Wedding photography is a challenging yet rewarding profession that requires both technical expertise and creative finesse. Most couples don’t know about the countless hours and endless sacrifices made by their photographers behind the lens. As someone who has been in the wedding photography industry for years, I want to shed some light on the untold truths that many photographers are hesitant to share. So, like the title of this popular post, here are 20 things wedding photographers wish you knew…
1 | BOOK EARLY!
It’s very common for wedding photographers to be booked a year or more in advance. People tend to book their venue, then the wedding photographer. Occasionally, we may have availability in our schedules for late bookings, but that’s very rare, especially for photographers who only accept a limited number of weddings per season. So, once you find the photographer you want, BOOK THEM before it’s too late!
2 | YOU’RE SO EXPENSIVE! CAN I GET A DISCOUNT?
We get it – weddings are expensive. You are spending so much money already on the venue, the food, the flowers, the dress, the decor, and everything else and you just can’t wrap your head around why wedding photos cost so damn much. Well, let’s think about this one for a sec…
Once the wedding is over, once the food is gone and the flowers are dead and you got to wear that fancy dress for the first and last time, do you seriously want to cut the cost for the one thing that will immortalize all the beauty and moments of your wedding day?!? Contrary to popular belief, photographers are not just snapping pictures. A wedding photographer is so much more than someone who just shows up on your wedding day with a camera and “pushes a button.” That would be too easy! And let’s be real…anyone can do that!
Weddings are unpredictable and things can go wrong even with meticulous planning. If the lighting, weather or other circumstances are not ideal, we have to constantly adapt and adjust to changing circumstances. This is why it’s crucial to hire a professional for the job who can still make the most of a situation. Please understand that photography is an investment and our prices reflect our experiences, expertise, and equipment. We put in a tremendous amount of effort, time, and work (that goes beyond the wedding day) and our equipment is expensive and requires regular maintenance. Our job is also physically demanding – we carry heavy equipment and are on our feet for hours.
We understand that you want to save money wherever you can. However, cutting corners on photography is not the answer. Instead of trying to get a discount (gosh, we really hate that word!) try asking to set-up a payment plan instead so that you can still get the beautiful photos that you want in a more feasible way.
3 | GIVE US TIME
Photographers dream to have more hours in a day. There just aren’t enough! It would be super ideal if we could get back to you within 5 minutes of you contacting us. However, that doesn’t always happen because we just aren’t robots and we’re not always going to be readily available. Most of us are a one person team running a substantial amount of business to stay afloat. And keep in mind, we could be out photographing another session or wedding (you’re not our only clients). Not to mention, some of us have families too. We will eventually get back to you when we have a moment (even if it is a few days or so later). And if you don’t hear back within a reasonable amount of time, feel free to follow-up in case we missed your message (we are only human after all).
Oh and on the wedding day, we understand that you don’t want to spend your entire wedding taking photos. We get it, we really do, and most of us are not trying to turn your wedding day into a photo shoot. But remember, certain events on your wedding day may take more time than you think and we can’t make hours of pictures happen in minutes. We’re good, but we’re not that good! The photographs will be better if no hurrying is involved. So, please give us sufficient enough amount of time for pictures in your timelines.
Also, if there’s a moment that presents itself – like a beautiful sunset – and we’re trying to whisk you away for a few minutes, go for it! You never know, that extra 5-minute impromptu might end up being your favorite shot. Talented photographers have an eye for those sorts of things. All in all, just know that we aren’t miracle workers – if your timeline is too tight, we can only do so much. So, be flexible and give us enough time.
4 | PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE CONSIDER DOING AN ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Having an engagement session with your wedding photographer is a fantastic way to get to know each other better. Plus, you get to see how your photographer directs and interacts with you before the big day. They are especially helpful (for me) to see if one of you has a Chandler smile that needs to be remedied before the wedding.
Just a FRIENDLY REMINDER: There are several other opportunities to work with your photographer before the wedding day as well (i.e. bridal session, boudoir session, bachelorette party, and rehearsal dinner). Take advantage of it! Investing time with your photographer before your big day is super beneficial in helping them tailor their photography to your unique personalities, ensuring that every shot reflects your love story in the most authentic way.
5 | BE ORIGINAL
You hired us based on OUR style and skill, right? Presenting us with a long list of “must have” shots that you found online or a print out of Pinterest poses that you want us to “copy” will only hinder us from getting creative. This is real life, not Pinterest. Consider letting your day unfold naturally and let us do our thing without micromanaging us. As professionals, we already know what to do – this is our job after all. With that said, we also aren’t mind readers. We still need you to communicate any key moments you’d like us to capture. We need to understand your vision and preferences to deliver personalized and meaningful images. Therefore, take the time to communicate with us before the wedding day about any special requests or surprises so that we can be prepared (as we are one of the need-to-knows).
Also, trust our judgement! If we ask you to move somewhere else for a shot, or suggest a particular pose or background, there is a reason for it.
6 | GET PROFESSIONAL HAIR AND MAKEUP DONE
Being a photographer has made me appreciate proper hair styling and makeup application, and I highly suggest hiring a professional. You should want to look your absolute best on one of the most important days of your life. So, make that appointment (and do a trial run beforehand, just in case). Maybe even consider doing your bridal session the same day as your trial run, so your beautiful look doesn’t go to waste. The way you look will reflect greatly on how you like your photos, so make sure you look the best version of yourself. Professional makeup artists know the ins and outs of applying makeup that will look good in the day time and night time (with flash photography). Main thing is…you don’t want to flash back.
7 | TIDY UP A BIT
When you know we’ll be arriving at a certain time for your getting ready photos and detail shots on your wedding day, don’t forget to have everything we need set aside and clean up your space. Packages of food lying around, soda cans, and suitcases with your bridesmaids clothes all over the place, does not make for nice photos…and we are not your maids.
8 | TELL MR. PERSONALITY TO SUCK IT UP
If your groom hates taking pictures, have “the talk” with him before the wedding. No amount of whining or “I don’t want to do this anymore!” is helpful in the least bit. It isn’t going to kill him to just smile and make it work.
9 | YOUR DRESS IS PROBABLY GOING TO GET DIRTY
Just “Let It Go” (yup, that song is SO stuck in your head right now, isn’t it?). Yes, it’s important to keep your wedding dress clean…to a point. But know that this is the only day you’re ever going to wear it (unless of course you’re planning to force your future daughter to wear it for her wedding in a couple decades). Freaking out over letting the bottom of it drag (which no one will ever see) and losing picture opportunities is way worse!
10 | WE’RE NOT MAGICIANS
Did you hire us to be your magician or photographer because last we checked, we were photographers. Please don’t assume that we can just “fix it in photoshop.” And if you do make such a request, expect to pay extra for the service because that does take extra time and skill.
11 | KINDNESS
It doesn’t cost a damn thing. Let’s just sprinkle that shit around like confetti. Keep in mind, shooting a wedding in the middle of July, outside in the humid sun, is painstakingly hot.
So, be extra kind. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for us to try to capture those moments of bliss, peace, and overwhelming happiness if they aren’t there. It helps to take a deep breath and just relax. Don’t let the day get the better of you. And remember, no amount of photoshop can fix “bitch.”
As wedding photographers, we’ve seen it all, from surprise rainstorms to unexpected meltdowns. Although we can’t control the weather, rainy days can provide some beautiful opportunities for unique and creative photos. Embrace the unexpected moments you can’t control – it can make for the most authentic and emotional photos.
12 | CONSIDER DOING A FIRST LOOK
A “first look” is when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony. I know, I know! But seriously, the not-seeing-each-other-beforehand thing is SO overrated! As a photographer who has documented hundreds of weddings over the years, I can say with complete certainty that the hours on a wedding day move rather quickly. This is why maximizing the time a bride and groom have together is so important.
A couple of important things to note…No, it doesn’t change anything when he first sees you at the end of the aisle because that’s when shit gets real. A first look is simply a private moment between the both of you on one of the most important days of your life and is an experience all its own. If anything, it just adds to the excitement of the day. I’ve seen grooms during a first look (where even their bride-to-be’s didn’t expect them to shed a single tear), be able to let their guard down and they couldn’t hold back their tears. It’s such a beautiful thing to witness. Sometimes they have their guard up so much in front of all their guests during the ceremony that they just don’t allow themselves to even go there.
Photographers want to have the time to capture and document the love between a couple the way it is meant to be captured – pure and uninhibited. A “first look” before the wedding ceremony offers this opportunity. So, no pressure, but we highly want you to consider it. That way, you can also make it to your cocktail hour and spend more time with your guests because the majority of your important pictures will be out of the way before the ceremony.
13 | CONSIDER HAVING AN UNPLUGGED CEREMONY
You’ve invited your closest friends and family to witness your marriage take place, not build their photography portfolio. We understand that your guests want to take photos too, but they can’t be fully in the moment if they are busy taking pictures with their cell phones, iPads, and cameras. I know we are a technology driven society, but trust me, the images we capture for you will be much better than theirs, so please ask them not to get in the way. Consider letting your guests know that you have hired a professional and are having an unplugged ceremony and to just leave their devices in the car. This way, we can get the shots we need without having to dodge your Uncle Bob’s huge iPad in the middle of the aisle during your first kiss.
14 | SLOW DOWN
Don’t rush during your recessional! Walk slowly. Savor these fleeting moments. And make your first official kiss really last. Cool points to those couples who do 2-3 kisses in a row and then kissing again at the end of your recessional.
15 | WE DON’T KNOW YOUR FAMILY
Yes, we know…you gave us a list with peoples names on it. We should know that you need a picture with your Uncle Kenny from Arkansas. The problem is, we have no fricken clue who your Uncle Kenny is amongst the 200 guests at your wedding. We are not your coordinators. If an image with Uncle Kenny is of importance, just take a minute or two, hunt down Uncle Kenny for us (or better yet, designate a friendly Uncle Kenny finder), and let’s make it happen! Appointing someone who can put faces to names and organize the group shots will make the family formals go a whole lot quicker and will save us time.
16 | TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY DRAMA BEFORE THE BIG DAY
On one of my very first weddings I photographed I had the grooms father and mother take pictures together. I wondered why his mother was getting snippety whenever his father got too close and I would jokingly say “Come on you two, make like you love each other.” Later, I was informed that the two were divorced years ago and the mother can’t stand the father. It was a big foot-in-the-mouth moment for me, but it could have been prevented had I been told about the family dynamics prior to the wedding.
Another wedding I photographed, the brides father had been married 4x over. The bride, bless her heart, invited every single one of his ex-wives to the wedding, knowing that his new wife and her mother were going to be at the wedding too. Those family formals were awk-ward to say the least and a tad bit confusing.
Before the wedding, jot down a few things your photographer ought to know ahead of time and designate someone who knows everyone on your family formal list. Help a sista out! It will prevent any unnecessary awkwardness. Take it from someone who once assumed the bride’s sister was her grandmother. Yeah, that was fun!
17 | A FED PHOTOGRAPHER = A HAPPY PHOTOGRAPHER
We plan our entire day around your wedding and are often traveling for hours on end to get from point a, to point b, to point c. Yes, we’ll be thirsty! Yes, we’ll take that snack you’re offering! And yes, we prefer a hot meal since we’re not in our comfy home to enjoy one that night. It’s actually beneficial to you, the client, if we are fed when you are and not after everyone else. Typically, we have to stop eating to capture toasts (and more often than not, return to our little nook to find someone took our untouched plate). If we can slam some grub before dinner is fully served, we’ll be ready once the festivities begin again and we won’t have to scrounge for leftover salads and bread or be passed out in the corner because all we’ve eaten all day/night were cocktail cherries.
18 | YOU WILL NOT GET EVERY PICTURE WE TOOK
You will not receive every 👏 single 👏 photo 👏 we took at your wedding. We don’t do this to be jerks. Even as professionals, not every picture we take is a winner. Some are downright unflattering. Some have bad light. Sometimes the flash hasn’t recycled yet and didn’t fire. This is why we take a series of photos in just about every situation. We’re working towards that one particular shot until we get it right. This is why we cull and edit. We take great care in customizing your collection of images and believe me, we didn’t get rid of anything that is integral to your day.
And yes, this is real. Even the Queen B isn’t perfect all of the time. Who is though?
FRIENDLY REMINDER: We value QUALITY > QUANTITY because we believe that having a few hundred awesome images is much better than having thousands of not-so-awesome ones.
19 | PULEEEEZE BE PATIENT
There are likely other clients sessions ahead of yours in our editing queues. Yes we know, you are just SUPER EXCITED to see them. Well, so are they. Heck, I am too! Give us time to get to it and work on it. We’re juggling multiple clients and deadlines. Respect the process and realize that once we are completed with the work, you’ll be able to enjoy them for the rest of your lives! We take our work very seriously and put our heart and soul into every wedding shoot we do. We want to provide you the best possible outcome and quality does take time. So, your patience is much appreciated.
p.s. RUSH ORDERS are typically available for an additional fee. Ask your photographers about this ahead of time if you simply have zero patience or just can’t wait but please don’t hound them.
20 | PLEASE REMEMBER TO GIVE US PHOTO CREDIT
Behind every beautiful wedding you see online and in magazines is a hardworking photographer, and their journey deserves to be recognized and appreciated. Our work doesn’t end after delivering your photos – we cherish the relationships we build with our clients. Aside from contacting us again for your 1-year anniversary pictures or annual family photos, the best compliment that you can bestow upon us is to tell all your friends, family, and colleagues about us. I LOVE LOYAL CLIENTS and I’m happy to have many of them. When sharing your photos on social media, please remember to link back to us and give us proper photography credit for a job well done. And if one of your BFF’s are engaged, we’d love a shout out or an introduction. Rockin’ Reviews, Photo Credits, and Referrals go a long way in my book! And if you do any of these I will give you a discount off your next wedding!
All in all, what most of us want are chill, easy-to-work-with couples who are happy on their day. Couples who have realistic expectations…and don’t call us “Hey you!” We all want to have an awesome time…and now you have the inside scoop on how to make that happen! You’re welcome!