Planning MD VA DC Wedding Photography by Carl Cox

An Insider’s View on Planning Wedding Photography
by Carl Cox, Carl Cox Photography


Planning a wedding usually requires making many decisions such as: selecting a church, choosing a reception site, deciding on colors, picking a florist, choosing a photographer, deciding on a cake, etc. Of all the choices a bride & groom will make, planning for the photographs and the resulting album is the one choice that will produce something that you will be able to keep and cherish through the years. Choose and plan wisely.


A skilled professional will take close-ups

 As a professional photographer I would be remiss not to explain the important elements behind beautiful photographs. The first and most important element is making time and being on time. The events of the day can usually be captured very unobtrusively and spontaneously once the formal photographs are completed. I’ve found a photographic session early on calms the bride, groom and families before the ceremony and gets the posed photographs out of the way early. However, if the bride and groom are reluctant to see each other before the ceremony then time must be set-aside after the ceremony for those important images. It is important to choose a location and make sure everyone is on time. A skilled professional with the help of assistants can move very quickly through a formal session.

The wedding Party at Westwood Country Club, Vienna, VA

Formal images of the wedding party

The first step is to decide which photographs are your priorities. It’s a good idea to start with the bride and groom. This is the image everyone wants and will likely be passed down through the family for generations. Again a skilled professional will take close-ups, three quarters, and full lengths of the bride and groom together and alone. The immediate families are first to be photographed with the bride and groom. Most professionals will photograph extended families at the reception in order to cut down on the formal pictures immediately after the ceremony. Next, I usually take formal and candid images of the wedding party and while doing so my assistant will send the parents on to the cocktail hour just to let the guests know the bride and groom are on the way. It is important to note that I will usually take close-ups of the bride alone before the ceremony and with her parents and bridesmaids if the bride and groom don’t get together before the ceremony and given time I will do the same with the groom before hand. This also shortens time for the posed shoots after the ceremony.



The events of the day can usually be captured very unobtrusively.


Candid photographs are taken throughout the wedding as a matter of fact; my wife and assistant are accomplished photographers and are also shooting candid moments throughout the day. There are certain events such as, the toast, the first dance, the cake, etc. where it’s important for the professional photographer to have an approximate time line; however, it’s my belief that these are still candid moments and not staged events.

Remember that there must be a time and a place to bring families and friends together for the photographs that are important. And remember one of the biggest set backs to the professional photographer comes when the bride is slow to get ready and the opportunity beautiful images becomes a rush to get to the church on time. Plan your photo schedule with the photographer well in advance of the wedding day. If you plan outdoor sessions have an alternate indoor location in case of bad weather. There will be lots of time during the wedding day to get great photos and there are lots of opportunities to photograph the bride and groom together during candid moments and sometimes these images become your favorites. But don’t rely on the chance that a candid photograph will replace the well-planned composition of the formal photograph.


Article and Images © 2003 Carl Cox

CB PaintedPlate5_Web

Carl Cox is an award-winning assignment photographer serving Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia.   His studio is located in Rockville, Maryland, a Montgomery County suburb just twenty minutes north of  Washington, DC.   He specializes in location work of all sorts, including executive and family portraiture, architecture, and wedding photography.  In addition, much of Carl’s commercial and corporate work is directed towards publication.  Carl and his wife Bette are available for travel anywhere, and have photographed weddings as far as Ireland and Sweden.