After the bride and groom say their vows, and you capture the couple and family portraits, it is time to head to the reception. When the couple is introduced at the reception, one of the first things they will do is transition into their first dance. The first dance signifies the beginning of the celebration they will have with their family and friends.
The wedding day can be hectic for your couple. As their wedding photographer, what can you do to capture this meaningful time during the reception? Switching your angles while you are shooting can make a large difference in the result of your photos. Use the same process for the first dance as you do when you are trying to diversify how you shoot the images at any other point of the wedding day. We’ve put together the 6 most important angles for you to capture during the first dance that will help you document every important moment.
1. Shoot Through the Perspective of Guests
During the wedding day, your couple has a limited opportunity to observe the reactions their guests have. Since they are busy with one another, and sharing the special first dance, this means it is your job to document the happenings. Show the bride and groom what their guests experienced as they watched the first dance by standing in the location where most people are. As you stand with them, take shots of the couple from this angle. For an artistic approach, stand behind a few guests and shoot through them. This gives your image a creative look by incorporating the guests, and shows your couple what everyone else experienced at that time.
You can also try adding the guests into the background of a few shots. Position yourself of the opposite side of the room so you can see your couple and the guests behind them. Not only will this be a creative angle to capture, it will make your couple happy to see the excitement on their guests’ faces.
2. Capture the Close Up Emotion
Because the first dance is so special for your couple, it is important to capture images that are up close to document their emotional moments. Try to use this angle after they have been dancing for a bit so they are fully comfortable and showcasing genuine emotion. This helps you focus on the importance of the details and the emotion on their faces. So that you are not in the way of the videographer or the guests, use a Telephoto lens. This helps you capture the close up images without interrupting the couple’s moment.
Stand so you are behind the groom and capture the candid expression on the bride’s face as she stares at her husband. Switch up the angle so you are standing behind the bride and document the emotion on the groom’s face while they are dancing. Also take photos from the side of them as they dance, capturing any gestures they make to one another during this time.
3. Shoot from a Lower Angle
When shooting the first dance, you should avoid only shooting the bride and groom straight on. In fact, this can make your images stale and will not add variety to your portfolio. There are a few reasons to shoot from a lower angle, including shooting wide to capture the intricate details of the location. If the shoot is outdoors, you can include the beautiful sky in the background of your couple dancing. For many indoor shoots, the venues have intricate details on the walls and ceiling. Adding this into your images creates visual interest and allows your couple to connect with them.
Shooting from a lower angle also eliminates any dark or distracting shadows from surrounding light. You can control the lighting with the angle you shoot from and can highlight the couple in a way that makes them look their best.
4. Capture Mid-Length Angles
While it is important to capture your couple and their environment, shooting their dance at a mid-length level can help you focus on the details. When the bride places her hand on the groom’s shoulder, you will document any jewelry she may be wearing. Also, the details on her dress can be seen a bit more clearly (and may reflect an interesting color when hit by the surrounding light). While the bride’s details are highlighted, the groom’s details can be as well. If he has engraved cuff links or a unique boutonniere, this angle can help you capture it.
Another benefit from shooting mid-length is that does not directly focus on your couple’s faces. Most people do not like just images of their faces when there are plenty of details to capture during the wedding day. This angle gives you the chance to capture their genuine expressions, as well as the small details.
5. Document the Scene from a Higher Angle
Regardless of the size of venue, there are many angles you can shoot from to capture dynamic images for your couple. If there is a DJ or band, try standing on the stage with them to document your couple moving together. Also, look to see if there is a balcony you can stand on to shoot straight down. In some of the images, be sure to shoot wide so you can capture not only your couple, but the guests, and some of the details of the venue. This is a perfect moment to capture your couples’ faces when they are dancing together. Look for moments when the bride lays her head on the groom’s shoulder, or if they make gestures that could only be seen from a higher angle.
You can also incorporate the entire room in your shot if you get high enough. If you have a second shooter with you, have them climb up on a ladder (or something that is available for additional height) and shoot while you stay at a lower level.
Tip: If you do not have a second shooter during the wedding, use a stand to help you capture the images. Simply place the camera on the stand and hold it in the air above your clients.
6. Follow Along with the Dance
Whether you are standing closer or further away from the couple, they will be moving and changing their expressions constantly. The easiest way to capture them (and to use your off-camera lighting skills!) is to move with them as they dance. This will help you shoot them in the moment as they interact with one another. Remember not to stand too close to the couple so they can be themselves and give you expressions that will make their images dynamic.
Switching up your angles as your couple dances is crucial to capturing versatile images in the moment. Use the extra time you have after sending your images to a wedding photo editing service to practice your shooting techniques. This will help you understand what angles work the best for your couples, and you will create dynamic images they will love. To learn more about lighting and posing during the wedding day, download our Pro Photographer Lighting and Posing Guide!