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

Updated Feb 4 2016
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.


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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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

  6. 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. 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. I feel a bit embarrassed because I didn't think to include feeding our photographer. He is now on our guest list for dinner 🙂 Thanks for the heads-up!

  10. If a photographer can't shoot without food, bring a nutrition bar or two. Eat before you come to the wedding, or on your way to the reception. I keep a nutrition bar in my camera bag at all times. I've also shot weddings without having had anything to eat all day. It can be done. Wedding photography is not for wimps.

  11. Can't agree with this article more! I am a Professional Photographer and experience these things all the time. Amazing how Brides just hire some photographers because their friend did, or they seem cool, or the price is right. Huge mistakes.:-) If you are happy on your Wedding day your images will show you in the best light.

  12. I am not a photographer, but a wedding planner. I am very cautious when referring my brides to photographers and always try and match them with ones that I think will fit their particular style. I also have brides go through the interview process and look at portfolios and websites as well before making their final selection for a photographer.
    I set one of my brides up with one of my top choice photographers. The bride hired them and never looked at their website or portfolio. A few weeks ago, they met for bridal portraits and the bride is NOT happy at all with the photos. The photographer has gone above and beyond with edits, but the bride loves some of the images, but some of them she does not and is just not being pleasant at all to the photographer.
    The photographer is now going to cancel the contract and refund her money because he feels that he will not be able to please her when it comes to the wedding. The wedding is 3 weeks away.
    My question is, there are around 75 images and the bride is unhappy with about 25 of them. I know not every image is going to be perfect (I personally loved all of them), but is there an average of what images usually don't turn out well compared to those that do, or should they all be perfect?Again, I loved all of them, she did not and she is the client.

  13. There is a lot of talk about the photographer but not enough talk about the most visually dynamic photo op of the reception – The First Dance! So our top advice to brides is hire a month of coordinator to make sure all your hard work pays off and hire a dance professional to teach the dance so that you can sparkle in the spotlight! As the national expert who has worked with 10,000 couples, I can tell you that half are quite nervous and apprehensive but once they are empowered and rehearse, they are excited to dazzle their guests and have a collage of dynamic photo-ops for their wedding album and parent's albums! Without lessons you will have one high school prom pose, with preparation you can have 15 or more poses! The training will enhance your photos throughout the day as you become more aware of your general posture, head position, holding poses and arm positions throughout the day.

  14. I realize this is an old post… but this will stand the test of time. As a wedding DJ I'm shocked at how many DJs I see using lasers as part of their wedding shows. If they're used they should ONLY point at the ceiling – but it's probably best to just stick with an elegant uplighting solution.

  15. Haha this list is exactly everything I tell my potential clients when meeting to discuss thier film. Most important of all is HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. There are many many many many times during a wedding that quick split seccond action needs to be taken in order to capture a special moment. Someone who does not film weddings for a living will NOT, I repeat NOT know how to spot that moment, spin around, change the camera settings to match the new scene, focus (if your videographer uses autofocus, please hire a new one) and then finally capture that moment all in the blink of an eye. Make sure you are confident with the person you hire so you are not worried about them come the biggest day of your life!

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