How to get Great Wedding Photos – Part 4 – The Photoshoot

Great Wedding Photos

It’s time for part four of my series on how to take great wedding photos. Today we cover the all-important photoshoot!

If you missed last week’s post on How to Get Great Wedding Photos at the Ceremony, go back and read it first.

1. Allocate the right amount of time for your photos

How Much Time Should I Allocate? Timings are important on your wedding day, and a number of factors need to be considered before deciding how much time you should allocate on your wedding day for your photos. Consider the following questions and discuss them with your wedding photographer prior to confirming timings with the ceremony, reception venue and transportation:

  • How important are your wedding photos? Each couple is different for the priority they assign to each part of their wedding day. Some want amazing food, others table decorations, or for some music and dancing is the priority. Therefore my recommendation is to allocate time on your day towards the things that are most important to you as a couple. If you are reading this blog post it is likely that photography is at least an important, if not very important part of your wedding day.
  • What are the travelling distances between your ceremony and your reception? Minimise travelling distance if possible as this will reduce the amount of time you have overall and increase your stress levels
  • How long are you prepared to let your guests wait or entertain them, at your expense, in between the ceremony and reception (whilst you are getting your photos done)?
  • Could you plan time earlier in the day to get family photos or photos with your bridal party?
  • Do you want your bridal party to be present for some, all or none of the photoshoot?
  • Did you have an engagement or pre-wedding shoot whilst engaged and have learnt some posing basics?
  • Do you want to conduct a First Look?

If photography is important to you on your wedding day then allocating the time to make creative portraits of the two of you is a must. Most of my couples allocate 1-2 hours for our location shoot (excluding travelling time). This gives you time to relax with a glass of champagne as husband and wife, enjoy time with your bridal party and capture photos of you all in a few different spots.

Damien and Kristen decided to do a First Look. They ended up with so many beautiful photos as a result of taking a little time together with me prior to the ceremony.

2. When to Have your Photoshoot

Most couples will have their photoshoot after the ceremony up until the commencement of their reception. The best time for your photoshoot is anywhere from 2 hours prior to sunset to one hour afterwards (the most beautiful sunset and twilight shots occur in the hour after sunset, not at sunset). This time of the day produces a softer quality of light that makes everybody look better. This is why early communication with your photographer is important so that a suitable ceremony time can be coordinated to allow you to hit the best time of the day for taking photos.

3. Be confident

Never will you spend so much time and money to look so good. Hair, make-up, nails, and THE dress. The best part of it all is that you are about to marry your best friend. You should now have enough things to smile about now, so forget if you didn’t meet your goal weight or you are self conscious of various areas of your body. This is your day to flaunt your happiness. This inner beauty will have no choice but to appear in your photos. If you are self conscious about certain body areas let your photographer know. This way they can minimize these areas by the way they shoot.

4. Posing tips for beginners

  • Posture: Think ‘long’ when you’re standing, elongate your body, extend your chin and imagine that your whole body is being pulled up by your hair. This will get your posture long and tall and give you a look of confidence.
  • Chin: Often called the ‘ostrich’ position, is the technique of elongating your neck and your pushing your face forward to minimise any double chins.
  • Arms: Many brides are self conscious of their arms often due to the sleeveless nature of many wedding gowns. Many brides will then try to hide their arms behind their backs or beside their body in an attempt to hide any imperfections. Unfortunately, pressing your arms against your body will make your arms look larger, it will also cause you to lose your shape and give a more box like appearance. So just keep a little space between your arms and your dress. Alternatively, try to make a diamond shape with your arms by holding your bouquet in front of your belly button.
  • Hands: What do I do with my hands? Particularly with couple poses it is important that your hands are doing something. Usually, at least one of your hands will be on your partner. The other hand might be resting on something or holding something, like your bridal bouquet. For the groom you can put your spare hand in your pocket.
  • Body Weight: Try to place most of your weight on one leg as it will give a more relaxed appearance. Females in particular should put their weight on the leg that is furthest from the camera.
  • Smile: Laugh rather than force a smile. Whilst the first laugh will be forced it will cause you and those around you to laugh for real at how silly you felt with the fake laugh.

These photos illustrate how important posing can be. The posing here gives the bride beautiful curves and accentuates her bust to give a very feminine look.

A good wedding photographer will help you with posing so that you can look as good as you feel. If you really want to master posing, ask your photographer to assist you during an engagement shoot. That way you will be far more confident in your posing on your wedding day.

5. Call a ‘Time Out’ when you need it

There will come a time during your wedding day that you are over having someone with a camera follow you around. When that time comes just ask your photographer for a little time out. This is very normal. Remember it is your wedding day, and you want great memories along with the great photos. So when your stress levels a starting to rise ask for whatever time you need to chill out away from the camera.

Being photographed all day can be exhausting. By the same token, remember that your wedding photos will be one of the few lasting remnants of your wedding day in 20 years time, so take advantage of your photographer.

6. Smart footwear choices

Ladies bring some comfortable flat shoes with you to the photo shoot. The smartest bride I ever worked with bought a pair of flats, almost exact replicas of her bridal high heel shoes.

7. Your dress will get dirty - just accept it

Expect the bottom of your wedding gown to get at least a little dirty. Almost all of this dirt can be removed by dry cleaning after your wedding day. So rather than getting anxious or stressed out each and every time your dress gets a small mark on it, accept it, move on and enjoy your day. If however someone spills a glass of red wine on your dress, fear not, I have Photoshop that can rescue most of these unfortunate events. Just don’t let it affect your enjoyment of the day.

Brides had a great blog post with some Tips to Keep your Dress Clean at an Outdoor Wedding.

Don’t worry your dress will never get this dirty unless you decide to do a Trash the Dress photoshoot after your wedding. Ari and May had amazing fun first under a small waterfall in an Italian grotto and then moved to paint to finish off the shoot. Here is a crazy blog post of 20 Trash the Dress shoot ideas.

8. Don't worry about the weather

Some of the best wedding photos ever have been taken on rainy days. A good wedding photographer will have an alternate plan to help get some memorable photos. That is why you choose to hire a professional wedding photographer, as they have the skills and equipment to offer you a variety of wet weather photo options (depending on how adventurous you are and if you don’t mind your dress getting a little wet).

I always bring enough wedding umbrellas for the entire bridal party (just in case). Speak to your photographer to see if they bring wedding umbrellas for the bridal party, and if not considering hiring some for the day if you are concerned about the rain.

9. What happens if I am camera shy?

This is a very normal and common concern. To overcome this, ask your wedding photographer for an engagement shoot or two if you are really nervous. This will get most people to relax and also develop a rapport with your photographer. It is essential that you that you have met your photographer in person before your wedding day and have a good rapport them. It is far better to have someone you know taking your photos rather than a stranger that you have never met.

As you can see in this first photo, Mau was very nervous and uncomfortable with having his photo taken. A few photos later and some encouragement from Ari and myself demonstrates the difference that can be made when a couple just relax in front of the camera.

10. Most Importantly is to have some fun

Rather than manufacturing smiles and emotions try to find a photographer that you feel comfortable around and that you don’t mind being a bit silly in front of them. If all else fails, bring a best man or bridesmaid (with or without champagne, beer, etc) to keep you laughing at yourself and each other. Think of it as spending some relaxing time out with your closest friends, maybe having a drink or two and enjoy each others company. When you do that, natural candid photos will follow.

Fun is an essential element to get some get photos. No need for posing when people are having this much fun!

Now that you have finished with the Photoshoot it is time to move to the Wedding Reception! We continue our series with How to Get Great Wedding Photos at your Reception in our next post.