How To Make Your Wedding Photographer’s Job Easier (And Why You Should)

Hint: it's more than just saying "cheese."

October 25, 2017
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Admit it: when you’re at a wedding, your goal—besides looking gorgeous and having a fabulous time—is to get the perfect shot of the happy couple. To get that one picture where time stands still and the newlyweds are sharing a secret, eternal moment together. And perhaps they’ll even use your snapshot as the one they place on the mantle. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

But guess what? Unfortunately, you’re not the (official) photographer, and you’re probably making their job one hundred times more difficult by acting like you are.

I’d much rather see a face than a phone.

According to The Knot, the cost of hiring a wedding photographer is typically a few thousand dollars. If a couple’s going to shell out that kind of cash, they probably want to ensure their photographer lives up to their potential.

Nuptial attendees, wedding party members, and even brides and grooms can make a wedding photographer’s life miserable, which may end up costing that couple (and you) the pictures of their dreams.

If you plan to attend a wedding soon, or if you’re about to get married yourself, here’s what you can do to make the photographer’s life easier:

Just put those phones away.

You’ll be hard-pressed to go to a wedding—or anywhere for that matter—without seeing someone take a picture with their phone. It’s even quite common to see someone texting, checking social media, or even playing games on their phones during their loved one’s special day.

Yes, their phones are in all of my photos on the sidelines, or in front of their faces. I’d much rather see a face than a phone.

But whatever you do, don’t let this person be you. If so, your friends and other wedding guests will likely talk about you. OK, maybe not, but they will still probably think you’re being rude.

“My biggest pet peeve is the inability for guests to simply enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception in the present,” says Sara Vars, owner of Sara Vars Photography in Maryland. “What I mean by this is that they must have their phone in their hand at all times, documenting what is transpiring before their eyes.”

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“Yes, their phones are in all of my photos on the sidelines, or in front of their faces,” continues Vars. “I’d much rather see a face than a phone.”

Before you whip out your phone to “check in” and let everyone know where you are, understand that by doing so, you’re sending a message to your loved ones that you’d rather do that instead of spending time with them. So, enjoy this (hopefully) once in a lifetime moment and engage with those around you, not your phone or device.

Give each other a little space.

This is for you, brides and grooms.

It’s your first dance as someone’s new husband or wife, so you want to be as close to your new bride or groom as possible. Your photographer gets that. What they can’t get, however, is a good photo if you’re holding onto each other for dear life for the entire dance.

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Embracing in a bear hug and swaying back and forth is a common first dance tradition. But pictures of this monumental occasion tend to come out poorly. In fact, you’ve probably seen a picture of the back of a bride or groom with their significant other’s head bowed down against their shoulder. For the amount of cash you’re shelling out for these special shots, you might want better than that.

Prevent this situation from occurring by, at least for part of the dance, getting your space on. Talk to your photographer about your plans for the big moment and let them know how you plan on dancing. If you can’t let go of the idea of dancing super close with your new husband or wife, go ahead and get your smush on after the pictures are taken.

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Or, take a few lessons. Although you may not be ready to appear on Dancing With the Stars yet, you can still learn a few steps or two that helps your photographer get an excellent shot and makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

Don’t be tardy.

Weddings are basically just big, loving performances. A couple gets in front of an audience to say their vows, they kiss, they dance, and they are the center of attention. And although the final outcome is usually magical, behind the scenes, all hell might very well be breaking loose.

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Frequently, this stressful scenario is caused when someone integral veers off schedule. Most weddings include multiple individuals doing a range of complicated things. Each task tends to work off of the other, which means when one component isn’t running on time, everything else is delayed.

Oftentimes, hair and makeup is the culprit for tardiness.

The act of perfecting that complexion and coif can run much longer than anticipated for a variety of reasons. The makeup artists may not show up on time, for instance, which pushes things back from the start. And if the bride, groom, or member of the wedding party isn’t happy with their appearance, the stylist may have to start over to correct the problem, which could extend the delay even further.

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When wedding schedules are backed up, couples are often rushed and consequentially stressed out because of it. As you might imagine, this can hinder the couple’s enjoyment of the big day.

And if you’re stressed, you may not be able to put on the type of performance you wanted to, likely one of a sublimely happy newlywed ready to start the next chapter of their life. As a result, the photographer may not be able to get the quality of pictures they normally would.

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Brides: to keep your glam squad on schedule, book the most responsible bridesmaids’ appointments first. You know they will show up on time, which will hopefully keep things running smoothly. And if possible, have your hair done first. Doing so can prevent hairspray and other products from messing with your flawless face.

Let the pros use their equipment.

Guests: the happy couple paid the photographer to take professional-looking pictures of them and their guests. They did not hire the photographer to be your personal moment capturer.

Please don’t make me put my camera down to take [a photo of you] with your phone.

Maybe you’ve known the bride since she was five years old. Perhaps you even introduced the happy couple to each other. It’s understandable, then, to want professional-looking proof that you were there.

So, although it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask the photographer—provided they aren’t tied up with the bride, groom, or wedding party—to snap a photo of you with their camera, don’t insult them by asking them to take it with yours. Not only does putting their camera down in order to operate your device increase the chances of it getting damaged, it’s also plain rude.

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“I’d prefer to take the photo with my camera,” says Vars. “Please don’t make me put my camera down to take [a photo of you] with your phone. This just goes back to them wanting instant gratification and post to social media.”

Stay put.

Lighting is to photography as chocolate is to life: it just makes things more beautiful.

Whether the light is streaming in through the windows of a church or making a phenomenal backdrop for an outdoor scene, natural light can help a picture achieve its potential.

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Unfortunately, Mother Nature works on her own schedule and not a photographer’s, no matter how good they are. And although the photographer may have an idea of when the best lighting will occur, it won’t matter if the picture’s subjects aren’t around.

So, members of the wedding party, stick around until the photographer is done with their pictures. Follow them like a puppy.

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And to those planning the weddings, it might be a good idea to have the ceremony, pictures, and reception in the same general area: driving time wastes a lot of chances for a photographer to grab a great shot.

It all runs together: leaving late for the next venue because the ceremony didn’t start on time could prevent having the picture of your dreams… all because you were late to the perfect-lighting party.

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Being in transit also prevents the couple from being somewhere a good shot could take place, as vehicle portraits are often less than spectacular. And again, having to move from one location to another could cause extra stress for the couple.

Don’t say ‘yes’ to this type of dress.

You likely agree that a person who is comfortable tends to look better in a picture than a person who doesn’t feel secure.

Unfortunately, you probably aren’t in your most zen place if you are constantly pulling on your clothing. Because of this, some photographers curse the very ground the hems of strapless dresses glide across.

If you think about it, it makes sense. What is one of the hazards of wearing a strapless dress? The top of your dress feels like it’s about to slip and, well, make this wedding one to remember. You likely tend to pull up on the top of the dress quite often to prevent any such embarrassment from occurring.

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This happens more when you shake your tail feather on the dance floor. The frequent adjustment leaves the photographer with endless shots of brides and her ladies tugging on their dresses, instead of candid, touching shots of them feeling free, comfortable, and ultimately better able to enjoy their time with each other.

Unless you’d like shots of people who look like they’re participating in the chicken dance, consider a style of dress that isn’t strapless. But if you must, wear a properly-fitting bra that features silicone grips on the straps to help keep things up.

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