The Do's and Don'ts of Photographing Bridal Details
The thing that I hear the most often from my brides is that they love the emotion in my photographs. I have even had brides note that they love their detail images because of the emotion that was photographed. So if you ever thought that detail images couldn’t tell a powerful story to a bride, think again!
Powerful detail images set the tone for the gallery of wedding images and lets the bride know what to expect from the rest of the gallery. It also communicates to the bride that you are willing to do your best work no matter what you are photographing. Taking the time to photograph her earrings in a special way because they belonged to her late grandmother will communicate more than you can imagine.
Today I am sharing the Do's and Don’ts of photographing bridal details so that you can (1) style the bridal details well, (2) tell a better story and (3) have powerful images that will speak volumes to your ideal client.
Use poor light - It doesn’t matter how well your image is styled if the light is poor. Are you working in a dimly lit room or with fluorescent lighting? Take all of the details to a separate area. Do whatever you have to do to use good lighting and it will pay off in the long run!
Hope for the best - If you’re a professional photographer, you don’t hope for the best. You make the best happen. Don’t make excuses about the kind of setting that you have. If you feel stuck, try leaving the room for a couple of minutes. Then go in with fresh eyes!
Make it about you - You are there to serve your bride. If you go into the wedding day with this attitude, it’s going to be better for everyone. When you need something done so that you can do your job well, just ask. And let it be about the bride. People don’t want to cater to your needs on the wedding day; they want to cater to the bride’s.
Ask the bride to find something for you - If you can’t find the bride’s shoes, try asking her mom or maid of honor. Most of the time they will know where to find the missing detail. If not, they might approach the bride. And when they approach the bride it’s because they know that it isn’t going to cause her stress!
Arrive late - This will cut into the time that you have to photograph the details and it will stress your bride! I always arrive extra early to look at the location and make a mental list of all of my options (and backup options)!
Understand what the bride’s three words are for the wedding - I’m not talking about her three words for how she chose details for the wedding. I’m talking about the three words that she wants to experience during the day. Use these words or descriptions as you approach styling the details.
Most often my brides want to feel relaxed, elegant, have time to enjoy family, celebrate with their husband and make people feel loved. Knowing this, I don’t style the details in a way that looks or feels stiff and unnatural. I approach every photograph with her vision in mind. Her vision for her wedding day memories and my photographic expertise combine to create a gallery of wedding images that will tell a story for as long as there is time.
Remove the clutter and give yourself some room - Don’t be shy about moving purses, bags and clutter away from the space that you will be using. Everyone is there to serve the bride. and The bride’s best friend’s purse was not selected as part of the wedding decor. So just ask the friend if you can move it (she will say yes)! You are going to use a lot of space and you don’t want those wedding rings getting lost in the mess.
Gather all of the details at the beginning - This will help you understand the kinds of things that you will be photographing. Take everything out of the package. Once you have all of the details gathered and ready to photograph, the fun can really begin!
A lot of times I will have a bride add a locket from her aunt’s jewelry collection (or other meaningful detail) at the last minute. I want to make sure that I budget time to photograph the locket really well. If you don’t plan your time then your time will get away from you. Evaluate all of the details that you will need to photograph and create a mental check list so that you photograph the appropriate combinations!
Photograph all the details with the same lighting/background/style - Not only does consistency look great in a gallery and an album, but it also looks great for a submission (publish your work, photographers!). I think this is one of the simplest ways to take your work to the next level. While you are photographing the details, think about how each image is going to pair with another image. It will take some practice to start to see finished images side by side, but the work is worth the effort!
For example, when I am photographing the bouquet, I think about how that image will look next to an image of the bride’s earrings. Or shoes. Or ring. By thinking ahead, I give my bride a lot of flexibility for her album. I also create more flexibility for my blog post and for the editor who will publish the wedding!
Break the rules - You’re the creative and you understand the details and the emotion far better than a list of rules! So when the time calls for it, break the rules. Overexpose. Photograph the invitation suite in a different setting if it tells a better story. Serve your client and not rules!
I love to photograph the bridal bouquet while I am photographing the rest of the bridal details. But I almost always snag that bouquet later on so that I can photograph it in a different setting. I make sure that the image compliments the rest of the gallery and I always love the variation that it gives to the details.
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