Using Your Photographer to the Fullest

Photographers have plenty of knowledge about weddings, much more than just the photography aspect.

While wedding coordinators are often most sought after for providing new brides with feedback on how best to plan their weddings, one of the most valuable resources for a bride comes from her photographer. Despite what some wedding planning guides indicate, booking a photographer 12-16 months before the wedding ensures she’ll have not only the best photographer but also his or her input into how to organize the day such that great photographic opportunities naturally occur. By booking a photographer soon after the wedding date is set, she is setting herself up to have the best photographs possible.

As a wedding photographer of eight years, I am used to being one of the last vendors selected for the wedding. This can result in the bride making poor choices in regards to the ceremony location, time and lighting, which in turn have everything to do with how well the photos turn out. The photographer is the one person who will document every aspect of the wedding from pre-bridals and the dress to flowers at the venue to the programs and the cake. Often they can provide valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to heed to a photographer’s suggestions because long after the wedding is over, all that remains are the pictures.

Importance of location
A true photographer can use any location to get great photos, but one thing a photographer is not is a magician. If the couple has not booked their venue yet, they should consult a photographer for options. While some may be out of the budget, all will be at the very least highly photogenic. A photogenic location has more to do with the type of lighting and type of small structures on site than it does the overall “feel” and opulence of the venue.

Heavy wall texture and bold contrasting colors play a huge role in a venue’s photogenic nature. Ponds, bridges, small doorways, steps, alcoves and arches provide better photo opportunities in most cases than majestic buildings with elaborate gardens. The best wedding photos are the unscripted moments between people, and simple, non-distracting backgrounds and the presence of natural lighting only enhance that.

Of all the elements that make a venue truly photogenic, lighting plays the most important role. More specifically, the presence of late afternoon sunlight in the photogenic areas described earlier helps the photographer create the most breathtaking photographs filled with depth and dimension. While most modern professional cameras can shoot in low light, it’s still important to have a decent light level to ensure clarity in the photographs.

Importance of ceremony time
Sunset and early evening weddings are the two most popular times for ceremonies. From a photographer’s point of view, photos come out best during either overcast days or late afternoon. If you want a sunset wedding, consider having the ceremony begin 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to sunset, which allows for optimal lighting during the formal portraits of the newlyweds to be taken immediately after the ceremony.

If the ceremony will be in the evening, especially one that is outdoors as is common in cooler months, make sure the photographer has an opportunity to see the ceremony site lit up at this time of day prior to your wedding day. It will give him/her an idea of what type of external lighting he/she may need to make clear photographs.

While a coordinator can help make this daunting process of planning a wedding easier, the photographer also has valuable information that can make the wedding not only more beautiful on the wedding day, but for generations to come through the stories the photographs tell.