Every once in a while you come across the perfect wedding day: the weather is favorable, the venue is elaborate, and the wedding party is the most photogenic group you have ever photographed. But all too often you come across a different scene: it’s the coldest day of the year, the venue’s most promising background is a brick wall, and the couple admits that they sometimes feel a little awkward in front of a camera. But, in BOTH of these situations they hired you for your creative work.
How do you remain creative in a non-creative environment while at the same time ensuring that your couple feels and looks relaxed and natural in each frame? One way we do this is by focusing on facilitating interaction.
1. Don’t give them time to think, just react.
It is important to remain open to spontaneity. It will make your images feel free and natural. One way we create this look with a couple or wedding party is by immediately switching the tempo. For example, we might pose the bridesmaids, stand back about twenty feet from them, and then ask them to slowly walk toward the camera. When they reach the close position we desire, we quickly ask them to run in and give the bride a hug. By the tone of our voice and the call to move immediately, our subjects simply and naturally react.
Another way to capture personality is through mimicry. We love gently pulling out humor and emotion while working with the wedding party. In the next photo example, we asked the bridesmaids to turn their heads to the side, and as we counted to three they were to look back at us. As they looked at us, the girls unconsciously mimicked the same expression we had. We were able to use a blank wall and their delightful personalities to create a genuine image. This reflected the carefree humor of the bride and her bridesmaids.
2. Move closer and closer and closer.
If you’re hired for your creativity, it’s important to give the couple more than the traditional posed photos—the ones with the couple smiling at the camera. Creative images illustrate the romance and love the couple has for each other. When your clients are in love, there are intimate moments just waiting to be encouraged and released. We find these moments by placing the couple close together, asking them to move closer to each other without kissing, and then asking them to keep holding that position while we get different perspectives. We want them to be in this moment long enough to let it evolve into something undisrupted and natural. A photographer’s voice and calm demeanor is important during this intimate time. We like to use encouraging phrases along the way so the couple feels relaxed and unrestrained, yet we also use a telephoto lens so we can remain a good distance away while still getting those close-up images.
3. Study the couple and wedding party.
Does the groom make the bride laugh? Is there a certain look she has reserved only for him? Is there a groomsman or bridesmaid who isn’t afraid of attention? When we meet the couple in our meeting prior to the wedding day, we begin to watch them and see how they interact together and we start to ask them many questions about themselves, their families, and their wedding party. During the wedding day we continue to observe personalities, and seek out the traits that can facilitate interaction. The entire day we strive to attune ourselves to every aspect of the wedding. In this next photo example, we had a couple request the popular—and rather infamous—jumping photo. We wanted to give the couple what they desired, but also add a twist to the idea. As we observed the wedding party, we discovered the groomsman who had a knack for making others laugh. We quietly asked him before the photo if he would jump a second early as we counted down. From studying the wedding party and adding this simple change from the ordinary, we created some wonderful interaction between the individuals.
When we focus on interaction, we can work creatively with any environment. We achieve this through constant listening and observing. We want to know our couples, families, and wedding parties well so we can give them timeless images. We would love to hear any ideas you may have on facilitating interaction and working in a noncreative environment!
Written by Jackie and Whitney of Selah Photography