The best bridal photographers practice to capture candid and emotional moments. The pictures should be authentic, genuine, even a little bit raw. Bridal photography, however, poses some challenges that photographers need to be aware of and overcome.
Shooting the bridal party isn’t the easiest of tasks.
There will be lots of people, each one with their personality and preferences. Some will be shy. Others will act stiffly around the camera. It’s your job to help the group relax while capturing the best moments every single time.
If you are looking for a guide to the best bridal photography practices that will help you capture the bridal party, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are some of the essentials you should test out for your next shoot.
Best Bridal Party Photography: Talk About It in Advance
Some brides want to have the portraits of all bridal party members included in their album. Others will favor group shots. It’s possible for clients to want to capture authentic moments while some other brides would be willing to put the director’s hat on.
You can never tell what your client wants unless you ask.
Very often, brides-to-be have very specific ideas about their shoot. They envision a distinct range of pictures being captured in a specific way.
Let your client express her idea the very first moment you discuss the bridal party photoshoot. This conversation will give you a good concept about what you’ll need to pursue. Based on that interaction, you can also provide the bride-to-be with some suggestions aimed at improving the quality of the final outcome.
To Pose or Not to Pose
Whether you’re creating group shots or individual pictures, most people will try to pose.
Very few are naturals and will actually give you something nice to work with.
This is why you need to talk to members of the bridal party. Get to know them and have an informal chat before the shoot itself commences. Sprinkling a bit of humor into the conversation will help people relax and feel more at ease.
One of the best bridal photography practices is to do a test shoot before the real one. Let people pose and share their vision without changing anything. As bridal party members get more confident in front of the camera, you can offer a bit of direction.
This brings us to the next point. A bit of direction is good, over-direction leads to stiff and unnatural pictures. Engage with people and make them laugh. You can even go for some ridiculous poses or photo compositions. Creating a frivolous environment will give you a much better outcome. Yes, you’ll need to work for it but a few minutes of conversation and direction will make the entire job much easier.
You Will Need the Right Lights
The quality of both portraits and group shots is heavily dependent on the quality of light.
In such instances, the use of external lights and flashes is going to be absolutely essential. If you are dealing with a larger bridal party, you will have to make sure that the illumination is even across the composition.
Depending on the equipment that you own, consider getting a lighting modifier to ensure evenness. A silver surface of some type will give the pictures an editorial vibe that most brides will absolutely adore. Photographic umbrellas are the absolute minimum you should consider if you’ll be working on such shots.
Some brides prefer their pictures to have a softer and more natural feel. In that instance, natural light would be the best source of illumination. Schedule the bridal party shoot for the golden hour (if possible). The sunlight at that time provides some soft and warm glow, smoothing the edges and giving the pictures a much gentler feel.
Experiment with Locations
Bridal party shots can get somewhat boring and tedious if you don’t pick an intriguing background or a fun location. Depending on the venue and the landscape, you can create some dynamic and visually-engaging shots.
A simple and clean background is always great. Alternatively, look for a location that allows for the bridal party to be pulled away from the background. Such shots create visual depth and the outcome is beautiful to look at.
Again – talk to your client about it.
Some brides want their bridal party shots to have an upscale, posh feel. Others are going for a youthful and funky vibe. You can even talk about locations together. Having a walk through the wedding venue and the vicinities may reveal some hidden gems that would enable the exact type of photoshoot your client wants.
Make Sure Everyone Looks Good
This is one of the best bridal photography practices you have to stick to when creating group shots.
Nobody wants to look ridiculous on camera.
Each shot you create has to be double-checked. Did anyone close their eyes? Make a funny face? If so, you’ll need to take the picture one more time.
To reduce the risk of running into such issues, give your subjects visual cues about what’s happening. Let people know that you’re taking the picture. The first few times, your subjects may stiffen up but once they get used to it, they’ll start striking a pose.
Dedicate Enough Time to Bridal Party Shots
Every experienced wedding photographer will tell you one and the same thing. You cannot rush through bridal party shots.
Regardless of the bridal party’s size, you will need at least 30 minutes to create the pictures that your client is looking forward to.
The task becomes more challenging when kids and senior family members are involved.
You will need 10 to 15 minutes to get everyone positioned for a group shot, especially if there are lots of people. Take your time and provide instructions. If you see that something isn’t working, switch things up. It’s a much better idea to dedicate enough time to prep work and get one stellar shot than rush through it and give your client a mediocre outcome.
Have a Second Photographer Attending the Bridal Party Shoot
Do consider having a colleague joining you during the bridal party photoshoot.
If you decide to work as a team, come up with a plan in advance.
While you’re working on the more staged aspects of the picture, the second shooter will capture candid moments and little fun aspects of the preparations. By working in a team, you will be creating added value for the bride and groom. Needless to say, most clients will appreciate the effort.
A second photographer can also help while they are not shooting.
Having a second person on set will simplify the process of giving directions, helping people get into the right spot and focusing the concept of the shoot.
Add Some Personality
Will the bridal party get a little bit silly by jumping in the air? Will you use props to make the shoot fun and unusual?
Adding some personality to bridal party shots is always a good idea (unless your client is looking for a really clean, classic outcome).
If you get the green light from the bride, you can let your imagination run wild. Picture frames, umbrellas, top hats and other little props can loosen up the ambiance. These are excellent ice breakers you can use with smaller wedding parties.
When using props, you can also shoot the bride with her friends and the groom with his. When people are surrounded by their closest people, they tend to feel much more at ease with an unfamiliar experience.
Create a Few Portraits, As Well
When it comes to bridal party shots, most photographers will consider group pictures.
Capturing a few portraits, however, is also an excellent idea.
Close-up shots reveal emotions, love, tenderness and the beauty of friendship. Zooming in on a few faces can really break up the monotony of group shots and capture some memorable moments.
Portrait photography is a separate field and you should definitely work towards mastering it. But don’t make the focus on the bride and groom alone. Try to capture the faces of parents, grandparents and friends. The closer you get, the more visually stunning the outcome will be.
Best Bridal Photography Practices for Groups: Be a Photographer and a Director!
Working with the bride and groom is one thing. Dealing with the entire bridal party is a totally different ball game.
There isn’t a universal set of rules for the creation of bridal party pictures. Usually, you’ll have to take it on a case by case basis.
Take enough time to get to know everyone and establish a friendly mood. Encourage input from people while still keeping the role of the director. Being a bit bossy is needed to get the job done but don’t close yourself off to some potentially good ideas.
If you follow these steps and you manage to coordinate the shoot with your clients, the outcome will excite and please everyone involved. Also, don’t hesitate to explore the work of other wedding photographers. It can turn into a wonderful source of inspiration that will broaden your creative horizons.
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