Trust me you need one
"There are no pictures with my parents!"
If you are expecting your photographer to refund you the financial investment made towards the contract, you are in for some more disappointment. Instead, plan ahead! This post was inspired by South Asian weddings in mind. South Asians traditionally have strong ties with their immediate family. Their affinity with their extended families extend PREET-ty far. Ask me! I can attest to that. We all have expectations when it comes to pictures, but that expectation must be communicated with the photographer in advance.
Wedding pictures tend to be a lot about the bride, groom, bridal party, their parents and families. Due to their strong ties and regular association with extended families, South Asian Americans usually want to have many members of their families involved in some planning process. Every decision and choice in one way or another involves the immediate family members. Okay I digress! Point is: they wish to have formal pictures with as many people as possible to include all families and friends. Since that is nearly impossible given the large number of guests, all the rituals and traditions to follow, and the time constraints of venues, we can at least list a few very important ones.
Define Your Expectations
Although the Bride and Groom are expected to be the center of attention for that day, many brides want to share the spotlight with their parents along with some significant family members and friends. If you want the day to focus on you and your partner, that’s acceptable as well. However, if you are close to your family and will be foreseeably unhappy to have less than a few portrait pictures with them, you should state that expectation in advance. Don't expect your photographer to read your mind. The wedding day will go by too fast for you to even realize it’s too late, so plan for it! You might not even have enough room in the agenda to squeeze in every family and friends, and that is completely okay.
Set A Time Slot
It's not always feasible during a large wedding to set aside a time slot for professional portrait pictures with every single guest. In fact, many people chose to opt out of that option of portrait shots with each family and have candid pictures of guests through out the event. They put time aside for the immediate family members or those with whom they openly share a special bond. Do not assume a photographer to know which shots are most important and where they should put their focus. Every individual is different and every couple wants different things out of their day. Communicate your needs and expectations with the photographer in advance!
List It Out
You must do your research on the type of photos, photography style, or composition you like in order to communicate your inspiration or vision with your photographer. I planned my entire wedding in a month and although I haven't had the opportunity to meet up with him, my husband and I communicated with him over the phone and via email. I also had a wedding portrait photographer with whom I was able to share the type of photos I admired and the style I desired. She was amazing! She can focus on details and some candid moments that stay as heirloom for many generations to come.
I personally think there are some universal shots that every Bride and Groom expect their main photographer to capture during the wedding. For example, the first look of the Bride and Groom - even when it is a candid moment unfolding during the ceremony, quality shots of the first dance and dance performances by families and friends. They also have pictures of Bride and Groom getting ready with their parties, and any opportunity to capture the immediate family bonding. However, still communicate what's really important for you. There is only so much time a photographer has to capture your event.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!
Assign specific roles to individuals in your bridal and grooms parties to help gather the families for portraits or any family photographs. May be ask your Maid of Honor to keep an eye out on your veil and makeup. Maybe give one person's number to the main photographer if you can agree to it beforehand. Make sure they are equipped with working cellphones. Delegate what you can. Should there be any guests strongly failing to follow guidelines or interrupting your professional photographers opportunities for pictures, do not hesitate to ask your bridal party or chaperone to escort them out immediately if asking politely just does not do the job. They are there to take some heat for you - but don't forget that you are also there to have their back!
Establish Detailed Contract
Always make sure there are both Portrait shot and candid shot experts. Your photographer should know how to handle or plan for low lights or high exposures in the room. If they have accepted a last minute deal, they should be able to gather some information over the phone or pay attention to the sample pictures shared over email. I have had brides who were told: “It was a last minute contract so we could not deliver as promised." They accepted your contract didn't they? "The room had very low light for us to be able to capture vivid shots."
A professional photographer does his or her homework before showing up for the event. If they accepted the contract, they are accountable to fulfill their contract agreement. Always, always, always establish a contract with every vendor you select. Maintain precision in your business dealings and state your expectations clearly.
I believe a professional photographer has the ability to appear professionally and to maintain a well composure through all the chaos. It makes the world of a difference when you see smiley faces of your photographers from start till finish and that’s what I saw in my master photographer.
Make That List
Now here is a draft/guess list to get you started. Add in or delete from this list as you see fit.
Did I miss anything? Please feel free to add it into the comment section. Your feedback is valuable to us and to every bride and groom that visits us!