Shooting Bridal Party Portraits

August 22, 2011
filed in Weddings
question I often get through e-mail is about formal portraits. I don't normally post formal portraits because they are typically standard and nothing we haven't seen before. When a couple gives me plenty of time for formal portraits, I like to photograph them in a unique way. I wanted to post these two weddings to show that allowing enough time in a timeline for bridal party portraits really pays off in the final product.  
If you are a bride and are planning out your schedule for your wedding day, here are a few tips :  
*Consider having a first look before your ceremony. This allows more time for not only your couple photos but also for family and bridal party portraits.  
*Talk to your photographer about a timeline. Be sure to allow enough time for your photographer to be more creative with your venue and time to arrange your bridal party. (Believe me, it's quite a task if your bridal party is large!)  
*If you have a large bridal party, you may need a few more minutes in your schedule. 
*Talk to your bridal party before the wedding day. Tell them to be ready for some unique pictures and to bring their game face :)  
*Ask your photographer to see some examples of their formal portraits so you can be ready to possibly do similar photos. Be prepared to know what to expect.  
For Photographers :  
*Educate your brides on why these portraits are so important and why providing enough time is vital to great photographs.  
*Be prepared before the wedding day. Scout out your venue and find the specific spots for bridal party photos so you can move more quickly.  
*You don't have to stick to standard to take a great photo but always do both.  
*Pay attention to detail. Always take detail photos of what the bridesmaids and groomsmen are wearing. Magazines and bridal blogs are always looking for unique boutonnieres, bouquets and any details that have creative elements.  
*Don't be afraid to move and take candid images. Some of these candid images end up being some of the bride and grooms favorites.  
*If posing isn't your strong point, study other photographers images that you like and use it as a starting point. Then let your own creativity flow!  
*Take time and make sure everyone looks comfortable in the photograph. Most people are not super comfortable in front of the camera so they may need more direction. 
*Don't be afraid to take charge and direct. Raise your voice and be heard! It's ok to take charge!  
Below is an example of a more creative bridal party portrait. We used the props Nam and Ngan provided.
Always move and take portraits of individual bridal party members. This is something your second shooter can do as well. On the right, shows an example of a standard bridal party portrait.
I recommend doing a candid image as well. Even though most people feel uncomfortable it always looks cute through the camera :)
I moved in closer during the candid shot and got this image below. One of my favorites from the day and it was during the bridal party session.
Another example of a portrait of a bridal party member that Stephen took while I was getting the full shot.
On the left is an example of the girls while they were preparing for the formal shot. I snapped this as they just sat down and love the candid image it produced. I didn't wait for them to look up, I just started snapping even though they weren't ready.
Doing a first look also helps give more time to do two locations for bridal party if the couple chooses to do so. I love the variety! Having a smaller bridal party sometimes allows more flexibility in your images.
This is an example from last weekends wedding. Susan and Ian opted for a first look and we had plenty of time for bridal party photos before heading to the church. The left is a more casual photo of the girls and the right is standard.
After the ceremony at the church, we all headed to one more location for bridal party. We planned ahead in the schedule to have this time for more photos. The bridal party left after this photo was taken and I kept Susan and Ian for the remaining time for their bridal portrait session.

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