More often than not, wedding days are hectic. Running behind, forgetting things, too much to get done in too short of a time period – all of these are too common on a wedding day. And, often this starts before the wedding ceremony ever begins. It starts early on the morning of the wedding, when the bride and her family and friends gather to start getting ready.
For a wedding photographer, the getting ready section of the day can produce some of the most intimate and artistic images from the entire day. However, there are a lot of challenges that can come with shooting the getting ready images. Today we want talk about 4 of the biggest challenges that happen during the bridal prep photos, and solutions to overcome them.
The room is a disaster.
You walk into the room the bride is getting ready in, and your heart sinks. You look around and see a mess everywhere. It could be the byproduct of a hotel room that is way too small for the number of people it has in it. It could be a byproduct of everyone running behind and not picking up after themselves. Either way, the room is a disaster, and you have to create lasting images with a challenging backdrop.
For starters, this situation can often be alleviated with a little extra planning on your part. Brides don’t always think in advance about the details involved with keeping their getting ready room clean and tidy. Simply mentioning it to them in the weeks leading up to the wedding can put it on their mind, and often eliminates a lot of the chaos when you arrive. Ask them to have a bridesmaid in charge of keeping the room tidy. Incorporate the reminder into your week-of email, and try inserting it on your wedding day timeline.
Sometimes, the best planning in the world can’t guarantee the room will be clean when you arrive. If you arrive to a disaster, no amount of planning can fix the immediate situation you find yourself in. Bring an assistant to the getting ready, and have them tidy the room. Ensure you’ve gone over how you want them to present themselves, and that they are being tactful about moving everyone’s stuff around! You definitely don’t want them moving people’s valuables, but often an assistant can facilitate the process, allowing you to focus on more important things.
The dress hanger is cheap.
The bride has a beautiful wedding dress already hanging in the window when you arrive. It’s not uncommon for the bride to have spent days and days picking out her dress. It’s also not uncommon for her to have spent a lot of money on it. Photographing the wedding dress is one of the most important roles of a professional wedding photographer… and the dress is hanging on a cheap, metal hanger.
Like the situation of arriving to a messy room, avoiding a cheap wedding dress hanger can often be avoided with a little more planning. Recommend to the bride that she purchase a nicer hanger. For example, Etsy has a lot of options for nice wedding dress hangers, including ones that can be personalized with the bride’s new name.
As a pro wedding photographer, it’s not a bad idea to purchase your own generic wedding hanger. Keep it in your bag, and in a pinch, you can always grab it and switch it out for the pictures. Chances are you’ll put your hanger to plenty of use over your photography career!
Everyone is stressed and not having fun.
Everyone wants to look their best on the wedding day. And, it’s a wedding! Nerves are very common, especially for everyone walking down the aisle. The getting ready process can be stressful for the bride, family, and her bridesmaids, and there are a lot of different emotions at play in the getting ready room. You very well might walk into a room that is not happy and joyful, but one that is tense and stressful.
This is where you can (and should) let your personality shine. Wedding photographers often have more roles than just shooting pictures, and in this case, you can let your experience and expertise come out. Assure the bride and her family that everything will be fine and that this situation isn’t uncommon. It can help to bring levity to the situation with a few well-timed jokes and humor. Encourage those who are stressed, reminding them about what is most important for the day. Humor and encouragement are your best friend, and can often cut through the tension. This will help your wedding images too… a stressed out bride does not usually make for great wedding pictures.
The lighting and backgrounds are awful.
Often times, the location a bride gets ready in was chosen for convenience, and not for its photographic capabilities. Thus, you might arrive to a room that is very convenient for the bride, but not one you’re very excited about shooting in.
When you arrive to a bad lighting situation, create your own light. Get familiar and practice off-camera flash, in order to control the light and create something more flattering. Understand and practice how to use window light to your advantage. Study images ahead of time that incorporate harsh lighting into gorgeous and flattering photographs. That way, you’ll be prepared to enter the room and take charge of the challenging environment.
Another idea is to turn a lot of these getting ready images to black and white. At ShootDotEdit, we provide wedding photography post processing, and we see a lot of photographers utilize black and white during the getting ready section of the day. Black and white images are classy and timeless. Additionally, they help to minimize challenging lighting circumstances and distracting colors. ShootDotEdit has a variety of options for black and white conversion, which is included as a part of your subscription on any Annual Plan.
The getting ready time on the wedding day can be one of the most valuable times for you to connect with your bride and producing amazing images. However, there are some very real challenges that can arise during the getting ready photos. Prepare ahead of time with your bride, practice shooting in challenging circumstances, and you’ll be able to produce amazing imagery for your clients. For more tips on shooting in challenging lighting, download our Lighting Guide for Wedding Photographers!