So You Want Those Jaw Dropping Wedding Photos?

Backyard wedding photo

YAY! As a photographer, I seriously LOVE hearing this from my couples.

Now, before you freak out and start thinking “Oh we are on a budget, there is no way we could have those jaw dropping wedding photos.” Or “It’s just a backyard wedding, or a small ceremony, or something rural.” I just want to stop you right there.

Having stunning wedding photos is something you deserve, and as a photographer, it makes photographing your wedding much more worthwhile for all of us. I mean that; no photographer wants to use bad photos in their portfolio and there are steps we can take to make sure every wedding is gorgeous no matter the budget and no matter the venue.

Before I start blaming my clients whose weddings have been… difficult to capture, I have decided to tackle this issue head on. Never have I ever had someone be unhappy with their wedding or session photos, but it breaks my heart as a photographer when I know the photos could have been drop dead stunning if my couples and I could have put our heads together and planned accordingly.

I also want to preface this by openly inviting everyone and anyone who wants me as their wedding photographer to feel completely safe and free to ask me anything at all! I am not a wedding planner, but as someone who has planned their own wedding and attended dozens both as a photographer and a guest, I want to be a resource and open door for planning.

By the end of this process I want us to be close. Let me be someone you can rely on for helping this day be nothing short of magical.

5 Tips for Jaw Dropping Wedding Photographs

Here are my tips to ensure you get your own jaw dropping wedding photos:

1. The Backdrop

Rustic backyard wedding photo

Hey look, I know sometimes we have to deal with what we’ve got. One time though I photographed a backyard wedding in rural Utah where there was sweeping vista views of a field and some distant mountains and some cows. The couple decided to hold the ceremony under a big gorgeous tree with the sweeping views behind the guests. I absolutely understand why the couple chose to do this. It was an early September wedding before the hot summer days broke, so for the comfort of them and the guests it made sense to do it in the shade. My heart broke when I realize the choice that had been made though.

I sympathize with the client as to why they did what they did. I promise I do. However, as a photographer I would have never made that decision. The photos were salvageable, the couple was happy, but not a single one got uploaded onto my Instagram or website. The shadows cast on the couple, wedding party and guests were so dappled that it was impossible to find something to focus on in every picture. It just looked like a spotty photo instead of having even light. Especially during a ceremony where very few clients want flash- this left me pretty helpless.

If this were my wedding, I would have put the ceremony just a pinch later, hosted the ceremony as the sun went down and avoided the long pause between the ceremony and the food service. I regret not talking to the couple and figuring this out together. I want us to truly work together.

2. Time of Day

Storm Trooper Summer wedding shot in harsh midday sunlight.
Mid-day Summer Wedding by Bear Lake, Utah.

Perfect segue from my first point. Harsh light is so bittersweet for photography. There are some STUNNING things we as photographers can capture in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can offer really creative compositions and ideas, however for most weddings- the best thing to do is hold an outdoor ceremony either at sunrise or sunset when the lighting is even and forgiving for every angle the body can sit at.

This is because the sun when overhead, causes dark circles under eyes that are not directed to tilt slightly upwards. I don’t want my couples to be worrying about if they have dark circles, and I don’t want to spend hours in photoshop trying to balance them out. I will always do what I can, but sometimes just putting a ceremony 30 minutes later can dramatically change the look of the photos.

So speaking for myself, just talk to me! I want to help you find a flow to your wedding that you’re happy with and that allows for the most gorgeous photos that have ever been taken of you and your guest.

3. don’t Cut your head off

Fall backyard wedding photo with dappled lighting. Shot in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Fall backyard wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This ties into backdrop. One thing that you seriously have probably never thought of unless you’re a photographer is the idea of framing and multiple inception type frames.

I’m sure your eyes and subconscious love them, but it’s probably not something you consciously try to curate.

Think of your arch. It’s a perfect frame! It draws the eye in and pulls focus to the most important thing, your beautiful ceremony. However, so often what is behind that arch is a fence that’s tallest point cuts through the heads of the people getting married and their bridal party. This always has me dying a little inside.

It’s so silly. I know. Believe me, , I hate to be the person to harp on such a detail, but there are so many incredible ways to mitigate this problem and I promise I solemnly swear they don’t even cost much at all. It is another amazing layer you can turn your wedding photos into absolutely breathtaking photos.

Again, why I 100% support, and may even start pushing collaboration on these things.

4. Cellphones

Rustic backyard wedding photo shot in Ogden, Utah.
Wedding I photographed in Ogden, Utah.

Now I hesitate to put this in because I am no exclusive celebrity. I want your guests to share photos and use your hashtags and be able to get you photos immediately while you wait for mine to come back. Banning cell phone photography is not something I would ever want to do. That is totally up to the couple on where they stand. However, I’ve had cellphones near ruin ceremonies.

One time I photographed an indoor wedding during COVID times were the mothers cell phone was basically in the middle of the aisle in the front row. I could not avoid it in the shots. She was taking a video.

I am sympathetic because I know she wanted that as keepsake. Of course she did!!! The bride and groom were paying me a pretty penny to be there though and luckily, I was able to literally photoshop her arm and cellphone out and make it look like she wasn’t doing that.

So, I say this with compassion, understanding and an eager heart. Let’s hash out the cellphone thing. They’re not bad, I’m not an elitist that feels I’m the only one worthy of taking photos, but we can create a plan were all happy with.

So there are some tips to help ensure that your photos are stunning! As always I am here to help any and all of my couples along the way if ever they have any questions.

5. Leave Your Stress Behind!

You’ve worked so hard on putting this day together! After hours of stressing and tediously planning every detail, your wedding day is time to kick back and enjoy. This sometimes is easier said than done. If you have the budget to hire a wedding planner- I highly recommend doing so. If not, use your bridal party and family members to take charge of certain moments.

If you leave some of these ends untied and you’re stressed- this will absolutely show in your photos! Before your wedding day, make sure you have the timeline planned out and play the day through in your head and ask questions (who will move those chairs, who will restock the plates, who is going to bring the cake out, etc). It can feel like a lot because it is a lot. Make sure you have the help you need because you deserve to have a perfect day and perfect photos you can cherish forever!

Looking for a wedding photographer? I do wedding photography in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as destination wedding photography!

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