It’s no secret that shooting the details is our most favorite way to begin every wedding day. Not only because it’s fun (because heeelllooooo?! who doesn’t love to play with aaaallll the pretty things?!) but because we know how much time and effort goes into choosing each and every one. And let’s be real, there’s no bigger detail a bride chooses than her wedding dress.
Chances are she’s dreamt about it
once or twice a MILLION times since she was little, and went on quite a journey to get it right there in front of your camera. After all the pinning, trial-and-error, appointments, fittings and probably tears this is the ONE time it’s going to be documented before it’s cried and danced in, and we think that’s pretty darn special. Every time we shoot one of these beauts we think about this journey and it’s impossible not to want to show it off in it’s very best light. Ready to do just that? Then read on for our Top Five Tips for Shooting the Wedding Dress!
We Like to Move it, Move It!
For the first year or so of our business we were TERRIFIED to move the wedding dress. What if it got dirty? What if it fell on the ground? What if it spontaneously combusted into a giant ball of flames and we were simply left standing there holding an empty smoking hanger (a la something from our fave childhood cartoons). And this fear dictated all of our dress shots, which in turn dictated our less than stellar portfolio. But as time went on and we grew more confident in ourselves and our skills, we began to move the dress. And not only did our shots become more consistent with the brand we were creating, but our job became EASIER. We didn’t have to struggle to edit images taken in gross light and messy settings because those shots weren’t being created to begin with. When you get to a wedding give yourself an extra 10 minutes to scout out a spot, and MOVE THAT DRESS! (Did anyone else just get all the Ty Pennington vibes?!)
Be the Stylist
Your job as the photographer is not always just to document things as they happen, but to present them in their best light to begin with. When it comes to the wedding dress this means that it’s up to you to make the dress look it’s best, not just to shrug your shoulders and say “well, it’s not my fault she chose a dress that hangs like a tent”. Bring a nice wooden hanger in case the bride didn’t think to swap out the cheapie plastic one, and a clip to help cinch in the back if it needs a more flattering silhouette. Then channel your best Tim Gunn (and make it work!)
Shoot for the Album
Whenever you’re shooting we always recommend to keep the couple’s album in the back of your mind. You know you’ll need options as you design the layouts, so we make sure to shoot both portrait and landscape images of the full dress, as well as 3 different crops that show off any special details. This way you know you’ll have everything you may need available to you as you’re crafting the detail spreads later, and won’t have to do any weird cropping that may sacrifice image quality.
It’s so easy (especially on a wedding day) to get lost in the hustle and bustle and not take time to let your creative juices flow. Even if you feel an hour behind and you still have three pairs of shoes to document and two sets of earrings (because the bride isn’t sure which ones she’ll wear yet) and the hair and makeup team is waiting on you for finishing touches just stop and TAKE.A.BREATH. And then step back from the dress hanging immediately in front of you and see if there’s a different angle or anything interesting in the room. Some of our favorite dress shots have come from taking a broader look at the environment and noticing a fun reflection or unique pieces around.
Be Flexible and Prepared
Sometimes, even once you have all these tricks in your back pocket, you’re just plain stuck in the confines of the day. Maybe you can’t move the dress because the groom is getting ready right outside, or maybe there simply isn’t time. Maybe the bride is super nervous and isn’t comfortable letting that white wonder out of her sight for even.a.second. Whatever the reason, every so often you won’t be able to move the dress or change the light and you’ll find yourself shooting in a 10×10 box filled with 20 ladies and no elbow room. In these situations we shoot as tightly as possible to minimize the chaos of the environment, use OCF to minimize any ugly ambient light we’re stuck with, and still create something awesome. You got this!
Ok, we know we said five tips but then that extra cup of coffee kicked in and we’re feeling crazy. Let’s make it six because sometimes, you have to….
Think Outside the Box
One Saturday we got to a wedding, and the bride told us to skip the dress shot because her gorgeous handmade wedding dress simply would not hang on a hanger. We scoffed and said we’d make it work (because TIM!) but no matter what we did, no matter how we clipped, that puppy was determined to work against us. And the best possible option we were left with, was this:
But then we realized this bench was juuuusst tall enough to hide behind and styled something we could be proud of. Yes, the picture below is literally a picture of Ben even though you can’t see him ; ) And when we headed back inside to show the bride the picture of her beautifully laid out dress she was so surprised! (and we basically felt like super human magicians ; ) Above all your main goal should always be to serve your client and surpass their expectations, and with that fueling you you’re bound to make some magic.
As always we love when you inspire our upcoming education posts, so reach out to us on social media or through a comment below if there’s a topic you’d like to see up next! Happy shooting friends!
Love + Laughs,
Sarah & Ben