Tips from Your Wedding Photographer
You have chosen a beautiful place to get married and we want to include Telluride's spectacular scenery in the images. If we haven’t already, let's talk about your wedding day timeline before you finalize everything and I can help plan how to fit in the photographs you want with the best light and background for your venue and schedule. I always do a site visit to locations prior to the event so I can see the best light available.
I like to start with the groom and his family, putting on flowers, and finishing touches getting ready (tie, cuff links, shoes). Then I like to photograph the bride as she puts on her finishing touches (jewelry, dress, flowers, shoes). It is nice to be able to complete those photographs in an uncluttered room, which makes shooting from every angle easier.
I'd love to have ninety (90) minutes for your creative portraits (as in "oh my gosh these photos are amazing"). The first half of the creative portraits are usually spent with your wedding party while the second half is usually spent with just the two of you (longer for multiple locations). For photography, the quality of light and photos improves as the day wanes and just before the sun falls behind the mountains. If you want me to take your creative portraits during the last hour before sunset (the ideal time), there are a couple of things to consider. First, you'll want to create your schedule backwards from that time, factoring in travel on the gondola or to town and scheduling your ceremony and groups prior to that time. Also, sunset is earlier in the mountains and differs depending on where you are on the mountain. And the temperature drops as we near sunset, so you will want to make plans to stay warm during the cooler time of the year.
For friends & family groups you'll want to budget about three (3) to five (5) minutes per grouping, longer if there are small children. I like to include some "fun shoots" in those groupings if time allows. Depending on the number of guests you have in attendance, you might need thirty to forty-five (30-45) minutes for your friends & family groups and I'm willing to photograph as many family groupings as you wish.
You'll probably want to designate someone who'll serve as your point person during the wedding, someone who knows your family and friends and can be responsible for making sure everyone is where they need to be for your photographs.
It is smart to create a rain or snow plan. Telluride is famous for short afternoon thunderstorms and blowing snowstorms. It can even snow in the summer. It's true that falling snow and a little wind makes for lovely photos, but you want to plan ways to be as comfortable as possible. While I'm not afraid of getting wet, you'll want to stay dry. Simply having a cape for yourself and a set of clear umbrellas for your guests can make for some fabulous and creative photos.
If you're holding an indoor ceremony, please consider leaving the lights set as high as possible (while maintaining decorum). Although lowering the lights may create a more intimate mood, semi-darkness can make guests lethargic, and make it difficult for the elderly to view your ceremony. As for the photography, it's much easier for me to capture exceptional photographs with more lighting rather than less.
If you are holding an outdoor ceremony, consider your position so that you have your best backdrop view behind your officiant and the sun not shining directly in your eyes. We want the most spectacular views in your photos and we want you to be comfortable. If you need help selecting a location, I can provide some suggestions. If possible (but not required), I would love to have space enough to walk all the way around you during the ceremony so I can photograph the expressions on your faces from every angle.
It helps me if I can get a summary of the timing of your ceremony so I can be in the right place at the key moments (I dos, rings, kiss). An experienced officiant will help by slowing or pausing before transitions and step slightly to the side, or take a step back for key moments such as handing you rings or asking for your first kiss as man and wife. His or her actions and position will help me with an unobstructed view during that kiss. At that moment I'd like to take several shots to get the best shot. But don't worry, the expression of the officiant is often a really fun shot too, maybe just give them a reminder to smile and look at you. And if it does not go perfectly, don't worry; sometimes these are the best moments.
If you have asked a friend or family member to officiate, you might want to mention the above and ask how he or she plans to hold/carry the notes or text related to the ceremony. In some past weddings I've photographed, the officiant used loose papers, oversized binders, colorful books, or plain manila folders. Since those items are often visually distracting, I recommend that you ask the officiant to use a black book or binder without significant decoration, and place notes in a sheet protector to avoid fluttering papers if outside.
During the ring exchange, the bride and groom should take special care to not hide each other's hands, just take a tiny step back. Your guests (and the camera) want to see those rings exchanged, so don't hide those hands!
For timing, many first time visitors to Telluride may be chilled outdoors, even in the summer, but especially in the winter if they are standing on frozen ground. For the elderly and the very young, prepare them in advance to dress in layers with good warm shoes. For your ceremony, plan the timing so that they are not exposed to the cold for too long, this includes waiting for the ceremony to begin and the photos afterward.
After the Ceremony
I recommend that you schedule family and friend groupings immediately after and at the same location as your ceremony. It's been my experience that if you don't then there is a high likelihood that some individuals you'd like to have in your photographs won't be present when they're needed.
After the ceremony, it is fun to have a "Gondola Get Away" included in your photographs, and if you arrange to have a "Just Married" sign that you can hold against the window, it makes for a fun and lovely photograph (white sign with black print works best because the Gondola windows are tinted). I can arrange to loan you one, or you can purchase one that is unique to your day and a nice keepsake. For this shoot, I will follow you or go ahead of you in the Gondola. Don't forget to step in and out of the Gondola together, holding hands, or kissing, and be sure to look at me and smile. This part of the shoot moves very quickly because the Gondola does not stop, although the operators will slow it down upon request.
Many couples love to take a stroll through town and be photographed in the middle of town with Ajax Mountain in the background. These photos are fun, do keep in mind they are not always perfect, because of the presence of vehicle traffic, sometimes you get a big truck right behind you in the center line. There are also colorful walls, and steps throughout town and on the Gondola path. If you would like to have your creative shots in those backdrops just let me know and we will work it into your schedule.
A note about altitude: The lowest point in Telluride is 8750 feet, which means we have less oxygen and tend to dehydrate quickly. Drink plenty of water on the days before you come to Telluride and on your wedding day. Alcohol effects us more quickly at altitude, so reduce the amount of alcohol you would normally drink, especially the night before your wedding so you look your best and avoid puffiness. Remind your guests of the risks of altitude. If you are uncertain about altitude, check with your medical provider.
I would love it if you create a wish list of the photos you would like to have while I am with you, and then together we can plan the timing, but don't feel obligated to do so. As I said before, I will still get amazing photos no matter what happens on your day.
Here is a list of ideas to get you started and looking online or through bridal magazines helps with inspiration. Send me any photos you love by email to help me understand your vision. I will photograph your day as it flows naturally, but having a general plan helps me with the photography of the things that you love. If you would like to take a peek at some of my wedding portfolio images, let us know and we will send you a link to our website folder.
Before the Ceremony
o Bride final touches: hair, make up, dress, accessories
o Family and friends with and assisting the bride
o Bride looking in the mirror
o Opened champagne bottle with ribbon and nice glasses
o Bride placing flowers on parents
o Parents kissing bride
o Children with bride or groom
o Children and friends hugging bride
o Groom putting on tie
o Groom with his groomsmen
o Leaving for ceremony
o Environmental shots
At the ceremony
o Wedding venue details (view, church, decor)
o Guests arriving, Groom greeting guests, Guest mingling
o Wedding party entering
o Crowd shot of guests
o Officiant with Groom / Groom's Face
o Bride making her entrance
o Ceremony, vows and rings
o Bride and Groom turned towards crowd
o Crowd applause and smiles
o Bride and Groom being congratulated / hugged
Family /Friend Groupings
o Newly married couple with each family
o Groups of close friends, best friends and attendants
o Entire Guest in a group
o Bride and Groom with Parents
Creative Portraits/Telluride Experience
o Bride and Groom - Telluride Creative Shots
o Bride and Groom leaving ceremony - Gondola Get Away
o Bride and Groom on Main Street / Downtown Telluride
o Bride and Groom at Sheridan Bar
o Bride and Groom against color walls, on steps in town
At the Reception
o First Dance
o Dancing with parents
o Cutting the Cake
o Throwing the Bouquet
Brenda Colwell is a Family Portrait Photographer creating memories and treasured heirlooms for your family and something beautiful for your home. Book your own unique experience.