Scenario 1

Sarah and Michael are getting married. It is a traditional church wedding with all the bells and whistles that goes with it. Sarah will be wearing the same wedding dress that her mother wore when she walked down the aisle 35 years ago. Friends and family are flying down from all over the country and abroad and the guest list is an overwhelming mix of close family, close relatives, distant relatives, friends and colleagues.

Sarah booked the wedding photographer the day after the wedding date was finalized. But that was six months ago. She vaguely remembers the meeting and what had been promised by the photographer. She is not shy but the prospect of having to face the camera on the biggest day of her life grew from just a lingering thought at the back of her mind to something of a fear of the unknown by the time the wedding date was upon her.

Scenario 2

Having signed the contract and received the booking fees Sarah’s wedding photographer made a note of the wedding date. He also informed the couple that he intends to do a pre-wedding shoot. The day and the date were to be mutually decided. It was later fixed on a Sunday two months prior to the wedding date.

The pre-wedding shoot was a lot of fun. Sarah, although she isn’t camera shy, was a little skeptical to begin with. The initial shots were clearly not the best. Her facial expressions were stiff and her arms belied her smile which seemed to say that she was defensive. However, the wedding photographer was an experienced chap. He engaged the couple, broke the ice and as the session progressed managed to reach through to Sarah. Images from the latter half of the shoot were much better. The posing was natural and to even Sarah’s surprise she complied with the posing requests made by the photographer.

The session was a success. Most importantly, both Sarah and Michael knew what to expect on the wedding day.

Fear of facing a stranger on the big day

Half the time beginner wedding photographers don’t quite realize the importance of pre-wedding shoots. From the moment a couple meets their wedding photographer and the contract is made, till the wedding date, it is usually several months. It is impossible for the wedding photographer or the couple to remember everything that was said.

A pre-wedding shoot not only reaffirms the relationship between the wedding photographer and the couple but it also has other important advantages. The wedding day is the biggest day in the couple’s life. They are already under severe stress without having to face a complete stranger pointing a camera towards them and asking them to pose. Notwithstanding the importance of those images, it is way too much to ask of them. As a wedding photographer your first task is to mitigate that fear and make sure that the couple does not feel like they are facing a stranger with an intimidating camera, but rather a friend that they know very well. That can make all the difference.

The solution – Mitigating the fear

The only way you can achieve this is by doing a pre-wedding shoot. Set the time and date as per your mutual schedule and make the most of the session. Plan the shoot in advance and if possible brief the couple on what you expect from them. They are not supermodels and thus don’t expect them to know how to pose. Educate them and if required, ‘pose’ for them to show them exactly what you want. A good pose sometimes can literally make all the difference between a bland image and a fantastic one. For more detailed information on how to pose check this article on posing.

Take the couple to a location you are familiar with and know how the lighting tends to be during the course of a day. When you are familiar with a location you can make better images because you know how to use everything to your advantage. Keep several locations in mind just in case the lighting and conditions are not perfect throughout the year at any one of them. When your couple has spent an entire session with you they are likely to be familiar with your methods and you will no longer be that unknown quantity on their big day.