Saying “I do” to your favorite person is one of the most important moments in your life, but it tends to go by in the blink of an eye. In order to revisit that special day and relive all of the emotions you felt swapping vows and celebrating with your loved ones, documenting your wedding is an essential task. “When the day is over, your photos are one of the few items that remain from the day,” photographer Amy Anaiz says. “It’s literally your memories in tangible form.”
Since you’ll look back on your wedding photos for years to come, you probably want the prints to be as perfect as possible. Although your photographer is the one shooting your wedding, there are certain behaviors couples do that can interrupt the process and interfere with the final snaps. To make sure you get the best images, we went to the pros behind the lens to ask about the blunders they see couples making before, during, and after their nuptials. Ahead are 10 of the most common wedding photography mistakes you don’t want to make, according to the photographers themselves.
Meet the Expert
- Amy Anaiz is a wedding photographer based in New York City who has been shooting couples’ big days since 2008.
- Gaby J is the owner of Gaby J Photography and a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer with nearly 12 years of experience.
- Chi-Chi Onungwa is the founder of Chi Chi Ari Love and a Brooklyn-based photographer who has been working in the industry for eight years.
Doing Minimal Research
Although social media is an excellent tool for scouting out your photographer, it shouldn’t be the only resource you use during your search. “These images are highly curated and the ‘best of the best,’” Anaiz notes. “It’s easy to show one to two amazing images of a wedding.” To get a better feel for a photographer’s style and creativity, examine their website, scroll through larger galleries, and read reviews.
Ignoring Their Portfolio
After you’ve found a photographer whose work resonates with your vision, a huge step couples often skip is requesting a full gallery of a wedding that’s similar to theirs. “A photographer that only displays a portfolio with beautiful outdoor weddings may not necessarily be the best to capture a low-lit indoor wedding,” Chi-Chi Onungwa of Chi Chi Ari Love notes. Ask the potential candidate to send over images that were shot at the same venue during the same season as your big day and that resemble your aesthetic, demographic, and cultural traditions. That way, you’ll be able to better predict how your photos will turn out.
Forgetting to Express Your Vision
Yes, your photographer is the creative expert, but you also have a say in how the photos develop. Rather than leaving it up to the person behind the camera, make sure to communicate your vision. To demonstrate the vibe you’re trying to create, Anaiz suggests sharing inspirational images with your photographer. “Some of these inspirational images should be images of said photographer in terms of the ‘feel’ for the day,” she explains. “In regards to the location and background, inspiration for those can vary as your photographer may not have shot at your venue or location before.”
Skipping a Pre-Wedding Session
Waiting until the big day to meet your photographer is bound to cause issues. To make sure the day-of shoot unfolds seamlessly, schedule a trial run. This pre-wedding session is a great opportunity to learn more about the expert’s style, verbal direction, and personality. “This session is key to making the wedding day more comfortable and less awkward since both the photographer and couple will already have an idea of what works,” Anaiz says.
In addition to a photoshoot, you’ll want to touch base with your photographer a few times before you trade vows, whether it’s during an in-person meeting or a phone call. During these sessions, Onungwa recommends filling your photographer in on all of the details, such as your must-have shots, your favorite poses, and special moments you want documented. Besides discussing logistics, meeting up with your photographer is another way to connect. “Your photographer should really get to know you and your partner as a couple to capture the wedding day authentically,” Onungwa shares.
Sending a Shot List
Many couples often give their photographer a list of the exact photos they want them to take during the wedding—without realizing they’re actually interfering with the creative process. Your photographer is the professional, so trust that they’ll capture the most touching moments, from the first kiss to the first dance. “When the list also contains a bunch of requests, it’ll hinder the photographer from being in the moment and capturing what’s in front of them versus looking down on a sheet of paper, stressing out about checking the list off,” Gaby J of Gaby J Photography mentions.
Trying to Control the Shoot
On your big day, the only job required of you is to enjoy the event and savor every moment. There’s no need to worry about the photos or try to micromanage the shoot, which will only create stress and tension for both parties involved. “Trusting that your photographer has your best interest at heart is the best way to stay relaxed during photo sessions and throughout the day,” Onungwa reveals.
Rushing Through Day-of Portraits
The photos of you and your partner will be some of the most cherished shots from your big day, yet too many couples don’t set aside enough time to take them. Make sure you block off a section on your timeline for portraits, whether it’s during your first look or right after your vow exchange. “Our couples hire us to create beautiful portraits of them, and when you only have 20 minutes after family formals and before the reception begins, it’s rarely enough time,” Gaby J notes. “I’m usually satisfied and feel like I got the photo 45 minutes in.”
Immediately Asking for the Photos
Once your big day comes to an end, you’re probably itching to see the full album, but many couples don’t realize that the finished product takes time. Depending on the number of photos, your photographer’s editing process, and your wedding date, it could take anywhere from three to 12 weeks to see the final outcome. “Being patient and understanding of your photographer’s process and workload is essential,” Gabby J advises. “Trust that they will deliver beautiful images to you promptly, and try to avoid adding extra pressure or requests that may disrupt their workflow.”
Of course, digital photos are a huge priority since they’re easy to download, store, and share, but it’s possible to lose them in the sea of documents and files that clutter your computer. Preserving your photos in a beautiful album will give you the ability to relive your wedding day at any moment. “Prints and albums are the best way to have all your favorite images on hand,” Onungwa says.