Getting the photos you want is all about communication.
Your wedding photos are there to serve as a beautiful memorial to one of the most important days of your life. To ensure that these photos are an accurate reflection of you, your day, and your love for each other you need to find a photographer whose work you love, whose style meshes with yours, and whom you trust. And when you've done that, you need to communicate with her or him about your likes and dislikes, your hopes and your fears, and about your 'Uncle Bob' and his camera obsession.
Mike Rickard of Narshada Photography always recommends that the bride and groom sit down with their photographer in advance of the big day to discuss just what they want from their wedding photos. I sat down with him to discuss just what the bride and groom need to consider.
1. Are there any shots that you especially want?
Your wedding is (meant to be) a once-in-a-lifetime event. If there's a particular photo or photos that you desperately want, tell your photographer about it at your pre-wedding meeting. These photos could be anything from you with your aunt who is your favourite person in the world, to the favours which you made yourself, to you both sitting on a swing in the grounds of the venue because that's where he proposed. If the photographer doesn't know that these are significant to you, she or he won't be able to capture them.
But, at the same time, you hired your photographer because you trust in her or his professionalism. Don't go overboard. They'll have ideas, too and they'll definitely know what does and doesn't work. You don't need to tell them how to do their jobs!
Mike recommends that you think carefully about your guests and with whom you want photos to ensure that it is a personal record of your day. 'Don't just download a shot list from the internet and hand it over to your photographer! Discuss your ideas.'
2. Are there any shots that you particularly don't want?
Someone I love dearly has scarring on her left cheek of which she's very conscious. None of her wedding photos betray this because she communicated it to her wedding photographer in advance of the day.
There are some shots that I think are cringeworthy and wouldn't want anywhere near my (highly unlikely) wedding album. That would be something I'd want to tell my (imaginary) wedding photographer, but just as with the shots that you do want, don't become too didactic. Trust your photographer to get it right.
3. What's your timetable for the day?
Having a clear timetable for your day is vitally important to ensuring that everything you want to happen, happens. This includes building time into your schedule for some quiet bride-and-groom photos and for formal shots if you want them. The photographer knowing the timetable means that she or he can capture all of the events and moments, too.
You don't want to feel rushed or stressed, or miss out on anything significant. Try to think of everything, and include some buffer zones in case anything over-runs. As Mike says, it's easier to fill time than have to try to make it up.
4. Are there any planned quirks or surprises?
Have you seen Love Actually? No? Okay, well when Keira Knightley's and Chiwetel Ejiofor's characters are walking back down the aisle after their ceremony they're serenaded by a choir and some of their musically-inclined guests. It was a surprise organised by the best man. It's the sort of surprise that the photographer would prefer to know about in advance so they wouldn't miss it.
Whatever the surprise–from a foxtrot routine to a fireworks display–and whoever organises it (bride, groom, best man, sister), make sure the photographer knows. The better prepared and informed the photographer is, the better the photos will be.
5. Does the venue or your plans have any lighting idiosyncrasies?
A good photographer should be able to cope with any lighting oddities, from candle-light to no flash to changing colours. But if you've anything planned, let her or him know. They can plan and be prepared for these lighting quirks, which will be reflected in the photos.
6. Is there anything that the photographer needs to know about your family or other guests?
Did the groom's parents undergo a bitter divorce and will this be the first time they've set foot in the same room in nineteen years? Is your grandmother quite frail? While divulging some of this highly personal information can feel deeply intrusive, it will prevent the photographer from making uncomfortable or even impossible requests on the day and help to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
7. A point of contact for the day
'It's vital to give the photographer a point-of-contact for the wedding day,' says Mike. This can be a cousin or close family friend, but it needs to be someone who knows you and your families, can marshal people if necessary, and can get the photographer anything she or he might need.
8. The names of your caterer, florist, make-up artist...
Mike told me: 'It might sound a little over-the-top, but it really does help us if we know the other professionals who'll be working to make your wedding day special.'
9. Are you happy to be experimental and adventurous?
'Photographers often have good ideas that they'd love to try, but it depends on the couple. If you're willing to be a little adventurous or brave or different, tell us!' is Mike's advice. By trusting your photographer and having a little creative fun, you could find yourself with an unusual album of photos that truly captures your personalities, the spirit of your wedding day, and hopefully of your marriage, too.
10. How will you be looking at these photos years from now?
Mike always discusses with the bridal couple how they anticipate looking at their wedding photos years from now. 'Digital files are always popular, but will they just languish on a hard-drive, rarely being looked at?' You don't have to have an album, which might well sit on a shelf, not being looked at, either. 'How about some wall art?'