We take a look at how to get the best photographs for an overseas wedding

snap weddingMOST PEOPLE will tell you that it is important that you "click" (excuse the pun!) with your photographer. This will be quite hard to do as you will be choosing him or her from overseas, so the chances are you won't even meet before you arrive in the country. In these circumstances it's best to choose a photographer who has a large gallery on their website which you can look through at your leisure. This way you can ensure that you are comfortable with the style and quality of their photography. It is also probably worth looking to see if their website carries any personal recommendations which previous customers have written.
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Choose a photographer who has already photographed weddings in the area of Italy that you have chosen: this should mean that they know where to get the best shots in all the different weather conditions. Yes, it can rain in Italy! Equally, working with the sun can cause its own problems, so a photographer who is used to working in these conditions will be crucial.
Also, obviously there is potential for feeling somewhat vulnerable if you don't speak Italian and find yourself struggling to make yourself understood! So, if you do have an English-speaking photographer who does 'speaka da lingo', then it can act as a real comfort blanket and not just in terms of your photography experience.


snap weddingTry and find a photographer that will mix and match his packages to suit your requirements, not just one that only offers an all-day package only.
Make sure you start your selection process early, as most good photographers book up at least six months to one year in advance. "Visit" a minimum of three photographers online, as this will help you make comparisons and choose the right person for you. Once you have selected your pho- tographer, ensure you have written confirmation from them regarding dates.


snap weddingWedding photographers generally fall into three stylistic categories: traditional, photojournalist or a combination of both. Traditional Italian photographers are great at obtaining classical portraits and posed photos but for more candid shots that catch the day's emotions and all the behind-the-scenes action of which you may find only a few. Currently, it could be true to say that most British, Irish, and American couples lean towards the photojournalistic style of photography. A great idea is to go for a mix of both styles, so you will need to look around carefully to choose a photographer that is able to do both.
Of course, you will want to emphasise the fact that you are having your wedding photographs taken in another country and hopefully make the photographs unique.


Well before your wedding day, make sure you have considered the must-have photographs, as you won't necessarily have the chance to get to know the locations. You will need to put your trust in the photographer for this. The locations will be chosen according to the time of day, the light and how you react to the camera.
However, you can also look out for sites which are typically Italian around the town you are staying and discuss with your photographer the possibility of using them within your wedding photographs.


You'll be spending a lot of money on your wedding photographer, so you'll want to make sure you make time for him or her. There are many stunning photographic locations in Italy, so you will have the opportunity to capture some wonderful shots but you must bear in mind that in order for the photography to be successful it will take time. You'll need to allow for time in between the ceremony and the reception for the individual photographs of the two of you. It is not just the individual photographs which take time but the group photographs, too. Each group photograph can take approximately two to four minutes to arrange, therefore 20 photographs can take around an hour.
snap weddingTo help speed up this process it is a good idea to have a list of group photographs that you wish to have taken. Do the list in such a way that people can leave when they have had their photographs done. So, have all family shots taken first, so that when they have been taken people can go and sit down, relax and enjoy the beautiful Italian scenery. Remember that the whole experience will be very different from a wedding back home and guests will enjoy soaking up the atmosphere and the sun and enjoying the local sights and maybe even the odd gelato!
If you have a group of friends or family that are particularly lively, or happy to get involved, then let the photographer know. I've had guests doing some rather interesting poses, including piggy back rides, leap frog and imaginary football matches! I've even had a line of guys showing me what was under their kilts (which was not a pretty sight!!)
Putting together a list of individual shots (the bride and groom) that you would like may detract from the spontaneity of the shoot. However, you can let your photographer know if there are any shots on the website that you have seen which you feel will or won't work for you. You may prefer some types of photographs over others, so talk to the photographer to ensure they have a clearer idea of what it is you are looking for.


When you have your individual photographs taken, try to be as natural as you can (which is easier said than done on the most important day of your life!). The way to get natural shots is to try to be yourselves and act as if the camera is not there. Remember, the photographer only wants to get the best photographs they can for you as a couple on your special day, so trust them if asked to do something that may sound odd!
snap weddingTo get natural-looking pictures, I often ask the bride, groom and bridesmaids to pull their ugliest faces, after doing this they just give me this most natural smile or laugh which looks great. I like to make the most of the fact that they are really nervous to get some nice preparation shots where the anticipation can be seen on their faces. I often ask couples to do the "Sharon Stone pose" which without exception creates a moment of confusion (and panic) followed by laughter, once again creating really natural-looking faces (they don't actually do this pose, I might add!)
Try to avoid having your guests standing around whilst you get your photographs done. You could arrange a champagne toast to keep them occupied or send them off for a nice Italian ice cream and a meander around the immediate vicinity; this will be a very different experience from a British wedding and the environment around them will be new too, so lots to look at and enjoy!


snap weddingRice Throwing: In Italy they throw rice rather than confetti and this looks great on the photographs, with the more rice the better - although it can be slightly painful, it is worth it! It's a good idea to organise for one of your guests to bring a few boxes of rice along with them and then hand them out to the other guests ready to throw when instructed by the photographer.
Ice Cream: Find an ice cream shop and get yourselves a cone. It looks great on photos; try to get the ice cream that matches your dress though, just in case!
Scooters and Italian cars: Some of my favourite shots are the typically "Italian" shots. I always look to see if I can find a scooter, boat, or Italian car to create a fun photo.
Walking through the streets: Get some photos of you walking through the Italian streets in true passeggiata style. Having all your guests follow you makes for a great photograph.
Paddling: If you have a lake or the sea nearby, get all the girls together for a nice fun paddling shot or dipping feet in the water.


Gwen Courtman is a British freelance wedding photographer who has been based in Italy for several years, having immersed herself in theItalian way of life and speaking fluent Italian.
Gwen's photographic style incorporates both Italian and British styles of wedding photography: contemporary journalistic style photography with the classicallyinspired to ensure all the emotions of the big day are covered.
Gwen's photographs can be seen on or www.gwencourtmanphoto Contact: Tel & Fax: (+39) 0464 500665