5 Things Brides Wish Their Wedding Photographers Knew

Guest Writer's and Dale and Jill Lempa of Lempa Creative are a husband and wife team of photographers from Cary, NC who specialize in wedding and engagement photography. If you're a wedding photographer, then you can understand how stressful or hectic weddings are. Sometimes it might not occur that the bride is just as, if not more stressed out than we are. Dale and Jill have taken the time to share these helpful insights in just what the bride is thinking and how you as the photographer can help!

1) “I have no idea what to do with my body when you are taking pictures. I am not the photographer—you are. I cannot see how I look— you can. Unless you instruct me exactly how to place every limb, finger, and tilt of my head, I will nervously stand there with a less than convincing smile because I am not confident in my pose. I am going into this with the assumption that you will tell me how to do everything.”

The best thing to do is keep the bride’s mind occupied on anything other than how uncomfortable she feels. Keep her relaxed. It will show in the photographs if the bride enjoys herself. Talk her through it and constantly direct her. If she is perfectly posed and doesn’t require any more adjusting, then tell her that too!

2) “Please tell me the photos are looking great. If you spend an hour straight shooting me and never once tell me that these photos are turning out, I will begin to lose confidence in you.”

The bride has no idea what is running through your mind. You must constantly reassure her that you are in control and that you love the look of the photos and that you are enjoying coming up with ideas. You don’t need to tell her that you used the same poses last week. Assure her that you are giving her your full ability, ingenuity, and attention, and that you are loving every minute of your work.

3) “Your pre-rehearsed jokes are not funny and it would be better if you didn’t say them at all. All you are doing is making me feel even more awkward than I already feel. Please be original and genuine and if you aren’t funny— that’s fine, just don’t try to be funny.”

Pre-rehearsed jokes are abominable. Even if you think you can make them sound genuine, you can’t. Do not use them. Instead, work out of the moment and try to have a goofy mind when you are socializing with the couple. Without becoming unprofessional, you have to be willing to make a slight fool of yourself; this will put the bride at ease and it will result in better facial expressions and body language, which of course results in better photos.

4) “I do not feel comfortable posing pictures in front of everyone. Please find a quiet, private place to take my photos—especially if you are shooting just me, or just my groom and me together. I definitely do not feel comfortable posing a kiss in front of other people.”

This is absolutely necessary! The bride and groom already feel a little awkward about all the fuss over them (most do), so you must whisk them away for their couple’s photos. This will also be a much needed breather for the two and probably the only time that they have together away from all of their guests and wedding party. Ideally, when shooting formals, work from the largest group and then whittle it down to just the bride and groom. As you are finished with each group, send them away. We typically begin with the family, then move to the wedding party, and then to just the couple. Be clear but polite that you want everyone to leave as they are finished. You may have to put your foot down with some people, but remember that you are working for the couple, not the family, wedding party, or guests. Your couple will appreciate it—but only if you deliver high quality photos!

5) “I want some candid shots and I want them to look natural. There are a few things that I have seen online that I want and I expect you to know exactly what I am talking about and I expect you to be able to recreate it beautifully.”

You need to know the current trends even if you don’t like them. I personally prefer coming up with my own ideas, but your bride almost certainly has seen something somewhere that she wants you to duplicate. You need to know what she’s talking about and you need to be able to deliver. You don’t have to use it in your own marketing, but you do need to be able to perform that for your client.

See more of Dale and Jill's work at Lempa Creative.

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48 Comments

Kyle Sanders's picture

Simply put, it's these kinds of things that separates a professional from the "friend with a good camera".

LaRon Stewart's picture

Not neccessarily. A friend with a camera, and the knowledge and aesthetic, that knows both the bride and groom would probably fair better, and that is the point I think the author is trying to make. You have to come off as a good friend who just happens to be taking pictures. It puts everyone at ease, and the day goes by so smoothly that the couple won't feel like they're being photographed.

Edea Krammer's picture

Well said! Two thumbs up! I share the same thoughts… xoxo:D
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John Drew's picture

Like@facebook-100004364947211:disqus , I agree with her assessment @facebook-12706346:disqus .  I have been able to develop a working friendship with couples by first getting to know them and as much as possible seeing the day through their eyes first and then adding all that I see around them that they miss by just being the focus of everyone else. It's important for us as professionals to remember that it's not our day but theirs and the moment only happens once. @profimagephoto:disqus

Kenneth Wright's picture

True, yet what percentage of people have that friend? Very few, I bet.

George Hull's picture

A high percentage, I bet. The problem is that we think that our gear or skill will be the deciding factor. It's the friendship that is the deciding factor, and it is the reason that the friend that used their iPhone to take pictures ends up taking photos that actually mattered more to brides and grooms. Knowing your client and having that relationship to them is what allows you to use your gear as a tool to connect them to what matters most.

paul jay's picture

Thats 'simply put' soooooo not true.
Friends with a good camera and great talent do exist!
Ive seen too many 'professional' wedding series that were uninspired, non creative and clinical.
'Professional' doesnt guarantee that the results are great.You choose a photographer because you like their style, and if that's your talented photographer friend with a good camera, why not.

Kyle Sanders's picture

Sure friends exist that do - and sure they make great photos too, but the point of paying for a professional is that you are paying for results. Be it a plumber, photographer, or civil engineer, you are paying for their experience and ability to problem solve and deliver. Bad plumbers exist just as bad photographers, and it's up to the client to sort that out. I don't shoot weddings professionally, so i'll bring my gear to friends' weddings sometimes and take some fun shots - but it's exactly that: me taking the shots I want to take that will look good to me. I'm not responsible for, nor do i feel the pressure to capture the kiss, the cake cut, and everything else on the "must have" list. I'm just there to snap the moments that inspire my eye.

Now when I show up to a client's shoot, they could care less about my whims. They have a product they want glorified, and they are spending their marketing budget on you to make it happen. FF vs APS-C? Canon L vs Zeiss ZE? they could care less, but you'd better not have finger prints on the product, distracting reflections, etc. You are a professional, and your ability to sort those details out is assumed.

I have nothing against "friends with fancy cameras", but it would be easy to make think that they are just as good as a pro by looking only at gear. Where we - as professionals - need to hang our hat is on delivering results. That is what separates you from them - yes, they can make a flare+bokeh+VSCO'd good looking picture that awesome, but you MUST deliver that AND (for weddings) the cake cut, the kiss, the walk down the isle, etc., AND they should be properly exposed, white balanced, composed, and archived in case of harddrive failure. That is why you get paid.

paul jay's picture

Thank you for your explanation. I understand what you mean:)
There is no room for error on a wedding day. I understand this. 

Still, i'm totally not impressed by most modern professional wedding photography. Proper exposure, sure. Technical correct sure.  But character and soul? No guarantee. Ofcourse there are A LOT great wedding photographers if you look for them.

Kyle Sanders's picture

That's where you define your competitive advantage as a pro  - technically correct, requirement satisfying, AND artistically substantial photos. Bad wedding photogs should just make the good ones look even better.

James's picture

Examples of abominable Pre-rehearsed jokes?

Anthony Riordan's picture

The worst I've heard when second shooting were:
1. Now place your hand on top of hers...but don't get used to it, that's the last time you'll have the upper hand
2. Smile, it's a wedding not a funeral
3. You know, this is the most violent career in the world; wedding photography. First I shoot you, then I frame you and finally I hang you.

The key is as soon as they say it they erupt in the biggest laugh you've ever heard even though the bride and groom have a mortified look on their face. When I shoot I try more to make small talk just so people feel more comfortable. If something funny is happening, then I'll make a joke(they don't always go well though)

James's picture

You obviously don't know how to use humor as a tool to connect with
your clients and so does the person who wrote
tip number 3.

Anthony Riordan's picture

Just spotted this reply now. My goal is to make the shoot fun not funny. And I'm actually pretty funny. So :P

Mihnea's picture

Your Friends Dale and Jill  I think they are retarded. Number (3) is so not real.

DaleLempa's picture

It's true that not every photographer uses lame jokes, but that image is a stereotype in our culture that unfortunately some people feel obligated to fulfill--we have even had clients ask us to tell them jokes while we were shooting.  We are mostly referring to the jokes that are thought up beforehand with the hope that it will appear spontaneous.  Things like "Kiss now while you're still in love" or anything referring to the honeymoon.  These things are not only awkward but insulting to a couple.

James's picture

Nonsense ! you are confusing 'bad jokes'  with 'bad timing'

"Kiss now while you're still in love" IS funny if used at the right
time with the right person.

Stefan Schaal's picture

You really seem to be desperately wanting to prove the opposite. Only because you seem to be glorious exception that doesn't mean you have to prove everyone so.

LaRon Stewart's picture

Number 3 is very real, and I would suspect it an issue with new photographers who haven't gotten their persona down pat. Everyone does not have the ability to instantly engage people; it is a trait that some people may never get right, and others are just born with. It's like that scene in Wedding Crashers, when Rachel McAdams tries to give the sarcastic roast toast, and has to backpedal to the endearing, heartfelt toast instead. "Everybody ain't got the gift."

Mihnea's picture

Number 4, pardon.

DaleLempa's picture

Most brides (and grooms) are not experienced models, and they will not be completely comfortable posing a kiss in front of other people, especially their parents and in-laws.  At the very least it doesn't hurt to take them away from the wedding day crowds to eliminate distractions when you get their portraits.

Nichole Cherin's picture

I agree. Not to mention that in most cases, if you let family hang around in the background during formals, there's a HUGE chance that at least one aunt has a camera and is standing right next to you making it hard for the couple to know who to listen to. I've had this happen at every wedding I've done so far.

I know the feeling Nichole--that is why my contracts state explicitly that I am the exclusive commercial photographer and although others way take photos, anyone interfering with my work as a photog and I may "cease work until
such interference ends."

Don't let Uncle Pete eff up your session!!

Patryk M's picture

Great article. Also I see the image uses natural lens flare :) Not photoshop....

DaleLempa's picture

Yup! The sun was right behind them which adds that flare, and then we added some color via split toning in LR3.

Ellen Schmidt's picture

Oh great, f-stoppers is starting to follow the Buzzfeed model of reporting.  I can't wait to read the articles entitled "10 simple tricks to juice up your photos" or "Top 5 cameras you wish you could afford".   Ugh!

Lauren Jonas's picture

Hi Ellen, 

We want to give our guest writers the opportunity to be heard on Fstoppers. In the submission guidelines we write to submit a title with your article. Every post goes directly to twitter so we want the title to be concise and catchy. I chose to stick with his title because had it been anything else it probably wouldn't have worked. 

Patryk M's picture

I'm so glad I dont own a blog. Some of these comments are just crazy. Thanks for the GREAT POST Lauren.

David Rizzo's picture

I don't want to "know the current trends".  In fact I want to avoid them.  Hopefully they hired you for your style.  You don't go to a Ferrari dealership and ask to test drive a Honda.

Urban Safari Phtg's picture

THIS!  Thank you.  I definitely disagreed with #5.  

Dale Lempa's picture

This gets into the issue of business versus art.  We prefer to be original but at the same time we are serving paying clients.  There are certainly some fads that we would refuse to do, even if requested, but as long as the fad is not distasteful we will fulfill our clients' desires in that regard.  Overall, we are convinced that the more we know about the industry, including the fads that we dislike, the better we can understand and market our own brand.

The Big DUH's picture

I find most fads distasteful, so...

George Hull's picture

We don't really get to make that choice in regards to business. As an artist, of course we want to be different. But in selling a product or service, trends matter.

"If you asked those in the market for expensive luxury cars what they wanted, you'd typically get logical (and untrue or half true) answers like quality, reliability, comfort. In reality what they really want is status." - Allen Dib in his book The 1-Page Marketing Plan.

By not adhering to the trends, you not only are not a Ferrari, you aren't even known and can't even be compared to a Honda. Trends have status, and clients, while not all, do look for status or are constantly bombarded with it through social media timelines.

Rob Woodcox's picture

Thank you Dale and Jill for this valuable information!  I am pretty experienced in fashion and fine art, but may do some weddings for extra income this summer.  These tips will be very helpful to remember!  I appreciate you taking time to share your insight.

And in response to some of the above comments, I think every bit of advice should be taken with a grain of salt, if you disagree with something, there is no need to respond with a rude comment! Just a thought when posting publicly- use common courtesy!

DMNKY's picture

Have we "Photographers" become just a bunch of pretentious snobs?  

Ellen, Why don't you submit an article worth two cents instead of throwing fire on someone else's article... If you didn't like this article, then it is clearly not for you.  Find another article that makes you happy...David, how do you avoid something you have no knowledge about?   You need to know what the trends are, therefore you can choose to follow, or not... 

Urban Safari, There is no evidence on your website that shows me that your "STYLE" is different than anything that other photographers are "CURRENTLY" doing. If you want to "BE" different, "DO"  different...

Thank You to Lempa Creative for sharing your insight as to some of the experiences you have had and how your approach has helped you deal with wedding photography.

Aloha!

Travis's picture

What about pre rehearsed responses to bad jokes the bridal party gives you? =)

Thewirehead's picture

I think telling a bride and groom how to pose is an art form in itself. However, I disagree that they need to be directed so much about every aspect of their posing. By doing that you simply make them look unnatural. Even if they are terrible in front of the camera, I think letting them be natural will still result in better photos than trying to make them pose like something they are not.

Scott Kretschmann's picture

I would rather capture a beautiful, romantic moment between a couple, something that is genuinely them, even in the "posed" shots. Yes, I will give them prompts to interact with each other during that part f the day, but it I have to tell them where to put each finger, suddenly, the image is my vision, and is no longer genuinely "them."

Kendell Marjanovic's picture

I Really Appreciate this Article. First thing I Like and agree with author.

Kendell Marjanovic's picture

 I Really Appreciate this Article. First thing I Like and agree with author.
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Mark Luinenburg's picture

I guess I would basically agree with most of the points in the article from the bride's point of view. The 5th point seems a little strange. "I expect you to know exactly what I am talking about and I expect you to be able to recreate it beautifully"
Well, that really depends on how well the bride/groom communicate. Photographers are not mind readers. It might also be helpful to remind the bride/couple that that every occasion, wedding, event is unique and that photographers use cameras, meaning that if an event is rife with tension, the event cannot through magic or Photoshop be made to look otherwise - the day, the photos will reflect the couples' ultimate philosophy and how they deal with all that's happening.

I haven't read every post here, so maybe some of this has already been covered. It seems there should also be, maybe a separate article, something that covers what wedding photographers wish their brides knew. I can pretty much guarantee you the list would be more than 5 things with all the experiences of wedding photographers. I used to do weddings, I don't anymore. Perhaps the list below (all from personal experience) will be insightful as to why.
1. Please don't complain about reflections on the groom's shoes when he's wearing patent leather shoes. They're basically mirrors in shoe form. This bride, as I found out later, had the sleeves on her wedding dress altered because they didn't fit perfectly.............after the wedding. I can't even begin to put into words how totally bizarre this is. When I left the wedding I wished the couple good luck. I meant it. My very last wedding.

2. Please don't complain (and later refuse to pay) because the groom blinked on 80% of the shots. This is not something we as photographers can control. Please consult your doctor/psychologist.

3. Please, bride, don't have an atomic, crazy, foul-mouthed meltdown when an uncle can't be located for a spur-of-the-moment group shot.

4. Please don't call every other day to insist and harass the photographer that the couple owns all the original film (digital files) when the conditions were clearly laid out numerous times prior to the wedding.

5. Please, I know you've planned this day for probably at least a year and a half, and you expect every single, minute detail to go exactly as planned, but that's not life. It simply will not happen. Period. Please don't have a meltdown. The whole event is supposed to be about the amazing joining of the couple, committing their lives to one another, not the show.

6. Please, don't say you will pay after "an appropriate period of time" because the couple believes the bride's mother was disrespected for not allowing her to receive free prints, and then not paying at all for the entire wedding.

7. Please, please pay for services rendered.

8. Please, while you may think that this is the most important day of your life, it's the least important day of your married life. The most important day of your married life is EVERY SINGLE DAY after the wedding, what happens after that.

Jennifer Mckingley's picture

Very good article. I appreciate your post.

TimGunther.com

Meh.

Meh, I shoot weddings and none of this is an issue. By phrasing your article this way it makes it sound as if good wedding photographers don't know these things.

AnnePotts's picture

I completely agree that the photographer should make sure that everyone is paying attention when the pictures are being taken and that he should make sure that extra attention is paid to everyone's outfits including that other the bride, groom and the <a href="http://www.annefurbank.co.uk/Mother-of-the-Bride/" rel="nofollow">mother of the bride</a>.

Yonex Sterno's picture

great post. Hiring an experienced wedding photographer is certainly very important to come up with excellent and meaningful wedding pictures - http://kirraleeblog.com/

Johney Duke's picture

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Kenneth Wright's picture

This is great advice for the most part. The only issue I take is with #5. Someone please explain how a photographer can shoot a "candid" photo that is "duplicated." By it's nature, candid photos are not created by the photographer. Either it happens, or it doesn't. That said, if it happens, the photographer better do their best to get it most of the time. Also, if it is a candid moment that happens at most weddings, such as the moment the brides is given away, that's a reasonable expectation. Yet it is not reasonable to expect the photographer to capture a moment that doesn't actually happen.