Madison WI Elopement Photographer

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DAY FOUR : flawless photography

on the fourth day of christmas, ANW gave to thee – perfect tips for wedding photography. we are so excited to introduce you to a sweet photographer, nikki moore. she is incredibly talented, so down to earth, and absolutely radiates love for the midwest wedding industry. you may remember her fabulous photos that we shared in this post on ANW. today, she is here to give you her four most important tips for ensuring your photos turn out flawless… 

Hello, beautiful brides of the beautiful Midwest. Most of you probably know that your photography is one of the most important things you’ll pay for on your wedding day — it truly is an investment that will last generations (provided you get your photos printed, of course, and not let them languish on a DVD – I’m looking at myself here!). Here are some ways, from a photographer’s perspective, that you can help make your investment worth shelling out. Because, let’s face it – the good stuff doesn’t come cheap, and you want to make sure your investment is paying off as much as possible!

1. Hire a photographer you trust!

This is the most vital advice I give to anyone seeking a photographer, and it has two parts!

 Firstly, you need to trust their technical and professional experience. Can they shoot good photos in a candlelit reception? How about crummy, orangey church light, or 2pm sunlight? Can they pose a rowdy group of 20 attendants and make Aunt Mildred happy in her photo too? Will they be unintrusive and discreet when necessary, and take charge when necessary (and know the difference)? Do they offer the albums or full-resolution files or other products you want? Will they offer contact info, and full wedding galleries, for past couples who’ve hired them? Your contact with them will go much further than your wedding day. Simply put, you need to be confident that you’re hiring a professional.

 On a deeper level, though, do both their photos and their personality resonate with you? You need to trust them on a personal level too. If you’re in the photographer-seeking stage, meet each photographer once or twice, and look for someone who you connect with. Don’t be afraid to give it a day or two even if you think you’re sure…and listen to your instincts. (I never pressure anyone to book with me on the spot – it’s a serious decision.) This stranger will be with you through all the intimate moments of your day, from your dressing-room preparations, to your pre-ceremony prayer with your parents, to your uncensored chats with your bridesmaids, to that private, romantic sunset shoot you’re dreaming of. Make sure your photog is someone you trust as a person, so you can be 100% you, and 100% confident.

 2. Book that engagement shoot!

One of the best (and most fun!) ways to establish a great trusting relationship with your photographer is to have an e-shoot!  Photography is weird, okay? And I’m a photographer, and I’m telling you it’s weird. Because here’s you, trying to be all romantic and sincere and affectionate, and then there’s this stranger you paid to point a camera at you…what? It’s very understandable that most people are a little awkwardized by that situation. Everyone feels and acts different in front of a lens, but the engagement shoot gets that initial weirdness out of the way so it’s less likely to creep into your romantic wedding day images. You will remember the sweet little reminders I give you, like “don’t smush your noses when you snuggle each other. Your face won’t look good, and you could suffocate.” (Free advice for the public, right here folks!)

 It’s important that we photogs understand the things that flatter you the most, in terms of lighting, poses, and angles. And, while it’s certainly our job to be able to learn that on the fly (on your wedding day), it’s much easier and more natural for all of us if we already have that bit of experience together. Engagement shoots also give you great mementos: wedding sideshows, save-the-date cards, and sign-in albums.

 3. Plan your day well!

Your photographer should be clearly communicating with you about the time required for certain sets of photos. But you have to let them know what you want in your day. Do you want a ton of family formals, that romantic glow-y sunset shoot, some hip photos at a bar or in a field with your wedding party, a set with your adorable doggie? Or would you prefer your photographer emphasize the candid moments? Decide what’s most important to you, and with your photographer’s help, sketch out a timeline that will allow for everything. I’m at most weddings for 8-10 hours, and sometimes more – that sounds like a LONG time, but once you piece it together, that’s how long things usually take. I help all my couples create a basic wedding-day timeline that includes everything that is important to them.

 There are a million things that can interrupt a wedding-day schedule, but the one that I see most often is lack of time during the preparation stage. It’s usually advised to have a hair and makeup “trial run” a few weeks ahead of the wedding, which is well and good. But it always works differently when there are 5 or 8 or 12 of you getting dolled up in a little salon. My suggestion is to start at least an hour earlier than you anticipated. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “my dress only has to zip up so I was thinking I’d need 5 minutes to get dressed…” I will let you guess how that typically turns out. 

 I also counsel my brides to plan most of the posed, planned photo sets before the ceremony. Doing pre-ceremony photos is the best way to keep the day sane and happy for everyone – family, wedding party, guests, and YOU!  Logically, though, this also means seeing your groom before the ceremony too. Doing a private “first look” will calm your nerves, provide some quiet moments of peace, and give you and your groom a chance to speak your hearts to one another before the day becomes fuller. Logistically, pre-wedding photos make the day more balanced and more fun – nobody has to wait around after the wedding for the reception to start, so you can all get right to the party!

 4. Leave time for shooting at the best light

OK, so this is part of the planning section, but it’s so important, I put a header above it so you see it. Many times, the most beautiful and romantic photos are taken as the sun goes down. Sunset is my favorite shooting time. The dusky light wraps itself around you, makes you glow from the inside, and crowns you with a halo. If you want these kinds of photos taken, you might have to sneak out of your reception for a few minutes (depending on your day’s schedule, of course). I often plan ahead to take the newly married bride and groom out for just a few more photos – you’re already married (wow!), the guests are happily chowing down, you’re much less tense, and the light is working its magic. Needless to say, plan to get some golden-hour photos if they can be worked in!

 So, that’s pretty much it, Midwest brides! Hire someone you trust, both professionally and personally; take advantage of the e-shoot opportunity; and work with your photog to create a workable plan for your day. I don’t guarantee this will give you amazing photos, but I think it’s a great place to start! Feel free to ask questions…and happy planning!

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