Wedding Photography

Ensuring your wedding photographer selection is right

Please remember how important it is not to overlook your only opportunity to permanently capture your special day - your wedding photography.

According to the Bridal Association of South Africa, each year couples spend billions on wedding photography, but your investment could fall short if you don’t plan ahead. Without realizing, there are 10 easy ways that you can take your photography from perfect to forgettable.

Get the right photographer for your wedding, make sure you are happy with the photographer and his/her work, if they cannot provide you with a truly professional portfolio then look further for your photographer and don't be fooled with promises.

Watch out for the Mishaps of Wedding Photography

1. Pre-Wedding Photo shoot

Select pictures from magazines, old family photo albums or any other visual to convey this to your photographer as your preferred style. Using these examples your wedding photographer should be able to compile a wonderful selection for your wedding album.

Discuss the detail with your photographer long before the wedding day and then again at least a week before the big day in order to ensure that your desires are fresh in their memory. Do not be afraid of presenting any special requests and get your contract set up and signed timarously, you don’t want any unwelcome surprises!

Consider a pre-wedding photo shoot, this could cost extra but mostly photographers like to brag and would do it for free and as part of the deal. Use the "I want to assure" myself of the quality because we will not have a second chance" and ask for it to be part of the package, this will make you more comfortable being in front of the camera and the result can be inspected to again ensure you'll be happy with the final result. 

Have fun and funny; remember all the magazine bride photos that you have seen do not happen all by themselves. They are well planned, rehearsed, and the photo that you finally see in the magazine was probably a few of many taken in numerous sessions. The more time you spend with your photographer, the more likely it is that he will capture that one special moment that only happens once.

2.  Posed pictures, necessary?

Unfortunately these are "required" in every wedding album

A fine photographer will be able to pose you in an elegant and attractive position and they will tell you which pose work best for you.

Lifting your chin hides the double chin.

Holding your elbows away from your body reduces the apparent width of your torso and accentuates the bosom.

Shifting your weight to your rear foot cocks your hips into a position that gives you a sexy curviness.

Just listen to your photographer and he will not lead you astray.

3. Hair and Makeup

As with all the other parts of the build-up you must have an appointment with your hairdresser and makeup artist prior to the actual day to ensure you're to be happy with the result, if you plan it right, your photographer may be available to take some formals on this day too.

4. Photographic Props

Think about tools and favours which the photographer can use to be creative. Photos of wedding rings with flowers or invitations or maybe even your shoes and garter can really add to your album.

5. The Bouquet

Always hold your bouquet DOWN!!!!! Never hide your beautiful dress with a much cheaper bouquet. Do not order a massive cascading bouquet. It's going to be a long day. By the end of the day, you will be wishing that your bouquet was smaller, lighter, more durable and maybe even artificial. And if it's too big you may even injure your guests during the bouquet toss.

6. Backgrounds and angles

Avoid complicated and busy backgrounds; keep backgrounds as simple as possible. Interesting angles are what keeps the images of a professional photographer from looking like the images of "Granddad Sam". Do not consider the photographer strange if he is lying on the ground or hanging from a tree.

7. Lighting

If part of your photo session is outdoors, the best light happens 1-2 hours before sunset.

If your wedding is indoors, try to avoid buildings with high dark ceilings and few windows.

Since natural light will look much better in your photos, try to plan your wedding when the room will be the brightest. 

Fluorescent lights make you look green, avoid them.

8. Single-Use Cameras

Lots of people use them and they very seldom work, even in the hands of a "professional". You may get a few good photos here and there but don't expect too much.  Your younger niece will probably take a lot of pictures of people's belly buttons. And if anyone gets tipsy at the reception you may get a lot of photos of the ground, shoes, or eyeballs (from holding the camera backwards). Your photography is best left to professionals.

9. Missing the small moments

There are always some special moments in a wedding –

The bride and groom’s first kiss.

The first dance between a father and new bride.

The garter ceremon.

The cutting of the cake.

But small moments - such as the flower girl smiling from the pew, a proud moment between the mother and father, grandma on the dance floor, a tear shed in joy during your special day – cannot be missed!

10. Stopping photographs before the reception is over

Many couples want to stop the photography once the speeches are done, some of the most memorable and interesting photos happen when the party really gets going. Keep shooting!

11. Shooting at high noon

Not a good idea as sunlight directly from above creates harsh shadows on the face and doesn’t cast you in the best light – wait until the afternoon.

12. Sweaty, shiny photos?

Long drawn out sessions and walking about for the best photograph can make you sweaty and shiny, especially in summer.  Be prepared with powder, anti-perspirant deodorant and paper towels!

13. Not scheduling enough time for the photo sessions and driving time?

Get the large group shots finished first, starting with children and the elderly.

Next, take pictures with the families and bridal party.

Lastly, spend some alone time with your man and the camera, while the impatient herd heads towards the cocktail hour. After all, it is your day!

14. Badly positioned hands and feet?

After several shots, you and your wedding party may become antsy – tapping fingers, leaning on one foot and fidgeting. It is important that your photographer works with you to keep everyone photogenic, focused and above everything else – comfortable.

The Photographer:

Your wedding photographer is, in a sense, a biographer, capturing a very important part of your life for you and your family to enjoy for years to come. Therefore, choose him or her carefully. Some couples attempt to reduce expenses by not hiring a professional photographer. They later realize that was a mistake when they have only a few snapshots as mementos of the big day.

Don't agree to let a family member or friend photograph the wedding unless you are sure that the person has a good camera and knows how to use it. The camera should be equipped with interchangeable lens that can be used in low light and it should take good pictures from a distance. A person who takes good close-up outdoor photos cannot necessarily take good in-door photos from a distance, especially with a standard 35mm flash camera. (Most professional photographers use medium format cameras, not 35 mm.)

Beware of any photographer who offers a deal that is too good to be true; it probably is. First, ask to see their portfolio and ask for references, and then check them. Know what you are paying for before you sign a contract.

Choose a photographer whose personality you like. He/she will be "in your face" for several hours, so you must feel comfortable working together.

It takes at least five hours to cover the important pictures at most weddings, particularly if the ceremony and reception will be held in different locations and travel time is involved. If you purchase a three or four hour package, and then ask the photographer to stay longer, you may have to pay overtime at a rate of $100 or more per half-hour.

Ask how long the photographer keeps the negatives, should you or someone else want additional copies in the future. Most photographers keep the negatives for one year. Some photographers allow you to purchase all of the proofs, thus providing you with a complete story of the day. Other photographers allow you to purchase the negatives and the proofs. This can save you money, but you may not get the same quality of pictures if you take the negatives to a store to be developed, since photographers use the services of a professional lab.

The actual wedding photos of the bride and groom and the combined wedding party may be taken either before the wedding or afterwards. Today, most couples prefer to do it about 2 1/2 hours before the ceremony, so that the bride and groom can proceed to the reception immediately after the ceremony. The photo session will last about 2 hours, ending about a half hour before the ceremony begins. If the groom doesn't want to see the bride in her gown until the last minute, schedule a few minutes for him to see the bride alone before the pictures begin.

Many couples find that the photo shoot time before the ceremony helps to calm the nerves of the wedding party members. Everyone will look fresher than they will after having worn gowns and tuxes for several hours. If you are sure that you do not want to have pictures of the two of you taken together before the ceremony, be certain to let the photographer know, and then arrange to serve something, such as a beverage and light hors d' oeuvres, to your guests while they wait for you to arrive at the reception. Not all photographers will do a split photo session, so be sure to ask.

Pictures should end a half hour before the ceremony begins so that the bride and groom are out of the site of arriving guests and can have a few minutes to catch their breath. Do not let the photographer insist on taking pictures right up to the moment of the ceremony. If you do, you will feel rushed and pressured. Remember, the photographer is your employee and should respect your wishes.

If you are interested in having mostly candid or black and white photos, be sure to inform the photographer when you first interview them. If they don¹t like to do these types of pictures, find someone else.

The Videographer:

It is easier, and usually less disastrous, to engage an amateur videographer than photographer. One benefit of engaging a professional is that they may send more than one camera, so that the ceremony is covered from more than one angle.

The videographer should attend the rehearsal, if possible, and the minister or church wedding coordinator should note any restrictions that the facility might have about the use of a video camera during the ceremony. The camera should be placed securely on a tripod; therefore, enough room will need to be available for the camera, especially in the area near where the bride and groom will exchange vows or the wedding party will walk or stand. If only one camera is used, it should be positioned so that it catches the vows and close-ups of the bride and groom during the ceremony.

The videographer will probably want to photograph the invitation and possibly the program for inclusion in the finished video. The videographer will probably not arrive as early as the photographer, but he or she may stay longer and photograph more of the reception.

Ask about previewing the video before it is completely finished so that you can make any desired changes. If you purchased an economy package, you may not be able to view the video or make editing decisions. If you can view the video, the preview will probably be scheduled for a couple of weeks after the wedding. Videographer costs vary widely depending on the amount of editing that you choose to do, so be prepared.