So, the big day is near and you’ve hired a fantastic wedding photographer.  Here are a few tips on ways to make sure you get the most out of him/her:

1. Clean your room
I know it’s a madhouse in there with the bridesmaids, moms, make-up and hair, etc but if you can manage to stuff as much crap in the closet as possible you’ll like your pictures a little bit more. Give your wedding photographer a clean room and a made bed and he’ll have more to work with.

wedding photography quide 1

2. Make a list
Wedding photographers are always told to have a “shot list” for the formal portraits after the ceremony. It’s a complete break-down of all the “must-have” pictures and looks like this:

Bride with Mom and Dad
Bride/Groom with Mom and Dad
Bride with Grandparents
Groom with Parents
Bride with 2nd cousin twice removed
Groom with friend from college who still owes him 20 bucks

The problem with the “must-have” list is that it’s generic.  It contains every possible picture combination you could ever hope to want in an effort to make sure that nothing is missed.  Sounds great in theory except that we are working on borrowed time. We typically have less than an hour to get all the formal pictures and the romantic shots of the bride and groom.  The last thing you want to do is waste time shooting pictures that you don’t really want.

That’s why I always encourage couples to make their own list.  That way I only shoot what they want and we have more time for the fun/romantic stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, these group shots are important but I’m betting that you didn’t pick your photographer because he’s great at shooting groups.  The more time he has to be creative, the more creative he’ll be.

3. Lock down your hair
This is specifically for outdoor weddings, especially beach weddings.  Be sure your hairstylist puts a solid coat of hairspray on your hair if you want to keep it out of your face for the pictures.  I can’t stress this enough on the beach.  Seriously, spackle or joint compound might be necessary on some days. Your hair should be so stiff that it qualifies as a motorcycle helmet.

4. Talk to  your guests about camera etiquette
There are three types of guests at your wedding:

“Uncle Bob” – I’ve written about “Uncle Bob” before so his behavior is well documented.  In short, “Uncle Bob” is the guest who thinks that the pictures they are taking are more important than the ones being taken by the wedding photographer.  He gets in the way all night, stepping in front of your photographer, distracting people during group shots, standing up during the ceremony, etc.  If you have one of these people in your family, talk to them before the wedding and ask them to please stay out of the way. They are good people, these “Uncle Bob’s”… they just don’t realize what they are doing.

wedding photography quide 2

Don’t worry, you’re not in the way…

Let’s Party – These are the people who never take a picture the whole day. They throw themselves into the moment, watching, hugging, dancing, drinking. They are celebrating the day… which is exactly what you are supposed to do at a wedding. We love these people and they look great in the photographs.

Everyone else – Don’t be afraid to ask your guests to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony (or any other time).  I know that sounds harsh, but the problem is that it’s changed so much in the last few years.  It used to be that there were always a few people taking pictures… a snapshot or two.. but now, every guest has a smart phone in front of their face for the whole wedding.  Instead of snapping one picture of the bride walking down the aisle, they snap twenty.  People never actually watch anything anymore.  I wouldn’t care so much except that it’s getting to the point where I’m photographing the bride walking in a sea of phones… no faces, no smiles, no tears… just the backs of phones. (Don’t get me started on the people that bring an Ipad to the wedding.) I suspect that it’s just one of those things that we have to get used to because it’s not going to change but when wedding photographers get together and talk, this always comes up.

5. Eat your dinner
You need to eat. It’s a long day and you still have a ways to go before you are done. Also, your photographer needs to eat and that’s hard to do if you decide to walk around and hug everyone the minute that dinner starts. I have a hard time putting down my camera if I see my couple standing up for fear that I will miss an important shot.  Also, dinner is the only time when everyone is at the tables so we can get the “table shots.”  In a perfect world, we get our food as soon as the couple does. That way, we can spend 10 minutes eating while the couple are eating and everyone else is at the bar. Then, we are done just as everyone else is getting the main course which means they are all in their seats for the “table shots.”

You’ll get better table shots this way and you’ll be rested and fed for the rest of the night which means better pictures of you. :)

6. Public displays of affection
Don’t be shy.  This is the one day where you can fawn all over someone, making googly eyes and kissing every 10 seconds, without people groaning.  If you want emotional pictures you have to be willing to show emotion.  Whatever you are feeling, let it show.  You’ll be so glad you did when you see your images.

Not the emotion I had in mind but great just the same!

Not the emotion I had in mind but great just the same!

7. Don’t talk too much during the first dance
Everyone is taking pictures of you during the first dance.  Take this time to really soak in what’s happening, tell each other a secret, tell each other how happy you are. Don’t use this time to discuss whether or not you packed everything for the honeymoon or why your cousin showed up in a skirt that stops just south of her belly-button.  Be romantic or silly or both.

kapok wedding 2

8. Have an open mind
Some of my best work starts with this sentence, “Okay, this may sound strange but I want to try something…”

Don’t be afraid to do something different.  If your wedding photographer wants you to hang upside down on the monkey bars, give it a shot. It may be the coolest picture you take all day. Then again, it may not work at all and if that happens, he’ll get rid of it and no one’s the wiser.  Remember, there’s a reason you hired the creative photographer so throw caution to the wind and let him create.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to throw some ideas in there yourself.  Any photographer who isn’t open to new ideas from his clients isn’t much of a photographer.

Bride's idea and I love it!

Bride’s idea and I love it!

 Booray Perry is an award-winning wedding photographer in Tampa Bay. View more of his work on his website at