Tips From Your Wedding Photographer: What We Wish You Knew

Updated on January 19, 2018
Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

Kierstin is a former wedding photographer who didn't enjoy beach weddings as much as you would think.


You know not to scowl, stick your tongue out, or jam Doritos all over your face before the ceremony, using your gown as a napkin.

But there are some other less obvious tips and expectations your photographer would like to gently pass along to you, like...

It's Hard for Us to Get a Good Face Shot When You and Your Girls are Constantly Sipping Mimosas to "Cool Your Nerves"

Try to get the majority of the drinking out of the way before we show up if you're hoping to get decent "getting ready" pictures. Also, in whatever area you're getting ready (hotel room, church nursery, sister's bedroom) open up a curtain and allow for natural light to seep in so we can get the best available angles even in a small space.

I Can't Make You Look Like Beyonce in a Wedding Dress

And I don't want to. You're gorgeous and lovely in your own right. Expect to look beautiful in your pictures because you are beautiful, not because you think we're going to do some crazy Photoshop magic.

Unfortunately, brides always tell me they hoped to look "prettier" in their pictures. What I say is, "you look amazing!" but what I'm thinking is, You do look pretty, you look like you. Not like the picture of the sixteen-year-old from the David's Bridal Catalog.

Stand tall, lift your chin, push those shoulders back, and get that skewed thinking about what you should look like out of your head before the big day.

Don't Wear Too Much Eye Makeup

A little makeup goes a long way. Curl your lashes and double-swipe that mascara but please don't wear dark eye shadow and liner. In editing, your eyes will most likely get lost in processing. Likewise, don't fake tan or cake on the makeup without brushing some bronzer on your chest and shoulders to blend the darker tone. Otherwise, you'll create some pretty scary coloring in the editing process.

What I'm saying is that you will look like an Oompa Loompa who's had their eyes gouged out.


It Really Annoys Us When You Ask to See the Pictures While We're Trying to Take Them

Or after. We'll show you them when they're done, as in edited.

I Can't Create a Soft Ambiance in a Dark Room

A dark venue equals dark pictures. While professional photographers will do their best to capture natural light, there's only so much we can do in a room with no windows. One time, we shot a wedding in a beautiful lodge where the only windows were low to the ground and offered little to no natural light by dinner time. It wasn't great. This is when photographers pull their flash out and you lose the soft, dreaminess of naturally lit pictures. This is why we try to get you near windows as often as possible. We just love 'em.

Keep this in mind when placing the cake. Most brides and grooms want that nasty smashing-cake-in-each-others-face picture. Plan it in the most well-lit corner of the room for optimal detail.

Please Shut Your Mother Up

I know she's probably paying for the pictures but seriously, shut that beast up or I will. She gets two "loose suggestions" before I friggin' throw down. No, I'm not going to take fifty pictures of her with her second cousins on the balcony because you, her daughter, the bride are walking down the aisle in ninety-seconds and I feel that's a more important event.

Your Bridesmaids Talk Crap About You While You're in the Bathroom

They're just jealous, don't worry about it.

Keep Your Bridal Party Hydrated

People pass out. It's a fact of life when you're in the wedding industry. I've seen this happen, or almost happen enough times to be able to say with all certainty--keep that bottled water flowin'! Also, if you're having an outdoor wedding in 90 degree weather or in a thunderstorm, we may opt to cut our time photographing you outside down drastically as we're liable for our safety and that of our assistants.

Yes, I Do Think Less of You When You Yell at The Children

It's really mean. They didn't ask to be a part of your day by having their mom and dad dip into college-funds for a fufu dress and princess shoes.

Or maybe they did, but still, it's not nice. Be nice.


You are Absolutely Not Going to Get Every Single Picture I Took

Why? Because I took thousands and although I'm good, I'm not that good and I don't want you to know that. You will see a choice few hundred and they will be amazing and the others will burn in Crappy-Wedding-Picture hell forever. This is best for both of us.

Sometimes We Get Pardoned in the Elevator

It's icky and gross, and in some cases is a breech of contract. Make sure you read that thing carefully, because being sexually harassed by a member of the bridal party or a guest can lead to total contract termination for some of us prude photographers.

Plan Your Reception Carefully

Get all of the big-to-dos out of the way directly after dinner-- first dances, cake cutting, and bouquet tossing. That way you're guaranteed to get these shots before we start packing up for the night. Most photographers stay for the first couple hours of the reception but once the booze starts sinking in there just isn't much to photograph.

Don't Call Me "Photographer Girl" Ever.

Hey You is acceptable, or you know, the name my parents gave me at birth, but calling me Photographer Girl in front of your in-laws is really degrading.


Don't E-Mail/Call/Text/Facebook Me Asking for Your Pictures Early Because You're Going to Die/Sue Me if You Don't See Them Stat

I know you really want to get on to tagging yourself in all those pics but I'm working hard to deliver a finished product that I can be proud of.

We have a contract. We have a date on the contract that your photographs will be finished by. Look at that date. It is not fourteen hours after the wedding commenced.

For the Love of God, Eat Something

Because if you do, you'll be much happier and enjoy your day more and it'll show through in your pictures. If you stave off your first meal of the day for the reception, you'll be cranky, tired, and pale and none of these things make for stunning wedding photos. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit, nuts, mini sandwiches, and hummus and veggies around for you and your party as you all get ready for the ceremony and consider having snacks on hand afterward if you'll be taking more photos after the ceremony.

You Get What You Pay For

I know, we're expensive. And it can be hard to see at first, but - you get what you pay for when it comes to wedding photographers. Keep in mind, when choosing a photographer that you are paying for...

  • Equipment. Many of us are still paying off the cameras and equipment that give us the ability to capture all of those little moments.
  • Time. For some photographers, weddings aren't their full-time job and they may be taking time off from their day job to shoot your day. Then, there is the time it takes post-shoot to sort through and edit your photos.
  • Insurance. Both business and health. Since we operate independently we must pay that on our own.
  • Assistants and Employees. They gotta get paid too.
  • Taxes. Again, since we operate independently, we have to pay out self-employment taxes at the end of the year and that comes directly out of our upfront price.
  • Wardrobe. Hopefully we're not showing up in rags.
  • Gas, food, and lodging. If you're hiring one of us to travel, we have to factor those expenses into our final package price.

If you want to save on a wedding photographer, hire local amateurs who are just starting out and looking to build their portfolio. Check out their pictures beforehand to get an idea of their style and ability. While you won't necessarily receive magazine-quality pics, many beginners do a fantastic job.

Another way to save is to prioritize what part of the day is most important to you to have photos on then ask about discounted rates for shorter sessions. Say, four hours from the start of the ceremony to the first dance.

Be Kind to Your Betrothed

Again, it shows in the final product. In editing photos it's pretty obvious who was getting along that day. There's just some things that can't be photoshopped out.


If You're Not Into an Idea, That's Totally Cool

We may randomly decide it would be super cool to get a picture of you being carried away by the groomsmen.

Feel free to say a hard no. Our job is to deliver the types of poses and combinations you're looking for, not to express our every creative whim.

A Million Pictures of the Bride Will Never Be as Special as Those with Loved Ones

I eloped with maybe half a dozen camera phone pictures of the day I married my best friend and I still get worked up about those gorgeous bridal shots. They're so enviable! Still, a few go a long way. Try to limit your bridal shots and make more time for photos with special friends, family, your party, and of course, your new husband or wife.

Other Things We Wish You Knew

  • Hold Your Bouquet Below Your Waist. Otherwise it looks like you're wielding those flowers like a weapon!
  • Keep Your Makeup Close. Designate a bridesmaid to carry a small bag of makeup that includes everyone's lipstick and some translucent powder so you all can keep your look fresh as we take photos.
  • The "Sunglasses" Shot Looks Cute in Your Head. But we'll do it anyway if you ask us to.
  • Reflectors Are Hot. But we know that, and we're hurrying. They give you a golden glow, so hang in there.
  • Write Us a List of "Musts". We don't know that you handmade the napkin rings or monogrammed your dad's tie, so write us a little list of shots to get beforehand so we won't miss anything special.
  • Don't Tip. The practice of tipping vendors is sort of out-dated and doesn't apply to photographers. Don't bother tipping us after the event or throwing more into the check unless you really, really want to.
  • Feed Us. Whether you're giving us a plate at the reception or ordering pizza and salad from across the street, it's common courtesy (and practice) to feed all of the vendors at your wedding.
  • We Take Breaks. Photographers have to pee once in a while too!
  • Don't Offer us Alcohol. And if we take it, whoa! Unprofesh!!
  • We Have to Go Home. Maybe you're finally starting to have fun at 1 A.M. but for us, it's bedtime.

© 2013 Kierstin Gunsberg


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    • Britt Bogan profile image

      Britt Bogan 17 months ago

      A close friend of mine is a professional photographer, and she's definitely been miffed about some of these things before! I hope this reaches a bunch of people so that everyone can have a better experience. :D

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 3 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      heidithorne and Venkatachari M, thanks for reading!! Wedding photography is not for the faint of heart, as it turns out. But it really is a lot of fun and you end up meeting a lot of sweet, fun, lovable people. It's an adventure!

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 3 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Sallybea, thanks so much for sharing this! I'm glad (or am I?) someone else can relate to and laugh at this : )

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's very interesting to read this. You have mentioned so many important points that may look funny and silly, but they are facts one should keep in mind.

      Voted up.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      OMG! So, so true. You are saint for working in this market. :) Voted up, useful, funny and sharing!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      Kierstin Gunsberg,

      Oh my goodness, been there done that and you have the wedding photographers nightmare packaged into one Hub! Very funny. I loved reading this and it certainly deserves to be read more, which is why I am going to share it, tweet it G+++ Thanks for putting a smile on my face this Wednesday morning.

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 4 years ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Thank you! Thanks for reading :)

    • jjackson786 profile image

      Jennifer 4 years ago from Pennsylvania



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