This week, we consulted wedding photographer Crystal Madsen with Crystal Madsen Photography to give us the scoop on photography tips to make your wedding process smooth. There are so many things to consider when taking your photos! Crystal gave some great advice on everything from engagements, to day-of wedding “must-have” shots. Take a look below for her great advice!

How would you describe your style of photography? Where does your love and background for photography come from?

I like to describe my wedding photography as a perfect mix of photojournalism and modern styles that are vibrant and contrasty. I fell in love with photography when I was 16 years old and it has been a major part in my life since. Having the natural ability to interact with people and pull out their personalities has made my love for photography grow even more. Being able to see and feel the emotion pouring from my wedding photos is beyond rewarding and keeps me absolutely loving my job.

What photos do you believe are “must-haves”?

We can Pinterest and tear pages out of wedding etiquette books for lists and lists of must-have photos, there are hundreds. As a former bride who has flipped through her wedding album dozens of times, I can confidently say that photos with your VIPs are the most important. Those who, without their help, the day wouldn’t have happened (family, friends, bridesmaids etc). The day is such a blur for the couple that details are important as well. Being able to see decor, small details, guests and emotion in their photos is beyond touching for a couple. An experienced photographer won’t need a physical list of all desired photo opps handed to them.  We know your day may be a blur at the end, we will re-tell your day from beginning to end from any detail that you put time and energy into, to your guests who made a special trip to celebrate with you.

How much time would you set aside for taking photos with family/friends?

I ask my couples to dedicate a 2.5-3 hour block of time for photos prior to the ceremony (1 hour with bride and groom, 1 hour with bridal party, 30-45 minutes with family). 90% of weddings run late for one reason or another. If we get every minute out of this time block, GREAT!! You will get the most awesome photos ever!! It gives us time to enjoy the moment, relax, and take breaks if need be. If not, we still have plenty of time to capture the necessities with minimal stress and time crunch.

Ask the Experts, Crystal Madsen Photography, Spokane WA, Wedding Photographer, Wedding Venue, Commellini Estate, Wedding Tips

When it comes to engagements photos, what time of day is best for lighting? What types of clothes should couples wear?

My absolute favorite time to shoot any type of photo session is approximately 1 hour before sunset, aka the golden hour. The quality of light is unmatched!!  
I like to step it up a notch for engagement photos and have fun with the wardrobe. I highly recommend planning two outfits to include a rockin’ dress as well as a look with pants for the ladies, and a button-up shirt and slacks or jeans for the guys. Of course we need to be comfortable, but we want to celebrate and show off how classy and awesome you two are! Season plays a major factor in wardrobe as well. Think about fun and colorful accessories that will help accentuate the season.
The only thing I really try to stay away from is super casual clothes (screen print tees and tennies) and super busy outfits. 

If you were planning your own event or wedding, what is something you would make sure to include?

I always ask my couples to make a collection of small details they would like me to photograph such as rings, an invitation, garter, jewelry, shoes, any hand-me-downs, or any other detail they want to be sure gets creatively photographed before the ceremony begins.
Aside from photography……As a wedding photographer, I am with the couple for up to 14 hours on their wedding day. I have been to over 100 weddings appreciating decor, tasting food & cakes, working with other vendors, and experiencing receptions. If you are looking to provide a great experience for you and your guests, an experienced DJ is in my opinion, beyond important. It seems super affordable and convenient to build a playlist on your iPhone, hand a mic to a cousin, and let the evening playout however its meant to happen. I cannot say that more than one of these iPhone receptions were a success. The dedicated speaker goes missing, songs replay, volume is inconsistent, guests skip songs in the middle of another playing, and guests are kept wondering whats next if no one is making announcements. An experienced DJ handles all of this and an amazing amount of much more!

Photos courtesy of Crystal Madsen Photography. For more photos from this wedding, check out this blog post from Tony and Andrea’s wedding.