How to Make Your Wedding Photos NOT Suck

So you’re getting married!  Yay!  You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you… you know this, right?  All the planning, hiring vendors, etc.  Amid all this, there are some things you can do to make sure your Wedding Photos don’t suck.  Yes, things YOU can do!

I know what you’re thinking… how can this be MY fault if they suck?  There are many ways things can go pear shaped, and it all starts with you and the choices you make!  It starts early on!

There is no specific order here other than where in the timeline the pitfall appears…

  • When you select your venue for ceremony and reception… keep photos in mind.  Is the time of day good for photos outside?  Are there nice looking areas to actually take photos?  Does your church give you time to do… any photos?  The worst time of day for photos is noon.  It gets progressively better the further from noon you get, until it’s dark.  However… even the darkness will give better photos than high noon.  Think about that for a minute.  The best times for photos are the first and last hour of sunlight.  Now, I know you can’t always plan for cocktail hour or time in those precious perfect light times, but… the closer you get to it, the better your photos will be.  If you want outdoor photos, try to find a venue that has a mix of open sunny spots and shaded areas.  If you get stuck and have to do photos in the middle of a sunny day… you will appreciate that shade, and your photos won’t suck as a result of squints, and harsh shadows and lighting.  Not a lot that can fix that really.  Please don’t say, “Just Photoshop it.”.  It’s not that simple.  Sure, we have ways of working around it, but… it’s still not ideal.
  • Choose your vendors wisely.  I don’t just mean your photographer.  Sure, your choice of Photographer will greatly impact the suckitude of your photos (yes, it’s a word, I made it up), but there are other vendors that can inadvertently get in the way or muck up the works.  Obviously, true professional vendors are rarely an issue, but… here’s some things to look out for in vendors…
  • Coordinators.  While you might need the help in planning the wedding, don’t let your coordinator talk you into situations that will ruin photos.  Time is important, as good photography takes time.  Don’t pack too much into the day.  A good coordinator knows this and won’t let you!  An inexperienced one may try to convince you that you need to have 15 different activities, and leave little time for those important photos!  A good coordinator knows how to set up the schedule so photos get their due time.
  • Videographers.  A video of your wedding can be a lasting memory and a treasured keepsake, but… hire the wrong videographer and it could be a constant reminder of them ruining your wedding photos too.  We’ve witnessed some pretty crazy things by videographers, such as standing right next to or behind the bride and/or groom for the first kiss, following them down the aisle after being announced, etc.  Not to mention bright video lights ruining lighting for first dances, and “hogging” the couple… as in never being further than 3 feet from them all day.  As with coordinators… a good videographer isn’t an issue and we work so well together it’s seamless.  But a bad one?  Oh, boy, they can really make your photos suck.
  • Officiant.  There’s not a lot an officiant will usually do to make your photos suck.  But, one thing I try to ask them to do is move after pronouncing you and giving the first kiss permission.  There’s nothing worse than a great first kiss with the officiant standing over you smiling creepily.  Trust me.  Now, it’s rare, but I’ve seen some officiants that think it’s all about them… and try to put on some kind of show during the ceremony and even during portraits afterwards.  Find out ahead of time how they conduct themselves and see that it matches the “feel” of your ceremony.  Fun and quirky can be great, but not if you were expecting a more traditional approach.
  • DJ or Band.  A great Wedding DJ or Band can really ADD to your photos, rather than make them suck, but… it’s the photographer’s job to set up photos, not their’s.  I physically cringe when I hear the DJ announce this “idea” he has for a “photo op”.  Normally, it’s something cheesy, something not of our brand (meaning, you won’t like it since you hired us to do… us), and something I’m not at all prepared for, like… hey, how about everyone gets on the dance floor right now and gathers in a circle around the couple for a photo!  This example is bad for many reasons, the most obvious of which is if they are in a circle around you, it’s very difficult to photograph unless we learn to fly.  Now, if they just have people do this, with no intent of it being photographed as a “thing”, all good, nothing to worry about.  Essentially, whatever DJ or Band you get, make sure they realize they need to actually tell the Photographer what they plan to do, and take the Photographer’s recommendations if it’s not such a great idea.  I mean, I don’t tell them what songs to play…
  • Hair and Makeup Artists.  I saved them for last of the vendors, since… this is probably the biggest way to make your photos suck.  I don’t just mean the quality of their work, which is important, but their efficiency and timeliness.  We want you to be ready a couple hours before the ceremony… at least that much time actually so we can do all the pre-ceremony photos and still have time to hide you away so guests won’t see you ahead of time.  The old thinking of, “They won’t start without the bride!”, while perhaps true, doesn’t tell the whole story.  Every minute past the time we discuss for you to be ready that you aren’t… is lost photos.  Lost photos meaning things we cannot do that you are paying for.  It’s not our fault, and we generally can make up time so we have a little “wiggle room”, but… the best advice I can give you is make sure you hire a REAL wedding Makeup and Hair Service.  Don’t use your stylist from the salon unless they do weddings.  It’s a different mindset.  Think Drive Through vs 4 course meal forgetting about food quality for a moment.  The Drive Through is all about efficiency, getting as many people in and out and taken care of in the shortest time.  The 4 course catered meal is about the experience, so time is not a factor.  You might come out full from both, but one is a lot quicker.  Weddings are all about time management, and we want you to look good, but we don’t want to stand around for hours waiting for that to occur.  There’s only so many makeup shots one can do!
  • Be on time.  Being late above all else, will make your photos suck.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious by now, right?  If everything has to be rushed, pushed back, etc because you were late… obviously photos will be rushed, possibly much of the assigned photo time will be taken away too, and guess what?  You paid for it, but you won’t get all you paid for and it’s not the photographer’s fault.  I hate to say it, but it’s yours.  I won’t be mad, but I will be disappointed if I can’t do all that you hired me to do, especially if it’s simply because you weren’t on schedule by being late!
  • Take the advice of your vendors.  This is big.  If you choose vendors based on vendor’s recommendations, they probably all work well together and know a little about how the other works.  For instance, if you hire a videographer I recommend, there’s good reason.  It’s due to a history, experience working together.  Same for any other vendor.  When you hire a team that all work together regularly, prepare for a smooth ride.  If you don’t go with recommendations…. well… we just don’t know how things will go, do we?
  • Take the advice of your vendors… part 2.  For photography, listen to your photographer.  For music, listen to your DJ.  For hair and makeup…. you get the idea, right?  You hire them for their expertise.  Listen to their advice.  This is what you paid for.  Purposely, or accidentally going against what your vendors suggest is a great way to make your photos suck.
  • Be in the moment.  Don’t get caught up in tiny details or things that might go wrong.  You invested a lot in this day.  Reap that investment, soak it all in, be with your new spouse, enjoy it.  Act happy!  I’ll say that a lot.  People tend to look to the couple for how they should react to the Wedding.  If you look worried or anxious, yet everything is perfect (from the guest’s perspective) they don’t know what to think and become anxious too, making their time and those around them… less fun.  However, if the roof leaks, the cake fell, it rained, the food was cold, and you ended up using your Spotify playlist through an iPhone with one of those DIY toilet paper tube speakers…. but you and your spouse are having the time of your life?  Your guests will say it was the best wedding ever.  Seriously.
  • Communicate.  This is last on the list because it’s the most important thing.  Sure, you hired me for my artistic vision, but… I need to know what you like too.  This is why we suggest Engagement Sessions, so we can get to know you.  Talking to your vendors will alleviate so much stress for you and them.  I don’t mean giving lists of “I want this”, or “Don’ts”, I mean good, honest communication.  This is why I have a phone call with everyone before the wedding, to make sure we’re all on the same page.  Get all the awkwardness out of the way, figure out what you really want, you know?  At the end of the day, I work for you, and I’m on your side.  That’s important for you to know.

This may not be an exhaustive list… but it’s a pretty good start I think on how to make your wedding photos NOT suck.  There is one more thing you can do…

You can hire Brian C Idocks Photographics to shoot your wedding… we guarantee to NOT make your Wedding Photos suck!

If you already hired us… you made the right choice!

Thanks for reading,

Brian