I absolutely love photographing weddings, what better thing than to share a couple’s special day, recording those memories that they can look back on for years to come. The process of photographing a wedding though starts long before the day itself. After a couple book my services there are several steps in preparation for the big day.
I have a pre wedding shoot (which is included in my main wedding package) with the majority of my couples at a scenic location. This photo shoot is all about getting to know the couple and them being happy in front of the camera. I will then spend several hours editing these photos and returning them to the couple as soon as possible. Dependant on the timing of the photo shoot this is normally nicely in advance of the wedding.
I also ask all my couples to fill out a questionnaire prior to the wedding which covers all manner of details from timings (which will change on the day guaranteed!), names of family and the wedding party, what group shots are required and other bits and pieces to ensure I have maximum knowledge in advance to help minimise any questions being asked on the day.
In advance of the wedding I like to scout out the venue for photo locations, even as close as the morning of the wedding itself if a long distance from home and combined with venue restrictions. This means time isn’t wasted when with the couple looking for suitable locations. I will have also spoken with the venue wedding coordinator on at least one occasion if not more!
Dependant on the location I like to be as close as possible the night before to limit any chances of being stuck in traffic. I always aim to arrive early so to allow for any delays or similar. It also gives plenty of time to meet up with my second photographer (normally the lovely Liz) and check the plan for the day. First call of the day is to the wedding breakfast venue which should be fully dressed for the wedding by that point. Photos are taken of the cake, decorations and venue before the guests arrive later in the day.
Most weddings are very fluid from the start with timings changing all over the place. The key is to stay relaxed and go with the flow but also to act as a helpful guide. In the bridal prep phase, as photographer I am normally the one who has the best knowledge for timings, therefore will guide the bridesmaids and brides where needed that they may want to consider getting into their dresses. It is very very easy for the bridal party to get carried away in the atmosphere (I don’t blame them, I did on my wedding day!) so a helpful nudge can keep everything on track. Doing this also helps if family photos are wanted prior to leaving to prevent them being rushed. I also have my emergency sos kit to hand which contains everything from hair clips to plasters, it’s surprising what is needed when, but it saves valuable time and stress when I can produce it out of hand rather than a member of the bridal party having to hunt for it. I have also many a time utilised my dress lacing skills, helping where required.
Liz will normally cover the groom’s prep and she also will have to offer the occasional nudge. Mainly that they better finish their pints for otherwise their brides will beat them to the church!!
From bridal prep I aim to travel 10-15 minutes ahead of the bridal party so I have chance to make sure my desired spot to cover the ceremony from is still a suitable choice. On occasion this doesn’t always go to plan, one wedding a vintage bus wasn’t in a cooperative mood and I nearly had half the bridal party in my car! Thankfully it started in the nick of time making the bride only fashionably late.
For the ceremony I try and be as unobtrusive as possible. I will shoot generally from the front and Liz from the back venue dependant, so removing the need for either of us to move during the ceremony. We also shoot with a silent shutter on our cameras to limit the noise made. Nothing worse than the loud echoing click of a shutter as a couple say their vows!
After the ceremony is when the fun begins as a photographer. Group photographs are admittedly my least favourite part as it feels like herding cats, someone always disappears just when needed, never mind the fact they take an age even on a good day. Everyone thinks they want group photos but in reality the majority rarely make the wedding album. I’m sure to get a list from my couples in advance to speed the process up and maximise the time they can spend partying rather than posing. This is again where having Liz working with me becomes invaluable. As I’m taking one photo Liz will be working with a member of the wedding party to organise the people required for the next to speed everything up further. I also where possible, and guests are willing, to make them more fun for everyone concerned.
Normally at some point prior to the wedding breakfast will be my chance to take the bridal portraits. This is often the only time all day the couple will have together away from their guests, so I try to ensure it is relaxed as possible and gives them chance to enjoy some time together. There is little posing done in my portraits, instead I look to capture the couple being themselves. This leads to far more natural portraits that a couple can look back on with fond memories, not only of the day but of the photo itself. I have various methods to help a couple relax if required, some normally achieving rather amusing results!
Next comes the wedding breakfast which will mean for the first time in about 6 or 7 hours me and Liz get a chance to sit down, though not stop working. No one likes their photo being taken whilst eating so it’s time to refuel with food and drink whilst making back ups of all the photos taken so far. We both photograph on to two memory cards providing an immediate backup but a second backup on to computer offers extra peace of mind.
We try though during this time to get photos of all the food courses prior to serving, and then will be back and ready to photograph in time for the speeches. We work closely with the caterers to ensure we are in the right place at the right time. The speeches are always so emotional and for that reason I offer couples the chance to have them recorded if they don’t have a videographer in attendance. This is easily set up with my tripod and spare camera and is normally greatly appreciated as an extra service.
One thing that I do early on in the day is check with all the main parties (bride, groom, best man, chief bridesmaid) as to whether there are any surprises planned that I should know about to ensure I’m in the right place at the right time to photograph or record it.
After the speeches normally only two duties remain, the cutting of the cake and the first dance after which we say our goodbyes and let the party continue on into the night.
My night though is far from over. Me and Liz will travel back to where we are staying for the night, finish backing up the remaining files and then the editing starts. As part of my package I provide 10-15 images within 24 hours in digital format, this allows the couple to immediately have photos to share with friends and family who couldn’t attend without worrying about the quality! I always aim to complete these the same night and send them across ready for when they wake up in the morning. Only then can I sleep.
But my wedding ‘day’ has still only just begun in reality, as the bulk of editing lies ahead. For every wedding it takes me approximately a full working week to complete the editing. So combined with other work I normally provide the completed digital album within 4-6 weeks to the couple. Only when I have delivered the photos to the satisfaction of the couple so I consider a wedding complete.
Due to the time required both before and after the wedding day, in addition to other photographic work, I limit how many weddings I will take on to ensure I only ever deliver the best service to my clients. If you are interested in discussing how I could be involved in your wedding day please get in contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org