A wedding photographer’s top 5 location tips

Worried about finding the perfect place for your wedding and all those amazing photos you plan to have? You might be surprised to hear it, but some of the best wedding photos have nothing to do with the location!

Here are my best tips to get the most out of your wedding photography:

1. Don’t get too hung up on the backdrop of your location. Yup. I said it. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to find epic locations with amazing natural beauty, awesome architectural elements, or iconic skylines. At the end of the day though, the two driving things behind my photos are your relationship, and the light you’re bathed in. Everything else is secondary to that.

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2. A good follow-up to point one; light light light! You’ve probably heard the term “golden hour” before when people talk about photography. Golden hour is essentially the hour or so leading up to sunset. Depending on where your photos are happening, golden hour should really be called “golden couple of hours”, though it doesn’t have the same ring to it! Whenever possible, schedule your portrait time as late in the afternoon as possible. The lower the sun is to the horizon, the softer the light. The softer the light, the better it photographs. It’s really as simple as that. If your schedule doesn’t allow for later afternoon portraits, consider adding a sneaky 10-15 minutes of sunset portraits to your schedule during reception. I promise you it’s worth it!

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3. Don’t overthink it. Being in front of a camera with your partner is NOT a natural human thing to do. For 95% of us, the thought probably even gives you a bit of anxiety. I often tell the story of my wife and I’s pre-wedding photos. I kept telling myself, I’M A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER. I DO THIS FOR A LIVING! If anyone should know what to expect and be comfortable, it should be me, right? WRONG! The more you think about it, the more you try and plan for how you’ll be together on camera, the more forced it could feel during the actual shoot. Plan on coming in blank-canvas mode. We’re here.. we’re in love… that’s all that matters. Let me do the rest, and I promise you that after 10 minutes, you’ll be having an absolutely blasty-blast fun time and the photos will reflect that.

4. Props? Props! There is nothing wrong with having props for your portraits, I’ll come right out and say that. What you want to keep in mind is that these props should add to the significance of the photos for you, they shouldn’t just be things you’ve seen in a magazine or editorial. I recently had a couple who incorporated their two passions into their session. The bride was a caterer/foodie, and the groom was a big gamer. So they had this beautiful little picnic set-up with fruits and platters and flowers, and then a Playstation 4 controller. Now, don’t get me wrong, this ONLY worked because it was “them”. This was a big part of their relationship and passion, and they really had good fun with it. Had that same couple brought a red bike with a basket and a husky puppy, it wouldn’t have worked because they couldn’t give two hoots about dogs and bikes. If you want to use props during your portraits, make sure they mean something to you. Make sure they’re part of your story.

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5. This tip could easily be number one. This tip could easily be the only tip you need, actually. It’s the one thing that supersedes everything else. It’s the one thing that is a must for your portraits. Be...yourselves. In this Instagram world we live in, it’s so easy to get caught up trying to have or be one thing or another. While that might work for brunch or shoes, for a portrait session that is all about capturing you and only you, it just doesn’t apply. My job is to capture the essence of your love, your relationship, you being you... that is going to be different for every single couple. It’s something that we discover together, while we shoot. I want you to look back on your photos in 20 years and see yourselves at an amazing point in your story and lives.

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At the end of the day, working with a professional and experienced photographer (hi!) will help you get the most out of your photos. If you’d like to chat about some of your wedding photography ideas, I’d love to hear them! Email me at info@russellstaffordphotography.com

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