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Professional Wedding Photographer Advice; What The Experts Want You to Know!

Congratulations on your engagement! There are so many things that go into planning an amazing wedding but don’t forget to capture each precious moment. After all, those moments on film will be with you long after your big day. They will last a lifetime and beyond.

We at San Diego Party Ride asked some of San Diego’s top wedding photographers their advice. See what the experts had to say!

“Wedding photos last forever, every bride and groom wants them to be extra special.  What are some tips that every couple should know about to best capture the special events during the engagement through wedding process?”



We have walked with hundreds of couples through their wedding days, so we know with all too much clarity how fast the day goes by. One minute, you’ll be buttoning your dress or slipping on your suit and before you know it you’ll be air-guitaring to the DJ’s last song.

As photographers, we spend more time with you than anyone else on your wedding day, even your mom or your maid of honor, and we have access to the most intimate moments.

And here at Clove & Kin, we view this special access as an opportunity.

When events start moving too quickly for you, we know when we can step in, slow you down, and remind you to pause. We invite you to tune into your senses – into the sounds of the party, into the feeling of your fingers intertwined, or into the scent of your blooming bouquet.

We call this Savoring, and it’s at the heart of everything we do. It’s also what creates unforgettable moments, captured beautifully on camera.

Clove & Kin



One word of advice is to not stress the veil on the wedding day…… Please, please, please don’t miss a moment of your wedding because your are fidgeting or having your mom fidget with your veil. If it is causing an issue, take it out. No one will riot over you not wearing it all the time. But on a side note, veils are absolutely beautiful and I would 100% recommend one for your bridals/ formals. Fidget away because bridals are not THE day so you are not on a time crunch.

-Cassandra McKissick, McKiss Portraits



My wife and I (we are a husband and wife team) believe the most important thing to do when selecting a wedding photographer is to find someone who you feel a connection with.  Photographers, more so then any other vendor on your big day are interacting with you and your guests and it is so important that their is a good relationship there, and that the bride and groom feel comfortable around their photographer.  At Emry Photography we truly strive to not just be your photographer but really help you throughout your day to ensure it is everything you dreamed of, and to document the story of your day so it lives on forever.

-Emily and Ryan, Emry Photography



Choosing a photographer is very important, and can make or break your wedding.  You should pick someone that is a good fit for you, this person (s) will be by your side most of the day.  If you are comfortable around them, you are more likely to relax and not tense up.  Also, a big thing to consider is ceremony time.  Keep in mind when you are going to have the ceremony (especially outside).  You want the best light for your photos, and mid-day can cast some bad shadows that are not skin friendly.  If you have no choice with timing, plan on seeing each other before for first-look or after closer to sunset.  Your photographer should help you from start to finish, recommending time options, and making it easier without causing any additional stress.  Hire a photographer confident, and one that knows what they are doing, one that has additional back ups in case their main unit fails.  These are your memories, and you are paying for them, so be sure you do your research and interview your photographers.

-Amarilis Martinez, Amarilis Photography



I would say to best capture your special events, being authentic in the moment is the most important part. Many brides come to me and ask me to replicate a moment they saw on Pinterest…if you focus on living and experiencing the events as they happen, naturally, during your special day, the photos will reflect your genuine feelings- and that is a beautiful thing. I absolutely LOVE weddings and what I do, I get to meet the coolest people and get to share in the most important day of their relationships. My tip would be to slow down, take your time and enjoy your day. Weddings fly by and they are over before you know it- take the time to appreciate and enjoy every part of it and I will be there to capture every special moment 🙂 

-Mary Satterthwaite, Owner, MKL Images



Wedding photos do last forever, and after the wedding evening ends, it will be the only thing left. It’s really important to spend the time to find a professional that fits your needs. 

It’s important to trust your wedding and engagement photographer. Personally, I enjoy working closely with couples to ensure I understand their vision. I try to make it an enjoyable process, having fun with the couples during the entire time.

The engagement session is very important for the couple to get familiar with the photographer, and in front of the camera. See it as a good trial for the wedding. They will be able to see what are their best angles, as well as their favorite style of photograph. It’s very constructive when the clients give their feedback after the engagement session. 

Before the wedding, I insist on meeting with the couples at the venue. For destination weddings, I suggest that the couples take me a day sooner, so we can meet at the wedding location. A long, relaxed venue scout always makes me and the clients more comfortable. It’s always good to connect a few days before, and talk about last details and expectations. When the wedding day arrives, it’s mandatory that the couples have fun with me. Taking those steps before hand, ensures a very relaxed and casual interaction between me and the clients. 

-Julio Fonyat, Owner, Fonyat Weddings



San Diego has hundreds of wedding photographers as we are sure you are just finding out. Finding the one that is the perfect fit for you can sometimes be overwhelming, but in the end, the time you spend finding that perfect fit for you is worth it. A wedding takes a lot of organizing, even the photography. Having a professional who has photographed a lot of weddings lets you relax, knowing that everything possible is being done to make your day as perfect as it can be. A wedding photographer needs to be able to anticipate moments before they happen rather than react to them too late. They need to be able to adjust schedules to get all the hopes and wishes of the bride and groom covered without forgetting anything. 

If photos are important to you, this is an area in your budget that you shouldn’t skimp on. These photos are the first chapter in the story of your lives together, the one your grandchildren will someday be sitting on your lap looking at. It pays to invest in someone who has the experience, the equipment and the heart to deliver it all. This story is priceless.

Shadowcatcher Imagery



For engagement photos, many couples always are concern what to wear and what looks good in photos. I always suggest to the couples what colors and styles look good in photos, but besides that I want them to wear their favorite outfit to make them feel good about themselves because it will show in the photos. Confidence is everything!

Wedding day a tip or suggestion (especially for the DYI bride) is don’t sweat to small hiccups throughout the day and enjoy the day as it happens and take it all in. If they worry that something is not right or the florist is late for example then it will show in their face and then in the photos. There has been several times when a bride is stressed about something and I’ve taken a photo of her then I quickly crack a joke to get her to smile and take another photo and then show her both photos and tell her not to stress and let it go. 

-Cary Pennington, Owner, Cary Pennington Photography



1. Meet your photographer in person: It’s important to have a good and strong relationship with your photographer. Having that strong relationship will make you feel so much more comfortable in front of the camera. We meet with our couples for the initial consultation, we invite them over again after their engagement and wedding for viewing sessions. We love seeing the reaction of our couples.

2. Ask the right questions: Wedding photography is an investment both financially and with your trust. You want to make sure that you are hiring a true professional that is dedicated to their craft. Asking questions such as whether they have double the gear so they don’t skip out on your wedding day and whether they are prompt are very important.

3. Make sure to have your engagement photos taken by a professional: We always recommend to our couples to have their engagement session with us as during the session we give posing advice and tips with what looks best in photos. Also, you will appreciate having photographs of you and your love in non-wedding day attire.

4. Have a first look: First looks are more intimate and amazing than people think. My husband and I had a first look, got all of our photographs out of the way before the ceremony and were able to enjoy cocktail hour with our friends and family. Also, walking down the aisle was still very emotional even though we had a first look!

5. Hire a wedding planner: Your life will be so much easier with a wedding planner. Whether you have an exact vision or not, a wedding planner will put it all together and make the vision come to life. Having a good timeline is important and having a planner to keep you on track is key.

6. Love the vendors you work with: Having vendors you love working with will make your wedding day that much more special. Do your research, check reviews and make sure to meet the vendors in person before your wedding. 

-Sasha and Yaneck, WASIO Photography



I think that creating a timeline is not enough, if you want to capture all of the events in the wedding day, you should go over the timeline before it’s finalized with your photographer! They can tell you realistically if there is enough time set aside for each event (first look, ceremony, family photos, toasts, dances). Some times clients create timelines not realizing that there might not be enough time between event A and event B to get to Location X  for photos and then back in time. I find that when couples go over their initial timeline with me, it really helps us get on the same page for the actual day, and I can help them turn their expectations in to reality.

Talia Studio



The best time for photography is close to the sunset, save some time for couple’s portraits one hour before sunset. If possible plan to avoid having an outdoor ceremony in the middle of the day, the sun is too strong and will make unwanted shadows and will make you squint. 

Wear comfortable shoes, if you are comfortable you’ll enjoy the day much more.

Walk slow and look up straight when walking down the aisle.

Bring a wooden hanger for your wedding dress, it’s great for getting ready photos.

Have the getting ready room the most organized and neat possible it makes for better photos.

Be careful with tan lines a few months before the wedding, specially if you’re wearing a strapless dress.

Ask your guests to please not use their phones to take pictures during the ceremony (you invested in professional photography so they can enjoy the wedding and don’t be intrusive)

Tell all family members to stay right after the ceremony, they usually go wander and it takes time to gather them all again.

-Carlos Medrano, BlueSpot Photography



Planning a wedding can get pretty overwhelming very quickly! It’s best to get your planning started right away. Hire the most important vendor first, the photographer and give yourself a realistic budget. Don’t be in “planning mode” all the way to the wedding date. It is impossible to just “turn off”. You want to enjoy the day and have your photographer capture the true essence from YOUR special day. Pinterest can be a trap that can steer a person in many different directions. It’s important to stay true to yourselves, so don’t go with a popular trend now that you will regret later. 

Shaun Baker Photography



Make sure you select a photographer that is a right fit.  Your photographer will not only be with you throughout the engagement process, but also be one of the only vendors that will be with you your entire wedding day.  It’s important that not only are your personalities a good fit, but that you enjoy the style of the photographer and won’t feel the need to ever second guess their judgment.  Another useful tip about the wedding day is to make sure you have your photographer at your wedding for a majority of the day – I average about 8-10 hours of coverage per wedding, which really allows me to give my clients the best possible gallery, including photojournalism during the getting ready process, a nice amount of time for portraits, unrushed time between the first look, ceremony, & cocktail hour (with lots of photojournalism, AKA “candids”), and ample time to photograph wedding traditions, dancing, and night portraits during the reception.  Shorter wedding coverage, such as 6 hours or less, doesn’t fully allow me to get as many candids or creative portraits because the timeline is usually too crunched.

-Sage Justice, Owner, Justice Photography



I think it’s super important for the client to arrange an engagement session before the wedding. This helps to ease tension and add that comfort level if they’re not used to being in front of a {professional} camera. Plus we start building a relationship as we’ll be spending a lot of time with them the day of the wedding…and beyond!

-Shannon Henry, Studio Carre



Wedding photos last forever, every bride and groom wants them to be extra special.  What are some tips that every couple should know about to best capture the special events during the engagement through wedding process?” I think that toward the end of the day, the lighting gets much better and your photos are going to look that much better too. 1 hour before sunset is a good time to get a lot of the portrait photos with family/ bridal party and the romantic couples images.

Image In Love



 After years of photographing Weddings, one of the most helpful tips I’ve shared is to hire a Wedding Coordinator. Not only does the coordinator alleviate stress and make the day run smoothly, but they will be able to ask or help you ask all the right questions, making your dream day be just that….a dream. Meet in person with as many vendors as you can, but mainly the Coordinator, Photographer and Videographer. As you spend most of your time with them, you’ll want to make sure you’re a great match! My last tip would be to choose a getting ready location such as an AirBnB, and Venue’s that has been put together with photography in mind. A nice white, light, and beautifully maintained set of locations will make your images that much more beautiful! A venue with photo opportunities around every corner?! Yes, Please! 

Katherine Beth Photography



Take a deep breath and in the words of a popular pop star – just shake it off. Make some funny faces and silly noises to get the wiggles out and calm the nerves. Keep relaxed! Take deep breathes often and drop your shoulders to reduce the appearance of hesitation and tenseness. Staying calm will help translate to happy and model-esque photos. Look at us the way you do with your best friend and let the stress fly away.

-Suzanne and Mike, She Wanders / Adventures in Photography