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Save the Date: Photography

Posted July 23, 2012 by Karen Mulreid in Lifestyle
Us in lift colour

When you’re planning a wedding you’ll spend the preceding months thinking about things like paperwork, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, table plans and who exactly you’re going to rope in to sit next to the priest. Sorry Father.

All the little details will, at some point, seem like a big deal. However when the wedding is over, none of that matters, very little of it will be remembered and it will be like it never happened.

All you will have left of your wedding day will be the ring on your finger and your photo album. So herein lies today’s sermon – make sure you have a damn good record of the day.

True, the most important thing about all of this is gaining a partner and starting a lifelong marriage – that’s absolutely a given – but capturing the happiness and the joy and the atmosphere of that day and preserving it is so important. I see my own parents – 42 years married – looking at their wedding album and the look of utter peace and delight on their faces would bring a tear to a glass eye.

Many people – myself included – had friends take their wedding photos wanting to have a pal behind the lens and also save some money. For me it was a fantastic experience and a decision I’ve never regretted (though I can’t speak for my friends, I think they’re still traumatised). However, my friends – three in all – were a mix of professional and excellent amateur photographers, who were trained in photography, working in the field and had won awards for their work.

Think very carefully before you go down the route of asking a friend to take your wedding photos. I was so incredibly lucky to have such talented, professional friends but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just a case of Mary being handy with the camera, or Uncle John buying a fancy camera and thinking he’s the next David Bailey. This sort of situation can lead to all sorts of disappointment and upset, for them as well as you.

A wedding day is a long, tiring day and capturing it isn’t easy; it’s not for the faint hearted. You also have to think of the editing process and putting the album together that happens after the Big Day. This is also a lot of work and something that really needs to be done right.

I’m not dismissing using your friends as an option of course – it can work out beautifully – but do think long and hard about it. If you go this way, speak frankly and openly with your friends about your expectations and needs for the day:

  • Write out a list of photos you’d like, especially if there’s a photo you really want (just you and your gran together, for example) so that nothing is forgotten.
  • Work out timings for the day and a time-frame for when the photos will be ready to be viewed.
  • Make sure both parties are happy with the arrangement.
  • Have a practice session in advance so you can get an idea of the style of photos your friend takes and see how you work together.
  • Make sure they have a back up for their equipment in case one camera malfunctions on the day.

I loved having my friends behind the lens on the day of my wedding; I felt so much more relaxed than I would have with a stranger but part of this was of course because I was confident in their abilities. Once you’re happy and confident that a friend will do a great job taking your wedding photos, go for it. But make sure you’re sure.

If you decide to go for a professional photographer, it can be a lengthy process to make sure you get the right guy or gal. Thankfully the internet has simplified this somewhat; most photographers have a website with samples of their work so get Googling.

  • Decide what kind of style you’re after – formal posed photographs, reportage casual shots or a mix of both. Do you prefer quirky, off beat shots, or full-on bridal beauty snaps?
  • Ask for reviews on wedding forums/message boards such as Weddings Online to hear from previous brides who have hired the photographer you’re after.
  • Ask to see full wedding albums, not just samples of a photographer’s work. Often on websites there’ll be a gallery of wedding photographs but not all from the same wedding, so make sure you see a finished product so you can ensure your photographer isn’t just showcasing his/her best work or a few lucky shots.
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your list of photographers, meet them in person before you decide who to hire. It is imperative that you like your photographer and feel comfortable with them. There’s no point in hiring someone who takes beautiful photos but who makes you want to scratch your eyes out whenever you hear their voice. You could be with this person for 12 hours on one of the most important days of your life – make sure they’re nice!
  • Get a contract including time-frame for delivery of album, price and payment schedule so that there’s absolutely no confusion.
  • Get a good bang for your buck – haggle, haggle, haggle. Wedding photographers are expensive, there is no getting away from it, but you can and should strike a deal that you’re both happy with. Don’t accept the first price you’re offered.

All of the above applies to videographers as well if you decide to film your day. Get reviews, ask to see full wedding discs, negotiate the price, get a signed contract and make sure you like them before you hire them.

Now, enough talk. Look at all the lovely photos of me! Me! MEEEEEEEEEE!

Photos by Shauneen Armstrong, Declan Flynn and Lauren Noseworthy

About the Author

Karen Mulreid

  • GillOc

    You actually raised a very good point there Karen and I think it’s one that’s often over looked. The personality of the photographer is so important. This person is gonna be around the majority of the day annoying people, disturbing people for photos, people who would rather be at the bar!! It’s so important to get some one who is a people person and can do this with ease. Our photographer was a scream, quirky, off the wall and had every one in stitches. Four years on people still talk about him!! I really felt like he added to the atmosphere of the day.

  • Declan Flynn

    As one of the photographers I think I should add some comments, I apologize for the length of this comment :-)  

    Wedding photography is one of the things lots of people with an interest in photography think they can do but they don’t fully realize how much work, skill and experience is involved. I don’t mean to sound like a photo snob but having done it once (for Karen) I can say there are several things to think carefully about1) This isn’t like any other event where you can mess around take a few hundred shots, end up with 10 ones you like and pat yourself on the back saying job well done. You will need to produce a few hundred photos of good quality to give to the couple so they can select ones to put in the album. If you don’t then they won’t have an album and you are in a world of trouble. Friendship ending trouble, as your friend weeps over a handful of out-of-focus, cropped head, and missed moments photos. 1a) Say no when asked to do it.2) You can’t just go into Power City, plonk down €500 for the latest beginner camera with kit lens and decide to start taking wedding photos. Any wedding is going to bring you into a variety of environments from church, to parks to reception and bars that will likely involve dealing with harsh afternoon sunlight then dark dimly lit churches. If you don’t have the lenses to adapt to this then you are going to produce a bunch of shaky, underexposed shots mixed with bright over exposed dresses, pitch black suits and squinting eyes everywhere. Also if you think the little pop flash on top of your camera is going to cut the mustard when it comes to lighting a ballroom then you might as well try to use a bic lighter to cook a turkey. If you don’t have good gear especially lenses and if you don’t know how to use it then you should say no when asked.2a) Ask them if they are 100% sure they still want you to do the photos3) You’d better make sure the bride knows exactly what type of photos you like to take. Portrait, photo-journalistic, relaxed, candid, landscape. When picking a pro photographer the couple will view the work of dozens before selecting the ones they like and inevitably those will all be of a certain style. If you don’t take photos of a style the bride likes then it doesn’t matter how well you take them, she won’t like them. After Karen asked me to take her photos I refused several times and insisted she look at professional photographers to decide what she liked. In the end she still came back to us but knew what photos she wanted. Also make sure you do up a check list of photos based on what the bride wants and what you know from experience seeing other wedding photos. If you end the day and you forgot to get that photo of the bride with her grandparents at what may be the last big family event where everyone will be available and dressed up in front of a camera than you will be off her Christmas list. 3a) Ask them to at least look at pros and reassure them that if they change their minds and hire a pro you won’t be offended4) Study, look at tons of wedding photos and get posing ideas. This works for every type of photography, learn by looking at others. While the formals are important make sure you spend time getting more unusual fun photos that show off the couples personalities. Remember to take photos of the bits around the wedding (rings, shoes, veil, flowers, dresses, cakes, decorations, groomsmen’s/bridesmaids gifts, cufflinks, watches, congratulations cards, the notice board filled with wedding to-dos, the church, the bridal car, the hotel, bottles of champagne with strawberries chocolate, tables, place settings). If you have a partner photographer, split up, one follow the groom the other follow the bride. Get that shot of the groom waiting while everyone else looks down the church at the arriving bride. It’s even a good idea to search the internet for photos taken at the church and the reception venue. You’ll see good angles and interesting places around behind or beside the buildings that you might not otherwise see. If you can visit the venues in advance do and scout out locations for photos. Also if they have hired a videographer have a chat to him on the day when everyone is setting up, he’s a professional and is likely to have been here for other weddings before but often they let the photographer take the lead on the locations. If you explain you are doing the photos as a favor then he might be able to suggest places or at the very least he won’t be standing behind you swearing and wondering why you aren’t going to the beautiful spot just behind this wall. 4a) Tell them you’ll do it5) Promise them you’ll do your best and make sure you do your best. Don’t drink until after the main photos are taken (bride/groom preparation, arrival, church, ceremony, formals, couple shots, meal, speeches, cake cutting and first dance). Sure you’re all friends and are surrounded by lots of friends who are drinking but none of them are there to do an important job. Don’t be too bossy, rude or cause people to cry (unless its tears of happiness during her speech) but make sure to move the couple along and get the shots you need. Everyone else will want to spend hours talking to them and while you do have plenty of time so there is no need to rush, push or shove that time is limited so keep an eye on your watch. Don’t loose the groom when he goes off for a few quiet pints with his mates (I’ve seen this happen at another wedding). The wedding photos are missing something if it’s just a girl in a white dress. Make sure your batteries are charged, that you have spare batteries, plenty of empty memory cards, lens cloths, a change of shirt and comfortable broken in shoes (you will sweat more and run more than you can believe)5a) Enjoy the opportunity to be an important part of a good friends special day.

  • Declan Flynn

    Whoops, the formatting went all wrong in my comment, sorry. It should be broken down into numbered points 1) 2) 3) etc

  • Pingback: Wedding Photo Story from Ramp.ie | Declan Flynn

  • http://declanflynn.ie/ Declan Flynn

    I’ve posted it with proper formatting to my blog :-)

  • Pixbyshumbles

    We had two weddings: one in Ireland where three of my friends (all keen photographers but none of them professional) took the shots and the other abroad where we had a professional. Guess which photos are the ones that are out of focus, too bright/too dark, poorly cropped? Yep, the professional ones. Those that our friends took of us are informal, quirky, full of personality, capturing the fun and emotion of the day. I love them! I had to get down on bended knee repeatedly to ask them to do it for us though! Everything Declan has said rings true, pity I couldn’t pass these tips onto the ‘professional’! 

    • Declan Flynn

      Indeed, nothing about the title “professional” means they can actually take good photos. It just means they are getting paid to take photos. The professional should know the things I said above but they could just as easily be the person who bought a beginner camera and decided in a fit of ego/greed decided to start selling themselves to strangers.

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