How much time do I need for pictures on the wedding day?

How much time do you REALLY need for photos on your wedding day?

I get asked this question a lot.  “Amber, how much time do you need for pictures between the ceremony and reception?”  My answer always is “As much as we can get- but not so long that you’ll wanna kill me.”  So, what does that mean exactly?  And how much time should you set aside for photography between the ceremony and reception?

First and foremost this should be discussed with your photographer.  Every photographer has their own approach to how they handle this portion of the day.  It can be very chaotic and inspiring for us.  Most often times the location can be busy, the weather is nuts or it something else totally unforeseen.  Every photographer should take those sort of factors into account from the get go.  When I know that I am going to be shooting in Downtown Pittsburgh I often do my research to see what events are happening so the planning can run a little smoother.  So, with all of that in mind- how much time will we need?

Typically I tell my clients about 1 hour at each location.  I quickly follow that up by saying “If for some crazy, unexpected reason we can only shoot for 15 minutes- that will work too.”  There have been plenty of times Mother Nature decided to challenge me right in the middle of a wedding day.  Rain, blizzards, hail storms and sub zero temperatures— you never really know.  So, in any of those cases, I relay to my client that we can shoot quick and get enough great shots in about 15 or 20 minutes (sometimes less).

The ideal time for me personally is about an hour.  This is what I have found is the time limit that things just occurI don’t follow time when I am photographing.  I get into my flow and off it goes.  After an hour things are getting repetitive and the wedding party is getting hangry (rather, all of us are getting hangry).  It is my responsibility as well to ensure everyone is comfortable; angry subjects equal angry pictures.

The NorthShore of Pittsburgh offers, in my opinion, one of the best views of the city- hands down.  If there is another stop on the agenda, I will probably focus my images more on incorporating the subjects with the city in the background.  If this is the only spot before the reception, I will focus on variety of both location and subjects.  In either case- this can be accomplished comfortably in an hour.

But an hour just doesn’t seem like enough time.  That makes me uncomfortable.

When a photographer takes a picture it is in fractions of a second.  For instance, a typical shutter speed for me in late afternoon on a sunny day might be 1/1000th of a second.  I’m not very good at math- but that’s a lot of pictures in just 20 minutes.  It is important to keep in mind that an experienced Professional Wedding Photographer should be able to provide you with amazing images no matter what the circumstances.  Because, then, what else are you really paying them for?

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