Ah, it’s your big day! From the moment the ring was placed on your finger, you’ve been anxiously planning your wedding, making sure every little detail is going to be perfect. To remember this day forever, you are probably thinking about hiring a wedding photographer to capture every moment. From a photographer’s perspective, we want your day to go as smoothly as possible as you do. Here are some tips from Scenic Event Solutions' photographer, Kenzie Stephens, about how to work with whoever you hire for your wedding.
1. DO – Communicate with your photographer. This is key, and you can never ask too many questions or provide too many details! Most photographers will want a detailed schedule with exact times of when and where everything is happening, and so will wedding coordinators. Even if the schedule isn’t followed to the minute the day of (we know that it most likely won’t be), your day will run much smoother if you sit down before the wedding and make a detailed schedule of your day.
2. DON’T – Assume your photographer knows all the details. Give them a shot list (which will be expanded upon later), tell them about the colors of your wedding, who will be there, how many guests, and things of the sort (photographers, making a PDF document to give to your clients to complete BEFORE the wedding day will help with this). If your photographer asks for these details, give it to them! A photographer does not want to walk into an event knowing nothing about it. Communication is key!
3. DO – Follow your photographer’s procedures with a shot list. If your photographer doesn’t require this, they either are very confident in their craft or have no idea what they are doing. Several photographers like to know what pictures they are delivering to their brides – is it more of a posed, portraiture style, or is it more photo-journalistic where the photographer is simply catching the moments as they happen? For my clients, I have them create a Pinterest board of their favorite images they see, and this also helps me with what editing style they like the most. A shot list is very important for every photographer to have.
4. DON’T – Be super picky with a shot list, or completely ignore it. There are two extremes when it comes to a shot list, one being too involved and the other not being involved at all. If you are super picky with your shot list, this might stress the photographer out and cause them to think you don’t trust them with your pictures. It’s definitely okay to communicate with your photographer beforehand as to what shots you absolutely need, but you definitely don’t want to send them 100 pictures of the exact shots you want. Most photographers know what they’re doing with a camera and might be offended if you try to question their artistic ability. For the other extreme, not being involved at all is not good. You want your photographer to have an idea of what type of style and photos you want.
5. DO – Tell your photographer what you want them to do the day of. You, the bride and groom, are the bosses of the wedding day, and whatever you say goes. If you want the photographer to take pictures of you dancing at the ceremony, tell them. If you want the second shooter to hold up your veil out of frame for that beautiful shot, tell them. Again, communication is key, especially the day of! Your photographer won’t know what you want them to do unless you tell them.
6. DON’T – Let anyone but the bride and groom tell the photographer what to do. This also goes for the DJ, videographer, wedding coordinator, and caterer! For example, you wouldn’t tell the DJ what songs to play at your friend’s wedding, so don’t tell the photographer what to do either (photographers, don’t take the bait with family members that say “the bride said we can do this…” unless you hear it out of the bride or groom’s mouth, don’t do it)! Make sure to tell your family members that it is your job to tell the photographer, videographer, DJ, or whoever what to do the day of (also, if you are a guest at a wedding, don’t ask the photographer to take a picture of you and your friends, especially if the bride or groom is not in the picture. We’re tired of doing this for you). Remember, the bride and groom are boss!
7. DO – Let guests take photos at the reception. This is a party after all! With your permission, it’s totally okay to post photos to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat of your amazing party, and you’ll have these photos ready before your photographer can give you their professional ones. Just remember to ask about any space you’re in for photographic restrictions.
8. DON’T – Let guests take any photos during the ceremony. I seriously cannot stress this enough. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have the bride walking down the aisle and there are a million hands holding up glowing screens – it is almost impossible to get the shot of the bride walking down whenever there are things in the way. Thankfully, this hasn’t been a huge problem with any wedding I’ve shot, but I’ve seen some photos of brides whose faces are completely covered by a huge iPhone7, completely ruining the shot! Also, don’t forget that the groom himself needs to see the bride when walking down the aisle – you don’t want a million phone screens in the way of your view, do you? Didn’t think so. I actually have a line in my contract that states that phones, cameras, and other picture taking devices be put up during the duration of the ceremony. Also, do not hire more than one photographer other than a second shooter. For example, if you want to book a professional photographer, chances are they will hire on a second shooter to assist them for their photography. Do not hire two different photographers from two different companies, or have a family friend who “takes really good photos” to act like a second shooter if they are not affiliated with your professional photographer. Photographers, including myself, are really picky about this. Follow their rules, and everything will be fine.
9. DO – Be happy with the wedding photos you receive. Unless there was some shot specifically stated in the contract that the photographer didn’t get, or you want to pay for another bridal shoot with your husband to have more photos with him because you ran out of time, then you should be happy with whatever photos the photographer sends you. Usually, wedding photographers will deliver anywhere from 200-500 edited photos with a print release and a chance to buy prints separately if you would like, and you should never have to pay extra for edits on photos, or receiving the full digital with a print release (if someone is trying to do this, then they’re either scamming you or trying to get you to spend more money than you need to! Also, check on this whenever you book to make sure you know what you’re getting). You’ll be very happy with whatever photos you get, so this almost goes without saying.
10. DON’T – Ask your photographer to make changes to the photos they deliver for you. To expand upon this, don’t ask your photographer to take photos the day of your wedding and then deliver you unedited photos to save money, because you or someone you know knows how to run Photoshop. Also, don’t ask them to re-edit any photos they might send to you, because you don’t like how they turned out. Photographers consider their photos works of art, and they take exceptional care in editing every image. Sending their work back or only asking for RAW files is like saying to them that you don’t care about their art and don’t trust them to make artistic decisions. Also, there should be no reason for you to not like the photos they sent to you, especially if you’ve seen your portfolio. You knew what kind of photographer and artist they were when you booked them, so be happy with whatever they give you. There might be exceptions to this, such as the photographer not delivering or capturing every moment that you wanted to (I once worked with a photographer whose bride was upset that she didn’t get a photo with her mom, so he had to Photoshop a picture of her to send back to the client, but there were certain family situations as to why this didn’t happen correctly). Overall, photographers do not appreciate whenever their clients are nit-picky with the photos that they are sent or request a lot of special changes.
To recap, your day should be as special as possible, and hiring an experienced, professional photographer will help document every memory and moment forever. Follow this list of do’s and don’ts to make sure your planning and big day run as smoothly as possible.
Thanks for reading, and Happy Planning!
Kenzie Stephens, owner of Kenzie Stephens Photography in Chattanooga, TN.