How Wedding Photography Works Into Your Wedding
This will be a big post because it’s important! Weddings require a ton of planning. That's it! I hope that clears everything up for you. Ok, no.
As a New England wedding photographer, I care about the wedding planning process for a few reasons, but there are two big ones. First, the planning impacts the images themselves. Second, it’s very important to me that I’m a beneficial presence at someone’s wedding, that I can help things go according to plan and make the wedding a successful event. I want to take a few minutes to talk about how these concepts play out.
There's an inherent tension in wedding photography. On one hand, a wedding is not a photoshoot. The photography serves the event, not the other way around. A photographer has no right to cause unnecessary delays or prioritize their pretenses over the enjoyment of guests or the wedding party. On the other hand, a photographer has a duty to do their best, and a photographer’s best work rarely “just happens.” Creativity and quality both need their own space. Sometimes you need equipment, sometimes people need help figuring out how to move and look their best. Sometimes the killer spot for photos is a quick walk down a path
So I need time, but I can’t take too much time. This is obvious and self-explanatory. No one wants to sit around, spending the day they worked so hard for, waiting for a photographer to fidget with his gear trying to figure out what to do. At this point it’s plain to see that I better know what I’m doing before the day even starts. Of course, it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen on a wedding day, and everyone is going to have their hands full no matter what! So, planning for a wedding photographer is about creating opportunities to do good work without being a total drag.
My approach to planning is how I incorporate these ideas into my process. After booking a wedding, I travel to the venue. I look around, take shots of areas that look potentially cool and take a few notes.Sometimes I’ll check out potential secondary locations close to the venue. At home, I build a report for the clients. Basically this lets them know what I see and my general headspace so far; one spot is close to the ceremony space, so that works well for family. Or this indoor spot is easy to light in the event of rain. This patch of woods half a mile away would be fantastic for couples shots if you're down for that!. Stuff like that.
This starts a conversation and gives the client a realistic idea of what their photography could be like. If they really like an idea, we all know the logistics and can plan for it. If they don’t like an idea, we ditch it. As the wedding date gets closer and more concrete timelines get built with other vendors, the clients and I have the info we need to build an accurate and cohesive plan for the day. I then make a detailed schedule with stages of the day, showing (as accurately as is reasonable) when which photos will happen. I share this schedule with the clients, their attendants and sometimes designated family members. This isn’t so I can be a tyrant about the schedule and take over the day, but just so everyone at least has a plan in the back of their heads and there are no surprises coming from my end on the wedding day.
That last bit is important. Most of the time, wedding days go just a little sideways from any schedule. That’s normal! One thing that a good wedding photographer knows is how to adapt a plan in real time. This just comes from experience. If time runs over on any part of the day, 99 times out of 100, it’s very easy to move some time slotted for photos to parts of the day that are likely to be more convenient. I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors by trying to force photos at a time where it’s going to negatively impact something else that’s important. So we build a plan, make reasonable efforts to stick to it, but keep the integrity of the wedding day as a priority. If I do my preparation properly, and communicate it effectively, this is a breeze.
I hope this was illuminating as to how I look at the logistics of wedding photography. In another piece I’ll talk about common stress points in wedding schedules; things that tend to disrupt a plan not just for photography, but the whole experience, and steps you can take to avoid or minimize them. If you have any questions, or want to know more, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you!