This is a bit of a long post, so I’ve only put a part of it on the main blog page.
When Hannah and I photograph a wedding, we work to capture the important photographs above all else. But, we also make sure to capture the little stuff. Here’s a rundown of all the things we make sure to capture along with the how and why of each. Of course, every wedding is different, so these are adjusted depending on what is important to the bride and groom as well as the dictates of the specific timeline.
Getting dressed: Hannah heads off to start with the bride in her dressing room while I head off to work with the groom and his men. Typically we spend as much as an hour doing this. I capture the details of the rings, the guys “stuff” like sunglasses, car keys, special things like swords or a family Bible or whatever is there with the guys. Hannah does the same on her end, including things like the dress, bouquet, flowers, etc. We are generally shooting the whole time, even though there is a lot of “slow time” here while things move along. Generally the guys finish getting dressed first; after all it’s easier for them… When they’re ready, we head out and find some cool places to shoot the guys all dressed up; maybe on the playground, or up against a cool wall somewhere, or even in the sanctuary or main ceremony location. After we get them good and tired, they head back over to their waiting room and I wander over to the bride’s room to see how far along they are. Assuming they are mostly dressed I’ll put my perspective on some candid portraits as well as details while we wait for the whole bridal party to finish. Once they are dressed, we’ll head out to find a few places to capture some portraits much like we did with the guys, although in different locations if possible. We’ll also capture some candid portraits of the moms and dads are they are around with their son or daughter.
Pre-ceremony: This is whatever time we have after getting the whole bridal party together before the ceremony. As much as possible we’ll capture the posed portraits the bride wants with family members who are there early and with the bridal party members. For example, we’ll get some shots of the bride with the groomsmen and the groom with the bridesmaids. If the bride and groom are open to seeing each other during this time, we’ll do some couple portraits to take some time pressure off the post-ceremony slot. As much as we can get done here without putting any stress on the bride is our goal! For every portrait taken here, we just have that many fewer to do after the ceremony.
The Ceremony: During this time we are just letting things roll along as they happen. We make sure and keep to different spots so we can always be sure to capture different perspectives. Hannah will generally follow the bride in to the foyer and I’ll be in the sanctuary with the guys at the outset; I’ll work hard to capture the groom’s face when he sees his bride as well as dad’s face as he walks his daughter down the aisle. Hannah will trail along behind the bride as far as practical, shooting the other angles, getting some wide perspectives on the dad and daughter walk up the aisle. Once the bride and groom are together, then we are generally on each side of the couple getting whatever we can see. Some churches allow us to be all around the altar, some don’t so we just move where we are allowed to go. Also, some families have certain preferences about what is allowed; we always honor those too. If we can we will pre-set up some discrete flashes around the altar, if not then we will shoot without flash. Our goal is always to capture the best photographs to help the bride remember the day!
The Walk Back Down the Aisle: This always happens fast! Again, one of us is at the end and one follows so we capture everything we can. If possible and allowed, we will sometimes use a roving flash (held by one of our assistants) to better light the couple as they walk (or dance, or run…) to the back of the church or venue. This can really help the photographs pop.
The Posed Portraits: these are done in the time slot after the ceremony while the guests go the reception. We will work from a shot list if the bride and family provide one, otherwise we’ll wing it. Generally there is a rush to get everything photographed in 30 minutes or less, just because everyone wants to be at the reception. But, we can use as much time as allowed. In a recent wedding we had a whole hour just to do couple portraits and it was wonderful. It just depends. If there are special considerations we make sure and accommodate them; grandparents sometimes need to be photographed first so they can sit down, or get out of the Texas heat, or whatever. We are flexible.
The Reception: When the bride and groom make their grand entrance, we’ll capture all the specific events as they happen; the introductions, cake cutting, first dances, garter and bouquet tosses, speeches, songs, prayers, blessings, toasts, the grand exit and so forth. These things don’t always happen like the plan says they will, so it’s always a little exciting. But for the rest of the time we’re photographing guests, details and all the wild and crazy things the guests are doing as they celebrate and enjoy the bride and groom.