Tips about PHOTOGRAPHY for Your Wedding Day




How much time do you need for photography on the wedding day?

A good rule of thumb is to plan about 30 minutes for family formals at the church or ceremony location and between 1.5 and 2.5 hours for creative (out-and-about) photos. Seriously, after a couple hours it gets very tiring, so don’t try to do photos for four or five hours. Also, keep the family formals short by focusing on only the most important groupings rather than every possible combination you can think of.

How many places should I stop at for wedding day photos?

I’m a firm believer that less is more. Pick one or two really good spots rather than a bunch all over town. Travel time eats up your day like you wouldn’t believe. For Wedding day runaround photos apply the 50/50 rule: Remember it’s YOUR day after all. Some couples are so obsessed with getting photos of the entire wedding party they forget to get any of just the two of them. Those romantic, just the-two-of-you moments are special. No less than 50% of your runaround photos should be of just the two of you, and bonus points if it’s closer to 75%. Yes, get some great shots with the entire wedding party, but then give them a break and have some one-on-one time. Wedding day runaround photos – keep it casual DON’T over pose with the runaround photos. We all want those dynamic photos, yes, but your photography should capture who you are. Your relationship. Your personality. Your unique facial expressions and body language when you’re together. You can’t tell the story of who you really are through generic glamor poses. There will always be an element of staging, but it should balance well with natural expression. It’s a hard balance to get right.


How many family formals should I do?

Everyone will thank you and you’ll have a better time on your wedding day if you keep family formal photos short. 30 minutes is the goal to shoot for! That means you’re going to need to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT groups and accept that you’re probably not going to get every possible combination of groupings. I always have the “big four” in mind (bride alone, groom alone, B+G together, and entire wedding party). After that, six to ten groups should be all you should try to do. Larger groups take longer to set up, so if you have several big groups keep the total number of shots small.

Tips to keep formal photos short.

Keep the list small. Have a helper who can organize the next group while the photographer is working with the current one.  Don’t think up shots on the spot.  Don’t try to get separate photos with each bridesmaid and groomsman.  It’s faster and less stress as a group.  Make sure no one getting their photo taken disappears into the bathroom.!  Don’t let anyone take over.  Mom, Grandma, or Uncle Joe always have ideas for photos they think are great. Don’t let them hijack your limited time. – Don’t let guests snap photos. It’s not about limiting anyone, it’s about time management. These “Oh, just one” snaps build up and can literally double the time it would otherwise take.   No talking when in front of the camera! Again, time management. Waiting for people to finish a conversation adds to the total time significantly.

Great Wedding Dress Photos

A couple tips to for better wedding dress photos before you put it on. – Bring a nice hanger. A nice wooden hanger is a lot better than those cheap plastic ones. It doesn’t need to be one of the fancy ones with your name written in wire.  Be sure there’s a place to hang it that’s clutter free. I often take the dress out of the dressing area for a better background, but sometimes there just isn’t a good place to hang it. Take all the cardboard and stuffing out.  Be sure there’s someone to help the photographer. It’s hard enough moving the dress around without a ton of camera gear to deal with too. A helper can open doors, keep the train off the floor, or make sure the groom doesn’t get an accidental peek if he’s getting ready in the same general area.

Do I have to do a first look?

Absolutely not! First looks are done when the bride and groom choose to see each other and do run-around photos before the ceremony; usually when the ceremony is late in the day. A first look offers an opportunity for the groom to have a great reaction the first time he sees the love of his life in her wedding finest. It makes for great photos and gives you both a little time together. However, it is by no means a requirement. How long does a first look take? Schedule about 15 minutes for a first look. It typically takes a few minutes to get everyone in place. Once you see each other, spend a little time together. Don’t rush. I have only two “rules” for couples during their first look. Rule one: whichever side the photographer is standing is the side the groom should turn to see his bride-to-be. That way you get photos of his expression, not the back of his head. Rule two: DON’T play to the camera. Just make the moment real, genuine, and amazing. What about Pinterest? Getting ready photos These are some of my favorite photos of the day. The air is charged with excitement and there’s so much happening it’s the perfect setting for real memories.

DON’T play to the camera.  

Don’t put your dress on before the photographer arrives. DON’T split up photographers If you have two photographers for your wedding day, do NOT split them up (one with the guys, one with the ladies, for instance). Unless your photographers produce photos that are generic and vanilla you’re going to get two very different looks from each. It makes for terrible story telling. Seriously, why would you want to pick photographers that produce bland look-alike photos anyway?

Where to get ready.

To get ready together, yet apart If your venue doesn’t have a place to get ready, find a nearby hotel.  Your photographer can go back and forth between groups yet there’s almost no risk of seeing each other. No, you DON’T want to split up photographers and have one stay with the ladies while the other stays with the guys. All photographers have a unique look and style (or should, at least) and splitting them up like that creates a disjointed story when looking at the combined photos. It’s better to have one photographer run back and forth. Make your photographer sweat a little!

What is the point of wedding photography?

Is it to preserve memories, to feel like a star for the day, or just because someone told you you need a photographer? The answer is different for different couples. Make an honest assessment of your desires before selecting a photographer, otherwise your photos might not match your expectations. The best candid photos in the world won’t satisfy if you’re looking for “fashion shoot” photography.  If you feel the main point of wedding photography is to preserve real memories, pick a photographer that captures candid moments that tell a story or convey emotion. Posed photos or smile-for-the-camera images aren’t real memories.

Guest Blogger – Patrick Pope Photography (

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