How should we prepare for our wedding portraits?
Do an engagement session! It’s important to feel comfortable with your photographer and an engagement session helps you to experience how he/she works behind the camera and what they expect out of you as subjects.
What if we see something that our photographer had done with other couples and we want to have the same look?
In my humble opinion, trying to direct the photographer never ends well. Poses are almost always site specific and an approach to a couple is different every time I shoot. For example, I had a more-dapper-than-most groom casually place his hand in his pocket and look off to the left … as I clicked the shutter I knew he had gotten it right on. He looked like something out of GQ magazine … trying to recreate that look with another groom is almost impossible. Different couples fit together in different ways and every shoot yields new and unexpected beauty. Of course, if there is something specific you have been picturing for days, most photographers will definitely want to know these things because ultimately your happiness is the most important thing- but try to remember that you hired your photographer because you love their work and trust their talent.
What if we’re not very comfortable with our photo being taken?
9 out of 10 of my clients tell me they are terrible in front of the camera and 10 out of 10 of my clients love at LEAST a handful of their final images. Remember, your wedding day is not about taking photos, it is about celebrating your love, making you look good in your photos is the job of a great photographer … if you focus on your love you are sure to look radiantly happy in your photos.
What if not everyone in our group shots is cooperating or comfortable with the pose?
I can’t say I’ve experienced this but my honest opinion would be to tell them to suck it up. I’ve definitely had complaining bridesmaids but for the most part the brides trusts me and just gives her bridal party a nudge and we get through the session quickly. Make sure to tell your bridal party and family ahead of time what is expected of them. If there is something off-color about the pose and you, as the bride, aren’t comfortable with it- all you need to do is say the word and we’ll move on. Your happiness is most important!
What are your thoughts on themed or styled shoots (with props)?
Styled/Themed shoots can be fun but they are also a lot of work and tend to create stress between the bride and groom if they are trying to arrange it themselves. I recommend working with a coordinator/designer to help you pull together a shoot so you can focus on enjoying the experience. I love it when my clients bring props like bikes or balloons, but it’s also completely fine and just as romantic to just bring yourself and your love for each other.
I’m not really into very traditional/pose-y photos. How do we make sure they look candid and interesting?
A few traditional, heads together, smile at the camera shots are always necessary whether you like them or not. A good photographer knows that these are the images that the mother of the bride is going to look for and gets them out of the way quickly. The most important part of getting the images you want is hiring the right photographer for YOU. If you prefer candid playful images, in order to make sure you get these, you should hire a photographer whose work reflects that. My images tend to be quiet, romantic, soft… and that’s what I am hired to create. Find a photographer that fits your individual style and vision of your wedding photos and you are guaranteed to love the final product!
Do you recommend having a first look, and why?
Either way is fine by me and my recommendation is don’t decide until you have a timeline! Having a first look can sometimes be very beneficial for your timeline, especially if you are getting married during the time of year when the sun sets early in the day. If your ceremony is starting late and you don’t anticipate having much time for photos before the sun sets, a first look can allow you to get all of the necessary shots out of the way so you can enjoy cocktail hour. It can sometimes be a controversial decision if you are a more traditional couple and I always recommend that couples think about their wedding day as a whole before deciding. If you simply cannot imagine seeing each other before you walk down that long Cathedral aisle- then definitely do not do a first look. I encourage my clients to communicate their feelings about how they want their day to go so we can make a joint decision about what is best for the general outcome of the final product.
I’m worried I’ll be overwhelmed on my wedding day. How do I look relaxed even if all I can think about is all the wedding details and making sure I talk to all my guests?
My first word of advice is to hire a wedding coordinator. You really should not be worrying about any details by the time your wedding day comes around and if something goes wrong on the day of you want someone there to fix the problem without you even knowing there was one! Nerves on a wedding day can actually photograph beautifully- the moment before the bride walks down the aisle, the groom going over his vows, the bride wringing her hands together while her bridesmaids put her veil on … embrace your wedding day for the day that it is. It will be what it will be and no matter what happens it is still the day you married the love of your life. Let go and enjoy all your months of planning and hard work!
What are your favorite types of venues to shoot? What types of venues do you think work best?
I realize that people choose venues for all sorts of reasons and can understand and appreciate that, but personally, I think my photography style lends itself well to outdoor natural light ceremonies and receptions. Late summer nights in Napa or Carmel … vineyards, fields, courtyards… locations that incorporate nature photograph really well. If I had my choice, I would never photograph another hotel banquet hall wedding.
How do you like to get to know the couple before they let you in on their big day?
If a client opts out of an engagement session then I usually insist that we at least go out for dinner to get to know each other. I take a limited amount of bookings a year so that I can focus my attention on my clients. There is nothing worse than showing up to a wedding having not met the bride/groom yet! Unlike your florist or cake artist, your photographer is by your side the entire wedding day- take the time and invest in that relationship and you’ll find the experience to be delightful!
Thank you, Meg, for sharing your talent and expertise with us!
(Since we’re on the topic of beautiful portraits, here’s a snap of the lovely Meg herself)