Now I’m not saying this is easily done, i.e. hire someone to photograph your wedding, ignore them all day, and hope for an amazing account of your wedding... what I want to write about today is seeing the value in the ‘natural’ shots, that you probably haven’t put any thought into because you’re too busy trying to remember that your Mum wants a photo with your Granny, your Granny’s sister, and your Granny’s cousin, and your Dad doesn’t want photographed with his brother in law, and your bridesmaids have fallen out over who is wearing the highest heels, and they will need to stand on steps to avoid looking silly... okay okay, so do you get the point I’m trying to make? When you see your wedding photos for the first time, all those shots I’ve listed above, you will probably have seen already, because all your guests were standing behind your photographer taking the same shot on their iPhones and cameras, and then they’ve probably uploaded them on Facebook during the meal. Not only does it mean that in your official photographs everyone is probably looking at the wrong camera, (a photographer has just told me he had to move SIX peoples eyes in Photoshop because they were all looking at someone else), it also no doubt makes your photographer feel extremely devalued, and somewhat irritated (UNPLUGGED wedding post coming up, don’t worry!).
I don’t need to say again that I am an advocate for putting your photography at the top of the priority list in your wedding budget. Your photographs, and your album, are one of the few things you are actually going to keep after the big day, and show to your children, so stop for a minute and have a think about the moments you really want captured.
I would say we had a grand total of 4 or 5 ‘posed’ shots at our wedding; us with our bridal party, us with our parents, us with our parents and grandparents. We had a large group shot, which fortunately turned out fabulous due to great weather and lots of space and time to organise (not always the case). We also obviously had shots of the two of us together, a great time for us to take a little breather and take it all in with each other. The rest of the 400 shots we saw afterwards, were gorgeous, natural shots which had all of us smiling, laughing and gasping at how Gail managed to catch us in some of our most relaxed moments, and these are the shots that are in frames in our house, and that we treasure. Don't get me wrong, I’m pretty sure Gail would tell you that it isn’t just luck that she manages to catch these moments, I'm also not saying that some of them aren't a bit 'posed'.
“Every wedding is different and so there is no set formula. I don’t have a shopping list of must-have shots, and I don’t slow things down to a standstill; instead I like to capture unobtrusive, truthful and spontaneous images of you, your guests and your family when they’re not thinking about being photographed. I always arrange a list of formal shots with the couple in advance of the day, and we’ll do some nice couple shots and explore the surroundings, but for the most part I’m there to capture the true nature of the wedding day, for all of the emotion and surprise and detail.” You can catch Gail on Facebook and Twitter too.
So, again, I’m not saying to just hire any photographer and hope for the best, actually, I’m saying the opposite. Think seriously about your photographer and photography, invest the time in researching the type of photo you would like to be left with up on your walls for the rest of your lives, and invest an appropriate part of your budget.
Here's a few tips I think will help you relax, and enjoy the moments on your wedding day.
1. Get to know your photographer
Spend time with your photographer before your wedding, be honest about the type of wedding you are looking to have. If they offer a pre-wedding/engagement shoot, take it. These things will help you be more relaxed on the day, and make it easier for your photographer to catch you in the truly happy moments.
2. Be aware of the running time of your wedding
In the Winter, the light fades faster, bear that in mind when deciding what time you want to get married in the day; if you get married at 3pm in November, your photographer is going to struggle to get the shots you, and they, would like. You also may be getting married at a venue with a strict running order, make sure you know what it is and that you communicate it to your photographer prior to the day, so that they can put together their own itinerary around it.
3. Use your ushers and bridesmaids
Chances are, your photographer does not know who's Granny is who and which one is Auntie Jean. So if you're insisting on a few family shots, make sure your ushers and bridesmaids are ready to round up the cast! Let your photographer concentrate on what they are there for, taking photos.
4. Feed them
You don't work for a full day and not eat , do you? (I certainly, definitely, can't!) So don't expect your photographer too. If they start when you're getting ready… 11ish say, and are there until after your first dance at say 8pm, and don't forget travelling from wherever they come from, that's a whole 10 hours or so on their feet. Do the polite thing, and make sure they get fed while you're eating. And by the way, this goes for your other suppliers there on the day too.
5. Have patience
Finally, have patience and appreciate how much work is going into your photos post-wedding too. You are paying for the finished product, not just the photos straight from the digital camera. Not every photo on that camera will be perfect (see above about having to Photoshop 6 peoples eyes!) There is hours and hours of work still to go into your photographs (I would elaborate more but I can't even explain how these works of art come about!). Don't assume you're just paying for 'one days work', because you're not.
I'll leave you with a few of our very favourite images from our wedding day, just to illustrate the point, by the brilliant Rooftop Mosaic.