CAPTURING THE MOMENT
A Guide to Wedding Photographs
By Carla Blackenwhite
There's nothing like settling back for a cozy evening of reminiscences
with your wedding album.
The temptation to have a family friend or a relative record your wedding
day as a cost-cutting measure is one that should be dismissed right
here and now. Your wedding will be over in the blink of an eye, but
the memories captured by a professional photographer will last a lifetime
and will be cherished forever by your children and grandchildren.
Like all other aspects of planning a wedding, shopping around for
prices is a must. However, the best photographers are not always the
most affordable and they're always the busiest. Booking early and budgeting,
as always, are certainly called for in this case.
The best way to begin shopping is to ask recently married acquaintances
if you may view their wedding album. Word-of-mouth is still very powerful
advertising. Note the phone numbers and, if you feel comfortable enough
with that person, ask the price they paid for their photography. Contact
the photographer for an appointment. Any professional will be more than
happy to meet with you and show you photos, slides and albums from weddings
they've covered in the past and spend a good deal of time finding out
what you wish for as a final product and how much money you've got to
It is very important that you "like" your photographer as
a person for many reasons. If you stop and think about it, your photographer
is going to have more access to the bride and groom during even the
most intimate moments of your wedding day than any other single person
involved in the event! The photographer will be taking pictures of the
bride getting dressed; he/she'll be right beside you when you exchange
rings; let's move in for a close-up shot of your first kiss! If you're
going to have someone around every step of the way, you'd better make
sure your photographer is someone you like and trust, because otherwise
the possibility exists that your day could be ruined by an intrusive
Many of the larger studios, even those listed under the owner's or
principal photographer's name (i.e. "John Smith Photography")
may have several or even many photographers in their employ in order
to cover more than one event simultaneously. These photographers are
trained to shoot in the style and custom of the photo artist. Therefore,
you can probably rest assured that you'll get what you see after you
peruse their portfolios. However, it would be most important to request
an interview with the photographer who'll actually be shooting your
film. You might love the studio's photographic style and the person
who plans your photographs, but you could wind up with a hired hand
on your wedding day with whom you're not compatible.
Here are some of the other things you need to think about when meeting
with photographers and planning your wedding portraits and album.
Formal shots of the bride in her wedding gown (or as is more and more
the case nowadays, shots of both the bride and groom) are your most
important photographic souvenir. These photos can be arranged any time
before the wedding to allow for careful planning and a relaxed atmosphere.
These are the photographs from which you'll choose your wedding portrait
for display in your home and the photograph for publication in your
local newspaper. You must decide on a studio setting/backdrop or a "remote"
location (somewhere, outside or inside, other than the photographer's
studio). Flexible schedules for all concerned are a must for an outdoor
BLACK & WHITE OR COLOR?
This is not the big decision it once was. Today, all color negatives
can be printed in both color OR black & white! There is a timelessness
to black and white reproduction that recalls days gone by and a sense
of elegance in the photographic arts. This element is essential as at
least a portion of your wedding album. You can either choose later which
photographs you'd like printed in black and white, or you can set aside
a certain amount of shots for "true" black and white studies.
(In other words, the use of black and white film and techniques for
certain special shots or poses.)
CEREMONY, RECEPTION AND CANDID PHOTOS
This group of photographs begins with preparations for the ceremony
at the bride's home, continues at the ceremony itself, and covers the
reception from formals at a park or other location right through till
the last guest departs.
Careful planning will guarantee you all the shots you'll desire and
give the photographer plenty of time to get everything on film.
Leave enough time before departure to the ceremony for posed shots.
Get ready early and leave about an hour from the time the photographer
arrives until it's time to go. If you don't give him enough time, you
may miss out on many of the shots and poses for which you'll wish you'd
taken the time to shoot later on.
Allot plenty of time between the ceremony and your arrival at the
reception for "formals". These formals differ from the portraits
taken in advance in that they actually are taken on the day of the wedding
itself, but are posed shots and will be the most elegant memento of
your actual wedding day. Pick out your location long in advance, and
if you decide on an outdoor location, make alternate plans for indoor
shooting in the event of inclement weather. Your photographer will know
of many locations, both indoors and outdoors, for great formals.
Sometimes posing for formals can get a little tedious at such an exciting
time, but bear with it and take direction from your photographer. Keep
your wedding party "under control" until the formals are finished.
Remember, these will be the most important photos of the day and there
will be plenty of time to party later on!
Decide in advance how long you'd like the photographer to be present
and make sure the coverage you desire is included in your photography
package. Many photographers will exit the reception early unless arrangements
are made in advance, but that can work to your advantage if price is
a concern. Most professionals have packages available to fit smaller
Photographs are your best record of your special day, from nervous bride
preparing at the house, to the exchange of rings and first kiss, to
the fun and partying at your reception. And in addition to being your
most "portable" memento, they are your most economical when
distributing souvenirs of the wedding to your family and friends. (Could
anyone afford the time and expense of preparing 50 copies of your wedding
video to send out to your guests?)
Choose carefully and early (many of the best photographers are booked
up to 12 and 18 months in advance) and your photographer will provide
you with a worry-free, custom-designed memento of your wedding that's
second to none!