A few months ago, a nervous bride and her mother sat down with me for the imperative final meeting just a few days before the wedding. Well prepared with itineraries, schedules, and invoices the bride opened a three ring binder labeled "Wedding Day" and handed me a photography checklist. Bridal magazines and wedding planning guide books love these neat little photo inventory lists. She had meticulously checked off shots necessary for me to take on their wedding day. I scanned down the small font list, my eyes momentarily halting on items such as Bride with Mother
, Bride with Groom
, and my favorite, Bride Walking Down the Aisle.
I'm a firm believer in the axiom "redundancy is better than error.” However, how could any wedding photographer overlook the shot of the bride walking down the aisle?
The photographer shares a unique relationship with their client. We are a potpourri of hired gun, artist, and psychologist. The information needed by photographers is far more than a few checked boxes.
The idiosyncrasies of every family can be complex, colorful, sometimes dysfunctional and always entertaining. Therefore, it is imperative that the photographer and couple have a frank conversation prior to the wedding about family and friends. This is the couple's opportunity to fill in the missing details between those little checked boxes. It is their only chance, before the wedding, to give the photographer all the needed details to get the perfect shot.
For instance, the bride’s family may be getting together for the first time in 5 years. Or perhaps the groom’s sister just found out she will be having a baby boy. The details of interpersonal relationships are endless, and photographically priceless. Such detailed conversation prior to the wedding helps both the photographer and the client put the family and friends into perspective. These little morsels of family lore will help the photographer produce their own checklist that reflects each family's unique characteristics.
So after I looked over the bride's list of checked boxes and we talked for almost an hour, I discovered the following:
She and her brother are best friends.
Her fiancée can't dance
Her mom will cry at the drop of a hat
And her great grandmother just turned 104.
The end result, four priceless shots: Her brother’s face during the ceremony. The groom’s proud, relieved, and delighted expression at the end of the first dance.
The moisture welling up in mom’s eyes during the bride’s toast. A tender shot of her great grandmother’s weathered and brittle hands.