Picture the scene. You’re driving along a country road, with rolling hills and crop fields to either side. It’s late in the afternoon and the light is flat, for the sun (as so often in Britain) is hiding behind clouds. Everything is fine. It’s OK.
Then, suddenly the cloud breaks and shafts of golden sunlight hit the fields of corn. You’re transported to somewhere entirely different and filled with new meaning. Those shafts of light play across the rippling corn, creating new dimensions in colour that just hadn’t existed ten seconds ago. And then, as you drive on, you enter a small woodland. Streams of light fall to the ground between the trees, creating magic where before was but a dull flat green.
So where am I going with this? Well, your wedding clients have most likely seen images where magical light has taken a simple portrait and turned it into a wonderland. It’s these images they have in their minds when they think about their wedding day and the kind of images you’re going to take for them. However; let’s stop this right here.
Your job as their wedding photographer is to find the best light conditions on the day, given the prevailing conditions in the location. However, you’re not a magician. Therefore, it’s also your job to manage your clients’ expectations about those magical light images and educate them that these moments can’t be relied upon to happen. Who knows what the weather might bring on the day? And even with a bright summer’s day, beautiful sunsets often doesn’t even make an appearance.
Remember that your clients aren’t experts in photography and their excitement will overrule all other emotions – including, sometimes, rationality. It’s entirely up to you to help them understand what will happen on the day and how you’ll direct the couples’ shoot. If portraits are important to them, then you’ll need to shoot at best light – and therefore, they will need your guidance on timings. 2pm is never going to give you golden hour images – so discuss their requirements and wishes in detail and then help them understand what needs to happen to be in with an opportunity of creating that type of image. Luck with the weather is ALWAYS going to be a major factor.
In summary, remember that you’re the professional that the client has paid a lot of money to in order to create the best possible images on their wedding day. So, learning what that actually means to them before the day is invaluable time spent. Above all, preparing both yourself and the client well for what is and what’s not possible is vital. And never, ever promise to replicate a shot they like, even if it’s one of your own – for each wedding day is unique in terms of location, backdrop and weather conditions, and therefore, one shot can NEVER be the same as another. Manage those client expectations and over-deliver wherever possible, and you’re on your way to happy clients.