LET ME GET INSIDE YOUR HEAD (OR TIPS FOR CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER & PLANNING A SUCCESSFUL WEDDING SHOOT)
Planning your Wedding can be a very stressful period for a Bride & Groom, after all how can you ensure that the team you assemble for your wedding are the right team for you? The chemistry has to be right otherwise; well it could end in tears.
One of the things that I think most people don’t realise when you plan a wedding is that the relationship you have with all your providers will determine the success of the day from a planning and logistical point of view.
I’m writing this from a Photographers point of view. So, my perspective will be heavily biased, but when all is said and done the person you will spend the most time with on the big day (other than your partner) will be the Photographer.
I will be with you from morning through to the reception– so, once you’ve chosen your photographer the key to success is communication. The better this is the more successful and stress free your day will be.
I am a big fan of lists and schedules. As a Photographer if I’m not on the same page as you I will not be at my best. This is why at the early stages I ask loads of questions, do site visits (where possible) so that I can assess my understanding of your day and also if I am the right fit for you.
The right fit
What is this you may ask? As they say in the classics ‘first impressions count’.
When assembling your team you will know very quickly who will be the right fit for you. I have had many couples book me on the spot when I ask them whether they would like to think about it they have often made the following type of statements:-
“we really like your approach and the work you do, no need to look further”
This search for the right fit goes both ways and I feel that it is also my responsibility to pass on a Wedding I feel I am not suited to. Whilst it would be good to accept every opportunity offered I feel that you know when an event does not suit your skills or direction – so always remember to tell your potential suppliers as much about your day as possible. Anything that get’s them excited about the event will make them want to do it more and get their creative juices flowing.
Creating the Partnership – let me get inside your head
No you’re not marrying your Photographer and this is not a therapy session this process is about getting to know you better.
It is for this reason I encourage all couples to send me any reference shots of images they like so that we can have these in mind on the big day. This is not about copying other people’s work it is all about me understanding the mood or feel, a pose or even just understanding what you like. This is where our collaboration begins. It is also a great way to get to know you better and also build a great partnership on the day. This partnership is such an important thing the more we understand each other the more relaxed the day will be. At the end of the day if I fully understand what is expected the better the process of image making will be.
So, the rings are selected & the dress will look stunning on you. I love hearing about the dress and the style of the Wedding. It paints a visual picture for me so I can start mentally planning the shots I will try to get for you. The more I get in your head the better the images we create will be. This is why I’ll want to know who is doing your Hair & Make-up, tell me about the dress, the rings, the wedding cars etc.…. The clearer understanding I have of your day the better I’ll understand you. This was the case with Emma and Tim’s recent Wedding – the below shot was a location I wanted t use for a long time but felt I hadn’t had the right wedding. On our location day I suggested it as I felt it would fit the look of the day and it was so perfect!
Creating great images is all we want to do so
Here are some simple things to think about when you meet up with a Photographer for the first time:
- Don’t let price dictate who you book
- Actually make the time to meet the Photographer in person and assess if you feel they are the right fit for you
- Pick a style that you like
- Look at a number of different websites such as Easy Weddings, Hitched or The Knot, Melbourne Bride or Real Weddings to view different work from a range of Photographers.
- Shortlist the 3 most likely to suit your aims for the day
- Ask questions, plenty of questions –
- Will the person you meet actually shoot on the day
- What happens if the Photographer is ill and can’t shoot on the day – what is their contingency
- What does the service include/exclude – for e.g. pre-wedding meetings, minimum number of shots, schedules and planning
- What is the Photographers organisation plan for the day?
- Lists – family photo’s, most weddings need group photos of family, friends, special guests from overseas etc.… These can sometimes get out of hand if you are not organised. So I get my couples to do the following:
- Sit down and work out all the critical Photo combinations – those must have family photo’s (A list), work out the nice to haves (B list)
- Circulate this to a member of the bridal party who knows the most people at the church.
- Make sure the Photographer has this list and also knows whom you have given the list to. I ask this so that I know who to speak to when we get to the family photos and I am not stressing you out. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the moment while we organise people. The other benefit is this assists me to work out how much time we need for family photo’s and how this impacts on the Bridal Photography.
- Bridal Photography – this is the fun bit, these shots are your chance for self-expression or to bring out your inner blue steel! I just want to create images that show you at your best. Sometimes, the random things that happen during a day become our best creations. Such as Susan & Mark’s Ararat wedding – shot on the family property in the open fields. This couple were happy to walk through the high grass, throw the bouquet around and just plainly respond to the environment. (see below) A willingness to plan but also play off script will create some of the most inspiring and satisfying images. In the end my only wish is that you enjoy the process and have a great experience so that by the time you arrive at the reception you’re thinking to yourself – wow! I really had a great afternoon it was so easy. If I’ve done my job right you will feel this way. I recently had some members of a Bridal party say to me that they really enjoyed the shoot. That they were surprised at how easy I made it for them to enjoy the day and what great ideas I had come up with for the shoot. Why, was this? Well, I really knew what the Bride & Groom wanted so I put a lot of thought into how we were going to achieve this and at the end of the day fun and having fun was a factor in ensuring this.
I encourage every couple to choose a location that they connect with. Think about a place that you really enjoy and feel really tells your story. The better connected you are to the location the better the shots will be. Most importantly – have fun, enjoy the moment and try to allow enough time in your schedule to do these images justice. Try not to skimp on time you only get this chance once. A mistake people often make is they don’t factor in travel time in the schedule and the number of locations you choose will determine how much travel time you need and consequently how much actual shooting time you have with your Photographer.
After all when will you next be dressed in such an amazing dress and have your hair, make-up, nails professionally prepared? Oh and how often in life will your future husband look so dapper.
With enough time we can be really creative and move away from the typical wedding shoot to create some lasting heirloom images that will be all about YOU!
I’ll finish this on a recent review posted by Sarah & Mark
“Mark is so warm and welcoming. We loved the fact that he really cared about what we wanted, and was really flexible – unlike some other photographers we spoke to who cared more about themselves!!! The process was really relaxed and it showed in the amazing photos. We love them!”