Photo Tips for Shooting Bridal Portraits

As much as the wedding day is for the bride and groom, a heavier emphasis on portraits is placed on the bride. Perhaps it's culture, tradition, or simply because girls are usually more comfortable in front of the camera, but it's a good idea to focus on getting comfortable posing a bride and ensuring you notice the small details that enhance a photo.

A while ago, I was commissioned to shoot the Look Book for My Olivia Nelson wedding veils. I worked with two brides, each who wore six different veils. With every veil, I created a pattern of instructing them in order to get the desired result. Here are a few tips that help me get what I want from a bridal portrait…

1. Give specific instructions.
You can shoot faster and with ease when you learn to articulate every desired movement. It's common for me to ask for a specific hand to move, or to bend her wrist, or turn her left eye toward me. All of these requests are made with precision and intention. A bride can relax when you instruct her on every move to ensure she looks her best.

2. Control the bride's breath.
It's easy for a bride to tense her shoulders or hold her breath while posing. This is usually unintentional, but it's important for a photographer to request the bride to inhale deeply and exhale in order to relax her shoulders and arms.
3. Give continuous encouragement.
Brides are not models, so it's vitally important to offer reassurances and compliments (e.g. You look stunning…great job…you're doing everything perfectly!). These small verbal cues give the bride the permission to feel beautiful and appear more confident.
4. Shoot for Options.
On a wedding day, it's easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed, but I've made it a point to stay focused and shoot what I plan for. It's typical for me to take the following photos during a bridal portrait:
Full body horizontal
Half body horizontal
Head shot horizontal
Full body vertical
Half body vertical
Head shot vertical
Full body from behind

5. Plan in advance.
Arrive early to the wedding venue to choose the locations where you can photograph the bride. I always pick two locations in case light/weather/preference changes at the last minute. Having an idea of where to shoot conveys to your client you're confident and in control.
6. Work every angle.
It's important to learn how to shoot the same location differently by simply moving 5-feet in any direction. I challenge myself to get 10 different poses in a small area and if you'd like to see a 45-minute demonstration of how this works, feel free to check out my 30 Day Photography Bootcamp.

7. Make editorial decisions.
By this I mean that you have think like an editor. If there's a location someone requests you to shoot in, but you know it just won't look good (like because of light, weather, or environment), you must say something. It's easy to feel intimidated and simply shoot was is being asked of you, but I encourage you to find your voice, defend your professional opinion, and produce a photo you know the bride and the creative team will love.

I hope this helps and if you have additional tips to share, feel free to leave them in the comment box! Thanks for reading!