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Formal Portraits: Coordinating With Your Photographer

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2000

After you have selected a photographer, take the time to work through the details with him; this will help to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Meet once or twice, about a month before the wedding, to discuss what sorts of pictures you want; then meet again soon after for a tour of the location (if feasible) and to schedule the sequence of events. There should be a follow-up by the photographer about a week before the wedding with a confirmation of the shot list and the previously outlined schedule, either of which may need to be adjusted to accommodate last-minute changes in your overall plans. Although a wedding planner, if you have one, can competently handle straightforward logistical issues, only you can decide what images you want to come away with.

Creating a shot list is a process of delicately balancing expectations (both yours and those of relatives and friends) with the constraints of reality. Though your aunt may want a photograph of you with each cousin individually, this could take a fair amount of time and effort. Terry Gruber, a veteran weddings photographer in New York City, warns against a lengthy list, which will overburden the photographer, the couple, and the guests. On the other hand, you do not want to realize that a favorite person was left out months after it is too late. So it is best to determine in advance who is important to you and to make sure that he or she will have a formal portrait taken with you. It may help to consider just what you will be doing with the portraits. Realistically, you will probably want only a few large prints for display on your mantel or living room wall. Other people can be remembered in your album, which is often more enjoyable when filled with casual shots taken during the celebration. When you are reviewing this list of special people, talk to the photographer about each person. Let him know who's funny or troublesome, or who cannot stand still for long periods of time. Knowing these things will make your photographer's job much easier.

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