How To Get Great Wedding Photos – Part One – Before The Wedding Day

how to get great wedding photos

Everyone wants great photos of their wedding day, so I’ve compiled a series of tips on how to get great wedding photos, breaking this momentous day down into smaller parts, and getting the most out of your wedding photographer.  Part one of this series will look at the weeks and months leading up to the actual wedding day.

So much is being planned in this time, it’s important to remember to put enough thought into the photography side of things as well.

1. Decide on the type of images and style of photography that you want

Spend time choosing a photographer with a style of photography you like.  What style of shots are you looking for on your wedding day? Do you only want candid photos? Or perhaps something a little more formal? I find that most brides want a combination of both posed and candid shots, to get a good mix of photos without spending all day smiling at a camera. 

Then you need to look at the way the photos are finished or edited are capture. Here are three types of different styles of wedding photography post-production (editing or Photoshop):

1. Dark and Moody

2. Classic, light, and bright

3. Vintage

All images above courtesy of Shutterstock.

These are 3 broad styles of photo editing and there are hundreds of variations. Spend time looking at photographer’s websites and other social media like Pinterest, to see what style you prefer. That way you can find a photographer that matches the style of photography that you prefer.

2. Carefully pick your wedding photographer

It is important to meet your photographer to ensure that you are happy to spend your entire wedding day with them. Just remember that you and your friends and family will spend most of one of the most important days of your life with this person.

How to get great wedding photos - It is important to get to know your photographer before your wedding day
Think of how much time you spend with your wedding day with your photographer. Wouldn't you rather that you had a friend taking those photos instead of a complete stranger? If you get to know your photographer before your wedding day they will often go to extraordinary lengths to provide you with the best possible experience and images of your wedding day.

With Samantha's unparalleled photography skills, we had photos that felt authentic to us as individuals and as a couple. And though the jitters were there to start, by the end of our shoots, Samantha made us feel like we were a couple of her old friends. Over the course of our shoot, our poses in front of the camera felt more natural as she encouraged us to do what felt organic and true to us.

Pre-Wedding Jon and Donna

The following two blog posts give an in depth guide to hiring a wedding photographer.

How to Choose a the Best Photographer for your Wedding

What Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer BEFORE you hire them

3. Book an engagement session

An engagement session will allow you to relax in front of the camera and give you a great opportunity to get some more casual relaxed images of you and your partner. This allows you time to get to know your photographer and for them to get to know them.

The better the photographer knows you, the better they can anticipate candid moments on your wedding day and more importantly they will understand things that are significant in your relationship as a couple.

If you want to know How to Choose your Engagement Photoshoot Location check out our blog post.

4. Have a hair and makeup trial

Ensure you are happy with the result and determine if the makeup will run if you end up with tears of happiness streaking down your face. This is always a possibility on your wedding day! The best advice I have found on this topic came from a bride who had 5 hair and makeup trials. She shares all she learnt in this excellent post.

Do a hair and makeup trial leading up to your wedding so that you can get a look that you are happy with
Ensure you have a hair and makeup trial prior to your wedding. Remember subtle makeup will appear better on camera.

5. Test out your spray tan

If you are getting a spray tan for your wedding day, test it ahead on time. Do this in conjunction with the makeup trial. Then have a friend take some photos of the final result. You do not want your face and body to have completely different colours. Most fake tans appear as an orange skin tone. Orange brides are not easy retouched in Photoshop.

Fake tan
Most fake tans have a orange look to the skin when captured on camera. Think twice before having a spray tan and if you have decided to have one, make sure you test it long before the wedding.

6. Consult your photographer to assist you with your wedding timeline

Choose a good time for your ceremony. Great light is at the heart of all good wedding photos therefore the time of day for an outdoor ceremony and your wedding photo shoot is vitally important. The best light of the day is in the hour prior to sunset. Due to the practicalities of a wedding day, an outdoor wedding ceremony is often best timed to commence 2-3 hours prior to sunset. Harsh midday sun causes harsh shadows and makes most people look like they have raccoon eyes and big wrinkles.

Spend time discussing the best times for your ceremony and your wedding photos with your photographer prior to confirming any times for ceremony and reception venues.

7. Be careful in your choice of venues for the wedding ceremony

For indoor venues: Try to find a venue that has a large amount of natural light. Wedding photographers generally will not use flashes under any circumstances during an indoor wedding ceremony. If your church or ceremony venue is dark, it will be difficult for your photographer to get those magic moments during the ceremony. Also watch out for awful fluorescent lighting (which can leave a green tinge on skin), or lighting with weird colours inside the venue.

For outdoor venues: Shade is recommended, both for photography reasons and for guest comfort. Under a large tree or in the shade of a tall building is ideal. If you have a location in mind but you are not completely sure if it’s the best choice, contact your photographer and ask their option. Just keep in mind that a venue will look completely different at different times of the year in terms of where the shade is falling. A good tip is to look at other wedding photos from your desired location that were captured at the same time and date that you are getting married.

8. Get your photographer to show you how to pose prior to the wedding day

This is great to practice during an engagement shoot. Ladies the general piece of advice I give my bride’s is that the closer a body part is to the camera the larger it looks in a photo. So if you turn on a angle, stick your bottom back away from the camera by placing your weight on your back leg and bending on front leg you will minimize the size of your backside. Additionally, if you lean forward and crane your head forehead forward you will emphasize your chest and make your face appear more slender.

An engagement shoot is a perfect time when a photographer can show you both how to pose. This will make it more comfortable and quicker on your wedding day.

9. Consider adding 'A First Look' to your Wedding Day

A ‘first look’ is when the groom sees his bride on their wedding day for the first time. Whilst this would usually occur at the wedding ceremony, more and more couples are choosing this to occur in a private location just prior to the ceremony. The ‘first look’ is very common in the USA and Canada but up until a few years ago unheard of in Australia. The ‘first look’ is usually organised by the wedding photographer to document this special moment. It often results in a very emotional response and allows the couple time to reconnect prior to the wedding ceremony.

If you would like to add ‘A First Look’ to your wedding day you will need to adjust your wedding day timeline. Here you will find more about adding ‘A First Look’ to your wedding day. 

Samantha-Ohlsen -Photography-

10. Wedding Day Getting Ready Location

When choosing where to get ready on the morning of your wedding, look for locations where the rooms have large windows, preferably with a sheer curtain. This will allow soft beautiful light that is the most flattering when it comes to taking portraits of the bride.

How to get Great Wedding Photos - Summary

With all these tips you will be well prepared for your Wedding Day photos. Make sure you read each of this 6 part series before the wedding day so that you can make use of all the information.

Our series continues with How to Get Great Wedding Photos – Part 2 – Getting Ready.

If you want to skip ahead in our How to Get Great Wedding Photos series you can find them below:

How to Get Great Wedding Photos – Part 3 – The Ceremony 

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

How to Get Great Wedding Photos – Part 5 – The Reception 

How to Get Great Wedding Photos – Part 6 – After the Wedding