Recommendations on How to Plan For Your Wedding Photography

Planning a wedding means making a lot of decisions. One of the most important decisions is how the wedding will be photographed and by whom. Based upon my 20+ years of wedding photography in Kansas and surrounding states, I have prepared 5 key points that will help keep your wedding photography planning on track.

An important part of that planning process is the selection and communication with the wedding photographer.

What kind of coverage do you want?

Wedding photography styles generally fall into three categories: photojournalist, traditional, or a combination of both. Traditional photographers will tend to work with more posed images, and have great skills in lighting and working with groups of people. A photographer who is a photojournalist will document the day from a guest’s perspective, and will work to capture more of the day’s emotions and all the behind-the-scenes action. The photojournalist will rely more upon the natural lighting of the venue and less on creating the perfect look.

A hot trend for modern brides is to go solely for the photojournalistic style of photography. Personally, I think this is a mistake. Your wedding day is also a day to record the family as it was on the day that you got married. You decorated the venue, picked the dress and the tux, and you want to make sure those are captured as a part of your wedding day. 

Interview Wedding Photographers

The work of the photographer is obviously very important. When you talk to a photography studio make sure that the work you are looking at was created by the photographer you are interviewing. Many studios use contract photographers who will work to emulate the studio’s style.

Another consideration is: does the photographer fit with your personality. Even if you are selecting a photojournalist who will be taking no formal photographs, you still want to meet the photographer and feel comfortable with him/them. They will be seen by your guests and you need to feel that they are a good fit for the temperament of you and your family.

Communicate What You Want in Writing

One of the most important things you need to do when planning your wedding photography is to communicate what you want with your wedding photographer. Many wedding photographers will have a shot list that they can give you to help you plan the wedding day. This list is a great start, but it is generic and does not show the special images that reflect who you are or the uniqueness of the wedding venue.

The reason you want to provide this communication in writing is so the photographer can have it with them during the wedding. You may think you will remember to make a request at the wedding, but will you?

While it’s “Your Day”, it is also recommended that you review the list with your Groom and all parents. This extra step will give them a chance to add to the list; when you provide it to the photographer, it will be more complete and last minute changes will be reduced.

Plan the Schedule to Allow Enough Time

Way too often the schedule does not allow for time for photographs. For example, if you are a traditionalist, and want to have the formal photographs taken after the wedding, you will need to allow enough time. If the thirty-minute ceremony starts at 6:00, don’t have the limo arrive at 6:30 so you can be at the reception by 7:00. It won’t work. Photographs will need to be cut or the limo and caterer will need to wait.

The “before-the-wedding” schedule planning is very critical. Brides often schedule hair and nail appointments too close to the time they need to be at the church. These sessions can often run late for a variety of reasons. Allow a little extra time for that problem styling or nail. It is better to have a little down time to socialize than to be rushed.

Another common area where the after-wedding planning can go wrong is with the DJ. If you have purchased a 5-hour package from the photographer, be sure that the DJ knows that key traditional photos need to take place before the photographer is scheduled to leave.

Know The Costs

While this seems somewhat elementary, you will want to make sure that what you are expecting to receive from the photographer is spelled out and in writing. Photographers do not mean to be misleading, but misunderstanding can happen. If you are expecting to have 4 hours of coverage, a finished wedding album with 20 pages and two parents albums, make sure it is spelled out in plain English. If there are potential extra charges for something like overtime or change of location, make sure those charges are spelled out on the agreement.

If the photographer can’t provide a simple plain English statement of costs and deliverables you should reconsider not using that photographer. Yes, there can be variables, but those variables should be able to be stated and written down.