11 Wedding Photographers Chime in on a Woman’s “Big Day“

Pulitzer Prize winner, and writer, Eudora Alice Welty once said: “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” And for many couples on their wedding day, your special day can be one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that slip away. So what better way to cherish them than through photographs you can look back on years from now? While the “big day” is, of course, centered on the bride and groom, the photographer also plays an integral part of your big day.

A simple Google search for “wedding photographers” will show you how important choosing the right one for your wedding is. “Here are 10 steps to finding a great wedding photographer,” or “How to choose the perfect wedding photographer,” are just a couple article titles you’ll find. Whether you’ve been the bride doing the planning, or a friend who’s helped one plan hers, you know how tedious this task of finding the right photographer for the wedding is. But how is it on the other side? What goes through a photographer’s mind when they’ve committed themselves to capturing your best moments on your big day?

We interviewed 11 wedding photographers and asked their opinions on how to plan the “perfect shot,” the photographic style they recommend, and what’s the biggest photo flop you should avoid on your “big day.” So sit back, listen and learn how to prepare for your special moment.

Sergey Lapkovsky has shot weddings for eight years! As a destination wedding photographer, Sergey loves to travel and showcase new locations in his photography. He is also an award-winning member of the International Association of Wedding Photographers’ “Fearless Photographers.”


On the “perfect shot.”
“I recommend brides to choose the photographer carefully. And when you understand that he is the one, just relax and trust him. If he is a professional, he’ll know what to do.”

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
“The #1 bride’s mistake is trying to control everything on the wedding day. Try to find someone who will be responsible for this! Take everything in stride and enjoy the process. Have fun with your groom!”

On photographic style used for weddings.
“Traditional, photojournalism, portraiture and natural light are all beautiful styles of photography. I can’t imagine a wedding without a photojournalism approach – to tell the story of the day. Some traditional portraits of bride and groom are great as well. If you want to reach the best possible result, you can’t do that without a combination of all these photographic styles.”

Emilia Moisio is an award-winning professional photographer with years of experience photographing weddings and running a freelance photography business. She is based in London, but travels the world – both as a wedding photographer and as a photographic artist publishing and exhibiting her work internationally.


On the “perfect shot.”
“Getting shots with the people who are important to you should be planned. Maybe plan pictures such as the mother of the bride helping the bride get dressed, or the best man chatting with the groom as they wait for the ceremony to begin. Natural moments like those with loved ones are always great! It is also good to list all the details that you might want to preserve in pictures such as the flowers, the dress, your rings, the table decorations, the cake, etc.”

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
“There aren’t usually any major disasters to worry about, but ignoring what is in the background is quite common. It might seem like a minor matter at the time, but afterwards you might wish that you had paid more attention and picked up the clothes from the floor in the bridal suit, or that the picture with your auntie wasn’t taken in the parking lot. The thing with photographs is that they always record everything that is there. So it’s a good idea to think about the backgrounds when planning for the day.
I also always tell my customers to practice smiling in front of a mirror before the big day. We all have a very clear idea of how we like to look in photographs, so it’s good to think about that a little bit in advance.”

On photographic style used for weddings.
“The photographic style used depends entirely on personal preference. It is best to do some research, look at wedding photographs online, for instance, and see what you like. I, personally, prefer natural, documentary images, because I feel that they capture the essence of the day in a genuine, relaxed way.

Ren + Caleb are an award winning husband and wife team, and the duo behind Studio 29 Photography. Having met at a wedding themselves, they are enamored with telling love stories through photographs. Ren + Caleb work throughout Wisconsin, the Midwest, and internationally.


Twitter: @Ren_Studio29

On the “perfect shot.”
“The shot list I require my brides to send me is a family formals list. That way the family formals can be taken quickly, painlessly, and no members of your family will be forgotten. But, as for the shot list containing a detailed list including “shot of dress,” “shot of me hugging my mom,” and/or “shot of the first kiss,” these are all moments that will unfold naturally during the wedding day. When a couple books a wedding photographer they should feel completely sure that their photographer will document the day accurately and capture these special moments as they are happening.”

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
The biggest mistake a bride can make on their wedding day would be to try and copy photos from another wedding that they may have seen online, or on social media. The love and life you share with your husband is unique to yu and your photos should reflect that. Trying to re-create someone else’s love story will feel forced and unnatural, instead of just being in the moment and experiencing your day YOUR way. After your wedding day, I guarantee your favorite photos will be the ones that take you back to a certain moment of the day.
Without a doubt, my favorite images from our wedding were the ones when we first saw each other, secluded in the woods, before reciting our vows. Your wedding day will be a whirlwind of emotions, hugs, and tears. And if you trust your photography team to capture your day to its fullest, then there really is no need to copy another bride’s wedding photos.

On photographic style used for weddings.
The beauty of “wedding photography” is that it’s a culmination of various styles. Photojournalism is the act of documenting unrehearsed emotions and actions in real time, and this is about 99% of a wedding day. I always encourage clients to pick a “getting ready” location that has lots of windows and natural light, along with the wedding party, and “bride-and-groom” portraits. All of this planning goes back to the timeline – creating a timeline that allows for all portraiture to be taken with natural lighting is ideal.

Chad Richardson is a wedding photojournalist based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He's worked in the newspaper business as a professional photographer since 1995.


On the “perfect shot.”
The most important photographs to include on a shot list are the different posed photos that you’d like. Photographers won’t know if, for example, you have a set of god parents who you are especially close to. They won’t know if you have a special relationship with an aunt. To make sure you get those shots, include them on a list, along with the person’s name. That way, the photographer knows who to seek out and can do so by name.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
There are a couple common mistakes I see. Everything takes longer than you’d expect on a wedding day and this is magnified when couples have huge wedding parties. The bigger the wedding party, the longer everything takes. I always tell my couples to plan their day out and get things nailed down. Then, on the day of the wedding, get out there and have fun. Enjoy yourself. You’ve hired professionals who have earned your trust. So, go have fun! Your photographs will reflect you having fun and enjoying yourself. Don’t be that couple folding programs two hours before your ceremony.

On photographic style used for weddings.
The best style to choose is the one that best fits the couple! There’s no right answer or wrong answer. The important thing is to find a photographer who specializes in the style YOU want.

Elvira Kalviste is the owner of an award-winning boutique wedding photography studio based in Brooklyn, New York.
Elvira specializes in creative documentary, and wedding photograpy. Her work has been described as vibrant, artistic, photojournalistic and authentic. Her style is natural and timeless.


On the “perfect shot.”
As a documentary photographer, I always recommend to trust your photographer and let them capture moments naturally. I believe in telling stories through candid photos that don’t require a shot list. However, if you opt to do any formal photos, make sure to provide a list of specific family group photos you want, so that your photographer knows exactly which group portraits are a must!

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
Not having a back-up plan! When things run late, or weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s important to have a back-up plan! However, even if things don’t go according to plan, the best thing to do is to go with the flow.

On photographic style used for weddings.
Although it comes down to personal preference, it’s hard to deny the power of great documentary photography. I hope every couple gets to relive their day by receiving a collection of photos that captures all the small and big moments. Great candid photos can capture the mood and the emotions that a traditional posed photo will never be able to convey.

Photographer, Leila Jacue, and art director, David Leon, founded L&L Style Photo with the purpose of creating artful images that reflect the emotions of great couples celebrating their day in unique ways. We believe in contemporary wedding photography created with a stylish and fun approach.


On the “perfect shot.”
It is important for the couple to make a shot list for family portraits, that way they can make sure no subject will be missed in the photographs. Regarding the general photographs, a professional photographer with a creative eye tends to look beyond cliché images and will create the best images with the elements the couple chose for the wedding. And the lighting of the moment. It’s probably best to leave the photographer creative freedom so he, or she, can explore creatively the moments and take really great shots.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
We don’t believe in mistakes but we always recommend that the couple choose the photographer when they are comfortable with the style of work and the sensibility of the photographer. Once there is this sense of trust, everything will come smoothly and beautifully.

On photographic style used for weddings.
The challenge of wedding photography is combining all these styles. A true professional photographer will be one that is confident working with all formal styles through the day’s events.

Andra and Marius are AMDragan, and together, they “document stories wherever you can find the love.” They describe their style of photography as “full of colors, and joy,” on “the most beautiful day for each couple.” As wedding photographers, AMDragan have won multiple awards and ranked 11th in the world in 2015!

Twitter: @RAMDRaganStudio

On the “perfect shot.”
Even though creative photographers think only of different angles and surprising compositions, our "must have" photos are the ones that will value the most during the years. Emotional moments with their family and friends, that would be on the top of the list, because the Day is unrepeatable. Also, we love the shots with the couple only (even if we have an incredibly short 5 minutes photo session, we want to give them memories for a lifetime, we want them to feel both beautiful and comfortable with themselves) - if we have more time, we would go creative and wild:). Let's not forget the photos with the ambiance, the party and decoration, they spend a lot of time and money planning the wedding to be perfect.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
The only thing than cannot be fixed during the wedding day - time pressure. If the wedding has a lot of moments and little time, the couple will look tired from the beginning of the day. So it's better to keep it simple and smile, living the moment at its maximum, so that we can draw the good vibes and happiness of the couple through our photos.

On photographic style used for weddings.
It's a matter of style, depending on the type of photography you love the most. We would personally love to combine all the styles in the same event, but our style is revealing the things the way they are, imperfect but beautiful and emotional. For catching moments, we would choose Photojournalism and Natural Light, because you have to stay away and get exactly what you see, pure and unaltered. For the photo session, Portraiture works best of all, because we want our couple to feel amazingly photographed in that special day!

Vinny Labella & Nacho Mora have been shooting weddings for seven years as a husband and wife team under their widely recognized studio, Look Fotografia, in Zaragoza, Spain. Their award-winning approach to capture the essence of a wedding in a creative and artistic way has been recognized internationally.

Twitter: @look_fotografia

On the “perfect shot.”
For us, getting the bride ready is very important. The bride has a very special shine in her eyes, mixing the excitement and joy of discovering what’s in store on her wedding day.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
Not hiring a professional who you can fully trust.

On photographic style used for weddings.
We love photojournalism to capture these unrepeatable moments but also the artistic photos. Our photography could be defined as contemporary so we do both. We would like our photography to last in time for ever.

Megan is a travel-obssessed, book-loving, wine-and-hot-tea-drinking, nomadic photographer currently based in Key West, FL – although she frequently shoots in East Tennessee and Costa Rica. Her husband is her best friend, and her son is “the best little sidekick” and travel companion. She finds inspiration in her travels, in other adventurous people who love culture and travel as much as her.

Twitter: @KeyWestMeg

On the “perfect shot.”
I HIGHLY recommend NOT having a shot list except for family photos you want taken. The typical family photo that I recommend are of immediate family - mom, dad, siblings, and their partners/children. All other photos should be at the reception. The more photos you want taken, the longer it will take and the less time you will have for photos of the two of you. I try to keep family formals as simple as possible.
It's really easy to get wrapped up in getting every photo configuration possible but ask yourself what photo(s) you reall NEED. Most brides only end up printing the group picture of everyone! As for other photos, I think it's fine to give your photographer a few ideas of things you like but remember, you hired your photographer for a reason. And you need to trust their creative eye! The less of a "plan" that I have, the more creative I can be. That is how I am able to capture more original and personal images for clients. Being given a "shot list" stifles creativity. Beyond formals, the photographer is there to capture those special moments.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
The biggest mistake I see is when brides try to micro-manage the photographer. Relax and enjoy your day. You hired a photographer for a reason and you should trust them to do their job. The best images are the ones that come when everyone is relaxed and having fun. The other mistake is not allowing enough time to be scheduled for images.

On photographic style used for weddings.
I think that weddings should be a blend of all of the above. Some photographers tend to lean more towards one than the other but that is where it is necessary for the client to look at these different styles and pick which one fits with their style better. There is no right or wrong; it is what the client is looking for.

Travis Lawton is an award winning wedding photographer in Seattle Washington. He specializes in wedding photography, engagements, and commercial photography. Travis is a story teller through his photography and has an eye for stylish and dramatic images.

Twitter: @TravisLawton

On the “perfect shot.”
I try to tell the story of each and every wedding I photograph. I want to document everything about this day for my clients. They have dedicated a large chuck of their time over the past 1-2 years on every little detail, and I want to make sure I capture the fruition of their work. This includes all the small details such as rings, jewelry, shoes, flowers, arrangements, and decor. I also always ask if there is anything special I might accidentally overlook, such as a piece of jewelry that is a family heirloom, or a special item sitting somewhere that without knowing, might just look like something simple that may get overlooked.
When it comes to the couple’s portraits, I always try to get a variety of poses and locations, both in vertical and horizontal orientation, as well as close-up, medium, and wide shots of each setup. This helps with variety in the images as well as more thoroughly capturing that overall story. Planning can really come into plan when talking about locations. If we plan to shoot at a location that is off-site from the main venue, planning is key to making sure everyone is at the right spot at the right time. This means pre-planning who will ride in what car and triple-checking times. These are things you don’t want to have to figure out day-of.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
Time management! Many brides underestimate the time it takes for hair and makeup for themselves and their bridesmaids. This throws off the timeline, and the only thing that really can get eaten into time-wise, if the scheduled photo time. This yields the photographer to rush to get all their shots and may limit the variety of images that can be achieved. I’ve had weddings run literally hours behind schedule and I had 5-10 minutes to capture the wedding party, the bride with her bridesmaids, the groom with his groomsmen, and the bride and groom’s pictures. This is where a professional, seasoned photographer becomes worth their weight in gold.

On photographic style used for weddings.
There is no one style that will fit everyone’s tastes. Unless a photographer specifically bills themselves as a natural light photographer or something similar, the photographer should be well versed in all lighting scenarios and styles. Personally, I photograph the details of the day from a commercial photography thinking, I then move on to more of a photojournalistic style while documenting everyone getting ready for what is to come. Moving onto the bride, groom, wedding party, and family photos, I turned to more of a portrait style, injecting my own thoughts, and poses that I think would be capture the individuals in front of me. And finally I switch right back to that photojournalism style for the reception.
Natural light vs added artificial light is a whole other debate. For the most part, these is purely opinion one what the client and photographer like and are comfortable with. Generally natural light is more bright, airy, and sort of whimsical, but shooting in dark venues can be a challenge. Artificial light is more easily capable of creating more dramatic images, with controlled lighting and purposeful highlights and shadows, however this requires a bit more skill in understanding how to create and shape light as well as adds quite a bit of gear you have to carry around day-of.

Katie, owner of Treasures Beyond Time Photography, is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Madison, Wisconsin and offers a non-traditional style of photography. Each wedding and portrait adventure is an opportunity to provide something unique and offer a creative approach to documenting people and meaningful moments.


On the “perfect shot.”
When it comes to weddings there’s a lot of planning involved and most of that planning falls on the bride. My advice would be when you’re creating a shot list for your photographer, include the not so obvious / the things your photographer will not be aware of. For example, make a list of family members you’d like to have included in formal portraits. Or maybe you have a close friend you haven’t seen in a while who will be attending your wedding. Tell your photographer you’d like to make time to have a photo taken with you and your friend. I wouldn’t recommend browsing through Pinterest and making a list of photos you want to recreate. This will only put unwanted stress on you.

On the #1 mistake brides make on the “big day.”
Hire a professional photographer! I understand weddings are expensive and everyone is working with a budget, but when you look at what you’ll have after your wedding, one of those things will be your photographs. Hiring a professional means they will know how to navigate different lighting situations, and they will be able to offer you advice and answer questions. Also, I’d say most professional photographers will come with backup equipment which is something every photographer should have with them. I hate to sound cliché, but you get what you pay for.

On photographic style used for weddings.
Art is different and everyone appreciates different things. I wouldn’t say one style of photography is better than the other. What it comes down to is the couple’s personal taste.If someone was looking to choose a photographer for their wedding I’d tell them to keep it simple and focus on how they feel when they look at the photographer’s portfolio. You don’t have to be a photographer or an art major to know what looks good to you.

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