By: Bob Brichmann
Magical photographic moments do appear during the course of a wedding.
These moments may be spontaneous, artistic, semi-posed with a stunning sunset backdrop or may even happen by accident. More often than not, though, the artistic and experienced eye of your photographer is what is truly needed to find the “best shot.” It’s generally not just one shot, either. It could be a sequence of pre-ceremony shots of the bride primping and getting ready. It might be the capturing of the groom’s nervousness before the ceremony with his groomsmen trying to lighten the mood. Perhaps it’s several shots of the parents or grandparents embraced on the dance floor – lost in the moment. Maybe it’s the toss of the bouquet?
“You can’t capture a connection, unless you have a connection,” professes photographer Betsy McCue of La Vida Creations. Engagement sessions can be a crucial tool to ensuring photographic success for a wedding. Each party gets to know each other and a relationship is built. The groom starts to lower the typical “I hate pictures” guard. The bride warms to the moment. “Getting to know them as people enables us to relate with them more easily. Comfort equals better pictures. We can capture the essence of who people really are, especially once they start to drop their guard,” adds McCue.
There are many incredibly beautiful locations around San Diego to shoot engagement sessions and/or wedding day pictures: the Hotel Del and its beaches, Luscomb’s Point at Sunset Cliffs, The Marston Houses’ gardens near Balboa Park, anywhere in Balboa Park, Wind-N-Sea beach, the Mission Bay areas around The Dana and The Paradise Point Resorts. Photographer Jen Bosma is also a definite fan of engagement sessions. She’ll try and meld to what the couple is looking for and strives to relate to her clients. “I want couples to be comfortable in front of the camera. I’ll encourage a groom to whisper in his bride-to-be’s ear and get her giggling. This warms them up. Maybe a cute little piggyback ride down the beach lightens the mood,” shares Bosma.
Most people are slightly uncomfortable in front of a camera. It’s the photographer’s job to ease that angst. Compliments go a long ways. Relating to them on their level often does the trick as does speaking their lingo. The photographer is often a liaison on the day, especially early on, between the bride and groom. The groom has not seen the bride so he’s nervously asking how she looks or is feeling. The bride may ask how he looks in his tux or suit and they reassure her he looks really handsome. This gets both parties excited with anticipation and drops some of that photo guardedness. “My philosophy is don’t make it happen, let it happen. Every bride is beautiful in my eyes. Don’t be aware of me. Be aware of each other. Get the two close, let them interact and capture them,” offers photographer Joseph Guidi from The Studios of Joseph Guidi.
One key aspect in getting the best shot is allowing the professional to use creative lighting techniques. Shadows, natural lighting, unique angles…these are not necessarily new ideas, but perhaps with a more modern thought process. Use the twilight creatively. Everyone is used to sunset photos, but there are other periods of daylight that lend themselves to some creative shading. A professional photographer can coach you through this. Another benefit to hiring a pro to get the best shot is the overall expectation difference between bride and mom (or bride & groom vs. family).
“Mom has a totally different expectation. She needs the classic, full length, back of the dress shot. Brides want ‘photojournalism’ with minimal posing. We have to connect with both and capture both,” explains photographer Jared Bauman from Bauman Photographers.
Clarifying the volume of family shots expected versus candids ahead of time saves everyone a whole world of hassle. The best is generally a mix of both. Every bride is beautiful. Some may have some less than photogenic qualities. Your professional photographer can overcome this with their expertise and various techniques.
“Shooting down generally offers a more flattering angle if the nose is an issue. It hides into the face. Analyze the bride’s features and plan from there. Thicker arms…consider veiling them a bit,” says Guidi.
Body positioning can be very important. Without over-posing, some simple instructions can create some memorable shots. Turn your foot this way. Lift your chin this way.
Make-up and hair are always an important issue. You can be the most beautiful girl in the world, but make-up is almost always needed to enhance the day – for photography’s sake. Ask your photographer for recommendations or look through San Diego Style Weddings Magazine for make-up professionals.
“Water based is generally the safest choice. There’s less chance of a reaction. Make sure they are a licensed esthetician and know what they are doing,” states Melanie Littlewood from Hair and Makeup Artistry by Melanie.
One of the other more important and understated factors to getting the best shot falls back on the eye of the professional. When all is said and done, they know what to shoot and when. They have that creative eye. You’ve seen this when you’ve interviewed them and their work. They may shoot you smiling with mom through an open side window of the church prior to the ceremony and you don’t even know they are there.
They might semi-pose you to bend a certain way so the twilight bounces off of you just the right way.
They might coach your interaction to a degree, but be yourself. Capturing the two of you in your own comfort zone is what will provide the best shots.