Emma & Rich’s Top Tips for awesome wedding photos!

Before we start, the most important thing to say is;

“It’s your day, Do what you want!”

People often ask us how they can help us make their photos as awesome as possible.

So here are a few of our tips for getting epic wedding photographs!


Man carrying three glasses of bucks fizz.

before the big day

Getting to know each other, this can be super important. We may not meet until your wedding, but that’s not a problem. Most of the time we only meet people on the morning of their wedding.  The magic of the internet means we can email, zoom, chat on the telephone, do the social media thing – whatever you’re happy with. If you fancy a trip to the seaside we can always meet up for ice cream. If you want a bit of a test run or an engagement shoot, give us a shout and we can send you over our prices.

If you want to talk weddings to someone, we’re here. Let us know what you’re planning, what you’re excited about and if you need some recommendations just let us know. We’ve met loads of suppliers and built up quite a few contacts over the last few years. If you want us to photograph invites, please send us a spare one and we’ll make sure it’s in the gallery!

Now is also a good time to check if there are any photography restrictions with your venue/officiant (more on this later).

Your final balance is due a month before your wedding. (Shout if you need to know what you owe.) This is when we will send you over a questionnaire for all the final details, if we can get this back at least a week before the big day then we can be fully prepared.

We can’t wait to shoot you work with you!


two recently married men pose together in a sunbeam in an ornate Georgian drawing room. Allerton Castle wedding photography by emma and rich.

DO YOU SEE THE LIGHT?

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.”  Alfred Stieglitz said that apparently.

It should be, ‘wherever there is awesome light, we can make magic happen’ Emma + Rich, 2018.

Light is probably something you’ve not considered when it comes to planning your wedding, the majority of it (especially outside) will depend on the elements, but there are parts you can influence.

As a rule we use natural light for most of the day, till the sun goes down or we all go inside. We’d rather your photos feel like your day as well as look like it. Flash can be jarring sometimes so we like to wait till it’s absolutely necessary to bring out the artificial light. After years of shooting in good, bad and crazy light, we’ve got a few tips to help you consider how you can work with the light.

  • Get ready somewhere nice and bright. Big windows and airy rooms are perfect for us and all the hair and make up folks. We’ve known people ask the hotel for their brightest room or book an airbnb especially for awesome getting ready shots. The latter helps to avoid fire exits and other random signage. The less artificial light the better. Some bulbs cast terrible yellow glare and LED strip lights do weird things to cameras which mean we have to use flash.
  • If you’re planning to get married outside, cool. We know you can never guarantee the weather in the UK, but it’s worth a shot. It’s always good to have a backup plan just in case. If you’re having a registrar wedding, then you will be in an approved room or covered outside area as that’s the law. Consider a Humanist ceremony if you want a proper outdoor ceremony. Midday is when the sun is highest and if we’re outside and it’s sunny that is the worst time for shadows. This light will give you panda eyes and toothbrush mustache shadows and we’ll do our best to not leave you looking like Chaplin Pandas.
  • Clouds? Yeah, surprisingly they’re our favourites. We always confuse people when we tell them clouds are better than harsh direct sunlight. Nature’s softbox.
  • Indoor ceremonies, if the room is super light and white and bright, then we’re all onto a winner. If you have a choice of rooms it’s worth opting for the brightest. Or one massive window next to where you get married is also cool.
  • Sunsets, not as common as Pinterest would lead you to believe. If you want sunset photos, cool, let us know. We will try our hardest to get you them, if it’s not cloudy. Think about timings and work out when sunset will be. About 30 minutes before the sun goes down is your best bet in our experience. We’ve been known to steal people away from dessert for amazing light, it’s always worth it.
  • When it’s dark. Fairy lights are awesome, you can never have enough. Try not to have loads of orange/yellow/red lights and uplighters, natural coloured lights are better.
  • DJ/Band lighting. If you want AMAZING dancing shots – make sure your entertainment has a great lighting setup. If they have those terrible laser dots we will ask them to turn them off (we can’t guarantee they will listen to us). We’ve seen DJs with a laptop and a speaker, so it’s always worth checking.

To sum it all up, don’t stress too much about the light (or weather for that matter). We’ve worked everywhere from bright sunshine to dark cellars and made it work. If you have questions about timings and things, give us a shout and we’ll figure it out together.


getting ready

We love when we rock up to where you’re getting ready and there’s calm and people just chilling out. Then as time ticks on the calm often turns to excitement with just a smidge of chaos. We’ll say it now, don’t forget to eat, drink something (not just booze) and get an awesome playlist made of your favourite choons. Sometimes people aren’t sure if they want us to cover this part of the day, we’ve always talked people round and no one has ever regretted it. It’s part of the story of your day and what’s a good story without a beginning? We don’t run in cameras blazing, we start steady so it doesn’t overwhelm anyone. By the time you’re suited and booted, we should be part of the furniture.

We normally split up at this point if we can, one of you each. If you’re getting ready together that usually means you get us both! We suggest that we get there two hours before the ceremony, this gives us plenty of time to capture you getting ready. If you have stuff you want capturing like shoes and your dress make sure it’s all readily accessible so we don’t have to spend loads of time sorting things out and missing the good bits. As for where you get ready, tidy-ish is good but don’t feel the need to strip rooms back. We will embrace your space if you’re at home as this will make for better nostalgia.

One thing to remember is that we don’t direct pictures for most of your day. Groups, portraits of the two of you and the odd moment, that’s about it. We’ll save the groups for later in the day when you’re wed and more relaxed. We will occasionally spot some awesome light and pop you into it, just trust us to do our thang! In fact most of your day will be our quest for finding the best light.

We love light and airy rooms, it’s worth aiming to get ready in somewhere with a lot of natural light as this helps us get the best photographs. It will also help hair and make up artists too. Give your outfit a test run well before the wedding day if you can (with the people dressing you), all those knots and bows can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Aim to be in your outfit at least half an hour before you’re due to leave, this way we can get off to the venue before you and capture your guests arriving.

Top Tips

Learning how to tie your tie or put a frock on will save time and stress on the day, trust us.

If your bridesmaids and groomsmen get dressed first, they won’t be in PJs when they’re helping you get ready.

Only have people you need and love with you, don’t let any stress heads in as they won’t be helpful. 

If you want special shots of your dress/shoes/flowers/cufflinks etc let us know. We will treat everything as if it was our own and don’t take unnecessary risks.

If you’re in a hotel ask for the room with the most light, if you’re at home make sure someone is on tidying duty if you’re staying there the night before. We don’t tidy, or touch stuff – we shoot real life. 

Don’t forget to eat something, have a glass of something fizzy, if it all gets too much – close your eyes and take five deep breaths.


the ceremony

This is when we meet up and get to shoot together for the rest of your day. Emma normally shoots at the front and Rich covers the rear. That’s if we’re allowed.

Depending where you’re getting wed and who is doing the deed, will depend on what the rules are. We’ve been made to hide at the back on occasion and have heard stories about photographers being made to wait outside. Please check what the rules are, if you can, we appreciate it might not be possible beforehand. Obviously we’ll do our best whatever the situation, but we do have to follow the rules, which are subject to change on the day, as has happened at a couple of church weddings in the past.

Another thing to consider are the paparazzi, sorry, your guests. Everyone will turn up with a camera and depending on whether you want to see your friends and family, or a sea of cameras and phones is totally up to you. If you would rather that your guests were present in your big moment, tell them. You can make a sign, write it on the invites, ask the officiant to mention it… there’s loads of ways to do it. If you need ideas of words, have a google for ‘unplugged ceremony’.

This is loads better than people stepping out in front of us with selfie sticks, tablets and even balancing on Emma’s shoulders (yep, has totally happened). Obviously if it happens, it happens, but it’s better to not have those key shots blocked by Uncle Bob.

Oh and we can get better shots of your guests when their faces aren’t obscured by technology so it’s a win/win!


confetti time

We’ve written a whole blog post about this that you can read by clicking here.

Gone are the days when everyone would turn up to a wedding with a box of confetti. If you want that killer confetti shot, it’s best to provide it yourself. Doesn’t have to be the old school rice paper though – whatever takes your fancy!

Oh and bring loads, there is no such thing as too much confetti. Probably double what you think you need.

Make sure to tell us if you’re having confetti and we can be ready for the big moment, it takes a little bit of organising people to make it AMAZING.


post ceremony

No one tells you this, but this is where you get hugged. If you’re wearing a veil, someone will pull it off and you may be given a horseshoe or twelve.

We very rarely see this in a wedding timeline but it ALWAYS happens and it’s where we can usually get a shot of 90% of your wedding guests without too much trouble. Embrace the hugs (LOL) and make sure there’s time for a quick hello, usually after the confetti, because it’s just bloody lovely stuff.


bridesmaids laughing having their photo taken at a scarborough wedding venue

group photographs

Time for a serious talk. This is probably one of the most stressful bits of the day for everyone. Rich uses the phrase ‘herding cats’ and he’s not wrong.  We like to get groups done after the ceremony and before we have some ‘us’ time doing your portraits. Once these are done people can go smoke, get crisps, have a toilet – whatever they want. From experience it’s easy to keep hold of people straight after the ceremony (and confetti/hugging), but if you have a particular place/time in mind – that’s also cool.

We’ve found that 6-8 group shots is a perfect amount. One big group, friends, family and bridal party seems to work well without people getting smile-ache. Prepare people for group shots, if you’re doing a day plan for guests to see, build it into the plan so they know not to wander too far.

If you have a spot in mind, awesome. Be prepared that if it’s super sunny/rainy we might need to find some shade to get the best photographs. This is cool, we are firm believers that everything happens for a reason and weather is probably one of the only things you can’t control.

If you allocate people to help us with finding people for this we will love you forever. Anything to make your day less stressful is a good thing. Give them the list and while we’re shooting they can be getting the next folk ready – you’d be surprised how much lipstick needs to be applied at this moment!

Most importantly, relax, smile and enjoy the moment.


couple photographs

We love this bit, just the four of us heading off for a little bit of quiet time. We don’t steal you away for ages, unless you ask us to of course. Instead of allocating a big chunk of your day for photographs we prefer to steal you away for one or two 15 minute breaks. Don’t worry about posing, we get you comfortable together and then the magic happens. It’s also a good time to have a breather as wedding days get very intense – very quickly.

If you want to head off somewhere special for photos be sure to build the time into your day. We’ve been known to make even the funkiest and strangest spots look good so you don’t need to worry if it rains or something unforseen happens.

We will often grab you if we see amazing light (see above) or something epic, this is when you have to trust us!


candid photographs

This is where we say “this is what we do”. A small chunk of the day is spent doing the couple and group shots – then the majority of the day is doing this bit. Capturing you and your nearest and dearest having a smashing time. Most people come to us and say they want natural and documentary shots of their day, this is ace as it’s the best way of telling the story of your day.

No posing, hell, most of the time you won’t know we’re there or will have given up caring about the cameras. Our best advice is relax, enjoy yourselves, live the moment and that will shine through in the photographs.


feeding us + breaks

In a nutshell – if you can feed us – awesome. We spend an average of 8-10 hours loaded with kit at each wedding we shoot and when we’re fed, we’re so much happier. It doesn’t have to be a full 3 course meal; one course, a bar meal or a sandwich is absolutely fine. We don’t take the mick and the opportunity to rest our feet is most welcome. The most important thing is that we can scoff when you are, so we’re not being fed when the speeches are happening. If we can sit with your guests that’s even better as we can be ready to strike if anything exciting happens. No one really enjoys being photographed while having their dinner, so we keep our snapping to a minimum at this time.

If we don’t get fed, we have to go and fend for ourselves, which can take us away from the action and we hate that. Most venues won’t let us bring our own food and sitting in the car trying to eat is never a fun game.

Even if we’re having a break, we never truly stop. Our heads are constantly on a swivel looking out for a cool moment to photograph, a neat bit of framing to take advantage of or some killer light to catch people in. It takes us about three days to recover from shooting a wedding, we pour our hearts and souls into it, so anything that helps keep us going is gratefully received.


The speeches

Make sure you sit together for this bit, and squeeze those chairs as close as they go. Aim to sit in a nice bit of light and we’ll try to ensure the speakers are in nice light too.

Timings wise, we think a maximum of ten minutes per speech is a pretty good length. We’ve seen some of the longest life stories go on for an hour and that’s quite a lot for people to sit through, especially if there are other speeches as well. We’ve also heard the most beautiful, heartfelt words last a minute. It’s really about quality over quantity here.

As for whether you have your speeches before or after your food, it’s entirely up to you. One thing to remember is if you have nervous speakers, before food will make them 100% happier. They’ll be able to relax, have a drink and enjoy their food. If it’s been a while since canapes, you may want to have speeches after the meal, if you don’t have nervous speakers, this works well. Just please not between courses, we don’t know why this trend has taken off but your venue, suppliers, and most importantly, the kitchen/catering staff won’t thank you for that (all it takes is for one speech to overrun and the next course is either getting cold or drying out). It’s also when your guests usually get to chat and make friends.


the dancing bit

We love a good party, so we hang around till the party is in full swing. If there’s no one dancing I will go and request some Madness to get people moving – it NEVER fails. We generally stay for a good couple of hours of dancing (after the first dance) to capture awesome – or until we can shoot no more. Depends if you’ve booked us till 9pm, midnight or a specially arranged finish time. If you’re up for it we sometimes grab one more couple shot for the road…more on that in the ‘after dark’ section.


newlywed couple kissing in the rain with umbrellas - the cowshed at woodall farm wedding photography by emma and rich

after dark

Depending on the time of year we love to take one more shot in the dark (excuse the pun), one for the road if you will. They’re something we often pull out of the bag at Autumn/Winter weddings as there is much less sunshine then.

If you would love a shot like this, please let us know before the day. We can plan it into your evening so we don’t disturb you from the dancing!


what happens next?

Previews

In the week following your wedding there will be a few select photos posted on our blog and our social media. Get ’em shared with your friends and family.

Editing + Processing Time

It can take 8-12 weeks to get your full gallery ready for you, especially in summer when there are ALL the weddings. As soon as they’re ready we’ll send you a link so you can get comfy and relive your day. We love to hear what you think when you’ve seen em, your galleries are our babies and we like to know that everything’s OK with them once they’ve flown the coop.

Copyright + Personal Image Use

We always retain full copyright for our images. This protects our work and you personally. You do get full personal usage rights for your images which covers pretty much everything you can think of. Post em on Facebook, get prints and photobooks made, share the gallery with your guests and people who couldn’t make the party – who can also get prints made. Personal use does not cover editing images (Instagram filters for example) but cropping is fine. If any of your other suppliers would like to use our images – that’s cool. You can send them this link or just tell them to get in touch. We’re generally cool and groovy (if you are too) for most uses but we like to check what they’re for as we have to charge for a handful of uses.

Prints, albums and stuff like that…

We are massive believers of printing your photos. We have an ever growing photo wall in our office at home and we’re always ordering prints. In your gallery you can order professional quality prints directly and they’re not as expensive as you might think. If you want an album or photobook after the wedding – get in touch. The old school gift for a first wedding anniversary is something paper – prints and albums work well for this!

Goodbyes

We hate goodbyes, Emma always cries, even at schmaltzy adverts. So if you want more shoots in the future we would love to give you a repeat customer price! Family shoots, couple shoots, a shoot with your pets or even wearing your fancy outfits again and going on an adventure – we’re up for most things. So yeah, keep in touch and NO sad goodbyes.

We cannot wait to talk about your day!

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