After photographing countless Persian-Jewish weddings in Beverly Hills and the Greater Los Angeles area, I am working on a guide to photographing them. It is definitely a formidable challenge that I accepted 5 years ago and the social scientist in me loves creating lists and lengthy explanations. The following is a general idea of how the day often goes, but it varies from couple to couple.
1p photography coverage starts
The lead photographer photographs the bride getting ready while her associate (2nd photographer) captures the groom. We have an ideal shot list for each wedding, but can vary according to the couple.
Hiring a third photographer would allow the lead photographer to capture creative shots. With two photographers covering the bride, one person can capture product-style flat lays of bridal wear, while the other can take portraits and documentary moments of the bride preparing for her day
It takes two hours to capture details, makeup, hair and moments of you and the people you decide to have in the room as you prepare for the big day
3p first look and portrait session
Your first glance is a fun way to start your portrait session. You have spent hours getting ready and we are here to make sure that you are captured at all your best angles in all the good light
4p bridal party portraits
Make time for the squad, they deserve it.
4.30p family session
I know, an hour seems like a lot of time for a family session, but have you ever tried to have ten people look at you with their eyes open at the same time? Have you ever arranged a family of 25 in perfectly arranged symmetry? I have and it takes a lot of coordination to pull off one shot, so we do our best to make every second count
Family photos in front of your wedding altar, chuppah or sofreh are a time honored tradition that is here to stay. If there is anything I have learned, it is try to stick to large group photos and keep individuals to a minimum. There are five key photos that I focus on, everything else is a specific request from the bride and groom The five key photos to capture during your family session are
1 | Bride + Groom with Bride’s immediate family
2 | Bride + Groom with Groom’s immediate family
3 | Bride + Groom with Bride + Groom’s immediate family
4 | Bride + Groom with Bride + Groom’s extended family
5 | Bride + Groom with Bride + Groom’s friends + bridal party
We request a list of “must-have“ photos from each of our patrons so that we make sure to focus on those you love. Examples would be a photo with all of your siblings or cousins or grandparents or your favorite aunt and her family
5.30p ketubah signing
The lead photographer will light and photograph the ceremony site while the associate or third photographer are photographs the ketubah session. The lighting is usually terrible so we bring in an on-camera flash to make it look professional. (side note: have you ever noticed how wacky hotel carpets are? I have never seen a hotel carpet that I have liked. I love when people cover it, it makes things look a thousand times better. )
Key shots are the ketubah, the people sitting next to you, additional witnesses, the groom’s hand as he raises the pen and the smiles of every witness who signs
6p invite time (Cocktail Hour)
The lead photographer will be wherever the bride and groom are during this time, while the second can focus on photos of guests as they arrive. We always look for candid moments, but will take photos of groups looking at the camera upon request.
Three photographers are ideal for weddings with over 300 guests. I break down the positions during the ceremony as follows;
Coming down the aisle | The second photographer is the safe camera with a (24-70mm lens) that stands at the altar and shoots down the aisle as your bridal party walks down. The lead photographer is on a longer zoom lens (70-200mm) on the outside of the crowd focused on the moments the bride walks down the aisle. My favorite moment is the back of her dress as her parents await her in the middle of the aisle, then the whole exchange as he lifts her veil and guides her toward the chuppah. The third photographer is often a birds eye view of the ceremony or focused on authentic guest reactions
The Ceremony | When the room settles down, the lead photographer will join the family members underneath the chuppah and make sure to take a portrait of everyone there. The second and third photographer will be on a long lens, behind the crowd, capturing the room and guest reactions.
Smashing the glass and first kiss | The lead photographer will have a 24-70mm lens and will walk out with you
730p Associate (2nd) photographer photographs the reception ambiance and decor after candles are lit and before guests arrive
8p Reception starts
People are usually getting drinks or snacks and finding their seats, so this is the best time for the team to decompress and prepare for the reception. This is usually the best time for us to eat too
8.30p Grand Entrance / 1st Dance
Once the party gets started we have one photographer on the dancefloor, the second walking around capturing candids and the third capturing slow exposure images of the event
9p Dinner Service
I have tons of babies in suits stuffing their faces, but the most people dont like having their photo taken while they’re eating, so we have dinner at the same times as guests
9.30p Speeches and Toasts
You need one photographer for speeches, but if there are two, the lead can focus on guest reactions while the second can focus on couple reactions. I always suggest having the photography team eat as the reception opens before the grand entrance because sometimes there are “surprise“ speeches during dinner and I am running into the room with a mouthful of pasta
You can get away with one or two photographers for the rest of the night. I invite a third to take polaroids, but that is extra