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How to Get Great Wedding Photos

Wedding Planning Guides

In this comprehensive guide, we are going to discuss what you can do in order to ensure that you have amazing wedding photos. Keep in mind that this guide will continuously be updated to include relevant advice, and will be a resource to brides looking to make sure that their wedding photos are memorable for years to come. 

Choosing Your Photographer

There are many good photographers offering their services in every city, but you need to find one who will truly be the best. To do this, you should take the following steps:

Do your research.

The Internet will help you find photographers in your area. Take a look at their websites and read reviews from their previous clients to learn more about these professionals. Compile a list of those whose photography you find the most interesting.

Study portfolios and choose the style.

Every photographer has his or her own unique style. This personal touch is what makes a true artist, but you need to understand that a professional with a specialization in one type of art may not be able to create equally great pictures in a different style. Therefore, it’s essential to study the portfolios offered by different specialists carefully and pick the ones who work in a style you like most.

Arrange interviews.

Going through portfolios will help you shortlist several (3-5 will be best) photographers whose style appeals to you. You should set up meetings with these people as a personal interview is an essential factor in choosing a photographer. You need to feel comfortable with this person, so that you can relax in front of the camera and trust the specialist to take stunning pictures. Make sure to prepare for the interview by compiling a list of questions. This way, you won’t forget anything important.

Discuss technicalities.

Technical details, such as package, cost, your rights, other people included in the photographer’s crew, etc. must be discussed in great detail. They don’t affect the quality and artistic value of the shots, but these things must be considered for the sake of your budget. Compare the offers and pick the one that meets your needs best.


The Importance of Wedding Photo Timeline

Planning is the key to a successful operation, so if you want to get gorgeous pictures, you need to be sure you set aside enough time to make them. Note that the best shots require natural light, so consider the season and daylight hours when planning your timeline. Here is an example of what it should look like.

Details: 30 minutes.

These are the pictures of the rings, dress, shoes, and other objects that will help to tell the story of this magical day.

Getting ready photos: 60 minutes.

Invite your photographer to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled end of your get ready session so that he or she will have enough time to take detail shots as well as get ready shots of both bride and groom.

Individual portraits: 30 minutes for each bride and groom.

These pictures will need to be taken immediately after the get ready session, so be sure to allocate enough time for this shoot before the ceremony.

First look and couple session: 60-90 minutes.

This session is optional, though it’s getting more popular by the day. The first look is a very intimate experience for the happy couple and pictures turn out to be truly magical.

Wedding party photos: 45-60 minutes.

Note that the length of this session will depend on the size of the wedding party. You will need to discuss the guest list with your photographer beforehand and determine the kinds of shots you want to take.

Family photos: 45-60 minutes.

This is another session that directly depends on the number of people involved and your personal preferences regarding the pictures. You can look up the ideas in the photographer’s portfolio.

Formal shots with extended family: 30-45 minutes.

This session can be shorter and it can take place either before or after the ceremony.

Ceremony and venue: Up to 60 minutes.

Shooting the ceremony is a challenge as the environment often works against the photographer. Look up some tips in the part of this guide dedicated to wedding ceremony photography.

Couple session: 60 minutes.

Be sure to choose the location in advance.

Reception Details: 30 minutes.

The venue will need to be photographed before the guests are seated.

Creative Night Portraits: 30 minutes.

A wonderful way to finish your photo day.

How to Get Great “Getting Ready” Photos

Getting ready photos will take a special place in your wedding album as they show the beginning of your story on this most special of days. To make sure these pictures come out truly stunning, you will need to plan every detail and arrange your getting ready session in a manner that will allow for the taking of great shots. Our simple tips will help brides prepare for this part of the shoot.

The room where hairdressers and makeup artists will work their magic on you is the most important consideration for a getting ready shoot. You will need to keep this in mind when looking for the perfect wedding venue.

The most important consideration for a photographer is the lighting. Therefore, you should search for a venue that will provide you with a room that has plenty of natural light during the time of the day when the preparation will take place. Don’t forget that natural light changes depending on the season. If you book a venue 6 months in advance and the getting ready room is perfect at this time, it may not be this way on the day of your wedding.

Take your photographer to see the venue at least a couple of weeks in advance. The professional will plan the shoot and look for interesting angles and backgrounds in order to ensure that when the time comes for you to get ready, everything will go smoothly and your preparations won’t be interrupted.

Bridal Prep Tips

Great lighting and a spacey room aren’t the only things that matter for making gorgeous getting ready pictures. The following tips will help you ensure this shoot turns out perfect:

Be first for Hair & Makeup.

There is a misconception that we need to be present during the entire time for hair and makeup, but the reality is we really only need about 15 minutes with the bride for this part of prep. You should get your hair and makeup done first so that you are ready to go for photos when your photographer arrives. We can always have a bridesmaid pretend to apply gloss or eyeliner for a couple of shots, which we refer to as “fake-up” shots.

Stage the Scene

Getting ready in a home? Hire an event rental company to add some pipe and drape and bridal furniture to the room with the most light in it. From there we can create some beautiful images for you without costs going through the roof. This is one of the most effective ways to save money and get great images.

Get all the details in one place.

The first thing we are going to do when we arrive is a photo of a “flat-lay” which is a spread of all of your details together. Decide which details you want to get photographed and collect them in one place for the photographer to work with, while you are getting ready. Put your dress on a hanger and leave it out for us.

Get a bridal prep robe.

A silk robe can be easily found and is great to be photographed in. For bonus points, get your bridesmaids matching robes to make the getting ready photos more interesting. 

Keep the room uncluttered.

This one is really important…..Don’t allow your getting ready room to turn into a storage. If you are having a big bridal party, get a separate room for them to get ready in. Large bridal parties in small rooms can make it impossible to get great photos.

Allow only the closest friends and relatives into the room.

With a makeup artist, hairdresser, photo & video crew, bridesmaids, and closest family, the room will be overcrowded and difficult to shoot. We want to set you up for hair and makeup next to a window, but that means we need a clean background free of distractions to get great pictures. Keep only close family and friends nearby and have your bridesmaids get ready in a different room until it’s time for photos.

Don’t forget about the groom.

The groom’s getting ready portraits may not be as elaborate as the bride’s but it needs to be documented as well. Be sure to plan your timeline in a way that will allow the photographer to take pictures of you both before the first look session.

Discuss your creative ideas with your photographer.

Some brides have specific shots they want and if that is the case for you, definitely discuss it with us prior to our arrival. Interested in doing a bridal boudoir shoot prior to getting ready? This is something we need to know about ahead of time.

Relax and enjoy yourself.

Both the bride and the groom will be quite busy during prep, and you definitely don’t need any additional stress. Therefore, it’s important to trust your photographer to take excellent images without you purposefully posing for them. Of course, you will need to pose for some of the pictures, but a qualified professional will make the experience enjoyable for you.

Tips for Beautiful Wedding Ceremony Photos

The ceremony is one of the biggest challenges of wedding photography. There are dozens of factors that must be considered to ensure great pictures of this essential part of your special day. This guide will help you plan the event to get the best results.

Outdoor or Indoor?

The first and most important consideration is choosing whether you want to have an outdoor or indoor ceremony. This decision will affect the photography greatly, but this isn’t the most important factor you will need to take into account. Your wedding ceremony must be a truly magical experience, and this will be possible only if you love every detail of it. Therefore, you should choose a setting that has a special meaning to you and your loved one. Your budget will be another important factor that will determine your ceremony venue.

Photography-wise, there are pros and cons to every type of wedding, so be sure to take them into account.

Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Pros:

  • Great views
  • Natural light
  • Good weather

Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Cons:

  • No control over lighting
  • Bad weather

Indoor Wedding Ceremony Pros:

  • Interesting backgrounds (especially in a church)
  • No dependence on weather
  • Controlled lighting

Indoor Wedding Ceremony Cons:

  • Poor lighting
  • Limited space
  • Limited backgrounds

Wedding Ceremony Lighting: Mistakes to Avoid

There are no second chances for taking great shots during the ceremony, so it’s important to plan it with your photographer in mind. The most important factor is the lighting. Professional equipment can help get around the issues caused by low light in churches, but some other venues, and outdoor weddings in particular, present a challenge even for top notch cameras.

To make sure you get some remarkable pictures of the ceremony, you should know what to avoid:

Noon ceremonies.

The light is highly challenging at this time and makes taking great shots almost impossible. In fact, you should avoid noon shoots in general as the glaring sun isn’t conductive for beautiful pictures, even with additional photo equipment that helps soften the effect.

Backlit venues.

No amount of lighting equipment will be able to help take incredible pictures of a naturally backlit ceremony. If you aren’t sure about how to arrange the venue, especially one that is outdoors, consult your photographer in advance and discuss the time of the day when the ceremony will take place. This way, you will be able to choose the perfect setting.

Extra Tips for Amazing Wedding Ceremony Photos

Get out of the vehicle gracefully.

Shots of the bride getting out of the car or coach can be truly incredible, but you may need to repeat the process a few times to get the best shot. If you want to avoid this delay, wait for the photographer to prepare in advance and move with your natural fluid grace and a large smile on your face.

Walk down the aisle slowly.

Walking down the aisle is one of the most amazing experiences of the whole ceremony. It’s natural to want to soar into your loved one’s arms, but you should temper your speed and walk in measured steps to allow your photographer a chance to take a few great shots.

Take an extra moment for pictures in the end.

After you exchange your vows and officially become husband and wife, take a few moments to get some extra shots in.

Discuss the rules with your photographer in advance.

This is especially important for church weddings as there are special rules in regards to photographing in different churches and the presence of a man or woman with a camera may disrupt some religious rituals. Therefore, it’s essential to warn your photographer about how exactly the ceremony would go and what he/she can and cannot do during its formal part.

Experienced photographers know the regular rules, such as not using flashes and not getting in the way, but every ceremony is unique in a way, so it’s best to make sure that you are on the same page about these formalities.

If your religion requires observing some special rituals during the wedding, explaining them to the photographer in advance will help the specialist prepare to take the best shots.

Get the photos of guests arriving at the venue.

Talk to your photographer to make sure that he or she will get a few shots of the arriving guests and plan your own arrival in a way that will help the specialist to get those pictures before focusing attention on the bride. These photos will help to tell the wedding story in your album.

How to get Great Couple’s Portraits

The couple portraits will be some of the loveliest photos in your wedding album. This is the part of the shoot where you should let you and your photographer’s imagination soar to create vivid images of incredible beauty that will tell the story of your love on this most important of days.

Careful planning is a must to ensure that the pictures turn out truly brilliant. Start with discussing the portrait session with your photographer a few weeks in advance. This way, the professional will have the time to come up with some creative ideas that you will need to talk about closer to the wedding day.

Visit the venues together with your photographer to search for the best spots for your creative couple portraits. Consider dropping by some special location for this particular photo session. This option will be a wise choice if you want to have a themed couple portrait shoot but your ceremony and reception venue don’t allow for the type of decorations you seek for this particular theme.

Turn to movies and books for inspiration. You can find great poses in romantic movies where settings are developed by professional directors who know how to place the characters just right to get the best shot. Are you a fan of some romance novel? Tell your own special version of your favorite romance story through this photo shoot.

Show your photographer some intimate moments. Hugs and kisses help tell the story of your love, so you’ll need to engage in some displays of affection before the camera. If you feel too shy or uncomfortable about this, discuss the matter with your photographer. The professional will be able to offer some tips and poses that will help you relax and get into the mood of the story you are telling through these images.

Think of incorporating some props into the shoot. It will be easier to choose the objects that can “enhance” the atmosphere if you are making a themed couple portrait session. However, even if there is no special underlying theme, you can use some objects to make original shots. For example, large puzzle pieces with your names fitting together perfectly, or objects that display your interests, like a guitar or some sports equipment. Remember that these photos must not only reflect the mood of your wedding but also show the bride and groom as the two unique people that they are.

Consider a First Look

A “first look” is a photo shoot that takes place before the ceremony when the bride and groom see each other for the first time. Many couples choose to document this special occasion as these moments are filled to the brim with emotions, which allows for taking incredible photos.

This photo session should be private to enhance the sense of intimacy and connection between the soon-to-be-married lovers. Allow about 30 minutes for this shoot in your planning to prevent running late with the ceremony.

If you decide to have a first look shoot, keep in mind the following tips:

Be yourself.

This session is all about the feelings that brought the couple together. You shouldn’t put any undue pressure on yourself and try to pose or hold back happy tears for the camera. Just be yourself and think of nothing but your love for your partner, whom you will soon join in marriage.

Choose the spot in advance.

Natural expressions and reactions are a must, but the setting is something you should arrange in advance. Choose a secluded, well-lit spot where you can enjoy this special moment of privacy before the ceremony.

Night Couple Photos Tips

Close off the day with taking a few special photos before the end of the reception. Night shots can look incredible, but you will need to arrange this mini-shoot with your photographer in advance so that he or she comes prepared. The quality of night pictures will depend on the skill level and quality of your photographer’s equipment. Finding an amazing background is the key to making killer night portraits. Be sure to drop by your venue during the night to look for the best spots.

To make this final photo session more interesting, tell a picture story of how you are sneaking away. This will be a fun experience for the couple and even can include some of the friends, who help to “cover” for the newlyweds while they “go into hiding”. Roleplaying spies or adventurers will add some thrill to the evening.

Getting Beautiful Wedding Reception Images

Lighting is the biggest challenge of wedding reception photography. Therefore, if you want the pictures of this part of your wedding celebration to be beautiful, you will need to hire a photographer who knows how to use lighting equipment properly.

Pay special attention to the reception photos in the portfolios you study when looking for a photographer. Note whether the pictures are from indoor or outdoor receptions. You will need to hire a specialist who has experience in shooting your particular type of venue and can offer evidence to prove his or her skills in this.

Equipment Used for Wedding Reception Photography

Nowadays, a good photographer can take great shots in any environment as there is equipment to counter almost every challenge presented by nature and lighting. A flash and a diffuser are two of the most important tools for a wedding reception shoot.

The flash allows to even out the lighting and take a good shot even in a dim room. Professionals use flashes with varied intensity to adjust to different surroundings perfectly. Diffusers are used to spread the light from the flash evenly and make it appear softer.

A great flash+diffuser trick that can be used for creating a few great shots is aiming the flash towards the ceiling. This way, the light will be concentrated away from the subjects and won’t create an unappealing “blow up” that highlights the subjects too much. This trick works exceptionally well at outdoor receptions when the “ceiling” is a white tent.

Another important tool used by photographers is a handheld video light. This piece of equipment is carried by the photographer’s aid and the light is aimed towards the ground. The main purpose of this light is not so much to illuminate as help the camera focus. This trick is important for outdoors receptions that often turn pitch black, even with some lights installed outside. The beauty of the starry sky in this case is remarkable and definitely helps enhance the party mood. However, photography-wise, this setting will be a great challenge.

Look for a photographer who believes in being ready for everything and carries the equipment that can come in handy in any situation. This way, you will be sure that you will get great shots regardless of the circumstances. Unfortunately, sometimes exploring the venue in advance is not enough as some unforeseen problems may ruin the lighting scheme your photographer plans to use. A really good specialist will be ready for such a mishap and have several backup plans in place.

Find a Photographer Who Isn’t Afraid to Join the Action

The wedding reception is a wild party, and to make truly remarkable photos of this celebration, the photographer needs to be on the “inside” of this party. Otherwise, the pictures might look like they’ve been taken by a stalker who is intruding on a private celebration.

The only way to determine whether a photographer will be able to assume the necessary role and get into the middle of the festivities to take some great shots is studying the master’s portfolio carefully. Assess the pictures with a critical eye and decide whether you want your own reception photos to look similar.

The matter of the photographer’s personality also plays an important part here, because you and your guests need to be comfortable around this person to pose for nice natural shots. Never hire a photographer without an interview that will help you see if your personalities are compatible.

Don’t forget that to “join the action” in the most efficient manner, the photographer must be aware of what to expect. So, be sure to discuss your plans for the reception and tell the photographer what kinds of shots you want to see most. The professional will have some ideas, but it’s your day and your vision takes priority. Just be sure to plan these things in advance to ensure that everything goes smoothly during the most romantic day of your life.

Choose Uplighting for the Room

There will be no avoiding lighting challenges when photographing the reception, but you can make the task easier on your photographer and ensure a higher quality of the shots by pre-arranging quality uplighting in the reception hall.

This is a matter that will need to be handled by an experienced professional, so be sure to involve your photographer in the arrangements. The professional will need to install some lighting equipment in advance to create favorable conditions for the shoot without disrupting the flow of the celebration.