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I capture the unspoken — the glances, the silences — drawing from New York's pulse and the richness of global cultures. Every wedding is its own intricate narrative. Rooted in theatre and life's everyday rhythms, I document moments both transient and timeless. 

Hey, I'm susan!

Wedding Day Portraits: What to Expect

The portrait session of the couple together is something that I get asked about quite a bit.

  • How long do we need for this portrait session?
  • Where will we go?
  • How will we be posed?
  • Will it feel awkward?
  • What if we aren’t great in front of the camera?

And the biggest question of all : how will we know what to do?

One of my jobs as your  wedding photographer is to help you answer any questions you might have. Another of my jobs is to make you as comfortable as possible in front of my camera. I don’t want the portrait session to be anything but a joyous time, and I will endeavor to make that possible to the best of my ability!

wedding day portraits what to expect

How much time do we need for portraits of us together?

The most important thing to me when photographing a wedding are your relationships and the moments that occur between you, not spending hours taking fashion-based portraits of you two all over the city.

I would love an hour of time, sometimes a bit more or less depending on the location(s) you’d like to go to. We need just enough time to document your relationship when you’re alone. I truly believe that the day is about your marriage and not a lengthy, photographer-led fashion photo shoot.

During this part of the day I am striving to create a safe space for you so that you can feel joyous, in love, peaceful-but-also-excited, and so that I can accurately capture your relationship. If you are quiet in your affection for each other, I will not force you to be more physical than you normally would. If you are exuberant and emotive, I will not stifle or halt that. I want you to be YOU, as honestly and sweetly as I know you are. I want to document YOU, not some preconceived notion of who you are. It is an honor to create these images for you, and illustrating your relationship is something that I feel very passionate about.

wedding day portraits two grooms indoors

To determine exactly how much time we need for this portrait session, we will need to talk about the timing of the day. If you’re doing a first look, we have more options. If you’re not, we have less. Neither is the right or wrong decision, and I truly want you to choose whether to do a first look or not based on how you feel. If you decide based on timing or other reasons, you might regret your decision. I truly do not want that!

I’d love to hear more about your vision for this part of your wedding day. Do you want to see each other early in the day, spending a few hours traveling around the city to different locations? Do you want to wait until the ceremony and have ten minutes together outside the church for portraits? Either way, you choose, I’ll help you craft a timeline to maximize our time together while honoring your wishes in terms of the flow of the day.

wedding day portraits summertime

When should we expect this portrait session to occur on our wedding day?

The portraits of you two together will take place either before the ceremony, if you opt for a first look, or after the ceremony during cocktail hour. Whichever you choose will affect the amount of time we have. If you choose to see each other before the ceremony, we can have as much time as we’d like to allot for your portraits. If we wait until cocktail hour, we only have sixty or ninety minutes to accomplish family formals, bridal party formals, and images of the couple together.

The third option is to have a huge break in between the ceremony and reception, which happens a few times per year. It’s certainly not the norm, but it works well in terms of timing. We would end up with a great deal of time, my schedule isn’t affected if hair and makeup run late, and no one has to get ready early. It’s a win all around!

If you have any questions at all about how the timing would be affected by choosing (or not choosing!) a first look, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My job is to help you as much as I can, and I’m always glad to help talk through the different scenarios and help you choose what works best for you both.

wedding day portraits indian

Where will we go to take the portraits of us together?

If you’re doing a first look, and you’re getting about an hour or more before the ceremony to take your wedding day portraits, you have more options.

  • You can leave the venue.
  • You can leave the hotel, and go somewhere else before going to the venue.
  • We can plan to go to your favorite park, your favorite street, or your favorite café.

You have the time to make these decisions.

If you’re not going to see each other until the ceremony, we’re going to have to do a lot in a quick amount of time. Chances are, we’re going to have to stay either where the ceremony took place, or where the reception is going to take place.

Wedding Photojournalism NYC area

If the whole day is taking place all in one location, it’s just as simple as walking outside, taking some portraits, and coming back inside. What if you have a ceremony that’s in a church and a reception that’s at a completely different venue? Let’s chat, and ascertain where you would like to take your portraits. Do you want to do the family pictures at the church immediately following the ceremony, then do some pictures of the two of you outside the church? That’s one option. We could go to the reception location instead. In that case, we would finish the family formals at the church, transport them over to the reception venue, and shoot outside or inside there.

There are a lot of things to discuss. You have to consider things like traffic. How long is it going to take to get from one location to another? How long will it take to get from this ceremony to the reception location? How long do we plan on being in each of these spaces? Will we be transporting between locations during rush hour? How long could it really take?

We also must make sure that we don’t need a permit to shoot in our chosen location. A lot of locations do require them, places such as Washington Square Park or Waterworks in Philadelphia, and Grand Central in Manhattan. If we do need a permit, we have to make sure that it’s procured well in advance.

wedding day portraits destination

Do you have any suggestions for great wedding day portrait locations?

I have a list of recommendations for New York portrait locations and recommendations for Philadelphia portrait locations. Scattered in there are some recommendations for areas in between and around those spaces. Each of those locations is listed because I know I’m going to be able to make really good portraits there. Also listed is the contact information for each of the locations, permit information if applicable, and reasons why I like them. I love being able to share this list with you! If you’re considering one of these locations, you have time to visit the spaces that you might like. You can think about what you want out of their pictures, and then choose.

When I’m picking a location, I don’t necessarily just want a beautiful building that we can go stand in front of. I want a place that I can explore. I would rather find a city park, a beautiful archway, or a location where I can work with a lot of different types of light. I’m looking for multiple scenarios lighting-wise, and multiple scenarios compositionally, within a very short area. If you’d like to talk more about any of these locations, or suggest some new options, please give me a call or drop me an email. I’d love to hear your ideas!

wedding day portraits couple on merry go round

How do you pose couples during their wedding day portraits?

What can you expect during the portrait session? It’s a great question to ask. I have many clients express their nervousness about the portrait session, talking about feeling uncomfortable in front of the camera. Many clients have had awkward interactions with photographers before, perhaps at another wedding or another portrait session. The last thing in the world I want for you on your wedding day is for you to feel uncomfortable. As one who also doesn’t love being in front of the camera, I totally sympathize with how you feel!

I promise that making you feel comfortable is my first and most important goal during your portrait session!

When photographing the couple on the wedding day, there are two types of portraits that I do. The portraits are either camera-aware or not camera-aware. I will need to get at least one portrait of you smiling directly at the camera! (This one is always a fan favorite with parents and relatives alike!) I also need to capture you interacting, laughing, talking, and just being together. During your portrait session, only a very small of the images are going to be camera-aware, unless you have specifically asked me to do more that way.

The laughter you see in my images, the couples talking and enjoying each other, it’s all them. I’m just laying the groundwork for that to happen. I’m putting them in the right light, so that when the moments do naturally occur they’re in the right setting for a great photograph. If you want emotional images, it’s going to be up to you to bring the emotion. I will put you in the best light possible and set the scene for the moment to happen, but I don’t stage the moment. Don’t let this make you nervous! Just be how you are together. Tender, quiet, loud, sweet, soft, abrasively funny – you be who you are! I’ll be there to document it!

The poses I work with aren’t poses so much as they are scenarios. I know that the second I start posing every fingertip, clients will feel awkward. I don’t want that, ever. I will help you into scenarios that are graceful and fluid while letting you be you. That is the most important part!

wedding day portraits at night

What if it rains on our wedding day?

This is a great question. It’s the thing that no one really wants to think about when planning for an outdoor wedding ceremony, portrait session, or reception. However, it has to be considered since having your outdoor wedding rained out with no backup plan would be terrible!

If it rains on your wedding day and you had your heart set on sunny outdoor portraits, there isn’t much we can do. I can supplement any scenario with additional lighting, but I can’t make a rainy day look sunny. If this happens, we’ll take the portrait session indoors. If you’re getting ready at a hotel but not getting married there, we might need special permission to shoot on the property as preference is usually given to clients actually having their weddings there. We can also go to your venue if you’re not getting ready there. Lastly, we can work on a list of possible indoor locations where we might be able to take your portraits.

We can also always schedule a post-wedding session for some additional portraits. This is a popular decision amongst couples whose outdoor portrait session couldn’t happen on the wedding day due to weather or circumstances beyond our control.

Is there anything else we should know?

Yes – just be yourselves. Really and truly. Don’t worry about being “in front of the camera.” Don’t worry about feeling like you’re “not photogenic.” I promise that you will look wonderful and that the process will be easy and fun.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts, and how we can create the best portraits possible of you together!

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