No matter how much time you put into planning your wedding, the actual day will breeze by quickly—walk down the aisle, say your “I do’s”, cocktail hour, first dance and cutting the cake. Before you know it, you’ll be off on your honeymoon. Capturing the whole day in photos is the best way to preserve those precious memories.
It should go without saying that you want to book a highly qualified professional photographer for your special day. To find a great photographer, speak with friends who have gotten married recently and have been satisfied with their photos. Additionally, ask your wedding venue for a list of vendors who have experience working at the location.
At Robert Ryan Catering & Design, we work with a lot of photographers and have developed a list of preferred partners. We spoke with one of them, Daniel Fullam of Daniel Fullam Photography, and he shares his top tips for getting the most out of your wedding photographer.
If your budget allows you to book an engagement session, it may be worth it. How many times have you been photographed professionally? Probably not many. It doesn’t have to be intimidating, especially with the right photographer. An engagement session is the perfect time for your photographer and you to get to know each other.
Daniel shares, “Yes, an engagement shoot is certainly a great way to get to know your photographer, but at the end of the day, it probably comes down to budget. If you want engagement photos, I suggest going forward and getting them done. But if you don’t get them done, there won’t be some awkward silence or moments during your wedding day between you and the photographer because you didn’t have an engagement photo shoot. He or she is there to document your once-in-a-lifetime event and capture every fleeting moment.”
If your photographer has never shot an event at your venue, it probably is necessary for him or her to walk through and get a feel for the flow of the facility. If the photographer has photographed at your venue previously, it may not be necessary. But if you want to schedule a walkthrough to ensure that your photographer is clear on your preferences, feel free to schedule it.
“I always try to see the venue around the same time of day that I will be shooting the wedding so the lighting is similar. Most times, I will see the location by myself, but if the couple wants to tag along, they’re always welcome!”
Make a list of must-have photos and share that with your photographer. Ask for your photographer’s opinion, too—after all, the photographer probably shoots a different wedding every weekend. Make sure to share the wedding day timeline with your photographer because knowledge is power. Your photographer needs to be aware of the timing and flow of the day in order to capture every shot that you want.
One of Daniel’s top tips for establishing a shot list is to ask the couple to create a Pinterest page of wedding photos they like. He explains, “Pinterest is a great way to get an idea of what a bride and groom likes visually. It’s often hard to articulate a visual style, but it’s easy to show someone what you like. At the end of the day, I try to fit the visuals with each specific couple because I believe it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Even though you are the star of the show, you will want the photographer to get photos of close family and friends. Make a list of everyone you want photographed, including combinations of family members such as siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, college friends, childhood friends and so on.
Inform family ahead of time! If you know you want them photographed, tell them where to be and when to be there. A lot of time can be spent trying to locate various members of the family, but if they are there and waiting, you can get right down to business.
Daniel says, “The best way to maximize your time for family portraits is to create a shot list for the photographer and organize it as a to-do list. This will help herd the many people that need to be involved in the pictures.”
While it is tradition for the bride and groom to not see each other before the ceremony, having photos done prior to the ceremony has a lot of benefits.
Daniel highly recommends taking some photos prior to the ceremony. He says, “Get ready early and have your photographer get some great photographs of the family, bridal party, and most importantly, bride and groom. First looks are great because it extends your day and helps you spend time with the people that you love and care about most.”
He continues, “There’s a certain comfort level with not feeling rushed every moment of your big day because someone is whisking you off to the next formality. Take a few minutes before the ceremony to decompress and then walk down the aisle knowing the majority of your pictures are done and the rest of the night is left to spend time with the loved ones.”
He concludes, “Imagine having a giant party with great hors d’oeuvres and even better cocktails and you do not get to show up to your own party. That’s what it’s like when you miss your cocktail hour. Get your pictures done beforehand, have a special moment together alone as he sees you for the first time, and then have the rest of the day to party and take it all in. Also, if you’re getting married and having your reception in the same location, first looks give you an opportunity to get off of the premises and get a few different photos so all of your pictures don’t have the same feel.”
Unless you want to start at dawn, the best time of day is the hour prior to sunset and shortly thereafter. Daniel explains, “The light is softer and it’s coming in at a different direction and angle and makes for a better bride and groom portraits. Nighttime is always a great time to get a dramatic shot. But, if you find the right photographer, he or she will be able to get good portraits done no matter what the lighting or weather is like at any time of day.”
The best way to get great photos is to be flexible and trust your photographer. Good photography is a lot more than point and click. Remember, it may not be possible to capture exactly what you hope for—or saw on Pinterest. There are a lot of factors such as lighting, how comfortable you are in front of the camera and venue limitations. Trust that your photographer will know exactly how to capture what you are looking for in the photos. Chances are this is not your photographer’s first wedding. Trust in their experience and allow them to guide you to what will work best.
Daniel concludes, “I think the most important commodity at a wedding is time, so make sure to build in plenty of buffer. No event ever runs on time. Remember to relax, have fun and cherish the day. Let your photographer capture the memories for you.”
Ready to start planning? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!
Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venues. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.
Photos: Daniel Fullam