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20 things your photographer wants you to know | indiana county, pa photographer

By July 14, 2017 No Comments

how to get the most out of your wedding photography coverage

I’ve shot WAY over 250 weddings…probably over 300 but at some point I lost count. Let’s just say, I’ve been doing this a long time and it “ain’t my first rodeo!”. If you’re a past bride of mine, we’ve probably already chatted about these things, if you’re a future bride of mine….we will be chatting about these things! haha! Here’s the thing, you hired your photographer for a reason. Maybe it’s because you loved their work/style, maybe it’s because you love their personality or HOPEFULLY it’s because of both.  Regardless, you spent A LOT of money. It’s an investment and because I LOVE what I do and if you know my story, you know that I’m very passionate about documenting your family. I want you to get the most out of your wedding photography coverage. Some of the things below will help you get better photos…and in some case MORE photos. In true Jen McKen fashion, I babble a lot. #sorrynotsorry

I could have kept this short and sweet but I decided to just “GO FOR IT”. I know there are tons more I could share but in an effort to not write a novel, there are 20 below….. and if you are a Bride Alum, I’d love to hear from you. What should brides know so that they can get the best out of their wedding images? Comment below!

Here are a few tips from me:

  1. Please get ready in a room with windows….trust me, florescent lights do NOTHING for you! I encourage brides to get ready inside of their childhood homes, their apartment or even a hotel room with lots of window light. The atmosphere you choose to get ready in will set the tone of your images. Example: church basement with florescent light, stacked up chairs, jesus posters and bright blue carpet OR your childhood home where the piano you played as a child is in the background or chair your mom use to rock you to sleep on-you get my point.
  2. Hair dressers (no offense) are almost ALWAYS the reason that weddings run late. IF YOU CAN, have them come to you-coupled with a fantastic makeup artist and you will be golden!
  3. Trial Run: This goes for not only your hair…but also for your makeup. Any reputable makeup artist will offer a trial run. You don’t have to stay up all night before your wedding wandering if you’re going to look like a clown! haha! While we are on the makeup artist topic, it’s important to let your makeup artist know what time you MUST be done by. If it runs over, it’s cutting into photo time. You might have a pretty made up face…but you won’t have a whole lot of photos to show of artist
  4. IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, do not put your gown on moments before walking down the aisle. For two reasons, first just in case something needs to be fixed last minute ( a beads loose, a string is hanging, etc.) you will have time to have it fixed but also, sometimes the best photos are taken when the Brides is dressed and hanging out and laughing with her bridesmaids and special moments with your Dad.
  5. In keeping with the “not getting dressed moments before going down the aisle”, I highly encourage you to consider a “first look” before your ceremony. Where you get to see your groom ALONE and without a crowd. This gives you 10-15 minutes before walking down the aisle to have some time together. I promise the entire day will go by so fast these few moments alone will be something you will treasure for ever. It also allows for us to photograph the majority of the formal photos before your ceremony which means you can join cocktail hour with your guests OR go to another location for even MORE photos!
  6. Bring flat shoes. For the LOVE OF GOD…bring flat shoes. Here’s the thing, sure your high heels are gorgeous and you are “used to wearing them at work all day”, but you have to stand in ONE spot during your ceremony and then stand there again in one spot during family photos and then year them longer for your portraits-trust me, they will hurt. I always tell my brides, there is a lot of things I can edit in and out of a photo-a pained face is not one of them! Half the time no one can even see what shoes you’re wearing anyways.
  7. Your dress IS going to get dirty. News flash……your dress will get dirty-it’s going to happen. With that said, please keep in mind your photo locations. If you are wanting photos in a field or near a barn, you will get grass, bugs, or specs of dirt on your dress somewhere.  There is absolutely no way around it. If that is something that will stress you out, then choosing an alternative photo location would be in your best interest. If you’re “I’m only going to wear this dress one time, let’s get amazing photos” kind of person…honey, let’s march right into that field.
  8. You will feel rushed. Listen, from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you are taking off your dancing shoes at night…it’s going to feel rushed. You will feel pulled in all directions and you’ll be moving from one thing to the next. Hair, makeup, getting dressed, walking down the aisle, family photos, wedding party photos, being announced, dinner, mingling with guests, first dance, other dance, more dance…’s goes so fast. I will work with you during the timeline meeting to schedule in a little wiggle time here and there so that you can stop and smell the roses- literally! Take it in and admire everything you worked so hard for in the past year and share a few laughs with your wedding party.brides maids being photobombed on the north shore of pittsburgh pa
  9. Give us time: while I’m on the topic of timelines…give us time. We can do a lot of magic with our cameras but only if we have the time to do it. We need amble time to do family portraits, wedding portraits, bride and groom portraits. The more time you give us…the more creative they will be. If we have very little time, we usually end up getting what I like to call “the safe shots”-the must haves and it leaves us no time to get creative. I bet the reason you hired us to begin with was because you loved the images on our website….those images were taken with amble time.
  10. Eat something. A hangry bride is nothing to mess with. ahaha. But seriously, eat something before getting on your dress even if it’s something small. The next time you will get to eat won’t be until dinner and half the time brides and grooms are too busy with people approaching them that they don’t even get to eat that.
  11.  Limo drivers….or bus drivers or whatever other mode of transportation you will be taking: make sure they have the address of the destination they will be driving. You have NO IDEA how many weddings I have shot where the driver asks *ME* the photographer how to get to the reception. I’ve been asked to bring it up on my phone-what?!? Also check to make sure the driver is from the area and is familiar with one way streets and didn’t JUST move into town. The less time we get lost, the more time we have for photos!
  12. Be spontaneous. Ok, listen, I’ve been told my many clients (both wedding and portrait clients) that they want spontaneous photos. I LOVE that so so so much….but here’s the thing, you have to *BE* spontaneous.
  13. Pinterest is GREAT for inspiration but not for duplication. I love when clients give me pinterest boards full of photos they find cool. I take those and store them in the back of my mind and put my own spin on them….but I wont’ copy them. When we start copying them, not only is it not original…but it isn’t your moment…it’s their moment-let’s create YOUR own moments. Sometimes images that are copied feel and look very staged, it’s because IT IS!!!
  14. Flowers: make sure your florist is delivering the flowers to where you’re getting ready if you decide to have a first look. First look photos take place before the ceremony and usually in a different location that the ceremony so if your flowers are being delivered to the church/ceremony space, we won’t have flowers for your photos. You paid for those puppies, let’s get them it the photos. 
  15. Rules of the church: speaking of ceremony, make sure you speak with your officiant on any rules the church may have for the photographers. Some churches are VERY strict and only allow us to stand in the back-no where else. That means all of your images are from one view point and angle. We must obey the rules and we don’t want you to be disappointed so knowing ahead of time is key. I’ve shot at churches where the photographer had to stay outside the ceremony space…I’m not kidding. We shot thru the key hole of the door. True Story.
  16. Be creative + adventurous with your locations. I get it, parks, trees, flowers, water falls….they are all pretty don’t get me wrong, but they don’t really tell your story. Think of it like this…so you met at a coffee shop while in college and you went there for many of your after class “dates”….let’s go THERE for photos. You will have an image to point to in 30-40 years and have a story to tell behind it. Imagine the story you will tell about that tree you are standing in front of! haha! I know not everyone will be able to go to the place they met, but getting creative and thinking outside the box will make your photos more unique and tell your story visually a lot better.
  17. Your wedding doesn’t have to be “fancy”. As a matter of fact, some of my favorite weddings were simple back yard weddings. We promise to get you amazing images no matter if your wedding cost 100K or 1K. My only requirement is that you must have a cookie table…joking-or am I?! haha
  18. I’m going to pull you out at dark. We’ll take lots of portraits during the daylight hours and before your reception, but sometimes the lighting is amazing, we have a sunset or the city lights are twinkling and make for a beautiful setting. We might pull you outside for a few shots before we leave but never during anything important. It’s so worth it and it makes a GREAT ending shot for your album.
  19. Get an album. In the digital age where no one is printing their images and keeping them online to share on social media, albums are even more valuable. I’m sure your Grandma and Great Grandma had wedding albums, I’m sure you pointed to the photos and laughed about their hairstyle or fashion choice of dress…don’t rob your Grandchildren of the same things. Give them the opportunity to laugh at you! Get your images printed! We can design a custom heirloom album for you where the images won’t fall out or fade.example of what an inside of the wedding album looks like
  20. Hire a good DJ. oh dear lord, I’ve been to some weddings where you can tell it’s cousin Bobby controlling the music. I’ll be honest, your DJ helps to set the atmosphere for your reception and can really dictate how many images you get. My favorite part of a wedding is the reception. It’s when everyone cuts loose and you can get some great images of relatives on the dance floor. It’s hard to take photos of people who aren’t dancing. A good DJ should be able to MC the night, have a great personality, have a professional set up and keep your night flowing and the energy high.bride and groom dancing at wedding reception


I’d love to hear from the Bride Alums…..what is something you’d like future Brides to know? Comment below.

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