ONE SNAP AHEAD
Pre-wedding photography is garnering interest in the west, but why is it that many people still don’t know it exists? Jacinta Walsh speaks with professional photographer Kevin McGinn about the new trend.
There are many details that must be considered when planning a wedding, and finding a good photographer is often a top priority. It takes the right person to be able to translate the fleeting atmosphere of your special day into images that will last a lifetime. While candid images taken throughout the day are precious, the staged photos that are typically captured in between the ceremony and reception can feel rushed among the stress of such a time-sensitive occasion.
With many couples opting for a single wedding venue, the traditional wedding timeline has shifted towards having shorter breaks between the ceremony and reception – this is where pre-wedding photography has its advantages. As the name suggests, images can be taken prior to the wedding day, thereby eliminating the unwanted stress and time pressure that these staged photos often create.
FROM EAST TO WEST
With its beginnings in Asian culture, pre-wedding photo shoots have cemented themselves as a modern tradition. In China, couples will go to great creative and monetary lengths to assemble a collection of unique photographs to feature on their wedding day. “Chinese pre-wedding shoots can take up to eight hours and have numerous clothing and location changes,” says McGinn. Despite their popularity overseas, pre-wedding photo shoots have only recently become sought after in Australia. “I have been offering pre-wedding shoots since I began shooting weddings in 1993,” says McGinn. “I still do more engagement shoots than pre-wedding photo shoots, but I really enjoy [the latter].”
However, few people can tell the difference between engagement and pre-wedding photos. “For many people, the terms are completely interchangeable… it depends on your terminology and culture,” says McGinn. To be specific, engagement shoots typically occur closer to the engagement date and feature the couple dressed in more casual clothing, whereas the couple are dressed in traditional wedding clothing during a pre-wedding photo shoot.
Pre-wedding photographs typically take place in the lead up to the wedding. Sessions occur in a controlled environment and flow at a more natural pace. “The biggest benefit is the absence of urgency,” says McGinn. “We can take all day and travel to various locations without having to worry about getting back to the reception.”
This relaxed setting also allows couples to get to know their photographer before they spend the wedding day documenting the occasion together. The images will inform both parties as to which styles and aesthetics work, as well as supply you with a range of photos that may be featured on, or in the lead up to, your wedding day. “Ask your photographer what options are available, [such as] if you get a separate USB, how the images are delivered, and if prints can be ordered,” says McGinn.
Similar to organising a wedding, it’s important to conduct research before your photo shoot. McGinn advises couples to spend time exploring the aesthetic appeal of different locations or themes. “Look through pre-wedding photography galleries if you are stuck for inspiration,” he says. This also applies to finding the right photographer. Whether you prefer photojournalistic techniques or retro-style prints, looking at portfolios online will inform your choice. In doing so, you will ensure that your photographer is capable of meeting your expectations. Alternatively, photographers are available to discuss your theme and location ideas, and are happy to make suggestions to assist you in your decision-making. “Sometimes couples use their shoot to ensure that their wedding concept will work, while others want a completely different look,” says McGinn.
While the pressure of the real wedding isn’t there, many things still need to be taken into account when planning a pre-wedding photo shoot, such as the organisation of production services. “I recommend getting your hair and makeup done in the morning before the shoot,” says McGinn. “Many couples take advantage of hair and makeup trials that their providers offer in the lead up to the wedding day.”
The day of the week on which your shoot takes place is also important; it’s better to book on a weekday, as a photographer’s prices will be at a premium on the weekend. It may also be easier to access some locations between Monday and Friday.
A COLLABORATIVE EXPERIENCE
The great thing about pre-wedding photo shoots is having the option to shoot at a number of locations that may not be accessible to you on your wedding day. “I find that many pre-wedding shoots fit into three distinct categories – urban architecture, parkland and rivers and beaches,” says McGinn. Some locations combine these categories, which is great if you’d rather not spend your time travelling. Popular locations in Western Australia include Fremantle, Bell Rapids Park, Lilac Hill Park, Iluka Beach and Gwelup’s Secret Garden.
How much time you spend with your photographer is dependent upon the package that you select. “Pre-wedding photo shoots can range from as little as one hour in length, to more than eight hours,” says McGinn. Discuss with your photographer to find the option that is right for you. By selecting locations that are closer together, you will also save precious time and money, as it will reduce travel fees.
Just like in a marriage, communication is the key to success. This means not only communicating with your photographer, hair and makeup crew, but also with your partner. If you ensure that everyone is comfortable and on the same page, you can expect to get the very best out of the photo shoot. Photographers are there to help you make creative decisions and guide you through the process; they want to know your expectations, so don’t be afraid to make your opinion heard – it is your pre-wedding day, after all!
Image credit: Kevin McGinn Photography