How to get the perfect wedding photos, according to a professional North East wedding photographer
Rosie Davison shares her advice on how to capture your special wedding day moments. Plus, find out why vegetables are her secret to getting a candid shot...
All brides know that wedding photographs are one of the most important parts of the special day, so we don’t blame you for worrying about getting the perfect snaps for your album.
These are the memories you’ll cherish forever, from as soon as you get them – as they say, your day will go by in a flash after all. That’s why you want to make sure your photographer snaps every photo-op, from the getting-ready photos through to your grand finale off into your happily ever after.
You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s quite a bit of pressure, then, on both you, your partner and your photographer to get the photos you’re happy to display forever more. But, with some savvy planning and guidance from the experts, it’s actually easier than you think to capture beautiful memories that even the most camera-shy couples will proudly have on their walls.
How, you may ask? We’ll refer you to professional North East wedding photographer Rosie Davison, who shares her expert advice…
The ultimate wedding shot list?
From bridal preparation, the ceremony and group photos, to couple portraits, speeches and the evening reception, your big day is broken into stages with key shots of those precious moments. A little extra planning and thought for the finished photograph may help get the ultimate wedding shot list. For example, choosing a bright, clean place to get ready in the morning and checking beforehand if photos can be taken during the ceremony.
I always have a pre-wedding consultation with my couples, as it’s a great chance to build a relationship, to communicate any ideas for specific shots and iron out any worries. For me, an ultimate shot list is if every part of the day runs smoothly, every shot was nailed. But I have made my peace with there’s no such thing as perfection. I would advise my couples to do the same – to go with the flow and enjoy each stage of the day regardless.
How to get a candid shot without looking awkward
I pride myself on taking photographs that are authentic to the couple. At first, I encourage a lot of movement, which helps shake out any stiffness. I’ll give them loose guidance on how to pose, such as making them hold hands, swing their arms, walk towards me, or I’ll ask them to do silly things like whisper their favourite vegetable softly to each other.
The candid moments between the poses are always my favourite shots. It may look romantic, but the couple is probably just whispering ‘parsnip’ softly and then bursting into laughter. On the day, I’d also recommend having something to hold in your hands, such as a bouquet, or putting your hands in pockets, holding hands or helping with your partner’s dress.
Have a practise engagement shoot
An engagement shoot is an excellent way for couples to relax in front of the camera before the wedding day. I find a pre-wedding shoot helps couples know what to expect from me on the wedding day, so it eliminates any nervous energy. They’ll get an idea of how I will pose them, which helps them see beforehand which angles work best for them as a couple and what type of shots they enjoy the most.
Build a relationship with your photographer
In order to capture the true essence of your wedding day, think of your photographer as an old friend rather than a supplier you’ve hired. I have a very privileged job in that I witness the most special moments of a person’s life unfolding right in front of me. Therefore, it’s super important that my clients’ trust me and that we get on.
Once this relationship has been built, you won’t even notice your photographer following you like a shadow and your guard will be down, which allows us to capture the real, unposed moments of the day.
How to calm the nerves when in front of the lens
Camera-shy brides and grooms should try to understand that I’m there to capture your relationship and your memories on the day you got married. I’m truly not expecting a pair of models to turn up.
When a bride or groom is stressed, it’s written on their face. Then the images become a reminder of how tense they felt at that time, which can be a real shame. Relaxed people produce the best photos. My advice would be to go with the flow, let the photographer do the work and pretend I’m not there. Failing that, having a couple of glasses of prosecco always helps!
Things to avoid
Firstly, avoid anything dangerous. Photographs of couples walking on big log piles or teetering on cliff edges put the fear of God into me. I often get couples approaching me with images that they’d like to be recreated on their wedding day. The problem with this expectation is that a sunset image from a styled shoot in Yosemite can’t really be recreated on an overcast Tuesday afternoon in Durham – we’re not miracle workers! It’s best to put these expectations aside and trust your photographer’s creative judgment to guide you through your photoshoot to tease out your personalities.
My other piece of advice would be to really research what style of photography you love. If that involves lots of flash photography, extensive group shots, or overly processed/edited images, I wouldn’t be the right photographer for you, as this isn’t my style. I focus on using natural light and documenting natural moments. There’s a photographer out there for everyone and it certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of job, so make sure you choose a photographer whose images you truly love.
Make sure you have fun
Some of my all-time favourite shots are when couples are up for breaking tradition and trying something new. The more entertainment you provide, the more fun your guests will have and the more things I have to photograph. I love doing a sparkler exit as part of the evening reception. Also, bring your pets. I love seeing dogs being involved – they’re such a big part of your life and family.
One big way to spice up your wedding day photos is to invest in some fun accessories to complement your dress. Items such as a personalised jacket, a wide brim hat, sunglasses and bridal capes help create unique photographs. Lastly, not something I’ve captured at a wedding yet, but I think Champagne towers are a really unique idea and would make for an amazing photo opportunity. Perhaps as a modern twist on the cake cutting shot?