Long after you’ve packed up your wedding dress, sent off each thank-you note and sliced into that 1st anniversary cake topper, your wedding photos on display will be the most sentimental memento of that glorious day.
To make sure you’re lined yourself up for snapshots worth celebrating, we tapped the experienced eye of Ryan Bensheimer, a photographer of 15 years who shoots some 50 weddings annually for Ideal Impressions, his studio in Lake Geneva, WI. Here are some of his tips – along with a few of ours – for pictorially seizing the big day.
Snap up a Pro. Start by skipping the “friendor” (aka friend-vendor) and hire a highly recognized professional photographer with great customer service skills. “A friend can be a great way to help capture the journalistic style of your wedding day or to fill in around the professional photographer if you’re on a tight budget,” says Bensheimer. “You want someone who is experienced – who can emulate the photography style you want from inspired angles, with the best equipment and with proper coaching – all while respecting your guests.”
Log in Some Legwork. Bensheimer also recommends speaking with as many photographers as possible before choosing “the one.” “After the first two or three meetings, decide what is most important to you and use those parameters to narrow down your search and review the types of images you want.” Peruse photographers’ samples by wedding to see how their collections match your ideal album. Check the photographer’s style. Is it classic, artistic, dramatic or versatile and able to incorporate several styles? Which do you prefer?
Focus on a Hit List. Most every bride and her mother has ideas of which moments need be captured on film, so best make a required shot list and share it with your photographer. Many wish for a traditional bridal portrait as well as the hanging gown, shoes, bouquet and other bridal details, while grooms are increasingly included with arrangements of their accessories and the fashionable “chest shot” framing his boutonniere. Emotional “first look” shots are ever popular, as well as prepping and primping shots, a layout of the invitations, the touching exchange of pre-ceremony notes and the farewell. “Spending time in advance going over the shots and style is essential,” says Bensheimer, “so everyone is confident and knows we’re going to hit a grand slam before we even start!”
Splurge a Little. If you’re on a tight budget, Bensheimer still votes for signing with a pro and purchasing the basic package that includes the bridal party, romantics and family photos. But for those who have ample resources for trendy extras, Bensheimer advises a selfie station photo booth, overhead drone footage and a fusion video – a mix of video clips and photo slideshow shown the same day. He’d skip the splurge on actual film, since resolution is much better and less expensive with digital. If you really love the look of film, he advises seeking out a company that offers digital film conversions.
Seek the Unique. Strike a pose out of the ordinary, as it typically makes for brilliant artistic photos that everyone will cherish. “We have shot brides and grooms on horseback, in canoes and trucks, on paddleboards and motorcycles and with their favorite pets,” says Bensheimer. “We’ve seen groomsmen yielding guns, bridesmaids clad in rubber boots, and bridal parties jumping into the lake.” Not surprisingly, Bensheimer regularly finds himself in precarious positions aiming for the perfect shot, whether it’s up to his cummerbund in water balancing $10K in equipment, rolling around in the dirt for low profile shots or shooting from airplanes, helicopters and kayaks.
Dress to Impress … You. The best way to look good in your photos is to choose a dress that makes you feel good, echoes your taste, complements your physique and dovetails with the groom’s style. “I also encourage brides to include the bridesmaids when choosing their dresses,” says Bensheimer, “because if bridesmaids don’t like what they are wearing, they don’t want to pose, and their photos reflect that.”
Bottom Line: your love – and your wedding photos – are meant to last a lifetime. So best invest in both -- starting with sharp, celebratory snapshots … and a keen eye behind the lens.
Geneva National Resort is located along the wooded slopes and shores of Lake Como in Chicago's version of the Hamptons - Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Geneva National features a legendary trifecta of semi-private golf courses designed by Palmer, Player and Trevino at one singular and stellar location.