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We’re Joy & Ben Clifford, Arizona’s trusted husband & wife photography duo.

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Top 5 Wedding Day Photography Tips

Our Top 5 Wedding Photography Tips are solutions to minor potential hiccups you can encounter on a wedding day. And trust us, after 7-years in the wedding photography industry and documenting hundreds of weddings, we are so ready to share these photography tips with all of you! Taking these photography tips to heart will guarantee you frame-worthy portraits and memorable candids simply because you are educated and have made those decisions early on in your planning. As we’ve said countless times, “Being prepared is the best way to invest and add value to your wedding day.”

Our role as Wedding Photographers is to ensure our couples get the most out of their photography time on their wedding day. We do this by taking the time to walk each of our clients through what a wedding day looks like, educate them on what they can expect photography-wise, and make sure they have all of the tools they need to have a stress-free, enjoyable wedding experience.

We know these photography tips will all sound simple, and you might say to yourself, “Well…Duh!” But, here’s the thing, every wedding; planner or no planner experiences at minimum 3 out of the 5 of these things on their wedding day. So, notebooks out, our pen’s ready and let’s dive into our Top 5 Wedding Day Photography Tips.

Photography Tip #1

Plan Enough Time For Hair and Makeup … Then Plan Extra

When you plan your prep time for your wedding day, you will ask your hair and makeup for an estimated completion time for the morning of your big day. They will give you a time estimate based on anyone planning to be wedding runway ready. Typically the bride will be one of the last to be completed, so she is fresh-faced for the world and all of her photos. As a result, we repeatedly see hair and makeups quoted completion time listed on the finalized wedding timeline. 

Now, we’re not saying that the time estimate is incorrect; we’re saying plan extra to give yourself a cushion. The allotted time for bridal prep is crucial to how effectively your wedding timeline will run—falling behind on the timeline has only one solution; time is cut elsewhere to make up for it. I’ll give you one guess as to where that extra time comes from; if you said your wedding photography, you are correct; go ahead and pat yourself on the back! 

After all, we are only human, and it is way too early on a wedding day for all of that. However, planning a cushion allows you peace of mind as you enjoy your prep time, have confidence in your planning skills, and possibly score some extra photos with you and your favorite ladies. So sit back, get beautified, mentally high-five yourself, and know you just nailed photography tip #1!

Photography Tip #2

Minimize Your Photography Locations 

The minutes spent traveling from location to location add up fast and can make a substantial withdrawal from the time allotted for photography on your timeline. So if you’re considering adding three or more areas to your wedding day, be sure to discuss your options with your photographers. You don’t want to use up all of your precious photography time searching for parking, sitting in traffic, and even walking from one location to another.

Keeping your locations to a Prep and Wedding Venue saves time on your timeline unless you are willing to add additional time to your wedding day allocated for travel. For example, we typically advise our couples with three or more locations; a prep, separate church, and reception venue; they need a 10 hour wedding day, specifically for travel time. Remember, it’s not just the time it takes to go from one spot to another. It takes time to gather everyone, find someone’s shoes or phone before they leave, get all the cars needed, and the travel time.

Believe me; we completely understand that the added expense of tacking on additional time might not be ideal for every wedding day budget. However, with that said, this is why we always recommend having a detailed conversation about what you can expect with your wedding photographer; they will be open and honest with you about how they can best serve you within the time allowed. 

Photography Tip #3

Have a First Look

To have or not to have a first look on your wedding day, it’s a topic of discussion. We get it; we see all sides; this is why we advise our couples of all the pros and cons about the first look on your wedding day. And believe us when we say we respect their decision. However, we know you will also want incredible photos and as many as possible; after all, we are photographers. But that should never overshadow our clients’ wishes to honor tradition. 

Our approach to the first look is simply this, having one opens up your wedding day timeline. In addition, it allows you more photography options and helps your timeline flow smoother and more manageable. Also, a first look will enable you to plan most of your photos before the ceremony, allowing you to enjoy cocktail hour and have more time with friends and family later on.

Finally, first looks are a stress reducer, not only for time’s sake but also for the pressure a groom may feel about responding in front of everyone at the alter… emotionally. First looks give you time alone beforehand to hug, kiss, spend time together, tell each other how amazing you look. All the things you don’t do at the alter. There are practical, sentimental, emotional and intimate benefits too scheduling a first look. So many in fact, we wrote an entire blog post about photography tip #3, click here to read more!

Photography Tip #4

Be Realistic With Your Hours

We are photographers, not magicians. In all fairness, we have achieved some serious photography magic on some very tight timelines, but are those results typical? Nope, they’re not. So photography tip #4 is a biggie, and we can’t stress it enough, don’t attempt to cram a 10 hr wedding day into an 8 hr timeline. It’s something we see all the time, and it’s something that can directly impact your portrait sessions throughout the day.

We understand that not all wedding budgets are the same. So while a ten or twelve-hour wedding photography package may seem ideal, this is where our communication skills as photographers shine bright. Not only will we provide open and honest feedback to our clients, but we also provide them with a reasonable and manageable timeline allowing them to effectively plan their big day, all while maximizing their photography coverage.

We are very hands-on and involved in the wedding day process. In addition, we provide our experiences and endless resources to every client, empowering them and adding value to their photography time. It’s like that old saying, “You can’t force a square peg into a round hole.” You can’t magician a full day of wedding festivities into 8 hours; it just can’t be done, so something has to give. 

We refuse to over-promise and under-deliver, which is why we are so passionate and upfront about photography tip #4. So if you are in doubt, even if your planner says, “I think we can make that work,” ask your photographer and take to heart what they say. Also, another reason as to why we’ve got your back! 

Photography Tip #5

Schedule Your Sunset Portraits

You just read it, but I’ll repeat it, schedule your sunset portraits, don’t plan on your photographer whisking you away during cocktail hour or reception. These are your fairy tale ending photos, the dreamy perfect lighting; if you are saving time in your timeline for anything, it should be for these. So when a wedding timeline pops up in our inbox, and we see ten minutes scheduled for husband and wife sunset portraits, our hearts sink just a little. You better believe we start cutting and pasting, reviewing line by line for additional time from anywhere.

We get it; it’s your last official portraits of the day; you might be tired and totally over it, but five months maybe two years down the road, you’re going to wish you had taken the time for these photos. Look at it this way; your sunset portraits are like the final scene in a Marvel movie, where everyone comes together for the big victory. And by simply scheduling 25-30 minutes in your timeline, you walk away the big winner. That’s how big of a deal photography tip #5 is.

So….In Closing

These Top 5 Wedding Day Photography Tips pack a punch to any wedding day timeline all while offering you peace of mind. We genuinely believe if you implement these five photography tips, not only will your wedding day be easy breezy lemon squeezy, but you’ll be reeling from all the incredible photos you may not have had because of these five timeline hang-ups. Bottom line, we want nothing but the best for couples everywhere; yes, we care even if we are not documenting your wedding so take these photography tips and run with them!

And lastly, we can not stress enough, talk through your wedding timeline with your wedding photographer. Again, it’s necessary to open the door of communication early, like before your wedding day. It ensures that you are both on the same page, you have a plan in place, and ready to crush these photography tips if they come up. Not to mention, your photographer will be over the moon and more than willing to provide you with whatever resources you may need to get the most out of your photography time on your wedding day. 

To inquire about having us document your wedding day, visit us over at Joy and Ben Photography!

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