Wedding Photography — Start to Finish
Navigating the journey of wedding photography from engagement session through thank-yous
Enjoy our multi-part blog series on wedding photography:
- An engagement session to set the scene- 6 Tips for a Successful Engagement Session
- A successful day starts with a timeline – Creating a Wedding Timeline to Avoid a Disaster
- Communication and creativity with other vendors- Brilliant Ideas for Working with Wedding Vendors
- To First Look or Not to First Look- The Great Debate: A First Look or No First Look
- Must-Have Pictures of the Bride – 6 Must Have Pictures to get of the Bride
- Capturing Moments with the Groom- 5 Pictures to Capture of the Groom
- Quick and Easy Family Portraits – 6 Tips for Quick and Easy Family Portraits at a Wedding
- Keeping Bridal Party Photos Smooth and Fresh – 6 Tips to Keep Bridal Party Photos Smooth and Fresh
- All About the Little Things — Details of the Day 68 Details To Photograph at a Wedding
- Wrapping it up with kindness and care 6 Tips Photographers Need to put the Final Touch on a Wedding
Before a couple even signs an agreement with me, I talk about creating a wedding day timeline together no fewer than three times.
It is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of a successful day as a wedding day photographer.
I first mention it at my initial consult with a couple as a means to address concerns about number of hours they may need and backup plans in case of delays or weather. I also include a custom card with information about the process in welcome bags for my new couples and, yep, timeline info is front and center on those!
Rather than throw a bunch of questions on my couples in their last few preparing days — often the most stressful days of the whole process — I ask a lot of questions throughout my time with them. Things like size of bridal party (more people = more time for group shots), venue information (if we’re traveling from ceremony to reception and/or ceremony to a photo location, we need to factor in slow drivers, forgotten shoes, bathroom breaks and traffic) and whether or not they have large families. I can find out at my first consult, write down in my notes and consider when creating a timeline months later.
If your couple has a wedding planner or venue coordinator (read more about having good relations with other vendors in our next section!), they will be your best go-to for creating a successful wedding day timeline.
I usually start my timelines backwards from the ceremony start time. So, if a ceremony begins at 3 p.m., I know that I’m going to “release” my couple at least 15 to 20 minutes before then to catch their breath, hide from guests and do last-minute makeup touch-ups. So my last photos with them will end at about 2:40 p.m. I’ll start my location shots, check my lighting and grab some shots of guests walking in and reading programs.
Another factor is whether or not your couple has chosen to do a First Look or No Look (I can’t wait to talk about these in another section!). You want to allocate enough time for these to take place with privacy and intimacy without being rushed but then also allow time after for bridal party or shots of the couple and time before to finish getting ready.
Check out: 12 Tips to Photograph a First Look
Once your couple has given you their tentative timeline (I always request these at least two weeks before the wedding), immediately and honestly address concerns with them —
“Thanks so much for the information; that helps a lot. The only thing I’d like to tweak, if possible, is maybe doing the family photos immediately after the ceremony ends there at the church. I’m afraid we’ll be rushing the bridal party pics and maybe inconveniencing too many people with the travel if we do family photos at the park, too.” Always make it about wanting things to be smooth and fun and easy for everyone involved, not about you. If they’re adamant about something (20 minutes for bridal party photos?!), don’t push it. It’s not your day. You’ve got two weeks to come up with some ideas, research the location and prepare to go into super-quick mode.
If you have a second shooter joining you, make sure you share as much detailed information about the day with them, too. I tell my seconds everything — about divorces or deaths in the family to avoid awkward moments, the most important photos the couple is requesting and whatever else I feel will help them — and therefore, me — get all the best photos to document this couple’s day.
Don’t miss these reads to help your clients wedding day as well!
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