A search on Google or Pinterest for “Pre-Wedding Shoot” would be enough to horrify most engaged couples. They’re likely to be bombarded with a plethora of cheesy poses and clichéd images. Combine this with a belief that they hate having their picture taken or don’t take a good photo and a pre-wedding shoot might find itself falling fast down the wedding project to-do list.
However, hidden in the search results are plenty of natural creative images that truly reflect the relationships between couples. While not all photographers advocate them, a pre-wedding shoot is something I’ve always offered as part of my service.
Like many other elements of your wedding day, photography is often booked many months in advance and so the shoot is as a great opportunity to catch up and get to know your photographer little better. It might even be the first time I have met a couple, having conducted our earlier conversations via phone, email and Skype.
At the shoot I’m looking to reassure you about my approach to creating relaxed bride and groom portraits, and make sure that you know exactly what to expect on the day. This confidence means that when the wedding day arrives we’re able to capture some fantastic images quickly and easily without keeping you away from your guests for too long.
Of course, a pre-wedding shoot also means a whole extra set of images for you to share and enjoy. They are also great to use on signing boards, guestbooks or if you’d like to get ahead of the game and pre-print your thank you cards.
Most of my couples arrange their shoot a few months before the big day. It’s a great way to start the final build up and, if you are planning to use any of the images on the day, it’s important to give yourselves and your photographer enough time to put the images and prints together.
The time of day for your shoot is arguably even more important. My preference is to try to catch the low evening sun during ‘Golden Hour’ and this is also something to factor in to your discussions about your wedding day itself. I’ll always keep an eye on the setting sun as the wedding reception gets in to full swing.
Often couples assume that we’ll be heading to their wedding venue for the shoot but for me, and most of my photography colleagues, this really isn’t necessary. Finding somewhere meaningful to you is more important and you might consider a location that will provide a contrasting style of images to the wedding day.
Walks in the countryside are popular but a city centre can be an equally beautiful backdrop. The more unusual the better! I’ve even been to the cinema to create some fun portraits for a movie loving couple.
Your outfit is definitely one of those elements where it’s about doing whatever feels comfortable for you. If you want to get dressed up, go for it, but if you are feeling uncomfortable or overdressed it will usually show in the pictures.
I’ve often seen American photographers offering ‘up to 3 outfit changes’ but I don’t think that’s typical over here! Nevertheless, wearing layers can be a great way to get some slightly different looks without a complete costume change. Some brides coincide the shoot with their hair and make-up trial. Your shoot is also a great excuse for a date, so why not book a table and make an evening of it.
A quick note on handbags; Ladies love them but on pre-wedding shoots I’m usually the one left holding them! If you don’t plan on wearing the bag for the photos, it’s usually better to leave it in the car (although some of them do quite suit me!)
Every photographer has a slightly different approach when it comes to posing. I think the most important thing is to put any preconceptions about having your photo taken to one side. You don’t need to freeze, you don’t always need to look at the camera and you don’t always need to smile. I’m trying to capture images that reflect your relationship and so less is often more. I like to think I’m directing rather than posing my couples in attempt to keep things looking and feeling real.
Ultimately, whether you have a shoot before your wedding day is down to you and your choice of photographer but don’t let those cheesy search results put you off what should be a fun experience producing beautiful images and helping you have an even better wedding day.
Article written and provided by Mark Dolby.