Using Pinterest for your Wedding Photos (without making your photographer cry)

Jan 5, 2015 | For Photographers, Information, Tips for Clients

One of my most-pinned photos on Pinterest, from Kyle and Tommy’s Jamaica Plain engagement session.

One of my most-pinned photos on Pinterest, from Kyle and Tommy’s Jamaica Plain engagement session.

Pinterest is an invaluable source for style inspiration, and couples everywhere are using it to keep a visual record of ideas and inspiration for their wedding day.  However, you may be surprised to find out that when you send your wedding photographer the link to your Pinterest board, their reaction is usually somewhere between a sad, deflated sigh, and an outraged, “oh no she didn’t!”  See, we creative souls like to think that you hired us not only for our fun/sweet/goofy/friendly personalities, but also because you really like the photos that we take.  We are fragile artists that constantly worry about whether or not we’re good enough (I know, I know – it’s sad but true) and getting sent a Pinterest photo inspiration board often translates in our minds to, “sure, your photos are OK, but what we’d really like are these better/cuter/more interesting shots”.

So, how can we all get on the same page about Pinterest, and find ways to make it a valuable resource for couples and photographers alike?

1. Use Pinterest to figure out the style of photography you’re drawn to – before hiring a photographer

If you’re in the exciting first stages of planning your wedding, you can really benefit from using Pinterest to figure out your personal style preferences.  At this stage, go crazy with the pins! I recommend having separate boards for wedding details/themes, color schemes, hair and makeup, clothing (couple and wedding party), and photography.  On the photography board, pin only photos where you love the style of the photography, ignoring the style content (e.g. what the bride is wearing, what kind of flowers she is holding, what the decor in the reception looks like).

Once you’ve collected a few hundred images, start refining the board.  Keep just the photos that you really love, then figure out what they have in common.  Are you drawn to real moments, where the emotion is tangible?  Or do you prefer sophisticated, elegant portraits?  Do you like a vintage processing style, or do you prefer bright, high-contrast images?  Once you start to figure out the style of photography you like, you can start looking for photographers that fit.  If you do your research first, chances are you won’t feel the need to send a bunch of must-have photo pins to your photographer, because you already know that they take the types of photos that you like.

Take away: if you use Pinterest in the early stages of wedding planning to figure out what kind of photography you’re drawn to, you won’t feel the need to pin a ton of must-take photos from other couples’ weddings as you’ll already trust the photographer that you hire based on your style preferences.

2. Consider the type of photographer you hired

If you hired a primarily documentary/photojournalistic photographer, know that their aim for the day will be to capture the real moments as they naturally happen, whatever they may be.  Sure, if you have a cute flower girl getting ready with you, and she looks up in wonder at your dress hanging on the closet door, there’s a good chance that your photographer will get a great photo of that.  But maybe your flower girl will be more interested in finger painting with the makeup she finds in the bathroom – and a photo capturing the real life hijinks will be so much funnier to look back on.

Take away: instead of pinning cute “moments” that you’d love to recreate, hire a really great documentary photographer and sit back, relax, and allow the moments to occur naturally.

If you hired a photographer who shows really beautiful, creative portraits on their website, chances are that they’ll be looking to create some gorgeous images of the two of you too!  Great portraits require at least three of the following: great light, a dramatic or pretty background, a terrific interaction between the couple, a little bit of magic, and the experience of a talented photographer.  While you can share beautiful portraits you’ve found on Pinterest with your photographer so that they know what kind of photos make you swoon, know that it’s almost impossible to duplicate another photographer’s creation unless you’re in the exact same spot, with the same light, and the same connection happening between you and your beau.  Not only that, but it’s generally also frowned upon to copy others’ work.

Take away: instead of finding portraits to recreate, give your photographer the time and artistic freedom to let their own vision sing.

3. Think about your venue, the time of day you’re getting married, and the type of decor you’ll have

I recently heard a photographer complaining about a Pinterest board that one of his brides had sent over.  It was filled with romantic natural light portraits, on the beach.  The wedding was taking place in the city, after sunset, in the winter.  See the disconnect there?  The bride was setting herself up for disappointment by pinning impossible photos, and the photographer was set up for failure before he even began.  If you’re concerned about the locations available to you, talk to your photographer and brainstorm together.  If a beach portrait session is a high priority for you, consider adding in enough time to travel to the beach and back.  If you’re getting married at sunset but prefer the look of natural light portraits, consider a first look so that you can take portraits earlier in the day, or add on a day-after session.

Take away: be realistic; your photographer will work to make the locations you have available shine in his photos, but even the best photographer in the world can’t create a sandy beach in the middle of the city, or turn night time into day.

4. Use Pinterest to communicate what you love about a particular location to your photographer

While we’re talking about venues, here’s a really great way to use Pinterest: pin photos of things you love about your venue.  Maybe when you went on your first site visit you fell in love with the view; maybe you imagined walking through the archways with your new spouse after the ceremony; maybe you love the grand entrance, or the rustic wooden doors, or the huge picture windows.

One of my brides recently sent me a (really helpful) Pinterest board filled with photos of one of the portrait locations we had discussed, and of her favorite spots inside the venue.  Some of the pictures she sent didn’t even have people in them, and these are actually the best photos, because they communicate to me what she loves about the environment.  For example, she included a couple of photos that showcase the red brick walls and black railings and lamp posts of Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood; when we’re looking for photo spots in the area, I now know the kind of backgrounds to look for.  She also pinned a number of photos from her venue, the Boston Public Library.  Many of these photos focus on the grand staircase, and on Bates Hall with its green lamps and bookshelves.  She included books in many of the photos, so I’ll be sure to include books in some of their wedding photos – maybe as a backdrop for a ring photo, or as a prop in some fun wedding party portraits.

Take away: instead of pinning ideas for poses, or for moments that may never happen, pin photos of whatever it is that you find visually pleasing in the locations you’ll be in on the wedding day, providing a visual springboard for your photographer without constraining her to specific shots.

5. Know the difference between inspiration and re-creation (and let your photographer know that you know)

As you’re pinning photos to your Pinterest board, make a little note (in the description box) of what it is that you like about each photo. Here are some examples:

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For this photo, instead of saying, “I want a close-up photo of me climbing onto the trolley with rain dripping from my dress” you could add a note that says, “if it rains, I’d love some photos showing that it’s raining!  Maybe guests will be battling with umbrellas, or our clothes will be wet and dirty; we’d love to have the weather documented”.  Or, “I’d love a photo that shows my shoes, but we’re not really into set up detail photos, so if you happen to spot something like this happening know that we really like this type of photo.”

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For this photo, instead of saying, “we’d like a black and white photo of the best man giving a toast with us laughing in the background” you could say, “we really love photos where there is some layering, so that you can understand the context”, or, “we’d love to capture our reactions to the toasts as well as the person giving the toast, so maybe you can suggest where people should stand when they give their toasts”, or, “we’re hoping for a really fun reception, and we’d love some photos of us belly-laughing even if they’re not the most flattering photos in the world”.

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For the above photo, instead of saying, “please take a wide shot of the ceremony showing guests in the foreground, lots of sky, and a boat passing through”, try: “we chose our ceremony location because of the amazing views – it would be really nice to include the view in a couple of shots”.

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For this photo, instead of saying, “please take a photo of us dancing and laughing in a Christmas tree farm with mountains behind us”, try, “we’re often fun and silly together and would love to goof around a bit during our portraits”, or, “I love the light in this photo, especially how her veil is illuminated – when would be a good time to take photos if we like that kind of light?”


For the photo above, instead of saying, “I’d like a photo of the groomsmen knee-down holding up their pants to show off their socks while the groom does a Michael Jackson move”, try, “the groomsmen will be wearing fun socks, we’d love a couple of photos where the socks are showing” or “my fiance has some awesome dance moves, maybe we can incorporate that into a couple of photos?”

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For this photo, instead of requesting “an emotional photo of me and my dad holding hands while I’m fighting back tears”, you could note: “my dad and I are really close and we’d love some candid photos that capture our relationship” or “although I’m not doing a first look with my fiance, could I have a first look with my dad instead?”

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For the shot above, instead of requesting that your photographer “take a photo of us walking up a hill holding hands”, try, “we’d love a couple of portraits that we could put on the wall where it’s as much about the environment as it is about us – so maybe something where we’re just a small part of the photo, or where we’re silhouetted against the landscape”.

Take away: if you send your photographer a board full of wedding photos, include a little info on what you like about each photo – otherwise the photographer will assume that you want an exact replica of each photo.

6. Think about why you hired your photographer in the first place

Chances are, there was something about your photographer’s work that made you hire her – maybe it was the amazing candid moments she captures so well, or the beautiful way she photographs the details and decor, or the jaw-dropping creative portraits she showcases on her site.  When you’re collecting photos that you love, be sure to include at least a few from the photographer you hired.  First, it’ll make her feel good and not immediately dismiss your Pinterest board (did I mention that we photographers have fragile egos?)  Second, it’ll reconnect you to the kind of work that comes naturally to your photographer.  Third, there’s a good chance that the locations you fall in love with in her pictures are locations that you can revisit on your own wedding day, especially if you hire someone who regularly photographs in the city or state where you’re getting married.

Take away: including some of your own photographer’s photos will make her less likely to reject your board on principle, and should also reconnect you to what you love about her work.

7. Take a little ride in a time machine to the future

You know how with fashion, it’s the ultra-trends that quickly become cliched?  I’m talking legwarmers and neon, scrunchies, the whale tail, velour pantsuits (and many more).  Well, it’s the same with photos.  The ultra trends of today (the wedding party being chased by Godzilla! The bride and bridesmaids snuggling up under the covers before the wedding festivities commence!) are the couple-in-the-brandy-snifter and spot-colored-bouquet of tomorrow (and yes, I even made a Pinterest board of some of these “classics”).  Your photographer has an eye for the cheesy and overdone – and can usually suggest a better way to create a fun image of you and your partner, or you and your friends, in a way that showcases your personalities and style in a more timeless way.  And, chances are, if you’ve found a “must-have new pose” on Buzzfeed, you can be pretty sure it’ll be featured in a “cheesy wedding photos” article in the HuffPost in a few years.

Take away: instead of asking your photographer to copy the latest wave of trendy wedding photos, work with him to find new ways you can showcase your personalities in ways that won’t seem dated in a few years.

8. Remember that Pinterest is a curated collection of the best of the best

OK, so I don’t fully agree with this statement; there is an awful amount of trash on Pinterest too – but overall, the most popular pins often represent a photographer’s very best work, and many of these shots have taken a great deal of time/talent/thought to set up (I’m talking mostly about the portraits here, not the moments).  I’ve heard horror stories from multiple photographers about being handed a list of 20 must-have photos, their clients not realizing how much time and effort goes into creating each shot.  Sure, you can choose to spend 4 hours of your wedding day racing from location to location with your photographer, copying other couples’ photographers’ best of the best photos (and likely falling short each time) or you can allow your photographer to realize their vision and create a set of photos that capture your personalities and relationship in a way that is unique.

Take away: figure out if you’d like a set of lackluster copycat photos (because how often do copies improve on the original?) or if you’d prefer your photographer to capture the things that are special and unique about you and your wedding.

Thanks for reading, and happy pinning!



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