I started thinking about how I can hone my skills and work on more unique and contemporary poses, lighting and general ideas. Once I started doing some research and collecting various photos for inspiration, I thought, “Wow, how things have changed.” Even over the past thirteen years, since I’ve been shooting weddings, things have changed. Bridal photography has become more artistic. Wedding portraits have become more candid and contemporary. Poses have become more relaxed.
I’ve always been very strong in my candid photography. At a wedding, I become quite the voyeur, shooting with a long lens and capturing special moments. However, as time has gone by, I’ve realized that I need work on my posing, because I’ve been using the same poses too often, and I’d like more original shots. My bridal portraits have always been artistic, and my shots of the couple have always been relaxed, (I abhor stiff, cheesy portraits), but I always think there’s something I can work on. Always.
The world of wedding photography is always evolving, and if I don’t continue to evolve with it, I’ll be left behind. Every time I get a wedding back from the lab, I review the photos with a very critical eye. I could have done this shot better if… I should have moved the bridal party around more… I wish we had more than ten minutes, I could’ve gotten way more creative…
Like any artist, I’m extremely critical of my own work. For many years, after I posted a wedding, I’d call my best friend Sarah and have her review the photos online. I refused to believe they were acceptable until she told me they were stunning. Now that I think about it that was pretty silly. Of course she would tell me the photos were fab! She’s my BFF!
In my archeological dig to find examples of how bridal photography has changed over the past thirty years, (in case you haven’t noticed, I turn everything into an anthropological dig or a social experiment), I came across these GEMS from my parents’ wedding. WOW, look at that wedding dress!! I love you mom, but that thing is hideous.
Below, let’s compare and contrast two basic bridal portraits. On the left is my beautiful mother in her lovely 70s dress. In general, this photo isn’t terrible. It’s a nice, classic bridal portrait and the lighting is great. In fact, I still see this pose to this day. It’s old-fashioned, so I can modernize the concept by changing up the pose. As you can see in Mary Ann’s bridal portrait in her parents’ living room, I still used available light, and I chose to shoot it in black and white to give it a soft, classic look. I included the angel on the wall to integrate something that’s personal to their family – much more modern than a bride looking down at her bouquet.
I love the idea of the traditional “Bridal Portrait” in the sense that it’s a portrait taken in the bride’s parents’ home, or the home of someone special to them where they got dressed. Below, you can see two more bridal portraits of Mary Ann, in the “Bridal Suite.” In this case, the bridal suite was her parents’ bedroom.
Bridal portraits have evolved in another fabulous way. Back when my mother got married in 1977, there were only posed portraits, no candid photography, so there were no photos of her actually getting ready. Taking photos of the bride getting ready is super fun for me, and some of the shots turn out to be my favorites from the day. It captures a lot about the bride’s personality, as well as the special relationship between her and her bridesmaids and her and her mother.
Now let’s talk a little about the evolution of the wedding portrait.
Below (left) is a portrait of my parents at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Mark and I got married under that rotunda in the background! It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
Anyway, at the time, it was customary for the couple to get maybe five portraits. This pose of my parents is a shot I still do, but in a more modern way. You can see in the photo of Ashley and Armando (right) that they are posed in a traditional way, but unlike the photo of my parents, the composition is better. There’s not as much space above their heads, and they pop out from the background. In my parent’s photo, the rotunda’s archway seems to be growing out of my mom’s head. If they were positioned to the left of the rotunda, the photographer could have still kept the great depth of field without the background being distracting. Also, in Ashley and Armando’s photo, I angled them closer together and got big, natural, happy smiles. My parents look pretty stiff to me, and that’s something that is ideally avoided nowadays.
Unlike my parents, Ashley and Armando’s album was full of several different fun poses (see below). The reason I still do the traditional pose is because that is typically the one the grandparents and sometimes parents of the couple like for their wall. It’s also a great way to show off the couple’s faces.
Below I included one of the best photos EVER! There I am at two years old, in my droopy drawers. Adorable, right!? I was very happy that day, I suppose, because I loved my Papa. (He adopted me shortly after the wedding.) I also love how scared my grandmother looks (in the red dress) and her giant hair.
So this is part one of my anthropological dig about the evolution of wedding photography. Stay tuned for more! Who knows what I’ll find…
To see other wedding photos, click here!
To see more wedding photos, click here!