Weddings are all about surprises. Although, we are not denying the fact that wedding photographers do have magical abilities (just look at some works of our Poptop photographers) but they may not have enough power to fight all unpredictable situations at private events. The best thing you can do as professional is to acquire the knowledge of the top UK wedding photographers. Forewarned is forearmed, remember?
It’s important to have a detailed schedule of the day, and a list of everything that both you (the photographer) and the couple want to achieve. Sometimes for high-end weddings, there are additional requirements from other vendors such as wedding planners and florists to create style shoots, so staying organised is a big part of it.
I’m hands-on with the scheduling and if I see things begin to slip I don’t wait until it’s become a big problem or until the wedding co-ordinator finds out – solid communication is vital in achieving detailed and comprehensive wedding photography. It’s also important to stay relaxed and approachable; when not shooting formal parts of the day I blend in and take on the persona of a guest – it helps me to capture beautiful candid moments and build up relationships with other guests along the way – getting bridesmaids and groomsmen on-side is always helpful for the smooth running of a wedding.
I have two essential rules for ensuring an event is stress-free. The first is planning meticulously and getting to know all the suppliers in advance. The second is to listen to the clients: making sure I know what they want to get out of their event, rather than going in with pre-conceived ideas.
My advice for improving service at weddings would be — get to know your clients beforehand and be clear on what matters to them. On the day itself, be around from start to finish. If you are there from the first moment, people get used to you being there and they are used to you shooting up close. As the day progresses guests relax and this creates more natural photography that really captures who people are and the relationships between them. This creates images that will really matter to your couples.
I think planning is everything when you’re shooting an event like a wedding, where so many people are significantly emotionally invested in the day. I spend a lot of time and energy on the planning process, from putting together a planning guide which covers all aspects of the day to have a full planning meeting with the couple in advance of the day. I also aim to educate my clients about how to get the best out of their photography.
On the day though the main way to ensure things run smoothly is to be adaptable. Things often won’t go to plan but you can help your clients to enjoy their day without stress by managing any hiccups for them. As they say, people will remember how you made them feel so make them feel like you have everything under control.
My no.1 wedding photography rule, for a stress-free and enjoyable experience for myself, the couple and their guests, is to always plan the photography.
This is how I take the pressure off myself and guarantee the success of the photography at every event I go to.
I am still amazed that some photographers will walk into an event blind, shooting from the hip, expecting to create world-class work. In my experience, this is just not possible.
Each wedding is unique, but there are familiar elements. You can gather a lot of information regarding the timings and locations from the couple, planners or venue well in advance, and couple this with your experience from previous events. You can then walk through it in the days leading up, when there isn’t pressure, allowing you the time to think about the shots and angles that will work best.
This, in turn, allows photography on the day to appear more spontaneous and unobtrusive, as you don’t have to step in to pose as many shots, as you will be in the right place at the right time to capture them as they happen.
This allows everyone to enjoy the day without interruptions, and for you to produce your finest work possible!
Prior planning is essential, try to avoid any surprises on the wedding day!
It goes without saying that timings and any group shots the couple require should be top of your list, but also think about how the ceremony is going to proceed and plan where you would like to stand; during any readings and the signing the register you may wish to move around; my favourite spot for the ceremony is front right so that I have the Bride in full view and the Groom in profile during the vows – if you have a second shooter the back of the aisle is also a good vantage point. Lighting plays a big part, flash is usually not allowed during the ceremony to make the most of the natural lighting; best to have the main light source behind you and try to minimise any strong backlighting.
I like to shoot with primes; usually a 35mm and 135mm; but if space is at a premium you may need to think about something a bit wider.
Opportunities for candid shots; it’s not often that you can photograph the actual signing (registrars won’t allow it) but once the Bride & Groom have signed the register, whilst the witnesses are doing their bit, is the time the pressure is off your couple so keep an eye on them, they are relaxed and you can usually grab some wonderful natural shots.
Weddings can be fast paced but try to stay relaxed, this will enable you to look around for opportunities to tell the story of the day.
I believe the number one rule to stress-free experience in wedding photography involves forward planning and setting expectations. Before the wedding, send the couple a questionnaire asking for timings and what they want from the day, then, using the times they provide draft up a short itinerary of their wedding from a photography perspective. I also advise to let them know how much time will be needed for family portraits/reception/ details/couples portraits. Explain when your favourite time to photograph the couple is and prep them in advance at what time this will be and how excited you are about capturing their wedding day. Managing both your expectations and the clients will help make sure you are both on track and help everything to go along smoothly!
The main things to make a day run smoothly on the day are as follows.
1. Always have a meeting at the venue beforehand with the bride and groom it not only helps you to get to know them a bit better which makes them more relaxed on the day but also you can look at all options for photos and very importantly have a wet weather option.
2. Always carry extra equipment such as lighting. You may want to do something creative with off camera flash such as the image on the cliff as shown.
3. Never ever be a photographer who shouts to get attention. This looks like you have lost control of the crowd and creates tension. Not a good thing at a wedding. Enlist the help of ushers if they are not tot drunk.
When shooting an event the single most effective way to ensure that it is as stress-free as possible is to be organised. Ask your client to let you know about any key events, or confirmed timings in advance. They may also wish to provide a short list of “must have” images especially if any formal portraits are to take place. Having a pre-agreed list will massively reduce waiting around time for yourself and for guests. If you are prepared, there should be few surprises on the day. Plan to arrive early and be sure to carry an additional kit with you, just in case. You can never have too many batteries!
Couples need to focus on having the best day of their lives, safe in the knowledge that their photographer is capturing all of those little details, the laughter, the tears and the partying for them to cherish forever! To enable this to happen I make sure that I have several planning meetings with the couple beforehand so that we can go through all of the final arrangements for the day, this doesn’t even need to be in person — Skype is a great resource! Then everyone can relax and enjoy the day itself. A rough itinerary always helps to keep everyone on track.
1. Blend In. Dress the way the guests are dressed and stay hidden and quiet as you can — guests tend to let their guard down when they think photographers aren’t capturing them, and this usually makes for natural and splendid candid images.
2. Always ask the main client if there are any particular pictures they want with someone beyond the formal/bridal party shots. You could ruin a wedding collection if you didn’t keep that shot of the bride and her favourite uncle, university friend, etc. captured during reception.
3. Smile, smile, smile. When the guests see that you’re in a positive, upbeat mood, they’ll mirror that energy when in front of your camera.