Preserving Precious Moments

by Amy Groh
Photography by Nellie Gould

Photography is inarguably one of the most important parts of any wedding. Skip Cohen of Wedding and Portrait Photographers International once said, “Flowers die, cakes get eaten and dresses are only worn once. Photographs last forever.” It’s the photographs that capture the essence of that special day which are treasured for years. Because it’s so important— and expensive—choosing the right photographer for the occasion is essential.

Huy Nguyen, the Wedding Photojournalist Association’s 2005 Photographer of the Year, suggests, “Brides and grooms should…try to assess the photographer’s imagination; someone who strives to be different rather than shooting the same kinds of pictures all of the time. They should look for humor and feeling in the work. Rather than just looking at the pictures for the content, assess them in the light of how the photographer approached the scene, and whether he or she can do a lot of things well.”

Nellie Gould, photojournalist and owner of Nellie Photography, said that, aside from Grandma, few people really want strictly posed wedding portraits. The trend these days is steering toward photojournalistic pictures which capture the feelings and emotions throughout the day.

Get to know each other

Most photographers will tell you that getting to know your photographer before the “big day” is a must. “It’s really important that the bride and groom meet with the photographer and match personality- wise. It’s important to feel comfortable with them,” Gould said.

Jeffrey Woods of Wedding Life Photography said it helps if the couple “has a great connection with the photographer.” By meeting the couple ahead of time and taking their photographs prior to the wedding day—through an engagement photo shoot, for example—he and his wife and business partner, Julia, are able to get to know their clients. They can learn whether people are “blinkers” or not, or if they prefer profile shots over others. This can go a long way toward smoothing the process on the big day.

The big debate

The big debate used to refer to using film or digital, but, as we have learned, most photographers have chosen to use digital. It creates more retouching work for the photographer, but doesn’t require several types of film and cameras for each wedding.

Now, the big debate is whether to take pictures of the bride and groom together before the ceremony or not. Photographers will generally do whatever a couple wants and can usually give the pros and cons of each.

Michael Miller of Northern Lights Photography said he recommends taking the photos after the wedding so it doesn’t take anything away from the ceremony. When the bride and groom get together before the ceremony, they end up having to put their wedding bands on and take them off again which results in “losing the punch” of giving rings to each other.

Gould said that some of her clients want to preserve the tradition of waiting to see each other until the ceremony begins, while others really cherish that hour they get to spend together before everyone starts vying for their attention. She pointed out that, for some couples, getting together helps to calm nerves and dull anxiety. The moments captured in these pre-ceremony photo shoots tend to be the ones which really capture the essence of the couple and the strength of their love for one another.

This choice, as with any others a couple makes about their wedding photography, needs to be discussed with the photographer well before the wedding date. Knowing what kind of photos and settings the bride and groom prefer is essential if the photographer is to do his or her job well. Everyone with whom we spoke suggested choosing and booking a photographer as soon as a couple gets engaged. This not only secures the date with both parties, but gives the couple and their chosen photographer time to get to know each other. Engagement photo shoots are good ways to become comfortable with being the center of attention and learning to ignore the presence of the photographer.

Working well together

There are several things a bride and groom can do to make working with a photographer as easy as possible. Miller said the best thing the couple can do is thoroughly explain what they want in terms of style. If the bride and groom don’t have a particular style in mind, it’s best if their photographer shows them several to choose from. It is essential that the bride and groom know what’s included in their contract and make sure that it’s exactly what they want.

Gould said that it is very important that the bride and groom love their photographer’s style of work. Because weddings can be shot in so many different ways, it’s important for the couple to make sure they like what they’ll be getting. It’s also important that the bride and groom not be afraid to ask questions of the photographer. “I want them to feel like they can trust me with the most important day of their lives,” she said. Keeping the lines of communication open on both sides is necessary for this to be the case.

Good communication seems to be the key to all aspects of working with a wedding photographer. Couples and photographers need to get to know each other well before the wedding in order to facilitate an easier day for everyone involved. Brides, grooms and photographers need to discuss all the details, whether big or small, as each one can affect the way precious moments are captured. a&s

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