Weddings and movies have much in common. In the same way that a film delivers a narrative with a beginning, middle, some tears, some cheers, and an ending, wedding photographs tell and celebrate the story of bride and groom. Couples are looking to document their special day and share it with their friends and families for years to come, and it’s the privileged responsibility of the wedding photographer to immortalize the bride and groom’s romance.
We spoke with Jen Huang and Alina Schessler, wedding photographers and Fotolia contributors, about how they incorporate storytelling into their work, and their tips for creating lasting memories for the couples on their special day.
Understand Your Client.
Jen began her career with film photography. Though she’s sought out for her signature dream-like images, each couple walks away with a distinct and unique set of images. As a part of the preparation, Jen gets a feel for the couple’s personality. Whether you’re working with an energetic bride with a flair for drama, or a quiet bride who is a little shy, you want to mold their poses and settings to fit their individual personalities.
Set Up the Scene
Any nervousness or stiffness will come through in the shot, so in order to achieve natural images, the couple has to be comfortable. Not everyone loves being in front of the camera, so Alina has a little trick to make the couple feel at ease: “Sometimes I ask the couple to tell jokes, or to whisper to each other what they like most about the other person, so they smile or laugh genuinely.” This authenticity makes for beautiful, emotional, and true portrayal of the couple in love.
Jen takes a cinematic approach to directing her clients. For example, rather them asking the couple to kiss each other, she instead asks them to walk, then choose a moment on their own to embrace. “This way, I’m creating a ‘perfect’ scene for a candid kiss, and every one of my couples can have classic a kissing photo that is all their own,” says Jen.
Control What You Can.
Of course it’s impossible to control every moment of the wedding, but there are certain elements you can maneuver to ensure you get the right shot. Jen styles, directs, and controls the lights, backdrop, and props as much as possible, and allows candid moments to happen within those controlled environments. “When I arrive at a bride’s getting ready room,” Jen shares, “I ‘redecorate’ and place the bride and her maids in a clean, open, light filled space. They can continue having hair and makeup done, getting dressed and helping each other, but the scene looks finished and polished.”
In this shot of the bride getting ready for the ceremony, Jen set up her model in front of the antique mirror and waited for natural moments to emerge. When the bride lifted her hands to check her make up, Jen was able to capture the delicate motion on camera.
Pay Attention to Details.
Environment plays a critical role in setting the mood and tone of the wedding. Couples spend months planning their nuptials, getting the details just so. Photograph the venue and the surroundings, including flowers, décor, furniture, and everything in between, as each wedding will have distinctive details. Snapshots of moments as the day unfolds, like the setting of the table or tweaking of the floral arrangements, help add descriptive elements to tell the story of the wedding.
Customize Classic Moments.
Oftentimes the photographs the client asks for end up being a common “wedding” shot. A bride’s dress hanging in the in the window is a popular image, but as Jen explains, the reason people love it so much is because it shows the moments leading up to the ceremony. It captures the feeling of anticipation and excitement, a feeling something we can all relate to. But even classic shots can be tailored to the bride and groom with the right lighting and props.
Know When to Blend in.
When it comes to photographing ambiance and guests, it can be helpful to blend in with the crowd. Alina finds that people can often tense up when they see that she is the designated photographer, which can lead to posed and stiff shots. For that reason, sometimes she chooses to work with smaller cameras: “People aren’t looking at me all the time thinking that I’m the photographer, so they act more naturally, and I can get more natural photos.”
Submitting Wedding Images to Stock
When submitting wedding photographs to sell on your stock portfolio, be sure to get a release for any recognizable people or places. Keywording is also critical in helping buyers find your images in the image bank. Make sure your keywording is relevant, accurate, and prioritized in order of importance. In addition to the subject matter in your submissions, also think about conceptual terms like love, romance, relationship, and celebration. If you’re submitting images via the Adobe Stock Contributor portal, our auto-keywording tool can help you out with generating relevant keywords.