9 Must Know Tips Brides And Grooms Can Easily Remember On Their Big Day To Help Their Wedding Photos Look Spectacular!


We wedding photographers are shooting at all times throughout the day.  We can shoot from high noon to 2:00 to 5:00 to sunset and into the darkness of the night.  As we are shooting the weather changes, and the light changes.  In order to make your photos more spectacular, your photographer should know HOW TO BACK LIGHT you.  This means that you should always stand with your back to the sun, so you have a natural halo lighting your hair.  Also, you will not be squinting from looking into the sun.  If you are expecting it to rain, have a beautiful lacy umbrella with you in preparation, or ask your photographer if s/he has a rain back-up plan.  Some of my BEST WEDDING PHOTOS  WERE TAKEN IN THE RAIN with a beautiful umbrella and capturing the reflections in the ground.  They can be beautiful photos!  I once shot in a heavy downpour by standing outside in the rain shooting into a window to make the couple appear to be outside.  So, don’t cry on your wedding day if it rains.  There are all kinds of ways to make it special.  In the early evening it is IMPERATIVE that your photographer UNDERSTANDS AND HAS PROFESSIONAL OFF CAMERA LIGHTS so you can get dramatic sunset photos filled with sweeping skies and beautiful surroundings, but also s/he LIGHTS YOU to make YOU POP in the photograph.  If your photographer shows up with on camera flash lighting only, they are probably not qualified to get that spectacular photo you are looking for.  WE HOLD A SPECIAL PROFESSIONAL LIGHT ON A POLE to throw light on you to make you pop in the photos.  Many ceremony sites do not allow flash during the wedding ceremony.  Your photographer must understand how to set the ISO and shutter speed to capture the correct lighting mood without getting blurry, or dark, or overly bright photos of your wedding ceremony.  If your photographer claims to be a “natural light” photographer without being able to accommodate for dark rooms beyond on camera flash, s/he is probably not capable of handling your important wedding day photos.  During your reception, your photographer should set up light stands and use transmitters to light your reception room professionallyMAKE SURE YOU ASK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER HOW S/HE PLANS TO LIGHT YOUR RECEPTION ROOM.

.  A good photographer knows WHEN to use natural light, and when to bring in professional lighting as well. When the sunlight is like this it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

This wedding photo was taken during a day of torrential rain.  Right at twilight the rain stopped for about twenty minutes.  I grabbed my assistant to hold the lighting and convinced the couple to go outside and take some photos.  This turned out to be a money shot just when I was worried the day would be ruined by the rain.  Taken at Bluemont Brewery in Bluemont, Virginia.



Your photographer needs to understand the various poses that brides and grooms, or the wedding party, or the families need.  To make DRAMATIC POSES for the wedding party, it is preferred not to just stand them in a row.  You can want or even need uniform group shots and that's ok, but it can be MUCH MORE DRAMATIC to pose your group in a STAGGERED fashion.  This allows for creative and fun photos that will be cherished for a life time!  When you are being posed, you should always separate your feet, and stand to the side at an angle to the camera. Then turn your upper torso facing front toward your photographer. It takes some getting used to, but standing at an angle to the camera is much more flattering on your waistline than standing straight on.  IT CAN TAKE 15 POUNDS OFF YOU! Another interesting pose is when you have the group not look at the photographer, yet they are there together celebrating.  Hands can look funny in a photograph, so the men in particular should always have their hands behind their back, or better yet, in their pockets.  It’s an amazing photo when a man stands at an angle to the camera with his feet separated with his hands in his pockets.  It’s VERY GQ!

See how a group shot is more interesting when they are staggered?  They aren't looking directly at the camera either.

This is a bride mid day. She's holding her bouquet with one hand instead of two. See how her torso is twisted and she's turned toward the camera? She looks thinner. Look at the beautiful lighting brushing on her dress and face.  That is not sunlight, it's my professional lighting.  A good photographer makes it look like natural lighting.

Notice how staggering the wedding party makes it more interesting?  Look at the men's hands in their pockets.  Very GQ!  And the sunglasses look really cool to boot!



If your photographer has a PHOTO JOURNALIST STYLE, look for photographs in his/her portfolio with raw emotions. Emotions don't necessarily have to be someone crying.  Sometimes it's a bride looking out a window at something.  The mother and bride hugging in a hallway can sound simple, yet be a powerful photograph, especially when caught unaware. A bride staring off to the side can also be quite powerful. The groom quietly reading his vows before the ceremony can be powerful.  Or the bride looking down and talking to her flower girl has raw emotion.  The bride and her bridesmaids getting ready clanking wine glasses, with big hugs, or whispers into the bride’s ear.  These raw emotions when seen later will flood your mind with memories, frozen in time, that you can view over and over again.  You want Bold and Vibrant photos to show how you felt that capture your personality, and RAW EMOTIONS of the day.

This is a photo of the bride getting ready.  What makes it powerful is her flower girl and mother are looking at each other. That is raw emotion too.



ALL PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS MUST HAVE A BACK UP CAMERA.  This is an absolute must.  Your wedding day is WAY TOO IMPORTANT to trust your wedding photographer with only ONE camera.  A true professional has A BACKUP CAMERA, as well as batteries, chargers, many lights, and extension cords.  This is an ABSOLUTE MUST to prevent your big day from BEING RUINED.  Make sure you ask your photographer what emergency contingency plans or stories they have had to cope with equipment problems.  You need to see how well they adapt, improvise, and plan for your big day. While every single emergency cannot be predicted, they should at least have a plan in place.  I once shot a wedding where the electricity went out and never came back.  THAT you have no control over.  HOW YOU DEAL WITH IT and improvise, you do.  We went to the store and bought a ton of candles.  

See the rain doesn't have to ruin your wedding day!  This was taken just as the rain let up a bit.  See the street reflections?



You do not want your photographer showing up and boldly making a scene everywhere s/he goes. This is YOUR day, and it’s ABOUT YOU, not the photographer.  The more experience your photographer has, the more he/she will know how far back to stand, what lens to use, and how to STAY OUT OF THE WAY while capturing your important photos. During the ceremony you do not need your photographer running across the stage, flopping on his/her belly to grab the photo of you kissing after saying “I-do.”  Your photographer needs to understand where to stand, and what lens to use to capture your story ELEGANTLY but most importantly QUIETLY as if she/he is NOT EVEN THERE.

Ahhh.  The wedding is over.  The main stress is gone.  Now let's party!  This is a good photo journalism.



Did you know that HOW YOU HOLD THE BOUQUET MATTERS?  Hands in a photo can be unflattering.  To get the best shot of you holding your bouquet, it should be slightly tilted forward when holding it in front of you.  Your hands should be placed criss crossed so as not to interfere with your flowers.  You spent a year planning every detail down to your bouquet.  Your shot should be perfect!  Sometimes holding the bouquet down with only one hand, with a side view can be very powerful, as illustrated above.  Or to add more DRAMA AND EFFECT, hold your bouquet behind your back!  This can be especially powerful with a backless wedding gown.  

Here the bride is holding the bouquet behind her back.  It's really powerful when the wedding gown is backless and the hands are hidden.



I have had brides ask me to shoot alone.  I NEVER SHOOT ALONE, as having two shooters makes your wedding photos MUCH MORE DRAMATIC.  While I am shooting the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake, my other shooter is photographing the guests reactions.  That goes for the toast, or any dramatic element of your wedding day.  It’s much more powerful to HAVE THE CROWD REACTIONS as well as what is happening during your big day.  Don’t ever SKIMP on the extra photographer if YOU ARE LOOKING for DRAMATIC and POWERFUL wedding photos.  Remember the lighting example?  How can we make you pop in the photograph with ONLY ONE PHOTOGRAPHER?  The other photographer has to hold the lights for you.

With this photo we wonder what they are reacting to.  You just can't get this with only one shooter.



Ask your photographer if she/he FRAMES YOUR PHOTOS WITH FOREGROUND IMAGES.  Did you know that a photo is only two dimensional, yet we humans see in three dimensions?  All photos have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background.  To make your photos more interesting, they should sometimes be framed with a foreground image.  A tree branch, or a door way, or any other element in the room can take an ordinary photo and make it much more dramatic. If the photographer you are thinking about hiring doesn’t understand this basic principal  of how to frame your photos, then he or she is probably not going to give you DRAMATIC, SPECTACULAR PHOTOS.

See how the tree frames this photo?  It makes it much more interesting and 3D like.



 If you are looking for dramatic and spectacular photos, then your large laundry list of must have photos needs to be short.  Decide your priorities early and make them known in your meeting with your photographer.  This is important, because it helps you to identify what REALLY IS IMPORTANT, and what is really just a I really want it if I can get it priority.  We need to balance what you really must have without focusing so much on the list that you will miss your dramatic and spectacular photos.   If your photographer is so preoccupied with getting Uncle Harry and Aunt Nancy with all the cousins for a group photo, the creativity is compromised and you may end up with JUST AVERAGE WEDDING PHOTOS of all the family members who attended.  Decide early whether you want dramatic and spectacular photos, or whether you want a long laundry list of must have photos.  Sometimes you have to let your photographer do what s/he does best to take your wedding photos from AVERAGE to SUPERB.

Dramatic sunset shot of bride and groom at sunset. Notice the bride and groom are off center, and this photo doesn't need a foreground frame.  The bride and groom are the focus of the shot.

Taking pictures is something inherently personal, private, and intimate when looking through the viewfinder of a camera. There’s a unique interaction in the moment when you are looking. If you think about it, no one else can see what you do. When you capture a moment in time it makes you excited. It’s an exhilarating feeling! I can’t imagine NOT shooting photography. Photography is an artistic expression, and a chance to make a difference in what others see.
— Steve Whysall

I hope my 9 free tips to make your wedding photos spectacular has helped you to get better photographs on your big wedding day! 


Have questions?  I love to chat on the phone! (240) 793-6193 or you can email me.  whysall@whysallphotography.com