“Must have” Photographs, To Pose or Not to Pose?

Must you have them? You hear about “must have” shots in magazines and online regularly. Wedding planners, venue coordinators, wedding writers, you know, pretty much everywhere. What are they?

Well they are either those special events in weddings (the first kiss, the first dance, cake cutting), ‘photo-walks’ (essentially posed portraits directed by the photographer) or locations at the venue used over and over for posed photographs. Let’s talk about each.

Must-Have Special Events

Many photographers now offer a ‘photojournalistic’ approach as part of what they do. This essentially is the photographic documentation of your day, moment by moment. It stands to reason that if there are important (and real) events happening, your photographer will want to capture them. Take them! While its unlikely the photographer would miss getting a picture of your first dance, it’s probably best for you to let them know what’s going to be happening and when it’s likely. The shot below, evocative and unposed, is truly one of those ‘must have’ ones .

Must-Have Photo-Walks

The ‘photo-walk’ type posed shots are becoming less popular these days, for several reasons. One, they are fairly non-spontaneous and unrepresentative of your personal day. In the days of exclusively film photography (read expensive), they served to reliably produce acceptable pictures. Of course, they were essentially the same picture, couple after couple. With modern digital cameras, there’s no reason not to avoid these same old standard shots and let your day happen. The picture below is the oft photographed scene. I shot it when another photographer was stagging it. Oh well.

Must-Have Venue Locations

Most venues have their “must have” locations for posed pictures. Sometimes it’s these locations that have attracted couples to the venue. While they can be acceptable locations, even very nice – this also means that you will join many, many others who have had that same pictures taken. Not very special. On the other hand, the quality of light can make a huge difference in any picture and that can change day to day and hour to hour (not to mention weather changes). l recommend being flexible about where pictures are taken and concentrating on enjoying your day. If you’ve chosen well, your photographer will see the light for you. By the way, remember that posed pictures, like group shots, take up a fair amount of time. That’s time you’ll want to spend with friends and family. Besides, some of my best shots happen in the strangest places, like the one below, the venue’s tiny bride’s dressing room (Women’s room).

You are unique, your wedding will be unique and you never can tell, your photographer might just be able to capture that uniqueness, posed or not. So don’t stress about “must have” photos. If your photographer is good, he/she will be there to capture your special day in a special way.

Continue to “Must have” Photographs, Part 2


About the Author:

Dan Derby, Wedding Photographer

The spirit of a wedding day lives in fleeting events, unfolding without direction. Wedding photojournalism is how the story of a wedding day can be captured artfully. Trained as a designer (BA & MFA) and skilled in visual story telling, Dan Derby works quietly throughout your wedding day making sure this happens. He is based in New England but travels where ever he’s needed.

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