6 strategies to gorgeous first look imagery

Before the wedding day, the bride and groom spend months planning and making decisions to ensure everything is as they envisioned. Now that the wedding is finally here, you have the ability to capture some of the most crucial parts of the day. From getting ready, to the ceremony, to the reception, you document the details that matter.

In addition to photographing these important moments, you can also include a first look with the bride and groom. This moment is just for them, with no distractions or interruptions. During this time, you have another unique opportunity to capture the most genuine expressions and reactions from your couple. Here are 6 ways for you to shoot gorgeous first look imagery during your next wedding shoot.


Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

1. Find the Perfect Position

During the shoot, every couple will want to do something different to create a special moment for the images. Be sure to connect with your couple in advance to learn how they envision the first look to go. If couples are unsure of how this portion of the wedding shoot should go, suggest that the groom is in a location facing away from the bride as she approaches. Once she reaches the groom, she can place her hand on his shoulder. As she does this, he will know to turn around for the reveal. She can also place her hands over his eyes as she walks up behind him to create anticipation for the groom.


Related: Find out what the best images are to take throughout the wedding day shoot, plus how to get them published, with our Free Guide!

Tip: For a twist on the traditional images, blindfold the groom before the bride arrives to the location. Not only will you get to photograph the groom’s expressions as he is blindfolded, you will also get to capture the genuine expression he has when he finally sees the bride in her dress.

2. Select a Quiet Location

When shooting the first look, it is important to find a place that is separate from where the rest of the wedding festivities will take place. The location should be close to the ceremony site, but far enough away that the moment belongs to the couple. When you are further away from the bride and groom’s family and friends, it gives the couple a chance to have a few quiet moments together. The bride and groom may still have some wedding day jitters before the ceremony, and the first look is a great time for them to come together and relax before the ceremony.

In many situations, this moment can be very emotional for your couple. During the wedding ceremony, there will be hundreds of people staring at the bride and groom, which can make it difficult for your couple to share true emotions. This moment during the first look is specifically for them and will allow them to express any emotions that they are feeling.

Plaza Hotel Wedding Photography

Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

3. Pay attention to Lighting

After settling on a location, make sure that you scope it out on the wedding day. Since this shoot happens before the wedding ceremony, it is important for you to know how to pose your couples in the light to get the best images possible. Depending on the time of day and lighting conditions, you will want to make a decision on where the couple should stand for the photos. If it is a sunny day, try to find open shade for them to pose under. This could be a under a tree or in the shadow of a building, and will help you avoid awkward lines or shadows across the couples’ faces. Remember to also look for beautiful locations indoors! Find an area with gorgeous window light and position your couple near it.

4. Look for Unique Angles

While you are shooting the first look, make sure that you mix up the angles you are working with. As the bride approaches the groom, stand in front of him and capture the two of them together in the shot (this gives you a chance to blur out the bride and focus on the groom, or blur out the groom and focus on the bride). Take a few photos up close to capture the expressions on the each of their faces. Once you capture the emotions between the bride and groom, capture shots that are further away. This allows you to give the couple their space, which will let them act naturally together.

5. Capture the Raw Emotions

The first look is an opportunity for you to capture the most genuine emotions from the bride and groom. As the groom is waiting for his bride, take photos of him standing in anticipation. It is likely that he is nervous and anxious for the big reveal, so once he turns around to see the bride, be sure to focus on his expression. While snapping away, make sure to document every tear, laugh, and interaction between the couple. These are the images that they will remember once the wedding day is over, and will want to include in their wedding album.


Image Compliments of Susan Stripling

6. Utilize a Second Shooter

Having a second shooter for the first look can help you capture each important moment. Your second shooter can assist with keeping the bride and groom from seeing one another before the reveal, and can help guide the bride to the correct location. When you include a second shooter, you can capture all angles of the interaction between your couple. This means you will not miss out on anything.

If you are standing in front of the groom and focusing on him, your second shooter can capture the bride’s anticipation as she nears her future husband. Since the initial reaction happens in an instance, it can be helpful to have the assistance.

Related: Your body matters…your camera body, that is! Download The Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Camera Bodies to discover some of the best cameras on the market

BONUS: Let Them Have Their Moment

Because this is the first time that the bride and groom will see each other on the wedding day, they will be excited to see one another. One of the most important parts of the first look is to let their genuine emotion come through without interruptions or directions. Once the reveal is over, allow your couple to naturally move together and create candid shots that you can capture with your camera.

When you shoot the first look with your couples, you can create stunning images that your clients will love. Once your images return from a wedding photography editing service, you can share your work with your clients. Remember as you are shooting this moment, it is important to pay attention to the posing details. For additional ways to create gorgeous imagery through posing the bride and groom on the wedding day, download our Posing for Wedding Photographers Guide!


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