Today, we’re talking about scouting! One of the things we ALWAYS do with our clients is scout with them before their wedding. We scout ceremony and reception locations as well as all potential portrait spots for both couple’s and group photos. This is a key part of our process for a variety of reasons, but mostly, it allows us to go into a wedding day and maximize the amount of photo time we have with our couple because we know where everything is happening and have a firm plan in place.
Weddings go by FAST and most people want to spend their time celebrating rather than feeling stuck in a photo shoot. Our goal is to make amazing photos quickly and efficiently so we can get you back to the party. Scouting is also our clients’ opportunity to weigh in with their own ideas and opinions, which we highly value. After all, at the end of the day these are your pictures, not our’s. So, in the spirit of launching into wedding season, here are some of our tips for scouting with your photographer.
Tip #1: Go at the right time of day.
For photographers, light is basically another subject in the photo, i.e. it’s a key component. And because light changes throughout the day it’s important to see what the light will look like at certain times in specific locations. Sometimes schedules need to be slightly tweaked so that we can take advantage of the best light. We recommend scouting when you’re planning to do your first look and the bulk of your portraits. If you aren’t having a first look, then scout at a time similar to your ceremony as portraits will likely follow soon after. The best light happens at sunset before dusk, but because this light is so easy to work in, we don’t usually scout at sunset.
Tip #2: Go at the same time of year.
Ideally, we prefer scouting sometime in the month leading up to the wedding. This gives us the best chance to see spaces in similar light, weather, and foliage/greenery as what will occur on your wedding day. Places, such as vineyards, can look completely different depending on the season so go when the backgrounds will look similar to what you’ll be getting married in which will also make it easier for you to visualize. We also like scouting during the lead up month because the ideas stay fresh in our heads.
Tip #3: Bring the timeline and layouts/floor plans.
Your plans don’t need to be perfect but it is helpful to have a general idea of the timeline and layout of the space when we scout. We are also happy to weigh in on where things should happen if you need help, for example, deciding where to sit during toasts. Knowing where things are happening or where key people are sitting at important moments helps us plan where we need to be so we can be in position to get photos from the best angles.
Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to not like something.
I always say that our couples are our “Art Directors.” Knowing what you like and don’t like helps us better execute your vision in our photo style. Plus, collaborating is way more fun than working solo. Even with venues and spaces that we’re familiar with we want to know the areas that you’re drawn to. A brick wall that I think may look cool might not be your favorite so please let us know.
Tip #5: Select multiple portrait locations.
Things (like rain!) can (and likely will) always change on the day of your wedding so it’s important to have multiple locations in mind for portraits. We’d much rather go into a wedding with a list of prioritized portrait spots than winging it. This helps us use our time with you efficiently, and if one portrait spot is unavailable on the day of then we can easily move onto the next without missing a beat. In a recent wedding our favorite spot for the couple’s photos was a beautiful vine wall that we scouted prior to the wedding, but on the day of it had been completely cut down. It was a bummer, but we easily moved on to the the next location with our limited time.
Tip #6: Talk through all of the logistics.
You don’t want to be standing on the side of the road waiting for an Uber late for your reception because we didn’t allow for transportation time to get back from portraits. This has never happened to us, but we always try to think through all of the logistics. This includes anything from transportation to allowing enough time for portraits (people move slower in wedding dresses) to staggering arrival times and talking through position in anticipation of a first look. We also figure out logistics like hiding a ladder for an all guest photo or identifying a dog wrangler. We happily try to accommodate all of our clients’ requests but these can take some time and planning so the more information we have prior to your wedding the smoother we can execute photos.
Tip #7: Have fun! Duh.
In closing, even with all of our scouting and planning, unexpected things will pop up and change on the day of. We do all the planning beforehand so that when these surprises happen we can easily roll with them. Now, we’re off to a scouting for our next wedding!