Let’s be perfectly honest here, after the “I do’s” have been said, the best man’s toast made, the dancing and laughing have since ended and the happy bride and groom have gone off on their honeymoon, there is one item in particular that has to be absolutely perfect when everything else is but a pleasant memory. The wedding photos. They are the ever-lasting document of the day’s events, a day that these couples will cherish for the rest of their lives. No one will remember if the chicken was too dry at the reception, the cake not sweet enough, or if the wine was lousy; but the photos from the day will live on forever. If the bride and groom aren’t satisfied with those, but instead, reluctant to show them to friends and family because they turned out so horribly, then the pictures are no longer a memento of true love but a testament to your incompetence and lack of skill behind the camera. It’s the quickest way to lose business and, let me tell you, you can build a bad rep just as quickly as a good one. As I said before, people will forget dry chicken, they will always see bad wedding pictures. Over and over again. That is, if they don’t stick them up in the attic to be forgotten forever because they’re just too awful to proudly display in their home or office. Nobody wants that. They don’t and you don’t.

So this is for brides, grooms, and photographers on the big day. I don’t have all the answers but these are some tips to keep in mind for composing those perfect shots that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Get Candid

Posed photos are fine, and much needed, but get those little details of the things that other people might not see. Capture the emotion of the day. The happiness, the joy, the tears, find the feeling and sentiment permeating the event. Show us something that will evoke the most dramatic reactions.

Have Style

Anyone can just snap a picture. The real artists have a voice, a style, a distinctive approach to their work. Photographers need to have a vision. The lighting, the angles, something that has your touch. Brides and grooms: don’t hire someone who merely knows how to line up a shot, look at as many portfolios as you can before selecting your shooter. Do their pictures say anything to you? If not, pass.

Don’t be Boring

Shot lists are fine and should be created before-hand. But don’t be afraid to take risks. Get your coverage, of course, but don’t be boring. Do something unique. Try out some new ideas. Consult with the bride and groom on their ideas. People are going to look at this work, make them enjoy it.

Be Flexible

The day has been planned out down to the last minute. Then what happens when it rains? Improvise and ad-lib. I’ve found some of my most successful, most enduring shots were the ones that weren’t thought out ahead of time.

ALWAYS Be Prepared

You know the old saying, if something can go wrong it likely will. That’s why I always carry around extra equipment, in case something breaks. I also make sure I have back up power with me at all times. If a location goes dark for some reason or there’s some electrical interruption that messes with my gear, I keep a portable generator on hand. Something small yet can do the trick at anytime. I found it at www.houseofgenerators.org and, let me tell you, it’s been a life-saver on more than one occasion. That generator has been the difference between getting the shot and losing a unique moment forever. I can’t recommend it enough.

Above All, Have Fun

There’s a difference between a smile for the camera and a smile that comes from the heart. It’s the easiest thing to see in a photograph. Have fun. Enjoy every last part of your wedding day. That joy and elation will shine through in your pictures.