Making the most of your couple portraits

How long do we need for the ‘location/portrait’ photos?  (the time that’s usually between the ceremony and reception)
My personal preference, if everything is all at the same venue, is about 30-45 minutes. Perfect. That’s 30-45 minutes after all the post-ceremony congratulations & after the family portraits.  Not including.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with about 5 mins for couple portraits.  An example ‘ideal’ timeline (with plenty of added buffer) would look like the below –

  • Ceremony 4:30 – 5:00
  • Post Ceremony Congratulations –  5:00 – 5:15
  • Family Portraits – 5:15 – 5:30
  • Chill Out / Eat / Drink – 5:30 – 5:40
  • Bridal Party Portraits – 5:40 – 5:50
  • Couple Portraits – 5:50 – 6:20
  • Party Time! – 6:30 onwards

Generally, I’ll do the photos with all of the bridal party for about 10 minutes, then let them go back to the party (they’ll usually always want to anyway). I’ll then go for a walk with just the newlyweds for about 30 minutes (give or take) after that.  I find that lets the couple have what is usually their first time alone as husband and wife, and that’s where I can capture some beautiful, honest & real moments.

Note that it is possible to do the couple portraits in 5 or 10 minutes. I’ve had to many times when schedules go to shit because of other things – celebrant not arriving on time, HMUA running late etc. But if you want relaxed photos, it’s nice to have a bit more than 10 minutes.  And after we’ve got some ‘safe shots’, that then sometimes allows me some time to try some fun, new creative things too.

Anything significantly shorter than 30 minutes for bridal party/couple portraits can feel a bit rushed.  Anything above 60 minutes is not required unless we’re accounting for car travel to different locations. (two different places is also more than enough)  Because I set up or pre-plan very few photos, and I capture most things candidly/on the fly; my style of wedding photography is simply not suited to portrait sessions that go on for hours.  If you happen to have allocated well over an hour for whatever reason – we’re likely just to end up chilling out at a cafe or bar somewhere if possible.  Or we are going back to canapés!

A wedding is a big, awesome party where you should be spending as much time as you can celebrate with each other, your family, your friends etc.  It should never become a photoshoot, where you just so happen to be getting married!

What is the best time of day for the location photos?
The best time to avoid is when the sun is at it’s highest in the sky in the middle of the day / early afternoon.  You will have problems with harsh light, unwanted shadows, heat  & people squinting etc.   The ‘magic hour’ (1 hour before sunset) is the most excellent time of the day for wedding photography/portraits, in my opinion.  Click here to check out sunset times in Melbourne.  We certainly don’t have to plan all of your location photos around this time, that’s not usually possible unless you’re getting married in the colder months when we don’t have daylight savings.

During the warmer months/daylight savings – if the couple wants to, I’ll head outside with just them during their reception for 10 minutes to capture some beautiful sunset photos.  As always, we can play at that time by ear.  If we’re in Melbourne/Victoria – the weather can do anything!  Sometimes we don’t even get a sunset.  But if we do, I’d much prefer to take photos for 10 minutes in amazing sunset light, then 60 minutes in the middle of the day in summer.

It’s inevitable that meals/speeches etc. can sometimes occur during this sunset time also. I’ll discuss with you, and give you a heads up, closer to your date – the sunset time on your particular day.  And the possibility that we may leave the reception for 10 minutes during this time, so we can try our best to work meals/speeches times around this.   Trust me, you’ll remember and appreciate your sunset photos for a lot longer than worrying about if your speeches ran slightly late, or if your entree was a little bit cold.

Also, if your wedding is in summer and I’m pinching you for photos a couple of hours into your reception – a little more champagne has probably been consumed by then – allowing you to lose your inhibitions a touch more.  So much fun!

What happens if it rains on our wedding day?
That’s no problems at all!  As long as you are willing to get out the umbrellas and have a bit of fun, we will still get magic photos.  I would much rather take images in the pouring rain as opposed to the blaring harsh midday sun.  Cloud and rain can create much more epic and cinematic backdrops as well.

Also, don’t stress.  Most of my weddings are in Melbourne/Victoria, not Far North Queensland. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s pretty rare that we get a day here that rains torrentially for the entire day.  Even if it does rain on your wedding day.  There is usually always going to be windows of time where we can sneak outside for a few quick portraits without getting drenched.

Both of us / one of us don’t really like posing in front of the camera, will that be a problem?
Not at all, does anyone like posing?!  That is a ubiquitous statement to hear as most people aren’t naturally professional models or used to having a camera pointed at them for hours.   I like to capture all the smiles, laughs, happy tears etc. of your day most candidly and honestly possible.  They are all the best bits anyway.

When it comes time for the portrait session, I believe that there should be enough direction given so that you don’t feel lost in what you are doing.  But at the same time, enough space given, to allow you to relax and be yourselves.  I am most interested in capturing the two of you as honest and as raw as possible.  It is my number one priority when photographing a wedding, that when you look back on your wedding photos, you should remember yourselves, and how you felt on your day – not what someone was saying you do the whole time.  Therefore, your wedding photos will always be timeless when you look back at them for the first time, or on your 50th wedding anniversary.

A couple of tips for the ‘portrait session’… It’s super important to acknowledge that it’s usually going to be a little bit awkward at first – most people have never had photos taken in a situation like this before.  But you’ll get into it pretty quickly.  The happiest couples to photograph are the ones who forget about the camera the quickest and just can’t get enough of each other during this time.  Hug heaps, hold hands, get amongst each other & don’t worry about getting your dress dirty and just enjoy it.  That will show up in your portraits. You’ll get out of them, what you put into them.  If you’re stressed, not that excited about the fact that you just got married, worried about getting your dress dirty, can’t be bothered spending 30 minutes with your new partner and just want to ‘get this over and done with and sink piss with the boys’. (A quote that I’ve heard more than once, unfortunately) Well, there’s a fair chance that’s going to show up in your portraits too. There’s only so much magic I can wrangle.

It’s also important to remember that it’s not all about the photos at this time.  You guys just got married! That’s fucking awesome!  Soak it up, chill out, enjoy the time together and get amongst each other.  Awesome portraits will easily then follow.

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