Scheduling and Making the Best of Your Wedding Photo Portraits
Today we are featuring a guest on the blog! She is a neighbor, fellow cheese eater, a talented photographer, and overall wonderful human, Shaina of Golden Door Photography!
We sat down for lunch last week, and chatted about some tips to get through wedding portrait sessions in an intentional and stress-free way. Portrait sessions can sometimes be a hectic part of your wedding day because of the number of people involved, and the amount of time there is. So scheduling with intention ahead of time is crucial.
There are two different kinds of portrait sessions that happen on your wedding day, one for just you the couple, and the other for friends and family. Here are a few tips that Shaina shared!
For Your Family & Friends Portraits
Make a List, Check it Twice
To help you and your photographer identify who is important, it is important to make a list. This seems like a simple one, but first things first. Obviously, your wedding parties should all be on this list. Your immediate family members. Think sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents. Then move on to your extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins. Most photographers, including Shaina, will have a questionnaire to assist you in completing this part.
Take a page from Santa's handbook, and then check this list twice. This is tough, but if you have 6 aunts and uncles on one side, is it important for you to have individual pictures with each and everyone of them and then miss your cocktail hour? Or will one quick group photo with the lot of them be a blast, and then you can go enjoy each other's company with a cocktail in one hand?
Shaina, says this best "You should spend less time posing and more time celebrating!" Your day is not about smiling for a camera after all, it is about smiling at each other and making memories. Pair your list down, into larger groupings, or by cutting some groupings out entirely. Those cousins you see maybe once a year that will definitely make it onto the dance floor? Perhaps you can do without that posed shot and relish in the action shots that you never even realize are being taken!
From Big to Small
Phew, your list is done, and now its time to organize all of that for the time you have set aside for the family and friends portraits. Talk to your photographer about groupings, who should be paired with whom. Also, note any strained relationships or personalities, your photographer, videographer, and planner can help avoid conflict flare ups. Consider us your unofficial keepers of the peace.
For scheduling, Shaina likes to start with larger group shots and move into any individual shots within that grouping. As she goes down the list, she releases those people to the next part of the day to enjoy. She helps you plan this more logistical piece of the day and creates a schedule along with you and your planner. Curious to see what this looks like?
Pro Tip: Designate A Point Person
When it comes time to get through your group photos, it is extremely helpful to designate a point person who is NOT affiliated with the wedding party. This person will help your photographer identify your closest friends and family more quickly. Perhaps you have an aunt, uncle, or another friend who could assist with this. Whoever they are, make sure they can be assertive and loud if necessary.
Tips for Kids and Elderly
The general rule for portraits with kids or the elderly, is to get to them done as soon as possible. For any elderly or disabled guests on your list, it is courteous to photograph them first to accommodate for possible fatigue.
For kids, the longer they have to wait, often the crankier they get. Have both parents on hand to mitigate meltdowns, and a favorite toy as well. Don't aim for perfect, go with what you get in the case with kids. All facing toward the camera? Good to go.
Your Couple Portraits
Have an Engagement Session
That's right, long before you say I DO, consider doing what is called an engagement session with your photographer. For most photographers, including Shaina, this session is probably included in your wedding photography package and is there for the taking! Why, you ask, is this tip number one for your couple portraits?
I want you to try something real quick, grab your partner and set a timer for 1 minute, and do not look away from each other.
You will be asked to do this and similar out-of-the-ordinary actions throughout your portrait session. Having a practice run will both get you used to the process, and get you comfortable with your photographer and their directions. You're doing a trial run for your hair and makeup, having your suit tailored, and tasting your meals, why not do the same prep for your photo sessions?
Shaina says, "A lot of people are resistant to engagement photos, but my shoots are educational and by the end my couples are feeling confident and ready for the wedding day. Most of the time they say 'That was kind of fun, that wasn't so bad, I actually feel closer to my partner.' "
Exhibit A: I love this photo of my great-parents and will always treasure it because it is part of my family history, but they are a little stiff and maybe could have used some practice right?
Okay, I'm kind of joking here, but you get the point.
Have a First Look
If you are unfamiliar with the first look, it is a time before the ceremony, for the couple to see each other for the first time on their wedding day. Its a modern concept that bucks the old superstition that it is bad luck to see each other before the ceremony. This has become popular because it frees up time after the ceremony and allows couples to have a private intimate moment. You are given a moment to breath, enjoy each other without guests distracting you, and then you get all of your couple portraits out the way before you're exhausted and starving. You know, those pictures that you will print and frame, and show your kids what you looked like back in the day? Yes, these are those pictures, and this an help you get through those so much easier. After, you can relax into each other before making a huge public declaration of love!
Shaina says, "Its your photographers job to think about all the different photographic puzzle pieces of the day. Making sure that there's time to capture everything is something I take great care to do ahead of time, and a first look is a great way to make some space in this puzzle."
Enjoy Your Alone Time
Wedding days are lovely, joy filled, expressions of devotion, but can be lacking in the alone time department. In addition to or in lieu of a first look, you might consider adding a sunset mini-session.
Shaina says, "Its a beautiful time to be alone, without the rush or the craziness of the whole day. Sunset is this wonderful time to take a pause, and feel the day. By this time usually all the formalities are over and the party is about to, or has already started."
Not to mention, the lighting is literally perfect at this time of day!
This is something that you can decide on organically as well, depending on the weather and your mood, so you don't feel over-scheduled. Your photographer and videographer will come up to you when the time comes and make the suggestion.
Scheduling Your Sessions
When it comes to scheduling your sessions, they must be built around the key portions of your day, the ceremony and reception start times. Its not often that any two days are identical, but we can suggest timelines based on prior experiences. This is also something your planner or coordinator can assist with scheduling. Shaina has a sample timeline available for download here, times will shift based on your planned events and locations.
But before you get to scheduling or list-making its important to stop and...
...Ask Yourself What is Important to You
Seriously, sit down and think about what this day means to you, what about it you want to remember and enjoy most.
Shaina is all about intention on your wedding day, something we LOVE and get behind whole heartedly. She wrote an entire 10 page guide about having a meaningful wedding day that is helpful and insightful that we highly recommend downloading if you are totally stressed and uninspired by your wedding planning currently.
How are you feeling about your portrait sessions now? Which of these tips did you find most helpful?
For more information about working with the talented Shaina, of Golden Door Photography, reach out to her below:
Website - www.goldendoorphoto.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/goldendoorphoto
Instagram - @goldendoorphoto