Advice From The Pros: Photography

Happy Friday Everyone! Today, we are continuing our "Advice From The Pros" blog series and taking a look at wedding photography. Chelsea Zimmerman, with Flightless Bird Photography, has provided us with some wonderful advice, as well as many beautiful photos. Enjoy!!


YAY! You’re getting married! Chances are, you’ve started Googling “photographers in my area,” searching hashtags on Instagram, and asking friends and family for recommendations. In a sea of wedding photographers, who do you choose? Below you’ll find a few tips on picking the perfect photographer and getting the most out of your photography experience. 

  1. Pick a photographer based on both professionalism and personality. 
Choose someone whose work and personality you identify with. You shouldn’t have one without the other. Yes, you should absolutely LOVE your photographer’s portfolio. But you should also get along with them. As crazy as this sounds, you’ll spend more time with your photographer than anyone else on your wedding day! You should choose someone who you want to hang out with – but they should also be trustworthy in their professionalism. Read the reviews on their website. Really read them. But also read their “About me” page! Once you find someone who you can trust and whose work you love, bingo! You’re ready to book your photographer! 

  1. Book an engagement session. 
An engagement session sets the stage for the rest of your photography experience by giving you and your photographer a chance to work together before the wedding day and allows you to get comfortable in front of the camera. You’ll see how they approach posing and lighting, and your photographer will get to know how you two interact so that they can photograph you in an even more genuine way on the wedding day. Because you’ve chosen to have an engagement session, you’ll feel much calmer and more prepared for your wedding photos. 

  1. Plan your ceremony start time based on lighting. 
Ceremony lighting is so important. If you get married outdoors in midday sun, the lighting will create harsh lines of light on your faces, and you’ll be squinting in all of your photos. I suggest planning an outdoor ceremony about 2 hours before sunset. The lower the sun, the more romantic the lighting, but you’ll still want to have enough natural light for some beautiful portraits between ceremony and reception. If you are having an indoor ceremony, it is always best to have soft, even light across the stage or altar. Natural light is always best, but an experienced photographer can work with poor lighting. It’s just not best-case scenario. 

  1. Have an “unplugged” ceremony. 
Guests will cell phones ruin photos by holding up cell phones in all the professional pictures, but even worse is that they aren’t present with you if they’re viewing the ceremony behind a screen. You want your guests to remember witnessing your big day and not be concerned with snapping the perfect Instagram shot. There will be plenty of those in the gallery I send you! Simply put a sign out at the ceremony or ask your officiant to say something similar to the following statement: “The bride and groom ask that you turn off your cellphones and put away your personal cameras so that you can be truly present in this moment with them. Their professional photographer will capture beautiful images for the bride and groom to share with you, but please turn off all cell phones and electronics.” When you receive a gallery full of images of people genuinely reacting to your vows without a cell phone in front of their face, you’ll thank me! 

  1. As hard as it is to act natural in front of the camera, remember to be yourself! 
Act like your photographer isn’t there! Don’t worry about what your hands are doing, if you should be smiling, or where you should be looking. Your photographer will tell you what to do when you need to be prompted. Trust their direction, and most importantly have fun!

  1. Even if you think you don’t need a wedding planner, do yourself a favor and hire a day of coordinator! 
I’ve seen wedding coordinators put out fires before the bride even found out about a problem! You don’t want to be dealing with vendor arrivals, decorating, or running errands on your wedding day. You may ask, “Why is she talking wedding planners when she should be giving tips for photography?” Believe me, your timeline – and your stress level – directly impact your wedding photos! Alleviating as much stress as possible is crucial, so if you don’t have a coordinator and are creating your own timeline, leaving a 10-minute cushion every now and then is a GREAT idea! It’s amazing how fast time slips away on a wedding day! 

  1. Don’t dismiss the value in print! 
There is something so special about creating your first family heirloom. Steven and I have been married for 5 years, and we’ve clicked through our digital images from our wedding day maybe five times. That’s once a year! But we see our wedding album on our coffee table and the photos hanging on our bedroom walls every single day. Having digital images is great, but having a printed keepsake that tells a visual story of your wedding day is priceless!

A few parting words as we wrap things up: Don’t settle. Don’t settle for hiring a family friend just because they have a nice camera and offer to shoot your wedding for free. Don’t settle for a photographer whose work you think is “okay.” You deserve a photographer you connect with and who can produce images you’ll cherish forever. Wishing you all the best for a beautiful wedding and even more beautiful marriage! 









A little about me: 
I’m Chelsea, a mountain girl at heart, mama of two, and photographer behind Flightless Bird Photography alongside my husband, Steven. We are a husband/wife team who work and play in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina and beyond. We believe each wedding and elopement deserves unique care and attention, so none of our process is “cookie cutter.” You deserve photos that capture the real connection between you and the ones you love, bring you right back to the moment they were taken, and are produced with quality that will last for years and years to come.  See more of our work at www.flightlessbirdphotography.com, or follow us on Instagram and Facebook @flightlessbirdphotography. 

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