Picture Perfect 4 ~ Formal Photos

Approximate time:
1-2 hours

Formal photos is often the time when some of your favourite wedding day photos are produced. You have a time, and a place chosen specifically for taking some beautiful pictures. It all sounds like a recipe for success! So let's see what we can do to make it even more successful.

1) Timing is everything

This can be a hard one to even begin to consider, amidst trying to plan your day around travelling guests, booked up venues, rentals and catering. I'm sorry to add one more thing to your list of time-specific activities, but here it is: the time of day you have your (outdoor) photos taken makes a big difference in the finished product. As much as the photographer may work magic with off-camera lighting, creative composition, and post-production magic, there just isn't anything quite the same as a sunset.

The hour before the sun goes down, known as "the golden hour', produces the most romantic and dramatic lighting you can get. It lights up people with glowing auras, and even hides fine lines and some blemishes. Conversely, shooting photos at high noon will produce dark eyes and deep shadows, and accentuate wrinkles and blemishes. The photographer will try to find shade from the sun to lessen these effects, and there is some work in post that can be done to lessen this as well. But why not just shoot at sunset?

One reason not to would be that this puts another scheduling strain on your day. If you're running late, you stand a chance of running out of time, which means running out of light. And who wants to shoot in the dark? Actually, that sounds pretty interesting. If anyone wants to do some night time wedding photos, let me know, okay? ;)



2) Location, location, location

Even if you haven't thought about the when, you've quite possibly already thought about the where. And that's quite alright, I'm actually not going to try to talk you out of it! The where should be somewhere that you want it to be, and somewhere that you're comfortable. You don't want to just pick what everyone else picks because it seems popular, you want to choose a spot that suits you, and that is convenient for you. There are just a few things you could keep in mind, though:

a) You'll have to get there and back. On your busy day, make sure you account for the time it will take to get to the site, including any walking or setup that might be required. You wouldn't want to finally be ready to start shooting, only to discover you already have to head back to the reception!

b) Is there enough space? When you stopped in to have a look by yourself, you might not have taken into account that it won't just be you and your partner, but also your whole wedding party. The quaint little soda shop you had in mind is suddenly pretty cramped. That's okay, we can leave them outside for now. But you might want them in some of your other photos as well. ;)

c) Do you have permission? There are a lot of beautiful places that are unfortunately located on private property. "We'll probably be okay," is good enough for most days of the year, but not on your wedding day. Make sure you know that there are no rules about photography or trespassing around the site you have planned for your photos. Peace of mind is a valuable thing on that day.

3) Have a backup

There isn't much to be said about this one, but it's something you can't forget! Even if the weather man (or weather app) is calling for a beautiful day, there is never a 100% certainty. Make sure you have a backup space in mind that isn't affected by the weather. Shooting in the rain can be fun, but when you spent all morning getting your hair and clothes just so, it can get old pretty quickly!

It's not just weather that can spoil a spot either. What was a once serene lakeside vista one day can suddenly become a post-apocalyptic construction side overnight. So if you do have your heart set on a location, make sure it will still be a location on your wedding day!

4) Love yourself

This is probably going to be the hardest thing I'll have to say in any of these blog posts. It's something that is often avoided in this context, but that I feel needs to be let out into the open. I will be writing this to brides, but I know that grooms have these thoughts as well - they just rarely voice them. It is equally applicable to both men, women, and everyone in between.

More often than not, a photographer will get awkwardly "serious-not serious" statements such as, "Feel free to whiten my teeth!", "I wouldn't mind if you photoshopped a few pounds off me!" and even, "I hate having my picture taken, I always look awful!"

There are two seemingly opposite sides to answering this that I feel are both correct and important, and this is how it goes:

If you don't think your teeth are white enough, then whiten them. There is no shame in having white teeth. If you don't want to whiten them, then love your teeth the way they are. There is also no shame in having off-white teeth. You will be beautiful.

If you don't like how much you weigh, then adjust your diet/amount of exercise in the months before the wedding. There is no shame is working hard to shed a few pounds. If you don't want to, or don't think you can, then stay the same weight you are, and make sure your dress/suit fits your current size, not the size you think you "should" be. There is no shame in your clothing size. You will be beautiful.

People often don't like having their pictures taken because they don't like what they see. But you know what? I know someone who does like what they see in those pictures of you. As a matter of fact, they loved what they saw so much that they decided to spend the rest of their life with you.

There are many voices out there telling you how you're supposed to feel about the way you look, but nothing will make you look better than simply being comfortable in your own skin. Do what you want to do and don't do what you can't. Love yourself and be loved.

And you will be beautiful.