5 Ways To Capture Better Getting Ready Wedding Photos
Shooting the “getting ready” for the bride and groom is one of my favorite parts of the big day. It’s all about capturing the emotions and energy in the room. As a photographer, you get to play with light and composition while telling the narrative of the day as it begins to unfold. Over the years, I’ve stuck with a few basic principles for getting the best shots. The advice below is for both the couple and photographers to make the most out of this time.
Don’t Stage Things
There are plenty of classic shots that you’ll see time and time again, like someone helping the bride put on her dress, or a close of the groom fixing his tie. They are nice and I too like to capture this, if that’s what’s happen. I don’t like to stage this too much. Consider this for a moment if you do. You get a nice shot for the couple, but when they remember the moment, they’ll remember that it was all posed. I like when the bride or groom looks back at a shot and they are pleasantly surprised that such a fleeting moment was captured.
Photographer’s Tip: Always be looking for how things may unfold. Find the composition first and wait for the shot. I like to put an element in the foreground that will be blurred to give the sense that the viewer is hidden from the subject’s view. Like you are stealing a glance or a moment.
Don’t Forget The Details
A shot of the dress, the shoes, the rings and anything important to the couple. These are the few shots that I take some creative liberty with shooting. For a bride, you will have spent a lot of money on these items, so it’s nice to have these documented for posterity sake. For vendors, they will appreciate being able to use and share images of their work.
Photographer’s Tip: Don’t just take a picture of things were they are. Move them around and place against a nice textured background in good lighting. Put on a macro lens and get close-up with the rings. Hang the dress up somewhere nice. Play with light and negative space.
Let There Be Light
Natural light is good. A lot of natural light is even better. I always prefer when I’m shooting in a room with lots of light flooding in. Although, it’s the photographer’s job to create the shot, there’s only so much we can do if you’re getting ready in a dark room lit by tungsten lightbulbs. Generally speaking, by the time I get there, the bride will most likely be somewhere with light because the make-up artist will prefer to work in a brighter area. For the couple: if you’re booking a hotel room, ask for a room that gets plenty of light during the time of day when you’ll be getting ready.
Photographer’s Tip: try playing with back lighting. Shoot directly into the light and expose for the subject. You’ll get an overexposed glow that’s just beautiful, especially against a large window. Alternatively, you can expose for the light and get a silhouette effect.
Don’t Be A Fly On The Wall
They say a good documentary style photographer is like a fly on the wall. You sort of disappear and people don’t even know you’re there as photographer. While there’s merit in not being so in your face as photographer, I personally like to interact with the people in the room. I want you to know I’m there. I mean I’m a guy with a couple of giant cameras clicking away. It’s a hard thing to hide. But the sooner we get that out of the way, the sooner you can get back to not being surprised by me. Then everyone can go back to act more natural and feeling comfortable.
Photographer’s Tip: Lighten the mood. People are sometimes worried they might not be captured in the most flattering fashion. I like to show them the bad shots that are both horrible and hilarious and then ensure them that I won’t be using these shots. It breaks any barriers they might have with me, especially earlier on in the day. By the end of the wedding, almost everyone with either be used to me being around or will take it one step further and ham it up for the camera for some pretty fun shots.
Embrace The Chaos
I always talk to my clients about the energy in the room. I don’t mean in a new age hippy kind of way, unless my clients are the new age hippy kind of clients. Some clients get ready with just 1 or 2 other people, and there’s a calm and reflective feeling in the room. Some get ready with 15 bridesmaids and 4 bottles of champagne. Capture accordingly. What is the story you are trying to tell? How can you describe the atmosphere to someone who wasn’t there?
Photographer’s Tip: Go wide. Get a shot of the whole room. You won’t be able to frame the half empty platter of croissants and the 7 shoe boxes out of the shot. Don’t. It may not always be pretty, but it’s real. You can always move a couple of things around if you’ve found that amazing shot of the bride stepping into her shoes, but not every shot needs to be so perfect. Capture things how they are too.
I try to come into the room with a blank slate each time. I don’t have a shot list that I mentally check off. I just try to capture what I see. Remember to take your time. It’s always better to get a handful of quality shots, than a bunch of mediocre shots because you are rushing to just snap away at everything.
Looking for some tips on making the most out of the First Look, check out my tips on how to get better First Look shots.