How much time to allow for Wedding Photography?
One of the more popular questions I am asked is, "how much time do I need to allow for wedding photography?" The answer to that question hinges on what you wish to achieve with your photography, and how much you are willing to collaborate with your wedding photographer.
While the candid, unobtrusive style of wedding photojournalism still remains popular, the wedding photos that my clients respond to the most are the stylized, directed shots. The "artistic shots" as the brides and grooms often refer to. These shots involve private time alone; away from the family and friends.
The photographic environment is utilized as a stage setting. This setting creates an atmosphere for the wedding couple to step into a fantasy world where they become whoever they wish to be. The couple is often directed through various poses and creative ideas at the gentle coaxing of the wedding photographer. Soon the camera is forgotten about and the magic happens.
Pure emotions emerge that bring out the sexiness and playfulness, the glamour and sophistication, the serenity and mystery, or the love and passion between each couple. Not only do these wedding photographs yield beautiful shots, they also provide a moment of quiet time in the midst of a busy day that races by so quickly.
The price however, is time. If you want these images, be forewarned that you should allot at least an hour specifically for this style of work. In other parts of the world, it is normal for the couple to take a couple of hours during the wedding day to go to one or several exciting locations for their portrait time.
If these images matter the most to you, consider when you could devote the extra time. Do you meet before the ceremony? Do you miss your cocktail hour? Do you take time off at some quiet point during your reception? Perhaps it necessitates scheduling some portrait time on a different day. Keep in mind, it is your day and the scheduling and timing is in your control. In my experience, I have found the minimum of one full hour to be extremely beneficial.
Common Scenario - All in One Wedding Location
Couples often had their wedding ceremony and reception in one location which enabled us to spend one solid hour doing photography. The scheduling is straight forward, and no extensive planning was required. We were able to do intimate portraits as well as utilize the setting that drew them there in the first place.
The Adventure - Embrace the Offsite Scenery
In one of my experiences, the reception was a forty-five minute drive from the ceremony site. During our drive, we made a few stops along the way. Not only did we manage to get some wonderful shots at a local train station and park, we also had a great time doing it! Because of the unobtrusive manner in which I shoot, the additional benefit to the couple was some quiet time together before regrouping for the social activities of the night.
Go with the Flow - Prepare for Hard Pressed Wedding Photography
On the other hand, some wedding couples prefer not to invest a specific schedule dedicated for portraits, or to prepare for wedding photography in general. In this case, I advise my clients to allow five minutes per grouping for the "traditional" formals and an additional fifteen minutes for shots of the couple alone. If time is crunched, I will often photograph the family first and then request about fifteen minutes with the couple privately at a quiet point during the reception.
The flow of this type of photography arrangement demands the ability to adapt to situations, and often presents great challenges for the wedding photographer. At one particular wedding I had a window of thirty minutes before the ceremony to photograph the bride and groom, wedding party and family members. As the minutes ticked down with no key players to be found, a growing congregation of family members began to appear. As I started to photograph the family, the list seemed to grow rather than recede, and still without a full wedding party or bride and groom. When the bride finally arrived, we were down to ten minutes before the ceremony time. Ten minutes to go and a bride and groom greeting guests that arrived from out of the country, we were very hard pressed to accomplish what was requested. In the end we had to schedule some additional time during the reception to finish shooting.
When you are looking through samples of photojournalistic work, or viewing wedding portrait of other couples prior to your wedding day, be aware of what you are drawn to. Feel free to show samples to your photographer and discuss how much time would be necessary to achieve the images you like. The more communication you have between yourself and the photographer, the happier you will be with your results.