Photography guide achieving the best photos on your wedding day

A word of advice from a photographers perspective

The day that you planned for so long is almost here. How exciting! I hope you had fun planning the event and are looking forward to spending your wedding day with family and friends. I have attended a lot of wedding as a guest and as a photographer and want to offer a few words of advice to make your day relaxed, memorable and give you the best possible images to remember this day for a lifetime.

A wedding is always a special day for everybody attending. Especially for you, obviously. But even all your guests will remember this day forever. For me a wedding is not just a ceremony or a party, but the starting point for your live together and therefore the beginning of an exciting journey. It's an honer to be invited to join you on this day and witness a family growing together. Thank you for choosing me! This day is yours. You are the boss. We are a team today in creating photographic memories for you and I will guide you through the whole process with all my expertise and experience.


My approach and a little education on various photography styles

My goal is to capture your day the way it happened, but tweak reality a bit by suggesting locations with good light or gently guiding you into poses that will show connection and love in photos. In wedding photography terms a total hands off approach from the photographers side, would be called "documentary wedding photography". On the other side of the spectrum stands "classical wedding photography" which consists of a lot of posing and often elaborate lighting set ups with multiple flashes. There also is "Fine art wedding photography" which thrives to create stunning images by using an artistic approach as well as "lifestyle wedding photography" which consist of candid, yet directed or styled photos. If I needed to put my approach in one of these categories, I would say that I am most close to lifestyle photography with the desire to also create some fine art portraits. Here is an interesting article about this.

Great wedding photographers are invariably great observers. They see - and capture - the innumerable fleeting moments that often go unnoticed. The experienced professional knows that the wedding day if overflowing with these special moments and memorializing them is the essence of great wedding photography. ~Bill Hurter

What does that all mean for us....? Well, let me break down the day in stages. A wedding requires the photographer to shoot in various lighting and environment scenarios, maybe that is why some photographers consider it one of the most difficult photography discipline around.

All my packages include a couples session. This is a great chance to practice being photographed as well as another chance for me to get to know each you and for you to get to know how I work. It will make the portrait session during your wedding so much more smooth. For your session dress simple, meaning don't mix too many colors and stay withing the same style of clothing (formal, casual, colorful or whatever it might be). So if one of you wears jeans and flip flops the other shouldn't wear a ball gown. You get the idea. Let your personality shine. Keep in mind that the latest fashion can make the photos dated in 10-20 years. Think timeless. Think about what you want to achieve. Some inspiration can be found here. Then lets talk :)

A selection of couples shots

On the big day we start usually with the getting ready and detail shots.....This is one of my favorite time to shoot. The excitement is in the air. I approach this in a more documentary style. I document whats happening. People drop in and say hi. I shoot that. The make-up artist has a whole big palate of colors spread out in front of you. Lip stick is being applied. I shoot that. I also document all little details like rings and dresses and shoes. But I use my knowledge here and move it into good light or move away some distracting details from the frame. Documentary photographers wouldn't do that.

Photos "getting ready"

Portraits: Some couples choose to do a "first look" before the ceremony. I find a good location and walk you through it. This is when you first see each other and it is always an emotional moment which produces amazing photos. It is best to be alone, without guests and make this a moment between you two. Well...and me, but that doesn't count :) You might choose to do your couples portraits then or after the ceremony. During the consolidation we will have talked through the plan for the day and decided on this considering the best light (golden hour- one hour before sun set.).

Simple first look set up.

The portraits are a very important part of your photography and most people are most nervous about this. Don't be! You have practiced being photographed by me during the couples shoot. I will guide you through this. I will not heavily pose you. You wont' hear "Put your left hand on her shoulder and your right hand into your pocket." etc. I will say things like "Look into her eyes and tell her what you love most about her" or if I feel that you are a little nervous I might say "Close your eyes for a moment and stick your foreheads together and take a breath." Just trust me here. The little moments in between are often the ones that you will end up loving most.

An example for a series of photos from the more posed on the left (1), to the to the "look each other in the eyes" (2), to the "feel like kissing?" (3), to the "we are done now, thanks" (4), when they looked at each other and started walking way. Number 4 is my favorite, but they got 4 great choices out of one location.

Then comes the ceremony. The moment you have been waiting for. Time to say YES. I am fully in documentary mode. No interfering at all. I document whats happening around me. Parents who cry, kisses and promises, hand holding and beautiful churches. All you have to do it focus on each other. And if you do a first kiss, kiss long to give me a chance to catch that moment. During the vows, look into each others eyes and the loving expression that I want to capture will come. After the ceremony stand a little bit facing your guests in order for me to grab that photo. Then I will photograph you leaving the church by walking backwards. A very happy moment which translates into great documentary photos. Enjoy it! Afterwards I continue documenting hugs and kisses outside the church.

Some church images

One more word about the ceremony. Consider a "unplugged wedding". You will have a link to your online gallery that you can share with your guests. There is not need for everybody to have their cell phones up before, during and after the ceremony. Besides that guests will miss the romance of the day, it just does not look good in photos. A tip from me...share the link to the gallery in your Thank-you cards. Guests can then download the images they would personally want. No need for bad cell phone photos.

Now you are married! Grattis! It's time for family and group portraits. It's best if somebody from the bridal party can help me line up the important people. Make a list who you want in your family portraits and we will be able to quickly work through this to get you back to your party (or the couples portraits if that hasn't been shot before the ceremony). I start with the biggest group, possible everybody, and work my way down to the smallest group (mostly the parents). That way we don't have to start searching for people that have started to mingle and people with less patience aka kids will not have to wait too long.

real connection

Now its time for the mingle and brudskål. I document all the lovely moments. I will have shot the venue with all its decorations and details at some point. Then the dinner starts and I will document all the speeches, kisses and moments. Another time where my approach is fully documentary. I try to get a photo of everybody per table, but won't photograph while guests dine. It does not look good when people chew and they should enjoy their meals in peace. I hope to get some food myself. Hungry photographers don't make good photographers. :)

If I am lucky enough to be booked for the cake cutting and dance, the approach here is also documentary. I love dance photos when everybody is relaxed and just having a good time. You are now happy that everything worked as planned and most important that you are now MARRIED! It makes for great photos. I add a little crazy to the photos that emphasizes the party mode we are all in now.


One more thing...

  • It's your wedding...this is just a guideline of how most weddings plan out. Not every wedding follows the same schedule and I LOVE personalized weddings where all rules are broken. Speak to me and I adjust to what you have planned.
  • From personal experience I know...the day flies by. Take a break in between, grab your partner, take a breath and watch whats going on around you, then hug and kiss. This is the beginning of your life together. Remember the moments.
  • Natural moments are often the ones you will cherish most. We call those also "camera unaware". You do not look into the camera and for the viewer of the image it look unposed and natural. There is more emotion in such photos. Don't feel like you need to look at me all the time. I will once in a while ask you to look at me, but by all means, feel free to stare into each others eyes and focus on each other.
  • Be realistic with your your schedule. Leave buffer time for travel in between locations and unexpected events. You want to avoid looking stressed in your portraits.
Packaging of prints and USB stick

www.birgitwalsh.com // Tel: 073-386 4091 // info@birgitwalsh.com


Birgit Walsh Photography

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