10 Ways to Ruin your Wedding Photos (or how not to!)
Your wedding is one of the biggest and most memorable days of your life. It is the beginning of your family. You will be telling stories from this day to your future children, and hopefully looking back on a beautiful wedding album from that day. Your wedding photography is a big investment, and it plays an important role in being able to share stories with future generations. There are a lot of things that go into having beautiful photos, but it’s pretty darn hard to think of them all on your own, so here’s some help!
1) Thinking that having a relaxed wedding day means just winging it.
These days, brides and grooms are more and more drawn to the idea of having a relaxing wedding day. A day where the couple can enjoy all the elements they have spent the last 12 months planning. Don’t get me wrong, this is exactly what a wedding day should be. That doesn’t mean that you just wing it though. Planning and timelines are ALWAYS important. In fact, if you really want to be able to enjoy your wedding day, you need to work it into your timeline. Schedule more than enough time to complete things like getting your hair done, family photos etc and then add in an extra 10-15 minutes for enjoyment! There is nothing worse than not scheduling enough time for hair/ makeup, or enough time to deal with tiny wedding day emergencies like your dress clasp breaking, and needing to get sewn into your dress.
No wedding day goes perfectly as scheduled, so if you want to stress less about these things, then build in some extra time so you aren’t rushed trying to get to the next part of the day. One of the saddest things to see is to see things running behind and having the wedding portraits get cut short and missing out on those gorgeous images. I know that budget is often an issue when couples are choosing which photography package they choose, but consider if spending a bit of extra money on more time, and gaining a more relaxing wedding day may be worth it. Maybe the luxury of being able to not be rushed is worth sacrificing the fancy ice shot luge, or the extra tier on the wedding cake.
2) Not creating ambiance at your reception with lighting.
Low light situations make it difficult for even the most advanced cameras to auto focus. Turning the house lights off too low would mean that photographers have to use more of that yucky, annoying flash. To avoid this, consider decorating with lights. Lots of lights and lots of candles create a gorgeous and romantic vibe that is perfect for any wedding! Be sure to talk to your decorator about this.
3) Hiring a “friend” or family member to do your wedding photography.
Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event! There are no do-overs. The only thing that is left at end of your big celebration is the photos. The offer of free wedding photography certainly sounds appealing. However, unless that offer is coming from a professional wedding photographer who has years of experience shooting weddings, and a person whose style you absolutely love, then really think about whether or not you want to take that person up on their offer. Family photographers, aren’t wedding photographers, your friend who just got a really nice camera and takes great photos of nature is not a wedding photographer. A wedding photographer should be able to take amazing photos in any conditions, they should have multiple cameras and back up cameras, lots of lenses, flashes, and back up flashes. People hire wedding photographers because they have the experience and are prepared to shoot whatever the day throws at them.
4) Not paying attention to your getting ready area.
If opting for wedding prep coverage, you will need to choose your getting ready area carefully. If you want gorgeous photos of your dress/ tux hanging up, gorgeous detail shots, and timeless images of you putting the finishing touches on, then pay attention. Ugly hotel carpets and bedspreads can be really distracting for photos, there isn’t much you can do about it, but its worth considering when choosing where to get ready.
Another thing to consider is light, with natural light photography, we need… natural light! That means windows and ideally plenty of them. Upstairs bedrooms with tree covered windows are not an ideal spot to get ready as it is often too dark for photos. An easy way to tell if it is bright enough is whether you can easily read a book without additional light.
The final thing to consider is cleanliness and tidiness of the area. A large group of people, all getting ready for a big event at the same time means that naturally, there is going to be stuff all over the place. Keeping things contained to one area (that won’t be used for photos) makes for clutter free images. Clutter is really distracting in images, and you want these images to be timeless. Especially since the getting ready images make for great pages in your wedding album!
5) Letting your DJ use crazy coloured lights for your first dance.
Pet peeve alert!!! I hate coloured DJ lights! They throw ugly light all over the room and over people’s faces. No one wants a first dance photo with one partner having a green face and the other partner having a purple one. It’s not really a cute look! And it’s something that can really only be fixed by making the image black and white. Save the coloured lights for the dance party, when they add to the ambiance, instead of completely ruin it!
6) Choosing bridal party members that aren’t interested in being a part of your group portraits.
This one is probably going to land me in hot water, and I know it, but I am a speaker of truth… These days it seems bridal parties are getting bigger and bigger. It is so wonderful that people have so many people they love and want to include in their big day! That being said, it is worth thinking about whether or not all of those people truly want to be there for you, or whether it’s just a day to do a ton of drinking. On more than one occasion, I have worked with bridal parties where some members really don’t want to be there for the 20 or 30 minutes it takes for wedding party photos. Which is really unfortunate for the couple who is looking forward to having these photos with their friends to look back on.
An un-cooperative bridal party can really make the process of doing photos take a lot longer to finish than it needs to, and takes away from the time allotted for the couple to have their portraits taken, or the time the couple would get to enjoy their cocktail hour.
So when you are asking these friends if they want to be a part of your big day, give them the option of also not being involved if they would rather not! Also remember that not everyone has the time commitment required or the money, so giving your friends the option to not stand up, but still attend your wedding is really the kind thing to do! (and ensures that your day will have less drama!)
7) Transition lenses!!!!!
If anyone in the bridal party or the immediate family has transition lenses, it is worth asking them if they have a different pair of glasses they can wear for the day. Photos are typically taken outdoors which means that the glasses are in their “dark” transition, which is not flattering for family photos or bridal party photos.
8) Sunburns and Tanlines
Weddings typically take place in the summer when the sun is much stronger. People have spent time at the beach working on their tans to get that perfect golden glow. With that golden glow comes unsightly tan lines. As a bride, tan lines are a big no- no. For the 3 months leading up to your wedding be sure you use lots and lots of SPF and to only wear bathing suits with the same neckline as your wedding dress. Consider this when choosing your bridesmaids dresses as well.
Also be sure to be using sunscreen on the days leading up to the wedding, as well as on the wedding day itself. Often the morning of the wedding the guys will do an outdoor activity, and often forget to use sunscreen, meaning they show up to the wedding with burnt red faces complete with raccoon eyes from sunglasses. Red faces and tanlines don’t make for cute photos so just avoid both at all costs.
9) Head table decor that is high enough to block faces.
Often times people will use the bridesmaids bouquets as decor for the head table. It is a wonderful use for re- purposing flowers for the reception portion. However, a big part of photographing a reception is capturing reactions during the speeches, and a giant bouquet covering both peoples faces makes it difficult to do this job. Opt for something smaller for the middle of the table so that the photographer can see you, but also so you can see all of your guests!
10) Not making good use of golden hour!
There is a reason that I choose to shoot all of my family and engagement sessions during golden hour, and it’s not because I love missing dinner with my family. It’s because it is the most bad ass time of the day to take photos. The soft warm light is flattering for skin tones, and brings something incredibly special to photos. Look up the sunset time for your wedding day and sneak out with your photographer 20 minutes before and capture some incredible images. You won’t regret it!