Shoot: Angela & Jon. Married.
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Friday, March 02, 2012

"Huge" was the order of the day for Angela & Jon... huge ceremony, huge reception, huge wedding party, huge amounts of friends, families, laughs and alcohol... ultimately a huge amount of fun for everyone involved.. starting in K-town, then road tripping it up to the Pfister via the art museum it was an unbelievable day...

Angela & Jon. Married. from Steve Bowman on Vimeo.


Good lord... going from my smallest wedding of the year to my largest was somewhat of a face-melter. The slideshow blurb really doesn't do justice to just how big things were. In reality, going into this wedding, I was a little curious as to how it was going to go from an operational viewpoint, especially the size of the bridal party. For those of you who don't shoot weddings, let me set the scene for what this portion of the portrait shoot is like...

Firstly, though they profoundly love the bride and groom for whatever their respective reasons (forced to because they're related, or because back in college they bailed them out of jail after an alcohol-fueled adventure involving a goat, a speedboat and a pair of clown shoes..I don't judge), inevitably in their eyes, they've fulfiled their bridal party duties and are primed to collect their reward...a meal, an open bar and a dance floor. Rarely do they seem to have patience for the photographer trying to herd them in kitten-like fashion...

This translates to pressure.

You can't boss them around, and have to tread the line carefully between being in control, and being a tool. All the while being aware that you have to get good shots, while not allowing them to get too bored and knowing you're against a running time crunch of the ubiquitous wedding-day-timeline.

Is there a trick to this? Not really. You either have an engaging, authoritive personality or you don't. I can also add that having tight chequered pants and an English accent generally helps. It does however get easier, as over a few weddings you learn the shots that work, and you learn the cues to get them set up properly. Slowly, you introduce new shots, and phase out older set ups.

Shoot for a half dozen per side of the party, and get a few variations of each shot to give you some latitude, and give them some breathing room. Shoot some candids for a minute before moving on. It can all be done in 10 minutes, and you can walk away with around 50 useable images.

Some shots actually become not only a part of your style, but a part of your brand's identity. Take the 'mugshots' for example. I love doing these, not only are they a lot of fun for the bridal party and for me to take (you honestly never know what you're going to get), it's a great way to introduce the party in the slideshow. Very simple to do, and also very quick, which as you'll recall is a huge factor in keeping these sessions flowing without irritating people...


So, in short on how to handle bridal parties:

  • Keep things moving quickly. Mix it up between candids and posed shots.
  • Remember it's unlikely that they're excited going into this part of the day, so don't be sassy with them.
  • Use your own standard shots you know how to set up and light quickly.
  • Though you shouldn't ever be ordering people around, just be clear and confident. They're not pro's and will need some help. Don't rely on the bride to organize people, it's not her job.
  • Gauge the tone of the party and have a sense of humour. This has the potential to be really fun, but it's your job to do that, not theirs.
  • Avoid the cliche crap. Hopefully you don't use them anyways, but people know when a pose looks stupid, even if some photographers don't. They also know when a pose is going to look make them look like a boss, and they'll be pumped to do it.

Some of the best compliments I get on the wedding day are from the bridal party, and it's a good feeling when they pull you into the day with them rather than just being another vendor. Admittedly sometimes they're trashed, but it's still nice nontheless...