Wedding Photography Tips To Live By


Hi, I’m Gemma, I’ve been photographing weddings for more than 10 years now, wedding photography has changed so much over the last decade and has come away from the traditional portraits and moved on to the gorgeous and fun, natural images we now crave. I have learned a lot during this time, so thought I’d pass on a little advice for you, when it comes to thinking about your own wedding photography.

Book a decent photographer!

I know, this is coming from a professional photographer, but I’m being genuine and honest here. Something I hear so many times from people when I tell them what I do is ‘I really wish we’d booked a professional’. It’s so easy and cheap to get Uncle Bob who has a decent camera, but I promise you, after years of education and practice, it’s really not about the camera. Of course, everyone needs to start somewhere and you might come across someone super talented that is starting out, this is great, but can be hard to come by.

Make sure you have a look at the website / Instagram of the photographer you are looking at. If you don’t like the images, that one isn’t for you.

Meet them, this is a must, even a Skype or Facetime call, if you can’t find time to get together. You need to like them, this is just as important as you liking their work. They will be with or around you all day. Not only should you feel comfortable in their company (this makes you more relaxed, which makes much better photographs) but also be comfortable with them photographing the more intimate moments, getting ready in the morning, for example.

Think about light

This is something that most non-photographer types would ever consider when choosing a venue or where to get ready, but photography is essentially painting with light. If you are getting ready in a hotel room, perhaps consider asking the hotel for the lightest room. Or if at home, have a look around to see which rooms are larger and brighter as this would make for much better images. There is only so much we can do with a flash and natural light is the most gorgeous and flattering.
Also, think about the evening, will you get an early or late sunset? Golden hour is the hour before the sun sets and is the most gorgeous warm light, this is a great opportunity to get some more couple portraits after the dinner, before the dancing.

Factor in timings

I usually like to have around 2 hours of prep with a bride, with a groom you don’t need quite so much. It’s usually good to aim to be dressed around 15-20 mins before leaving for the ceremony, this usually allows a buffer for last minute madness, and also gives time for a few photographs before leaving. It also allows the bridal party to get used to me too, they are going to be with me for the best part of the day as well, so its nice to make them feel relaxed too.

For the group shots I tend to advise to allow for 10 mins per shot, it shouldn’t take this long, but occasionally someone will disappear to the loo, or, more likely, the bar and so it leaves us with some time to make sure we don’t run over. Also, delegate 1 or 2 members of the bridal party to help gather people for the group shots, this will make the process a lot quicker, which means more time for drinking and mingling.

I like to take my couple away for around 20-30 mins, other photographers may differ, so speak to them before making final arrangements. This is a nice time to take everything in, as it will usually be just you and the and so will be a lot less chaotic.

Book a make-up artist

Unless of course you are one yourself. These guys know their stuff, I have seen weepy brides still look immaculate at 10pm. I was a bridesmaid recently and was shocked at how the make-up stayed put by the time I took it off at midnight, even through dancing, eating and drinking and even a bit of weeping. Also, they know how much to put on to make it look gorgeous on camera, without looking like a clown in real life.

Don’t be left disapointed

Speak to your registrar, priest or vicar about photography during the ceremony. `Unfortunately, not everyone will allow photographs during the ceremony, and some will limit the times that photographs can be taken. It’s not always church weddings, I have been to one wedding (luckily only one!) where a registrar wouldn’t allow photography during the ceremony at all.

Be open to ideas!

Us photographers are usually quite creative and tend to have some ideas about what might look good. Go with it, you might be surprised at how fun it can be and how good it looks afterwards. Spontaneous ideas are usually the best ones.

Make the most of us!

We are working for up to 12+ hours on your day, we need to eat and drink as much as your do. It is usually best to feed your photographer at the same time as you and your guests eat (no-one wants to be photographed whilst they are eating). A lot of venues will feed the wedding staff after they feed your guests, but the photographer needs to be finished and ready to work again as soon as you are finished, so it’s worth asking the venue to feed them at the same time as you.


Gemma Willis Photography will be exhibiting at The National Wedding Show, NEC Birmingham, stand E10