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Getting the best out of your wedding photographer

PUBLISHED: 11:25 10 November 2014 | UPDATED: 11:25 10 November 2014


Missing heads and blurry group shots are a Bride and Groom’s worst nightmare. Local snappers Mark Upfield and Nigel Kenny share their trade secrets on how to get the best out of your wedding photographer

As we turn up to meet our potential new clients for the first time and discuss their wedding day there are many thoughts that cross our minds. What are they after? Can we be creative? Will they like our style? Along with my favourite, have they had a lower quote? When we meet with the prospective clients we discuss what we can offer them, show them example albums of our work and explore what the bride and groom are looking for.

If the couple decide to book then the next step would be for us to attend the rehearsal; this provides the opportunity for us to meet the key members of the family as well as the officiate conducting the service. It’s here that we can work out where we are allowed to stand and what rules apply in the church or venue.

Once the big day arrives, one of us will meet with the bride bright and early whilst the bridal party are in the midst of hair and makeup. This is a great opportunity to get some fun, laid-back shots of the bride and her bridesmaids, as well as the bride with her parents. Use this time to introduce your photographer to the rest of your bridal party, that way, if anything is needed throughout the day your photographer will know who to approach.

Traditionally the groom usually arrives early to the venue, although it’s common knowledge that they will leave it until the last minute. In reality, the men are often in a bit of a rush to get out of the door, which can create an amazing series of images from a photographer’s perspective. Once at the wedding venue there is usually a period of time when the groom is greeting the guests as they arrive. This provides some lovely images alongside a few of a nervous groom looking at his watch, all great shots for the beginning of an album.

Once everyone is seated the anticipation mounts as the groom awaits the arrival of his wife to be. As the music begins to play everyone stands and the groom starts to well up... It’s a myth that the bride cries first, the images your photographer should capture of the groom at this time are priceless.

Your photographer should use the time during the service to capture images of your guests, not missing the most important shot, the kiss! We ask the bride and groom to take their time so we can capture their first kiss in wedlock, but so many times all we see is a quick peck! So for your photographer’s sake please don’t be shy and enjoy it.

After the signing of the register we all head outside and start to work through the formal part of the day, the group shots. We all know that having that fake smile on for too long will start to play havoc with your jaw, so we have a structure. If you have any specific groups you want be sure to tell your photographer before the day, it makes it far easier for us to get through them quickly, leaving your guests to head to the bar. Of course, sometimes things go wrong; including the occasion when we managed to loose the father of the groom, who disappeared in between the service and the group shots. He had decided to take a detour on the way to the venue to put some petrol in his car! On this occasion we changed the order in which we photographed the groups, forward planning for these situations always helps. In the past we have also lost the best man, who appeared sometime later looking sheepish with a blushing bridesmaid…but that’s another story.

On to the wedding breakfast, a chance for most people to relax whilst the groom, best man and father of the bride take on some Dutch courage! This meal time is also the photographers break, and offering them a bite to eat will always go down well. We have had a few weddings in which we sat with the guests, and the bride and groom supplied us with the wedding breakfast. This gave us more time for shooting as our cameras stayed by our side; great for capturing those little moments such as the children playing with the bubbles or hiding under the tables.

Next we come to the speeches. Some folk take to public speaking like a duck to water, but for many it is something to be feared and in one case, it came as a complete shock to the groom when his reply was ‘what speech?’ This is the time when we see smiles, laughs and happy tears whilst old life stories and future plans are spoken about; along with those dreaded secrets which the best man might reveal. Your photographer should act like a fly on the wall, walking around and capturing the images while people are caught in the moment. Ask your photographer to use a long lens so that they are not too intrusive, and if you do know of any points in the speech that will get a reaction, let the photographer know beforehand.

After the speeches there’s usually a small gap while the room gets turned around ready for the evening reception. Use this time to chat to all your guests and sometimes, if the weather is right, this is a great opportunity to go out and take some sunset shots as Mr and Mrs.

When the first dance comes along you can guarantee Mums, Dads, Nans and Grandads will have a little cry before they join you. We usually have a flash gun rigged up to get some really relaxed and emotional images.

Once the wedding is over we will focus on the editing, check with your photographer for an idea of how long you can expect to wait for your images. Most photographers nowadays will offer an album and we would definitely recommend doing it this way. With the pace in which technology changes, there is no guarantee that you will still be able to view a CD or memory stick in five or ten years time. An album or photo book will survive your lifetime and longer!


THINK about what you want from your photographer

• What style do you like? – Traditional, artistic, vintage?

• Make sure you ask to see examples of their work and to see photos of a whole wedding, not just a selection of their best images.

• Do you want an album or picture disk (CD or DVD) or images on a USB stick?

• Do they offer other products such as prints, canvas prints, framed prints, parents albums, etc


ASK those questions that are at the back of your mind. Don’t be afraid, no matter how silly you think it might be

• Is the photographer free on the day?

• When does the fee need to be paid?

• Who will be taking the photographs? It may not be the person you are meeting with

• Will there be one photographer or two?

• Is it OK for other people to be taking pictures whilst the official photographs are being taken?

• Do they know the wedding venue? Have they worked there before?


PLAN carefully, especially timings
• Be realistic! Allow plenty of time between the key events such as travelling from home to the venues, after the ceremony when many of the formal photographs are taken before the meal, between the wedding breakfast and evening reception


PREPARE to be photographed
• The photographer will want a list of the people who need to be included in the group photographs; they will also need help finding those people so get your best man to help!

• Make sure you have plenty to eat and drink (water) during the day – we don’t want a fainting bride or groom!


SMILE and remember to look at the camera! Don’t be shy it is your big day so enjoy it!


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