Behind the Lens

We asked five local pros how to make your wedding pictures perfect. Their answers may surprise you.

I CAN’T EVEN LOOK AT MY WEDDING photos without crying. So I don’t. They’re stashed away, jumbled in a dusty old box. It’s my fault. I did everything wrong. For my destination wedding, I simply picked up a phone book and hired the first guy listed. Never even talked to him.

We don’t want the same to happen to you, so we gathered together the pros and plied them with beverages while we picked their brains on what to do and what not to do so that your recorded images are pure magic. Our four experts zoom in on the nitty-gritty so you can keep your beautiful memories out of the closet.

Do Get the Right Person for the Job. Obviously get an experienced wedding photographer or videographer. Obviously study their work. And obviously check references. Not so obvious? “Pick someone you’d like to go to lunch with,” says Rosemary Jenseth, videographer and co-owner of AfterImage Productions in Belmont. “You want somebody that you get along with, who is on your same wavelength. You need to trust them to put in the essence of you and your new husband.”

Too often, the pros on our panel say, brides will focus on all the contractual fine print and miss the big picture, so to speak. “I think it’s really easy to get caught up with product, comparing ‘Do I get proofs?’ and ‘Do I get five-by-
sevens?’” says Laura Pineda, who co-owns Alternate Angles in Boston and Newport with Tiffany White. “You’re hiring for the work but you have to take the time to meet the person and feel like you’re comfortable with them. It will show in the pictures.”

Do Make Your Voice Heard. Whether you’re funky or formal, make sure you communicate your distinct style. “Our job is to ask so many questions—the right questions—to elicit all of their expectations,” says White. Jenseth has her couples fill out a very detailed questionnaire. “That’s how the brides sort of design their video,” she says. For instance, for a recent wedding at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the bride wanted a long, in-depth interview of each member of the 20-person wedding party. “At many fancy weddings, brides usually don’t want interviews, so it was important that we knew that.”

Do an Engagement Session. Much overlooked, the engagement session can be extremely helpful. It not only builds trust—which shines through in those photos—and acclimates the couple to being photographed formally, but “we can also learn that one of them has a tendency toward fake smiling and we can work with that on the wedding day,” says White. Another benefit? “It gives a chance for the photographer and the couple to establish a rapport, which helps on the wedding day,” says Corinne Schippert, owner of Corinne Schippert Photography in Arlington.

Don’t Be Late. Want to look stressed in your photos? Be late! “I would say it’s the biggest problem,” says Schippert. “Brides never budget enough time.” And the biggest culprit? Hair and makeup, of course. (So start that preening as early as possible, and try to factor in time for unforeseen delays.) “We do a site visit to try to avoid the late issue,” says Pineda. “We go to the location and do a walk-through of their whole day to make sure they’ve budgeted enough time. It’s really critical.”

Do Lighten Up. Ask the pros if lighting is important, and they all nearly choke on their drinks. “Yes!”
says Schippert.

“Put it this way,” says Jenseth. “It’s very hard to prettify ugly lighting.” Which is why, if they had their druthers, you’d hire a professional lighting company. “It makes such a huge difference,” says Jenseth. “It’s a clear picture, you can really see people’s features, they take away ugly shadows, and it adds magic to the evening. The great lighting people even put color in, maybe pink, which makes people’s visage look very flattering.”

It’s the photographer’s job to make you aware of the lighting issues, says Pineda. “That’s the difference between photographers—how they light and how they don’t.” So ask to see their shots of a space similar to yours. “If the bride and groom are perfectly lit but it looks like they’re in a cave with no one behind them, the photographer lacks strength in their lighting abilities,” she says.

Do Put Together a List of the Important People—but Don’t Do a Checklist of Shots. Of course you want to create a list of the shots you must have, but whatever you do, don’t give your shooters a checklist. “I would say one of the big mishaps is going to The Knot and getting the entire checklist of every image,” says Pineda. “Don’t tell us the obvious—‘Get me walking down the aisle with my father.’ Tell us the unusual—‘Can you get a shot of my mother with her brother who has cancer?’” The professionals are not going to miss out on any of the rituals and major moments. “If there’s something you really love—maybe you have a shoe fetish and you want the wedding party’s shoes shot, let me know,” she says. “But don’t do the checklist because it ends up being like paint-by-numbers.” In the end, you want images that impart the magic of the day. “It’s looking for the moment,” says Jenseth. “It’s hunting for the quiet little scenes, like grandparents quietly talking and holding hands.”

Don’t Overdo the Formal Combinations. Let’s face it: Formal shots are boring. Plus, they add a ton of stress. “Minimize the formal combos you want,” says Schippert. “I would say most brides don’t have the stamina to do long lists of formals and look great and be happy doing them. A lot of people get battle fatigue partway through and have to start doing the fake smile.” About 10 to 15 is ideal, our experts say, and try to break them up throughout the day so that dazzling smile doesn’t get stale.
Remember, too, that formals are really time consuming, so try to get the kiddies first—the meltdown factor can really slow things down—and same with grandparents if it’s hot.

Do Have a Point Person. “I hate when I’m waiting in the lobby and 29 of the 30 are there and we have to wait,” says Schippert. “It’s such a time waster, and in the meantime you’re missing candids and other great shots.” Get a point person, she says, to communicate with the photographer and, at the right moment, round up the troops for all those group photos. And be smart about who you pick for the job: “Choose someone who’s responsible and who knows who everyone in the group is,” Schippert says.

Do Embrace the Unexpected. Don’t get your veil in a twist if the unexpected occurs—it could be a great photo op. “At one of my weddings in Boston, the couple walked out of the church and right into a parade,” says White. “They thought it was a nightmare and panicked. But then I got the crowd all into it, and the couple started laughing and enjoying it, and those images are some of their favorites in their album.”