Your wedding photos are important. They’re the lasting memento you’ll hold onto as evidence of that special day. So, if you’re going to be looking at these images at least once a year from here to eternity, you’ll want to look as good as possible in them.We talked to the pros about how to make the most of your wedding day pics — from how to stand for a relaxed look to getting a natural smile that is totally suitable for framing. Plus, they’ve shared some tips for what you can do before the big day to get the most out of your film.
Pre-wedding exposureBeing comfortable with your photographer makes a difference in the final product. That comfort level increases with pre-day contact. For example, booking an engagement session gives the bride an opportunity to interact with the photographer, letting them learn each other’s style, suggests professional wedding photographer Kim Ponsky of Kim Ponsky Photography in Little Italy. “We get to know each other,” she explains, “And I learn how to photograph the couple by seeing how they interact together.” It’s important that your photographer not be a stranger on your wedding day.
Another way to let the photographer get to know the bride and her whole entourage is by asking him or her to also shoot the rehearsal dinner. “That is when everyone is at their most relaxed and festive,” Ponsky explains. She says it also lets her get a feel for the VIPs and see what their personalities are like. “It helps me take shots that really reflect who they are.”
Pose for the cameraOn the big day, relax and act natural for the candid photos, and let the professional worry about when to capture the right moments. That’s the easy part. The real test is dealing with posed sessions. That’s when you just need to be a good listener and let the photographer take responsibility for tweaking the poses.
“When you take direction from the photographer, it shifts the burden from your shoulders and lets you relax even more,” says professional wedding photographer Steven Mastroianni of Steven Mastroianni Photography in Cleveland. He says he will often run through a range of basic poses and expressions as a warm up to get everyone comfortable. “I ask them to stand a certain way, look a certain way and use certain facial expressions. As they do that, my clients loosen up and get accustomed to following my lead.”
Mastroianni adds he would never ask clients to do something they’re not comfortable with, and he’s always open to suggestions for special poses. “It’s a collaborative relationship,” he says.
Ponsky also says women can cut their width considerably by standing at an angle to the camera. Also, be sure to keep your arms separate from your body — it’s always more flattering to stand with your hands on your hips or arms bent than with them directly at your sides.
An important part of having natural, relaxed photographs is a good sense of place. That means taking the picture in a spot that is meaningful, or at least enjoyable, to both the bride and groom.
“Cleveland has so many beautiful backdrops, and people often ask me where a good place is to take wedding pictures,” says Mastroianni. “I say, ‘Someplace that means something to you.’ ”
Ponsky adds, for example, that downtown Cleveland has impressive architecture, and the lake has rustic beauty, but those places are best for certain personalities, or for people for whom those locales hold sentimental value. “As long as there is a personal connection, a good photographer can make any location work,” she says.
Here are a few of our photographers’ favorite wedding day photo destinations around the city:
11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
Contact: Facilities Rental, 216-231-7420
Cost: Grand Foyer, $275 an hour
This Cleveland institution is popular for wedding day picks. The schedule can be tight, so you need to be quick about your posing arrangements. Because of the event schedule and high demand, sessions can be scheduled only within 30 days in advance of your wedding. But you can make an appointment to view the Grand Foyer in advance to get your logistical and creative juices flowing so you’ll be ready on the big day.
401 Euclid Ave., downtown Cleveland
Contact: Catering Department, 216-776-4465
Cost: $200 an hour
The beautiful, historic Arcade is a hot spot for photos because of the dramatic staircases and great lighting the atrium offers. Photo sessions are not scheduled after 4 p.m. if a wedding reception is taking place. Remember that around the holidays, the Arcade is festively decorated, making it an even more charming location for winter weddings.
Contact: Visitor Services, 216-351-6300
The Metroparks attract wedding parties seeking a natural backdrop for their pics. Reservations are not necessary, but you may have to negotiate with parkgoers to borrow their space for the session. The park is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. every day. A couple of favorite spots include Squires Castle, Buttermilk Falls Scenic Overlook, Chippewa Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook and the Tinkers Creek Gorge Scenic Overlook.
The Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Martin Luther King Blvd., roughly between St. Clair and Superior
Contact: City of Cleveland Special Events, 216-664-2484
Cost: $75 for city residents, $100 for
Cleveland is a melting pot of ethnicities, and the Cultural Gardens can offer equally diverse scenery that represents your family’s heritage. Or, just choose a favorite — you can’t lose with selection like this. Any one of the 28 gorgeous heritage gardens would make beautiful backdrops for wedding photos.