Bridal Portraits 101
Whether you've found yourself reading this as a bride browsing perfectly styled bridal portraits, or just looking for some inspiration to bring to your next shoot as the photographer I have a short collection of tips for a smoothly run, easily done bridal shoot.
If you're the bride…
1. Allow yourself enough time to search, buy and alter a wedding gown. Your dress is the one of the most artistic elements of your big day and getting into tip top shape for pictures can take many months. Typically your portraits will be taken up to 2 months before the actual wedding which means you just pushed your shopping extravaganza up a notch.
2. There are plenty of bridal salons that perform alterations in house. Portraits are expected and along with them, a follow up spot treatment and repress. Map out a schedule of events and appointments with your seamstress to diffuse a little stress.
3. Hire the same photographer to take your portraits and your wedding photos. It's easier and most photographers have a package deal that will include up to 3 sessions: engagements, bridals and the wedding.
4. Select a venue that provides 1 or 2 additional time slots allotted for you to take portraits on site before the big day. Often, venues will offer a similar package like a photographer and this can be convenient when trying to choose a location to take your bridals.
5. Be prepared for the shoot. Bring the essentials to put your look together including the altered and steamed wedding dress, a veil (or headpiece), shoes, a bouquet, and jewelry. If you plan on having your hair styled and make-up done professionally, plan your appointments accordingly and have a specific look in mind to explain to your beauticians.
If you're the photographer…
1. Be sure to have a set location ready to go. If it is outdoors, have a back up plan in case the weather falters. When shooting on location at a previously chosen venue, call ahead to double check that permits, appointments or other conflicting factors don't interfere.
2. Bring an emergency beauty kit in case your bride forgets something. Items in your kit may include tissues, deodorant, translucent powders, mascara, and bottled water.
3. Be ready to pamper your bride. Learn how to expertly fluff a dress, arrange a veil and have a long list of compliments ready to fire away. A bride's portraits before her wedding are photos her family will enjoy for many years to follow and a genuine, honest smile will speak a thousand happier words than a stressed out, insecure woman. This is your shoot, you're in charge and it is your responsibility as a photographer to make your subject feel comfortable and like the most beautiful girl in the world that day.
4. Locations may provide easy scenery and given back drops or props but if you're a little more artsy and have time for a project or two, check out some DIY ideas. Pinterest helps with that.
5. Research the latest bridal trends. If there is a great idea trending this wedding season that features a bride on ____ holding a _____ next to her _____ then do your best to at least attempt that shot so you can offer a unique pose. Photography flare never goes out of style, discuss what type of photos your bride is looking for, dig into some examples and do your best to perform.
As a photographer who works with brides everyday:
I had an absolute blast on my very first bridal shoot. Hello, Earth Bride!