Module 4: Wedding Prep - Location

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Now it is time to move on to getting ready for the actual wedding! Woo hoo! One of the first things you will want to do is get familiar with the locations you will be photographing in and be realistic about what to expect in terms of the kind of photos you'll get in each space. 

This step is an important foundational step that will help you and your photographer get the most out of any space, not matter how grand or how simple your venue is. In this part of the planner, you will go through each space and look for specific things - the lighting, the background, the colors, the amount of space etc. - and get a feel for the opportunities and restrictions you find there. Your photographer will have a big say in how you approach photos in each space, but you want to understand it as well so you can plan your timelines and shot lists accordingly. 

In the following sections, I am going to go through each of the questions you see in this section of the planner and let you know what to look for and explain why this is important in the grand scheme of things. So grab those sheets and let's get started! 

Indoor or outdoor?

This is important for obvious reasons - indoor photography is a lot different than outdoor photography and, in order to get the visual style you defined in step one, some extra steps may need to be taken depending on how the venue is set up. For example, if you have a lot of bright and airy outdoor photos and your entire wedding is going to take place indoors, you will want to plan time to go outside for your photos so you can get that look OR you want to work with your photographer to see if there is a way to recreate the look indoors. 

If indoors...

Is there natural light available? And if not, what is the primary source of light? If you are getting ready in a really dark space with no windows, it will be very difficult to recreate the look of natural sunlight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means those particular photos will require some artificial lighting and may look a little different than your mood board depending on the style you like. It may also mean that you'll need more time for photos in that location because your photographer will need to set up and test lighting before photos can begin. 

If outdoors...

What time of day will you be photographing in this location? If it is in the middle of the day, the sun will be directly over your head, which means harsh light and dark shadows. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means tweaks may need to be made to make the light look more flattering. If it will be the middle of the day, you may want to look for locations nearby that have shade. This will help soften the light and give you a more flattering look. 

Again, your photographer should have a solution for all of this, but you should be aware of the challenges so you can account for them in your plans. 

The Background

In each space, especially the indoor locations, what does the background look like? If you are getting ready in a room that has a lot of clutter or busy-ness, that stuff will likely appear in the photos making them look cluttered and busy. For more polished looking photos, you will want to see if that clutter can be hidden or moved so the space looks neater. If it is not possible to tidy or move them, are their places near by where the background is cleared out and can be used as the background instead? 

If you are outdoors, look for parking lots, buildings and other structures that may appear in the background of the photos and try to find a way to keep them out of view. This is particularly important when deciding how to set up your ceremony if it is going to be outside at a park. Can you turn the set up another direction so that the playground isn't in the background of your photos?

Colors

What are the colors in the space? Do they clash with your wedding colors or visual style? Bright colors aren't always a bad thing (they can actually be really fun in certain situations), but you want to give a little thought to this. If there are colors you really don't want in your photos, maybe consider moving that particular shoot to another location. Sometimes the color cannot be avoided, so if you are concerned talked with your photographer about options for working around it. 

Travel Time

If you plan on doing photos anywhere that requires you travel away from the venue, make sure you note how far away that location is so you can plan for that time in your schedule. 

Amount of Space

Different sized spaces will produce different looking images.  Photographers can use different kinds of equipment to capture different space sizes (zoom lenses etc) and you may end up with photos that have a certain look and feel to them because of that. For instance, if you are in a really close and intimate space, a lot of the photos may feel really up close and intimate because in reality everyone was really close together. Bigger spaces may have a more grand feel to them and may allow for bigger more creative shots. As I have said a few times before, this is neither a good or a bad thing, but understanding this will help your photographer plan and will help you get an idea of what the photos are going to look like when all is said and done. 

Favorite Spots

Take a look around and see if there are any spots in the location that you'd really love to get a shot at. Is there a piece of architecture or a beautiful background you'd like to use in your photos? Make a note so you can let your photographer know and they can work it into the overall plan for the day. 

Restricted Areas/Shots

You will want to talk with your venue owner to make sure there aren't any rules or restrictions that you have to follow when planning your photos. For instance, some churches don't allow flash photography. Other venues (like golf courses) don't want you walking over certain pieces of land or going into certain areas of a building. You and your photographer both will want to know this so you can adequately plan your locations for the day. 

Any Other Notes

If there is anything that pops out at you while you are exploring your venue that your photographer might want to know, make sure to note it for them. 

Filling out your planner:

Take your planner with you to each location you plan on taking photos and give them a good once-over with these questions in mind. Get as detailed as you can so you can discuss any potential opportunities or challenges with your photographer so they can formulate some game plans for you. It might even be fun to go with them to the venue and riddle things out with them there.