We’re not all cut out for a life in front of the camera, and wedding photography is no different. Getting your nuptials captured on film can add even more worries on top of the caterers, florists and fussy relatives. But before you elope to a Vegas chapel with Elvis presiding, read on to find out what our experts have to say about documenting your day.
The Right Stuff
Auditioning photographers and learning about their style and technology is an important first step in gauging their experience and professionalism, says Jonathan Koslen, president of New Image Photography in Beachwood. Koslen suggests going on the recommendation of others in the wedding industry. “You have to make sure that you are hiring professionals. Someone who does weddings all the time can handle anything that comes up,” he adds.
Jim Bulkowski, president of J.B. Focus Photography in Medina, suggests taking the time to sit down and look through several sample albums of each photographer’s work. “See successful photos from the photographer and make sure they look good to you before you choose them,” he advises.
Judging the personality of the photographer can be equally important. “There are three rules in choosing a photographer,” says Greg Smith, owner of The Perfect Image in Cleveland. “You have to like their style, genuinely click with them personalitywise and they have to come in at the right price.” So if you’re the quiet sort and the photographer you’re interviewing is a nonstop talker, he or she might not be the best fit. Remember, your photographer is going to be at your side virtually the entire day.
Dodging the ‘Firing Squad’ Look
Over-posing can make your wedding pictures look like the cover of a trashy romance novel. But if you ban posed shots altogether, you may end up without pictures of people who are important to you.
Happily, most wedding photographers lean toward a balance of formal and candid shots designed to chronicle the atmosphere unique to each stage of the wedding. Bulkowski says that he will use a photojournalistic style when capturing the bride’s preparations and the reception, but will switch over to a more traditional style during the exchange of vows.
The difference can be dramatic. While you and your bridesmaids are getting ready, for example, a photographer can ask everyone to gather around the bride and smile. Or the photographer can just keep snapping away and end up with such candids as a friend helping you with your veil or your maid of honor buckling your shoe for you because your dress is so tight you can’t bend over.
If a photographer says he or she is skilled at shooting candids, look for those types of shots in the sample albums. If they’re not there, move on. You don’t want someone experimenting with a style that’s new to them on a day you can’t do over.
One of Koslen’s techniques is to take posed shots quickly so that the subjects don’t even realize they’ve had their picture taken. “Even the posed shots will have a candid feel,” he explains. The result is more natural-looking facial expressions and poses.
Many of the same rules apply to videography. It’s especially important that your style mesh with that of your videographer. If you want a highly interactive tape in which guests are asked to wish you well on camera, then look for a gregarious videographer who will be good at soliciting participation. If you want a more unobtrusive approach, make that request known from the start.
Joe Spatafore, a videographer with JLS Video Productions in North Canton, explains that videographers can capture the atmosphere of the evening while having little contact with the bride and groom. “Other than taking specific requests, we let them know about the technology and the procedure and that’s it,” he says. “The whole point is they hardly know that we are there — we don’t want anyone acting.”
Feel Like a Natural Woman
Unlike that goofy prom picture you eventually threw away, the pictures from your wedding have to be good. For many brides, that leads to concern that they’ll be nervous and end up looking stiff or awkward in their pictures.
“Think about something pleasant,” advises Joseph G. Ballard, owner of Nelson Photography, which has locations in Cleveland, Middleburg Heights and Rocky River. “Wetting your lips will relax your muscles and redirect your thinking,” he adds.
Recently married Cleveland model and bridal-show veteran Courtney Ross recommends practicing your facial expressions in front of a mirror so you get a feel for what you like and don’t like. “There is no second chance, so it helps to know how you like yourself and what you are comfortable with,” she explains. “You will relax knowing that you have practiced your smile for yourself.”
If, however, you still feel like a deer in the headlights, try showing some action: Hug your mom, plant a kiss on your new husband’s cheek while kicking your leg up behind you just a bit. Another strategy is to think of something funny.
Want to play down features that aren’t your favorite? Tilt your chin upward slightly to minimize a big nose (the same goes for a double chin), angle your body at 45 degrees to the camera to slim hips, and stay out of direct sunlight that can make a nose appear bigger and eyes appear smaller.
As for the appearance of your dress, make sure that your pose suits your gown. Janice Reichard-Fisher, model and co-owner of Pamplemousse salon in Chagrin Falls, recommends trying out different poses in front of a mirror in order to figure out which look best with the cut of your dress. With strapless gowns, for example, you don’t want to bend over too far or you will expose too much. If your dress has a beautiful back, you’ll want to turn 3/4 away from the camera to show it off in photos.
Avoiding Unsolved Mysteries
You thought you did everything right, but now you’re looking at your proofs and there is that mystery man in the sunglasses and toupee, doing his best Travolta to what you think was “Dancing Queen.” Yet you’re missing photos of the relatives who traveled all the way from Australia.
Getting the right people in your wedding pictures is a question of making a list of who you want to make appearances in your wedding album, giving it to the photographer and then assigning a friend or family member to guide the photographer in finding those people. That way, if stragglers from the wedding down the hall wander into the shot, they can be weeded out before they become a permanent part of your wedding memories.
Communication and time spent with your photographer go a long way toward preventing mystery guests from dominating your wedding film. “Once again, it’s about knowing the clientele,” Koslen says.