Wedding Photographs Start in the Mind
| Wedding Ceremony | Wedding
couple wants great photos of their wedding. That’s
a given. And it doesn’t take a great deal of thought to
work out that the quality of the photos is going to
depend on the skill of the photographer(s). But
you all know that. And definitely there are lots of
really great photographers out there, each with their
own style, which is directly influenced by their own
Because I stand to the side of the couple for most of
the ceremony, I get a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ view of the
photographer during the processional, throughout the
ceremony, during the signing, during the recessional,
when guests are congratulating the couple, the group
photo and the first family/bridal party photos. I
inwardly applaud when I see the photographer in tune
with the emotions of the day - and I see that a lot -
but my heart aches when I see missed photo-opportunities
because of the mind-set of the photographer (this
usually happens when the photographer has a mental list
of standard shots)
Some examples of missed photos
- The flower girl walking carefully down the aisle
(got that one) and then launching herself at the
groom with delight all over her face, grabbing his
leg, and the loving interaction between them (missed
all of those because he’d got the set shot and
wasn’t even looking).
- The mothers lighting the unity candle (got that
one), and then coming together in front of the table
to give each other a warm hug (missed that one
because he was checking the set photo on his camera)
- Each of the bridesmaids being warmly greeted by
the groom when they have walked towards him before
veering off to the side to stand in place, waiting
for the bride (missed completely)
- The exchanges of loving glances between the bride
and groom during the vows (missed completely (had
taken one photo of the face of each individually and
then wandered away, so no photo of the couple
together while making their vows).
- The best man presenting the rings (stood in the
aisle with an uninterrupted view but that shot
obviously wasn’t on the list of set shots).
Clearly, good photos start with a clear understanding
of the mindset of the photographer. Make sure
that you choose one who understands that to capture
the joy of the day the photos need to record the
emotions—not just the dresses, and posed groups.
But you can’t leave it at that. This is not a
fashion shoot. Of course, having spent a fortune
on clothes, shoes and flowers you want those recorded,
but that’s all it is, a record. The photos that will
in later years recreate the emotion of the day will be
the ones that capture your joy, not the stiff, formal
The mindset of the marrying couple on the day is
When you are having the formal shots taken, use
mind-power to create the expressions on your face. A
photographer taught me years ago is don’t say cheese,
. It is true everyone’s mouth forms
the same smile as cheese but their eyes light up too. I
had one groom who was incredibly nervous. Even at the
signing it was showing on his face and the photographer
was having difficulty getting him to smile. So I said
quietly, “David, yell knickers”. He looked startled for
a split second and then threw his head back and roared
with laughter. Magic photo, capturing the joy and
exhilaration of the moment, and the day.
So how can you create such moments for yourselves?
During the before ceremony portraits can be particularly
difficult. You’re nervous, unsure of yourselves, and
that can show on your faces. Forget the wistful neutral
expression while gazing at your bouquet. Anticipate the
ceremony. Think about the promises your beloved is going
to make to you. Relive the proposal in your mind—and
your emotions when the answer was yes.
During the ceremony experience your happiness. And don’t
be too shy to express your feelings with a touch, with
eye contact, with a big smile. It adds magic for
everyone there, not just the photos.
During the formal after-ceremony photos, talk about
the ceremony to each other. Relive the special moments:
- The reaction of the guests to the things you said
to each other and those I, as your celebrant, shared
- Share what you felt as you were about to walk down
the aisle or as you stood and watched your beloved
walk towards you.
- Repeat a powerful statement from your vows—and do
it with all the fervour and conviction of actually
- Tell your beloved how you felt when the ring was
slipped on your finger
- Think about those people you wished could be at
your ceremony, but weren’t—it might make you a
little teary, but that’s good too.
- Talk a little bit dirty (you’ll need to be
discreet but nothing will make your eyes sparkle
- Have a laugh about anything that didn’t go to plan
(something always does) - and enjoy the moment. It
created a unique wedding memory and deserves to be
recounted and enjoyed, after all, you’re married
now, and that is all that counts.
- When having photos taken with family members, say
something loving to them—thank your parents,
reminisce with your siblings, tell your grandparents
how important they are.
In years to come when you look at your photos you’ll
be able to say to each other remember, that’s when you
said ____ to me, and when that photo was taken I was
thinking how lucky I was to be marrying you etc etc.
The whole range of your loving emotions and your
loving connection to one another and to your family
will be captured in your professional photos, and the
photos taken by your guests will also be fantastic.