1. From the mother of the groom, “I’d rather not stand next to him [father of the groom].”

I made a huge mistake early on of not learning about family relationships. When I tried to photograph this mother of the groom with her ex-husband, I was shot down with an icy remark that I don’t particularly wish to experience again.

From then on, during my initial meeting with the bride and groom, I ALWAYS ask about family relationships and what kinds of groupings would be appropriate for them.

2. “You’re so calm.”

It doesn’t need to be said – a wedding day will be hectic. A wedding is an emotionally charged event: nerves, excitement, fear, and hope are all emotions running through the bride and the groom. Needless to say, these emotions can make weddings a stressful event.

The last thing the bride and groom need is a photographer who also feels the stress and pressure from having to take the family formals in five minutes. When photographing a wedding, follow Tim Gunn’s famous advice from Project Runway and “make it work.”

You’re going to be thrown into a situation where the lighting is not perfect, where you’re going to have 10 minutes to photograph 20 groups of people, and the grandmother of the groom is no where to be found. Do what you can to get the photograph despite the challenges and don’t let the stress show.

3. A videographer once complimented, “The way you talk to the bride and groom make them really comfortable with you.”

This statement has really shaped the way I approach the bride and groom especially when doing their formal photographs. Early on during the wedding day, remember to pick up things like whether the bride is comfortable getting her dress dirty. Sometimes there are locations where they’ll walk across a dirt path and sit on a bench so I’ll always ask first, “How do you feel about sitting on this?” or sometimes modesty or religion come into play and I ask, “How do you feel about public displays of affection?”

Not forcing the bride and groom to do certain things and gauging how comfortable they are will establish rapport and make them more at ease with having their photograph taken.

In addition, most people will be uncomfortable in front of a camera, so make it a point to let the bride and groom know that they’re doing a good job.

4. From a guest, “I just wanted to let you know you were blocking my view the entire ceremony.”

Yes, this was actually said to me after a ceremony early on during my wedding photography career. I always cringe a little at the memory but it taught me a very important lesson about finding a good balance between getting a great shot and not being disruptive.

As a wedding photographer, we all have a job to do – which is to get the best photographs of the event that we can. We all make mistakes sometimes and end up blocking the view of the guests or become disruptive just to get our shot. Remember to be mindful that although we have a job to do, we still have to remember that this is an event shared by dozens to hundreds of other people. Be careful of where you’re standing in relation to the the guests and videographer and always be respectful of the rules of the venue, particularly churches.

5. From a bride, “Go ahead and touch me all you want.”

When photographing the bride and groom, if a hair is astray or part of their clothing is out of sorts, always ask first, “Can I touch you to fix your hair?” or say, “I’m going to fix your collar here.” It lets the bride and groom know that you’re paying attention to what they look like and making sure they look their best for their photographs. In addition, it lets the bride and groom more comfortable with you that you’ve asked for permission first. Eventually when your couples tell you that you can touch them all they want, you’ve established good rapport and trust with them.

Have you had an “a-ha!” moment arise from a simple comment, observation or criticism made by your client(s) or their guests?  Share it with us in the comments!

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