Great Wedding Photographs Start in the Mind - Yours and the Photographer's

by Jennifer Cram   (22/09/2016)  | Categories: | Wedding Ceremony | Wedding Planning |
Photo by Scott LawlerPhotographyEvery marrying 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 mindset.

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 instances where I've noted photos of great potential were missed: 

  • 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, the flowers, the carefully composed still life arrangements of your accessories, the formal posed photos of individuals and 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 poses.

The mindset of the marrying couple on the day is critical.

When you are having the formal shots taken, use mind-power to create the expressions on your face. A trick aTestimonial about Jennifer Cram,
                  Brisbane Marriage Celebrant photographer taught me years ago is don’t say cheese, yell knickers.

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?
The before ceremony portraits can be particularly difficult, emotionally. 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 allow yourself to 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 about you
  • 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 making them
  • 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 more!)
  • 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.
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