Wedding Photography for Everyone: Fundamentals

Shooting the bridal party


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Wedding Photography for Everyone: Fundamentals

with Chris Orwig

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Video: Shooting the bridal party

Often before the ceremony you have the opportunity to photograph the bride and the bridesmaids, and the groom and the groomsmen. Well, here what I want to do is talk about how we can photograph the bride and her bridesmaids, and why these pictures are important. At a wedding, typically you invite and bring together those people who are most important to you, and when it comes to bridesmaids, these are the bride's best and closest friends, often it includes family members. So, how can we start to capture images which somehow capture the energy and excitement and closeness of this group? Let's look at a few photographs that I think will help raise a few points which will help us create and capture better bride and bridesmaids photographs.
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Watch the Online Video Course Wedding Photography for Everyone: Fundamentals
1h 32m Intermediate Mar 01, 2013

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If you're a photographer (an enthusiast or a pro), you'll eventually be asked to photograph a wedding: a task that's both a privilege and a challenge. You're capturing one of life's most significant milestones. You're shooting an event filled with unpredictable moments that can't be re-created, and you need to be involved without being intrusive. It's a balancing act that professional wedding photographers work hard to perfect.

Chris Orwig has been in exactly this position, and in this course, he shares his experiences and creative insights, all liberally illustrated with examples from weddings that he has photographed. The course begins with details on preproduction—your gear and equipment decisions and the importance of talking to the bride and groom about their goals for your photographs. It also explores some key strategies for documenting the ceremony and the celebration afterwards. Lastly, Chris reviews some postproduction strategies for enhancing your images and delivering them to the happy couple.

Subject:
Photography
Author:
Chris Orwig

Shooting the bridal party

Often before the ceremony you have the opportunity to photograph the bride and the bridesmaids, and the groom and the groomsmen. Well, here what I want to do is talk about how we can photograph the bride and her bridesmaids, and why these pictures are important. At a wedding, typically you invite and bring together those people who are most important to you, and when it comes to bridesmaids, these are the bride's best and closest friends, often it includes family members. So, how can we start to capture images which somehow capture the energy and excitement and closeness of this group? Let's look at a few photographs that I think will help raise a few points which will help us create and capture better bride and bridesmaids photographs.

The first picture that I want to show you here is of a bride and her maid of honor, they were having a lot of fun and they love being photographed. At one point I handed them one of my cameras, and they started capturing a few photographs of themselves. The reason why I want them to include these pictures is because I think it illustrates this idea that when you're working with this group, you can have a lot of fun. I mean, this group has already been together a little bit, they've gotten ready together, and you wanted to start to have fun with them and try to capture unique and interesting pictures.

Let's move to another wedding. In this case the bride and her sister were getting ready and the light wasn't good at all. It was florescent lighting indoor, but I captured a few frames just trying to get familiar with the scene, but quickly I knew I needed to get outside. Especially, because I'm using natural and available light, I needed more space, I need a better light. So, we walked outside, and outside they started to get her ready even more, fix her hair, and her veil, and here you can see just documenting a few of those moments.

And I like these moments because they're tender, there is this closeness, and also there is this kind of calm excitement. Next, after having captured a few of these images, another little girl, one of the flower girls came up and was examining and taking a look at the dress, and I was capturing that. The bridesmaids were all behind him watching the scene. And eventually, one of them said, "Well, what if we lift up the veil and hold it over her head?" And we did that and captured this frame, just kind of experimenting.

And a lot of times bridesmaids, or groomsmen for that matter, they are up for trying things out, and that's exactly what we did here. Well, eventually I knew that I needed to capture the whole group, here was my first attempt, it was a complete and utter flop, it didn't work at all. I thought, well, if I positioned them on the steps, maybe I'll be able to capture them all, but it just didn't work. So, I started to think on the fly. That's what you have to do when you're shooting weddings is you are thinking quickly, where is the light, what's the background, who are the people, how can I capture this togetherness? So, this next frame I asked them to get a little bit closer, it was working a bit better, and here you can see I'm getting even closer, this one, I think is really fun, all of their faces, smiling, their eyes, the colors, the flowers, it's much more simple, and it has a better feeling to it.

And again, I'm just trying out different ideas, recomposing a little bit. Well, then after this, after having captured a few of these pictures, I asked them to go for a walk, and this is something that almost always works. Get people moving. This particular wedding was photographed in Carmel, California, and the bride was a good friend, she was from Carmel and so I said, "Well, let's walk across the street." She said of course, and they just naturally created this really fun procession, and I liked that idea of just kind of bringing them out to a new location.

After we walked one way across the street, I directed them, I said, "Why don't you guys link arms and walk back towards me?" And I'm walking backwards, hoping there are any cars passing by and just capturing the frames as we were walking across the street. And again just some fun moments, and I think you can see that in their smiles, in their posture, in their faces. Well, then, this is kind of interesting. I ran ahead, and I climbed up the street. One of the things that good photographers will always tell you is change your perspective. I had a photograph where I was a little bit lower, and I had one where we're crossing the street, and then I saw this tree that could easily scramble up, and I climbed up and they didn't notice me, and I captured this frame, and then I called their attention.

And I called their attention, because I knew there was an image here, these first two attempts weren't very good, but I kept working at it. If you look closely, you can see my other camera down there on the ground, and I said, well, okay, what can I do with this particular lens, it's sort of a normal focal length, I need to get a little bit closer, and so I've zoomed in a little bit, and I said, "Why don't you guys stand around and hold your flowers all around her face? It was a fun photograph, but it was a little bit too much about the bride.

I'd cropped out the bridesmaids, so I tried some other versions of this, it didn't really work. So, then I said, "Well, why don't you just crowd around the bride?" And this is where I thought the pictures became kind of fun, and you can see them altogether. This was the image as it was out of the camera after cropping and rotating it. I think it's a really fun frame. The bride there, surrounded by all of her close friends, all of her bridesmaids. And so, as you start to seek to create interesting bride and bridal party photographs, think about how sometimes it's just a matter of changing a location, like just stepping outside of the door and photographing the scene out there, getting ready outside in this case it was so much better than inside, or other times it's taking advantage of the location, of the gardens, and getting them close and creating a little bit of variety.

Or maybe it's about taking a walk, and getting people moving, or perhaps it's just changing your perspective. And a slight change in perspective in photography can help you capture so many different things. So, as you work on your own bridal party portraits, especially with the bridesmaids, really add some variety to what you're doing, because these pictures, they're so important. These are the closest people in the world to this bride. Explore different ideas and test some of these tips out, because I think they will help you capture better pictures.

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