How do I choose a pho­tog­ra­pher?

Look through mag­a­zines and wed­ding blogs to com­pare the work of dif­fer­ent pho­tog­ra­phers. Ask your fam­ily and friends if they have a favourite wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher. Also check with the owner or manager of your re­cep­tion venue if there’s some­one they’d rec­om­mend. It’s im­por­tant to find out how pho­tog­ra­phers con­duct them­selves at wed­dings. They must be able to fit in on the day, to help make it an even more mem­o­rable and spe­cial oc­ca­sion. Also find out how many years’ ex­pe­ri­ence they have and how they work – what they do to cap­ture all the spe­cial mo­ments. Make a list of pos­si­ble can­di­dates, then visit the web­site and Face­book page of each one to get an idea of their style and qual­ity of work. This will give you a good in­di­ca­tion of whether they’d be the right per­son for your wed­ding. Ask about their rates to see if they fit into your bud­get. Cross them off the list one by one and nar­row down the op­tions un­til you’ve de­cided which one to go with.

When should I book my pho­tog­ra­pher?

Popular wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers are of­ten booked up a year in ad­vance. So start your search early, be­cause the closer you get to your wed­ding date, the harder it may be­come to se­cure the ser­vices of your first-choice pho­tog­ra­pher. If it turns out that they are not avail­able, you could ask them to rec­om­mend some­one who has a sim­i­lar style.

Does the pho­tog­ra­pher need an as­sis­tant?

It isn’t es­sen­tial and some pho­tog­ra­phers work with­out the help of an as­sis­tant, but most pre­fer to have one. A pho­tog­ra­pher’s as­sis­tant usu­ally helps with equip­ment and doesn’t take pic­tures them­selves. If you’re invit­ing more than 150 guests, you could ask your pho­tog­ra­pher for a ‘sec­ond shooter’, who typ­i­cally is a less ex­pe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­pher and costs be­tween R1 000 and R2 500.

How many pho­tos can I ex­pect to re­ceive?

A pho­tog­ra­pher will give you be­tween 150 and 200 shots for ev­ery hour that they work. You should re­ceive the high­res­o­lu­tion images on a CD or USB stick.

How do I en­sure that I look good in my pho­tos?

Re­lax and en­joy it. The more re­laxed you are, the more nat­u­ral the pic­tures will be. • Smile. The mo­ment you’ve dreamt about for so long has fi­nally ar­rived and you may be feel­ing ner­vous. But take a deep breath, re­lax and smile. A smil­ing face looks so much bet­ter than a stressed one. Make a point of smil­ing from the mo­ment you set foot in the church. • Feel the love. What does ev­ery wed­ding pho­tog­ra­pher love above all else? A happy cou­ple who gaze lov­ingly at each other, who laugh and smile a lot, and who freely show their af­fec­tion for each other. It makes for the most un­for­get­table images.

On your big day you want to look your best – in your wed­ding pho­tos too. Here you’ll find ad­vice to help you choose the per­fect pho­tog­ra­pher.

• Prac­tice makes per­fect. If your bud­get al­lows, con­sider go­ing for a photo ses­sion with the same pho­tog­ra­pher to cel­e­brate your en­gage­ment. This helps you feel more com­fort­able in front of the cam­era, and more com­fort­able be­ing pho­tographed as a cou­ple. It’s also a good way of get­ting to know your pho­tog­ra­pher and how he or she works.

Where do the pho­tos fit in the wed­ding timeline?

Ar­range ev­ery­thing around the pho­tos of you as a cou­ple. You want the soft­est, most beau­ti­ful light for th­ese images. The best light is the ‘golden hour’ be­fore sun­set. The light changes from month to month as day­light hours shift, so find out when sun­set is on the day of your wed­ding and sched­ule the cer­e­mony at least three hours be­fore. That will give the pho­tog­ra­pher enough time to take pic­tures of you as a cou­ple, plus your fam­ily and en­tourage. Here’s an ex­am­ple of how the pho­tos could be sched­uled:

13:15 Venue 14:00 Groom’s prepa­ra­tions 14:30 Bride’s prepa­ra­tions 16:00 Cer­e­mony 17:15 Fam­ily pho­tos (10 dif­fer­ent pho­tos should take about 20 min­utes) 17:40 The cou­ple with their en­tourage 18:00 The cou­ple on their own 19:00 The cou­ple ar­riv­ing at the venue and en­ter­ing the re­cep­tion 19:15 Starters be­ing served 19:30 Speeches 20:00 Main course be­ing served 21:00 Open­ing the dance floor 21:30 Garter and bou­quet

The venue

The best time to pho­to­graph the venue is at the start. Make sure that the florist knows what time your pho­tog­ra­pher will be ar­riv­ing to take pic­tures so that ev­ery­thing will be ready in time.

The bride

Care­fully con­sider the set­ting of the room where you’ll be get­ting dressed. Choose a place with big win­dows that will have lots of nat­u­ral light. A beau­ti­ful room with taste­ful fur­ni­ture cre­ates a gor­geous back­drop. Ask your brides­maids to tidy the room be­fore the pho­tog­ra­pher ar­rives. Put out ev­ery­thing that you’d like to have pho­tographed to make it eas­ier for the pho­tog­ra­pher and to en­sure noth­ing is missed. It’s cru­cial to choose a good hair stylist and make-up artist. Do your prepa­ra­tion well by hav­ing prac­tice runs be­fore the big day so you know ex­actly what to ex­pect, and how long it takes. Hang your wed­ding gown and your brides­maids’ dresses on dec­o­ra­tive hang­ers. Cheap plas­tic ones don’t make very pretty pic­tures.

The fam­ily

Try to be or­gan­ised about pho­tograph­ing the fam­ily so that it takes as lit­tle time as pos­si­ble. Make a list of the fam­ily pho­tos you’d like the pho­tog­ra­pher to take and keep it to a max­i­mum of 10. You could con­sider pho­tograph­ing only your near­est and dear­est fam­ily mem­bers (and not the whole fam­ily), but that’s up to you. De­cide be­fore­hand where the fam­ily pho­tos will be taken so that ev­ery­one knows where to go and give the list to some­one with a strong voice, who can ‘mar­shal the troops’!

The cou­ple

Make sure the pho­tog­ra­pher chooses a few beau­ti­ful spots be­fore­hand. Move quickly from one place to the next, not to waste the avail­able light. No-one ex­cept the pho­tog­ra­pher needs to be with you. Other peo­ple could dis­tract you and make you self-con­scious, which strips away the in­ti­macy and emo­tion. Most im­por­tantly, en­joy this time and have fun – it will show in the images.

The re­cep­tion

For an evening re­cep­tion, use fairy lights and can­dles to pro­vide soft light­ing and cre­ate a mag­i­cal back­drop. Ask the mas­ter of cer­e­monies to tell the pho­tog­ra­pher when big mo­ments will be hap­pen­ing, for ex­am­ple when the dance floor is about to be opened. Re­mem­ber, the pho­tog­ra­pher needs to set up equip­ment and be in po­si­tion in good time.

The bot­tom line

Even if you plan ev­ery last de­tail, some­thing will go wrong on the day. How­ever, no-one ex­cept you will know. Fo­cus on en­joy­ing your day and on re­mem­ber­ing that you’re mar­ry­ing the per­son you love. Re­lax, smile and en­joy – it will show in your wed­ding pho­tos.

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