How to Make the Most of Your Wedding Photographer’s Time

A camera on a tripod aimed at a wedding ceremony arch.

The wedding photographer is easily one of the most important vendors that you’ll choose. Capturing the big and little moments throughout your wedding day is an important job to undertake. An experienced photographer will likely have a detailed plan for the day, but they’re only human and weddings are busy. Even the best photographers can miss special moments and, unfortunately, those moments can’t be recreated. So, how do you ensure you get all the photos you want within your allotted time? Here are a few surefire ways to get the most of your wedding photographer’s time without missing a thing.

Make a List

There are an unending number of lists made during wedding planning, but you won’t regret making this one. Think about all the special moments you’d like to look back on when looking at your wedding photos. Does it include a special picture with your grandma? A sunset photo with your bride or groom? Whatever those moments you have in your head are, write them down. Wedding days move very quickly, and you’re pulled in a thousand different directions at all times. Your photographer will do their best to make sure they get special moments when they see them, but their vision could be different than yours. It’s very helpful to write down all your must-have photos (often referred to as a shot list) and give them to your photographer in advance so they make sure they prioritize those moments on your day. The last thing anyone wants is to get your photos back, only to find out you didn’t get one single picture of just you and your mom. I’ve been there and, believe me, it’s a terrible feeling for both you and your photographer. They want to make all your wedding photo dreams come true, so be sure to help them out by giving them your “must-haves” list.

Inform the Family

A wedding photographer taking a photo of the bride and groom with their family.

One of the biggest wedding time crunchers are family photos. Remember that block of time you booked with your photographer? Your time is limited. Nothing can waste that time faster than hunting down members of the family or friends for pictures. Before your wedding, inform those you’d like to be in photos to stay behind after the ceremony. Most group photos are taken during the intermission between the ceremony and reception, sometimes called the cocktail hour, where guests are distracted by mingling and refreshing. That time is limited to an hour for a reason. It’s just enough time for you to get photos of family and friends before they start wandering off. Use that time wisely! Get your list back out, tell everyone to stay put, and don’t you dare talk to any of your guests during this time or you’ll be sucked into conversation and waste that magical hour opening. Your photographer should be able to efficiently call out groups of people to take their picture and dismiss them quickly. If everyone is cooperative, you’ll likely have a little time to sneak away to get some intimate couple shots as well.

Create a Schedule

Another tedious, yet necessary, wedding planning task is creating a schedule. Your wedding photographer’s sole job is to take photos, which means they may not be focusing on the rest of the day’s needs. Sometimes, photographers can even get so swept up in taking pictures that their time begins to overtake other wedding activities. You want to have beautiful photos, but you also want to enjoy the party. Creating a day-of schedule to guide them through the event will keep them on track and should help manage their time accordingly. This will ensure that you have blocked out, specific times for photos so that you don’t miss anything. Not only is it helpful for them, but also to you and the rest of your vendors to be in sync. When everyone is on the same page, weddings run very smoothly, and you get the most out of your time.

Practice Your Smile

A wedding photographer taking a picture of a bride against a brick wall.

Last but not least: practice your smile! This sounds a bit cheesy and maybe embarrassing, but if you’re one of those people who gets anxiety about photos being taken, you need to do this. Even if you don’t get nervous, it’s also helpful! Practice smiling in the mirror a couple times a day. Notice what you like about each smile and focus on that. Like anything else, smiling has muscle memory. It makes sense to practice smiling the way you like it best so that on your wedding day your face knows exactly what to do and you don’t waste precious time asking for retakes.

Your wedding day will go by in a flash. Whether you have a small block of time for your photos or the entire day, it’s important to prepare in advance. These few tips are easy to do and make a world of a difference to make sure you get exactly what you want out of your wedding photography. Hopefully, years after the fact, you’re able to look back through your wedding photos and remember the day lovingly.

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