The bride’s portraits on the day of her wedding is one of the most important appointments of the day for a wedding photographer. It is often a mix of intensive planning, impromptu moments captured at the blink of an eye and a bit of a personal touch in the approach. In this tutorial we shall take a look at some essential techniques of photographing the bride. These would include tips on lighting, posing and of course preparation before the big day.

Look for a room that has lots of natural light. A lot of light will create a wraparound effect that is essential for a slightly high-key result. You would rarely see a bridal portrait that has been treated with a low key lighting set-up. Never.

look for a large soft light source

Lots of light equals to a soft lighting scenario and that is just perfect for good wedding portraits. If you could have a say in this insist that the bride gets ready in a room where there are at least one large window with natural light flooding in. Prefer not to have direct sunlight, rather light that is indirect (you would get that in a north side facing window). If you cannot get one or get a window that has harsh light coming through you can draw in the curtains to diffuse the light.

a large window is a source of soft wrap around light

Alternatively, you can carry with you some white sheets. White sheets are always handy, in almost every outdoor photography environment. Carry a few with some ‘A’ clamps to quickly diffuse the light coming through the windows.

Strobes with diffusers can be useful too. But carrying strobes, light stands, softboxes and battery power packs means you are talking about a serious amount of gear. A lot of things can go wrong when your list of gear is large. And they probably would if you believe in Murphy’s Law. Instead of becoming a ‘gearoholic’, pack a couple of speedlights / flash units with radio trigger and a good sharp wide lens. That should be enough for clean wedding portraits.

I was recently at an Indian wedding, and the wedding photographer rigged the entire venue with small flash units. Unfortunately, he couldn’t manage setting up the channels and that meant every time he fired his camera shutter all the flash units at the venue flashed. It was comical after a while. A classic case of packing too much gear for a job.

The day before

Many of the bridal portraits or couple portraits are best done at least a day before the wedding. That way you don’t have the pressures of a tight schedule to comply with. Keep a day in hand when you can and that can make a world of difference to your bridal portrait images.

Shooting the bridal portrait images before the wedding has both its advantages and disadvantages. The bride can try out her dress, put on her makeup and jewelry her shoes a day prior or a few days prior to the wedding. It ends up being a dress rehearsal of sorts before the big day. As a photographer you obviously have a lot more time in your hands to make those memorable images.

On the flip side, however, there is a serious risk of getting the dress or the accessories dirty. It’s a risk that some brides are hesitant to take. Carry some clean white sheets and use them whenever she steps on the grass, stepping on the sheets instead of the grass. This will prevent her dress from getting dirty.

Getting ready shots

The getting ready shots should preferably be done on the day of the wedding. It is a difficult time to shoot mainly because there are a lot of people moving in and about the wedding venue and finding some quiet time to photograph the bride getting ready can be difficult.

how to make better getting ready shots

As a wedding photographer you have to keep in mind that this is a deeply private time for the bride. You shouldn’t be pushy and should always respect her privacy. This is a cherished moment especially when she is with her mother, or her sister or someone else in the inner circle of her family.

You should only ‘intrude’, if one can even use that word, when she is almost ready. She might have put on her dress and make up and someone’s helping her put on the jewelry. This is a good time to step in and shoot some quick photos. Use a long lens, something like the 70-200mm and shoot wide open at f/2.8 to f/4.

Posing

I am a big believer of candid shooting, especially when it comes to wedding. There are some images which do turn up good when shot candidly. But having said that a vast number of images need to be posed as well. When posing try to have a mental image of how you want your bride to appear in the final image. You have had the advantage of meeting the bride at least a couple of occasions before the marriage. That is where you should have noticed her built, her face and her hair and made a mental note of the general camera angles which can accentuate the best features of her face. These should be in written down in your notebook ready to be referenced.

Before the day of the wedding (or the pre-wedding photoshoot day as the case may be) flip out that notebook and revise the notes. The first few weddings would be difficult for you. As they say, ‘everyone falls the first time’. But as you gain experience and grow in confidence you will find that things ill start to come to you naturally.

You can certainly help yourself by going through a few wedding and bridal magazines which have a ton of posing ideas. Keep in mind your bride’s body type to select poses that would best accentuate her looks.

A key to shooting good bridal portraits and making sure that everything is over in the shortest time possible is to ensure that you maximize each pose by making multiple images. Take one image that showcases her face, a close-up portrait to be precise. Take another that showcases her dress and one more where the focus again would be her dress but she would be shot from waist up.

tips on posing the bride

You can even ask her to look off-camera with the same pose for a fourth shot. This will give you enough shots to choose from as well as cover for the possible scenario some of your shots don’t turn out the way you might have expected.

The Hands

Believe it or not the most awkward moment is when your bride poses for you and in her head she doesn’t know what she is supposed to do with her hands. That’s when the tension and the anxiety surrounding the wedding comes through. It’s always an awkward moment.

avoid those awkward moments with the hands

The best way to handle this is to give her a bouquet of flowers to hold. A bouquet is a wonderful accessory that naturally fills in anything in the image that might appear out of order. Let’s say that your bride is particularly conscious about her waist line and she isn’t too keen about your photoshopping skills either. What do you do in such a situation? Ask her to hold a bouquet around her midriff. That would hide her waist line. Having her pose with her body facing away from the camera while she looks at the camera is another way to pose when you have a curvy bride to photograph.

Ben Novoselsky

Ben Novoselsky

CEO and Founder at Phowd.com
Entrepreneur, geek, photo enthusiast.
Ben Novoselsky

You may also like

Ben Novoselsky April 25, 2017

Background for Portrait Photography

Background for portrait photography – An Introduction
Backgrounds assume a critical importance in ...

Ben Novoselsky October 24, 2016

Using a Softbox as your Key Light

The soft box is your definitive source of lighting a model or an object in order to photograph it. ...

Ben Novoselsky May 9, 2016

What Kind of Wedding Photography Lights Should You Buy?

Lighting in wedding photography is a big thing. Regardless of your budget you have a responsibility ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 1, 2017

Wedding Photography – the History of the Genre

The history of recording a wedding dates back to a time long before photography came about. The ...

Rajib Mukherjee February 23, 2017

Pricing Yourself – How Much to Charge as a Wedding Photographer?

In reality it is a question of assessing your costs and then setting a price which covers that ...

Ben Novoselsky September 2, 2015

How to Shoot a Wedding in a Photojournalistic Style

Every now and then there would be a requirement for a photojournalistic style wedding photographer. ...

Ben Novoselsky July 2, 2017

Best Books on Portrait Photography

In this discussion we shall take a look at some very useful books on a particular genre of ...

Rajib Mukherjee June 23, 2014

Five Reasons You Should Outsource Your Photo Editing Chores

Reason 1 – Liberate the Photographer in You

As much as you love to shoot, post processing ...

Ben Novoselsky November 24, 2014

Awesome Tips for Photographing Groups

Photographing groups can be extremely difficult. Usually, the need for large groups occurs at ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 3, 2017

A Beginner’s Guide to Shoot Environmental Portraits

As a genre, environmental portraits are a challenge of sorts for most photographers. It is because ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 1, 2017

The Essential Guide to Posing the Groom

A ton has been written and said about the essential aspects of posing the bride. However, nobody ...

Rajib Mukherjee July 6, 2017

What to Discuss with Client Before the Photo Shooting

A digital photographer, someone who works on assignments, his greatest friend is the agreement that ...

Ben Novoselsky June 11, 2016

Things to Consider When Drafting the Wedding Photography Contract

About a year and a half ago I read an eye-opening article by renowned wedding photographer Gary ...

Rajib Mukherjee December 29, 2015

Post Processing a Child Portrait in Lightroom

Some time back I wrote an article on this website, on how to make better portrait photos in natural ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 16, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 2

Compositions are everything in wedding photography; at least when you are not shooting candid ...

Rajib Mukherjee May 8, 2017

10 Unusual Creative Ideas for Wedding Photography

These days wedding photographers do tend to have a lot of creative freedom in their hands. Thanks ...

Ben Novoselsky April 25, 2016

How do you tweak the Sunny 16 Rule in Photography?

You are out with your family on a bright sunlit day. The kind of day on which photographers prefer ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 21, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 3

One of things that you must learn is how to use off-camera flash. Or if I may recompose that ...

Rajib Mukherjee March 21, 2016

Lighting techniques for shooting in studio environment

A studio setup allows you to be creative in ways you could never ever manage without lights. There ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 16, 2014

7 Tips to Shooting Great Portrait Photographs

Portrait photography is like a bread and butter thing for professional photographers. No matter ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 14, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 1

Weddings are not only fun but they are also one of the most solemn of occasions. Two souls unite ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 18, 2017

Checklist of Preparation for Wedding Photography

Let’ face it. Wedding photography isn’t a sort of pursuit that is for the weak heart. Wedding ...

Ben Novoselsky November 6, 2014

Portrait Photography Lighting Tips

Portrait photography, especially when we talk about studio portrait photography, as a genre, is ...

Rajib Mukherjee April 27, 2017

Shooting a Business Portrait: Techniques, Ideas and Approaches

If you are good with portrait photography probably at one point you would be looking to jump in to ...

Kelsey Fox September 24, 2014

8 Unique Ideas for Wedding Photos

A new spouse, a new last name, and photos - the three must-have takeaways of any wedding. Though ...

Ben Novoselsky July 16, 2017

Shooting a Portrait with Natural Light vs Artificial Light

The use of light in portrait photography
Portrait photography is a bread and butter pursuit for ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 4, 2015

Some Wedding Photography Posing Tips

Wedding photographers are often hard-pressed to produce works of art standing in the midst of utter ...

Ben Novoselsky June 2, 2015

Using Backlighting for your Portrait Images

Growing up you would no doubt be advised that the best way to shoot portrait images is to place ...

Popular posts

Rajib Mukherjee July 31, 2015

How to use the Panning mode in photography

Panning is the technique of going with the flow of a moving subject to make images. The movement of ...

Rajib Mukherjee September 16, 2014

7 Tips to Shooting Great Portrait Photographs

Portrait photography is like a bread and butter thing for professional photographers. No matter ...

Kelsey Fox September 24, 2014

8 Unique Ideas for Wedding Photos

A new spouse, a new last name, and photos - the three must-have takeaways of any wedding. Though ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 16, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 2

Compositions are everything in wedding photography; at least when you are not shooting candid ...

Ben Novoselsky August 3, 2014

5 Useful Tips for Making Great Images in Low Light

Cameras like the Canon 5D Mark III and the Nikon D3X have completely changed the playing field when ...

Ben Novoselsky November 6, 2014

Portrait Photography Lighting Tips

Portrait photography, especially when we talk about studio portrait photography, as a genre, is ...

Ben Novoselsky July 29, 2014

4 Methods to Get White Balance of Your Images Correct

Image before white balance correction

Are you plagued with the problem of strange color casts ...

Ben Novoselsky March 25, 2015

The Use of Diagonal Lines in Photography Composition

We often read about the creative uses of lines in photography. The horizon line is one such oft ...

Rajib Mukherjee October 14, 2014

How to Get Started in Wedding Photography – Part 1

Weddings are not only fun but they are also one of the most solemn of occasions. Two souls unite ...