- There’s a lot that goes into wedding planning, and getting great wedding photos can be difficult
- INSIDER spoke to some experts to find out how you can make sure your wedding photos look amazing
- It’s important that you find someone that you trust
There are so many things that go into planning a wedding and for many brides and grooms, wedding photos are high on that list. Your wedding photos are what you’ll look at to remember your big day for the rest of your life.
Getting great wedding photos, however, can be easier said than done. Hiring the wrong photographer can quickly turn into a disaster, and going into the event with absolutely no preparation could end in disappointment.
INSIDER spoke with some experts in the industry to find out how you can make sure you get some great shots of your day.
Figure out what your vision is for your photos.
The first step to getting excellent photos is to hire a photographer with a style you like, not just someone you know or someone who is affordable. Zola’s director of brand Jennifer Spector suggested doing a “deep dive” into a photographer’s profile before making any decisions.
Spector said, “Every photographer’s style is different. Some shoot brighter photos, some darker, some are into portrait style; while others focus more on group shots.” Get some wedding inspiration, figure out the look you’re going for, and go from there.
Try to meet with your photographer in person before hiring them.
A photographer isn’t the same as every other vendor – as Spector said, “You don’t have to love your florist, DJ or caterer on a personal level, but you should really like your photographer.” Why? Spector explained, “Your photos will turn out more natural if you feel comfortable with the person behind the lens.”
Try meeting with the photographer in person to go over details before signing contracts. If that’s not possible, Spector told INSIDER, “definitely ask for references and read reviews online and look at their entire Instagram and Pinterest feed. Social media is a great way to investigate wedding vendors.”
Plan an engagement session before the wedding.
A lot of couples dismiss the idea of doing an engagement session before a wedding either to save money or to save time, but doing one with your photographer is actually really important. It’s also usually included in packages now, so it shouldn’t be more money.
Wedding photographer Kelsey Combe, of Kelsey Combe Photography, spoke told INSIDER that this is a great way to feel out a level of comfort.
“It’s totally worth it because it helps you learn their shooting style, and helps you get comfortable in front of the camera,” she said. “Photoshoots are hard – most brides and grooms have never done a professional photoshoot before, and it’s nerve-wracking being in front of the lens. So an engagement session is a great way to loosen up, get comfy, and calm anxieties prior to the big day.”
Let your photographer know which pictures you want ahead of time.
If there are certain photos that are important to you, you have to let your photographer know about them before the wedding so they can keep them in mind – you likely won’t remember to bring them up on your big day. However, be careful about trying to recreate shots you see on social media.
Combe told INSIDER, “Most photographers do not need a typical shot list … We know to take a photo of the bride walking down the aisle, believe it or not. But what IS helpful is the photos that aren’t typical. We love to know when a guest has a special connection, or there is a three-generation picture you want, or if your super talented friend custom designed all of your stationery. So don’t waste your time with the typical shot list, but do tell us what matters most to you.”
Come up with a schedule and a plan.
Your wedding day is going to be so much more hectic and busy than you can imagine, which is why you need a plan in place to keep things running smoothly – especially when it comes to photos, as they can take up a decent chunk of time. Spector said that this will make things “stress-free,” and added, “Your photographer will only be contracted for a certain number of hours, so you want to make the most of that time, or pay extra. Consult with your photographer on a recommended timeline.”
Combe agreed, “Every photographer will have a different preference, but I typically like, two hours prior to leaving for the ceremony/first look, 45 minutes total with bride and groom which can be split up, 30 minutes with the bridal party, and 30 minutes for family formals.”
Consider doing a first look.
First looks are becoming more and more popular for couples for a few reasons, and you might want to think about doing one. Combe says, “If you can do a first look, that’s great because it allows for a lot of flexibility, relaxed photo-time, and cocktail hour attendance for the bride and groom. If you don’t want to do a first look, no worries. Just plan some gap time between your ceremony and your cocktail hour. The last thing you want is to be rushed and stressed out during photos.”
Try not to stress about the weather affecting your photos.
One thing most couples worry about is what the weather will be like on their wedding day, assuming rain or snow will make things miserable. That’s not true. Spector told INSIDER, “If it’s going to rain, it’s going to rain. Your pictures are still going to be beautiful.”
Plus, there’s a silver lining, as Spector pointed out: “Cloudy weather provides the best lighting to capture amazing shots, and I truly love a photo of a couple huddled under an umbrella. Trust that your photographer will capture your day perfectly, even in the rain.”
Keep yourself relaxed throughout the entire photo-taking process.
If you’re nervous about your photos, you will probably come off looking stiff and unnatural, which is the last thing you want. Combe said, “Treat your wedding photos like a mini date. Enjoy the time with your new spouse – embrace it and have fun with it. If you take yourself too seriously, it’ll show as not being natural. So lean in hard, embrace it, and have fun with it. The pictures will reflect that you were happy and relaxed.”
Don’t take yourself too seriously, for the photos and throughout the night.
Being hypervigilant of every detail is going to make you look stiff, and again, that’s not what you want for great photos. Combe said, “Sure, there are a million things that can go wrong. Maybe your makeup isn’t perfect or your hair extensions are not the exact shade of your hair, or your dress doesn’t fit exactly right. Here’s the big secret … none of that matters. If you have fun and enjoy yourselves despite the little imperfections, no one else will see them.”
The best wedding photos are the ones where you look comfortable and happy, and that starts with feeling good about yourself. As Combe told INSIDER, “You are your biggest critic and the only one noticing the little imperfections, I promise. Nobody’s perfect – and no one should be. The natural is where the true beauty happens with photos. It’s good to have fun.”
Put your trust in your photographer.
One of the reasons it’s so important to get to know your photographer and do an engagement shoot is so that you build up trust with them. You can’t take natural, great photos if you’re standing there second-guessing everything they do. “You are new to the whole wedding thing, but that person taking your pictures is not. They have seen everything,” Combe said.
This means that you should generally listen to their advice, even if you’re skeptical. Combe continued, “Listen to them – stand where they want you to stand, do what they are telling you to do. I promise they are going to make you look good … if you trust them, you are more likely to look natural and like yourself in the photos.”
Don’t forget about a videographer.
A photographer is incredibly important, but a videographer is pretty essential as well. A wedding video is so special and will be a wonderful addition to your photos. Spector said, “In a recent survey, we found that 25% of Zola couples regretted not having a videographer. I know that this is a budget line item that seems easy to go without, but you do only get one wedding day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the love you feel on that day so much that you forget to notice all the little details that you spent so much time planning.”
It’s also a good idea to involve your photographer in the process. Spector suggests, “Ask your photographer for a list of videographers who are easy to work with and in your price range.”
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