Of all of the images we capture on a wedding day, one of my all-time favorite ones to shoot is what we call "The Iconic Bridal Portrait."
What we mean by "iconic," is that we want every single one of our brides to have that one picture of just them by themselves on their wedding day that their family can pass down for generations to come. I kind of secretly have these visions of grand-children and great-grandchildren going through pictures in an old shoe box or flipping through their grandparents' wedding album, and coming across that one image of their grandmother in her wedding dress. Seeing just how beautiful, young and in love she really was. And knowing that this was where their family started.
We typically want the iconic bridal portrait to be a quieter portrait. Something that exudes grace, and is perhaps a little more on the serious side. The problem is, though, that just like you guys....we shoot weddings. :) And what we know, is that wedding days can be crrrrazy. Here we are trying to get these very calm, quiet, graceful portraits on a wedding day when, as any of you who have ever shot a wedding before can attest, the second that dress goes on the nerves tend to go through the roof. And the first thing most brides want to do the second that dress is zipped, is to get out the door and off to the ceremony.
So how do you go about getting them to slow down long enough & calm down long enough to get an iconic bridal portrait? We've come up with 5 tips and we hope they help!
1. Ask for 5 minutes & then clear the room. One of the things that can make the idea of delaying the leaving for the ceremony to take more pictures more stressful, is that they don't know how long it's going to take. So I always try to manage expectations right from the beginning. As soon as that final earring goes in I'll jump in and say, "Ok Steph, so what we're going to do now is I'm going to take about 5 minutes of just you & me time so I can get some really great bridal portraits of just you. And then we'll get you off to the ceremony!" Because it's such a small amount of time, it doesn't seem stressful. Anyone can spare five minutes of time. And we have a clear beginning and end point. The second part of that, is that I include the "just you & me time" part so that it clears the room. It's very hard to channel quiet and grace when you have a room full of people staring at you and cracking jokes. So I'll just suggest that maybe the bridesmaids can go gather all their stuff up, and as soon as they're done we'll be ready to go. Of course if her mom or sister want to stay in the room to watch, that's totally fine. I know they've waited a long time for this day. I'll just ask for a little "quiet on the set" :) while we take a few shots. And I think it turns into this really great thing where they just get to soak in this moment before running out the door.
2. Take a deep breath and listen to your heart. If I want them to be calm, *I* have to be calm. If my heart is racing or I'm feeling all scattered, that's going to come across in the pictures. So before we get started, I'll take a second to take my camera away from my face, take a deep breath, and think about the image I'm going for. Also, when I take a deep breath, she usually takes a deep breath. And now we're all breathing a little easier. Along the same lines, during this time I try to remind myself not to shoot faster than the pace of a heartbeat. That speed helps to set a more calm, quiet tone in the image. It's very difficult to get a quiet image if you are firing off the shutter like crazy because that constant speed is going to make their hearts start racing too. An added bonus to this is that by slowing down, I force myself to think about the shot I'm going for and how I can then "bump" it to make it better.
3. Have them look at their elbow....and then your camera. I'm a huge fan of the soft, quiet looking down shot. And I used to always have them look at their shoulder to get that angle. But I've since realized that an even more natural pose, is to have them look at their elbow. It's softer angle than looking at the neck, it creates a longer gaze, and it has them looking a little further down which is a little more introspective. But then I will alternate that between them looking down and then looking straight at me into the camera for a more engaging portrait. By alternating it, they're not in either pose too long so it doesn't become stiff, and that moment when they do look up is one of the most natural stares you'll ever get.
4. Give them something to do. I'll often have my brides run their fingers along the edge of the veil or fluff their dress. Sometimes I'll just have them hold their hands out and look down at them. But by giving them something to do, I'm taking their mind off of the fact that they are having their picture taken. And any time I can add movement (even just a very small movement) into a pose, it instantly makes it feel more organic and creates more natural gesture.
5. Get Higher I'll often end with my brides in a seated position because it allows me to be higher than them and shoot down. Using that stance and shooting at 1.4, I can focus on her eyelashes when she's looking down (eye when she's looking up) and it creates a lot of fall off on everything else. Which makes for a very flattering, soft shot. Finally, I will do a few shots where I focus on the veil or an earring/necklace where my bride is not actually in focus at all. This, of course, creates a ton of fall off on her and makes for some really soft, romantic shots that just sort of give the idea of what she was doing without actually being able to see everything.
I hope this helped at least a little! And if nothing else, maybe it just inspired you to start creating your own iconic bridal portraits at each wedding you do.
The grandchildren & the shoe boxes of the future will thank you! :)
Happy Monday y'all!
As the laces were tied and the ribbon was fastened, she thought about him...well, the two hims actually....who had left a criss-crossed pattern on her heart. One, her dad, who she was missing so very much on this day. He had been her hero, the standard against which all other men would be measured. And with every passing tick of the clock, her heart ached out his absence just a little bit more. The other, her best friend. Who she had been counting down the minutes with until this very day. The one who had taken her broken heart and sewn it together again. Put it back together piece by piece. The way that only love can. And so in this moment, yes there was bitter....and there was sweet. Just like there is in life. But wherever you looked....there was love.
As the bow was tied and the suspenders were fastened, he thought about her....well, the two hers actually....who had left a criss-crossed pattern on his heart. One was the girl he fell in love with. She was his whole world, the standard against which all other girls would forever never measure up to. And with every passing tick of the clock until he saw her, his heart raced just a little bit more. The other, was the wife he knew that she would become. In an instant, he could see a lifetime with her stretching out from this very day. The one who would take their two lives and stitch them together into one. Put them together piece by piece. The way that only love can. And so in this moment, there was what has been and what will be. Just like there is in life. But whichever direction you looked....
There was love.
Married: Alexis & Ross
Alexis & Ross were married on an incredible day in Rhinebeck, NY. Theirs was a day that was filled to the brim with grace and elegance and beauty. But most of all...there was love. There were tears. There were hugs. There was laughter. And boy oh boy was there some dancing. But above all else, love ruled the day. Alexis & Ross, there are some people in this world that you just instantly know you're going to do everything you can in your power to become friends with them. You two are exactly those kind of people. So just so you guys know....we're now friends for life! :) We may or may not be showing up for Thanksgiving dinner....I hope that's cool! :) My hope for you, is that you love like this always. Leaning on each other in the bitter, sharing with each other in the sweet. And that either way, wherever you look...you always find love.
She sat in a blue room and felt her heart race a little faster. She swung from happy to excited to nervous...and then back again. And with each pass, her heart soared a little higher. Around her, her bridesmaids laughed and spun around the room in navy dresses. While the light caught flecks of gold and scattered them to the ceiling. Like stars in the night sky. Everything around her was suddenly somehow moving in fast forward and slow motion all at the same time. She heard herself say she was ready. And then everyone around her cheered. And right then, somehow, she already knew....this was the kind of day when magic happened.
He stood in front of a blue water backdrop, and felt his heart race a little faster. Later they would sit side by side on the swings, and walk up and down the beach together...and then back again. And with each pass, his heart would grow a little fuller. Around them, the most important people in the world would laugh and spin around the room on a carousel from the 1920s. While the light caught flecks of gold and scattered them to the ceiling. And the two of them would sit out together and stare up at the stars in the night sky. But right now everything was suddenly somehow moving in fast forward and slow motion. All at the same time. He heard himself say forever. And then everyone around them cheered. And right then, somehow, he already knew....
This was the kind of day, when magic happened.
Married: Natalie & Ryan
Natalie & Ryan were married on a day that was nothing short of pure magic at the Carousel House at Lighthouse Park. And the day came together even more perfectly and full of whimsy thanks to the tireless efforts of Lindsay Mastroianni and the whole Sixpence For Your Shoe team (Nicole, I'm giving a shout out to you!) who we absolutely ADORE!! These two were surrounded by love and light and hope for a beautiful life together. And more hugs than you can fit in a normal day...thankfully, this was most definitely not your normal day. Put it this way. Natalie actually works at Facebook, and if I could give their day a million likes I would. And I would do it all while wearing my signature Mark Zuckerberg hoodie. Natalie & Ryan, thank you guys SO much for having us there with you on your day. It is an honor that we will not soon forget. My hope is that you love like this always....with hearts that are full, and a life full of the kind of days that make you believe in magic.
Justin & I are the kind of people who love getting really, really in to a show, and then wind up watching all the previous seasons in some crazy weekend marathon where you don't sleep or move off the couch until you find out what happens.
We spent two days once when we had the flu, watching the first three seasons of The Office because we just had to know if Jim & Pam would ever get together.
There was that one January when we got snowed in for a day and powered through the whole first season of Glee in one sitting. And learned most of the dance numbers too.
We've been putting off starting 24 because we're afraid we won't see the light of day for, well, 24 straight hours.
Like I said. We get really into it.
And one of the things I HATE, is when you get all caught up with a show and you have to join the ranks of the rest of the world and wait an entire week for a new episode to become available. What can I say, I am an instant gratification kind of girl.
So you can imagine how hard it was, when we got caught up with all previous 7 seasons of Bones just in time for it to go off the air for the Summer. For the past three months, we have been counting the days until Brennan & Booth were back in action again. And until Rachel Berry & the gang were back to share more emotional moments on Glee.
Plus we really, really missed the dance numbers.
Last week, all of our favorite shows starting coming back one by one. Bones, Glee, The Office (even though it's still absolutely dreadful and I'm just going on record now to say that the only thing that will save this season is a Michael Scott wedding. Can I get an AMEN??), and this week the upcoming Grey's Anatomy.
And once again, just like that, all is right in tv world.
So tell us, which show(s) have you been waiting all summer on? Or which past shows are you thinking about starting up? Which ones do you think we should check out? Y'know, the next time we're snowed in! Leave us a comment in the box below, and one lucky commenter is going to win $50 from iTunes. To download one of your favorite seasons, of course. And....GO!!
**And a HUGE congrats to the winner of our Instagram contest, Miss Eryn Kesler! Eryn, a starbucks e-card is on its way to you!
Sometimes it feels like I'm just nibbling at the edges of life.
That I'm just grabbing a take out order to go, with a side of happy. When really I should be sitting down to it like a Thanksgiving Day feast. With a heart full of gratitude and nowhere else in particular to be. Taking the time to savor every morsel, and lingering especially to give thanks for the warm & gooey parts that make the whole thing more worthwhile.
Sometimes it feels like I'm on the interstate bypass of life.
That I'm just hurtling down the highway 80 miles an hour, with the world outside blurring by. When really, I should be taking the long, winding country road. The one that allows you to get lost a few times along the way. But you somehow find a better route because of it. The one that forces you to slow down, look around once in a while. And remember why going on adventures was a good idea in the first place.
Sometimes it feels like I'm stuck on the fast forward button of life's remote control.
That I'm just catching the highlights as I skip ahead from point A to point B. When really, I should be caught up in every second of the plot. Laughing the laughs, and crying the tears. Not just being the first one to find out the ending. Because, really, the laughter and the tears along the way are what make the movie worth it to begin with.
Sometimes I feel like I'm missing the point. And in doing so... I feel like I'm missing life along the way.
And...I just don't like it.
So for the past few weeks, we've been making a conscious effort to slow down. To press pause. And to savor. To gorge ourselves on every sweet thing this life has to offer. And to give thanks for every bit of it every step of the way.
This morning, instead of letting my eyes fly open and jump right into email....I forced myself to keep the computer closed. I sat on the couch with Justin drinking warm apple cider, wrapped in my grandma's quilt. And he spoke soft words as our eyes adjusted slowly to the light. Then we went out and worked in our yard. And I pulled weeds like the old soul that I am. While a golden streak raced around us, and we laughed a little harder at just how crazy he can be.
These are the warm & gooey parts that make this life of ours worthwhile.
And today, with a heart full of gratitude, I bow my head at the table.