I asked one of my favorite photographer friends Heidi Ryder, of Heidi Ryder Photography if she would give my couples tips on how they can to prepare themselves to get the most amazing photos on the day of their wedding. Here’s what she said:
As a wedding photographer, my main job is to capture moments. Real moments, as they happen. Of course, it’s also up to me to direct couples and their wedding party and families during the portrait sessions of the day, but for the most part, everything else unfolds as it will and I have to capture as much of it as possible while being unobtrusive.
In this, the day of Pinterest, Instagram and wedding blogs, it is very common for brides to compile a collection of “must-have” photos. A wishlist, if you will. The photos you save as inspiration for your big day are a huge help when it comes to envisioning your day and pulling together a cohesive design. I really wish I had tools like that at my disposal when I got married!
That being said, it’s easy to over visualize your wedding. Falling in love with certain bridal portraits that you found online is perfectly understandable, but it’s important to remember that once your wedding day arrives, it’s time to enjoy the ride and trust your vendors—your photographer in particular—to do their job and do it well.
Trusting your vendors aside, there are a few more things you can do to make sure you have done everything you can to make it easy to capture your day in all it’s splendor. Read on for some of my tips on how to get the most out of your photos and your wedding photographer:
- Put together a “family formals” list. Give your photographer a list of the exact family groupings you’d like photos of. Get specific and write down the first name of each person so that your photographer can easily call out names to keep that part of the day moving along. Doing this before the wedding day ensures you won’t accidentally forget anyone. It also guarantees that portion of the day, which can be very high stress due to the amount of people involved, will go much smoother.
- Avoid an obvious “must-have” or “moments” list. There are some bridal websites out there who are trying to be helpful by providing a list of “must-have” photos that they think you need to tell your photographer about. This list includes things like “bride walking down the aisle” or “the first dance.” If your photographer isn’t getting those photos, they probably aren’t actually a wedding photographer! Those shots are very standard and as long as those things happen, any experienced wedding photographer will be in the right place to capture them. On that note, perhaps you’ve always envisioned having a photo of you and your dad sharing a hug before walking down the aisle, or your best friend and maid of honor admiring your ring after the ceremony. While these moments might make lovely photos if they happen, they wouldn’t necessarily happen naturally, which means you’re really asking your photographer to create these moments. This is a bad idea not just because of the lack of genuineness, but also because your photographer will be preoccupied with a checklist of fake moments, which could make them miss capturing the actual moments happening during your day.
- Let your photographer know about any surprises. If you have any out-of-the-ordinary surprises planned for your significant other or your guests, don’t forget to tell your photographer about them. Your secret is safe with them – promise! If you’re doing something you’ve never seen before like being flown into your reception by a helicopter, or flash mob for your first dance, it’s a good idea to let your photographer know that in advance to make sure they’re positioned in the right place and ready with the right kind of equipment.
- Don’t be afraid of adventure. Most wedding gowns are white, which we all know is a color that attracts dirt, no matter how careful you are. Unfortunately this means, your wedding dress WILL get dirty. I’ve seen a lot of brides have a hard time coming to terms with this fact and will say no to absolutely anything that might risk even a little dust getting on their dress. This usually results in the photographer being tied down to one small, clean area for photos because the bride doesn’t want to venture out to prettier landscapes for photos. If photos are important to you and you want them to be all they can be, don’t be afraid to get a little dirty! Obviously you don’t want to roll around in mud, but a little dirt will more than likely rub right out once the photos are done, and I promise you – no one will notice a little smudge on your dress. They’re going to noticing how radiant and happy you look because it’s your wedding day!
- Keep smiling. This might seem like a funny bit of advice, but wedding days are long and overwhelming, and as the focus of everyone’s attention, it’s normal for you to feel a little stressed on your day, even if things go perfectly. The tricky part is, there’s a camera fixed on you almost the entire time, so try to remember to keep smiling – you’ll love the photos of those in-between moments a whole lot better if you do!
- Do a First Look. When I meet with new clients for the first time, many of them are still on the fence as to whether not they’ll have a First Look. The most popular reason for a First Look is time. When a couple sees each other before the ceremony, it opens up the schedule for photos so much that it is often possible for most, if not all, of the posed photos (wedding party, romantics of the couple, family photos) to be finished up before the ceremony starts and the guests arrive. What this means is you’re no longer forced to fit all of those photos into a one hour time period (also known as the cocktail hour), AND you, the couple, get to actually mingle with your guests and enjoy cocktail hour with them.
Highlights from some of Heidi’s past weddings!