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5 Tips for Working Well with the Wedding Photographer (Part 2)

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January 23, 2018

In the last post, we discussed the two things we need to go over in our pre-ceremony conversation with the wedding photographer.

1. Discuss requests and expectations with the wedding photographer ahead of time.

2. Give the wedding photographer a rundown of our Order of Ceremony.

(You can jump back to Part 1 here.)

But we’re not just all-talk, no-action, are we? No. Here are three more things we can actually do to work at our absolute best with the wedding photographer and make sure our camera-toting colleagues get the results they’re after.

3. Keep the couple close to each other

‘Ever see those wedding ceremony photos where the couple are standing about three feet apart with the officiant between them?

Why?

I mean, the tradition of facing forward and standing apart might be okay for a royal wedding. But at most contemporary weddings, it’s way more intimate and fun when the couple are facing each other and holding hands.

This isn’t just great for the vibe. It’s also great for the photographer getting everyone in the frame.

Scarlet O’Neill of Scarlet O’Neill | Photography agrees: “I would say keeping the couple connected, close in proximity (and centre at the altar), and focused on each other is good.”

She also goes on to remind us officiants of another pro-tip: “Make sure the couple looks at each other when they say their vows.”

Great point. This is something I always tell the couple in the rehearsal. “I like you guys, but it’s a bit awkward when you’re looking at me while you’re making promises of faithfulness and companionship for the rest of your life. So look at the person you’re, you know, marrying.”

When the couple are holding hands nice and centred – and looking at each other – the photographer will have a raft of great shots from the ceremony to choose from.

4. Slow down and pause between ceremony elements

In our current zeitgeist of fast-paced media (that’s an understatement), we can pick up an implicit value along the way that silence is negative and uncomfortable. So it’s really easy to rush through the elements. Especially when there’s a crowd watching.

Sometimes I listen to audio recordings of my own ceremonies and I think, “Was I really talking that fast?” Gulp.

The photographers are pretty much unanimous here: slow. down. Pausing between elements is everybody’s friend.

Dustin Newhook of 11elevenPMD asks us officiants to “think about pausing between moments, allowing time for us to snap that photo.”  Scarlet also hopes for “a nicely paced (not too fast) ceremony” so she can get the job done well.

And if the ceremony is going to be unusually short, Anastasia of Olive Photography says it’s helpful for the photographer to know ahead of time. “We usually expect about a half hour for ceremonies, but some couples opt for a super short ceremony. If that’s the case, it’d be good to know to pace our must-have angles accordingly.”

Pausing will really help our photographer friends get those angles.

Now, as officiants, we need to absolutely do our part in slowing down a bit. But the couple might need some coaching on not rushing, too.

For example, Dustin is right when he asks us officiants to take some time in the rehearsal to “give guidance for the rings on the fingers. Too often the couple is so hyper-focused on ‘will it fit’ that they forget to hold their hands out a small bit so we can capture that close up.”

Everyone up there is a bit jittery, and jitters usually mean we all talk and move a bit too fast.

The votes are in: everybody slow down.

5. Get out of the way of the kiss – or don’t

Okay, this one is interesting.

I’ve always insisted on it – and I teach other officiants to do it, too: get out of the way when it’s time for the couples to kiss.

Dustin considers this to be the most important tip: “Most important, no one wants a smiling officiant creepily looking at the couples’ first kiss” in the shot.

So… get out of the way, photobomber.

Unless.

Anastasia adds some nuance to the conventional wisdom of officiants getting out of the way of the kiss. In fact, she says, “Don’t worry about stepping aside for the kiss. It almost always ends up looking more distracting as officiants walk away in the photo rather than being stationary behind the couple. Unless you move totally out of the frame, beyond the wedding party, before you announce the married couple (that also helps!), just stay there to not draw attention to you moving during the moment that matters.”

Did you catch that? Moving almost always ends up looking more distracting.

Wow. I’d never realized that.

Until the first time I saw it for myself. I saw a wedding where the officiant made such a scene getting out of the way – a bizarre, cartoonish, bunny-hop-behind-the-bridesmaids move with a face that said, “I’m stepping on broken glass! I’m stepping on broken glass!” – that I’m sure everyone was watching the officiant instead of the kiss.

In this case, the officiant probably should have just stayed put.

So on the one hand, we wedding officiants can make things really weird by making ourselves a floating head right between the kissing couple. On the other hand, we can ruin the shot by appearing in every photo in various states of backing away.

Anastasia clarifies, “Unless you move totally out of the frame, beyond the wedding party, before you announce the married couple (that also helps!), just stay there to not draw attention to you moving during the moment that matters.”

And Dustin concurs: “Simply moving to the side before the announcement can be so helpful.”

I learned a lot here. Yes, move aside if you can. But the photographers are saying, “Do it before you make the pronouncement!” If you can’t do it then, don’t do it at all.

‘Glad I asked!

So having learned this, now I take two graceful and inconspicuous steps to the side and back while I’m saying the words before the kiss.

“And now, in front of your friends and family, and by the authority given me by the province of Ontario, I now pronounce you husband and wife! You may share your first married kiss!” It takes a good 5 seconds to say those words – plenty of time to avoid being either a creepy peeper or a moonwalking blur in that all-important kiss-pic.


TJ Tindale says it well: “Officiants 9 times out of 10 are such a treat to work with. They understand photographers have a job to do and need to capture the moments!”

Aw, thanks TJ. And ditto. I think we can work really well together, too.

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GET THE FREE 5-PAGE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR WEDDING OFFICIANTS

EXACTLY HOW TO CREATE AND OFFICIATE A WEDDING CEREMONY (IN 5 STEPS)

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