From Cris: A fabulous guest postf rom y'all from the fabulous wedding photographer, Casey Fatchett. Casey Fatchett has been photographing weddings and events in New York City and worldwide for over 10 years. His work has been featured on numerous wedding blogs and in publications such as The Knot Magazine, The New York Times, and Professional Photographers of America. He recently got married himself and is also a really bad hip-hop dancer.
After a couple books their wedding photographer, there tends to be a bit of confusion as to what to do next. Depending on how far in advance you sign your contract, there might be a lot of downtime, but that does not mean that there is not some planning to do. Remember, planning ahead means better photos and less stress on the day of the wedding. So what can you do?
I know that there are literally hundreds of ‘checklists’ out there for couples to look at, questions to ask when they meet with photographers as well as ‘shot lists’. These lists are pretty generic, so I am going to discuss some specific things to do before the wedding that will help you get better photos and avoid stress. (Aside: While this is written from the perspective of wedding photos, it also applies to pretty much any scheduled photo shoot – engagement photos, family portraits, headshots, etc.)
1. Be very clear about who you MUST have pictures of at the wedding and assign a ‘point person’
So, you haven’t seen your Uncle Joe in years and you really want to have some great shots of him at your wedding. Well, your photographer might not know who Uncle Joe is, let alone recognize him. So discuss who the VIP’s are with your photographer and assign someone who knows who they are to point them out on the day of the wedding. This could be a member of the bridal party, another family member, a close friend – as long as it is not you! You have enough things to deal with on the day of your wedding. They will also help corral people during the family/group portrait portion of the wedding day.
And when it comes to the group photos, every couple is different – so don’t assume that your photographer will know which groups of people you want to have your pictures taken with!
2. Tell your photographer about any potential ‘friction’ between guests
Parents divorced and don’t talk to one another? Two sides of the family make the Hatfields and McCoys look tame? One group of friends still mad at another faction for alleged cheating in a trivia contest 8 years ago and won’t let it go? It would be best to let your photographer know so they don’t try to get these people or groups together for a picture at any point on your wedding day. The resulting drama could put a damper on things.
3. Streamline your shot-list
They say that if you love some one, set them free. Show your photographer some love and free up that overwhelming generic shot-list and include the things that are really important to you. If your photographer is really worth their salt, and I hope they are, they will know to get pictures of the first kiss, the first dance, cake cutting – so you probably don’t need to put those on your list . If your photographer is particularly on the ball, they might use a smartphone app such as “SECONDSHOOTR” to organize your “must have” photos and information.
If there is something that has particularly special meaning to you (“I am hanging cameos of my grandparents on the ribbon of my bouquet,” or “My mom did all of the flower arrangements.”), discuss it with your photographer so they can focus extra attention those things. (Ha! Focus! Sorry, excuse the terrible pun.)
Also, if there is something out of the ordinary happening (“We are doing a ‘death-drop’ dip at the end of the first dance!” or “Oh, did I mention we are going to take a flamethrower to the wedding dress at the end of the night?”), let your photographer know about it before the wedding so they can plan appropriately and get the best shot of it.
(caveat: if your photographer does not have much experience, it would be best to give them the full list just to be safe)
4. Talk to your photographer about how much posing you do or don’t want to do when you say “I Do”!
Okay, I admit, I used the word ‘do’ way to much in that sentence. Moving on, each couple has their own feelings about posing. Some people love to do it, others are uncomfortable with it. You need to talk to your photographer about whether your portraits (by yourself, as a couple, with your wedding party, etc) are going to be candid or arranged/posed. While you may want candid shots of most of the day, when it comes to the portraits you might want some Vogue-esque lighting and glamour. Or you might not want your photographer directing you at all and if they start telling you how to pose it might make you feel uncomfortable and that comes through in your pictures. Either way, your photographer will need to be prepared, both in regards to equipment and mental readiness, for whatever type of photos you are looking for – so be sure to discuss it with them.
5. Get on Pinterest!
Okay, Pinterest can be a little bit addicting – it is easy to get lost in the endless parade of pictures. However, I cannot think of a better way to communicate your personal aesthetic to your photographer (and other vendors, for that matter) than by sharing other pictures that you like. That way, your photographer knows what YOU like and can plan appropriately. They can also let you know if what you are imagining is practical or not. So add your photographer on Pinterest and share your ideas with them!
I hope you found this post helpful – now get out there and get planning!