“Where are we going for photos?” Its a question I get on almost every wedding day and one I almost always answer with, “I don’t know, where would you like to go?”
While almost every wedding blog will be filled with wonderful comments about how lovely the wedding day was and how nice it was to be a part of the day (I do it too)…I have to be honest and tell you I haven’t shot a wedding for a couple that wasn’t awesome. Its the greatest day of your life, you look incredible and you’ve got all your best friends around to celebrate…how could it not be anything but excellent? I promise you, the first time I get shitty clients who are no fun, I’ll blog about it.
Here’s the thing about planning your wedding…as a couple you decide on every single little detail from the font on your invitations to the dress colours and the ‘do not play list’ for your DJ. You chose the food, you chose the guests, you bring tear sheets to your hairdresser and you even decide who sits with who during dinner. All of this planning pays off in the end and you end up with a perfect day and the proof is on every wedding blog in the city.
So here is my question…why let your photographer decide where to take you for photos? (this is where I get all Ann Landers on you…)
There are a few things to consider and I’m going to be very honest with you about this because, well, I have opinions and this is how I make my living. First, there is good light and there is not so good light. I’m sure the haters will say, “I can shoot in any light and it doesn’t matter”. Thats true. Most of us can shoot in any light but the plain and simple fact is that 2pm in July on a hot, sunny day is probably not the best time for photos if you have an option to shoot later in the day as the sun is setting. I know you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been in a wedding and stood squinting in the noon day sun, sweat dripping down your back you know exactly what I mean.
But its really more about time than it is location. A good photographer can give you great photos in any location but sometimes, most times, a weddings run a little behind. Hair and makeup goes a little longer than planned, everyone gets ready a little slower than planned, flowers show up late or a dress zipper breaks…it happens. Its been my experience that whatever runs late, that time comes off of the photographers shooting time with the couple. I’ve seen 2 hours for photos quickly shrink to 30 minutes with the wedding party, family and bride and groom before you all have to sprint back to the reception. If you’ve already done an engagement shoot with your photographer you know that a shoot with just the two of you can be an hour, sometimes two, sometime four hours. You also know that the first few minutes of the shoot are, well, like a warmup. I tell all my clients that its a lot like going to the gym. You don’t go in there and start wailing on your pecks…you ease into it. You stretch, you warm up and then you settle in and start given er.
I hope this doesn’t sound like complaining. Its not. Its a simple fact based on my experience shooting weddings and if photos are important to you there are ways to ensure you get that time you need with your photographer so here goes:
Make the decisions. That’s all there is to it. You’re probably paying a lot for your wedding photography and in 10 years you’re not going to flip through your chicken dinner reflecting on the events of the day. The photos are all you’ve got. Don’t let your photographer take you to the Public Gardens if you’re not that fluffy bunnies and rainbows kind of couple. Decide in advance if you want lots of photos of the entire wedding party or just the two of you. Consider the logistics of getting a wedding party of 8 around the city of Halifax on a Saturday in July. Do you want to all stand in a row in front of a wall or do you want to hit a bar and sing karaoke? You get to decide. Don’t let your photographer hang you from the top of a coal train if one of your best men is terrified of heights (true story…my bad).
Let your family know when you’re going to take family photos and where they should meet you. A missing grandma can set you back 20 minutes. Its not uncommon to be standing outside a church and 15 people are asking ‘where are we going for pictures’ meanwhile important uncle Zeke, in from Ohio, is already back at the Prince George for a nap. If your photographer is rounding up family and telling everyone where to go…they’re not taking photos…which is exactly what you’re paying them thousands of dollars to do.
If you have control over the timeline, keep in mind that sunset and the hour before and after is always the best time to shoot. Try and steal away for half an hour if you can…just the two of you and your photographer. Same goes for night photography if thats what you want. Slip away at 10pm for half an hour and hits the streets.
Decisions don’t have to be specific but give your photographer a jumping off point for locations. ‘We like the south end of Halifax’ or ‘We like those big sky photos’ or ‘We want to get nuts on the downtown streets’. If you have a location in mind don’t hold back. I love it when clients say, “Hey we have access to Baton Rouge so lets start there”.
I know a photographer who only shoots their clients during the golden hour. Its just how they do it and its planned into the day because photos are important. Shit happens though and a lot of couples now opt to shoot photos prior to the ceremony in the mid afternoon hot sun…this brings into play a whole new level of things to consider. Is it hot out? Is your makeup going to hold? Is it windy? Will your hair look ok after an hour outside? Do you want to get the bottom of your dress a little dirty before you walk down the aisle? Some people don’t care and some people do…but you get to decide that because its your day.
Don’t even talk to me about rain. Its rained so much here this year that Steph and I are actually working on a new invention that we firmly believe will take off…but thats another story. What is your plan B for rain…and don’t say the Keith’s Brewery or you’ll be standing in line. Decide if you want to shoot outside with umbrellas or consider your venue and what it has to offer for photo locations.
Lastly, consider this…if a hair and makeup artist needs an hour to do what they do and suddenly they only get 15 minutes… your expectations have to change. If a 3 course meal takes 2 hours and suddenly the kitchen staff has to do it all in an hour…your expectations have to change. The same can be said for wedding photography. If photos of the two of you in various locations are important to you then plan it into your day and don’t compromise.
There is good news if you run short on photo time. The flip side is that even if you run out of time for those ‘epic’ photos, a good photographer will still give you a collection that accurately reflect the story of the day. You don’t always need to stand on the end of a cliff in a perfectly lit scene with big fluffy clouds to have great wedding photography. Grandpa taking a dive on the dance floor will always trump ‘go stand over there and kiss’.
Sometimes you just get lucky and walk right into a sunset.