As a wedding photographer, there are two types of photographs that make my heart flutter as I go through the images of the day, images that capture real emotion and details shots.
As I wander through the story of the couple’s day, those two things stand out to me the most because they are vital to remembering the love and joy of the day, as well as the special things that the couple took time and effort to choose to enhance the day.
When it comes to detail shots, I typically start the day with the details of the bride and bridesmaids. Brides have been prepped prior to the wedding day to have several items at my starting place so I can photograph them before things get busy.
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- No.01The rings
When it comes to shooting the rings, I try to incorporate something else from the wedding day to add color, depth or an interesting background. I don’t want to distract too much from the rings themselves, just add an element of the day to help the ring shots look like they belong with the rest of the images.
When I’m shooting rings, I am generally using my Canon 100L macro lens. I begin with an aperture around f/8 and play with the settings until I get the amount of focus that I like. I prefer to have most of the diamond and setting in focus, with a good amount of blur in the background.
- No.02Jewelry and sentimental items
Oftentimes, brides borrow jewelry or sentimental items from their mother or grandmothers. These things are special to them for a reason and need to be captured. If timing allows, I like to get these items on the bride or have the bride hold them.
If it’s jewelry, I will get a shot of her mother or maid of honor putting it on her. These items may be returned to the owner after the wedding day, so it’s important to capture them in use to include them in the wedding day album.
When I’m photographing this, I will tell the bride to think about the person represented by the item. Wedding days happen so fast that it’s important to help the bride pause throughout the day to take it all in.
Let’s face it! The flowers, if they are real, just aren’t going to last. Some people dry them, but they are never going to look the same as they did on the wedding day. Most brides have spent a lot of time trying to pull together the perfect bouquet, and have spent quite a bit of their budget on them. That is why capturing flowers of the day are always on my list.
Instead of photographing the flowers by themselves, which I still do sometimes, I like to get the bride and bridesmaids holding them. This adds a more personal touch, gets the dresses in the background and adds dimension.
I typically shoot these with my 50mm at something around f/ 2.4. I want to see enough of the flowers in focus for the eye to be drawn the bouquet, not just one individual flower. I also want the background to be out of focus, so that starting aperture works well for me.
Grooms, these pictures help you remember which flowers your bride loves. You can score big points by surprising her on your first anniversary with the same flowers as your wedding day!
- No.04Gifts or letters
Whenever the bride and groom give each other gifts or handwritten letters, my heart gets all happy! It’s such a personal touch and almost always involves laughter, tears, or both.
This is best shot as the bride or groom is reading the letter or opening the gift. Make sure to get the hands in the shot and also get some shots with emotion! Bonus points if you get tears!
Once I am done photographing these details and the girls getting ready, I head to the guys. Sometimes, my second shooter is capturing the guys getting ready, but one of us is going to make sure to capture just a couple details with the groom.
- No.05Special socks or other unique personal items
It’s pretty common these days for guys to have special matching socks. If that’s the case, I definitely want to photograph those. I also make sure to ask the groom if he has any special touches or sentimental items that I need to photograph. This can include special cuff links, tie tacks, shoes or anything else he specifically picked out for the day.
The groom doesn’t have much of a say in the details, so when he has picked something out you know it means something to him! To nail these shots, get the groom or groomsmen involved! Get the groom or groomsmen putting the items on or showing them off.
The last set of detail shots that I get are at the reception. Depending on the couple and their style, you may have a huge venue with a lot of beautiful details. Some weddings have fewer details, but almost all of them have a few things in common that must be captured.
- No.06The cake
The cake is another thing that just isn’t going to last. Some couples keep the top of the cake to enjoy on their first anniversary, but the rest of the cake will be gone by the end of the reception. I like to shoot the full cake while also showcasing the venue when possible.
I usually then come in close to capture any details of the cake, which keeping my aperture wider to focus on intricate patterns, flowers, or other details of the cake. When cupcakes are involved, I make sure to get pictures of each kind.
Most likely, the groom has his favorite and the bride has hers, so capture them all to make sure you get their favorites in there. It’s fun to include some lighting from the venue or even the DJ lights around the cake, too! Be creative! These shots are going to make great additions to their wedding day album.
- No.07Place Settings
I love to get into the reception area before any guests arrive if possible. This allows me to get details shots like place settings before they get messed up by guests.
If there is a dinner menu, I always try to shoot that as well. Most of my table details are shot with my beloved 50mm. I like to shoot with a wide aperture as I focus on different parts of the table.
The menu is something that the bride and groom have thought long and hard about and usually get tossed out, so I make sure to capture that. If there are any gifts on the table, I capture those as well. If you can get a guest to hold them, that’s a fun touch as well.
Of course, there are often many, many more details that you can shoot on a wedding day. Each wedding varies, but capturing the things that they’ve invested time and money in and won’t last past the day is vital to telling the story.
Details are personal and add meaning to the day. They also add variety for the wedding album. Shoot them well. Be creative. But, shoot them quickly so you can spend the rest of your day capturing people, relationships and the emotions of the day!