In 2012 I shot 12 weddings and 2nd shot 6. That is a total of 18 weddings, and for someone who only does this on the “side”, that was a lot. It was also A LOT of fun…not a wedding went by where I didn’t ask myself, “Do I really GET to do this????” I was so honored and excited to be able to capture the story of these 18 couples. Being a part of 18 weddings means seeing A LOT of different ways of doing things. Every bride is different and every wedding is different. As the photographer, you get a unique look into what works and what, often times, seems like a good idea, but doesn’t go well at all. This is why, I have decided to do my first post of 2013 on the things I learned in 2012. Each wedding I was involved with taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I am also fortunate enough to have several friendships with other photographers who I have learned from as well. In addition to my own weddings and photographer friends, I follow some of my FAVORITE photographers from all over through social media such as Instagram and Formspring…just one more way I gained some valuable knowledge last year. I have decided to combine a few of these tidbits of knowledge into this blog post. I hope that photographers, potential brides, and brides-to-be will find this post helpful. Here goes…
In this new age of weddings, you’ve got all kinds of influences such as blogs, pinterest, magazines, TLC shows, etc., telling you to make your wedding personal and filling your head with ideas of neat things to do on your big day! In my day (did I really just say that?), personalizing a wedding was somewhat foreign…the extent of creative ideas was passing a matchbook out to your guests that said, “Matt and Erin…the perfect match”…oh yeah…I did that. Now, almost every bride has a pinterest pinboard with over 150 pins of things she wants to do for her wedding day. And, then there’s the pinboard of photos she wants taken. This is where #1 on my list of things I’ve learned comes in…
#1…USE YOUR PINBOARD TO HELP YOU DETERMINE THE STYLE OF PHOTOGRAPHER YOU WANT TO WORK WITH, NOT AS A PLACE TO PIN PHOTOS THAT YOU WANT COPIED.
Don’t send your photographer a link to your pinboard and expect him/her to reenact and copy every pose and picture. Instead let them know that your pins represent your style as a whole. Giving a photographer examples of exact photos you would like taken, is much like handing a painter a copy of the Mona Lisa and asking him to repaint it for you. You are asking one artist to emulate the work of another and ultimately you are going to stifle their own creativity. If your photographer is running around all day worrying about copying the poses you sent him/her, then he is not going to be free to do what HE/SHE does best…instead he/she will be trying to copy what someone else does best. Hire a photographer whose style inspires you, and then you won’t have to worry about telling him what poses or locations you want to use…he/she will already know.
One thing is for certain, there is NO lack of ideas today. The biggest problem you have is narrowing it down to a list that is affordable and possible with whatever time constraints you have. Speaking of narrowing things down, this is where #2 comes in…narrowing down the “list” of must-have photos for your wedding day.
#2…FORGET THE PREDETERMINED LIST OF MUST-HAVE PHOTOS YOU FOUND ON THE INTERNET
Obviously, weddings have been moving away from the traditional ceremonies and receptions of the past, but for some reason a lot of brides are having trouble moving away from the generic list of photos the internet says you need to make sure your photographer takes. They like the idea of a photojournalistic style, but when it comes down to it, they print out the 8-page check-list of must-have photos (that they found on google) and hand it to their photojournalistic photographer, so that he/she can spend 2+ hours standing in one spot taking pictures of the bride and groom with their aunt from Minnesota that they’ve never met, rather than capturing the interactions and excitement of the wedding day.
I am not saying that posed pictures aren’t important…I’m not saying that at all. I think there is definitely a need for them. I mainly am just encouraging future brides to think through the photos they want. Just because the internet says you need a picture with the groom and all eighteen of your bridesmaids individually, does not mean you have to do it. Years from now, will you want to display those in your home or even in an album? Then, there’s the whole idea that you have a shot list of 25 posed photos to get done before the wedding of the bride and groom separately with different configurations of people, only to be repeated after the wedding with the bride and groom together. Many brides (maybe all of them) end up saying something like, “Don’t worry about these, let’s just get finished.” The point is that each bride (and groom) have certain photos that are important to them. There are certain family members that will be coming who you really want to get photos with. There are certain poses you want to reenact because your parents and grandparents did them at their weddings. There are certain friends you only get to see once every year or so, and you want them captured on film. These are the things that should be on the list you give to your photographer. The things that are really meaningful…the people who are really important…the moments that you want frozen forever.
And last, but not least, #3…
#3…PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION TO BE ABLE TO RELAX AND ENJOY YOUR DAY
There are brides who are SUPER laid back and just totally go with the flow of things, and there are brides who manage every detail and create the flow. The former makes for a much more enjoyable wedding day than the latter. Placing yourself in a position to truly be able to enjoy every moment of your day is going to make for a happy bride. Have as much done and in place as you possibly can prior to the day of the wedding. From a photography aspect, hiring a photographer who’s style you respect and value will also help you relax… it means you don’t have to worry about the list or your pinboards. After being involved in so many weddings, I have really learned which photos will bring a tear to the bride’s eye and which ones will end up in the trash. I have realized, because of losing my own dad, that the photos of a dad crying when he sees his daughter in her gown for the first time, will be much more dear to the bride years down the road, than the standard posed photo taken at the ceremony site. I realize everyone’s different, but you can’t deny the emotions evoked by one of these photos as opposed to the other one.
My advice is to find a photographer you trust, keep your list short, and relax because you know the person behind the camera is going to work really hard to make sure the story of your wedding is told.
It means as much to them as it does to you. They want your story to be remembered for generations, just like you do.
The photos in this post are from 3 different weddings that I had the privilege of second-shooting this past year. The first one was with Molly Flanagan Photgraphy and the last two were with Naisang Photography.