Wedding Photographers Share Secrets to Perfectly Capturing the Big Day

A young couple begin their lives together, Photo: Barbara Lassen

How do you get the best shots of your wedding day to cherish for years to come? Short answer: Hire a professional team. For the DIYers out there, we’ve asked some local pros to share their insights, dos and don’ts.

Southampton photographer and framing studio owner Mary Godfrey has been shooting weddings for almost a decade. She says, “I always try to keep it relaxed and not too posed. I want everyone to feel comfortable and enjoy the day and not feel too stiff. A common mistake is not getting to know your clients. I love to build a relationship. That way on the wedding day we have a comfort level with them to get the most emotional photos. Another mistake is not properly planning the day. We always go over the timeline with our clients to ensure that they don’t feel overwhelmed on their wedding day.”

Godfrey notes, “Our photo booth always captures the funniest photos, especially after a little bit of liquid courage and creative props.”

A beach-themed wedding cake
Beach-themed wedding cake, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Popular wedding photographer Barbara Lassen insists, “Don’t pose every photo! Some of the best images I’ve taken have been spur of the moment and candid. I have talented assistants who work with me on weddings and will help with making sure hair and clothing look picture perfect. If children are in the bridal party, I try to take the photos with them first as their attention spans are not as long as those of adults. The day is long for the little ones and they may be hungry or tired. The same applies for elderly family members. I also like to take the photos of the bridal party as quickly as possible so they are able to enjoy their cocktail party and guests. The bride and groom meet with me before the wedding to conduct an on-location visitation to script out the day and determine where the perfect spots to photograph are. We come up with a sunny and a rainy day plan and we meet with the venue’s event coordinator to ensure the day runs smoothly for us and we have access to what we need. I get everything in writing—such as a must-shoot list from the bride and groom that I will follow so they do not have to worry at all on the day of the event! I’m sure to bring my main gear, back-up equipment, batteries, lint roller, Wet Ones and anything else we anticipate we may need.”

A happy couple embracing
A happy couple embracing, Photo: Barbara Lassen

What are some common mistakes Lassen has seen in wedding photography? The list is long and instructive. “Not using proper lighting, feeling that every photo has to be posed, not articulating what you need with confidence to those you are photographing, not coordinating with the other professionals at the wedding such as the DJ, maître d’, officiant, etc. It’s important to draw up a contract that is detailed wherein the expectations of the bride and groom are outlined. My pet peeve is seeing photographers shooting a formal event in casual attire. You should look professional and always be professional. That means no drinking, and being on point so you can capture all of the special moments. You are hired to fulfill an obligation, not to be one of the wedding guests.”

What are some of Lassen’s favorite shots to take? “The way the kids dance and interact with guests (or are asleep an hour into the wedding), guests dancing and having a great time! Group shots are a lot of fun too! I always like to get a group shot of all of the guests with the bride and groom.”

A young couple posing under a tree
A young couple posing under a tree, Photo: Barbara Lassen

Lassen stresses that, “Your wedding is one of the most important moments in your lifetime. Be sure to invest in a solid, professional photographer and videographer. Long after the day has passed, those visual keepsakes will be something you can pass down from generation to generation for friends and family to enjoy. Do your research when selecting your professionals. Remember you get what you pay for. Cell phones have great cameras on them now, but having Uncle Bob who tinkers with photography capture your very special day is not going to provide you with beautiful, hand-edited professional images, photo keepsakes and wall art.”

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