Today we’re joined by photographer Meaghan Cook. Meaghan Cook owns her own photography studio (Meaghan Cook Photography Boutique) and is based out of Geelong in Victoria. Meaghan has a keen interest in engagement shoots and is sharing her top tips with Polka Dot Bride readers today!
Tell me about yourself?
I’m domestically challenged and that doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve got one child who’s favourite food is cold scrambled eggs, and another who insists on calling me daddy. I’ve got Cherry Ripe’s hidden in the cupboard above the fridge. I was lucky to find lasting love at a young age. I’ve been a journalist/schoolteacher/ bunny at a children’s birthday but it’s photography that makes my heart really sing.
How did you get into photography?
When I was working as a journalist, there was a story that I was sent to without a photographer. Instead my editor thrust a camera at me and said ‘you get the shot’. I did, and I’ve been getting the shot ever since.
What inspires you in your photography?
Telling stories. Of course I’m inspired by beauty, colour and pushing the creative envelope, but it’s being able to tell someone’s story that really inspires me.
Why is an engagement session particularly important?
It’s the couple’s chance to get comfortable in front of the camera. Most of us, and I’m no exception, don’t love getting our photo taken and usually become quite tense. An engagement session is the place to get rid of those nerves and become comfortable showing your love for your fiancé in front of the camera. Then the nerves are gone for the wedding day.
What locations would you use for an engagement shoot?
I personally prefer locations with meaning to the couple, such as a café they frequent or their favourite beach. Even a couple’s home can be great. It’s about the couple having a connection to the place, so the photos have more meaning. The end result then tells a more detailed story about that particular time in their lives.
What clothes should people wear for their engagement photographs?
Clothes from their cupboard! By saying that I mean clothes that they would usually wear, and will feel relaxed in. If you’re not a heels kind of girl, don’t wear them. If you’re not a collared shirt kind of guy, then don’t wear one. Just wear what is ‘you’.
I suggest wardrobe change halfway through a session too. One casual outfit, and one a little dressier. The change adds variety to their photos, and adds some spice.
How do you plan your shots so that each bride has a unique ‘story’ of her wedding?
I plan with the bride and groom. I talk to them about their vision for the photos. I discuss what they have planned for their wedding and the best way to capture it. The bride and groom are the best resource for helping a photographer, and way too under utilized.
Do you try to get to know the couple so that you can capture their unique personalities in your photography?
Of course. I ask lots of diverse questions such as how did you meet, and what music do you listen to. It all helps me understand the couple better, and get to know their personalities. I’m then able to photograph their wedding knowing exactly where they are coming from, and what has brought them to this time and place in their lives.
You emphasize a ‘non intrusive’ approach to your photography. What are you trying to achieve by doing this?
Non-intrusive means that a wedding is not about me. Not at all. So I won’t interrupt a hug, a moment, a congratulations just because we are running on a schedule. I prefer to let these moments happen naturally and fluidly. I don’t want guests to even know I’m there. This doesn’t mean I don’t get all the important shots, its just means that I let the natural magic of a wedding day unfold on it’s own. I stand back, and capture it all.
What is your number one tip for brides?
Make sure you really like your photographer. You’ve got to spend a lot of time on your wedding day with your photographer, and if you don’t like them it could really bring down the mood of your day. If you’ve developed a real and trusting relationship it means your photos will be more beautiful because you’ll feel at ease showing your natural happiness in front of the camera.
What are your favourite wedding photograph ideas?
Apart from engagement sessions, it would have to be the ‘First Look’ option. A ‘first look’ is where the bride and groom opt to make their own tradition by seeing each other before the ceremony, and having their formal photos taken then. It gives them privacy to really express how they’re feeling about being married, and the photos can be taken in a relaxed way. The best part is that there’s no waiting for guests between the ceremony and reception.
What do you love about Australian Brides?
I love that Australian make their weddings very personalised affairs. At every wedding I photograph I see subtle touches that uniquely represent the couple. It makes each wedding just so special.
What was your most memorable wedding moment?
The very fist wedding I photographed was of a very dear friend. When she stepped out of the car she turned to me and winked at me. My heart absolutely flew because I knew just how amazing she was feeling right at that moment, and how nervous she was, but she still had time to think of me and how nervous I was too. She had faith that I’d nail the photos, which gave me faith in myself.
What are the biggest mistakes you see brides making?
Following tradition for tradition’s sake. Bride’s should think about every aspect of their wedding, and consider if it holds any relevance to them.
5 things a bride and groom must get right?
1. The bridal party. Choose people who will make your day the best it can be, not ones that you know will be difficult to convince to get into the spirit of the day.
2. The timing of the day. Don’t make guests wait around too long between the ceremony and reception. They want to see you and enjoy your day with you.
3. Stay true to yourself. Don’t follow trends, follow your heart.
4. Keeping the day in perspective. Remember that it’s the first day of the rest of your lives together, not your only ever day together. This will help you not to feel too overwhelmed.
5. Did I mention staying true to yourself?
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and advice on Polka Dot Bride Meaghan! You can check out more of Meaghan’s work over at her website Meaghan Cook Photography Boutique.