8 Ways to Get the Best Wedding Photos

Make sure your photographer captures all those special wedding-day moments with this helpful advice from a wedding pro.

You have the “perfect” man. You’ve got your “this-is-the-one” dress. You’ve secured the perfect wedding location. Now all you need is someone to capture the memories that will last a lifetime. Here are eight ways to ensure you get the best images on your wedding day.

1. Do Your Homework

8 ways to get the best wedding photos

To get the best wedding photos, you need to start before your big day and find the best photographer for YOU. For this, you need to do your research. Here’s how:

  • Narrow it down to about 3 choices and interview each one.
  • Look at their portfolios. Ask to see samples of their work, albums and slideshows. Do they have a wide range of work? Do they have a website?
  • Ask to see a whole wedding they’ve shot, not just a few pictures. You may come to find out later that they may not work well under certain conditions, and you don’t want to find out the hard way.
  • Find out what can they offer you. Is it a style that you prefer? Can they tailor their style to meet your needs? Find someone who is willing to work with you, not against you.

2. Schedule an Engagement Session

Yes, I’m a big proponent of e-sessions. Why? Three reasons:

  • It gives you a chance to get to know your photographer before your big day. He or she is going to be with you for most of your day, so it’s a good idea to get to know this person before the big event.
  • You get a chance to see their style of shooting firsthand and ask questions. Are they a director or are they a “just let it happen” kind of shooter? What kind of equipment are they using and how do they use it? Can they pose you to make you look your best?
  • The biggest advantage? You get to see samples of their work with YOU in them, before you make that final deposit.

3. Make Sure Your Hair and Makeup Are Perfect

If you want to look your best, always do a trial run before your wedding day so you can make any necessary tweaks before the big day. Here are a few things, from a photographer's point of view, to keep in mind:

  • Bring a camera to the hair and makeup trial. You want to make sure the makeup works well on camera. Some makeup foundations/powders are highly reflective and can appear very white on film.
  • Your makeup should last throughout your wedding, so wear it for a day and see what happens. You don’t want to find out on your big day that your makeup is gone after the first portion of your ceremony.
  • Ask about wear-proof makeup, touch-ups or any other thing you might need to keep your makeup flawless.
  • Stay away from glitter. Yes, shiny is pretty, but once that flash pops…you will get a lot of tiny bright white highlights in your pictures.
  • For the groom, I recommend bringing some sort of blotting cloths or tissue to keep him from looking shiny, especially if it is hot. Shiny equals white on camera.

4. Create a Timeline

One of the best things you can do to eliminate stress for yourself on the big day is to create a timeline for your photographer. It's important to discuss when and where the shots will take place and to schedule plenty of time for your wedding photos. A less-stressed bride is a happy bride. And a happy bride makes for great photos.

8 ways to get the best wedding photos

5. Know What You Want

What kind of shots are you envisioning for your big day? With most weddings, photographers know there is a general list of images to capture (i.e. the kiss, the first dance). But are there any other images you would like? Work with a photographer who understands what you want. I always ask my brides to think about whether there are any other shots they want from their wedding. For example, is there a special locket you want photographed? Maybe a pose you saw online? Discuss this with your photographer so he or she is aware of any other special requests and can accommodate you.

Make sure your photographer doesn’t leave without saying goodbye. Before I leave I always ask my brides if there is anything else they would like photographed. Sometimes you realize at the end of the night that you’d like a photo with “Uncle Joe” who traveled all the way from another state or county. Maybe you even want one more of you dancing with your groom on the dance floor with some high school friends. So be sure your photographer is willing to work “on the fly” and capture any extras that you may have missed throughout the night.

6. Start Early on Your Big Day

I can’t stress this one enough. Things happen—traffic, delays, hair and makeup emergencies, etc.—so always plan at least one hour ahead of schedule. If you run over, you won't be stressed, and your photos can start on time. If you finish earlier, well that just means more photos of a happy bride!

7. Get Help

To keep you stress-free and looking great in your pictures, get help. Have someone else take care of things for you, whether it's a coordinator, friend or maid of honor. All questions should be directed to that person. You should be able to just sit back, relax and enjoy your day.

8. Be Yourself, Relax and Have Fun

Try to enjoy the moment! The best photos are one of a relaxed and happy bride. Sometimes people don’t realize that they wear their emotions on their face, which shows in pictures. So just sit back and enjoy your special day.

Lucy Manalo is a photographer and owner of Manalo Empire Photography, located in Southern California.
Photos by Manalo Empire Photography,