After an initial meeting with new clients who have confirmed they would like me to be their wedding photographer we arrange to meet at their venues to take a look around together and have a short ‘Pre-Wedding Shoot’ of the couple. For me personally as a wedding photographer, and for my clients too, this is an extremely helpful part of preparation in getting the most out of the photography on their special day.
I get SO much out of this and really enjoy spending time with my clients getting to know them a bit more, and building a personal relationship with them, which helps them to feel more relaxed with me. It’s very exciting to walk around the venues with the couple and get a chance to really listen to them and how they feel about their venues, any ideas they may have, and what’s most important to them then I can make sure I capture that really well on the actual day.
I begin with research of the venue/s online – quite often a church or registry office and separate venue for the reception or sometimes all in one venue. As well as location, directions and working out travel timings I like to know as much as possible about the venues. I have a real interest in history of churches and old buildings (especially Norman and older!) which a lot of them are and so I enjoy finding out about that too. Hotel and club websites usually have a ‘weddings’ section with pictures that can be a useful starting point for ideas of locations that work well. Even just ‘images’ search results of venues gets my ideas flowing – assessing common angles already photographed and how can I capture something different, something better?
On arrival at venue – I look for where is the sun in the sky, where will it be on their day at the time? (good to know your East and West!). What will be growing at that time of year – how will the trees and flowers look? If it’s raining – where are there sheltered areas we can do pictures? Good to meet the Vicar or Priest at a Church if possible, so I can know where I will be able to take pictures from and whether they can be taken during the ceremony or not. What will it be like as they walk out of the venue as a newly married couple? Where are best places for me to be to capture that perfectly and where can we do formal group shots etc? How can I make this work best with my lenses and my positioning? I look for nice places and pre-visualise the couple in certain poses that could work well.
I’m careful when choosing locations for couple shots on the venue reccy to make sure I don’t duplicate shots too much – saving my favourite ones for the actual day. Whilst photographing the couple I can get a feel for how they are in front of the lens – it’s good to see how they interact with each other; are they naturally touchy-feely, or will they need more guidance from me in how to stand and arms and hands placement etc? They also get a feel for what it will be like having pictures taken on the day and having had me guide them through some practice poses they can begin to feel much more relaxed about it.
The couple can also then possibly use some of these pictures as general portraits for home and family, or for wedding stationery, wedding day slide show or mounted pic for guests to sign during evening reception.
I believe the difference between wedding photography and great wedding photography relies on a good emotional understanding of the individuals involved and knowing what is important to them for me to capture. A couple’s wedding is all about their love for each other and the important guests they have invited to share their day. Having a good relationship with them is important as you are sharing in that intimacy. A wedding day can be quite fast and intense with emotions running high and as the photographer, you are there throughout it all, which requires patience and understanding. I have a natural empathy for how people are and I am able to act accordingly and appropriately.