You've got the perfect dress, your make-up is flawless, the decor is immaculate and all of the elements that you have brought together over the course of planning your wedding is about to pay off! Congratulations, you (and hopefully your husband) has completed one of the first MAJOR projects that you'll perform together throughout your lives together! That said, you can't wait to enjoy your day and you are depending on your professional photographer to capture the biggest day in all it's splendor and glory!
One often overlooked items (specifically for ceremonies) is the spacing of the shooting lanes that your professional photographer would need in order to capture those magic moments. We've seen a lot of weddings where parts of the ceremony activities are hidden or places in areas where it's restrictive to capture. A skilled photographer can sometimes be considered as a scoring guard (basketball) in which often times, they have to "create their own shot". Whether it's switching to a different lens or camera at moments notice or hanging sideways from an awkward area in order to get some of the most basic shots. A few examples of items that we consider "primary" during ceremonies and helpful tips to remember when you are looking for amazing shots from your perfect day. A few tips are below:
1. Officiant + Bride/Groom spacing. We've seen many ceremonies where this trio is so close together that no one can see the ring exchanges or the moment is close enough for the bride and groom to actually whisper to the officiant with ease. Most officiants will have literature that they will be reading from (sometimes an iPad) that can also eliminate or crowd the shot. Ask your officiant if it's possible to have space in between to allow for capture.
2. Let your guests see your ceremony. Coordinate the moments during your vows an turn directly toward one another when speaking to each other. Turning halfway takes away an important angle if your halfway facing the officiant and halfway facing your new partner. When the moment comes to take picture of the ring exchange and vows, there is a natural place for the photographer to capture. There is nothing wrong with telling your officiant and/or planner that you would like your guests to see all of the exchanges.
3. Strategically place large flowers arrangements. When there are large flowers arrangements that are at eye level, this sometimes can eliminate a lot of angles that the bride and groom would expect. If there are open spaces, large arrangements are fine, but be careful of smaller spaces and note what else would be in the way as your photographer is shooting your ceremony. Is there an alter AND large arrangements? Is there a restriction whereas your photographer cannot get to such as a closed-in pulpit or is your wedding party so large that it crowds several vantage points for your photographers? Keep in mind that if you can't see past items in your ceremony, it goes the same way from behind the lens.
4. Traditions within ceremonies. If you are doing a candle, sand, trees, or something during your ceremony with significant value, highlight it and place it in an area where it can be seen. Placing a table to the side is a common practice that enables everyone to see and allows your photographers to capture it perfectly. There are some couples that choose to do it right at the nuptial spot with the officiant and adding in wedding party count, large arrangements and small spacing with the bride and groom reduces the photographers shooting lane.
In conclusion, shooting lanes are something that each couple should be aware of as it helps us produce amazing shots for you. Without an open opportunity to capture, it can somewhat be difficult to tell a client that your ceremony was "restricted" and no matter how perfect the full portfolio is, the client will always point to the ceremony as not being as expected.
We're here to help! And as always, hire a certified professional. Don't take a chance on hobbyists or those that do not understand the high level of detail and characteristics of managing and shooting a wedding project.
Jay "ArtsGroup" West
Director of Photography
ArtsGroup Photography and Cinema