Every photographer has a different way of planning portraits and group photos. Some opt to do a location scout ahead of the wedding day and others wait until the wedding weekend or the big day itself to determine where they'll shoot the group shots and couple portraits based on the time of day and the best lighting. If your photographer has been to your venue before, they may have ideas in mind for where they'll take formal photos, which allows them to share this information with you in advance. However, many photographers won't have an idea until the last minute or whenever they're able to scout the location. So, does it really matter if your photographer can't tell you where you'll take portraits ahead on the big day? Not really. Here's why.
Location scouting is an important part of preparation.
Some photographers are able to meet the couple at their wedding location prior to the big day—even if it's just in the day or two before—and do a location scout. If timing allows, it's a good idea to plan this meeting with your pro. Photographer Charlotte Jenks Lewis says she makes sure to scout each venue before the wedding as it helps set her up for success. "You often can't predict what will be the best shots of the day, but you're off to a good start if you can pre-select the best background and light for your location and time of day," she explains.
There are still unpredictable factors to consider.
Weather, your wedding setup and layout, and lighting on the big day all play a major role in what background your photographer settles on for portraits, which is why many photographers make their final location decisions on the actual wedding day. "When I do a location scout, I want to see what the light will be like at the time we've scheduled for the first look and family portraits," Jenks Lewis says. "If those things are happening in the middle of the day, then I'm usually looking for shade with a nice background." She typically opts for backgrounds that are open and have some depth, rather than the flatness of a solid wall.
In order to keep the energy of the couple high during their photos, Jenks Lewis tries not to stay in one location for too long. She says, "I like to cover four different locations, and I can usually do that in about 20-30 minutes." This allows for more variety in the photos and gives some wiggle room for last-minute changes.
There will always be a backup plan.
While scouting a location in advance of a wedding is a huge help for photographers, your pro will always have a backup plan in the event of inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, which means it's not always possible to pinpoint exactly where you'll snap photos ahead of the wedding. "Sometimes you just have to think on your feet," Jenks Lewis says. "But it's hard to move a group of 20 people around while you find that beautiful spot." So, having a plan A and plan B ahead of time can save time and the stress of deciding a group photo location on the spot.