5 Tips on How to Photograph Bridesmaids with Vanessa Joy
One of the most crucial aspects of a wedding photoshoot is depicting the bridesmaids in the best possible light. Not only do you want to fill up your client’s wedding album with high-quality pictures, but you also want to capture the joy shared between the bride and her close friends on that special day. In fact, the bride and groom are counting on you to capture as many of those special little moments that pass between the bridesmaids and their friend as you can.
There are a number of techniques that you can employ to make sure that your photos of the bridesmaids turn out the way you (and, more importantly, the bride and groom) want them. Let’s dive into some tips that will help you to really add to the joy of the occasion, both in the moment and for years to come.
Probably the first thing you’ll want to do is to snap some shots of the bridesmaids as a group. While you’ll no doubt get some pictures of them during the actual ceremony, it’s always important to stage these group shots in the photo session beforehand (or afterward, depending on the bride’s preference).
To start off, you can ask the bride and bridesmaids to stand in a line, with the bride at the center, and face the camera. This is, of course, the “traditional” bridesmaid group shot.
One way to shoot the bridesmaids from the most flattering angle is to have them turn toward the bride, and then lean on their back hip, facing the camera throughout.
This positioning will put their bodies in a slightly softer, “S”-shaped curve, and will also “slim them down,” since they are turned sideways toward the camera lens. No doubt they’ll appreciate the femininity of this pose afterward as they peruse the wedding album.
Once you’ve taken some photos of the bridesmaids in a traditional line pose, it’s usually a good idea to mix things up a bit. Have the bridesmaids engage with one another so that they are conversing, joking and laughing. Alternate bridesmaids by pairs, so that half of them are facing left, and the other half are facing right. Or have just one or two girls face a different direction from the others.
Finally, mix things up completely! For example, while keeping the bridesmaids in line, have them each take a different pose. If they have flower arrangements, alternate the heights at which they are holding them (top, middle, bottom). This will add some real dynamism to your group photos.
If the bridesmaids are a little shy in front of the camera, you may need to lighten things up with a joke or two, or mimic what you’re looking for in the picture by acting it out yourself, even to ridiculous levels. The bottom line is, do whatever you can to coax a genuine smile out of your subjects.
BRIDESMAIDS IN THE BACKGROUND
Another great shot that you should take is of the group of bridesmaids standing out-of-focus behind the bride, with the bride in the forefront as the centerpiece of the picture. Simply ask the bride to take a few steps closer to the camera, and then switch out your aperture to one that gives a more shallow depth of field.
For this shot, and the larger aperture it requires, an example of a good lens to use would be the Canon EF 85mm F/1.2 II USM.
This shot can result in a cool effect, in part because of the hazy, elegant backdrop that the bridesmaids’ dresses provide. Think of those dresses as the “canvas” on which you’re painting the bride’s portrait. Moreover, the shot sends a subtle visual message to the bride: “This day is focused on you, but don’t forget that all of your friends are in the background, supporting you every step of the way.”
INDIVIDUAL SHOTS (WITH AND WITHOUT BRIDE)
After you finish with group shots, you’ll want to take individual shots of each bridesmaid, both with the bride and by themselves. Again, try to eliminate any stiffness that may result from standing in front of a camera. Perhaps you can have the bride and bridesmaid interact with each other to loosen things up a bit.
As you take the individual shots without the bride, remember to focus on striking details: the way the bridesmaid’s hair is arranged, the flowers she’s holding, any jewelry she is wearing, and of course her bridesmaid’s dress. If you’re feeling really ambitious, try to snap a shot of each bridesmaid that matches one of her outstanding personality traits, whether it’s playfulness, serenity, silliness, or any other quality that can be visually expressed.
Use a longer lens (such as an 85mm 1.2 or a 50mm 1.2) for the image compression that they offer.
Keep in mind that these shots are not only important to your current client, but that they could lead to future business for you. After all, today’s bridesmaid could very well be tomorrow’s bride!
ENLIST THE HELP OF AN ASSISTANT PHOTOGRAPHER
As you are working through the photoshoot, have a second photographer take side shots to complement your straight-on angles. They can capture candid moments shared between the bridesmaids, and take some nice closeups that will add a distinctive touch to the album. It’s amazing what can be captured in a photo when someone’s guard is relaxed, or when the photographer is able to focus on the smaller details.
In addition, your assistant can help you to achieve the optimal lighting conditions for important shots.
Have your assistant use a longer lens, such as a 135mm or a 70-200mm, for their shots.
When the bride and groom look back over the pages of their PictoBook album, they’ll be able to savor the small visual touches that you capture on their wedding day. And if you implement the principles and suggestions mentioned above, then the wedding photographs that you’re able to publish will clearly showcase your passion and professionalism, and no doubt lead to more business for years to come.