How to Shoot Great ‘Getting Ready’ Wedding Shots

In the first part of our Wonderful Weddings Series, we ran through all the gear you’d need for a successful wedding shoot. Now we’re ready to get into the actual shoot itself!

In this article, we’re going to talk about the photographer’s role before the actual wedding ceremony. For guests, the wedding might start with the bride walking down the aisle, but for the bride, the groom and the wedding party — and the photographer — it starts much earlier than that!

Capturing the “getting ready” stage can really bring the entire day to life for the happy couple, and provide their friends and family a peak “behind the scenes.”

These are our top tips for great getting ready wedding photographs — along with some top gear recommendations!

1. Talk to the Couple Well in Advance

This tip is a must-do for every facet of the wedding day: Don’t try and wing it! Always talk to the couple about what they want and expect out of their day, including getting ready shots. Who do they want in the room, what special mementos do they want captured?

2. Make a List

Remember that on the wedding day, the bride and groom are going to be just a little bit preoccupied! Your job is to be as non-intrusive as possible. So you don’t want to be asking the bride-to-be what she wants or about what’s missing: You should have all the answers ready.

While you’re discussing the plan with the couple, be sure to write down what they want. You can even have them review it before the big day to make sure you didn’t miss anything.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Clutter

Between makeup, garment bags, suitcases, ribbons, hair accessories, bridesmaids, groomsmen and kids — the getting ready stage can be messy! But you want the photos to look perfect. Look out for any mess or clutter in your frame and be sure to clear it away before you shoot.

Gear Tip: A shallow depth of field that creates soft, blurred backgrounds can help ensure clutter stays out of the picture and the image stays focused on the subject. An 85mm prime lens, or a 70–200mm zoom lens, with an aperture of f/2.8 or wider, is ideal. The Canon EF 85MM F1.4 L IS USM or the Canon EF 70-200MM F2.8 L AF USM will both work beautifully for portrait-type images.

4. Make Sure Everyone is Shot-Ready

Getting clutter out of the way doesn’t just apply to the room! Make sure your couple and their wedding party don’t have unsightly jewelry on or hair ties left on wrists, and don’t have their phones in their hands or anything in their pockets that may cause ugly bulges in their suits.

5. Stay in the Moment

Don’t focus all of your attention on the shot list. There’s a lot happening in the getting ready stage, and great, candid moments can pop up when you (and the bride or groom) least expect it. Look the knowing glances between friends, cute smiles on children, the groom adjusting his tie and so on.

Gear Tip: To capture candid shots, you’ll want something speedy, with fast autofocus capabilities. Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV is a workhorse camera with 61-point autofocus and an ISO range of up to 32000, making it an excellent choice for low-light shooting as well.

6. Sweat the Small Stuff

Remember that most of what the couple and their wedding party are wearing and the accessories they’re using will likely never be used again. Be sure to capture all the little details that bring them to life, whether it’s a cufflink, lace edging, a boutonniere, or the veil draped over the chair. Those small details will help bring these hectic moments to life after the fact.

Gear Tip: To really focus in on the fine details, such as a monogrammed cuff, keep your macro lens handy. Canon’s EF 100MM F2.8 L IS USM lens fits the bill nicely.

Start Out on the Right Foot

Getting ready photos can help set the tone for the entire day. As long you listen to the couples’ expectations and come prepared, you’ll capture great getting ready photos that capture the moment but still allow the wedding party to enjoy their special day.

What’s Next

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