6 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Photographer
How to Decide What to Wear to Your Photoshoot
Top tips for getting the most out of your professional photography session.
If you are prepping for your first photoshoot you probably have a couple questions about what to expect. A common concern for people having their photos taken for the first time is what to wear.
7 Top Tips for Deciding What to Wear for a Photoshoot
The Top 20 Wedding Photography Mistakes Not to Make
Here's what not to do, according to the pros themselves.
by The Knot
Not to play favorites—because we love all vendors—but your photographer is one of the most important pros you'll have at your wedding. After all, they're solely responsible for the wonderful wedding photos you'll get to pore over, cherish and have as a keepsake forever.
And if you want those photos to be as perfect as possible, you're going to want to listen to what some professional photographers have to say. Read the biggest mistakes professional photographers have seen other couples make—so you can avoid them—below.
1. Not Finalizing the Wedding Day Schedule"
Talk to your photographer before finalizing the schedule for your wedding day. There's a lot to consider in terms of photographing and natural light. Certain times of day are more photogenic than others (midday sun casts harsh, unflattering shadows on the face while late-day sun casts a beautiful, warm glow on everyone).
2. Not Sticking to the Finalized Schedule"
Pay attention and respect the schedule you and your photographer to your wedding. Being an hour late can make or break your images. Don't just assume it only takes 10 minutes.
3. Letting Relatives Get in the Way"
We have a name in the industry for a guest who shows up with pro photo equipment and takes 'unofficial wedding photos'—we call him Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob may think he's doing you a favor by taking more shots for the couple, but usually he just gets in the way and makes us miss our shots. Tell Uncle Bob to leave the camera at home and just enjoy his time at the wedding without working."
4. Not Explaining How You Like to Look in Photos
"Beauty is really very subjective. I ask my clients to send a photo of themselves before the wedding that they like and one that they don't."
5. Focusing Too Much on Taking Photos"
A good photojournalist can capture the story of their day and some artistic portraits while keeping time away from loved ones to a minimum."--
6. Not Getting a Second Shooter"
Sometimes couples want to save a little money or feel it's too obtrusive for more than one photographer to be present on the wedding day. But consider this: The second photographer offers another unique point of view throughout the entire day that you would not have had photographed [otherwise]."
7. Not Getting Help Organizing Your Guests"
Designate someone [trustworthy who] knows your family and friends to be in charge of organizing people for portraits. That person can gather the people needed, direct them on what shots they'll be in, and then release them when they're done. It keeps things moving quickly, smoothly and enjoyably."
8. Trying to Make Things "Perfect""
Just have fun. Whether it's getting a little cake on your face or some detail didn't turn out 100 percent like you'd hoped, go with it, have fun and keep smiling."
9. Skipping the First Look
"[In my opinion], a first look is so much better than trying to rush couple portraits after the ceremony—especially if your ceremony runs a bit late, which most do. You end up trying to rush to get to the party."
10. Trying to Pose"
A good photographer gives direction for a reason: to get the best moments and shots from the day. The best thing to do is relax and act natural. Be in the moment. Be hopelessly in love with each other—the pictures will turn out [amazing.]"
11. Waiting Too Long to Book Your Photographer"
If you find a great photographer, book them! Good photographers book a year or more out and won't be available forever. Nothing is more frustrating than choosing a wedding photographer and then finding out that they booked your date a week prior."
12. Looking at the Camera All the Time"
Some couples want candid photographs, but they always feel like they need to look up at the camera and stop what they're doing. It could be an instinct, but remember—unless the photographer asks you, try to act natural for the best journalistic shots."
13. Not Providing a List of "Don't Takes""
Let the photographer know before the wedding if there are certain photos you don't like. It can be anything from 'I don't like the photos you took of us not smiling' to 'I don't like wide-angle close-ups.' It totally throws off a photographer's creative approach when a bride or groom spills their feelings while you're in the zone."
14. Asking for Too Many Shots"
If clients have done their homework and choose an experienced, reputable wedding photographer, then chances are that photographer doesn't need a two-page spreadsheet of every combination for family portraits."
15. Not Choosing a Photographer You Connect With
"Make sure we get along. I work with clients for sometimes two years or more. If we don't get along, it's going to be a very long and bumpy ride."
16. Skipping the Engagement Session
"Engagement sessions increase the confidence and comfort level of the couple in front of the camera and allow them to practice having their photo taken in a fun, no-stakes atmosphere. Ultimately, an engagement session will let the couple see why the photographer might tell them to do something funny, and this leads to wedding day comfort and trust in the photographer."
17. Not Hiring a Professional Photographer"
Choose someone who's a professional, not just anyone with a digital camera and a website. Make sure the photographer you choose has an education as a photographer, has apprenticed or interned with other photographers and paid their dues, or has the experience and ability to consistently capture the moments of your wedding no matter what situations may arise."
18. Falling for Photography Trends
"Too many times, to-be-weds fall for something trendy in photography. It's critical your wedding images stand the test of time and are valued for each following generation. Trends are fun but rarely last. Look for a photographer with a [generally] classic shooting style, and be wary of too much Photoshop and digital tricks and manipulations."
19. Forgetting the Details"
Think about spending a few minutes to decide what other elements are important to photograph. Did your sister make special wedding favors? Are you carrying important heirlooms with you? Bring an extra invitation and try to keep those special elements easily accessible for photos."
20. Not Smiling—All the Time
"Tell all of the individuals walking down the aisle to look up and smile. If they're too nervous to smile, they should at least keep their head up and stare down the aisle. This helps keep the face from the [unflattering angle] that happens when you stare at the floor while walking."
Engagement Party Planning Basics
Whether you're the hosts or guests of honor, read our engagement party primer for everything you need to know.
by The Knot
What It's For
People will want to congratulate you on your engagement, and let's be real: A party's a lot more fun than a phone call! It's also a great time to introduce key people from your lives who are going to be seeing a lot of each other (and possibly helping plan your wedding together) over the next year or so. "It's the first time you’ll have different groups of friends and generations really getting to know each other in a more intimate way," says celebrity wedding planner Jung Lee of Fête NY.
Traditionally, the bride's parents host the first official celebration, then, the groom's parents can throw their own party. A less traditional, but perhaps more appealing option, is to have both sets of parents come together to cohost an event. However, these days, more couples are tossing tradition aside altogether and throwing the engagement party themselves (just keep in mind that if you're doing the inviting, it's your responsibility to foot the bill too). Friends of the couple can also host (and may even volunteer to), but before you ask, be conscious of the financial implications.
When to Have It
The engagement party should fall within a few months of the proposal—otherwise known as the sweet spot between carefree, just-engaged life and the start of serious wedding planning. You'll want to give guests about a month's notice, so we suggest getting those invites out a couple months after the proposal.
Whose Turf to Have It On
The location really depends on who throws the party. If your hosts are local, you will likely be celebrating in your city, but if they live out of state, you may want to have it in their city. It comes down to discussing it with the hosts and figuring out the logistics to make it easier on everyone involved. Say you live in New York, but most of your family and friends live in Chicago: You may decide to have your party in your hometown (and enlist someone local to help you plan), host it in your current locale or even throw two parties. Just beware of tiring out your guests and bridal party with too many invitations before the wedding day is even close. Also, when picking the party location, consider where you plan to have your wedding—you may not want to ask guests to travel twice. “More of my clients are having multiple engagement celebrations because their friends and family are spread all around the country, but everybody wants to honor them," Lee says.
Where to Have It
Depending on how many people you want to invite, you can make an engagement party work almost anywhere—it's really up to the hosts. When choosing the venue, think about the vibe you want to create: If you like the idea of having a more elegant affair, you might want to rent out a private room at a restaurant, country club or wine bar. For something more low-key, a house, backyard or favorite local dive might be a better choice.
Whom to Invite
Etiquette used to state that you weren't to invite anyone to the engagement party whom you weren't inviting to the wedding, case closed. But now more couples live and/or host their nuptials far from their families and friends, and the formality of engagement parties is evolving, so expectations have changed. Engagement parties can now often include people who aren't invited to the wedding. If your friends want to plan an informal party at a neighborhood bar and email the invites a few weeks before, it's totally fine to include people you aren't sure will end up making the wedding guest list (coworkers, newer friends). And if your parents' good friends want to host a cocktail party at their home in your honor, let your parents invite mutual friends and business associates you might not have room for at your wedding.
However, if you two or your parents are hosting, the old rule sticks: When the wedding hosts send the engagement party invitation, it's considered part of the official wedding parties and guests assume they're invited to the wedding too. To avoid a sticky situation later, start working on your wedding guest list now. Then trim the engagement party list down to your wedding party, immediate family and closest friends.
How to Invite
Feel free to keep the invitations simple. You can even make them yourselves or send out a digital invite. If you've chosen your invitation designer already, see if they'll give you a special rate on engagement party invites. Don't worry if you haven't settled on a color palette or don't have a wedding date in mind yet—your engagement party invitations don't have to match the rest of your stationery. Also, make sure you have most of your wedding website done before the engagement party invitations are sent out so you can include the URL. The website is the easiest, and most subtle, way to spread word about your registry in case guests want to bring you a gift. You don’t have to have the whole site complete—just a link to your registry, a few photos and the story of your proposal (don’t forget to submit it to How He Asked!) will do.
What to Serve
There's no need to plan a five-course meal with a four-hour open bar. Anything from passed appetizers or tasting menu stations to a family-style buffet or casual cookout will work. Or get creative and serve up dishes that share something about you. "I had a bride and groom known for having Sunday Mexican dinners, so they had margaritas, mini fish tacos and great guacamole—it just made sense and was a genuine touch," Lee says. As for dessert, serve it if you'd like, but it doesn't have to be cake. Consider gourmet ice cream sandwiches, assorted baked goods or seasonal treats like candy apples or cotton candy.
How to Set the Scene
While of course it's fine for the décor and details to reflect your wedding colors and theme, like your invites, don't feel like you have to rush to choose them just so your engagement party can match. You might even consider picking a style and theme that are completely different from your wedding day to mix things up. If you're planning a formal ballroom wedding, go for a laid-back backyard party with vibrant colors and an outdoor setting to celebrate your engagement. Just a few small arrangements from your local florist can dress up any space (and it's a great way to try out a potential florist for the wedding). However, the real trick is not to upstage the wedding. So if you're envisioning a casual beach wedding with simple décor, a fancy cocktail party at a swanky hotel with over-the-top centerpieces might make that beach bash feel like a bit of a letdown.
What to Wear
Your wardrobe will depend on the setting of the party. For brides-to-be, aside from the obvious (don’t wear an evening gown to a backyard barbecue), keep it simple enough that you don’t outdo your wedding look, but special enough that you still stand out. As for the grooms, while you don’t have to wear a suit and tie or a tux, you should match your partner in formality. And if you have a specific dress code for guests, make a note of it on the invitation.
Why Your Photographer Won’t Hand Over RAW Files
Almost every photographer has been asked for RAW files by their customers at one point or another.
For some, it can be hard to understand why their photographer has refused to part ways with their RAW files, but know that your photographer is not trying to be difficult. They have several good reasons why they don’t just hand over all the photos that were taken during your shoot.
When you’re working with a photographer during a shoot, you’ll notice that they’re constantly snapping away. This is because not all of the images come out perfectly. Sometimes a specific pose or scenario needs to be shot multiple times just to get one good shot. A professional photographer spends a lot of time sorting through all of the images that were taken during a shoot to select the best shots.
Once the best photos have been chosen, they are brought to life through post process editing with professional editing software. This stage which takes a lot of time and results in the beautiful end product that is handed over to you. If your photographer had to give you the RAW files you wouldn’t be seeing the end result.
You’d also be surprised at how many people want the RAW files in order to alter the photos themselves. If that individual then chose to share those photos after making their own adjustments, the integrity of your photographer’s work is put at risk.
Something else to keep in mind is that RAW files are huge and you need a lot of memory to store them. You might also find that you don’t have the proper software available at home to view this type of file, so again you would be sitting with megabytes of files that you can’t do anything with.
When you hire a professional photographer you’re putting your trust in their abilities. You need to trust that the photos they hand over to you are a result of their hard work, experience and eye for the perfect shot.
Amazing photos deserve an equally amazing display but this doesn’t mean you always have to use a traditional frame to showcase them in your home.
Below is some inspiration for deciding how to display your favorite memories.
If your home décor is very contemporary you might want to consider canvas gallery wraps, image blocks or standout mounts to showcase your photos. Going frameless is also a great option if you’re looking for something truly sleek and modern.
If rustic and chic is more your style, then why not turn old pieces of wood into stained photo clipboards, using binder clips to hang the photos against the wood. Another unique option is to hang your photos on a thin cable to make it look like a clothesline. Binder clips also work perfectly for this.
If you’re the creative type and have some extra time on your hands then there is the option of creating frames out of washi tape. This way you can incorporate different colors and designs around your photos to really make your walls pop.
If you are a fan of frames, why not buy different sizes, colors and styles and create one big photo wall that displays a variety of memories. There are so many shapes and designs that you can use to create your photo wall and really make it your own.
Since we work with so many creative vendors who offer a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional framing and display options, we are able to help you pick a unique option that suites your home and style. Whether it’s a traditional frame with hand-cut matting, shadow box or float frames, we will help you pick the right option for your home.
No matter which method you choose, get creative. Filling your walls with a lifetime of memories is one of the most special and visual ways to tell the story of your family, so get hanging.
Crystal Vandegrift is a wedding photographer covering Virginia, D.C. NC and Maryland.
What Our Clients Are Saying
Crystal was a great photographer for our wedding! She's definitely LGBT friendly and has some cool rainbow umbrellas to use as props in your pictures - if that's your style. Our friends and family were all very impressed with the number of photos she took and shared with us - and they're all great shots! We would absolutely recommend her to others. - Kelsey and Shannon - Baltimore, Maryland