding photography is unique in that it’s an active part of your wedding day. Unlike other vendors who do most of their work behind the scenes, your photographer will be frequently interacting with the people closest to you.
His or her personality and style will have a big impact on the overall energy and mood of your day.
Not only do you deserve beautiful images, you also deserve an amazing photographic experience!
Here, the 3 most important traits to look for in your wedding photographer.
The best photographer for you totally gets your style and expectations.
It helps to find someone who has a similar vibe to what you’re looking for—who understands that you might not want overly posed or traditional photographs, for example, but rather a more candid and natural feel.
It’s also important to find someone who really takes the time to learn your values to personalize your experience.
They should be a resource for you as you plan, helping you craft the perfect photography timeline and giving you tips on how to look amazing in your photographs.
One of the ways I do this for the couples I work with is by providing them with a questionnaire. In it, I ask specific questions that both relate to the details surrounding their wedding as well as the atmosphere they are trying to create.
With that knowledge, I’m able to approach their wedding with an open mind and in a way that aligns with their vision (such an important part of feeling relaxed in front of the camera is that trust!).
You’ll see pretty quickly that having a photographer who’s part of your support system before, during and after your wedding day makes a world of difference.
I often joke with the couples I work with that my goal is to be like an extra bridesmaid or groomsmen by the end of their wedding (but don’t worry, there’s no need to invite me to your bachelor/bachelorette party 😂).
For me, it’s so important that I’m available to answer questions, give wedding-planning advice and be there when you need me!
Planning a wedding is not easy (we know firsthand: Heather and I are in the process of planning one ourselves!), and I’ll use my experience to help you with planning any way I can.
Another sign that a photographer wants you to have the best experience is when they work through your timeline with you to figure out the general flow of the day.
This saves you from unnecessary stress—that way you can focus on enjoying the moment (because, hey, isn’t that what your wedding is all about anyway?).
In that same questionnaire I send to the couples I work with, I ask for the locations and times for the major events surrounding their wedding.
With that knowledge, we can work together to craft a timeline that allows you to take amazing photographs and also be present during the day.
A great photographer will have a system in play to capture all of the must-have family combinations while making sure to avoid accidentally creating any awkward family dynamics.
Although I generally don’t work off of a physical shot list on the day of the wedding (I have a mental shot list of what I need to capture), I’ll use one when photographing the families.
This ensures we don’t miss any combinations and we’re able to set the proper amount of time beforehand for family pictures.
Once you and your photographer have created a rock-solid timeline, next it’s about actually taking great pictures.
Even if you’re not super comfortable in front of the camera (there’s few of us that are!), it’s your photographer’s job to make you feel comfortable so you appear relaxed—and you look like you.
Many of the couples I work with tell me they have two main concerns:
That’s why helping you to feel comfortable is my top priority.
I’ve found that simply learning about you and your fiancé as people, not just as clients, is the best way to tackle those two concerns at once.
That is why I prefer to do a video chat or meet in person instead of a regular phone call when discussing your wedding details, and why I always recommend doing an engagement session before your wedding if possible.
Having that time to chat and really connect is the best way to ensure you feel comfortable in front of the camera. This naturally leads to authentic, candid-looking images.
A great photographer will feel more like a wedding guest than just another vendor.
(Remember, they’ll be frequently interacting with the people closest to you.)
You want them to be a calm and uplifting anchor, not a cause for unnecessary stress.
As the famous photographer Alfred Eisenstadt said, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”
This mantra is a core value of what I do and a necessity to capture images that don’t feel stiff or forced.
Often we connect images with how we felt when they were being taken.
Think for a second about a photograph that has a lot of meaning to you.
It is the most professional of photographs?
Most likely not.
That’s because truly great photographs take us back to a moment in the past and allow us to ever so briefly relive it.
If your photographer is pushy, aggressive, stressed out or just plain old unkind, it doesn’t matter how beautiful the images are.
Years after your wedding, when you look back at those photographs, you’re going to remember how you felt when those photographs were being taken.
Though a beautiful photograph can make that memory that much more special, the most important thing is that you find a photographer whose goal is to make beautiful images *and* ensure that you feel amazing as they’re being taken.
These three skills—aligning with your vision, being an uplifting source and putting you at ease—are at the core of why I became a wedding photographer in the first place.
Do these values resonate with you? If so, I’d love to hear more about your wedding. Let’s chat and see if we’d be a good fit!
Want more wedding inspiration? Check out these boards on Pinterest.
Your wedding photographer will often begin the day with bride getting-ready photos.
This is the part of the day where it all starts to sink in. You’re getting married!
You might feel a little nervous (don’t worry, that’s totally normal) and ready to get the day moving. Try to soak it all in though—your wedding day will fly by so fast!
As a wedding photographer, my goal is for the couples I work with to look at their wedding photographs and really be able to relive the entire day.
The getting-ready portion is an essential part of your wedding story.
Though it might not be as glamorous as other parts of your wedding, there’s still a lot to document and a whole lot of love from those closest to you that can be captured.
Just like the other parts of your wedding, a little bit of planning beforehand will go a long way to ensure you can enjoy this portion of the day—and your photographer is able to capture the best photographs possible.
For example, the location you choose to get ready at can have a dramatic impact on the way those images look.
To avoid common pitfalls and make sure you end up with images that fit your wedding vision, here are a few of my top tips.
Many people choose to get ready at a hotel that’s near their wedding venue.
While some hotels are gorgeous, many will force you and your bridesmaids into tiny rooms with limited (or sometimes even no) windows (a big no-no for photography).
Depending on the size of your family and bridal party, this can be a bit of a nightmare (think the beginning of Home Alone, when everyone’s running around the morning they’re supposed to leave for Paris).
Plus, the morning of your wedding you might want some privacy. That’s hard to achieve if everyone’s crammed into your hotel room!
Another option is to get ready at your venue instead of a hotel.
This means less driving around, more space (most venues will have multiple rooms you can use to get ready) and an aesthetic that’ll match the rest of your wedding (your pictures will look more cohesive if everything is captured at the same location).
However, this isn’t always possible.
Some venues might have multiple events per day or even an event before yours. (As a side note, be careful of venues that have other events going on at the same time as your wedding. That often means you and your guests will be limited to how you can use the property).
Other venues don’t have a getting-ready space or might need time beforehand to setup, so they’ll ask you to arrive later in the day.
If you’re unable to get ready at your venue and you’re looking for an alternative, I always recommend using an Airbnb instead of a hotel.
A quality Airbnb can sometimes cost less than half that of a fancy hotel, and they have better elements for taking getting-ready photographs.
With an Airbnb, you can rent out an entire home, which gives you access to many rooms.
This’ll give you the space your family and friends need to get ready while still being together.
Airbnbs can also be more intimate than a hotel.
You, your family and friends are the only ones there, and you won’t have to deal with other hotel guests.
Especially during popular wedding weekends, there may be four or five wedding parties using the same hotel.
This can be chaotic and stressful when trying to coordinate with family and friends.
Thanks to the pictures and reviews, you’ll have a good idea of what each room looks like in an Airbnb before you stay there. If you’re unsure of what to look for before you book, just check in with your photographer!
If you’re unable to secure an Airbnb, just make sure the location you choose has plenty of room.
Not only will your friends and family thank you, but with a bigger space you’ll get more variety when taking pictures.
Smaller rooms also make it challenging to capture images that show off your full dress, since there’s little space to move around.
If you’re getting ready at a home or an Airbnb, the best room for this is usually the living room.
Often furniture can be moved around to make the most of the space and to capture a variety of different poses.
Some hotels have common areas that can work well. This can be a challenge when photographing in a hotel though, so be sure to keep that in mind when choosing your getting-ready spot!
Believe it or not, the color of the furniture and walls can have a dramatic effect on the color of your skin in pictures.
In general, rooms with soft pastel or neutral colors work best.
If possible, avoid darker-colored rooms with distracting patterns or wallpaper.
Here’s why: When light comes in through a window, it bounces around inside the room, which causes the colored walls to reflect light back onto anything or anyone inside the room, making skin color shifts that may not look natural.
Seek out rooms with white or neutral, bright colors to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Taking amazing photographs begins with having amazing light.
The quality (which is often different than the quantity) of the light in the room will make or break your getting-ready photographs.
Here are a few things you can do to make sure your room has great light.
When it comes to window light, the bigger the window the better.
Windows that stretch all the way to the ground are the best-case scenario, but any large window that faces outdoors will almost always work great.
By having a window in the bridal prep area, your photographer can create beautiful portraits, like this one of Lindsay. These photographs often look better with natural light than with flash, so the more windows the better!
I’m going to get a little technical here for a second, so bear with me.
If you prefer that light-and-airy look in your photographs, it helps to have at least two windows at a 90-degree angle to one another.
This is called clamshell lighting (as the positioning of the lights looks like a clam with its shell open) and it’s my favorite type of light for bridal-prep pictures.
Most of the getting-ready pictures you see in this post were taken with this type of lighting.
Here’s an example of how the windows would be positioned in a room:
I created this incredibly detailed drawing (haha) to demonstrate the best window positioning for getting-ready photographs. Each of those lines would be a window and the circle would be you. If your getting-ready location has a room with windows like this, that means your photographs will have a gorgeous light-and-airy look to them!
If you do plan on getting ready at a hotel, here’s a trick to make sure you get the best light: Ask for a room with windows that face east.
This is the direction that the sun rises, which often means more light will come through in the early morning.
Another thing to keep in mind, especially in hotels—try to avoid first-floor rooms, as sometimes the buildings that surround them can block out the light.
Ok, so you’ve chosen a getting-ready location and followed the tips above.
Now it’s your wedding day and your photographer is on the way.
Here are a few things you can do to prepare.
For many photographers (myself included), the day often begins with bridal details.
This is one of my favorite parts of the wedding day because it allows me to prepare and get my creative side warmed up. I try to photograph details in a way that matches and showcases the style of the wedding day.
If you can, try to have all of the details you’d like your photographer to capture gathered in one spot. This makes it easy for him or her to start right away.
Here’s a list of the most common bridal details. (Keep in mind you don’t need them all—just the ones that have meaning to you.)
Depending on the theme and look of your wedding day, keep an eye out for extra elements that you could include with your details.
For example, if you’re going for a rustic theme that includes wood elements, maybe save a small piece of wood for your photographer to use when they’re capturing your rings and jewelry.
If you’re having a beach wedding, some shells and sand can be really photogenic.
This ties together your theme and makes for beautiful, consistent wedding album spreads.
The most common detail missing when I arrive are the rings—often they’re already with the best man.
However, it’s actually better to hand them over to the best man during the bridal party portraits later in the day, so that your photographer can capture some great ring images with your other details.
If you can, have the bouquets and boutonnieres delivered to the same location (even if the guys won’t be there) at the same time your photographer arrives.
This way your photographer can incorporate them into your detail and portrait photographs.
It’s often because hair and makeup take longer than expected.
Schedule your makeup and hair early enough so that there’s plenty of time for you to be ready (or nearly ready) by the time your photographer arrives.
My tip is to double the time you think you’ll need for hair, makeup and travel.
This way you’ll be able to take portraits before the wedding without any time pressure.
Depending on where the groom is getting ready, your photographer may be able to cover it on his/her own.
This often works great if you’re getting ready at your venue.
If there are separate locations at the venue for the bride and groom to get ready, it’s easy for your photographer to jump back and forth while you’re getting into your dress, or while hair and makeup is finishing up.
If you’re planning on getting ready at separate locations and it’s not possible for your photographer to cover both, it might make sense to have a second photographer cover it separately.
I hope these tips help you to enjoy every moment as you get ready on your wedding day—rest easy knowing that, with a little planning and preparation, you’re going to have incredible getting-ready photographs.
P.S. Here are more free tips and resources on all things wedding planning, from 3 tips to look amazing in your wedding photographs to how to create the perfect wedding timeline & more.
Want more wedding inspiration? Check out these boards on Pinterest.
Your wedding ceremony—the moment everyone’s been waiting for!
Imagine this: the music is playing and the guests have been seated.
The coordinator is lining up the bridesmaids (or bridesmen) while giving the musicians a five-minute warning.
You’re about to walk down the aisle and see the love of your life at the alter. You’ve probably dreamed about this moment for a long time.
Vows will be shared and promises will be made—this is what it’s all about!
As a wedding photographer, my goal is to make each couple’s wedding look incredible in their pictures.
Throughout the day, I often give them tips and guidance to ensure variables like lighting, colors and posing look great.
The one part of the wedding day your photographer will have little creative control over, however, is your ceremony.
Since your wedding ceremony is more of a photojournalistic event (as in, your photographer will be documenting it as it’s happening, rather than giving you direction), to get the best photographs possible (and to just have a beautiful ceremony in general) proper preparation is a must.
Here are a few tips for creating a beautiful ceremony—and getting the best wedding photographs possible.
Finding the right officiant is so important to ensure you have a true-to-you wedding ceremony.
I recommend hiring an officiant you connect with who also has a sense of humor. A few jokes here and there can help you relax and really be present.
An added benefit of this are pictures where you and your guests look happy!
Although everyone may feel over the moon, without a few smiles and laughs here and there it can be hard to convey those emotions in your wedding pictures.
The way your ceremony is lit is one of the most important factors, especially if it’s going to be outdoors.
As a general rule, the lower the sun is in the sky, the more romantic the lighting.
For example, if you’re thinking about getting married outside at noon, the light will create harsh lines on your faces, and you’ll also be squinting!
Because of this, I’d try to plan the ceremony later in the day, if possible.
If that doesn’t work with your schedule, talk to your wedding planner (or day-of coordinator) to ensure the area is set up so the sun is behind you during the ceremony.
This is the best way to reduce the harsh lines and prevent you from squinting.
The ideal time to schedule your ceremony is about two hours before sunset (if you plan on seeing each other beforehand).
This gives you plenty of time for a beautiful ceremony—and to still enjoy the soft, romantic sunlight afterward (and possibly grab a few photographs with that gorgeous sunset light!).
If you don’t plan on doing a first look, I would recommend having your ceremony three hours before sunset (although, if you’re on the fence about a first look, I definitely recommend doing one—find out why here.)
If the first time you see each other is during the ceremony, you’ll be taking most of your photographs after the ceremony, so you want to make sure you have plenty of time afterward (with a little bit of padded time in case the ceremony goes longer than expected).
If you’re having an indoor ceremony, my number one tip is to avoid vibrant-colored uplighting—it’ll make your skin look unnatural.
Another thing to think about: If there are only two spotlights (on you and your fiancé) you two will be very bright and everyone else will be dark.
Even though the focus of the day is on you, it’ll look so much better in your wedding pictures if the lighting is soft and evenly spread out.
An unplugged wedding is when you kindly ask your guests to put away their phones, iPads, cameras and other devices for the duration of the ceremony.
I always recommend unplugged ceremonies, for a few reasons:
For one, your guests will be more present during the ceremony, rather than focused on taking pictures.
Guests holding their iPhones and sometimes even iPads (it happens more often than you’d think!) can be very distracting.
For example, imagine it’s your wedding day, and you’re beginning your walk down the aisle. What would you rather see—your guests beaming with happiness as they watch, or a bunch of phones and iPads blocking their faces?
Distractions aside, your ceremony photographs will look more professional without the clutter of electronic devices in the audience.
Though they mean well, eager guests might not realize the position of your photographer during the ceremony and might accidentally block them from getting the photo during key moments.
If an unplugged ceremony sounds like it’s for you, here’s how to make it work:
One of the easiest changes that has the biggest impact is facing your guests during your ceremony.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a ceremony mistake I see way too often.
Talk to your officiant and ask them to make sure you face the audience instead of the alter.
If you’re nervous about facing your guests for your entire ceremony (I understand, I would be too), your officiant can switch between having you face each other and face your guests (but never toward the officiant! You want to make sure your guests can see your lovely faces, and not just the back of your heads).
This also makes for better ceremony pictures, so it’s a win-win.
If you want to enjoy planning your wedding as much as possible, yet you don’t want to get too caught up in the details or overwhelmed with decisions, a wedding planner makes total sense.
Having an expert there to take some of the pressure off of you and be a guide throughout your planning can totally change the vibe of the whole process.
They’ll help you stay organized and work with you to bring your unique wedding vision to life.
Without at least a day-of coordinator, there’s a really good chance the responsibility of solving any dilemmas will automatically fall on your maid of honor, your mom, the photographer or you!
When a photographer is in charge of all of the coordination, it tends to pull us away from our main focus of capturing your day.
Many of the most stressful wedding situations I’ve seen could have been avoided if there was a wedding planner or day-of coordinator present.
It’s your day and you deserve the space to be able to focus on your special love and commitment to each other, rather than worrying about details of the day!
Proper planning before your wedding ceremony will ensure everything looks incredible and your guests are having a great time.
Here’s one final thought: In a world full of wedding blogs, Pinterest and bridal magazines, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and consumed by the “prettiness” of the event.
While details do matter and planning is necessary, it’s important to never lose sight of the real purpose of this amazing day—the connection and love you share with your partner!
P.S. I hope you enjoyed this article. Here are more free tips and resources on all things wedding planning, from whether to have a first look to how to create the perfect wedding timeline for you & more!
Want more wedding inspiration? Check out these boards on Pinterest.
Wedding Photographer in NYC