The 5-Minute “Perfect Bride” Shot

Wedding-Annabel_williams_wide_750

Most people can shoot great candid wedding photos, but how do you make sure you get a “perfect bride” shot, when you have so much to think about on the day?

I think it’s really important to get a classic shot of the bride looking her absolute best. She has spent months choosing her dress, and on the morning of her wedding she feels absolutely perfect – fab dress, gorgeous hair and make up, every inch a princess!

Once you set off for the church, anything can happen – it can be windy and raining, and everything happens so fast that many of your shots are taken thinking on your feet. This can lead to wonderful spontaneous photos, but I always like to make sure I have the perfect shot BEFORE the bride sets off to her wedding – that way you can be certain her make up and hair are perfect and everything else you shoot of her later on can be candid.

How to achieve the “perfect bride” shot in 5 minutes!

As anyone who’s ever shot a wedding knows, there is so little time when the bride is getting ready, there’s always a last minute rush as most brides underestimate how long it actually takes. So the best way to make sure you will get that great shot of the bride is to plan ahead.

Read these tips and then check out the video further on.

Preparation before the day

  1. Tell the bride in advance that you want to take some composed shots before she sets off. Tell her why, so she understands that this is the best chance you have to photograph her looking perfect before she gets creased! Tell her you’ll get lots of candid ones later, but you want to be sure to get the perfect shot when you can control it.
  2. Try and organise the light! She doesn’t have to get ready in a dark room – explain that if it’s a light room it will be much easier for you to get great candid shots. If it’s a hotel room, make sure it has large windows. If it’s her home, perhaps she can get ready in the lightest bedroom, or at least put her dress on in there?
  3. Work out a timetable with her to include time for you to get these photos, particularly if you are working on your own and leaving time to photograph the groom too. Explain to her that she will be grateful for a spare half hour to stand around with a drink and catch her breath, while you’ve left to photograph what’s happening immediately before the ceremony, and she’ll understand why she needs to put her dress on earlier than 5 minutes before she sets off!
It only takes a few minutes to get shots like these if you plan ahead. Make sure you create variety by altering your camera angle, zooming in and out, moving her head position, and changing some to black and white later.

It only takes a few minutes to get shots like these if you plan ahead. Make sure you create variety by altering your camera angle, zooming in and out, moving her head position, and changing some to black and white later.

Preparation on the day

  1. Take lots of candid shots of her getting ready.
  2. Just before she puts her dress on, tidy your background – clear the bed, clear the bedside tables and create a quick “set” for your perfect picture. (See video below.)
  3. Ask her to put her dress on while she is facing the window, and you should stand with your back to the window so the light falling on the bride is soft and even, and you can get some great candid shots while she’s getting dressed.
  4. Then do your 5-minute perfect bride shots on the bed.

Tips

  1. If she is wearing a veil, and you are pushed for time at this point, do these shots without the veil – suggest she puts the veil on afterwards, when you’ve left for the ceremony. Sometimes it can take a good 15 minutes to fix a veil – and this is valuable shooting time!
  2. Check the flowers are dry when you hand them to her, as often drops can fall on the dress and mark it at this point, if they’ve been standing in water.
  3. Ask her to sit on her underskirt rather than the top of the dress, so it is less likely to crease.
Once you've taken your candid and detail shots, give yourself time to tidy up the bedroom and create a "set" for your perfect bride shots (centre and bottom right).

Once you’ve taken your candid and detail shots, give yourself time to tidy up the bedroom and create a “set” for your perfect bride shots (centre and bottom right).

Top right: A messy bed looks great in a candid shot because it shows the reality of getting ready.
Centre and bottom right: A tidy bed makes a great background for the perfect bride shot, using natural light from the window behind me. The washed out shot has been deliberately washed out to create a soft, pale, porcelain look to the image, because I felt her hair and dress suited it (in case you’re wondering!).
Bottom left: I usually stand in the window to shoot, but in this case I used a reflector to bounce the light back in, and create variety in the backgrounds.

Check out the video below which shows you exactly how to do the 5-minute “perfect bride” shot.

Screen_Shot_2013-02-18_at_12.33.52_wide_750

To create these shots, shoot from above and ask the bride to:

  1. Lie on her hip, and place her top leg slightly bent and forward to create an “S” shape.
  2. Lift up her torso and stretch, to create a more toned look.
  3. Then relax her shoulders, because stretching will tend to make her raise them.
  4. Bring her chin down, and then stick it forward (otherwise the action of bringing her chin down may give her a double chin, but you want her chin down so her eyes look bigger when she looks up at you).
  5. Bringing her chin forward will accentuate her jawline too.

Taking some shots like these before the wedding will give you much more confidence with the rest of the shoot, because you know you have got some great shots of the bride already, without having to rely on candid shots only. And of course if it’s torrential rain, you’ll be glad you got some shots while her hair and make up were still perfect! Whilst it’s likely that the spontaneous shots will be her favourites, it’s also important to get some beautifully composed shots too – it’s not always possible to get these later and I just don’t like leaving everything to chance!

Annabel x


NEXT MONTH: The 3 hour “FABULOUS bride” shoot! – for when you have all the time in the world!

Thank you so much to:

Sophie DeVooght for being our model.
Star Grace of Grace Boutique, Key West for loaning Sophie’s vintage wedding dress to us.
Brendan at Orchid Key Inn, Key West for letting us shoot in one of their beautiful bedrooms.
Jeff Leap for the video and James Robinson for the editing.

For more wedding ideas check out:

Wedding Shoot in Key West Cemetery

HOW TO: Shoot wet weddings with the minimum of flash

Can you give me 5 “must have” wedding photos?