Fashionable Weddings with Marc Anthony and Tony Ryan
Wedding photographers are visual storytellers, capturing the moments throughout a couple’s special day. We all take pictures of the bride and groom getting ready, as well as during the ceremony, family formals, fun bridal party shots and, of course, all the goings-on at the reception. But what are we doing to create something unique for our clients and for ourselves?
Fashion Sets Us Apart
We began photographing weddings in 2003. At that time, weddings were more traditional. Digital photography was relatively new, and contemporary wedding storytelling was in its infancy. We could not see ourselves being cookie-cutter, taking traditional, cliché pictures.
We wanted to be different. We wanted our work to stand out creatively. We checked out every form of wedding-related inspiration, and we felt so much of what was being done looked the same. Fortunately, an out-of-the-box bride came in and wanted her wedding to be photographed like an editorial layout from Vanity Fair. No photographer in our city would do it, so we were able to grab it.
She tore out pages from all of her favorite magazines (pre-Pinterest) for us to use as inspiration. We studied the pictures and implemented fashion photography into their wedding. From that experience forward, we decided to incorporate fashion-style imagery into all our weddings.
Create an inspiration library on your favorite electronic device. Every time you see a photograph you find interesting, put it in your library. Over time, you will collect a number of images and have lots of great inspiration at your fingertips.
The best source of fashion photography is in magazines like Vogue, Elle, Rolling Stone and our favorite, Vanity Fair. This will take you out of the wedding world and put a fresh perspective on poses, expressions, lighting and settings. Stylists and fashion photographers look at the world in a different way. Take their lead and incorporate elements of their vision into your own wedding photography.
We have also gathered ideas and inspirations from movies, television shows and even music videos. If you see a great visual scene or composition from something you are watching, pause and take a photo for your inspiration library. Another good source of inspiration is the work of fashion photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Herb Ritts. Who better to inspire you than a photographer you admire?
Take a Close Look
When you are looking at inspiration photographs, take a really close look at each image and analyze all of the details: wardrobe, lighting, posing, expressions and setting. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when creating fashionable imagery.
- Where are the models’ eyes looking? Are they looking down, away or directly into the camera lens?
- What is the expression of the models? Pleasant, laughing, somber, pouty or sensual?
- How is the image lit? Natural and/or strobe lighting? Direct, bounced or diffused light? When you look at an inspiration image, analyze the lighting and try to recreate it.
- Look at the pose, the hands and arms, if models are standing or sitting, and posture. Pay close attention to fingers and wrists.
- What is the setting and theme? Indoor, outdoor, formal, casual, opera house or garage?
- Critique the image. Do you like how it’s photographed? Do you like the composition? What about the details? Is there anything you would like to see different?
Going through this process and analyzing all of the images in your inspiration library is a great learning experience. Over time, you will likely start doing this automatically to all the imagery you see. Take everything you see and learn from your fashion inspiration imagery, and put it to use in your own shoots.
Don’t Forget About the Groom
So often at weddings the focus is on the bride, but the groom is important too. Women are usually the focus in many of the ads we see due to the simple fact that they are the main readers of most fashion magazines. Look at Esquire and GQ, our favorite men’s magazines, for inspiration.
Grooms want to look stylish, sophisticated and suave. By analyzing men’s fashion magazines, we gained a lot of insight into posing and lighting men. To recreate the feel of men’s fashion, think stoic expressions, a relaxed pose with hands in pockets up to the thumb and a nice bend in the elbow. All of this combined with a sharp tuxedo or suit will portray him as a GQ model every time.
Once you start looking at fashion photographs, you will notice the common factors. The first is expression. Most models do not have big smiles. They look pleasant with a closed mouth, serious or pouty. This goes for male and female models. When working with a couple, tell them what type of expression you are looking for. Photograph several different expressions so you can select the best one.
Strike a Pose
When posed together, models are typically not engaging with each other. They have their own pose and space. There is not much touching and virtually no romance in this style of fashionable posing. Each person looks somewhat stoic and appears to have their own thoughts. When posing your couples, keep a little space between them or a slight overlap, and give each person a unique pose.
Keep an eye out for hand and arm placement. Think about how they are positioned on a mannequin and try to emulate that. There is always air between the body and arms in fashion photographs. Hands for grooms look best in pockets, while brides should have a slight break in their wrist with lightly placed fingers.
When you include the bouquet in a shot, have the bride hold it down or away from her body at an angle. This looks less bridal and more fashionable. Always direct couples where to look and what mood to portray.
Attention to Detail
Details are very important. Keep an eye out for the placement of the veil. Think about the length and style and what it can add to a shot. Also check that necklaces, earrings, ties and boutonnieres are straight. Take a look at the pocket square, whether it is showing too little or too much. Do you want the groom’s jacket buttoned or opened? All of these details will be noticed by you and especially your client in the final photographs.
Prep Your Client and Get the Shots
When we first began incorporating fashion imagery into our weddings, we told a client that our plan was to capture at least one signature image from her wedding. We said, “This will be the one photograph that will make everyone go, ‘Wow!’” To make this happen, set aside about 10 minutes in the timeline when you are working with the couple so you can create this image. Clients who want something unique will make the time for you.
On wedding day, the clock is always ticking, regardless of how well you planned the timeline. If you have a plan in mind, you will be able to make the most of every situation and capture amazing images. Think about the location and where you plan to shoot. If you haven’t been to a location before, check it out in advance so you’re prepared.
Choose the perfect spot, pose your couple and be sure that they are lit just right. Compose and frame your shot to look interesting, like your inspiration images. Photograph a couple with a variety of expressions and adjust their poses. Voilà! You have the shot, and most likely more than one good one. Since everything is set up, take a few shots of the bride and groom individually.
While you are working with a couple, remember to be confident and don’t overshoot. In a just few minutes, you will have captured fashion-inspired images.
Creating something artistic and original for every couple is pleasing to clients and fulfilling to you as an artist. The next time your client is looking for inspiration, tell her to forget wedding pins and blogs, and direct her to fashion magazines. It is something both you and your clients will enjoy collaborating on. After the wedding, your couples will have unique images not found anywhere else, and soon your portfolio will be filled with fashion-style imagery that will get you noticed.