How to Get the Wedding Photos You Want
Most of the myriad components that go into a wedding are utilized on the wedding day alone: the wedding gown and tuxes, the flowers, the food, the cake, etc. Wedding photographs, however, capture and preserve these ephemeral items, making them timeless. More importantly, these photographs capture and preserve images of you and your spouse, along with your family and friends, basking in the love and fun of your special day.
Choosing the right wedding photographer is certainly one of the most important wedding decisions you will make, but it is also important to know what kind of photos you do and don’t want and to communicate with your photographer to ensure that you are on the same page. Read on for advice from local brides on what worked, what didn’t, and how to get photos you will treasure for a lifetime.
#1: Splurge for a professional photographer if possible
When allocating funds to different parts of your wedding, you may want to consider putting the photographer at the top of your list. Professional photographers have not only the experience to bring your vision to life, but also the intuition to capture amazing shots that you may not have even considered.
My husband, Bryan, and I got married at Natural Bridge in September 2013, and we chose Lori Hedrick Photography as our photographer. We were so impressed by Lori’s ability to creatively incorporate the bridge into many of our photos, especially since we hadn’t discussed doing so before the wedding.
Kegan and Amanda Shaw chose Megan Vaughan Photography to capture their May 2013 wedding at The Trivium.
“Photography was one of the most important aspects of our wedding so we did a lot of research,” Amanda says. “I was most drawn to the style of soft and natural lighting and professional editing. My mom found the website of Megan Vaughan Photography one day, and her style stood out to us so we decided to contact her to see if she was available. Luckily, she was!”
Allen and Prue Miller, who married in July 1980 at their Richmond church, had a friend take their wedding photos. “A friend of mine took our wedding pictures,” Prue says. “He was a fairly good photographer and offered that as a gift to us. We were trying to save money and decided that would be one way we could. He got some great pictures… and some not so great! I wish we had hired a professional photographer! Even though many of our wedding photos were good, they have not stood the test of time very well.”
#2: Use Pinterest as a source of inspiration, not replication
Although Pinterest is an invaluable source of wedding inspiration, try not to obsess over recreating every shot you’ve pinned. “I had plenty of ideas I had seen on Pinterest, but I didn’t want an overload of these ideas, as I was ready and willing to go with the flow as well and let Megan bring her experience and ideas to the table,” Amanda says. “It’s so easy to come with an overwhelming amount of ideas and trends in your head, but sometimes it’s better to come with an open mind. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter if I got that perfect Pinterest shot I had seen online—I had a collection of unique photos to call my own, with memories of one of the most special occasions of my life.”
#3: Request plenty of candid shots
Candid shots often end up being our favorite shots (in general, not just for weddings) because they capture raw, genuine emotion. “Ask for lots of candids!” Prue advises. “They record the ‘moment’ but also capture the emotions! They also allow the bride and groom to see what was going on that day that they might otherwise have missed. My favorite picture is a candid our friend snapped just after the ceremony when my brand new husband and I had left the sanctuary and were waiting outside the church before going back in to take photographs. He captured the excitement, the pure joy of the moment!”
Amanda’s favorite photo is a candid shot of her father, Stephen Hodge, escorting her down the stairs before the ceremony. “In the image I am walking in front, and my dad is holding the train of my gown, looking over the banister at the camera with a large grin on his face,” she says. “It is such a precious image snapped within very crucial seconds, and you can feel his pride and joy emulate from the picture.”
#4: Request photos of people who are important to you and of special moments
Of course, not every wedding photo can or should be a candid shot; you want to ensure that special people and moments from your day are documented. “There were certain photos of various wedding traditions I knew I wanted to have captured,” Amanda says. “[Among these photos were] the picture of my groom’s face when his bride starts walking down the aisle, the first kiss as a married couple, cutting the cake and putting it on each other’s face, and running through the wave of sparklers to the getaway car. Another favorite picture is of Kegan and me holding hands behind a door. We decided to hold hands and pray together instead of a first look photo. We couldn’t see each other but could feel the emotion in the moment.”
As Prue explains, “We did come up with a list ahead of time so that we would be sure to get photographs of all the people and groups we wanted to. Be sure and get photos with elderly people who are important to you. One of my favorites is of us with my paternal grandparents who have both since died. My grandfather is by my side and my grandmother is by Allen’s side, holding his hand. I still get choked up when I look at it!”
#5: Be yourself!
“Be yourself” may be the most cliché of all clichés, but it is the single most important thing you can do in your wedding photographs—both in terms of how you look and how you act in front of the camera. When Bryan and I first got engaged, I pretty much immediately got on Pinterest and started pinning elaborate hairstyle and makeup ideas that bore little to no resemblance to my everyday look. As our wedding drew closer, however, I found that I was feeling anxious about pulling off these new styles. I decided to keep my hair and makeup simple and similar to my daily look (I added a bit of drama by wearing red lipstick), and I’m so glad I did.
The comfort I felt in how I looked definitely shows in our wedding photos.
Additionally, because Bryan and I are both on the introverted side, we didn’t take any over-the-top silly photos with our bridal party. I love looking at other people’s intentionally funny bridal party photos, but we probably would have made it look forced! Regardless of your and your spouse’s personalities (which may be quite different!), your photos will come across as genuine if you are both true to yourselves.
By Emily Hedrick