Nothing beats the excitement of waking up the morning of your wedding day… and it builds with every hour. By the time you reach your venue and dive into those hectic, giddy hours of hair and makeup prep with your closest friends it’s reached a crescendo. For most, this is a favorite part of any wedding day, but with all of the activity and chaos most people wonder how to capture amazing getting ready photos…or if it’s even possible. Over my many years as a San Francisco wedding photographer I’ve found there are three important elements to keep in mind, and with a little advance planning, you can rest assured you’ll get exactly the beautiful, share-worthy, photos you’re longing for.
So…you want those amazing getting ready photos. And here, before I forget, is a list of Must-Have Getting Ready Shots from Emmaline Bride. Let’s talk about what you need to do. We’ll begin with:
Choosing the right environment is critical, and makes all the difference between gorgeous photos and godawful photos. The best environment is light, bright, and free of distractions, while the least desirable environment is dark and cramped. Worst case scenario: it has no windows and is decorated with furniture that’s older than your parents.
The most important consideration is light. Having enough light-and the right kind of light- is essential to get high quality, beautiful photos because natural light is always the most flattering. Choose a room that has at least one window. Extra points if the window has sheers. I always open the curtains and turn off all overhead lighting and other extraneous lighting sources (especially if they are fluorescent-they give me the shudders).
“But wait!” you might be saying, “what if I am stuck with getting ready in Grandma’s basement?” If your getting-ready room is less-than-ideal, consider taking your photos somewhere else. Some people choose to step into a hallway (or another area with better lighting) or outside.
Next, take a look at the level of clutter. All too often the getting-ready room looks like a bomb went off at Sephora, followed by a tornado that redistributed clothing and shoes randomly about the room. Basically, it’s a clutter-fest, which is not a good backdrop for photos, not to mention a potential tripping hazard! Remind everyone to keep their things organized (or even better, put away). As each person finishes with the MUA, remind them again to take a few moments and store their things off to one side or out of sight.
Mapping out an advance strategy is another crucial element to successful wedding photography-and amazing getting ready photos! So plan an activity, and give your friends something to do, whether it’s sharing a bottle of sparkling bubbly, recreating some time-tested dance moves, or sharing an inside joke that always makes everyone laugh.
You may also want to consider purchasing a set of matching robes (always a sweet touch and makes for fun photos) or handing out your wedding gifts for the wedding party (especially if they are wearable, like hair accessories or jewelry).
These are photos that you will share–and possibly give as gifts–so make sure to schedule these photos after everyone’s hair and makeup is finished, and the group looks polished and fabulous. No one wants to see photos of themselves without makeup, or worse, halfway made-up! The best timing is typically just before the bride gets into her dress (because she’ll likely want photos of that too), about an hour before the ceremony. I generally take a few photos of the makeup artist putting the finishing touches on the bride and then move onto working with the group.
There you have it, three simple steps to amazing getting ready photos. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most important component of all: have fun! Seriously. Take a few moments to smile, relax, and appreciate this time with your closest people on the most magical of days. This is how you get amazing getting-ready photos…every time!
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