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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 spend.

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 presence.

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 shot.


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.)


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 budgets.

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!

Carla Blackenwhite

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