In this How To tutorial I'm going share with you some great tips on how I set about photographing a bride's wedding dress on the wedding day.
We all know that wedding dresses are a big deal to our brides and they will likely have put a lot of thought into choosing the perfect dress. It's therefore fitting that a bride's wedding dress should have it's very own photo shoot.
Whilst this post is not about camera settings, I will discuss two main elements to consider when photographing wedding dresses; location and composition. These elements go hand in hand in helping you achieve the perfect shot.
The location where bridal prep is taking place is a key factor in how the dress is photographed. Points which should be taken into account are space, light, and backdrop.
While some rooms have a lot of space and an ideal backdrop to hang the dress in front of, others will have a gorgeous backdrop but nothing to hang the dress from, and some will likely be tight for space and possibly cluttered since there's usually a lot going on in a bride's room before the ceremony.
If there isn't an ideal place to hang the dress in the room or the light is too dark, it is quite acceptable to ask permission from the bride to move her dress to a nearby location to be photographed. My brides have always been more than willing to allow me to do this for them and I always handle the dress with great care. If you're nervous about touching the dress, it might be an idea to carry a pair of white gloves with you for the purpose of handling the bride's dress and other personal items which you may want to photograph.
The image of the dress hanging on the door in the photograph above was photographed in this way because the room was overly cluttered and the hallway too dark. As I looked around the room I noticed the light from the window hitting the door. I decided this would be the perfect place to hang the dress, and shot towards the hallway to avoid the clutter in the room.
The photograph below was captured in the stairwell just outside the bride's hotel room. The room itself was quite spacious, but there didn't appear to be an ideal place to hang the dress. The redbrick wall provided the perfect backdrop and whilst I did photograph a full length image of the dress, I liked this close up shot best, and that leads us to ‘composition'.
As I mentioned earlier, the two main elements go hand in hand in helping you to create the perfect shot and as such, the composition of the photograph will usually depend on the location. I will always aim to capture a full length image of the dress as well as a close up which shows any detailing on the dress (for close up detail shots I use a macro lens), however, depending on the location and the space available around the dress, a full length image of the dress on the hanger doesn't always work.
Due to limited space in the room and several pieces of furniture in close proximity to each other, the dress below photographed better close up than it did hanging full length. I didn't have a clear view of the dress, as there was a bed and a chest of drawers, which obscured the bottom of the dress no matter which angle I tried from. I knew I would get plenty of full length shots of the dress throughout the day when the bride was wearing it, so I chose to focus on the detailing of the dress during the bridal prep. In situations such as this, I will usually opt to present the image alongside another detail shot such as the bride's shoes or a piece of jewelry.
Below is one of my favourite full length images of this dress — we had stopped at the seafront after the wedding ceremony and were taking time out for a few couple shots whilst guests made their way to the wedding reception. As we walked back to the car, we walked past a large stone wall which I realised would act as a great backdrop for a photograph. I asked the bride to turn and face me and she happily obliged. Just as I was about to take the photo, a gust of wind swept her veil into the air and I was able to capture this shot.
There is often a lot of detailing on the back of a bride's dress, and they usually like to have this documented. For comparison, I have displayed two images of the same bride wearing the same dress, these images were taken just moments apart. The image to the left was captured as the bride and groom walked along the seafront ahead of me. When we stood in front of the stone wall a few moments later, the bride asked if I would take a photo of the back of her dress. I was happy to oblige and provided the bride with both versions.
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