15 November, 2011

Guest Post: Howard's Guide to the Perfect Shoot

Have I got something special for you today, gang. My super creative friend, Howard Leu has taken some time out of his cray cray schedule to pen a little ditty for us. So, I'll get out of the way and, Howard, it's your dice!

 For Wedding Couples: How to Have a Perfect Wedding Shoot

 Like many wedding photographers, I started out shooting weddings for friends and family. I fell in love with wedding photography from those experiences and also from seeing just how creative wedding photography can really be. I love weddings, and I love capturing people’s candid emotions. It still seems like magic to me that we have this technology that can freeze a moment in time and preserve it for our enjoyment. Sure, I enjoy taking pictures of foliage or things that catch my eyes but being able to capture moments of a celebration where two people commence their union and commitment to one another, there’s nothing like it. And each wedding is unique. That makes shooting weddings challenging and exciting. My own wedding is in April of 2012. And believe me, I would shoot my own wedding if I can find a way to do it. But I can’t.

What I can do is help you get the most out of your wedding photographer and help them in ensuring a perfect wedding shoot. Here are some tips:

Hire the one you trust. I like to think that a wedding photographer is so much more than just that person with the camera taking photos at a wedding, but most of the time it is just that. The only time that it’s not just that is during the formal portraits and wedding party photos. That’s when the photographer is also the stage director, the timekeeper, and the person who tells people what to do. And since this is a person you are hiring to provide a service, why not make sure that they can do more than snap photos. The photographer will be concerned around two things at the wedding party shoot: 1. Getting great photos within the given amount of time, and 2. Making sure that the photo shoot doesn’t delay your arrival to the reception because the angry guests will surely not blame the couple (yep, you guessed right. They’ll blame the photographer). Hire someone you feel like you can trust and work out their duties during the wedding before hand. Then on your wedding day, let go of responsibilities and stress, and enjoy!

A walk with your photographer photographer. When you have your pre-wedding consultation with the photographer, you should do a walkthrough of the whole day as well as the different shoot locations. It can be either a verbal one or if it satisfies you, an actual walkthrough at the locations. A well-trained and experienced photographer should be able to shoot in any conditions and environment, and will most likely go visit the locations by themselves in the morning of the wedding or the day before. The walkthrough is for you the couple to communicate with the photographer what you like about the locations you’ve chosen for the shoots and what kind of shots you have in mind. Also, if you’re the kind of person who communicates better with pictures, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer if it’s okay to show them some wedding photos you like that you collected from magazines and websites. Try using photos that will show what you want and not the photos that you actually want.

Designate an organizer. Perhaps you already have a wedding planner or someone designated to be the point person to make sure things go smoothly on your wedding day. Then you can understand how having a go-to person during a photo shoot can help it go smoothly and efficiently. It could be someone in the wedding party or someone who knows most of the family and friends at the portrait shoots. This helps the photographer focus on what’s being captured behind the lens and ensure the time is well used. It also helps to have the organizer and photographer to be on the same page so that one can round up people needed for the shot while the other is setting up the shoot.

Breathe in, breathe out, relax. When you’re standing there posing and feeling self-conscious about how unnatural you might look, do this: take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, breathe out, and relax your body. Try to have one foot in front of the other and offset the even height of your shoulders. If you’re naturally camera shy, instead of looking into the camera lens look over it. Stiff in the face? If you just can’t seem to find that natural smile to match the joy in your heart then divert your attention to your spankin’ new husband/wife. Give them a little nudge or just simply look at them and remember what this day is about. Engage them in an affectionate glance, or whisper something tender or funny in their ear to get their attention. Those small moments always make photos that are full of magic.

You’re the Star! The most important thing you can remember about standing there for the photo shoot is that no matter how much you want to look good for the camera it really comes down to how you feel inside. Even if it is a posed photo, what’s really being captured, besides how fabulous you look, is what you express from within. Let the photographer worry about how the photos look. Just focus on all the attention from the cameras and friends and family on your wedding day.

Howard is an architect and freelance photographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He restores and writes about the wonderful historic fabric that is the old buildings in Milwaukee when he’s not pointing his camera at people. You can find his photography works at howardleuphotography.com.

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