Shooting an after-wedding/ trash the dress
January 25, 2016
I’m not a wedding photographer, nor do I pretend to be one, nor do I want to be one. Actually, I dislike photographing weddings and other similar events that imply a large number of people. I find them exhausting to the bone! All my respect for photographers who love it and are good at it, I couldn’t do it.
Also, I don’t photograph couples. How do you really pose men? It’s a mystery to me and I’m not sure I want to discover it. Photographing solely women is what comes natural to me, what I really love to do.
But last year, when my good old friend Mishuella asked me to shoot her after wedding I… wanted to say no. I think I even told her no at first and then she convinced me I can do it? I don’t really recall it right now, but long story short, I ended up jumping to the challenge. I did my research mainly of posing and framing beforehand, yet when I arrived there I still wasn’t prepared for it.
So I’m sharing my experience and what I’ve learn (from my mistakes) with all those of you that are preparing to shoot an after wedding/ trash the dress for the first time. I’ll break down the information in bits of advice to make it easier to grasp:
- Be their friend. This one was easy for me as we have already known each other for a long time, but my point is to meet them beforehand, learn as much about them and make sure you like each other, because otherwise the whole session will be a pain in the.. back.
- Do your homework. I had all those captures in my mind when I arrived there, yet I only scarcely did my homework in terms of location scouting. I had no idea where the best locations (and how far one from the other) where so I had to pick them up along the way. The good thing was that we spent a week there (in Polignano a Mare, to be more exactly) and we reserved the first days to exploring the surroundings. Search locations beforehand and also look how the sun is lighting those places in different times of the day. Don’t rely only on Google for this, the images there can be really deceiving. Instagram is a better venue for searching up and assessing locations. For example, I found amazing captures of an empty Alberobello on Google, but when I looked the location up on Instagram, the “live” images that were popping up were overfilled with tourists! Also, you can get in touch with locals to help you out with nice, less popular locations.
- Focus. After all, it is a job. Focus on what you have to do, keep a clear schedule of when, where and how you’ll be shooting and make sure to direct the couple and your team. A few times I fell in the “too focused” extreme, to the point that I was still eager to take more shots, head to farther away locations, not wanting to see that my couple was tired and their only wish was a refreshing swim in the sea, which takes me to the next point…
- Relax. They were hot September days and, happily enjoying the weather with my bare legs and arms, I didn’t realize the terror of the bride to wear the long tight dress for hours in the sun and the groom’s dark costume heating up. So, be attentive to them, take refreshing pauses, enjoy your time. My favourite parts were the sea-food pasta filled meals which ended up with glasses of wine and lieing on the beach. And who knows, maybe you snap some beautiful memories in between!
- Communicate. I learnt most of these pieces of advice through communicating with my clients, the couple. Because we are friends, I could open up to them honestly about my views, approach, ideas, indications and in return, they told me their expectations and complaints and we worked together on making the experience better.
- Have a team. At least an assistant. I only had my boyfriend as assistant because we didn’t realize how much we would need a whole team. The most important people we’ve missed were the MUA and hairstylist. It was already too late when I started looking up for a MUA – the town was too small, I found zero people available in the area. We managed to do it all by ourselves in the end, but a team would have helped us tremendously. Doesn’t have to be a large team. Pick an assistant that’s also good at hair & make-up, or find people in the area that can help you out. Oh, also, rent a car if you’re on to various location.
- Have fun & be creative. I like to shoot portraits that hint to nostalgia and I naturally brought this part with me in my approach here too. But I couldn’t offer them only melancholic memories of this happy time, as romantic and beautiful as they would be. So, we had fun. I asked them to randomly dance on the streets, to jump, to make faces, to pose funny. The ideas were flowing along the way. I wasn’t aiming for a perfectly posed and framed photo here, but for capturing expressions and feelings, the essence of that very moment in time.
If you have zero experience as a photographer and want to take up such a job.. DON’T! Don’t ruin someone else’s memories because you’re over-confident and think you can do it. You most probably can’t nail it from the very first time. Practice first on friends and family. Learn from others. What I would do if wanted to switch to wedding photography right now would be to assist experienced wedding photographers that I look up to.
My experience overall? It was fun and exhausting due to all my second thoughts. I think these kind of memories are so important to keep and cherish that you have to make sure you pick the right person to capture them. While there, I was often afraid I won’t live up to the expectations, but I’m happy with the results and truly hope my couple is happy too!
Would I do it again? With them, yes, if they asked me :)) With other people? I don’t think so. I want this lovely experience to remain unique.
Here’s a small selection of the images I took. Mihaela & Bogdan, wish you again all the happiness in the world together!
And a collection of printed memories as my gift to them, because you cherish more these physical photographs over time, than a long lost overfilled folder on your hard drive 🙂 (I should also send my thank you’s to the people who helped me get my hands on this cute kraft box, a story that could make for a whole new article!).
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