There are so many ways to make the most out of your wedding photography and one of the biggest ways is to ensure you have a productive and reasonable schedule – but we already covered that topic in our last post.  This post, however, is all about the little things that have a big impact on your wedding photography.

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Your Photography Package – Hourly Coverage vs. Un-timed Coverage

Every photographer packages their services differently.  Some offer packages that are based on hourly coverage (ie: a 5 hour package, an 8 hour package, etc.) while some other photographers offer packages that are based on event coverage (ie: ensuring events, like ceremony, formals, first dance, etc are covered, regardless of the amount of time it takes).  There is a huge advantage when booking a photographer that does event-based coverage because it gives you flexibility in your wedding day!

Whether there are minor delays during your wedding day or a major disaster, booking an event-based photography will guarantee you that all the parts of your day that you were expecting to be photographed will be photographed (with no hidden fees or overtime charges).

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Choosing the Right Photographer:  Balancing Budget & Quality

Photographers come in a wide array of pricepoints and, to a certain extend, price is somewhat reflective of quality.  (I say “somewhat” because there’s always a photographer who is awesome and should be charging more and there are also some photographers who charge ridiculous amounts of money for their mediocre services.)  I’ve recently written an article about why wedding photography is so expensive and I thoroughly cover the topic of editing & post-processing.  Four or five times more work goes into the editing than goes onto the actual shooting; if you find a wedding photographer who can get their editing done ‘quickly’ there’s a very good chance that they are either getting a co-op student to do it for free or they are barely doing any editing at all.  No editing = poor quality.  Starting to understand?  So like I said at the beginning of this paragraph – for the most part, you get what you pay for!

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Proper lighting and editing is crucial to good photographs, especially when photographing indoors.

When you’re shopping around for a photographer, you need to choose someone whose work you like and whose services can make fit into your budget.  Getting your heart set on a photographer who charges four times more than you’ve budgeted for is pointless!  If, however, you’ve found a photographer that you love but they are just slightly beyond your budget, perhaps you can reconsider changing your budget.  Can you save some money in one spot so you can spend it on another?  For example, can you get fake flowers instead of real flowers and put that extra money into the photographer budget?  There are many options!

Before you get your heart set on any particular photographer, decide on a budget and try to determine how flexible you can be with this budget.  Afterall, you should be hiring for quality and hiring for style!  Choose a photographer you love because they will be capturing all of your precious memories!

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Have Fun

I’m sure your wedding planning process has caused you a heck of a lot of stress at times since planning a wedding truly is hard work!  But regardless of how much stress the planning process has caused you, you must let yourself have fun and enjoy your day!  Whether you hired a fine-art, traditional, or a photojournalistic photographer – every photographer will snap some (or many) candids throughout the day.  Brides, grooms, parents and wedding parties that are stressed and worried are not ideal candidates for candid photos because they are rarely caught smiling or enjoying themselves.  Think about it… do you really want to be paying for photos of yourself looking stressed and upset?

Get all your details sorted out before the wedding day and get a special friend (who’s not in the wedding party) or a wedding planner to look after the day-of details so that you and your wedding party can relax and have fun!  Day-of coordination is offered by practically all wedding planners and is very affordable; this is a wonderful investment as it truly allows you to be carefree on your wedding day!

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Don’t Skimp on the Permits!

Many cities, like here in Toronto, require couples to purchase a permit in order to take wedding photos in certain locations.  Permits vary in price depending on location and some permits get you more than others.  For example, some permits offer you unlimited time and unlimited people at that location while other permits may only offer you space for a certain number of people during a very particular time frame (which means tighter scheduling on your part).

When you are in search of the perfect venue for photos it’s crucial that you don’t immediately disregard any location that requires a permit.  Although there are some nice places that can be found in the GTA that do not require a permit, most of these “free” places are incredibly crowded or have limited space (do you really want the same 2 backgrounds for all your photos?).  Consider the photo permit an extension of your photographic investment.  Why spend $1,500+ on wedding photos and choose a small, poorly lit, crowded, “free” hotel lobby for your photos when you can spend $100-$400 for a permit that will give you access to a stunning location with a variety of backgrounds, that no one else has access to during your time-frame?  Ultimately, the choice is up to the couple – but please, consider the permit!  It’s worth it!

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Space

The amount of space you and your photographer have to work in can greatly affect your wedding photos!  Whether you’re talking about the getting ready photos, the formal photos or the reception – it’s always important to choose an area big enough that everyone can move around comfortably.

Let’s take “getting ready” for an example:  Having a bride, her mom, and a few bridesmaids crammed into a regular hotel room or a small bedroom for the “getting ready” shots is a disaster!  Not only will it get very hot in there, crowded shots in small rooms don’t allow for much photographic variation.  As a photographer, I want to take far shots, closeups, landscape and portraits… but when I’m stuck in a corner of a tiny room with nowhere to move, I become limited in the type of shots I can produce.

If you aren’t sure if the space you want to get ready in is big enough for what you expect out of the photos, talk to your photographer and discuss the issue.

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Beautifying your Space:  Decor & Clutter

The type of space you choose to get ready in will have a large impact on the feel and ambiance of your photos.

Ensure that you have not only a large space to work in but that your space is also beautiful, clean and un-cluttered.  Many clients want that “rich and luxurious” feel to their photos, especially for the getting-ready photos and bridal formals and it’s important for clients to realize that if they want a “rich and luxurious” feel to their photos, they must first create that ambiance themselves!  No matter how amazing your photographer is, they can’t make a room at a budget Hotel look like a bridal suite in penthouse suite!

Whether you are getting ready in a hotel or not, ensure your space is clutter free.  This means that suitcases and bags are put away – as are shoe boxes, makeup bags and the leftovers from breakfast!  We want the photos to showcase you and only you!

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Lighting

Have you ever taken a look at the definition of “Photography?”.  It’s the capture of light on film (ok, in these days, onto a digital sensor).  How can you capture light if there is very little light to work with?  No matter what location you are looking at; be it a hotel room, a church, a photo venue, or a reception hall – always consider the amount of light available (and I’m not taking tungsten bulbs, either!)

Natural light is the best!  Having a lot of natural light in your venue means that your photographer needs to use their flash less, which gives you softer, natural looking photos.  It’s inevitable that reception halls with get dark as most couples will party into the wee hours of the morning, but that’s where your photographer will bring our their arsenal of flashes and create their own light!  Photos lit by flash have a much different feel than those lit primarily by natural light.

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Privacy

Here’s a touchy topic…. privacy!  I can feel some of you already cringing at what I’m going to say…

Formal photos are an important part of your wedding day.  Most modern couples have a “formal photo session” that consists of some family group portraits and then formals with the bride, groom and wedding party.

Formal photo shoots are most efficient when the only people that are there are the ones who are supposed to be in the photos!  Although you may think it’s “nice” to allow friends and family to “hover around” during your photo session, it can cause the photo session to run long and you get fewer photos out of it.  Why?  Because the bride and groom become distracted!  They’re constantly hearing “Oh, just hold that one more second!” from a family member with their own camera and they’re also being told “look this way!” from yet another family member with yet another camera.  Aside from the bride and groom being distracted, family members (although they mean well) generally crowd around the photographer leaving us very little room to work in – the last thing you want is for Uncle Bob to accidentally trip the photographer!

I will never tell a bride and groom that they aren’t “allowed” to bring extra family and friends with them to a photo session but I do make sure that my clients understand the impact that “hovering people” can have on a session.

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Don’t keep Secrets from your Vendors!

When you meet with your photographer to discuss your vision, your photographer will tell you how much time they think they will need to make that vision happen.  Always be open and honest with your photographer about the true time-line of the wedding day because if the day starts to run late, you will end up having to make up the lost time by shortening your photo session.

Some couples like to surprise each other throughout the day in different ways – if you have planned any surprises for your soon-to-be spouse, always send a little email to your photographer to let them know what’s going on.  Not only will this ensure that your photographer will capture those moments, it will also ensure that even the “surprises” have time alloted during the day so that you don’t have to give it up out of your photo session.

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Trying an Un-traditional Approach to Photos

Many couples choose to take their formal photos in between the ceremony and reception.  Although this used to work well back in the old film-camera days when shots were traditional, simple and minimal, it doesn’t work so well now that wedding photography has evolved to a sophisticated artform.

Most modern couples want a mixture of artistic, fun and traditional photos in a variety of locations.  These modern couples also have a tendency to want an exorbatent amount of family photos/combinations.  Although any photographer is happy to cater to the couples requests, problems arise when the couple doesn’t allow enough time for the photo session in order to achieve their desired goals.  One solution is to do the bride & groom formal photos before the ceremony!  This leaves the amount of time between the ceremony and reception for family photos and allows you to quickly complete those and return to the reception.

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Back-Up Plans

If you’re choosing to have any part of your wedding outside, including pictures, always consider a backup plan incase of poor weather.  Make sure your backup location is suitable for both the bride and groom photos and can accomodate a large crowd, too.  Planning ahead for a back-up plan will make you feel much less stressed!  Remember:  a lot of indoor locations require you to purchase a permit.  These permits often need to be purchased a few days in advance – that means that if you wait until the last minute to choose a backup plan, you may be out of luck!

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Working with Videographers

I promise I will write a full article on this in the future, but the long and the short of it is: the photographer and the videographer will have the same goal throughout the day: getting the best shot from the best angle.  This means that the photographer and videographer will always be battling it out for the “best spot” to get the shot from and this can really affect both of their results.

Always make sure your photographer and videographer know about each other and provide appropriate contact information so they can exchange emails before your big day.  Every photographer and every videographer will have different approaches and if they can chat it out, before your big day, and learn a bit about each other, they can work better together on your wedding day.

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Being Realistic

This is always the toughest part to talk about because there’s no way to sugar coat it… but here it goes: If you’re not going to be realistic about what can be accomplished during your wedding day then you’re only setting yourself up for dissapointment.

Consider this:

In the photograhy industry, you all too often see brides clutching stacks of wedding magazines filled with post-it notes indicating all the pages that contain her favourite “must-have” photos.  The bride goes on to show you these photos and you start to feel that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.  The photos you were shown showcase weddings that occured in old victorian mansions, vineyards and five-star hotel banquet halls yet you know that the bride is getting ready at the Super8 motel before proceeding to her ceremony & reception at the local community center.  To top it off, the bride then gives you a list of 20+ combinations of family photos to add to her ‘must have’ list…. and, she’s only devoted a mere 45 minutes of time to get all this done in.  Time for a wake-up call my dear.

Okay, so that story is slightly exagerated to help prove my point – but hopefully you understood that point loud and clear.  If you aren’t getting ready in a victorian mansion, you can’t expect your photos to look like you got ready in a victorian mansion!  If you aren’t getting married in a century old gothic style church then you can’t expect your photos to have the same ambiance that a building of that style has.  If you only gave your photographer 60 minutes to do all the formal photos (including family pictures) but have requested 2-hours worth of work, you’re not going to get all the poses you want.  You will work so hard to plan your wedding that it would be really unfortunate if you chose to set yourself up for dissaopintment because you chose not to be realistic about your expectations.

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Engagement Photos

Don’t skimp on the engagement photos!

Getting to work with your photographer before your wedding day is a great thing because you get to know each other so much better and become very comfortable with each other.  I always include a complimentary engagement session to any of my clients who book a regular wedding package for that very reason.  Clients who choose to do the engagement photos always have a much more relaxed shoot on the day of their wedding.

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Working together before your wedding day means you’ll be more comfortable with the camera ON the wedding day!

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Consider Professional Prints and/or Albums

In today’s digital world, clients nearly always choose a photographer who offers them “all the photos of the day on DVD” as clients always think about what a huge savings it will be to be able to print out their photos for only a few cents each at the local department store’s photo lab.  Although I respect the fact that new couples want to make the most out of their money and are always looking for the most cost-friendly services – I truly believe that you’re losing out on your wedding photos if you disregard the idea of professional prints or albums.

The argument comes down to quality.  When you buy a professional print (or photo book, for that matter) you are guaranteeing that you’re getting a top quality product printed in vibrant and acurate colour that is being printed directly from the professional files.  When you print your own photos from the DVD of jpegs you received, the prints can still be nice, but the quality and colour won’t compare to what a professional lab can do for you.  Put it this way, investing in professional wedding photography and then choosing not to purchase any professional prints or albums is the same thing as buying the world’s fastest computer and using it only to play solitaire.

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Do you have to do everything in this article to ensure you get the most out of your wedding photography?  No!  But at least reading it may turn a few wheels and make you think about a few things that you may not have even realized have an impact on photography.  No matter how well you plan your wedding there will always be certain things that you don’t have control over. (like the weather!)  Although there are a few things you don’t have control over, there is so much of the day that you do have control over – if you so choose.  Creating stunning and beautiful photos isn’t entirely up to the photographer; the clients planning and scheduling of the day creates a huge impact on the quality and quantity of the photos, so please, take responsibility for your investments and make the most out of it!

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