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March 10, 2014

13 Photographer Tips for The Best Wedding Day Ever

Every year at United, there’s a night when everyone is gathered and we have what is called 5 Minute Fuel.  It’s a chance for anyone to step up to the mic and share ANYthing for 5 minutes.  No really, the floor is wide open and you can talk about whatever you want.  So, as about 20 photographers get up to talk, we laugh, we cry, we cheer, we take notes and we applaud.  And as the clock ticks down we start talking REALLY fast!  It’s incredible!

This year, my dear friend Melissa Kilner and I decided to give it a shot. And while I was nervous as anything, I was also really excited!  We went back and forth on some topic ideas knowing only that we mainly wanted it to be funny.  So we decided to talk about what we know while also keeping it lighthearted…. wedding day tips for the photographer!  I think she said this on her blog post but I’m going to say it too. It blows my mind that I’ve been in this industry, and now career, long enough that I KNOW things!  I don’t feel like I’m an expert by any means, but at this point in time, I know enough to share knowledge with beginning photographers and to put brides at ease.  But to be honest, I wouldn’t be at this point if not for other photographers and professionals sharing their knowledge with me.  So, any opportunity I have to give back is really an honor!

United 2014 5 Minute Fuel

So, onto these 13 tips…

1. Be friends with your clients.  I am all about relationships, so I friend my clients on Facebook, I have the bride’s cell phone number in my phone and will text with them occasionally (I usually don’t start texting them until we’ve had their engagement session and they’ve gotten to know me a little bit!).

2. Make a playlist.  I have to admit, I haven’t done this yet, but if you make a playlist for wedding days of songs that you know will pump you up, then this will get you going before you arrive!  Then, as your excitement exudes from you, your bride, the bridesmaids, the moms and the guys will pick up on it too!

3. Earn the trust of the bridesmaids.  This girls are the key to helping keep the bride on time and in good spirits the day of the wedding.  So, if you as the photographer can earn their trust, that’s even better!  Show them “the money pose” that will make them look awesome in EVERY photo.  Then show them that photo!  Trust me, that one small thing will have them on your side for the rest of the day… and possibly for their own wedding when the time comes around!

4. Do burpees!  Ok, I know you think I’ve lost my mind, but exercising really helps when you’re shooting a wedding!  And sometimes time is short so in order to get that killer ring shot, you sometimes find yourself laying flat on the floor.  How better to get down there and back up quickly than with doing a burpee??

5. Be quick and be confident.  Even if you’re as nervous as anything, if you only let your confidence show – and you’re quick about the shots you want and need to get – then the wedding party and the families will be on your side for the entire day!  The point of a wedding day is to enjoy the time with friends and family.  So if those key shots of the wedding party and families are captured quickly, the family gets to enjoy each other and you can get some awesome candid shots of them just having fun instead of them JUST being posed in front of the camera!

6.  Compliment the boys.  Yes, you always think to tell the girls how gorgeous and pretty they are.  But guys like to be complimented too!  But with them, I like to be a little more cool and use words like “dapper”.  Which also wins me points for impressing them with my vocabulary!

7. Look like you’re having fun!!  This is SO key!  I’ve come to realize that my resting face actually makes me look a little angry.  Which is the last thing I want ANYONE on a wedding day to think I’m feeling!  Weddings are fun and exciting and no matter how tired you are at the end of the night, the more you look like you’re having fun, the more the guests will enjoy being around you and getting their photos taken (even if it is 11pm).

8. Love on the mother-of-the-bride.  The mother of the bride is the third most important person on a wedding day (after the bride and groom, of course).  She’s the hostess for this party that’s taking place, not to mention, she’s giving her daughter away that day!  So, love on her, support her, encourage her and by the end of the night she’ll be inviting you over for family dinner ;-)

9. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Melissa hit this one with something even I wasn’t expecting, but her perspective on it was right on.  As photographers we get frustrated when people are pulling out their phones and iPads to take pictures on a wedding day (mostly during the ceremony because sometimes they can get in the way of “our shot”).  But the truth is, if we took a minute to look at them while they’re taking those pictures, we’d see a smile on their faces!  They’re so excited and happy for their friend/niece/cousin/best friend’s daughter and just want to remember the moment too!

10. Show them the back of the camera!  Sometimes we photographers can get a little possessive about our work and we ONLY want to show the finished product to our clients because it will be “the best of the best”.  But, if we take a minute during portraits or the time with the wedding party and show them the back of the camera with the killer shot we just captured, their confidence is going to soar!  And that’s going to show in the rest of the photos you take that day!

11. If you don’t ask, the answer is no.  Melissa talked about this one too… she was doing a “trash the dress session” with some clients and got up the nerve to ask if they’d be willing to go into the water on the beach they were at.  And to her surprise, they said yes!  And she got an amazing shot.  If the couple had said no, she would have been totally fine with that, but had she not asked at all, she never would have known that they’d be up for it!

12. Lifting weights = awesome dancing photos.  I’ve been working on my push press at Crossfit and to be honest, when the dance floor is PACKED on a wedding day, there’s no room to get in there myself or even get great closeup shots of guests.  So, I lift my camera above my head (while Ben is holding my flash off to the side), aim my camera at a 45° angle and get my shot then bring my camera back to the rack position.  ha!  But seriously, it works!

13. Get into it!  If you do find a spot on the dance floor, dance with the guests!  The more you get into it, the more they’ll get into and they’ll give you some awesome dancing moves and faces for photos!

So there you have it.  Mine and Melissa’s 13 Tips to the Best Wedding Day Ever.  I wish you could have been there to see us acting a lot of this out… and then speed talking as our time ticked away!  If you weren’t there, you’ll just have to trust me that it was hilarious!

Love this girl!

  1. melissa says:

    Loved reading the tips! One thing I’ve found interesting while attending Austrian weddings the last few years, is that the moderator/minister will say at the ceremony that photographers are the only ones allowed to take pictures. I can see the point of not being in the way of the photographer, and not having everyone post photos right away to social sites! I’m not sure what I think of that…on one hand, I can see not getting in the way of the photographer’s shots or having cameras in a lot of the professional shots, but on the other hand, I know that I liked seeing the various perspectives that came from my wedding day photos from various friends and attendees. It’s a cultural thing that I’m still figuring out! :)

  2. I love this, and YOU! It was so awesome getting to do this together!!!

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