When you started planning your wedding, you knew your planner would be a wealth of information, both when it comes to décor and when it comes to the nitty gritty of a wedding day. But did you know your wedding photographer has some incredible insight, too? Just think about it: They’re behind the scenes just as much as your planner is, they’ll spend a huge chunk (read: most) of the day with the bride, the groom, and the wedding party, and they’re interacting directly with the couple and their guests constantly. So of course they’ll pick up all sorts of tips as they go!
We chatted with one of our favorite photographers, Kate Headley, about some of the wisdom she’s picked up during her years behind the camera and what she always shares with her brides.
When it comes to photography, you pay for experience.
“A more experienced wedding photographer with a beautiful portfolio is going to book up quickly and, as the law of supply and demand works, they charge more and are less willing to negotiate,” says Headley. “Experienced photographers can deliver beautiful work despite dark lighting conditions and bad weather, so remember that when booking someone new and less expensive.”
She advises asking any photographers you’re interviewing to share a rainy wedding gallery so you can see how their work stacks up. Whether you’ve got a darker venue or the perfect lighting situation, know that a little extra investment means you’ll be getting a beautiful product, no matter what.
Use the getting ready time to relax and put yourself together.
It can be easy to let the morning of your wedding turn into a rush of timelines, emotions, and possibly stress, so do everything you can to avoid that. “Getting ready with your 10 best pals sounds like a fun time, but I find the getting room to be the opposite of relaxing,” Headley explains. “When there are a dozen people all getting dressed with all their stuff around you, even a big hotel suite starts to feel small.” The clutter of suitcases, coffee cups, and accessories will show in your photographs, no matter how well-framed they are.
Headley has a totally calming alternative: “I often wonder if getting ready with one or two people in a clean and calm environment might help make a bride or groom feel more pulled together when they walk out the door. Instead, invite your bridesmaids to stop by at the end for a beautiful reveal moment.”
You aren’t wearing that dress tomorrow.
After all the time you spent finding, altering, and accessorizing your wedding gown, it’s tempting to want to keep it in pristine condition. But be honest: Are you going to wear it again? “If you’re wearing a long white dress, it will get dirty, even if your wedding is entirely indoors,” says Headley. “Don’t sweat a little dirt and don’t let it hold you back from taking in the sights and experience of the day. No one is looking at the bottom of your dress and it won’t show in photos, so relax and let it go.” Grab a bridesmaid to help with your train, and head outside for those gorgeous panoramas you really want!
Go easy on the posed shot lists.
“Don’t get photo fatigue by doing every combination possible: You just need a few key group shots and then go off to the party,” suggests Headley. “I’ve had brides make long lists and then as the night goes on, toss them out and realize what’s happening in that moment is more important. I completely agree, and try to steer my clients toward a less-is-more approach when it comes to posed photographs.”
Ask your photographer to help you compile a list of groupings they recommend, and trust their ability to order those groups for a streamlined portrait process. Then you can get to the party — those candid shots on the dance floor are the ones that will really bring back memories, anyway!
Weddings go by very fast, enjoy every second.
Even the photographer is exhausted when the day is over. “When I get home and crash after a wedding in my bed, I feel like I was just there waking up!” Headley says. “Don’t worry if something goes wrong on your wedding day or if the weather isn’t right. Hold hands with your new spouse and enjoy the party because it goes by in the blink of an eye!”