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Picture Perfect

Photographers Reflect Your Style

You have the ring. The reception site is booked, and you’re shopping for the perfect gown. Now is the ideal time to start working on your relationship. With your photographer, that is.

The eyes and ears of your day, your photographer will be responsible for capturing the experience for you to treasure for years, even generations, to come.

Sarah Hagerty of Hagerty Photography sums it up like this: “You’ll get the most out of your meeting with a prospective photographer if you know your wedding style going into it. The best photographers will embrace your unique sense of style and make your vision come to life again each time you open your wedding album.”

Getting started on the images in the album means really spending some time getting to know the person documenting that day.

“My job as a photographer is to be both an artist and a family historian,” observes Stuart Thurlkill of Eyes 2 See Photography. “Getting to know the bride and groom is the most important part of my business. It is so critical to hear how a couple fell in love and why they are starting a life together.”

Getting to know your photography team on a personal level, and sharing your personalities and goals with your photographer are absolutely essential prior to your wedding day. Do you desire a coffee table book of traditional portraits? Are candid party shots important to you? It’s vital to know your style and convey your feelings to your chosen professional ahead of time.

A couple should feel comfortable with their photography team. After all, you will spend more time with your photographer than anyone else on your wedding day. And we all want the bride to be comfortable--because you know your photographs will reflect exactly how you were feeling.

Your pre-wedding relationship with a photographer makes a tremendous difference in your happiness with the finished products. After all, you want to be comfortable as you’re smiling at the person behind the camera. Feeling that he or she knows you and your personality goes a long way--and you know that this is the person who will suggest settings and poses that will reflect your style.

One way to develop that bond with your wedding photographer is through an engagement photo session. These sessions yield great pictures of you and your sweetie, of course, but they have the added value of cementing your relationship with your photographer. Some couples choose to highlight a favorite hobby, such as horseback riding or golf during these sessions, offering a window into their personalities. Engagement shoots help build trust and confidence in your photography team, resulting in a better relationship and more comfort on your wedding day.

“By the time our brides and grooms begin their happily-ever-after, we’re just as much their friends as their photographers, ” Sarah Hagerty of Hagerty Photography sums it up like this: “You’ll get the most out of your meeting with a prospective photographer if you know your wedding style going into it. The best photographers will embrace your unique sense of style and make your vision come to life again each time you open your wedding album.” says Hagerty.

Underwater Bride

When your special day or night arrives, you should be comfortable in front of the camera. The photographers we’ve spoken with stress the importance of having a schedule to keep the day on track. Your wedding coordinator and photographer can help quite a bit in establishing a schedule that takes into account your photography goals and your desire to have fun on your wedding day.

Most photographers can give you an estimate of what time he or she will need for certain groups to be photographed. The bride and groom would do well have a list of “shots” they have their hearts set on.

Enlisting help for those group shots you will want in your album is a good idea, since your photographer or even your wedding coordinator may not know who all your relatives are. The more organized you are ahead of time, the smoother the process will go. And ultimately, the happier you will be with your photography.

Katrina Wallace of Sedona Bride adds: “We find that taking images of extended family during the reception helps break up time spans so there is more time to enjoy the day and get more opportunities for candid images. I don’t think I’ve known any bride that said they want to pose for an hour of family pictures.”

A schedule will ensure that there is adequate time to get images of all the friends and relatives who’ve come to celebrate with you, but don’t forget to schedule some time for the two of you as a couple. Many couples have remarked that their wedding day went by like a blur, and that they spent very little time together. Newlyweds will treasure a few minutes alone to reflect on their commitment to each other. Many couples slip out between the ceremony and the reception, when the guests are enjoying some libations, to have some photographs taken together and maybe steal a kiss.

Most wedding professionals will agree that if you don’t schedule it, it won't happen. One of our photographer friends once told us that weddings are like a train, and once they get going it is hard to stop and go backward. This is definitely the case with wedding photographs. You can’t go back and get the images you wish you had, so confidence in your photographer is truly key.

An important consideration in forming your photography plan is deciding whether or not you will see your intended prior to the ceremony. Some traditions deem it “bad luck” to see each other prior to the wedding, but change may be afoot on this very personal issue. More and more couples are choosing to take a little “together time” prior to their exchange of vows and their photographers are more than happy to be a part of those heartwarming moments. Newlyweds report these private moments help fend off pre-ceremony butterflies.

Meeting before the ceremony may be one of the few times of the day when you’ll have a minute alone.

Thurlkill offers this on the “flip side” of the discussion: “Some people desire a very traditional moment at the altar where the bride and groom meet for the first time. We want to honor that (if that is their decision) and capture images that reflect their wishes.” “Whether it is before the ceremony or after, be sure to invest some time together so your photographer can get some really beautiful and genuine moments together,” advise Andrew Mejia and Katrina Wallace of Sedona Bride.

And speaking of investments, be sure to have a contract that you feel comfortable with. Contracts will ensure that couples get the most of their time and budgetary resources. Be clear in your expectations, and put your desires in writing. It’s nearly impossible to compare photographer packages from a financial perspective, as their products and areas of expertise vary so widely.

Professional photographers suggest that relationship and style drive your purchasing decision in this area, and for good reason: You can always go back and purchase additional photographs or albums after your wedding, but you can’t return to that day and choose a different photographer. If the photographs you want aren’t there, you can’t purchase them.

And this takes us back to the relationship. Thurlkill sums it up very well when he says, “Make sure you make an investment in a photographer that has great talent, but that is also a professional in dealing with you and your fiance. You want to find someone who will put your guests at ease and will keep things fun while sticking to the schedule and staying out of the way.”

Says Hagerty, “Your wedding day is filled with moments of magic that happen in the blink of an eye and will never happen again.”

And so it goes with your wedding day. Make an investment in choosing your partner and then dive right in!

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