If you are getting married & are looking to have a pre-wedding shoot (or an engagement session or a lifestyle photoshoot as I like to refer to it as), read on.
A pre-wedding photoshoot is a superb way to get to know your photographer, and for the photographer to understand your personalities better. It is also a great way to get comfortable in front of the camera, which prepares you well for the picture marathon that your wedding is going to be. Here are a few quick pointers that will help you from selecting the point you start searching for the photographer – all the way through the actual shoot.
1. The Personality – Find a Photographer that matches your style
First things first. You need to book a photographer who can showcase your personality. Once you have browsed through someone’s work – you should have a fair idea about the kind of pictures that you might be able to get. Remember – showing a photographer if he/she can replicate somebody else’s style – is not what you want to do. It is only going to leave you disappointed in the end, and you will blame the photographer for your own bad judgement. Once you can visualise yourself in the photographer’s existing body of work – you have found the right match for your photoshoot.
2. The Fine Print – Ask Questions, Know the Artist
After having gone through hundreds of portfolios, once you are ready to book a photographer, remember to ask the following questions:
a) Is he/she still available on that date
b) The booking fee & paperwork needed to confirm the date
c) Get an idea about the Location, Timing,
d) The Logistics involved, arrangements that you might have to make for him/her
e) Permissions at the Venue
f) Costs for add-ons – like Prints, Graphics (save-the-date, announcement text), Photobooks, e-books, Fusion Videos etc.
Once you are comfortable with everything – Go ahead and Confirm your booking. Remember, most photographers will not discuss the details & plans for your shoot without a formal confirmation & the booking fee. So you must be very sure that you are going ahead with the right photographer and have studied his/her work extensively.
After the formalities are taken care of – ask for – advice on what to wear, how the photographer plans to style the photoshoot, share the ideas that you have in your mind, discuss the location & style of the shoot, be upfront about how you are comfortable being guided at each step or if you want the photographer to capture everything in a more unobtrusive way. The knowledge of what the photographer is planning to do on the D-day will prepare you a lot for the shoot.
3. The Preparation – Go Shopping. Be Stylish. Accessorise. Look your Best
You have gone through the tough task of finding the right photographer, now make sure you are serious about dressing up. I have seen a lot of shoots go bad – because the couple didn’t bother to pack extra clothes planned for the shoot, forgot the matching jacket at home, or just wanted to make do with the existing pair of extra clothes, which were there because you didn’t really want to wear them in the first place. Stick to the options that you discuss with your photographer, show him/her pictures of the kind of styling advice he has to offer. Even if you don’t have time to go shopping for the shoot – pick your favourites, your most classy clothes.
You can hire the best of the photographers, go to the most exotic locations – but in the end – it’s how you look that will make or break the shoot. At the same time, remember – your photographer is not a stylist, but unless you are going to hire a professional stylist for your shoot – your photographer is the best person to help you with the same.
4. Locations. Palaces. Gardens. Beaches. Marketplaces
The Location can make you look like Larger than life. If you are confident – go outdoors, to more crazy & popular locations like marketplaces, forts & tourist spots, public gardens etc. If you are staying at an exotic property – get the permissions for the shoot there – you will get the best of both worlds – privacy & beautiful backdrops. And if you are like most couples – who are a little shy in front of the camera, and get conscious of the fact that people might stop and stare – choose a more secluded place, like a far-away beach or farmhouse, or an old ruin which is not on the tourist map, the back alley of your apartment building, or simply your terrace or garden. For variation – ask your photographer if two different locations can be combined, or simply take two sessions with different styling and different themes – while one can be romantic, the other can be playful.
The bottom-line is : There are no set rules. And each photographer will handle the shoot in his own way. You just need to know the Devil
5. Let Go – Breathe. Have fun.
I can’t emphasise more on the importance of ‘letting go’ during the shoot. After the task of finding the right photographer, the location, clothes, the logistics etc. – You are finally ready to make some awesome pictures. Let your photographer take control, while you let go & trust his creativity. Once you stop worrying about how you are looking in a picture – you can focus on having a good time with each other. Using your energy to show how much fun you guys can have together is going to show in your pictures – so focus on that rather than worrying about what your photographer is doing or if he/she is making you look awkward or putting you in silly poses – remember, you booked the photographer because you liked his/her work in the first place.
Just like any other important meeting – treat the shoot with some respect. Keep your phone off, schedule your day so that you have those hours free. Do spend a few extra hours to sleep well the previous night. Be on time & give the photographer the 90mins he asked for. Please don’t make this sound like you are doing him/her a favour by listening to his advice. The photographer surely has more experience with a Lifestyle shoot than you have, respect his/her efforts to make you look awesome!
6. The Cliché
It is OKAY to have the same picture as that other bride, or that other photographer. It will always be your first image – taken at that particular location for the first time. And it will always make your picture unique.There is always an image or two that has been done before, but you will never get tired of looking at those pictures when you are going to be in them yourself. I highly recommend incorporating at least one of those timeless moments in your shoot.
– By the Railroad
– Silhouette at Sunset
– The Jump
– The Kiss
– The Twirls
At the same time, remember to not replicate a shoot because your aunt’s daughter or that friend on Facebook did it. You are not competing for who has more sexy images (Well, I am sure you are, but not in that way). You are doing a photoshoot because you want to preserve the flavour of your Companionship & Love for years to come.
7. Body Language – Confidence, Love, Enthusiasm
Be confident with your body. You are not Fat or Thin. You are always going to be you, and that is beautiful. Stop worrying about the better side or the better angle. It’s a date – with the guy/girl you love, and that is all that should matter. Laugh, Be Playful, Be close, hold hands, look into each others eyes, hold each other, try things that you might not do ordinarily, show your fun/crazy/prankful side. Don’t look for direction every minute.
Would you be dull and quiet and unexcited on your proposal dinner or your first date? Well, remember that moment from your past – and bring some Jazz to the 2 hours you are going to spend with your better half. The only difference here is that – there is a camera documenting your behaviour – You better show the world that you love him/her and are crazy about him/her. (Getting drunk helps sometimes ^jk) Don’t overthink. Have fun.
8. Candid vs. Posed.
Be clear about what you are looking for. Some photographers are great with traditional poses and some are great with capturing the fun side. Study the portfolio & understand what your photographer has to offer and if it matches your requirement. Once at the shoot – Don’t be casual or just think that the photographer will put some magic stardust on you and make you look awesome – listen to the guidance during the shoot, suggestions, help with poses, hands, feet, etc. Everyone knows you paid top-dollar for a photoshoot, it didn’t happen by chance. Be open to the photographer’s ideas, and don’t dismiss those by saying ‘this is too cheesy’ or ‘we are just sitting holding hands, can’t we do something more’
9. Just the two of you vs. Family & Friends
It’s great to have a mushy and romantic portrait session, and sometimes – its even more fun when you include your family and friends in the shoot. Speak to your photographer if this would be possible, discuss the logistics and additional planning required. These are not just ‘a few more pictures’ so don’t surprise your photographer with this addition right at the last moment. Some photographers (including me) take this as a second session in terms of planning & fees, and so should you. Tell your friends and family to be on time, to follow the dress code & to have fun. It becomes difficult for the photographer to explain to bigger groups – about what he is doing – so you also need to become the bridge between the Photographer and your guests – and give them instructions yourself. A large gathering also means a lot of ideas and pointers from the members. Please let the photographer do his job, that’s the reason why you booked him in the first place, right?
10. Post-Wedding Quickie
It’s always great to have some time right after your ceremony for some crazy and fun pictures in your wedding attire. Request the photographer for this very important half-an-hour on your big day. You are going to be in a rush – and you would need a very skilled and experienced photographer to create these images – Quick & Fabulous. Look out for the post-wedding pictures in your wedding photographer’s portfolio. It is a huge plus to have one that can shine in this department
11. Wear Sunscreen – Trust. Love. Smiles. Bring all of these to a photoshoot.
No pun intended. Or Maybe.
P.S. That’s me in the Center.
P.S.S. For those who missed what point number eleven was (or was not), Watch this : Wear Sunscreen
If you are a Photographer or a Bride/Groom-to-be and would like to share your experience, or if you think that I missed out on some other aspects of a pre-wedding shoot, please do comment – I would like to add more pointers & include your experience – to help Lifestyle & Wedding Photographers and Brides & Grooms looking to book a shoot for themselves.