For many of you reading this, the pre-wedding shoot may be the first time you’ve had a full-on professional photo session. It can feel a lot more intimidating than simply posing for a selfie or a school or team portrait as, whoa, the camera will be on you for a whole 2-3 hours. It need not be something to fear though. There is no pressure on the pre-wedding shoot – we’ve got time, we can do retakes, there’s no one but us to worry about and we can be as silly as we like.
It helps to think of the pre-wedding shoot as simply a practice session – a rehearsal for wedding day when there will be a lot more people, time constraints and the like. Feeling comfortable in front of the camera is a skill like any other that is improved with practice. Most importantly, wedding photography can be a very intimate process, and great images are often the result of a good relationship between photographer and couple. So the pre-wedding shoot is a chance for us to get to know one another, for you to get comfortable with me and then I’m not such a stranger rocking up on your wedding day looking like a paparazzo with loads of kit hanging all over me and hanging out in your hotel room while you’re in your pants. 🙂 And it’s a chance for me to learn more about you, about the way you interact with your partner and any particular habits or tics you may have in front of the camera.
There are a few different ways to approach the choice of location for your pre-wedding photo shoot.
- 1. For diversity in your photographs, choose somewhere meaningful to you as a couple that contrasts with your wedding venue. For example, if you are having a rustic country barn wedding, an urban location for your pre-wedding session might be a good choice to provide a set of pre-wedding photographs totally unique from your wedding day photos. Some couples choose the location of their first date, the location of their wedding proposal or a certain location like a beach or park that they visit regularly together.
- 2. Alternatively, if feeling especially nervous about wedding day, a choice of location that’s extremely similar to your wedding venues (or the grounds of the wedding venues themselves) could provide more of a sense of a true practice run.
- 3. Consider choosing an activity that you both enjoy doing together and think of the session as simply inviting me along to document the activity. This could include things like going to play croquet or mini golf, going to a funfair, visiting Brighton Pier and playing games or riding the carousel, visiting an outdoor market or festival, going ice-skating etc.
Tips & Tricks
- 1. Props / Accessories: You may want to bring along a small selection of accessories, hats and/or jackets for both of you to provide some variety in the photos. A beautiful hat, fascinator or flower in your hair, for example, can add a real wow factor to an image. If there are any other small props or tangible items that are meaningful to you both & that you would like documented or that would give you a fun activity to do (e.g. anything from objects to go with your wedding theme, signs, brollies, balloons, bubbles, frisbees, to things you collect), you might consider bringing one or two of those along as well. I tend to have lots of things like this in my prop box, so if you have any prop requests, just ask me and chances are I might already have it.
- 2. Outfits: Consider dressing up a bit and think about coordination of colour palettes, styles, patterns and textures when selecting both of your outfits. No need to be matchy-matchy but do plan your outfits together to choose complementary items; avoid wearing prints, styles or colours that just completely clash with one another.
- 3. Logos: Avoid any large brand names emblazoned across your clothing unless you want to look like an ad for those brands.
- 4. Clothing: Wear form-fitting clothing. This is much more flattering on camera than baggy clothing. Baggy clothing will only hide your shape and add weight to it.
- 5. HOWEVER, don’t wear clothing that is so tightly form-fitting it restricts your movements, your comfort or your ability to breathe properly.
- 6. Shoes: Ladies, heels do look fabulous in photographs but if you are going to wear them be sure to also bring along a comfortable pair of walking shoes to change into in between locations, especially if we will be shooting on the beach, in the grass, in a field, etc. There often tends to be a lot of walking during the 2-3 hours of your session as we move from place to place so the last thing you want to worry about is how badly your feet hurt and have this show on your face in the photos.
- 7. Handbags: Ladies, consider leaving your handbag at home if possible as it tends to get in the way in the photographs, and we don’t want to have to worry about it getting nicked if you’ve set it down while posing.
- 8. Empty Pockets: Men, also consider leaving valuables at home as your clothing will look better in the photographs without bulging phones and wallets in your pockets. If you will be wearing a jacket, it’s better to carry your phone in the inner pocket of your jacket than in the front pocket of your trousers where it will draw the eye if we forget to take it out.
- 9. Grooming: Small grooming details make a big difference: think about eyebrows, stubble, fingernails/hands. For example, a photo session is a good excuse to get a manicure. Your hands will often feature prominently in pre-wedding photos, either because you may be posed with a hand on your partner’s shoulder or face, or because the camera will focus on you holding hands with one another or on showing off the engagement ring, so it helps if they look their best.
- 10. Posing: If you’re still feeling at all nervous about being in front of the camera though (don’t be!), this article on Rock-n-Roll Bride, “How to…pose in your wedding photographs – what to do (& what not to do)” has lots of useful tips (and example images) for feeling more confident.
Finally – just relax and try to enjoy! Sometimes I tell my clients that a pre-wedding shoot is just a chance to do a bit of snogging in public… 😉