Shooting in a Crunched Timeline

Original Post By: Justin & Mary
Sometimes, things just happen at a wedding.

Despite the best intentions, the best planning, the most meticulous timeline, sometimes things just…get off track. And like I always tell my brides, there’s real time and then there’s weddingtime. And the two shall never be the same.

I’ve seen it happen a hundred different ways. There was that makeup artist out of state who took TWO HOURS and fifteen minutes just to do the bride’s makeup. Then there was that time there was an unexpected parade (I mean, a PARADE!) on the way to the ceremony. Two hundred guests sitting in a cathedral, and the bridal party is stuck behind the Fighting Irish mid-state championship marching band. Doing their salute to swing music.

Yep, anything can happen on a wedding day.

And over and over in the past 10 years of shooting, we have seen beautiful two hour cushions of time that were slotted for portraits get cut down to about fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. Where that’s all we had to do all of the couple portraits as well as the wedding party!! And it can happen to even the best timelines & best planning. Sometimes stuff just HAPPENS. And in those moments, we have two choices: We can either cry (tempting!) OR we can pull ourselves together and come up with a game plan. So let’s do that!


Ok, so what can you do? How can you even GO about shooting for fifteen minutes in a way that would give you good coverage, as well as a full range of shots for the bride & groom? I think the best way to break it down, is by putting it into 5 tips. Here we go!

1. Have a second shooter focusing on getting different angles of the same set ups, so you can get twice as many shots in the same amount of time.
I usually take the lead on all the posing with our couple, which means that most of my images are fairly straight on, focusing on full length and three-quarter shots. So to fill in the gaps, Justin knows to shoot off from the side getting “slices of life” images like the bouquet shots you see below. I cannot express enough how important it is to always have a second shooter, or at the very least an assistant, with you at all of your weddings. This is a prime example of why.

2. Now is not the time to ask them to get into some complicated pose.
When time is running short and nerves are running a little high, now is not the time to ask a lot of the couple with complicated posing. You’ll waste a lot of time trying to get them into the pose, and chances are those are the kinds of poses that won’t look great from other angles. Keep the posing simple, and above all just allow them to hold on to one another and soak each other in. That will make the whole experience a lot more fun for them, and remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated. There is beauty in simplicity.

3. Divide and conquer
Because you have that second shooter with you, it will also allow you to save time by dividing up for the individual portraits so those can be happening at the same time.

4. Have a few go-to poses that you have burned into your brain.
Now is also not the time to draw a complete blank on every pose you’ve ever learned, or to look like for even one second that you don’t have it together. What you need to be projecting right now is confidence. Or what I like to call “The Swan”…..calm and graceful on the surface even if you’re paddling like crazy under neath. So I have four or five go-to poses burned into my brain that we talk about in the Art of Authentic Posing Course that  a) I know I can always go to, b) flow very nicely from one into another so we can change poses quickly and c) incorporate movement so they don’t become static and d) are poses that can allow me to get very different results just by moving my feet, having Justin shoot from a different angle or with a different lens, and can either take on a quiet & romantic or fun & silly vibe depending on the couple.

5. Be specific.
Use their names. Let them know which one you’re talking to. Don’t say look at your shoulder, say “Sandra I’m going to have you look at your left shoulder.” “Sam I’m going to have you take one baby step right toward me.” The clearer you are in your direction, the less confusion there will be. And the less time they spend trying to figure out what you’re asking of them, the more time you’ll have to be able to shoot.

So in summary, we flowed through a few different poses, moved our feet and worked together to get different shots, were very specific in our direction, and above all else we kept it together and didn’t cry! 🙂 And at the end of the day, we got some of our favorite couple portraits EVER. Ones that we’re really proud of.





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INSTAGRAM: @marymarantz & @justinmarantz

Justin & Mary are the amazing instructors of the Marketing For Wedding Photographers course! Check it out HERE.

Don't have enough time for portraits? Fear not! See how to shoot in a crunched timeline without rushing. By Justin & Mary (

August 18, 2016

1 responses on "Shooting in a Crunched Timeline"

  1. Great article, a smooth day is our dream days!!! Question: How do you get wedding planners to honor the ‘photography’ timeline. I think this is our biggest challenge, they just don’t think we need all that time. We find as much as we try to tiptoe so they do not feel we are encroaching on their job, largely because we do a timeline based on our clients photography vision. Yes we pad the timeline, as you mentioned it always is off. Love to hear how you have handled this? Thank you, Sherry Ann

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