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Although my style as a wedding photographer is predominantly that of reportage, natural and documentary, there are still things that brides and grooms need to think about when planning their wedding. These things are by no means set in stone but are worth thinking about, and they can certainly help us wedding photographers in the lead up to the wedding.

One of the first things I ask couples when meeting for the first time, is;

‘Does the church allow the photographer to take pictures during the wedding ceremony?’

A lot of people assume that of course the church will allow wedding photographers to do their thing during what is possibly the biggest event in their lives, but you’d be surprised. Some churches don’t allow any form of photos to be taken at any point during the ceremony. Some allow a certain amount but only during hymns, and then you get those that are completely relaxed about it, as long as the official wedding photographer does as he or she is told. It usually depends on whoever is conducting the ceremony so the best thing to do is speak to them and see what they have to say. If, for whatever reason, there’s to be no photography during the service then it’s best that you know in advance rather than receive your finished images after the event, only to be disappointed by the lack of pictures from the exchanging of vows and rings.

A frequently asked question from couples is ‘Is it possible for the photographer to get the groom’s preparations as well as the bride’s?’

If timings are right and the groom is getting ready relatively near to the bride or the venue where the ceremony will be taking place, then this is easily done. The bridal preparations will obviously take longer than the groom’s and typically I like to spend at least an hour with the bride, up until the doing up of the dress. If time allows I will then go and spend 15-20 minutes with the groom. I ask that the groom and his party are pretty much dressed other than ties/cravats and cufflinks. I like to be at the venue 45 minutes before the ceremony is due to start so once I’ve spent the time with the groom, I then head off to start capturing the guests as they arrive. Depending on locations, for both bride and groom to be captured getting prepared, I usually ask that the bride has the dress done up 90 minutes before the start of the ceremony.

An important question that I tend to ask is ‘How many group shots do you require?’

Most people will require a certain element of formal pictures to be taken, which can include family, bridal party or close friends. As a reportage and documentary wedding photographer I am there to capture the day as it happens so always suggest that you keep the group shots to a minimum so as to ensure the guests don’t get bored. Group shots can take a long time and you can soon find yourself with next to no time for the most important shots of the whole wedding day, which are those of the the two of you.

I always try to limit the formals to no more than half a dozen, however if you do find yourself with a slightly bigger list then you should make sure that everything’s in place to get things done as swiftly as possible.

* Make the best man or usher earn their corn and have them on hand to arrange the groups. While one group’s having their picture done, the next should be ready to step in for the next one.
* Provide two lists of the group shots required, one for the photographer and one for whoever has been assigned to arrange the groups, whether it be the usher/best man/toastmaster etc.
* List the groups in order of importance. If things overrun and time runs out, we don’t want to have missed the really important pictures by having them last on the list and I don’t want to risk the wrath of the bride’s mother when I don’t have any images of the two of them!

You’re hiring me as your wedding photographer to document your wedding as it flows, so it’s best to keep group shots relatively simple. As I mentioned above, you don’t want your guests to become bored and fidgety while waiting for these pictures to be taken, they’d much rather be having a couple of drinks than standing around waiting to have their pictures taken!

Once the groups are done and dusted, it’s time for the bride and groom to have pictures taken away from the crowds. This gives a bit of breathing space for you both, a time to take in what’s happened so far and have some rare time alone (alone with the wedding photographer that is!). A common question in relation to this is;

‘How much time should we set aside for bride and groom portraits?’

It’s entirely up to you and how much you want from this part of the wedding.  Again, if you’re employing me to be your wedding photographer it’s highly likely it’s because you don’t want anything too formal.  Some bride and groom couples decide they don’t want to be removed from any part of the wedding and have no formal portraits done, others are happy with a few shots which may take no more than ten minutes or so.  It’s entirely up to you but again I’d advise thinking about it as you don’t want to cut into the flow of the proceedings too much.

One final important thing I ask is ‘Will there be anyone in attendance that I should concentrate on in my capacity as the photographer?’

By ‘concentrate on’, I mean is there anyone that I should make an effort to get more than one or two shots of? It’s often worth going through the guest list to pinpoint anyone that you may want me to pay particular attention to. For example, there may be a very elderly relative at the wedding that you may want a few lasting memories of, or there may be family that live abroad that have young children you may not get to see very often. I’ll then ensure I do my best to get a few extra pictures of the people in question.

Other than the above, there’s not too much else you need to concern yourself about as everything else will be taken care of by me as your wedding photographer. If you’re hiring me as your wedding photographer, you’re doing doing so because you want your photographs to look natural and informal, so you’re free to relax and enjoy the day as it happens.

The above information is provided by David Nash Photography, wedding photographers in Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and London.