I’d like to preface this by saying if there’s anything us photographers do that would make your jobs easier, more fun, or give the wedding a better experience, I’d love to hear it!
You have an amazing view of how the whole ceremony is going down and I’ve come to find celebrants to be the most awesome subsection of people I’ve ever dealt with. You guys carry the ceremony, the love, fun, attention and engagement rests on your shoulders and it takes a special person to bring all of that together without having to worry about what a photographer is trying to gesture to you!
I’m always most impressed not at the perfect, beautiful ceremonies, but at how you deal with the super challenging ones with an ice cold crowd or a couple that never gave you any material. You are amazing. And for those I’ve actually worked with, you know who you are.
So by all means, pay no attention to me. You’re doing a killer job already. This is just my opinion and I certainly can’t speak for all photographers. Secondly, I asked my friend and celebrant, Danielle, if she thought it was a good idea that I write this and she said go for it. So if it sucks, take it up with her, not me.
Ok, so here's my list of 7 easy tips to make photographers love you
Skip to the last one if you’re already losing interest. There’s a reason I take photos rather than write.
1. When you’re doing the rehearsal, make a point of letting the bridesmaids know to take it slow down the aisle, leaving a gap of at least 5m but ideally more in between. Too many times, the bridesmaids come barrelling down together and it’s super difficult to get clean, individual shots of each, especially in dark, insanely backlit conditions like churches and chapels.
2. Fill those seats! I know you all know this, but it really takes more than just saying it sometimes, you have to keep insisting until the seats are filled. Especially the inner columns next to the aisle and the front rows. They stand out a mile in shots down the middle and we have been conditioned to equate empty seats with something not worth seeing.
3. When the couple are putting the rings on each other, we will usually be trying to get a tight shot. If you are standing directly behind their hands, your outfit will be the whole background. So unless your outfit is nicer than the backdrop, and I have certainly seen this, just one step to the side can drastically improve the shot.
4. When it comes to the kiss, and no doubt you’re already rolling your eyes like as if you didn’t know it’s good to get out of the shot, the thing is, way too many celebrants wait until they start kissing to start moving, if they move at all! I wouldn’t be writing this if it didn’t happen. Kisses can last a fraction of a second. So unless you were in position before the kiss, the shot is of the couple kissing, the bridal party all cheering, and then the celebrant, right in the middle, awkwardly striding away from the spectacle. It’s really odd to see because everyone else is so engaged in the moment. I recommend moving to the side before announcing them as husband and wife/husband and husband/wife and wife so that you can then be congratulating them with everyone else. I totally understand if there’s not enough room to move anywhere, that’s fine! I’m actually happy with you in the shot, just give the moment some love so it doesn’t stand out in the photo that you’re cautiously eye balling the camera, self aware that you’re in the photo.
5. For some reason, when the couples walk down the aisle to a parade of rose petals, the guests just LOVE to throw it straight in their faces. They just can’t help it. It therefore helps the photos immeasurably to educate the guests before they walk down to resist temptation and throw the petals in the air in a high arch rather than straight in their grills. Up, not at!
6. The certificate. I was once told that at a certain celebrant training, you’re encouraged to give the certificate to the couple to walk down the aisle with. Please don’t do this. It’s ridiculous.
7. Ok, if you retain nothing else from these tips, do this one thing and your photographer will forever be singing your name. When the couple reach the end of the aisle, try to keep them centred. This is impossible for the couple to remember themselves but it’s something that ruins the whole ceremony photos like an ipad in the aisle. Everything is so symmetrical with the aisle leading up between the rows of seats to an arbour, all perfectly in line, and then boom, the couple is way off centre. They will definitely be kicking themselves later when looking at the photos but it’s an easy fix to deal with in the moment with a gentle shove. When you do it, throw a gaze at the photographer to see them blowing you kisses and frantically sending you nudes.