An Editorial Approach for Weddings
Let's talk about this image for a moment. It's a beautiful film photograph of a bridal bouquet, right? Yes. But there's a lot more to it.
This image is purposefully styled to ensure the following:
1.) The flowers are well positioned and well lit to be the focus of the frame. Note: the light is soft natural window light.
2.) The bride's gown, while intentionally out of focus, can still be seen enough so that the viewer of this image can quickly ascertain that the dress is a soft french blue, and not a traditional white wedding dress.
3.) The bride is holding the bouquet in the correct position, with the back of her forearms resting on her hip bones, so that we can see her waist and dress. The image frame allows the viewer to see the bride's arms, waist, and dress for a specific reason. Imagine if Emily, the photographer, had zoomed in for a close-up to only capture the flowers. That would still be lovely, but without the context of the bride's arms and body, we would have no idea that it was a bridal bouquet. I love this image below on the left as well. It's the same bouquet, shot much closer for detail, but we can still see her arm so that we know it's her bouquet. The image on the right brings the eyes up, to the bride's face. Both are beautiful, and both are important!
If you follow our work, you know that we're often involved in editorial projects for wedding industry and lifestyle publications in both print and online media formats (see sneak peeks from this month's earlier project with Southern Weddings magazine here!). The way that we approach an editorial photo shoot closely mirrors the way that I work on a wedding day, more than you might think.
Over the past seven years in business, I've learned through trial and error, that if I don't intentionally focus my efforts to create beautiful content for photographers to shoot on a wedding day, then there can be a marked difference between the images our clients receive after their wedding, and the images they see on our site that draws them to us in the first place. I don't like that difference! I want our clients to have a full representation of all the beautiful details they spent so many months dreaming about as we worked together. I want those details to live on in memory and be able to be shared for generations to come. Wedding details, when designed correctly, aren't frivolous. These details, whether we're talking about paper, metals, fabric, flowers, candles, lighting, etc., all work together cohesively to create atmosphere and shape a specific emotional experience. When our clients think back on their wedding, or share photos with their grandchildren many years later, I want that experience and atmosphere to be preserved and evident, so that it comes flooding back in memory and can be lived vicariously for those who weren't there at the wedding in person! I want our clients to have that same joyful reaction they had when we showed them their tent, ballroom, or reception space for the first time. I want them to have it over, and over, and over again. (Images below by Ally & Bobby Photography.)
Let me be crystal clear though... in no way, shape, or form, am I criticizing photographers or suggesting that they can't shoot beautiful content without me. Not at all! The best photographers can do this in their sleep! That said, a wedding day is a fast-moving, full schedule for a photographer. Unlike an editorial photo shoot, they don't always have time to tinker with details, extensively style flat lays of paper goods, or work through a shot list of 30-40 details. In fact, photographers often have to take paper goods home to shoot them after the wedding. Think about that for a moment... you may have hired them to cover 8-10 hours of shooting time on your wedding day, but they still would rather take items home and shoot them the next day and spend extra time doing so, because they know it can make all the difference.
The other big factor is this: I know each of our clients' wedding design backwards and forwards, intimately and fully, in a way that not even all the other members of our own production team do, because I lived and breathed it for 12-18 months in the design process, and because I made many of the details with my own two hands. I would never expect a photographer to arrive on the scene at 11:00 am, have an hour to shoot details and a full reception setup, and know every single detail in advance. I don't expect them to know that a particular floral arrangement was designed to be photographed from a certain angle, or that there are late-night snacks in the back room that should be photographed earlier in the day. The only way to ensure precision and thorough coverage of details is for me to actively provide creative direction and style content alongside (or preferably ahead) of the photographer. When I do that, I think about magazine and blog layouts. I think about how editors want to see images that tell a full and complete story of a wedding celebration, and I plan ahead to help ensure consistency.
The images from Emily at the top of this post are from a photo shoot, but all other images, including these below (photographed by Jake & Heather) are from real weddings. Can you tell the difference? Would you have known that if I didn't say so? I'm betting the answer is no, and that's a great answer.
So what? Why do this? The answer is simple. If I put forth my best effort to style details on a wedding day, and make myself available to our photography partners to help ensure they can work efficiently and capture everything, then everybody wins. Our clients have a thorough and expertly curated collection of keepsake images. We have an accurate depiction of our work to share in our portfolio (which is imperative for prospective clients who are considering a decision to hire us in the first place!), the photographers have a full story captured on film, and often these weddings are published.
So there you have it... just a little insight into the way we approach styling for wedding days and social events. Happy Thursday, friends!
P.S. In addition to this editorial approach, I also work hard to ensure our clients work with a film photographer that I believe is the very best fit for them. Why film? If you missed it, check out this previous post!