09/10/2013 06:00 pm ET Updated Nov 10, 2013

How to Get the Most Out of Your Wedding Photographer

Many people consider their wedding albums a priceless souvenir from the greatest day of their lives, and here I talk with Philadelphia photographer Richard Barnes about how brides can get the most out of their photographer on their wedding day.

When a bride sits down with a photographer for the first time, what are some good questions for her to ask?
"Tell me about yourself. How long have you been a photographer?" There are so many new photographers popping up out there these days that have heard how much money they can make shooting weddings. You need to be careful of that. Also, "do you have more than 1 camera?" in case something malfunctions the day of.

It's a few weeks before the wedding, ideally, how should the bride prepare for her wedding photos?
Brides often search Instagram and send me samples of photos that they want to do. It's often possible but it requires work and cooperation on the Brides part more than the photographers. For example, if you see a photo of a Bride and Groom and the entire bridal party laughing and jumping and acting like they're having the best time of their life... then the Bride needs to 1. Make sure her friends personalities are like that to begin with and 2. Show them the pictures in advance and say "this is what we are going to be doing for the pictures, please practice this". The bride should practice posing in a mirror or with a friend just shooting some simple snapshots.

What makes for a good wedding photo?
Be yourself. Smile, be happy. (I've seen too many couples that just don't like to smile )

What are some tips on getting really great shots on the wedding day?
Allow enough time to do everything. Cooperation and communication is key. Everyone must know the plan and not just wander off. It will go quickly and smoothly if the Bridal Party knows what is happening next.

Let's talk makeup -- what looks good and what doesn't in photography?
The wedding day is not the time to try something new. Be yourself. Don't overdo anything ('s not the '80s anymore). Less is more. Natural and elegant is in.

Finally, any general advice for our brides?
Don't chew gum during your first dance. The wedding will start late, don't worry about it. Someone will fight, don't worry about it. Your shoes and/or your gown will get dirty, don't worry about it! Don't over think or over do anything because it will all come together at the end of the night.

Richard Barnes is a Philadelphia area photographer with 35 years of experience in the field. His work can be seen at