Don't want to hate your wedding photos? Here are the 11 things you need to do NOW

November 25 | Guest post by Mike Allebach

You loved Mike Allebach's 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't, now Mike's back to help you avoid hating your wedding pics.

Photo by Allebach Photography
Photo by Allebach Photography

It should be one of the best days of your life — not a source of disappointment, regret, and buyer's remorse. So when I saw this comment from an Offbeat Bride on 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't, I couldn't help but shudder:

What to do if I really dislike my wedding photos? I've stepped away from them for a few months and come back and I still hate them. I've shown them to family and friends and they all think they aren't very good either… I hired a professional photographer and second shooter.

Without seeing the photos or meeting the bride, I can't solve her problem — but I can offer advice to help brides-to-be avoid wedding photo regret. Here are 11 ways to make sure you won't rue the day you hired your photographer…

1. Like your photographer


Not only do you have to like the photos your photographer takes, but you have to like your photographer's personality as well. When you meet with a photographer, make sure you're meeting with the person who will shoot your wedding. Start your search with photographers who are offbeat and awesome — find 'em here.

Beware of wedding photography mills (they exist!) where you talk to a sales person, view their best sample images, and then get stuck with a minimum-wage photographer with minimal experience to match.

To avoid getting burned:

  • Ask to see a full wedding.
  • Along with the photographer's personality, does their photographic style match your wedding?
  • If you're still having trouble deciding, book an engagement session first — this lets you take your photographer for a "test drive" before the big day.

2. Choose a professional WEDDING photographer

Experience is the best teacher, so hire someone who specializes in weddings and has shot a lot of them. Good wedding photographers use their Spidey senses to sense moments before they happen. Just because your cousin is an amazing food photographer, it doesn't mean he can document your wedding. (The reverse is true too — I'm not the guy you want to hire for food photography.)

3. Tread cautiously when hiring friends or family

Allow your friends and family to be guests at your wedding. Photographer friends may offer to take photos out of kindness, but I suggest turning them down. Here's a secret: They probably won't mind being turned down. Wedding photographers never get to be guests. It's refreshing to attend a wedding where we can leave the camera at home, hit the bar, and maybe do the Wobble. Besides, it's best not to mix business and pleasure, right?

4. Delete your wedding Pinterest boards

Mark Twain said, "Comparison is the death of joy." I'm sure he would have a thing or two to say about Pinterest. If you're expecting your photographer to emulate all your favorite photos on Pinterest, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed — because those weddings aren't your wedding, so your photos won't (and shouldn't!) look the same.

So a week before your wedding, purge your wedding Pinterest boards.

Sacrilege, I know — but delete your pins and let go. The planning process is over. It's time for your wedding. Your commitment to each other. Your love for each other.

5. Avoid the time warp

Wedding day transportation always takes twice as long as you think it will — plan for it. If you forget to account for freeway traffic en route to your reception venue, you might cut your photo-taking time in half. Find out how much time your photographer will need, and work on a realistic time schedule. Photographers are magicians, but we can't actually bend time. Build a solid wedding day timeline with the help of a planner or coordinator, if you can. Nothing will eff up your wedding day photos more than rushing everything into an unrealistic timeline.

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6. No laser lights ever

Do you look good with green spots on your face? No? Then kindly ask your DJ to kill the laser light show. Laser lights are pretty much the worst thing ever invented — they make your guests look like they have a mutant green skin disease. Oh, and those expensive lasers used in Electronic Dance Music can fry professional cameras on contact. Hulk smash laser lights!

7. Put down the vodka cranberry

Wait until after your ceremony and photos to go all Andrew W.K. I'm not saying you have to skip the mimosas, but keep hydrated and take it slow. Hate your drunk face? I can't fix that with photoshop. Plus vodka cranberry is hard to get out of a wedding dress.

8. Unplug during your wedding ceremony

This topic has been heavily debated on Offbeat Bride already. But I'm weighing in. The new trend of guests using iPads as video cameras is getting out of hand. I've seen guests holding iPads in front of grandma so she has to duck to see the wedding. Unless you want all of your ceremony photos peppered with people's iPads (which will look as silly as a Zack Morris cell phone in 20 years), ask them to put them away until after the first kiss.

9. Feed your photographer

Your caterer has a sinister plan called "hide the photographer." After the photographer's blood sugar hits rock bottom, they lead them into a dark hallway 100 yards from reception. At that exact moment, the DJ will announce that it's time for parent dances. I'm not sure where this awful tradition started, but there's an easy solution: Ask your caterer to feed the photographer at the same time as the bride and groom, so they're back in action at the same time you are. If possible, give them a table in the main reception room. That way if an epic moment happens, they're there to capture it.

[Click here for more thoughts on the importance of feeding your photographer! -Editors]

10. Turn crappy into happy with uplighting

I've seen a DJ turn a bare room with four walls into a Vegas Nightclub with uplighting. Most professional DJs offer uplighting packages. Want to do it yourself? Check out this offbeat vendor.

11. Find the photos you DO like and get them on your wall and in an album

After spending money on wedding photos, please please please do not leave them in the digital nebulas and interwebs. When historians (or *cough* family members) dig through your attic, old broken hard drives with wedding photos will be useless.

Even if you're disappointed with your wedding photos, find the few you do like, and print them up. If it's literally only a couple photos, cherish them, print them, and hang them on the wall.

If you can find a few more, make an album. The process of choosing photos to print might help you re-live all the excitement of your wedding. You may never go through the 1,000 digital images that you hate on your hard drive, but you'll look at the certain photos that you do like in your album, or that one photo on your wall for years to come.

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. I cannot say how important it is to seat and feed your photographer during dinner. The speeches, funny moments, and the silly things people do to make you kiss during the meal all can be captured!

    Tips:

    1) Don't place them TOO far from the podium/head table. While you don't want them sitting with your parents, you also don't want them at table 42 with the third cousins twice removed in the back of the venue. You don't want to have your photographer sprinting across a 300 person room trying to catch a kiss or the look of love.

    2) Feed them. I don't care if you paid a million dollars for your photographers, they're people, they need food, and if you don't want to miss out on the fun by having them passout cold junk mid-dances, include them in the meal too!

    80 agree
    • I found it so weird when my photographer made a point of saying that if we required her for three hours or more, we needed to feed her. I was flabber gasted. I never for a moment thought she wouldnt be included in the dinner for our reception. It was just a given to me and I cant beleive that its a point that needs to be made :P She's taking photos (read lasting memories) of our wedding day. Makes sense to keep her happy (read fed!)

      31 agree
      • My photographer has "feed me" written into the contract!

        34 agree
    • This is so true, nothing dents your artistic flow like having your blood sugar scraping rock bottom. The shedule does not allow us to go out and grab something quickly and ensure only goes so far. I always require a meal as part of the contract, just ensure that the caterer gets the memo and we are seated right there as well. I have come across venue operators wanting to stuff me into a back room or feed me after everyone else if at all. Please ensure that it is communicated clearly to the management and serving staff that the photographer & videographer must be fed at the same time as the head table and be in the same seating area as the guests so they can follow the events taking place.

      5 agree
  2. Note: You WILL have people who will hate the photos.

    I absolutely loved mine. I did everything said here plus some. I had an excellent photographer who did wedding, commercial, and cosplay photos at events. I loved how lighthearted he was and loved the same video games and stuff as us..FOUND HIM ON CRAIGSLIST!!!lol Like literally a month before the wedding..hahaha.

    He did the dreamy lightened photos like something you would see from a country music video from the 90's it was so awesome I loved it. My Mother-in-law however did not. She liked the 80's everyone-stand-together-like-a-school-photo kind of wedding. She didn't like him catching all the little details, the innovative family pictures taken from a side angle than from the front, the blurry-ness on the edge of the pictures. I loved every one of them its super hard to figure out what I like. I took a leap for 500$ for a photographer juust building his portfolio. Now he's shooting doritos commercials and taking professional cosplay pictures at Dragon-con every year. And hes on my facebook and talks to me and matt from time to time. He now charges 2500 for wedding photography and actually has had some good reviews regarding our photos he took from plus size brides who like being off-beat. ^_^
    And he captured one of the many favorite moments in my wedding. my cute barefoot sandals and NOT the reactions I got from wearing them..lol

    42 agree
  3. Absolutely perfect. You hit every point I would have addressed!

    4 agree
  4. I had a friend who used what I like to refer to as a "weekend warrior" for her photos, meaning he had a real job 5 days of the week and did photos as a "side gig"… she cried when she saw her photos, not because she was in love with them, but because she hated 95% of them.
    When I planned my wedding, the photographer was the first thing I picked and paid for… I didn't even have a venue yet, but I felt the pictures are all that remains of the day that flies by like a whirlwind, so I wanted to make sure I had concrete evidence that it all happened. I made sure I met with more than one photographer, and saw full portfolios, before I made my decision.
    I should also note that not everyone will love your photos, even if you do… I picked a photographer who was more "in the moment" and did candid shots, but my mother prefers robot shots where everyone stands together in a line, so she was not all that pleased, but it's not 1985, and that's not what I paid for.

    33 agree
    • I think it's a bit unfair to assume that someone who works a 9-5 job is just a "weekend warrior," and that your images will suffer because of that. There's a down time to photographing weddings, and in that downtime is when a lot of people work side jobs so that they can upgrade their equipment, or pay down other debt. Every wedding photographer I know, including myself, isn't booked with weddings 365 days a year so it's crucial to have a fall back "regular" job to keep all your business expenses paid. Right? Or does having a "regular" job mean I'm not really a wedding professional? Confused! :-/

      79 agree
      • All the busy wedding photographers I know would not have time for a day job.

        50 agree
        • Whilst I agree that there is not necessarily anything wrong with a photographer just because they have a day job – Christina, your reasoning is way off, if a professional wedding photographer shot between 30-40 (and most shoot many more) weddings in a year, then there would be no time to have another job, if they're providing a good level of service. If you can't pay all your business expenses with your business, then it's not a business yet (and that's ok, it's just that I think we shouldn't be so quick to assume 'professional' status).

          21 agree
          • 30 – 40 weddings per year? Seriously? That averages out to be no less than 3 weddings a month non-stop. Not even Jasmine Star does that, and she's a world renowned wedding photographer. I've listened to her talk about not stretching yourself too thin and making sure to take a hiatus during the down time to get your vision in line, work on business practices, and study new techniques. This has been her advice for years! So either the world renowned wedding photographer is wrong, or the expectation of what a professional wedding photographer is varies a lot.

            16 agree
          • May want to check the logic on that one. There are 52 weeks in a year and not many people are getting married during what professionals call the "off season". The numbers you are posting would take nothing short of super human effort to accomplish. (At least that's case in the US)

            10 agree
          • Apologies that this is so offensive to you, I honestly didn't mean it to be. I personally have around 9 per month in April-Sept, but I really have no issue with Part-time photographers, some of the best are 'weekend-warriors' (I term I hate also)

            2 agree
          • I shoot over 30 weddings a year and yes there is NO TIME for a full time or part time job other than editing, meeting clients, shooting engagements, bridals, and actually having a life. I know of another Austin, Texas photographer who shoots 35-40 weddings and super busy during wedding season. The whole Jamine Star thing made me laugh. She makes her money hosting workshops not shooting weddings and she got herself in trouble a few months ago in the photography community, so yes, even she isn't perfect.

            5 agree
          • I have a full-time M-F job and am also a professional photographer. There is nothing about me 'assuming' to be a professional- I provide consistent, high-quality results, use all pro equipment, and have a legal business. I am a professional. But I am not able to rely on my income just from my photography to pay my bills or for all of my equipment. I chose to not be a ft pgotographer because I feel like it would be very stressful to solely be self-employed and I would lose some of the enjoyment that I put into my photography. Most of the weddings I shoot I am hired by another as a 2nd shooter. I occasionally book some of my own. I mostly shoot portrait sessions however. and yes I do this on weekends and evenings.

            6 agree
        • Corey,

          How many wedding photographers do you know?

      • "There's a down time to photographing weddings, and in that downtime is when a lot of people work side jobs so that they can upgrade their equipment"
        What? talk about typical weekend warrior minds set a PROFESSIONAL approach to wedding photography is charging enough that the money from the weddings covers the upgrade of equipment and turns a profit!

        18 agree
        • I completely agree with your statement. I am a professional photographer but I am not a professional wedding photographer yet. Most of work is in studio. Wedding photography is a beast of a different color. Not to mention wedding photography isn't limited to the day of the wedding. There is an entire uploading and editing process that needs to be done.

          4 agree
      • Just to put this comment in perspective:

        Frankly, I was on a rant about calling yourself a professional but then I saw the no drama policy and decided to temper my remarks. My doctor, lawyer, car mechanic, and plumber are professionals. They have no "fall back" job to pay those bills. Rather they risk everything, their mortgage, insurance, groceries, equipment, overhead – EVERYTHING – on their skill and expertise. When you are ready to do the same, then you can call yourself a professional.

        Every professional photographer, and, gee, that includes me, who has done this for 30 years, done this solely for a living ( this is what I do. Period.) doesn't shoot weddings 365 days a year either. We shoot babies, families, seniors, commercial…and we go out a scour the earth for assignments to feed our families.

        And you don't think that makes our work better? If we screw up – we go hungry. If you do – you blame bridezilla, end up on TV in Judge Judy's court as the deadbeat wedding photographer, and go back to your safe day job.

        I mean, really…would you want to be about to go under for surgery and overhear your surgeon say, "I hope this doesn't take too long; I'm pulling the midnight shift at Wal Mart tonight. Again."

        I hope this clarifies your confusion.

        3 agree
  5. Our photographer ate when we ate, because, and I quote "No one really wants pictures of themselves eating." We purposefully gave everyone a full 45 minutes to eat without anything else going on, just so that we could all relax and the photographers didn't miss anything and could eat like civilized people.

    58 agree
    • Exactly what I say. Dinner is typically a lull in available productivity because your subjects are otherwise occupied. I usually take the 30 mins for dinner time to get some food shots, grab a quick bite, and get outside venue shots depending on light.

      10 agree
  6. Thank you very much for your advice!

    1 agrees
  7. No laser lights ever… unless that's what you're going for! My fiance and I are having a concert/nightclub/EDM themed wedding and we freaking LOVE lasers. I can't wait to see what my sparkly dress looks like covered in lasers!!

    13 agree
    • I was thinking the same thing. My old boss had her wedding at this funky concert venue and everyone looked amazing covered in lasers!

      1 agrees
      • I've spent hours removing green laser specks from a bride dancing with her father during a parent dance. Just tell them to turn them off during those important times! They can be fun when everyone is freestyle dancing though!

        18 agree
    • I actually saw that laser photo and thought, wow, that's cool and unique and I know at least five brides who would LOVE that… took notes. Maybe the lasers at a wedding should stay pink/red to avoid green face? LOL. I actually think it would make for some brilliant photos, but for SURE make sure your photographer in that case is VERY aware and experienced… in fact, shooting AT a nightclub/EDM festival/alternate universe a few times previously would be a great part of that resume. Most of the WPs I know wouldn't have the first clue WHAT to do in that scene and rightfully so when 98% of brides are going for soft and pretty.

      Check out local festival websites in the area and take note of photographers from that genre. We do Shambhala up here and I know that there are a kazillion amazing photographers that work in that lighting setup, but honestly, I had a friend who had hers done (outside, normal wedding in the woods feel, no lasers) by a friend and amazing club photographer and he didn't have the first clue how to photograph a wedding, so make sure they do their research and know what "other" photos need to happen as well as the light show. Or two photographers or whichever… just make sure you have your bases covered is what I am saying :)

      Also, make sure you send them in so we can see what a laser club EDM wedding looks like!!!

      2 agree
  8. THIS! to all of these things. Doubly so for pinterest and timelines.

    I would like to offer a different perspective than Sandra Lee's comment above. I know when I and my colleagues eat, we want to be away from the action for a few minutes. We've been 'on' all day around the couple and families, and it's nice to take 10 minutes to breath. That said, I'm on Long Island, where the reception timeline seems to e fairly universal and nothing happens during dinner. We also tend to go to the same catering halls and reception venues and get to know the the maitre d and staff- so communication about the timing of events is wide open.

    Moral of the story- definitely feed your photographer. A hangry photographer is not good for your pictures.

    6 agree
    • I am engaged and happen to be on long island. Is there a place for me to get your information please? Its so nice to have found your comment!

      1 agrees
  9. Wow. As a wedding photographer, this is one of the best articles on how to make sure you like your wedding photos I've ever read.

    Especially the part about Pinterest. Seriously. Stop asking your photographer to copy other people's work. It won't work. You won't like it. It'll take up all of the time they could be spending creating unique photos that capture your day. And it'll seriously suck the creative joy out of a very long and exhausting day for your photographer — who is first and foremost an artist who wants you to book them because of THEIR style, not to emulate the style of the photographers you didn't book.

    Thank you for a fabulous article!

    39 agree
  10. As a photographer I had one wedding where I did not get to eat, it was horrible. I started the day at 8am, and didn't eat a think till after the wedding. I had no steam left to run around and keep my eye on the bride and groom. It was a bad wedding for me :( So pleaaase feed the photographer! We are human, and we are on the job. But everybody needs a chance to eat!

    14 agree
    • You are definitely spot on, I worked as a commercial diver for 3 years and believe me, wedding photography is just as physically demanding. Even though clients may make arrangements for photographer's meals, some venue operators may try to cut corners by skipping out on these arrangements. Carrying couple of bottles of ensure , while no replacement for a hot meal can definitely be a lifesaver.

  11. Great post, but the comments are seriously turning me off professional photographers. So much judgement, ego, and griping..

    25 agree
    • Haha, a couple comments above reminded me of the subreddit r/photography (I checked it out when I was considering a DSLR, and pretty much only lurked because it's not beginner-friendly). It seems like pro photographers have to forge their own way so much that they can start to believe that their way is the best way, especially if it's their sole source of income. Which is fine, but can lead to lots of lively debate with other pros who do things differently.

      So #1 is key here–if you like your own photographer, the pictures have a much greater chance of being awesome!

      1 agrees
  12. A timely article for me – my partner and I had a conversation this morning over photography. We're having a really hard time coming to terms with the pricing. I've read enough here and at the Empire blog to know that photography is more expensive than people think it is, and I definitely accept that. We're just running into a wall where the prices from the people whose pictures we like are just more than we're willing to spend. So yeah, long story short, we might move away from #2 above, but will definitely keep the other 10 points in mind!

    8 agree
    • Hey Megs!

      Depending on how much time is left until your wedding, don't be afraid to reach out and see if you can work out a payment plan with your photog. Mine (Persimmon Images, an Offbeat Bride Vendor) let us pay down slowly over the course of our engagement and a few months after. We would just shoot them as much as we could fathom each month, and since we booked early on, we got rates before they went up. Open up a diaglogue with those you really love to see if, and how much, flexibility is an option. Luck!

      2 agree
      • With ours, we thought we had a budget earlier on, and then found we didn't. What we ended up doing, was I contacted a photographer who had done some boudoir shots for me a year previously. She knew who I was because we contacted through Facebook some. She had done some weddings before, but it wasn't her full time thing. (I know, It breaks all these rules!) However, I was already familiar with her work, and because I was a past client, she was willing to DRASTICALLY cut down her rates. Luckily, she did a GREAT job and we ended up loving her pictures. We do still need to get them off the Interwebs though. (They're on our Flickr account still). We did feed her too! She was hanging out taking pics while we were all eating and we basically shoved her over to the food table and told her she had to eat. :)

    • 1) Look at your budget and see if there is anything else you can reduce. For me, photography was so much more important than almost everything else. After all, it was what would make all those other details LAST. So I was willing to cut a lot of corners to make it happen. I had a photographer I loved, but he and my second choice were way too expensive compared to my budget so I started looking at cheaper options. Ultimately, though, nothing else spoke to me the way his work did, so I decided to make an appointment with him even though he was way out of budget.

      2) Talk to your photographer. All of mine's packages were way out of budget, but I loved his work. And he loved that I loved his work, so he came up with a bare bones, no prints, no albums package for me (I made my own album eventually when I could). It was still out of our budget, but only slightly, so …

      2) Talk to parents/grandparents/etc and see if anyone would be willing to cover the price difference in lieu of a traditional wedding present. Or OTHER present for that matter. My mother completely agreed with me about the importance of getting the pictures I wanted so my Christmas present was an advance for the difference between the budget and the price.

      12 agree
  13. I whole-heartedly agree on the LIGHTING parts for receptions and ceremonies – as LOVELY and romantic as things are – some lighting scenarios are a recipe for disaster or …umm…"creatively artistic" expressions on the dance floor. I shot one wedding where the room was pitch black with large disco size circle lights – even WITH my flash – people still had greens, reds and purples all on them. Be prepared for THAT to happen. Talk in GREAT LENGTH about what you want for your photography and let the photographer help you WITH your vision. I definitely agree on seeing a full wedding day album before-hand so you get a general idea of what you will be getting.

    And yes, FEED US lol! Honestly when i'm working a wedding – i'm craving a huge glass of water by the time we get to the reception! I've been in a blur of crazee timing, trying to get all the shots wanted PLUS running back and forth if the venue is huge. lol!!! Feed us, let us celebrate with you – and when you have TWO photographers on site – one can eat while one works then vice versa. :)

    3 agree
  14. PS can i ask another question??? for those that HATED their photos – is there any form of post-editing that would FIX them??? Or was it just the style they hated :\ Sometimes I've had ppl come to me saying they really really disliked their photos – but given the chance – I would either find a way to edit or "resurrect" the images to be back to the emotions and moments u experienced. Just a thought?

    • The short answer to that is..maybe, possibly?

      The longer answer:
      It depends very much upon why you don't like the photos. There are some things photoshop (and it's operator) just can't do. We can't create content that didn't already exist; Sometimes we can pull someone from another picture and add them into the image in question. Likewise with faces- face swapping can improve group images if one person isn't looking, or another is making a weird face, etc. But we can't say, take a picture of Aunt Maude taken with a cell phone and add her into family shots. Even the best photoshopper would be hard pressed to make something like that look good.

      Some things are relatively easy; slight over or under exposure is fixable. Color shifts are generally fixable. Severely under/over exposed images, honestly, should never even make it to you. Any photographer worth their salt is going to remove those from your proof set before you even know they exist. They're not fixable- the image data just isn't there. Some photographers/retouchers might throw special effects -type filters over those; sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

      The only thing to be done for unflattering poses might be to creatively crop the image. Also a hit or miss technique. Bad lighting is another toughie. 'Bad' is subjective, and difficult to quantify, but here it goes.. Harsh shadows, ugly 'raccoon eye' shadows and that sort of lot can sometimes be fixable, but can be very time consuming. Depending upon cost or time involved, it may not be worth it to have those fixed. Often, harsher lighting will be used artistically or to convey drama- just something to consider as well.
      Annndd…. Those little laser lights are the bane of a retouchers existence.

      Sorry about the length, but I hope it can be helpful to someone out there!

      2 agree
      • just to clarify – ppl came up that already had their wedding captured and were asking ME that…(not my clients) hehe!!! :) I sometimes offer those services to "fix" images – just because i know you can't re-do the day :(

        Gotcha, i was trying to maybe get a clear understanding of what ppl might "hate" in the photos. I "hated" that i didn't get any photojournalistic ANYTHING on my day….and i just plainly did't communicate or know how to….and i'll spend the rest of my life making sure others get amazing pictures. :)

        GREAT ARTICLE btw.

    • (((This response (question) was to the based on the OBB comment above in the article sayin they hated them, and then looked again and still hated them. That makes me sad that they hate them…. so i was wondering if they were fixable :( ))))

      —————————————————————————————————
      …."So when I saw this comment from an Offbeat Bride on 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't, I couldn't help but shudder:

      What to do if I really dislike my wedding photos? I've stepped away from them for a few months and come back and I still hate them. I've shown them to family and friends and they all think they aren't very good either… I hired a professional photographer and second shooter."……..

  15. The only thing I'd add is be flexible and allow the photographer to take a variety of photos from a style standpoint. Photographers know best so if they suggest you do something, don't hesitate – just do it! Despite many recommendations, I was dead set against the posed bride and groom photo, wanting more of the photo journal style pictures. I LOVE the pictures I got and they are exactly what I had in mind, but I am kind of sad to see that I don't really have a single "wedding portrait" where my husband and I are just posed together. It seems like every one I have features us kissing, laughing or in motion… which is cute but sometimes that plain portrait is all you want. I never thought I'd want that posed portrait but several years out I suddenly do.

    17 agree
    • THIS IS WHY I DO WHAT I DO!!!!
      yesss!!! we shoot it all – even if you don't want it – i agree agree agree! Somtimes when i'm on site i'll say.."you will thank me later!"…..and every time, never fails….EVERY picture is treasured posed and non. <3 I just got giddy/nerdy. I love serving people with EVERY bit of everything I can give. posed and non-posed. Sorry, just hitting "THIS!" wasn't enough….thank u thank u for that post <3

      13 agree
    • Yessss! It takes literally 5 seconds to smile and look at the camera. And even if you will never look at that photo, it will make mom and grandma happy. I feel so many brides and grooms get sucked into the events of the day that they sometimes forget to think about the future when the photos will be all you have left. You are going to get a ton of candid photos: smiling, laughing, dancing, crying etc. Spare a moment to get one straightforward shot.

      I had this one couple who refused any sort of "smile and look at the camera" photo. Normally I'm very easy going, but I know from past experience that we should take at least one photo–delete it if you want later, I dont care, but have the option!! It was like pulling teeth but I convinced them to do it… Guess what photo they chose to display in their home?

      2 agree
  16. I think point #1 is THE point to worry about! Granted, this is coming from a newlywed that handled the music with Spotify, not a professional, but things like feeding the photographer will be a natural consideration if you like them as a person, and lots of the rest will come up in advance if you've already been communicating with them. I haven't seen ALL of the pictures yet, but the ones I have seen… my background on my computer at home is a slideshow from the wedding because I love them too much to just pick one. My photographers were just all around perfect; they were a joy to work with, both wonderfully skilled, and both prepared for how unprepared I was for the whole standard shot-list thing, because we discussed it in advance. I really think your best bet for good photos is to get to know your photographer as much as possible. If it's in the budget, definitely do an engagement shoot. Do they have a facebook page? Follow it! Do you know anyone else who's hired them? Talk to them! I realise that not everyone can be in a situation where they can make friends with their professional photographer and not feel like they had to involve outsiders in their day, but if that's something you can do, DO EET!

    2 agree
  17. I definitely agree with #1 above all. I used a photographer that had done family portraits for us since I was young, and shot both of my brother's weddings. It was kind of a given that we'd go with him. But when we met to discuss the details pre-wedding, I remembered that I really didn't like the guy very much, he always made me a bit uncomfortable. Combine that with a very old-school "list of shots" style and poor time management on his part, and I really wasn't very happy with our photography experience. Most of my favorite shots came from friends shooting on the side.

    1 agrees
  18. Great tips for a bride planning a wedding. I agree about the food, when I meet and plan with my brides and grooms a month out and we talk about food, I always encourage them to feed the photographers because they are working hard for a long time. One thing that I would add to the food section; that is where a professional DJ comes in, not in room lighting. A professional DJ is one who makes sure everything flows and all vendors necessary are ready to go, and will not start a single event without walking that 100 yards to find the photographers to inform them of the upcoming event well in advance so that they have time to prepare, grab lenses, set-up flash's etc.

    If the entertainment starts without you, they are not professional.

    7 agree
    • This can also be the maitre d's responsibility, depending upon the venue.

      2 agree
  19. I have to say, I have such rad couples. Most of the time they seat me with some guests that they know I will get along with and feed me all three courses and keep checking that Ive got a red wine in my hand.
    I think its all about finding couples that you like to be around and be the kind of photographer that gets involved.

    corey

    3 agree
  20. I agree. It's a very well wrote article. I went a different way to prevent myself from hating my wedding photos. I hired a photographer who I have worked with in the past. I told him that I only needed him to do shoot and burn photography for me, shoot pictures and burn onto cd same day, no editing. I am a professional photographer and love editing. I have shot weddings, but prefer portrait. I get all pics I want same day, he receives photo credit, I retain rights to use for my work (since I am editing all), plus he also has rights to edit his images. That way I ensure I have the photos I love, plus possible extras from him, and he builds his portfolio

    2 agree
  21. This article is hysterical, true and informative! Will you marry me Mike? On a serious not, you could find a photographer that you do like and pay them to edit your images if this article is too late for the party. They could be salvageable.

    1 agrees
    • I'm doing this for a couple right now they had a no frills photog and where so disappointed. Now they are willing to pay to have them fixed!

      1 agrees
  22. I love this. Like others here, I have prioritized photos very highly in my planning. My photographer was the 2nd vendor I/we chose. Prior to making that decision, I (gently and nicely) rejected 2 offers from stunningly talented photographer friends, and my partner kaibashed a 3rd suggestion from family that we should ask someone in the wedding party. (Really?? How would he be in the wedding party, then??)

    I looove photos; when I was 7 yrs old I decided I wanted to be a photographer, and that desire lasted for a good 8 years. I figure I'll want to take my own photos, but I love that it will be an option for me, and that I won't miss anything.

    About the food: I always assumed that the photographer would eat with us. I mean, ye gods, if I'm expecting them to be with me and my spouse-to-be for 6 to 8 hours, it would be ludicrous not to give them food. My photographer included "must be served hot meal" in her contract. I was impressed she specified 'hot' – I had already discarded the idea of a cold picnic buffet, and that made me glad I did. ;)

    And with all of this, your time-warp comment is the one I needed to read/hear. I'm very good at planning projects where my time isn't the critical factor, and pretty bad at planning myself. Partner is bad at it as well, so I will definitely ask for assistance in getting a proper timeline together.

    1 agrees
    • We actually had a wedding party member as photographer. She walked out with us during the processional, and wore matching clothing to the other wedding party members, but then split off at the end of the aisle and took ceremony pictures.

      She also took most of our posed family/wedding party pics, but we had a few other non-pro photographers on hand to make sure we got some wedding party pictures that featured her.

      Not saying you should do it, but it's totally possible, if that's what you wanted.

  23. Here's another tip: forget about the camera and don't try to pose. If you hired a good photographer, s/he will know exactly what to do to get the photos s/he needs. Relax, enjoy, be happy and have fun … I can work magic in PS but I can't photoshop away a lousy attitude. ;-)

    6 agree
    • YES! – and i've had to stop a few moments to calm a bride down cause of her *frown* when things are going wrong…it SHOWS in the pics!!! eeek!!! :) *breaaaathe* :)

      1 agrees
  24. We had a single long table, with the photographer at one end with some mates who were similarly into photography and gadgets – they got on great! He also got some amazing shots of the food when it came out. Just one of the many details he captured over the whole day.

    We found we didnt necessarily like some of the photos he posed us for, but we knew his work was awesome enough that we trusted his judgement and let him do his own thing, knowing that the end result would be awesome. And it was.

  25. Excellent list! You can also really tell when a couple are just so filled with joy at their wedding and it really does make for the best pictures!

  26. Great list! I only have an issue with one thing that was said…hire a DJ to do your lighting. No, please, for the love of god no!

    I own a design firm that offers full production, including lighting. Because we also do planning and coordination, there are times when we're hired to coordinate someone's wedding without providing any decor.

    Some of the most horrendous botches of wedding decor have been at the hands of DJs who "did" lighting.

    Many of them buy cheap DJ equipment meant to reach a few feet away to the dancefloor, not strong enough to reach a 20' or 30' ceiling. What that means to you is that you'll have beautiful lighting starting at the floor that fades out about halfway up the wall and can't even be seen by your guests, much less your pictures (unless they're all angles toward the floor).

    Additionally, the kind of lights used for a dancefloor are the kind that get hot. Very hot! Hot enough to give serious burns if touched about a minute after being plugged in.

    Speaking of plugged in, do you want extension cords and gaffer tape (like duct tape but not as sticky) running across your floor? The only choices DJs have are running a bunch of cords and tape or not putting a light down where there isn't a plug-in (which explains the dark holes along your wall which I'm about to discuss).

    And let's not talk about the hit-or-miss designs. Pictures will have pretty lighting halfway down the wall and then a big black hole with dark nothingness. Or there will be a colored light a couple of feet to the left of the cake so that every pictures looks like the couple and/or the photographer stood in the wrong place or that the cake wasn't centered.

    The fact is that they are DJs. Not designers. They almost never invest the money to provide lithium-battery powered (i.e. no cords or tape!) LED RGBA (the A is extremely important for proper color mixing) high-powered lights. Those lights are very specialized and expensive. Their prices wouldn't be so ridiculously "reasonable" if they invested in proper equipment.

    So if you hear a deal that sounds too good to be true from your DJ and if you care about the end result of your decor …hire a professional lighting company. It's too late to make that decision when you're looking at your splotchy pictures.

    Disclaimer: there are some rare DJs who have made the proper investments and gotten the education to provide a truly professional product. I see 2-3 who have out of hundreds of DJs in my market. That should tell you something.

    7 agree
  27. The one thing that was missed is that planning the time line with the photographer as well as the planners is key. Sunset time is the softest light and prime time for photos. Leaving time for these images is important so you are not rushing to the reception or rushing out of the reception to chase the light. Most planners and venues do not consider this in the timeline.

    2 agree
  28. There are so many opinions out there about how to select your photographer so you love your wedding images. I think it's very easy. Find a photographer with a real commitment to quality, that actually enjoys their work, possesses both talent and experience, then trust them to knock it out of the park. Crappy photography does exist, but not for brides committed to quality photography, willing to spend some time looking, and willing to reallocate budget if necessary.

    3 agree
    • Eloquently said. However, you are a wedding photographer and may easily spot which photographer is 'good' and which one is not so stellar. Most brides will, if everything goes as planned, only get married once. It's not that easy to spot "real commitment to quality […] talent and experience […]" when it's a couple's first time looking to hire a wedding photographer. This article and many more here on OBB are excellent guidelines. Thanks Mike, for taking the time to write it.

      2 agree
  29. Hi, I'm a wedding DJ and frequently get comments from guests that my lights actually make their pictures look better. I think the trick with laser lights is NOT to point them at a wall or to "speckle" the room (as I've seen other DJs do)…the trick is to place the laser light on a HIGH tripod or truss and point it straight down at the dance floor ONLY and nowhere else. Nobody sitting at a table or anywhere else should have laser dots on them (as shown in the picture in the article). Also, side note…DJs like to eat too…and if you feed us FIRST during dinner we can NOT be eating during the most crucial part of the night–after dinner when dancing is starting.

    4 agree
  30. Oh…and forgot to mention….as dancing typically makes up 2/3 of the reception, if you'd like good pictures of the majority of your reception, check the DJs dance photos. I've seen too many $2500 photogs who take 50 pics of the bouquet and 3 of dancing. Is this photog willing to pull out a step ladder to get a downward shot showing the whole crowd on the dance floor? Are they willing to lay down on the floor to get a center-of-thecircle shot on the dance floor, for example? Most photogs aren't….I continually observe that dance time gets very little attention. If you'd like the majority of the reception captured, that means you need a photog who gets down and dirty to get the good dance shots. If you look through their wedding albums and see 500 pictures with only 10 from the dance floor, this is a red flag.

    6 agree
  31. So many great points here! As a photographer, I'm so happy to see this all in print. I agree with every point here. Thank you for sharing!

  32. My photography team requires a meal of what our guests eat at the same time that we, the bride and groom, eat. It's in our contract. I'm surprised more vendors don't put this in the contract.

  33. We had a friend who was a "weekend photographer" do our wedding photos for free. We invited him along to the wedding dinner (for a grand total of five people) to say thanks, and come celebrate with us. The photos turned out amazing! They were lovely, intimate, and sometimes hilarious. I couldn't be happier with the way they turned out. My first wedding we hired a "professional" photographer, and I hated them. Sometimes life doesn't work out the way people say it's supposed to.

    6 agree
  34. We got married 2 months ago – OBB reminded me earlier that we still haven't posted our pics. The only thing I don't like about ours is that we still haven't got them! We arranged a 'no frills' deal with our photographer whereby we would sort through all the shots and do any touching up. Originally we were expecting the disc within a week. I get that he's been busy/ill/struggling with his email etc etc but we're still waiting. How long is unreasonable?

    • Depends on your contract/agreement with the photographer, but edited images can take as long as four months.

      1 agrees
    • We waited FOUR YEARS. Yep. And I loved our photographs so hard, but it took four years to get them. It's been…frustrating, to put it mildly. And I only recently got the CD. No prints, no album. I'm hoping that comes though. Ugh.

  35. Great article! I'll be sharing with my 40 clients this year and making sure potential future know about this by sharing in FB!

    Andrew

  36. As a pro photographer with over 2500 weddings under my belt I need to add something:
    #12 The only thing you should worry about once your day arrives is having a good time. Once you've done all the research & found a photographer that fits. Let that person alone to do their job. I love photographing weddings. I've been doing it since 1985 & love what I do! Brides, Grooms, brides maids, groomsmen, parents, guests, clergy, limo drivers, all have an opinion on how I should do my job. Every one of those opinions hinders the ability for me to work at 100%. So go get a drink, enjoy the day! Leave me to what I love to do & I promise I'll never be in you're way at you're job hindering you're ability to give 100%

    2 agree
  37. I chose a wedding photographer because she was "cheap". she did our engagement pictures for "cheap", but my husband and i were very concerned about the lip tattoo on her boob that she didn't mind showing off. Anyways, I cancelled on her (lost some deposit money cuz of it) …Then I found another photographer who was more expensive than her….HOWEVER, in the endshe was ccheaper…the reason being…ashe did a free engagement session, a free bridal shoot…Besides that, she was actually there to make ME and my husband happy not herself…she went above and beyond words can ever say. I am more than happy i decided to cancel on the first one and book the second. (last isnt always a bad thing, right?!) She made our wedding day incredible!
    Also she asked if itd b ok if she ate at our wedding. I never even thought to not include her. She was included in the count from the beginning. She sat at a table right next to my parents table.

    • I will say that for some Offbeat Brides, a "lip tattoo on her boob that she didn't mind showing off" would be a major selling point for a photographer. ;)

      18 agree
      • I'm wondering if anyone asked her if she'd mind covering it up for the wedding? Your wedding photog is your choice and you have every right to change your mind based on any criteria you like, but it kind of gives me a sad that you might fire someone based on just that, especially since it sounds like you didn't even give her a chance to change it.

        5 agree
  38. Love this advice! However I have taken some amazing photos when DJ's know how to do a laser show that isn't tacky. Beautiful light flares, etc. I think the important thing is that the DJ knows the difference between a tasteful wedding reception and a grungy drunken dance party. As you said, uplight=WOW photos!

  39. These are definitely great tips, but I'll add that some photographers are YMMV when it comes to eating. We found our gal through a bridal association book after having one interview with the owner of the company and a second with the photographer we chose. When we had our meeting with her and told her that we'd be happy to feed her, she said that she preferred not to eat when she was on the job. It's always nice to ask, though, I think.

  40. Completely agree! Besides, I am a destination wedding planner here in Tuscany, Italy and finding the perfect photographer is the most important things, as in this kind of weddings pictures play even a more important role.

    2 agree
  41. Well, that was a refreshing read! I also didn't realise just how much I hated lasers until I read this : )

    1 agrees
  42. I would definitely agree with all pints from this post, I am wedding planner, I work with few amazing photographers and always remind our clients how important is to feed photographer (and to have him seated close by so that he doesn't miss anything). However I have a bad story about this from my own wedding. Though we did think about it and provided meal for all suppliers our videographer didn't eat anything before coming to record our wedding and by the time we had dinner he was so tiered and hungry that he fainted! We have very short wedding video.

  43. Just a quick note from a photog…. Be careful about asking another photographer to "fix" your images, especially if you signed a contract with the original photographer, if you did, chances are they own the copyrights to those photos (a print release does not mean you were given copyrights)… And if you don't own the copyrights, then you can't edit or have them edited/fixed without permission from the original photographer… And it can lead to some nastiness… Just be careful

    2 agree
  44. Uplighting can be a double edged sword. Incandescent always looks better than leds. Some led's are very cheep and overexpose the image. So true up-lighting can add that pop you need in the background and keep your wedding photos from looking like you got married in a cave. Thanks again for the great blog post and information to the bride. Keep it up.

  45. I agree with all points, especially the last one. Invest in an album that will last a lifetime and a few canvases for your walls. Your big day only happens once (hopefully!) and you'll want the memories forever.

    All of my photog friends would agree with these points.

    As for the comment that the typical full time photog shoots 30-40 events per year, that is far from the truth. The average photog shoots 15-20 weddings. The ones shooting more are machine like big studios that don't offer any personal attention! Meet your photog and get to know them, cheap isn't always better. Last wedding I attended shot by a machine studio, the photog told me he shoots 55+ events per year and doesn't try to be creative or event get his lighting right. He shoots in raw and off loads the files to the machine editing farm where someone else gets to fix up all his garbage. Talk about lack of attention.

    I expect the photog who shot my event to edit the job and provide retouching services (normal stuff like glass glare, moderate blemish removal, exit sign removal) for an additional fee on all images I choose to either print/make a canvas from or put in my album.

    For me, that's the high level of service I expect from a professional. You won't get that from a faux-tographer.

  46. So, I used one of the "best photographers in town"…and I do NOT love the results. How do I approach them to discuss my disappointment? I am not fire-breathing mad, but I am quite upset.

  47. I understand that this is well-meaning, and probably good advice for some people, but I find a lot of this quite frankly judgmental and rude.

    Sure, IF photography is a high priority for you, and your definition of "good photography" includes only skintone flattering lighting and classic wedding poses, then this is all perfect advice. However, it is also perfectly possible to be happy with non-pro photography, or to PREFER a different style of photography.

    We are absolutely THRILLED with the pictures of my wedding taken by friends and family.

    Our main photographer was a member of the wedding party, who works as a programmer on weekdays. We were her second ever wedding, her first being another close friend. She offered to shoot our engagement photos and wedding as a way to build her portfolio and as a wedding gift, and she did a stellar job. While perhaps a more experienced wedding photographer would have gotten more perfect colour balances, we felt we got much more personal, natural-looking pictures because our photographer was a close friend we could totally relax around. She had PLENTY of opportunity to relax and unwind during the reception, as we told her to put away the pro camera. The rest of our pictures, which we're equally thrilled with, were taken with point and shoots from all the guests

    We also welcomed iPads, cellphones, cameras, etc during the ceremony – we trusted our friends and family to show a modicum of respect with their devices (which they did) and in return, we got unique simultaneous shots from all different angles – without which we would not have caught some of the shenanigans our youngest attendants got up to during the ceremony, while our photographer was busy taking pictures of our faces.

    We left very little time for posed wedding party/family shots. As a result, our photographers/friends got time to unwind, and we got time to socialize and catch up with with all the friends and family who had travelled from afar to celebrate with us. Sure, our short timeline means we missed a few pics that we would have liked, but on the whole, we're much happier having a lot more memories, rather than a few more pro pics.

    We had blacklighting and laserlights on our dancefloor, and discovered on the day of that it made my ribbon veil GLOW. And I strode out there with my cider in hand. Sure, it wasn't technically flattering to my complexion, but who cares? I got awesome pictures of myself rocking out with my rad glowing veil and all my friends and family around me. I don't look like a mannequin, but I DO look like I'm having the time of my life (which I was).

    Some of our close friends had their wedding pictures taken by a family friend who is a pro BIRD photographer, and they're equally thrilled. Their photographer wasn't the best at posed wedding shots, so he didn't bother with them, and instead did what he does best – candid unposed shots. Their wedding album looks NOTHING like a standard wedding album, but it's GORGEOUS – it looks like it came straight out of National Geographic.

    4 agree
  48. Who takes your wedding photos is one of the most important decisions you will make for your wedding. Of course you want to be able to remember your special day and have amazing wedding pictures.

  49. Got to item:
    6. No laser lights ever
    I quote"
    Do you look good with green spots on your face? No? Then kindly ask your DJ to kill the laser light show. Laser lights are pretty much the worst thing ever invented — they make your guests look like they have a mutant green skin disease. Oh, and those expensive lasers used in Electronic Dance Music can fry professional cameras on contact. Hulk smash laser lights!

    You lost me after this.

    Very opinionated, companies wouldn't be selling lasers if there wasn't lovers out there.

    I was requested an 'Arial' based laser this Saturday in a marquee, as I had this laser facing above the crowd no-one had so called dots on them.

    Also due to safety lasers shouldn't be at eye level.

    Play well with others, there is more to a wedding than photography.

    3 agree
  50. I'd be curious what Mike Allebach's take on videographers is. Is it worth it?

  51. My photographer and I went over that all. He's getting a full-fledged meal, just like everyone else, at the same time as everyone else. (: He can sit wherever he wants (there's quite a few chairs that aren't filled), and get cozy with some new friends. ;) It's just rude to think that some people don't feed their photographer!

  52. Had me laughing. My wedding photographer was a food photographer. And he sat at my parents table because he was my mother's brother. He did the photos as my Wedding gift. The photos turned out great.

  53. I did my first wedding a couple weeks ago as a full in for the original photographer whose husband suddenly died. I had about 24 hours to prepare but was ready to go. When I first got there, one of the things the mother of the bride told me was that there was a meal for me too along with the guests and I should help myself to anything water, soda, food, etc. Both sets of parents were continuously asking if I needed water (it was a hot day) and making sure I had had time to eat. I used to cater as a second job and you'd be surprised at the number of high end weddings where they didn't want this person or that person to eat. I understand not feeding the band but the wedding planner and the photographer need to eat just as much as the bride and groom.

    1 agrees
  54. Thank you for posting this article and sharing this information. I was disappointed with my wedding photos. We hired a photographer who did a great job with our engagement photos but our wedding photos were lacking. I think your advice of liking the photographers personality is very important. The photographer was very timid and I think we would have been better suited to someone more outgoing. I am going to share with my social media followers. Pinned!

  55. These are all important questions to avoid regretting your choice of photographer but it's also worth keeping in mind that a percentage of professional photographers (even those with great portfolios and reputations) cut corners in their business and are guilty of any or all of the following

    They don't have proper off-site backups of your precious photos between capture and delivery
    They don't have a strategy if their memory cards become corrupted or go missing in the hours after the shoot (a camera with twin cards and a handoff procedure for example)
    They don't have backup photographers they can call on in the event of illness
    They don't have insurance in case they injure a guest or cause other harm
    They don't have a second camera body in case of breakdown during the ceremony
    They don't have insurance for hire of backup equipment if theirs is lost, stolen or breaks down

    It pays to ask for written proof of all of the above

  56. Dear photographers,
    Please pack snacks and drinks for your epic 12-15 hour working day.
    It is a responsibility you owe to your clients to remain hydrated and fueled over the whole day. I'm concerned with comments that elude to a day with no body fuel until the 'vendor provided meal'.
    As photographers we don't get traditional breaks , however, we can 'top up the tank' without out stopping our creative flow. Its part of taking care of our 'equipment'. The person holding the camera, after all, is the most vital part of our creative 'kit'.
    I'm a photographer, and a bride to be, so I now look at this from both sides of the fence. I feed myself as a respect to my client and their financial investment in me and my services.
    The writer of the article is so on the money with all their points.
    Thanks, Chelles. :)

  57. Totally fed my 'friend of a friend' photographer. Also paid for her hotel room. I considered her totally worth it when she stood on a 35th floor vegas balcony railing just to "get this shot!" and told us to stop freaking out lol. She literally made the wedding a success since many of our friends couldn't be there. she captured the essence in pictures so everyone could enjoy it.

  58. Seriously, #1, and #1(a), plan your wedding far enough out that you have time to find one you like! We got to hiring a photographer "late" in the game (10 months out is "late," apparently), and all the photographers we wanted in our price range (and some who weren't) were already booked. We hired a guy whose work we liked and seemed nice, but our personalities didn't quite mesh. I wish we'd had time and options to find someone else.

    And, #12, be super explicit about the pictures you do want, every single one of them. I'm estranged from my birth parents; they did not show. My collected-along-the-way-and-like-family showed in full force. Photog knew this and took pictures of us during the family photos part, so I assumed he'd catch together us later too… nope. I have 20 photos of DH with MIL during the "everyone dance" song, and none of me dancing with my collected-father or collected-brother. I really, really, really wish I'd thought to explicitly ask Photog to take those photos.

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