At a wedding, every little detail is often meticulously planned - from the guest list and the attire to the fold of the napkins. The planning that goes into most weddings is the culmination of countless decisions and immeasurable effort. Therefore, detail shots geared toward capturing the most important elements are special to your couple. As their wedding photographer, you get to be the one to document your couple’s big day as it all comes together. However, it is necessary to understand exactly which details your couple wants you to capture. Therefore, in this blog post, we take a look at some wedding detail photo ideas suggested by Mike Duval of LensProToGo and how you can capture them.
Discuss Wedding Details With The Client
Communication is key. The first step, the one that can help you out even before you think about what camera to bring or what lenses to shoot, is to ask, “What’s important to my bride and groom?” Initiate a dialogue with them to understand what are the things that mean the most to them. You may be surprised to learn about something obscure that could have been overlooked.
You also want to get a feel for just how important the wedding detail shots are to your couple in the grand scheme of the day. You don’t want to overshoot details and realize you have no personal moments or guest candids. Let the bride and groom be your guide here. Communicate and understand what is more important to them. If they mention something specific, be it a decor element or a special gift, which is very dear to them or they have given a lot of thought while planning, note it down and add it to your shot list.
Wedding Detail Shots
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As a wedding photographer, you can capture gorgeous details throughout the day. However, here we have bifurcated them into three different segments of a wedding day when detail photos are often a part of the shot list.
A. GETTING READY DETAILS
1. The Wedding Dress
It’s your bride’s wedding day, and she said “yes” to that dress! As her photographer, it is your responsibility to make her wedding dress an integral part of her wedding story. Start by looking for a location or rather backdrop to photograph the entire dress and its detailed elements. Some photographers go all out in their effort to get the “perfect” dress photo. That’s great, but there is something to be said for keeping it simple too!
It can also look just as elegant hanging in the corner while your bride is having her makeup done. Moreover, pay attention to the details of her bridal finery, the hem of the sleeves, the lace, the buttons, the train, the veil - everything can work in your favor if you frame it right.
What compliments the dress? The shoes! Your bride may have tried on 100 pairs before finally finding the perfect fit. Whether she spent a fortune on them or went simple with basic flats, they complete her wedding look and probably deserve their own place in the wedding album.
Maybe your bride is wearing her family heirloom necklace handed down to her by her mother or grandmother, or maybe she decided to put on a statement piece to complete her look. Whatever be the case, bringing focus to the jewelry can make for stellar wedding day detail shots. You can opt to frame it on the dresser or take a close crop shot of the bride bedecked in her wedding ornaments.
4. Bridal Bouquet
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Getting ready session is the time to capture the bridal bouquet at its best (read fresh and non-wilted). Look for an interesting location or clean backdrop to make them stand out. Pay attention to any small details on the bouquet stem that may tribute a loved one or some other important remembrance.
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When you think about photographing flowers at a wedding, bridal bouquets are not the end of it. Don’t forget to get a photo of the boutonnieres the men might be wearing if you’re joining them later.
From unique wedding hair bands to hair barrettes and flowers, there is a long list of hair accessories that your bride might choose to use to add to her hairdo. Moreover, she might also opt to go for an elegant hairstyle adorned with beads or flowers. And if she does, you might want to capture the lovely details during the getting ready session.
Makeup application and tiny facial details can be best handled with a macro lens like the Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS or the Nikon 105 f/2.8G VR. You’ll be able to get in close to highlight all those beautiful details.
8. Gifts & Wedding Invitations
Look for bridesmaids or groomsmen gifts. Or, if you’re at a family member’s home, try finding the family calendar - there could be something fun to capture on the day’s date! These little details could be of sentimental value to your couple.
- Try to cover these little details when you first arrive, because they tend to get lost in the shuffle as crunch time approaches.
- Gear-wise, most of these details are easiest to capture with an all-around lens like the 24-70mm f/2.8 or a 50mm prime. This lets you switch gears between details and people at a moment’s notice.
- It can be easy to get sucked in during these shots, so keep an eye and an ear out for what’s going on in the room to keep your coverage balanced.
B. CEREMONY DETAILS
9. Ceremony Site
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So many ceremonies these days have fun little details of their own, in addition to some of the most memorable images of the wedding day. Oftentimes, it can be valuable to create a wedding ceremony details checklist. Depending on your arrival time at the ceremony site, try to grab a wide shot with no guests, to set the scene.
Next, move on to smaller details. A 70-200mm f/2.8 is your friend for these shots. Maybe there is a handmade Chuppah, or initials carved in a birch bark archway. Perhaps there is a refreshment table with signature drinks for couples to sip on their way to finding a chair.
10. The Ceremony
In your quest for details, be sure to track down a ceremony program and find somewhere pretty to frame the details - a nearby bush, a stained-glass window, or hand one to an usher. Try to zoom in on any emotional moments such as the groom’s reaction upon seeing his beautiful bride, the first kiss, and so on.
Next, think of flowers again. Florists love to dress up the aisle with delicate arrangements hanging off the end of the pew. Often, there are large floral arrangements near where the couple will soon say their vows. Just know that everything you capture here will be like the bride is seeing it for the first time - because as she walks down the aisle to profess her love, everything around her will possibly be a blur!
12. Pew Decorations
These might not be a part of every wedding ceremony venue. But if the couple has given extra thought to the ambiance, you could also bring your focus to pew decorations.
13. The Ring Exchange
The other big moment, besides the first kiss, is the ring exchange. If you are outdoors, having a lens with some extra reach like a 300 f/4, Canon 100-400mm, or Nikon 200-500mm can get you close to the scene without having to be on top of the couple.
Quick Tip: Communicate with the couple in advance about important details that are a part of their wedding ceremony, which they might want you to photograph. That way, you will be able to avoid any last-minute confusions and also set the right expectations.
Suggested Read: 30 Must-Have Wedding Ceremony Shots To Add To Your Shot List
C. THE RECEPTION
14. Wedding Signage
Welcome signs, quirky or adorable quotes, or fun notes - wedding signage could draw the attention of the guests and can also make for intriguing detail shots.
15. Place Cards
Place cards could be helpful for the wedding guests to easily learn about the seating arrangements. And for the wedding photographers, they could be a beautiful addition to the wedding details.
16. Gift Table
Just as the name suggests, a gift table is a place where guests can keep the gifts they bring along. It is quite possible that toward the end of the reception, the gift table might showcase a creative display of a variety of gifts. Sometimes, these tables can be aesthetically decorated with the couple’s initials, a color pop, or other creative details.
17. Dinner Table
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To make the dinner table details alluring, you could opt to rearrange a few elements of the table and place them closer. This could help you create an effect of more aesthetically pleasing details, especially when not many details are available.
Some couples pay special heed to the cocktail menu and the welcome drinks table. If you are photographing the wedding reception of one such couple, then do not forget to take a snap of the drinks. Moreover, if the wedding couple has initials engraved on glasses for the toasts, make sure to photograph them.
Focus on wedding reception centerpieces. They are often an important part of the entire theme for the decoration. They could be of varying types, shapes, and sizes - floral, tall vases, lanterns, candles, etc.
In addition to centerpieces, keep an eye out for personalized wedding party favors. These again could be a cute addition to your wedding details library.
21. Guest Refreshments
From popcorns to salty and sweet snacks, you may find that some of the couples have even added a unique set of refreshments for the guests. If so, they can make for cool detail photographs.
22. Menu Cards
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Arrange the custom menu cards placed on the dinner table along with other decorative items to enhance the look and feel of the image.
The wedding cake is one of the highlights of the reception, not only for the guests but also for you as a photographer. Usually, it is set up somewhere pretty. It is fun to try and line it up with uplighting on the wall or with a window in the background to serve as a frame. Moreover, the bakery might love to feature your work in their store, so remember that these details you are shooting for the couple could also be a good way to build relations with other vendors.
24. Dessert Table
Consider giving the dessert table special coverage. An assortment of cupcakes, cookies, macaroons, cake, pies, donuts, candies, pastries - need we say more!
- Photographing reception details is usually where you have to act the fastest. These photos are typically taken right after you’ve finished the couple’s portraits, for the tail end of cocktail hour. You’ll want to grab all the little details of the space. Find the place card table, guest book, and gift table. Those are the first things guests see upon entering.
- Think about the room as a whole. This is especially true if you’re working with a coordinator. The full room shot is the culmination of both the bride and the coordinator’s work. This can be a tricky shot to get for several reasons. If it’s a small space, the first trick is just fitting it all into your camera.
- Use an ultra-wide lens like the Canon 11-24mm f/4 or the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 here. Otherwise, if you are shooting wide, don’t forget to think about foreground and background in your compositions.
- Figure out your lighting. Try to capture the natural feel of the room, especially if there is uplighting; then balance or enhance the lighting with off-camera flash to accentuate certain areas or add drama.
- Consider clearing the room to get a clean shot. Sometimes there is staff attending to details right up until the last minute. Ideally, you don’t want them in your shot. This is where you can enlist the help of a coordinator to get the room cleared for a small window. Be respectful of the fact that the venue staff still have a job to do, and limit your shooting time accordingly.
While the aforementioned shots are by no means the only details that you can take, they could serve as a framework for capturing all the hard work that goes into planning for the big day. Balancing these images with a mixture of posed and candid moments throughout the day could give you well-rounded coverage that your couple can go back to year after year to relive their memories.
Here at ShootDotEdit, we provide online photo editing services for wedding photographers. We also connect with industry leaders for valuable business insights and photography tips to help you take your photography business to the next level. To learn more about how we can help, take a look at our pricing page.
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