Welcome to the first video of my ‘Shooting a Wedding Day’ series on YouTube. I’m going to walk you through my process for photographing every part of the wedding day from the bride’s preparations to the first dance. First up… How to Photograph Bride’s Getting Ready and Detail Photos. Watch the video below or click here to open it in a new window.
Arriving at the Bride’s Home
When I arrive at the brides getting ready location, the first thing I’m doing is putting my bag down and greeting everyone in the room! I want everyone to feel valued and know I have time to look them in the eye. I try to get everyone’s names and give them a handshake, if possible.
The next thing I analyze is, “Where are we in hair/makeup progress?” Once I know this, I can decide where I’m going to spend my next few minutes. Either A) Detail shots of dress, shoes, accessories or B) Hair/Makeup images and candid photos of the bride/bridesmaids.
If she still has some time left on her hair/makeup, I’ll head for the detail shots right away. If the’s almost finished up, I’ll try to snag a few images right away before setting up my detail shots.
Styling Detail Images
Next, I’ll ask the Maid of Honour or a Bridesmaid if she knows where all of the Bride’s dress and details are. I try not to bother the bride with this question. Once I’ve located all the details, I search for the best place to hang the dress. The main things I’m looking for: simple backgrounds and light.
After I photograph the dress, I move onto shoes, rings, any jewelry, her bouquet if they have arrived already – basically any details present! I’m capturing the dress photos with a 35mm or 50mm lens. For detail photos, I’m switching between the 50mm lens as well as 100mm macro lens. As I’m photographing details, I’m making sure to keep an ear on the main room where the bride and all of the bridesmaids are.
If there is a moment where everybody starts to laugh or I hear activity, I leave what I’m doing immediately and head back into the activity. With my 50mm lens, I’m snapping photos of the laughter, the activity, champagne toasts. When I feel it’s time, I head back into the detail room.
While I’m shooting a wedding, I never want to be so singularly focused on what I’m doing that I miss other things. It’s what we’re balancing the whole time as photographers on a wedding day. Once the detail shots are done, the next step is finding the best spot for the bride to get into her dress.
Getting Into the Dress
It is really important that this area be clutter free. If you look at a magazine or any fashion ads, you won’t have this beautiful hotel room with bottles of water and purses and tote bags on the ground. It just doesn’t happen. I think in the beginning of my business, I struggled with not wanting to offend people.
I didn’t want to change the environment too much, so I would hesitate to clean areas up! I realized that’s silly. People hire us to create beautiful photos and they’re not thinking about the mess. So now, I’ll just go for it and start moving bags into a corner, etc. If the bride seems like she’s a little more anxious or worried about things, I want to make sure that nothing I’m doing is stressing her out. So I may ask, “Is it all right if I just move a few things around?”
If the bride’s chill, I won’t even mention it. Once the bride is finished her hair and makeup, I’ll say, “Did you have a specific area you wanted to get dressed?” The only time the bride has a specific area would be if she’s getting ready at her parents home.
I know on my wedding day, I wanted my getting into the dress photos in my bedroom because I loved the design of it. It felt like me. That was really important to me. If it’s in a hotel room, 90% of the time the bride is going to say, “No, whatever you think it’s best.”
I’m trying to think through all of these details in advance, to speed up the morning. I never want my preparations to be the reason we’re running behind. When the bride says that she’s ready to get into her dress, I know exactly where I want her to stand. “I want you facing this way because of this window! And I’ll be shooting from this direction.”
Something to be aware of during this getting ready time is the different levels of modesty brides may have. Everybody is different. Some brides will be out of their robe immediately. Other brides want privacy, so I’m always quick to offer, “Hop into the other room to put your dress halfway up and scoot back over here holding it up!”
When she’s back in the room, I’m using my 35mm and 50mm lenses to capture:
- Detail photos of the dress back
- Lots of the bride’s face while she’s zipped in
- Reactions of bridesmaids watching
- Maid of Honour’s or Mom doing up the dress