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Formal Portraits: When and Where

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2007

Once you have worked out what pictures are to be taken, the next key question is when to shoot the photographs, including those of the two of you as bride and groom. There are basically two choices: before the ceremony or after. Almost universally, photographers encourage their clients to have the pictures taken beforehand, which allows the photography to take place at a more relaxed pace in a significantly more subdued atmosphere. Also, if you are planning an afternoon ceremony, taking pictures early ensures that you will be illuminated by natural daylight, which is preferable to even the best artificial lighting. If you are adhering to the tradition of keeping the future spouses separated, or do not want to see each other before the ceremony, taking any pictures that include the two of you individually with family members and the bridal party before the ceremony can still save time.

The timing of your photography also plays a part in selecting a location: You want a background that will not vary too much when shot at two different times of day. Your photographer can help you figure this out when you tour the location with him a few weeks before the event. Time your visit as close as possible to the hour when the photos will be taken to get the best idea of how light and shadows will fall. Going to the site allows the photographer to imagine roughly how to arrange people and to make note of any special equipment he should bring to enhance the scenery or light a particular room. It also gives you a chance to consider whether your chosen spot is easy enough for guests to walk to or close enough to a convenient rest room.

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