In this blog series, How to Shoot a Wedding, we’ll be exploring, one by one, all of the “must haves” that need to be captured throughout the wedding day to create a well-rounded shoot. We’ll discuss the reasons each is important, examine some common challenges wedding photographers face in these situations, and provide a few insider tips for how to shoot like a professional. So grab your camera bag and let’s dive in…
By now, the only thing anyone wants to do is head to the bar, but there’s one last item on the agenda before that can happen: bridal party portraits.
These are similar to family photos as far as composition and lighting goes, but you have quite a bit more leeway to get creative. Moira and I go into each wedding with four or five ideas for the bridal party portraits and end up whittling it down to one or two, depending on what the bridal party is and is not comfortable doing. Remember, everyone is different. What sounds like a fun idea to one set of bridesmaids and groomsmen might not sound like such a great idea to another.
The “jumping photo” is a prime example.
Some people love it, some people hate it. The important thing to remember is to not take it personally when one of your ideas is shot down. Just smile and move on to the next.
You should speak with the bride and groom ahead of time to get a sense of which types of photos they like and which they don’t; what poses they’re comfortable doing and which they’re not, etc. Still, there will inevitably be one attendant who doesn’t want to do something, which is why it’s important to have lots of ideas.
But before all that, I’d recommend starting out with a few traditional shots. You’ll shoot these much the same way you did the family portraits (i.e. pose the group, cross light the scene, count to three, etc. [see part six for more details]). You’ll generally want to do the whole group, the bride with the bridesmaids and the groom with the groomsmen. You can also do the bride with the groomsmen, the groom with the bridesmaids and, if there’s time, the bride with each individual bridesmaid and the groom with each individual groomsman.
Once you’ve nailed a handful of “safe” shots, it’s time to do something a little more interesting. So where to begin?
The best advice I can give here is that you don’t have to do something ridiculously over-the-top to make a compelling image. For example, making a few small posing adjustments can do wonders for your compositions.
Try incorporating a prop. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy like a “just married” sign. Look around you. There are plenty of everyday items at your disposal that can be used to give your photos a bit of an edge.
Also, do you remember what I’ve been preaching about “getting low, getting high, getting close, getting far?”
In Between Moments
As with any other part of the wedding day, you want to be aware of the “in between” moments when you’re shooting the bridal party photos. There will inevitably be down time between groupings or in-transit time between shooting locations. Use this time to do some candid shots.
Try incorporating an activity. We discussed doing this during the bride and groom portraits (see part four) to give them something to focus on, in turn, making them a little less camera-conscious and a little more natural. The same thing works for the bridal party.
Get creative with your lighting. You’re probably going to be doing these photos in midday sun, so this is a great time to bust out your off-camera flash.
Finally, if all else fails, humor to the rescue!
So now that you’ve checked off all of the formal portraits, the bride will head off with her bridesmaids to get bustled before being introduced into the reception. Time for a 10-minute break, right? Wrong! There are a ton of detail photos that need to be shot before then, so you’d better get to it.
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