5 Things We Learned From A Top Wedding Photographer
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Liz Banfield, one of America’s top wedding photographers. Liz’s work has been featured in Brides Magazine, Town and Country, Conde Nast Brides and the Knot.com.
She’s been names a top photographer by Martha Stewart Weddings, Harper’s Bazaar, and MODwedding. And just like us, Liz happens to be a Twin Cities local!
Here are 5 of Liz’s must-have insights for every couple looking to get incredible photos of their big day:
1. Chemistry Matters More Than Instagram When Choosing a Wedding Photographer
This isn’t to say work samples don’t matter. Of course it’s important that you love a photographer’s aesthetic, and Instagram, Pinterest and photographers’ personal websites are perfect tools to help you hone your own preferences.
However, when it comes to achieving great wedding photos, chemistry matters more than a dazzling online feed. Here is why:
“On your wedding day, you will almost spend more time with your wedding photographer than you will with your spouse,” Liz tells us.
“It’s an intimate relationship that begins with everything leading up to the wedding, then the wedding itself, and continues even after you’ve said ‘I Do/’”
Your wedding photographer will spend nearly the whole day within ten feet of you, so Liz says, “It’s important to do a ‘chemistry check’ with your photographer before you hire him or her. Ask yourself how much you really like him or her, and how much time you want to spend with them because that will make a real difference in the photos.”
It turns out your relationship with a wedding photographer is not so different from the relationships that can make Rom Coms sizzle or flop. No matter how much you like their work, an enjoyable relationship with your photographer is the elusive element that will make your pictures exceptional.
“Remember,” she adds, “If you are choosing an in-demand photographer, try to book 9-12 months in advance. Schedules fill up fast!”
2. There’s Only 24 Hours In A Day. Even On Your Wedding Day.
Obviously every wedding is unique. For some people, 15 bridesmaids is the perfect number. Other people are complete with three. In general, lessening the variables makes for better wedding pictures.
So what does that mean?
Let’s look at bridal party size for an example. The bigger the bridal party, the more concurrent demands there will be on a photographer’s attention. Let’s say something photo-worthy is happening over by the cake at the same moment that other members of your party are tearing it up on the dance floor. Neither moment is one you’ll want missing from the photographs, so a photographer will be pulled in multiple directions in order to cover it all.
“If a wedding party gets too large, it can actually dilute the photographer’s ability to successfully cover the event,” says Liz.
However, every couple has their own needs, and for people with big families and extensive friend groups, Liz respects that a large bridal party might be inevitable. In this case, there are other steps she says you can take to ensure great photos.
Pay attention to your photo locations.
“It’s better to keep the people and the locations close together. I’m not a fan of driving all over town to take photos at various landmarks. I would rather see the couple take all the photos in one scenic place.”
According to Liz, gardens, vistas, or any single, scenic spot will make for better results than a tour of a city’s iconic places. “In other words,” she says, “the less logistics you must deal with on your wedding day, the more meaningful and fun a day you will have. Remember, nothing moves fast on your wedding day. Not hair, makeup, or transportation… everything just takes longer and time is precious!”
3. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Every photographer prepares for weddings differently, but preparation of some kind must happen.
Liz likes to send a questionnaire to her clients in order to get an idea of who they are as a couple, and what kind of photos they hope to get.
“There is usually important information about your family and your wedding that your photographer should know.”
Liz recommends communicating any of these details to your photographer well in advance of your actual day. Communication makes for authentic photos, and a photographer should have the information necessary to come prepared. The less surprises the better!
So what kind of details should you share with your photographer? Everything from family scenarios that you’d like him or her to be sensitive to, to heirloom jewelry you plan to wear, and know you want captured.
“Really, any detail you can tell your photographer before the wedding will help him or her take better photos of your special day.”
4. A Wedding Is Not A Photo Shoot!
One thing Liz does not recommend is trying to recreate Pinterest or blog photos at your own wedding.
“A wedding is not a photo shoot,” she says, “it is a living, breathing event.”
This is why she avoids getting too creative, or “art-directing” her subjects, and she recommends that you do too. “The photographer wants to capture your special memories rather than trying to recreate someone else’s moment.”
Her work is proof, if you keep this in mind, you’ll have meaningful photos to look back on for years to come.
5. Allocate Time For The Most Important Photos
Remember when Liz said everything takes longer on your wedding day? It’s true. It’s also why it is crucial to allocate time for the portraits of the bride and groom alone. These are important pictures that absolutely should not be rushed.
“Try to allot for a minimum of twenty minutes for your bride and groom photos, and if you can sneak out alone at some point during the evening, during sunset or at some quieter moment, even better. That’s a great way to get some romantic pictures.”
"Lastly, your parents and grandparents, (if you are lucky enough to have them), are the most important people at your wedding aside from yourselves. Really, you can’t have too many pictures with them!”
Begin with a photographer you really like.
Take time to discuss logistics such as locations, the size of your bridal party, and any objects that you know you’ll want photographed.
Share those family details that you’ll want your photographer to be sensitive to, and don’t be afraid to make a little extra time for special portraits.
Do these five things, and you can look forward to beautiful wedding photos to enjoy well into your own golden years.