Make Time for Portraits at your Wedding
I’ve been making a point over the last few weeks to get out and meet some of the other photographers in Vermont, and boy has that been an enriching experience. A few Tuesdays ago a few of us got together at Oakledge Park to catch up and talk about how all our seasons were going, and one of the photographers made a comment that I can’t stop thinking about:
“They should make weddings a two day event - one day for photographing, and the other day for the actual event.”
I loved this because it really highlights how there are two competing agendas when you’re planning a wedding - one is to throw an amazing non-stop party where everyone can enjoy themselves (including you!), and the other is to be able to freeze time to capture you on such an important day in your life, not to mention how good you look!
Until the day comes where we do see a multi-day wedding revolution that would accommodate this schedule (Indian traditions are all about it, but those days are also jammed packed.), we’ll just have to make do with what we got. However, that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice the event to make the pictures happen. It just means we need to prioritize creating that space and time for taking great pictures.
You might now be thinking, “can’t you get amazeballs pictures of me while I’m enjoying my day?” The answer to that is yes, but there’s a catch.
Think of it this way: you’re watching your favorite TV show on Netflix (Great British Baking Show fans out there?), and you go to pause it at a random time to get a snack. How often on that freeze frame does the subject in the show look flattering? Odds are if it’s noticeable, it’s a funny or awkward pose. And that same logic applies to real life - people don’t live their lives like they’re about to be paused and looked at later.
Now obviously I’m not seeking out unflattering pictures, unless someone really wants me to take their picture holding a funny pose, in which case I’m all about it. But the shots I’m waiting for aren’t constantly happening on their own. The reason candids are so compelling is because they are rare to find. You’ve put so much time and energy into making this day great, why leave it up to chance whether there’s a great photo of you looking your best?
Enter the portrait scenario: Take 30-45 minutes from the events and come with me to a quiet place, just the two of you. Appreciate the moment to look around and evaluate where you are. You’re starting a life together! That is no small thing. With this in mind, let’s take some beautiful pictures with intention - the intention of capturing this day, this moment, this life. Those will be the shots you’ll see and think “man, I remember that day,” because you took the time to reflect while it was happening. And that is a beautiful thing to be able to remember and hold on to.
Now remember all the people who helped you get you to where you are now, and how many of those people are here to celebrate with you. Let’s get back in there and get some great shots of you all together, also with intention. Then, and only then, can the candids really shine.
So the big takeaway: Portraits are worth the time. Take it from someone who never liked having an intentional picture taken, I’ve done a complete 180 on that. When all is said and done, you will appreciate having a great photo of everyone together and looking their best. Find the balance between the planned and the chaotic, and you’ll have such an amazing, diverse photographic collection of your day.
Bonus: This is also good advice for living too, but I won’t tout such ideals here. I’ll leave that to Jordan Peterson in 12 Rules for Life, one of my new favorite books.