Tips for Your Wedding

How do you choose the Right Photographer for you?

You want to choose your Photographer early in the planning process as the good ones are booked well in advance.  Unlike a lot of the service providers you need for this very important day where you are choosing them based on a product you want, it doesn't matter whether you like them.

Whereas the chemistry between yourselves and your Photographer will have an influence on how the photos and the experience turn out. You don’t have to fall in love with each other, but you do have to connect and feel comfortable with them. Do they share your vision of how you want your days memories recorded? Do you like their image style? Is it flexible? Can they offer a mix of product options to meet your needs? Of course, this is a two way street. The Photographer will be establishing whether they can work with you and provide you with what you want. If you have a good relationship with a Photographer that you trust you will most definitely enjoy the day and most importantly have results you will treasure forever.
The internet is a fantastic tool for finding Photographers whose work you like but don't burden yourself with too much choice. Choose 2-3 Photographers to make appointments with. Once you have found someone you like, book them ASAP, because tomorrow someone else might.

Why Choose a Professional Photographer

Once the gowns and suits have been worn, the cake eaten, the wine sipped and the meal consumed. All that you have left to represent your Wedding Day are the rings, the piece of paper & the memories, the photographic images captured and created by your Photographer.

It is vital when choosing a Photographer that you choose an actual Wedding Photographer, a professional, not someone who just photographs Weddings every now and then. There are a lot of weekend Photographers now since the cost of cameras has come down.

Choose wisely as most Weekend Photographers don't have the experience to deal with all environments, the post production or the skills to manage all the personalities of the people they are shooting that day.
Professional Photographers create an environment you can just be yourself in. They know how to deal with the weather, the light, composition, creating the right space where couples can just enjoy each other. A special time capturing, directing, creating and recording.  An experienced Photographer has the knowledge to use the environment and the light correctly, to deal with all situations and to work the “crowd” to get the best from them.
Hiring a Professional Photographer to capture your day is an investment that gains in value as the images will stand the test of time to be enjoyed by your grand children. They will have the right equipment to deal with lighting challenges. They create a plan to ensure they do the best job they can for you.

They do a reccie of the area that they will be shooting in on the day & consider even the smallest details that will have impact in the outcome. They are familiar with a lot of locations and know a lot of the nooks and crannies and magic spots they can take you too. They know how to pose and direct you. They consider the light, the background and the dynamics of you as a couple and your Bridal Party. An experienced Wedding Photographer will have a number of poses to use as standard and they will work with you to come up with more exciting and personal poses to suit your personality and feelings on the day. They take great photos and then use the professional tools available to them to create images that are fantastic yet remain faithful to the reality of the moment. They will have a backup plan just in case the Photographer suffers an injury or sickness prior to the Wedding Day.
Most importantly they use a professional lab for the process of images, Wall Art and Albums, maintaining a high quality.

Professional Photographers will have a standard Wedding contract form that they will use when booking your Wedding. Simply writing your name and phone number in a diary is not enough. A deposit is generally required on confirmation of the booking. This can vary but is often around 25%. The New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographers is the only qualifying body for professional photographers in NZ. They have a website that lists over 360 members across the country & has a stringent membership criteria of Photographers who are qualified, awarded & experienced.  You don't get a second chance to create great images!

Just What Does a Photographer Do Now in the Digital Era?

A Professional Photographer will spend many hours after the Wedding Day working on digital files making sure the photos you receive are unique, have an element of artistry and reflect you and your Wedding Day at its best. Some photos may be processed quite heavily whereas others may need only subtle tweaks. For example, a photo that captures a priceless moment in time maybe ruined by Auntie Florence’s bright orange dress causing distraction in the background. A thoughtful black and white conversion may be the answer. Photos are only ever edited because they will benefit from the enhancement, not purely the sake of editing.

Amazing tools are used to create images that have never been possible before. Some of the imagery will lend itself better to a more creative approach and it is through the Photographers creative vision that you end up with photos that really make people say “wow.”

Ultimately cameras are limited in what they can capture. They record photons of light; they don’t record emotions, so by careful consideration and experienced post production skills Photographers endeavour to enhance an image so it becomes charged with the feelings, passion and emotion that were actually being felt in the moment of your Wedding Day.

What moments do you want captured?
Do you want your photo diary starting with you getting ready? Do you want detailed images of your beautiful gown and accessories? We look stunningly beautiful on our Wedding day. We are glowing with all of the emotions of the day, about to peak when we walk down the aisle.  So take centre stage and take time to have some beautiful Bridal portraiture before you leave for the ceremony.

Do you want photos of the Groom getting ready? Do you want family photos done after the ceremony? Where do you want to have your personal shoot done? What kind of landscape do you want as a backdrop? Is there somewhere that represents your relationship?

Of course the list goes on but your Photographer will discuss these with you as they are working on your photographic plan.  
These days with the paparazzi of family & friends with their compact cameras the need to have a Photographer at that reception is almost redundant. However if you do have them for this time remember to book them at seat at a table and dinner if they are shooting your reception.

What products do you want & what will it fit into your budget?

There is a large variation of prices for your Wedding Package & along with that are the products now available. You need firstly to consider the value of your photography & then determine what percentage of your budget this represents.
People often ask why wedding photography cost so much.  The pricing can vary quite a bit & it's based on quite a few things.  What it costs them to run their business, produce the work, pay their staff & of course the tax man.  The experience they bring with them, their qualifications & awards & the value of what they create for you.  

Let's not forget the time spent on the job. The consultation, the follow up meetings, checking out the location & venues, attending Wedding rehearsals, shooting on the day & the time spent in post production. This last one varies a lot depending on the individual Photographer & the end result they want to achieve for you.  Some may only spend a couple of hours on this stage; some may spend 30 or 40 hours especially if they do creative work.        

It is definitely within their own right to charge as they wish, however you need to be aware of the pricing before booking the Photographer & confirm that there are no hidden prices.
Products available in this market:

One Photographer or Two?  A great option that some Professional Photographers offer is a Two Photographer Team.  The fantastic thing about this is the Groom gets as much attention as the Bride in the getting ready stage & you get a wider range of captured moments especially the candid & spontaneous throughout the day. During the Bridal party portrait session it allows for a bigger mix of images from different perspectives, closer & wider framed shots.

Prints: The standard 6x4" print or 5x7" tends to be the size for a bulk order images.
Images on CD: High Resolution, Low Resolution images for email & websites.

If you get the CD of your images, and you get prints at your local lab, the photos will be printed to suit their particular paper and colour set-up the quality may vary from the quality your Photographer has processed them too. This can be ok for small prints but it is highly recommended that any prints you'd like for your wall you go back to your Wedding Photographer who can ensure the prints will be to the highest quality, regarding paper and replication of colour & detail.

Wall Art: Your Photographer will have a range of sizes for you to choose from. They might also give you mounting options as well that could include framing & canvas.   Remember you are going to be looking at these for a long time and most images that you'd receive on the CD won't reproduce up in size to much without professional attention.          

Music DVD's:  Depending on what your Photographer offers but generally this is a fantastic way to get all of your images from the day.  It is storytelling to music, normally of your choice.

Albums: There is quite a range of albums available in today's market, both contemporary & traditional & your professional Photographer should have some examples to show you. Not only for the album style but you want to check the quality of the design layout & consistency of great imagery that the Photographer is offering as well.

Pre Wedding

You will want to make sure that you can have at least two meetings with your Photographer. The first meeting helps you establish if you want to book them and is an opportunity to not only discover whether you are comfortable with them but to share your plans, thoughts and ideas for your day. Then of course you want to be considering the photographic packages that cater to your needs.

The second visit will often occur in the two weeks prior to the wedding. At this point you want once more to get to know your Photographer a little better. Go through the final schedule of your day and work on finalizing  the photographic plan. It’s also good planning to visit the venues and locations with the Photographer or at least make sure they are familiar with where they will be shooting.  It’s also very wise to consider wet day options both for your ceremony & photography.

Nothing helps a Photographer more to understand your visual expectations than showing them pictures of what you like. How-ever make sure your expectations and desires versus reality are in the right place. You will never get exactly what you see in another picture. Firstly, you are two different people. The location, light and weather conditions will be different, hence so will the result.

It’s also important that they attend the rehearsal, as it helps to plan the ceremony stage and an opportunity for them to meet the Minister or Celebrant and to check on any restrictions on photo taking & where they will be standing while they conduct the ceremony.  Sometimes they make it difficult for the photographer to get the great shots & of course you can expect them to be in most if not all of the ceremony images. It’s also a great chance to meet the rest of the Bridal Party. All essential in getting to know you the client better and assisting the plan and hence results of the day.

Time Management for the Day

I'm not an event manager & I have no idea how to manage the time of this event? An essential element to a successful Wedding Day is your time line planning and managing. Photographers play an important role in your day and will be able to help with planning the timing for each element. A professional photographer will want to help you with your time management.  They have been involved with many weddings & know where the pit falls are in timing.  

Probably your biggest challenge with time is after the ceremony when everyone wants to congratulate you and your Photographer, being the time keeper at this stage needs to get the family photos taken. Keep this in mind when working out your time frames & how many family shots will you want.  It is best to do larger group ones & then smaller groups for just immediate family.  This is one area where precious time can be lost from your portrait shoot if this is not well managed. Talk to your venue & find out if you have any wiggle room for your seated arrival back at your reception.

Better yet consider having your portraits done prior to the ceremony. It could save you both time and money!  Discuss the pro's & con's of this with your photographer.
Most Photographers also have a time limit in their packages so you could be paying extra if you are not well organized. Check this with them at your consultant.

On The Day

Often forgotten, but absolutely essential to remember - block out parking space for the Photographers vehicle when you organise space for the bridal car at the ceremony and reception venue.  There is nothing worse than the Bride having to wait in the car while the Photographer finds somewhere to park and runs back to where you are.  They are guaranteed to miss moments. 

Know that you will be late! Something will happen in your day to put stress on your tightly framed timetable. Make sure your schedule is flexible. The happiest, most relaxed Bride is the one that has an hour to relax before going to the ceremony.  This is also a fantastic time for the Photographer to get awesome shots of the Bride and friends and family sharing this time of the day.   The hair & make-up can often run late & you can lose valuable time for this. Play safe...if they say it will take x amount of hours ask them to start an hour earlier. You're going to be up at the crack of dawn anyway & it should ensure you have this precious time available to you.

The gown can often take some time to get into, so allow for this in your timing.  If you have little buttons down the back, get yourself a croquet hook as this makes a hard job fast work.

Have a dedicated person to help you manage and oversee the details of the day. You don’t want to be worrying about them or trying to fix problems! And friends and family love having something they can do to contribute to your special day.  This person can also help the photographer with your group photo list, as they will of course be more likely to know who "uncle Bob" is.

During the ceremony you will barely notice the photographer but there are three times that you want to ensure you are aware of them.  One of the hardest shots to get is the presenting of the rings, so tilt your hands towards the photographer so they can capture this with ease.    The kiss! To be enjoyed & with enough time for the photographer to get a couple of shots just encase the first one catches a less than perfect expression. So no quick peck!  The last one of course is the traditional look up & smile during the signing of the registry.

CHECK THE WEATHER.  Take a jacket in the car. It can often be cold or windy at your location shoot even in the summer! If the terrain of your location would be best walked in flat shoes, take them! Be prepared for your gown to get a bit dirty. It’s often hard to avoid in outdoor locations.  Umbrellas... here's hoping you won't need them but check with both your photographer & the driver of your car as they often carry them as well.

Along with celebratory beverage of your choice in your car during your photographic shoot don’t forget to take cool water, especially on a hot day. Sometimes it’s pure thirst you need to quench! Think about taking a snack too. You burn a lot of energy on a day like this.  A picnic basket, if there will be time, is also a great shooting opportunity.

Your Photographer will be wanting to make sure that they are appropriately dressed for your event so advise them of the dress code for the day.
Check with your venue about a "touch up" room for the bridal party before you're announce into your reception.  You want it to have easy access that doesn't expose your arrival to your guests.

Looking Your Best in the Photographs

Most of us don’t like getting our photos taken and aren’t comfortable in front of the camera. Have fun, fool around a little and you’ll find your shyness is usually overcome. Part of the Photographer’s job is to help you with this, but it’s what you give the camera that will create the results.

Relax, pretend they are not there, and just enjoy each other. That’s what a Photographer wants to capture all the feeling and love that you have for each other and the romance, delight and laughter of the day. That’s what makes a great photograph!
However the reality is the Photographer is there. While you may not want “posed” photos, along with the spontaneous images, they will direct you in the aim of creating well composed images with good light.

Enjoy the process, have fun and enjoy being the centre of attention. It doesn’t happen very often and when will you get professional photos taken of yourselves again? If you have a “best side” or a comfortable side, or are conscious of particular body areas, let your Photographer know. It will help them take images that you feel flatter you. To avoid a double chin, push the tongue up behind the front teeth when you smile.

Practice good posture, throw your shoulders back and hold your head high. Always angle yourself a little, rather than facing the camera straight on, present yourself with pride and it will be evident in the pictures. You may feel silly, but practice posing in a full length mirror. Rest assured you’re not the first bride to be who has taken this approach.

Looking great on the day and looking good in your photographs requires two levels of thought and you need to talk some of the following things through with those who are doing your hair and makeup.
Loose hair over the face may be a style you like but nothing is more distracting and can almost ruin a portrait than hair falling or being blown over your face - especially the eyes.
Take hairclips, hairspray and face powder in your purse bag with lipstick. You have got to keep looking great all day long!
A lot of makeup products have light reflecting illuminates in them. You don’t want to use these, as they can make your face look either pale or sparkly in photographs.
Avoid a shiny face by using an oil free foundation with a matte finish and brush translucent powder over your face and neck.
Choose a lipstick that doesn’t clash with your bouquet and nothing to glossy. High gloss lips reflect a lot of light and the flash as do body sparkles and glittery eye shadow and can often distract from the rest of the portrait.
A last thought but an important one, on looking great for your day. Consider what you wear prior to slipping into your gown. Many tops and bras leave “skin dents” that you can see when you are in your gown.  Choose garments to wear that won't do this.

Share some of these tips with your bridal party, as they are a big part of your photo shoot. Having everyone feeling comfortable with the process will get you those stunning images that you will proudly display. A constant reminder of your beautiful day..

How long should I wait to see my photos?  

The turnaround of the photographs and albums should also be assessed prior to choosing your Photographer.  Some Photographers use the winter months to process your Wedding photographs and make up the albums. This is something worth knowing prior to having the photographs taken. A good realistic turnaround would be 4-6 weeks to view and perhaps 6-8 weeks for albums. However these times may vary depending on the workload of the Photographer.

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