As a professional wedding photographer serving the St. Louis area I have learned a few tips and tricks about wedding photography that will really help you along the way . These tips will only be helpful to you if you and your groom truly value wedding photography. Of course, everyone has different tastes and desires, but if I were planning my own wedding again I would follow every single one of these.
1. Hire a professional photographer you fully trust
Yes! I am a professional wedding photographer so this sounds very biased but hear me out. As a professional wedding photographer I get calls and emails at least once a week from brides who want to “re-create” their wedding images because they didn’t like the quality of images they received from their family friend or fauxtographer or NEVER GOT ANY WEDDING IMAGES AT ALL!!! The importance of hiring a true professional is increadibly important.
True professionals will have
- gorgeous examples to show (albums, canvas, prints, and an extensive portfolio)
- professional gear (camera body and lenses) as well a back up gear. Professionals are prepared.
- Knowledge about weddings, how wedding days flow and confidence to work in any lighting situation
- in almost all cases a professional website
- a least some experience
- a contract
Look around. Interview several photographers you like and see if they are a good fit. You will be spending a lot of time with your wedding photographer, be sure you have full confidence in them as well as really like them as a person.
Compare quality. This can be done by viewing website galleries. Some people who are offering wedding photography services (even with businesses and websites) don’t know anything about lighting and exposure. Your photographs will suffer if the lighting is poor and the exposure is off. Look closely at the images. Are the photographer’s images consistently done well? Ask to see a full wedding gallery, not just a few key images but a full day. This will give you a very good idea of what you can expect from your final images and give you a great feel for the photographers body of work. Beyond that ASK QUESTIONS. A professional will not mind answering any questions you have about gear or lighting.
When you find the photographer of your dreams…hire them. Then, leave it in their hands. Ask them for advice. They have been doing this a long time. If you trust their work, then trust them to handle your day as well.
2. Make sure your wedding coverage includes a second shooter
I include a second shooter in every collection I offer. Not every photographer includes a second photographer or “second shooter” in their standard wedding collections but it is almost always an option.
A second photographer expands your coverage and offers a few key components to your wedding photography. First and foremost, there are many parts of the day that happen at the same time and if you have hired a human photographer he or she can only be in one place at one time.
- When the bride is getting dressed, a second shooter can capture the mothers or bridesmaids reactions to everything coming together. Commonly the second photographer will capture the guys doing final prep, while the bride gets ready.
- The second photographer can capture the look on the grooms face as the bride walks down the isle while the lead photographer captures the bride walking with her dad.
- During the reception, the second photographer can captures parent and guest reactions during the toast as well as many more candid moments you may have missed.
3. Book an engagement session
Most professional photographers will include a complimentary engagement session with their collections. Take advantage of it! Even if you think you don’t need it want the images from an engagement session booking the session helps you and the photographer get to know each other. A good engagement session lets you see how the photographer works and it allows the photographer to get to know you as a couple. THIS WILL ONLY MAKE YOUR WEDDING PICTURES MORE BEAUTIFUL. I learn a TON about my couple during the engagement session and I encourage everyone to have one.
- What helps them relax?
- What feature does he/she hate that we can hide in careful posing?
- What makes them laugh?
- What do they love to do together?
By knowing the couple in advance, when the wedding day arrives, we have an established and positive relationship. The engagement sessions starts a friendship and really builds trust.
4. See each other first
Wedding photographers call it a first look. It is one of the most intimate times of the day and many brides and grooms have told me their favorite. I know tradition dictates not seeing the bride before the ceremony and for some couples tradition is very important (if you decide not to see each other I will be your biggest cheerleader in that decision!), but I have to tell you that the most real and emotional images I get are from first looks. It allows for the day to run more smoothly and results in AWESOME photographs.
5. Schedule plenty of time for wedding formals
Aside from hiring a professional photographer you adore, this is the most important tip I have for you. The more time you allow for your photographs, the more your photographer can get creative, help you to relax, and get some great shots.
A few tips:
- Many if not all couples want the following important details captured: family formals, bridal party shots at the church, bridal party shots at another location (or multiple locations), creative shots with just the couple, the reception hall before guests arrive, and more. If you are not seeing each other before the ceremony, all of this must take place between the ceremony end and the reception beginning. Most often, one hour is not enough time to capture all of these well.
- Stressed is not how you want to feel on your wedding day. More often than not, when a couple tries to squeeze all the photographs into a small amount of time, stress becomes a huge factor and can be very overwhelming. Your wedding day is to enjoy.
- Let your family and bridal party and family know in advance what the plan is. Believe it or not some family members will not stick around after the ceremony for pictures. They may not know you want a picture with them-so just be sure to tell each person you want in the formal portrait to stick around.
6. Select portrait locations that mean something
St. Louis has a plethora of great parks and I love portraits in the park but that’s not the only option. If there is a special place nearby…consider using it instead. Does your family own a beautiful farm? Do you love the vibe of the city? Was your first kiss in front of your high school? Do you have a favorite local hang out? See if the owners would mind a 20-30 minute session the day of your wedding. Options are really endless when you select locations. So think outside the box and talk with your photographer about ways to make your wedding images unique to you as a couple. Just don’t be afraid to do something different. There are cool backdrops almost everywhere.
7. Plan for the weather and Think about the light
Most of my weddings take place in St. Louis. You know what they say about the weather here??? If you don’t like it wait a minutes! I wish I could promise you blue skies and sunshine but unfortunately for all of us we could have a blizzard in April or record high heat in October. Make sure you have a backup location in mind. There are many indoor locations that you can use but almost all require advance notice and some have a fee.
Also it is very important to think about the light, and many people do not take this into consideration, but be aware that the light changes throughout the day and different light will result in very different photographs.
For example, if you’re having a winter wedding it will likely start to get dark around 4 in the afternoon therefore you really need to have your ceremony early in the day to give your photographer the light you want for outdoor images and to get some great portraits and your group shots done before the light starts to disappear into the horizon.
When looking at venues think about the light in each room. Is the bedroom you’re getting ready in small and cramped? Does it have one small window or loads of stained glass windows? Are the ceremony room walls covered in dark wood? Remember, photography is essentially painting with light and if there isn’t any, there’s only so much your photographer can do without using a flash.
8. Hire a good wedding coordinator
A good planner can actually save you time, money, and lots of stress. A good planner can be your most valuable asset the day of. A good planner will have everything running so smoothly you don’t have to even think about timelines or photos. Your only job will be looking good and saying “I Do!”
9. Plan some down time
Take a deep breath. Laugh. Enjoy the day you worked so hard to plan. Do whatever it takes to feel beautiful. You’ve hired a photographer you trust, you are surrounded by your best friends, and your getting married. Trust your vendors and enjoy your wedding day.
10. Plan for Creative Shots
I always recommend at least 20 minutes of alone time with your photographer. If you are seeing each other in advance this can be before the ceremony or you can take a few minutes before or during your reception. It is nice to have some time to take one of kind portraits with out an audience.
Are you planning your St. Louis Or Illinois Wedding? Love what you see here?
Feels Like Today Photography serves St. Louis and surrounding areas for weddings and portraits. Dana is also available for travel around Missouri and world wide (think destination wedding).
636.399.1032 Call Today!