Damien Lovegrove is an extremely sought-after wedding photographer who has delighted brides with his work for decades. We asked him to reveal his very best wedding photography tips for perfect images on the big day and here’s what he had to say…
Consider your wedding venue
Is it fairly traditional with classic architecture and features (pillars, oil paintings, sweeping stairways); is your reception in a marquee in the countryside or are you having a chic city wedding in a modern hotel? Recently I shot some photographs for an American bride at the famous Hempel Hotel in London which is known for its stark, minimalist décor. The bride and I agreed it would be fun to reflect this in the photography and so I shot a series of images in black and white in a strong, simple and uncluttered style. The angularity of the hotel’s interior design was brought out through the lighting and the whole effect was elegant and stylish, cutting edge.
Think about special details
What are your wedding rings like? Have you used a special brooch on your bouquet? Are your wedding tables beautifully decorated with flowers? One couple particularly wanted a photograph of the eternity rings they had given to one another so I took a close up, including the writing on the inside – it always pays to include special details like these.
Capturing the spark
It’s easy to photograph the bride and groom, but it’s much more difficult to record the love that exists between them. It’s this ability to shoot love, fun, tenderness and beauty that makes the work of the great wedding photographers stand head and shoulders above the rest. Like the look in the eyes of the bride and groom when they first see one another on their wedding day.
Find the right style for you
In the past few years the wedding photography market has exploded with creativity. Wedding photographers have developed individual styles and different ways of describing them. Storybook, reportage, candid, lifestyle, photojournalism, contemporary. What do these words all mean? My advice would be to forget the words and find a photographer whose style you like. Work out why you like it, what particular shots really appeal to you and then get in touch with the photographer to talk through the effect you want.
Child’s eye view
You can’t beat expressions of excitement and tenderness. Think about how a photograph would look taken from a child’s viewpoint and ask your photographer to take some shots on this level.
Discover what you like
Study photographs and paintings you admire and work out why you like them and how they work. This deconstruction will help you to see how you can help your photographer to create similar images of your own you’ll like. I was told some wise words a few years ago; “The best photographers steal ideas and adapt them while the worst photographers simply copy the work of others”. In practice this means be inspired by the work of painters and other photographers.
Capture the details
If there’s a particular feature of your wedding look you’re particularly pleased with – your hairstyle for example or perhaps another detail like your bridesmaid dresses – make sure the photographer takes a shot of this so that you have a record for the future.
The right environment
Whenever I am working at a wedding, my first step is to assess the light around me – where it is and how much of it there is. I then look at the suitability of backgrounds. For example, when Julie my wife photographs the bride getting ready, it’s quite normal for her to rearrange the position of the people and some furniture in the wedding venue so that the bride is well lit against an uncluttered background. We like to set up and simplify the environment we shoot in.
Timing is everything
Make sure your photographer knows when he or she will be able to grab the opportunity for a wonderful shot. I love getting a shot of the bride entering the ceremony room at a venue.
Plan your day
Julie and I plan our involvement in every detail of each wedding schedule like a military operation. Why? Firstly, because we want to achieve high standards we need to use our time efficiently and secondly, because we don’t want anything to take us by surprise. So instead of waiting for problems to happen, we try to anticipate them. For instance, a 4pm ceremony at a castle in Scotland in December probably rules out any pictures of the bride and groom together in daylight. Work around this by having an hour of photography done at 2pm instead, before the guests start to arrive for the ceremony. Stay creative and open-minded at the planning stage and most problems will disappear on the wedding day itself.