Bridal portraits are one of the most important photos you are going to be taking on the wedding day. Of course, the groom’s portraits are equally important and he deserves the spotlight as well, but bridal portrait photography usually takes longer and, after all, most brides love a little solo session with their wedding photographer. Taking photos of just the bride is exciting and challenging at the same time. On the one hand, you have the advantage of focusing all of your posing efforts on one person. On the other hand, it can take some extra effort to capture her true emotions since she is not next to her bridesmaids or soon-to-be husband. To ensure that you can get the most stunning photos of your bride, in this blog, we share 7 techniques that can help you get even better bridal portraits!
7 Tips For Taking Better Bridal Portraits
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1. Find The Perfect Lighting
After the bride spends hours getting her hair and makeup done, it’s time for you to make her shine. Oftentimes, the background of the image is not important - it’s all about the light in the room. You don’t always have the option to take photos in naturally or artificially lit rooms, so in order to take better bridal portraits, you might want to get more familiar with different lighting techniques, which can be especially helpful when you find yourself in a low light venue or room. If the room where your bride is getting ready has a window or other light sources, you can have your bride sitting or standing by the window or the alternative light source in her dressing room as she gets ready. For a more dramatic shot, you could use the light from a window to illuminate one-half the bride’s face.
Related Read: Hard Light Vs Soft Light: Understanding Wedding Lighting
2. Add Some Props
Does the bride have a bouquet or a sentimental item that she wants to be photographed? You can have her pose with it. Not only will this allow you to showcase something that’s unique to your bride, but this photo is more likely to hold more sentimental value because the bride is posing with something that is meaningful to her. If there are no props readily available, then you could have her grab her veil or a part of her dress too. By giving her something to hold, you will also eliminate the issue of the bride not knowing what to do with her hands.
3. Encourage Natural Expressions
When it comes to facial expressions, we have all seen it before - the fake smile (this is something you likely saw from the bride, and even groom, during the engagement shoot). The bride is nervous and is trying to show off her pearly whites, but you can see right through that smile. So how do you make that smile a little more genuine? Here’s a little secret: She doesn’t have to smile in every photo. Sometimes, the most natural and unique expressions come when the bride is doing something instead of smiling at the camera. Try poses that allow the bride to look down or over her shoulder - she can also look at her flowers or ring with admiration. When you give her an opportunity to relax, she will give you genuine expressions that will help you get better bridal portraits.
4. Flatter Her Body Type
Every bride is different in shape and size, but one thing is consistent with all brides - the poses you select must flatter their body type! Rather than shooting every pose straight on, have her turn to the side, drop her front shoulder, and pop one leg - this will help create angles and dimension to the photo. To help accentuate her curves (or give her more if she doesn’t have any), have her place her hands on her waist to create an hourglass shape. While you may have some go-to poses for bridal portraits, try not to use the same poses for every bride. What works for one might not work for another. Rather than having the bride try to move a lot in her dress and 5-inch stilettos, take the opportunity to move around and shoot her from all different angles and vantage points. One pose can look different when you photograph it from a few different angles!
5. Correct Her Posture
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As the wedding day continues and the bride has been in the spotlight all day, she may begin to slouch a bit in the photos (it can be hard to stand up straight in a heavy dress all day!). Take an extra minute to ensure that she is standing up straight, for this will make her look tall, confident, and more photogenic. A bride is her own worst critic, and she will thank you later for asking her to extend her chin slightly to conceal any sightings of a double chin! If the bride is getting tired of standing, mix it up by having her pose on a couch or chair (make sure you help her get her posture right in this pose too)! This will help add variety to your poses, not to mention the bride will appreciate a break from all the standing, walking, dancing.
6. Create Angles With Arms
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An area that a bride always seems to notice (and most might even ask for you to Photoshop) is the arms. Luckily, there are some simple tricks you can use to make her arms look closer to how she envisions them! For better bridal portraits and for giving your bride what she desires, create a distinction between your bride’s torso and arms by having her place her hands on her hips, or have her stretch her arms and reach for part of her veil. If she is next to a wall, window, or object that she can touch, have her extend an arm and place her hand on it. You just need to get creative with what’s around you!
7. Add Personal Details
Part of what makes the wedding day so special is the personal details that the bride has - you know the saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Take the opportunity to add these special details into photos with your bride. Maybe the bracelet she is wearing is her grandmother’s, or maybe the earrings she has on have a unique story behind them. To create a unique pose, have the bride place a hand on her earrings or necklace - while her hand is up, you can also include the details of her bracelet.
Related Read: 10 Must-Have Detail Photos For Every Wedding
Practice Your Way To Better Bridal Portraits
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As you prepare for your next wedding, think about how you can use each of these techniques to create stunning bridal portraits. It’s your bride’s big day, and you are one of the people she trusts to make her wedding day even more special. While the wedding day timeline may not always run according to plan, we'd recommend that you always try to take some time out for bridal portraits - before or after the ceremony. Get creative, go outside, find picture-perfect spots indoors, have your bride show off her dress and her veil, experiment with different poses - basically, go all out for the bride’s solo photo shoot. Remember that not every bride is comfortable in front of the camera so when deciding the poses, try to ensure that your bride is going to be happy getting into them. In the end, the photos will reflect how you made her feel, so make sure you are her cheerleader when you take her portraits. Fix her posture, help her relax, and remember to include the little details that matter to her. She’s going to thank and remember you for caring and paying attention.
At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you develop and hone your wedding photography skills. We also help to give you your time back by lessening your post-production workload by taking editing off your plate. To learn more about how our professional photo editing services can help your business, check out our pricing plans.