5 Tips for Better Bridal Party Images with Michael Anthony
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We wedding photographers place a lot of emphasis on our portraits of the bride and groom on their wedding day. That’s because large prints of these shots are in high demand by couples. But all wedding photographers agree that there are other parts of the day that are extremely important to capture. The bride and groom choose those closest to them to be a part of their bridal party, and the wedding day is a great opportunity to showcase the connections between the bride and groom and those close friends and family members. Here are five tips that will help you create amazing images of your bridal party.
Break Up the Bridal Party
We’re all familiar with the obligatory lineup photos, with the bride on one side and the groom on the other. That’s the way this type of photo has been taken for years. If you have read my articles over the last two years, you will know that I preach the need to differentiate yourself from the pack, and by that I mean take some chances on the wedding day and show that you are willing to think outside the box by breaking up the standard wedding photos that we are used to.
There is science behind this train of thought. By keeping bridesmaids on one side and groomsmen on the other, you are doing two things. You are keeping too much symmetry by aligning bridesmaids’ dresses on one side and groomsmen’s tuxedos on the other, and you are creating an off-balance image because the men are larger than the women. So by stacking them on opposing sides, your image is off balance.
You are also failing to showcase the connection with the bridal party. Here’s how I pose bridal parties. First, I ask them to pair up with whomever they are walking down the aisle with. I take the maid of honor and the best man, break them up and place them next to the bride and groom, respectively. I pose each individual couple next to each other, alternating sides each time. If I have an uneven number of people, I break up the last pair based on the side that takes up more space to give the image a final bit of balance. From here, we can pose the group in a variety of ways. Which brings me to tip two.
Vary the Look
Once you have your bridal party aligned, you can experiment with different looks. The first thing I do with my bridal parties is ask them to smile at the camera. That way, I get the basic shots out of the way. Next I ask them to give me a stoic expression. If people struggle with that, I tell the bridesmaids to think Vanity Fair magazine and the groomsmen to think James Bond. That usually gets their expression correct. Then I ask them all to look at and interact with each other.
A couple of things will happen. Extroverts in the group will naturally make the introverts come out of their shell, helping you get great expressions out of them. If you are not much of a people person, like me, this is a great way to get awesome candid shots of your bridal party.
I repeat this process with the bridesmaids, groomsmen and then the whole bridal party. I shoot this tight, middle, wide, horizontal and vertical. My second shooter is taking candid images from a 45-degree angle at the same time. This gives us a great variety of looks from our bride and groom.
Have Some Fun
With my basic and posed shots out of the way, I want to have a bit of fun with our stationary group. I ask them to strike three poses. I instruct the whole group that we will do this three separate times, and here are the rules: Each time we need a new pose, and the only thing I ask is that bridesmaids don’t hit anyone in the face with their bouquets (it’s happened before). I count to three, three times and take one to two frames each time. It takes less than 10 seconds, and some of the images that we create with our groups give us amazing options to use in their album. This is an easy album spread if you present it to them as such during their design consultation when they choose their album images.
Another good idea is to ask each person in the bridal party to make a funny face. I know, it can sound cheesy, but when you finish all of them, you now have another bridal party spread you can sell in the wedding album. Get creative with the individual shots, and they will help you tell a story.
Last in our sequence, we add in some motion with our bridal party. One of the shots that I love doing with our groups is to have them all run toward the camera. I do this two times: once camera-aware and the second time just looking at each other. Make sure that your bride’s dress stays clean during this time. I stay away from a couple of things because they are a bit cliché. I avoid groomsmen walking shots, which is overdone. I prefer energy in an image, with people running as opposed to walking. And now a word on jumping photos: Photographers, let’s just stop with jumping photos.
I like to have the bride and groom run across a scene from left to right. Think about this as one page in the album. Next, I like to have the rest of the bridal party chasing them back the other way (next page in the album). This can add an awesome element to your story, which brings me to my final tip.
Focus on Interactions
I often ask the bridal party (either the full party or members of it) to get in on the action of helping the bride and groom in their getting-ready tasks. This can include something as simple as buttoning up the dress or helping the groom with his jacket.
By adding in some of the typical parts of the story, we can create beautiful candid images or set ourselves up for great photojournalistic images.
Try using the bridal party to stack multiple stories together in a scene by using layering. For instance, maybe the bride is getting her dress ready while the other girls are helping each other get ready. My images like this are born from an actual photojournalistic moment, and clients always ask for them. Real life is the best source of inspiration for posed images.
The bridal party is an essential part of the wedding day experience for your bride and groom. If you’ve been in a wedding party before, you know how important members of the party are to the bride and groom. All of the folks in my own party are important to me and my wife, Jen, and they played a vital role in the story of our wedding.
And let’s not forget about the obvious here. A happy bridesmaid is also a future bride. I have lost count of how many bridesmaids’ weddings we have photographed after meeting them on the wedding day. The trick to converting a bridesmaid into a future bride is to include them as part of the wedding day experience, even if they come up to you during the day of their friend’s wedding with a Pinterest list of “amazing photos” you should take for her.
We all have been there, but it is important to accommodate everybody involved on the wedding day, while keeping your focus on your clients. That way, you can get amazing images and tell an unforgettable story.