With the leaner months of the wedding season upon us, it’s a perfect time to look back and identify areas in our wedding workflow that could use some improvement. Whether you feel like a better photo could’ve been taken if you had a different lens on you, or if you’ve noticed a trend where you just aren’t getting enough time before the ceremony to capture the photos you want, creativeLIVE instructor Robert Evans shares why emphasis must be given to a proper wedding day workflow.
1) A lot of the groundwork for a successful wedding must be laid during the consultation. Here, it is critical that you listen to your couple. The consultation serves to make them feel comfortable and relaxed without coming off as a hard sell. Get them to talk about themselves, find things in common—personal details, how they met, how he proposed, etc.—then move the conversation towards photography. Discuss what they like or don’t like and encourage the first look if they aren’t familiar. More importantly, suggest but don’t dictate. This will play in significantly to the day’s schedule.
2) During the consultation and in following correspondence, be sure to educate your clients on how to be on time. Go over the things that make them late such as hair and makeup, transportation, the dress/tux, family and bridal party, extended family and special friends. Make sure that each person is accountable for their assigned responsibility. And if you haven’t gone over the timeline with both bride and groom, take the time to remind them at the engagement session.
3) As the professional, be involved with the planning of the timeline, so you can give yourself “time to play.” This timeline, broken down into three hours, is what Robert suggests will be the ideal for all involved to enjoy and have a successful event.
4) Critical to the “time to play” timeline is having the first look. If your couple already wants the first look, skip to number 5. However, if your couple needs some convincing, be sure to present valid arguments. Robert suggests to a) sweet talk your way to “get to play” b) create excitement and calm with your voice c) discuss the pros of seeing each other before, and d) show images of first look moments.
5) Arrive at least one hour prior to the first look to photograph the bride and groom getting ready. This is the time for you to do some quick scouting, taking photos of details, as well as capturing story-telling shots of the bridal party getting ready, laughing, and generally all those emotion-filled moments.
6) Three hours prior to the ceremony, you should be doing the first look. When it comes to location scouting, quickly prioritize first, privacy; second, light; and third, the background of the location. Guide the couple to do these photos completely alone so as to minimize distractions. If the mom or bridesmaids insist, it isn’t a problem, simply have them off to the side, at a distance and out of earshot if possible. Use a longer lens like the 70-200 to give the couple some distance so they can have a few minutes to enjoy this very special moment together.
7) After satisfying the required “parent portraits” (posed, looking in the camera, holding each other, cheek-to-cheek, etc.), now go off and shoot for yourself. Walk around the property with the couple looking for nice light or other inspiration while always having your camera ready to catch any moments that may happen.
8) In the last two hours before the ceremony, it’s time to take photos of immediate family, the bridal party, and the extended family. Be aware of divorces/deaths in the family and ask the couple if they’d like you to concentrate on a favorite family member (usually grandparents). Keep in mind that during family photos, there are a lot of candids happening. Have asystem in place that allows you to quickly and confidently sort through a large group.
9) During the last 20 minutes before ceremony, become a fly on the wall and hangout with the bride wherever she goes. This time usually makes for great emotional photos.
10) Familiarize yourself with the important aspects are of various religious and cultural ceremonies. Respect the ceremony and dress like you’re a guest. Mix up your lenses to get varied scene-setting and tight shots. And obviously, capture all the important moments—that should be a no-brainer.
11) Ten minutes after ceremony, try and take quick photos of the couple alone, hanging out. If you’re in a location that allows (like a beach or garden setting), have them walk down the aisle and keep going—just follow and shoot. They just got married so give them this time to soak in the moment before sending them off to enjoy cocktails with family and friends.
12) While the reception might signify a time for you to relax as well, try to capture the life of the party and the energy. Be sure to communicate with the couple about anything during the reception that may be of significance, especially surprises. Make sure you or your second shooter gets the details beforehand while they are untouched by guests.
Every wedding will be different and present their own unique set of challenges. Communicating with your couple and employing Robert’s “time to play” timeline will not only provide a buffer should things run late, but it’ll also help you get the photos you need to make this wedding the best one yet.