Does your photographer need to visit the venue before the wedding?

When it comes to booking your wedding photographer you’ll often have lots of questions, great. Honestly I mean that, the more questions, the more answers and the more likely that you’ll end up with a collection of images that you absolutely adore. It’s very easy to assume that clients have an in depth knowledge of photography and the variables involved in making great wedding photographs. This of course is bad practice and it’s up to me to make sure that you have all the information you need in order to make an informed choice on who you should choose to be your wedding photographer. A very common question is “Do you need to visit my wedding venue beforehand?”.

There are a few variables involved in this…

Do I need to visit the venue before the day?

[Editor’s Note: To learn more about Liam Smith, check out his article 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me by click on the link].

Light is essentially what makes or breaks a photograph. Quality of light, strength and direction are what make quality photographs. You can’t predict the light in the same way that you can’t predict the weather, the chances of the light being the same on the venue visit as the wedding day are slim to none.

My work specifically doesn’t rely heavily on posed shots, therefore there is no need to scout locations as they are not the priority on the day. When arriving at a brand new location I will look for cool trees and big windows.

The background in my work is often irrelevant. I shoot at large apertures which means that the background will be out of focus. Alot of the skill in my work is being able to quickly determine what is interesting within a scene and what could be potentially distracting. In those split seconds I make a decision on how to compose the photograph. Even if I was aware of what was in the background, when you’re in a flow state there is no conscious thought and you work automatically, if I took tie to consider all of the formal elements within the frame, the moment would vanish before I was ready to take the picture.

That being said, I do still take some group pictures and some portraits of the couple – that is, if they want them.

In the final collection these images comprise roughly 1% of the images. The main reason to visit a venue would be to scout these locations in order to make sure the posed images are the best that they can be. To visit the venue to plan a small number of images isn’t necessary. When you hire me, you’re hiring someone who you trust. A photographer who brings with them a wealth of knowledge and experience and a person who you trust to make the right call on the day.

Having photographed well over 100 weddings I am very well versed in making these quick decisions. Summing up the direction of the light and the background in a very narrow timeframe is part of what i’m used to doing and something i’m very good at.

Other factors: sometimes, I physically can’t, if a wedding is abroad then this of course makes perfect sense. With the prevalance of google and wedding blogs, it’s very easy to conduct a virtual scout of a location and use google maps and google earth to work out the best location for staged pictures. This is a remarkably accurate way of conducting the location scout.

Investing time in meeting you.

All solid relationships are built on trust. It’s the reason I’m not fussed about engagement shoots. If you trust me and are comfortable in my company, then the pictures will be fantastic. This is why I insist on meeting before you book. A cup of tea, a pint or even dinner. The more time we spend together the better. Many of my clients I consider friends by the end of the wedding journey, such is the level of emphasis I put on this.

BUT (and a big but)

If it would make you feel even more at ease, I will of course visit the venue…

For me, this ultimately falls under the banner of customer service. What’s also great is that we can always tie up our first meeting with a visit to your venue so you can tell me more about your day.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that it’s beneficial to see the venue closer to the wedding date as this means the foliage, blooms and weather will most likely be in line with what to expect on the day itself. Summer is my busiest period, which means it’s difficult to arrange to meet at the venue on weekends, so sometimes I do go on my own to have a walk around the grounds and become familiar with the venue.

To summarise.

Do I need to visit the venue before the wedding day, no. Will I visit the venue before the wedding day, yes.

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