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Late afternoon emanates long, golden sunrays that make for beautiful back- and side-lighting opportunities. Early morning light offers the same beauty, but in order to catch those long rays, you’d need to start your ceremony very early. Mid day is the least photogenic. As the sun hovers overhead at around noon, it casts long nose shadows and not enough light around the eyes, making them look sunken. Pictures can look very contrasty at mid day because the difference in exposure between the bright areas and the shadow areas is greater. So that’s when you get a half-black/half-white face with distracting shadows.
Often the timing is solely determined by the officiant and reception venue, and depends on availability. If you can speak with your photographer before determining the timing for the day, that would be ideal.
4. Think Collaboration
“Every wedding is really a collaborative effort, and everyone’s suggestions are invaluable to the success of one’s wedding photos,” remarks Gold. “I’m always happy to have families and bridal party members at my side when photographing, aware that creative photographic teamwork invariably leads to better photographs.” But Del Conte and Menk caution that it’s a fine line between collaboration and interference with the creative process. As Del Conte notes, “It really isn’t easy to have everybody looking great in one place. Wedding photography is a participation sport—the photographer can’t create the pictures unless everyone is involved.” She argues that it’s distracting to those being photographed when the guests are shooting at the same time, and it makes it hard for the photographer to shoot quickly. Menk takes it a step further and requests that only one person be her point person for specific photo requests at the reception. “It interrupts my rhythm and creative flow,” she explains. “And I could end up taking orders rather than actually shooting pictures.”
5. Eventful Moments
At a wedding at Wynkoop House in Stone Ridge, a nervous bride stood at the top of the aisle. She didn’t at all like being in front of the camera. Edkins tells the story of joking with her and reminding her that she would thank her for it later. “She got so relaxed she even waved at the camera when she was waiting for the processional,” Edkins recalls.
The trick for those limelit wedding moments is to smile, smile, smile, even if you just feel nervous and stressed. It may be just the thing to get those endorphins going and get you to remember that the best thing you can bring to your wedding is a sense of humor. When walking down the aisle, it’s a nice sentiment to want to appear serious, but the camera will see it as solemn or scared. On the other hand, when you enter the reception, it’s more photogenic to laugh than to “Woo-hoo!” It’s just always more flattering to smile.
That being said, there are some practical tips for fighting off the camera-face jitters. One idea for formals is to look at the photographer’s trigger finger rather than into the lens. You begin to concentrate on when the photographer shoots and forget that your photo is being made. The angle of your eyes is also more flattering and somewhat angelic, though still direct. Put your hands on your hips to make your upper arms look thinner. Similarly, if you’re self-conscious about your arms, skip it and just wear sleeves. So many wedding dresses these days are strapless, but not everyone has the arms and shoulders for them. Save yourself from your own scrutiny later, and let your arms be covered and comfortable. Or if it’s a double-chin you hate, try standing with your feet slightly apart, one in front of the other. Lean your weight on the front leg, and drop your chin ever so slightly. To achieve a truly happy expression, if you’re not feeling it right then, think about someone who really loves you and always thinks you look great—your new spouse, perhaps—and put a picture of him or her in your mind.
7. Getting to Know Each Other
Most photographers appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the wedding couple before the big day. It helps them to better create personalized photographs. Zupcu strongly suggests doing an engagement shoot prior to the wedding. “I see how they respond to the camera and, most importantly, they get to see my work before their wedding day. I need confident, relaxed, and great expressions for my camera at their wedding day,” Zupcu says. Menk tells of a wedding she shot for days. “I started days before the wedding and ended up the last one at the reception,” she says. “I shot the bride making the cake with her mother days before. It made a great story, and I loved doing it.” Edkins agrees that the better a client can identify and communicate their dream images to her, the easier it is to make that happen.