Plan Like a Pro: Wedding Photographer Jose Villa Shares His Top Tips

Wedding Photography
Plan like a Pro Photographer - Tips from Jose Villa

Photo: Jose Villa

The biggest name in wedding photos, Jose Villa, is here to share his tried-and-true rules for having your most photogenic day ever. One important tip: "The key to capturing an authentic moment? Soft, natural light and a simple background. And motion!" Check out more of his expert advice below!

Before hiring your photographer, ask yourself two things.
One, can he handle a dim-lit room? And, two, is he nice? A wedding is a living, breathing, unpredictable thing. He has to be very go-with-the-flow and technically consistent no matter what. Vet him in person, and look at full galleries — not just his greatest hits.

I prefer outdoor weddings, but if you're inside, here's the secret to album-worthy photos.
Get the space as close to daylight as possible, and add some candles for warmth. Avoid color gels in your lighting, especially if they change throughout the night; even yellow and orange are too warm. People won't photograph well.

See More: The Best Real Wedding Photos of 2014

Try an "unplugged" wedding.
Send an enclosure with the invite asking guests to power off — at least during the ceremony. It's awesome not to have to tell them to put down their phones and stop Instagramming so I can get the picture!

Consider booking a boudoir shoot.
I've shot brides wearing lingerie, a veil, or nothing at all. Most are in the best shape of their lives for their wedding, and the portraits are beautiful. It helps, of course, that I'm gay. Your boobs just don't excite me that way!

Rent a well-lit, crazy-fun, propped-out photo booth.
Especially if you are hosting a formal affair because it breaks the ice.

Have your photographer show up an hour before getting ready shots.
He can snap your invite, preferably on a set of table linens. Please don't make him iron them for you!

See More: Every Formal Portrait You Should Take at Your Wedding

And be sure you get ready in a neat room.
I can't tell you how many times I've moved suitcases and furniture out of the way.

If you're shy, a 20-minute "first look" session is a good idea.
You'll feel more relaxed in front of the camera later. After that, my ideal time line is a 30-minute ceremony two hours before sunset, followed by couple portraits in private, family pics, and lots of photos of cocktail hour as the sun sets.

Know how to pose.
Turn toward the center of the frame. Don't drop your chin. Relax your shoulders. Bend one knee, and hold the bouquet at your hips. Breathe! Got all that! You'll look gorge.

Avoid color pics of the dance floor.
Late night, things can get messy: Hair comes down, people sweat. Switch to black and white so everything looks a bit more... timeless.

For more genius wedding day advice, be sure to check out our February/March issue, on newsstands now and available for download!

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