Avoid These 3 Wedding Photography Pitfalls
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Today’s post is written by Doug Madden of Duetimage Photography
Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes mistakes are not due to simple carelessness or bad judgment. Mistakes can come about through good intentions too, and this is how I think some couples are undercutting their wedding photography.
Here are three examples of how couples can wind up shortchanging themselves when planning their wedding photography timetable, and some practical advice for avoiding these pitfalls.
The Friend Factor
Quite often, when talking to prospective clients for the first time, we hear the phrase: “We want great wedding photos, but not of us. We mostly want candids of our friends.”
Now I get it. Your wedding posse will likely include good friends from college and high school. Maybe even further back, to elementary school, playschool, possibly the neonatal unit. You love your BFF’s and you want to remember their camaraderie on the biggest day of your life. But I can think of no worse plan for your wedding photography than making your images all about them and not about yourself.
Wedding photographers can seem hung up on portraiture and there’s a good reason for this. That’s because weddings are about beauty, about looking your best on a day when you’re spending a lot of money on stunning venues, elegant decor, a knockout dress, and everything else that goes into a wedding. Your photographer wants you to look as gorgeous as all that. And even more importantly, your photographer wants to capture the love that shines in the eyes of you and your spouse on the day that you formally commit to each other.
At our studio, we always recommend that the bride and groom set aside at least one hour for their portraits. When clients hear this, they usually want to head for the hills. That hour is easily imagined as a very long shooting time, and many clients are often concerned about stepping away from their friends for so long and missing out on the party.
The good news is that you don’t have to. If you’re concerned about being a good host to your besties, plan your wedding portraiture before your guests arrive. If your friends are in the wedding party and will be present all day, then explain to them your intention to take wedding photos alone as a couple. It’s a pretty sure bet that they will understand and they’ll find plenty of ways to occupy their time while you’re working with your photographer. And since wedding minutes go by faster than normal minutes, your couples portraits will likely be over before you even know it.
The Live Audience
Sometimes couples have no problem setting aside time for their portraits. Where things start to go wrong is in the crowd control department. More often than not, members of your wedding party might want to trail along while shooting things like first looks and couples portraits. These are moments that should be set aside exclusively for the bride and groom, and their photographer, and here’s why.
Mothers of the bride can be notorious for making an insensitive comment to their daughters that deflates their confidence when the cameras are clicking.
Bridesmaids, in their enthusiasm, can start giving camera directions that run contrary to what the photographer is trying to achieve.
Large groups of friends watching from the sidelines can get rowdy, and especially with a drink or two, they’re likely to get loud and tease you all in good fun. And it is good fun, except that it eats up time and diminishes the sense of intimacy that bride and groom photos require.
If first looks and portraiture are important to you — if that’s the kind of imagery you’ve been looking at for months on Pinterest and wedding blogs — then you can’t be shy about demanding your “me” time. Tell Mom that you love her. Thank your bridesmaids for being there. And tell your friends they can tease you when you show them your wedding album. But your camera time belongs to you and your spouse alone because the moment can’t be repeated.
They’re Just Formals, Nothing Personal
So, you’ve set aside time for portraiture and you’ve drawn a clear line in the sand when it comes to crowd control. So now you’re going to make it up to everybody by including each and every guest in a 100 or so formal shots. Right?
Quite often, when our clients create their photography schedules, they tend to use family formals as a time to acknowledge each and every guest at their event. The lists of guests to be photographed can be quite extensive, ranging from relatives to kindergarten friends, to relatively new work colleagues. Sometimes couples are pressured to have formals with friends and colleagues of their parents, who they don’t really know. And sometimes guests end up on the formals list because so-and-so is on the list, and the other people might get insulted if they’re not included too.
The thing to remember is that while formals look simple, each group to be photographed takes time to setup and pose. It all comes down to minutes, which as I’ve already said are shorter on wedding days than on regular days.
We recommend choosing the subjects of your formals very carefully. Narrow the list down to the really important people in your life, namely your parents, siblings, and grandparents, plus any aunts or uncles who’ve been a positive force in your upbringing. Friends who have stuck with you through thick and thin, or who were instrumental in bringing the bride and groom together, certainly deserve a formal too. As do guests who have traveled to your wedding from very far away.
Making the final selection can be painstaking for couples who are concerned about bruising the feelings of their guests. If this sounds like you, keep in mind that most people will understand the need to keep your list small. Everybody gets it that time on a wedding day is limited, and chances are they’re planning to take their own selfie with you anyway.
It’s All About You
As you might have noticed, in each of the examples above, the solution is to keep the focus on you and your spouse as a couple. And that’s the way it should be. Weddings are a formal declaration of a union, broadcast to the world at large by way of those present at the moment you say, “I do”. Let your wedding photos say: we are here … we are one … and this is our time.
Join us next week as our Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit continues with more great advice from Hudson Valley wedding photographers as they answer the most commonly asked questions.