There are hundreds of lists out there that tell you the shots you must have, but there is one hugely important and totally essential thing that these lists miss. Your wedding photographs need to be as unique and awesome as you are. Read on to find out my top 5 tips for must-have wedding photographs.
So many lists telling you that you MUST have shots of the shoes, decor, cake, rings, dress, invites and more. But wait. Your wedding photographs shouldn’t be about recreating someone else’s photographs, or even following a tick list. They should be images that show who you are, what and who mattered to you on that special day. Images that show more than just how you looked, images that show how you felt. So my advice is that rather than long and unimaginative ‘must have’ lists, think about what are, or more aptly – WHO are, the most important parts of your wedding day.
Wedding photography, like all things, goes through fashions and trends. My advice is not to fall foul of this and be cringing looking back at your wedding photos in years to come. Photographs that focus on people, real moments, and emotions are timeless. This is what matters now, and even more in years to come.
Must-have wedding photographs – top 5 tips
But we all do love a list, right? Therefore not wanting to disappoint, I have put together my alternative top five of your must-have wedding photographs or rather my top tips for things to think about on your wedding day.
Don’t recreate other people’s wedding photographs
Wedding Photography needs to be meaningful. The images need to bring you joy, fill you with happy memories, remember how you felt and who you were. Recall those who you loved and everyone who was part of your life. The images need to grow in value in years to come. To be ones that you want out or on display so that each day you see an image that takes you back to how you felt and maks you smile, rather than being a wedding album in a box that stored away.
My approach to photography on your wedding day is about getting to know who you really are and what is important to you. Only then can I tell your story. I do not enter a wedding with a preconceived formulaic idea of the shots I’m going to make, the exact locations we will head to and you will not find me recreating an exact image from one couple with another. It wouldn’t do you justice. These images wouldn’t be you. They wouldn’t be meaningful in years to come.
Find a photographer who you trust and whose style you love
Taking a natural documentary approach to your wedding day is how I make sure that the moments that matter are captured. Whilst as unobtrusive as possible, I’m right in the thick of it at all the right moments and ready to make sure that with each click you get a memory that will be meaningful. I want to see the world through your eyes, and empathy is what makes my work stand out from other photographers.
With all this in mind, when thinking about the ‘must have wedding photographs’ the first step is picking a photographer with a style that appeals to you. Not only must you fall in love with their style, but you need to feel comfortable around that photographer. You need to like them, and ultimately you need to trust them.
The best wedding photographers will have all the ‘must-have wedding photographs’ covered. They won’t need to be reminded, you can relax on the day and know that everything is in hand. I always get to know my couples in the lead up to the big day. We also catch up via a call/chat a few days before the wedding and go through last minute details. They then know that on the wedding day I will be getting every shot that is important to them.
So when it comes to the details shots that every internet and magazine list tells you MUST have, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be included if they matter to you BUT what I am saying is that you shouldn’t have to tell your photographer to cover these. It’s my job to know what is important to my couples. But I’ll be honest when it comes to some ‘detail shots’, I prefer to snap the shoes when you are getting into them, and the dress on you rather than on a box or a hanger. It is you who brings them alive. These images with you in them are much more meaningful memories.
4.The first moments
The first look, when a father sees his ‘little’ girl in the dress, the first kiss, the confetti shot, the first dance…. Again these are all shots you should be able to trust your photographer to cover and shouldn’t have to explicitly tell them to do so. What you don’t want is to have these shots staged. Experience and evidence speak volumes here. Look at photographers blog posts and galleries, have they captured these moments well? You need someone who gets it right the first time – you don’t want to be told ‘can you just go out of the room and walk in again?’
For me, the little moments are not always the expected ones. Capturing how the groom’s parents look at him as he stands at the altar with his bride to be, how the bride’s father looks at his daughter with pride stood a few steps back. As a skilled photographer, I see these moments and know they matter to you.
5. Group and couple portraits
Despite my mainly documentary approach to weddings, I do see group shots and couples portraits as important. These shots matter to you, your mum, your gran and maybe great Uncle Harold. Therefore they matter to me. None of this should take longer than 10-15 minutes though, and definitely shouldn’t hold up your entire day. I judge the day and find the right time to get these essential shots and get you all back to the celebrations before anyone really notices you have gone. I tell my couples and their guests that on the day if they want a certain picture they have just thought of, tap me on the shoulder and I’m there. No problem at all.
If you are lucky enough to have your parents around on your wedding day, pictures of you with them are a must. I’m not just talking group shot posed pictures, but pictures of you genuinely spending time together, pictures that capture your relationship.
A few portraits of you as a couple is another must. Again, this shouldn’t cut into your day and take you away from the celebrations for a long drawn out time whilst you are set up in awkward and uncomfortable poses. I judge things on the wedding day as when is a good time for a few moments to slip away with my couples. It may be a break between courses, just before evening guests arrive, or just as the sun is setting. I judge the right time on the day. I make my couples feel comfortable and they enjoy the opportunity to have a few minutes away together taking in the whole rollercoaster of a day. I encourage my couples to be natural and enjoy the time together, and I will make sure we get some awesome shots.
Bonus tip- Don’t succumb to photography fads
Like most things in life, photography goes through fashions and what is considered ‘where it is at’ now, may be considered passe and outdated in years to come. If you do fall foul to this, you’ll find that instead of looking back at your wedding photos and being taken back to the feelings and emotions of the day, you start to wonder what you, and your photographer, were thinking! There is nothing wrong with a bit of experimentation if that’s your thing, but make sure you have a photographer with a range of skills and isn’t a one trick pony. I pride myself in being able to create natural documentary photographs and also using a bit of creativity to create awesome images that are truly you.
Must-have wedding photographs -So should you bin the list?
Not quite! There is nothing wrong with having a clear view of what are the must-have photographs of your wedding, but don’t be guided by what other lists tells you is important. This is your wedding day, trust yourself. I do ask my couples to provide details of any essential images they want captured on the day. In the majority of cases, the only thing they tend to include is the make-up of certain group shots, which is useful and helps with the speed I can do cover this part of the day. For the rest of the time, my couples trust me and know I will capture all the must-have photographs as I know what matters to them.
The answer you have been looking for…
So if you are looking for a natural documentary photographer with a touch of creativity, complete professionalism, oodles of skills and awards, who can also pull mean moves on the wedding dance floor whilst creating the most amazing memories you could hope for, then get in contact. I only take on a limited number of weddings a year, but I’d love yours to be one of them.
Named Best UK Documentary Wedding Photographer for 2022 by This is Reportage – check out some of my award winning images and imagine what I could create for you!
Must-have wedding photographs
“Andy was by far the best choice we could have ever made for our wedding day. Not only are our photographs utterly mind-blowing, he made everyone feel at ease and fun to have around. I don’t know how he did it, but he was everywhere at once. He captured our day perfectly and we are so grateful.”
James and Sarah