Since starting to put together all these tips for my clients, I’ve noticed that people actually take my suggestions to heart, which makes me a very happy photographer! :) So I’m actually going to stop generalizing and will start giving helpful bits of information for all parts of the day, starting with the first: the getting-ready bit.
I love being a part of the getting-ready portion of your day. I consider it a way for me to get to know you with your best friends and your parents all close together, gossiping while getting makeup done, (or alternatively, watching you drink beer while playing foosball,) and while the energy in the room is heightened and excited.
Much like a singer or an athlete, photographers aren’t always “on.” There is always a tiny bit of a warmup first. I like being a part of the getting-ready photos because I turn my “sight” on and shoot, while you get used to the sound of my shutter clicking. Some clients have told me that they aren’t interested in having photos of the getting-ready portion and I can respect that — not everyone thinks it’s important to have photos of the dress, suit, tie, cufflinks, shoes, veil, etc. — but I know that no one who has opted for the getting-ready has ever regretted asking me to arrive before the ceremony. These photos are always appreciated after the wedding is long done.
So here are my tips for getting the most out of the getting-ready portion of the day.
1. Location: Pick a space with lots of natural light.
Natural light is the most flattering light there is. Consider the difference between beautiful, even, crisp light coming in from giant windows, bathing you in a soft all-over glow, versus a room with no windows and only yellow-tinged overhead lights. Lights that show up only from overhead give us hollows in our eyes, unflattering shadows under our chins, and the yellow tint does nothing for our complexions. Sure, I can bring in umbrellas and off-camera flash, but in an already-crowded room full of people clamoring for their shoes it doesn’t make much sense to bring in a ton of bulky equipment. The best bet for gorgeous photos of the beginning of your day is to ensure that the light is natural and flattering.
2. Timing: The photographer doesn’t have to be there from the very beginning.
Most ladies don’t like to be photographed before their foundation is applied (I know I don’t!). I recommend to my couples that I show up about an hour before any given event is supposed to happen. By the time I arrive, the makeup artist has been there for a while already, and usually we’re on cheeks or eyeshadow. I can take photos of the dress, shoes, jewelry, and other items and get the finishing touches of mascara and lipstick and the final dusting of setting powder before we escape the preparation room. In the gentlemen’s case, their prep is done much faster, so there’s no need to schedule photographers to be there shooting for several hours — just one will do.
3. Proximity: You and your partner should ideally get ready in the same venue.
This is just practicality — the less time we photographers have to use to move between parties, we waste your contracted time less. There are worse things than two photographers being an hour apart, but when I consider possible traffic scenarios and the delays associated with them, I get pretty nervous on your behalf. Plus, by having your partner close to you in the same venue, the “feel” of your photos will be more consistent (similar architecture, hotel wallpaper patterns, lighting, and so on), which is always good for the cohesiveness of your wedding album.
4. Be prepared: Have everything you’d like photographed, set out and ready so that we don’t waste precious time looking for it.
It’s easier on all of us if your getting-ready items are close at hand, not scattered all around the prep room or left in someone’s car. It always pays to be organized, and in this case, we’ll save time and be sure to photograph all your items like your grandfather’s pocket watch, your mother’s borrowed pearls, your gifted handkerchiefs for your wedding party, the shoes you’ll wear, the cufflinks you spent time picking out, and so on. And by not hunting for them so that I can take the photos of them, you are able to focus on you: talking to your friends, finishing your manicure, or what-have-you.
5. Try to keep it as uncluttered as possible.
I know how hectic it is, to have your attendants and your parents and your aunt and your cousins, and your outfits and your shoes, and your makeup and your hair supplies, all jumbled in the same room on your wedding day… So I understand when there are wrappers and plastic bags and purses and wine glasses and whatnot everywhere. But it’s always nice when you attempt to keep it neat. Not just for the safety factor (I can’t tell you how many beer bottles I’ve almost-accidentally knocked over while shooting prep!) but because it makes the photos look better!
I hope this helps! Don’t worry — if you’re a client of mine and have concerns about where you’re thinking of getting ready, please let me know and we can figure it out together!