Wedding day Breakdown: Portraits

Weddings from the Pros

Episode 62 with Nathan and Preston

Pick up some tips & tricks from this episode as Preston and I brainstorm about what it takes to create glamorous yet genuine portraits of your wedding day.

Check out Nathan’s Wedding Photography Studio

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • Why having the perfect portrait of your wedding takes you out of the norms of photography.
  • How planning with the  photographer will help determine the right picture for you and your guest.
  • Having a portrait of you and your family during the wedding day is a must and should not be forgotten.
  • Enjoy the time with your family and guest so that you will have a great memory of your wedding day and be captured perfectly.

Listen to the Full Podcast here!

Read the Full Transcription below!

Here at Angledlight photography, we believe marriage is an amazing adventure and your wedding is the jumping off point. We'll explore planning an authentic and meaningful wedding experience as we connect with real life couples and the industry's top professionals. We're here to inspire and encourage you as you begin this journey of a lifetime. Hey, everybody welcome back to another episode of weddings from the pros. My name's Preston bailey, I'm here in the angle light photography studio in Greenville south Carolina with partner in crime Nathan. And today we're gonna be talking about another part of the wedding day.

We've been kind of zooming in on different sections of the wedding day, giving our tips tricks and feedback on how to make those different parts go smoothly and Nathan. What are we gonna talk about today? So I think we were just chatting like before we started recording and I think probably the next thing that would make sense to talk about is kind of all the portraits and we'll just probably put all this together in a single episode. So when we talk about portraits, we're talking really about kind of one of the major parts of the photographer bride groom interaction part of the day. Right.

And generally, I think you can probably separate these into two different like subgroups, which is family portraits and we'll talk about that kind of in depth in a second. And then wedding party portraits and I guess you're lumping in bride and groom portraits in with wedding parties for sure. 100%. So for the family side, you know, I think our goal for Preston and to be able to get on here and kind of talk you through just a little bit from at least from a photographer's perspective, some things to make things, some ideas rather to make things go smoother and to kind of help the process that you might be facing right now, planning the wedding and knowing what to expect and like these different parts of the day.

Yeah, right, because typically you only do that once from the bride and groom perspective and you know, depending on how much value you place on getting portraits, like official portraits. I know here in the studio we focus a lot on kind of the documentary side of things, capturing organic moments, not posing people. So a lot of our kind of ethos of the photography that we do is is just trying to capture those moments, but I don't think a lot of people realize it's actually a decent amount of work, right?

You actually typically are going to devote a significant chunk of time of your wedding day to setting aside to actually get those post photos and you know, to kind of deliberately make sure that the people who are close to you are in kind of a formal photograph, you know, for posterity and having all of those is really important to most folks. So it's something that most everybody will do, so does anything come to mind as far, so when it comes to the post with the kind of section of the day, there's one thing I tell everybody tell every bride and groom this, like there is no right and way to schedule your wedding day.

Like you should build your day around kind of who you guys are and what you value the most, What we're going to talk about here is kind of just what we see most often and kind of what normal is the wrong word, but just what tends to happen just because it kind of fits into the schedule of the day. So if this doesn't resonate with necessarily the way that you're approaching your wedding, it doesn't necessarily mean you're doing it wrong. I don't want anybody to take that away from this conversation.

It's just that kind of, some of the things that we talk about is just kind of what is the norm, right? And the norm is only the norm, but that doesn't mean that the norm is always right, right. I think there's a lot of value and kind of learning the rules so that you can break them. And that's, that's part of our wedding philosophy here is like, don't do anything on your wedding day because you feel like you should for sure like figure out what you want to do and figure out what fits what you're looking for.

So typically, and this is just typically, and again, it's schedules all over the place and there's more people now who are wanting to get a lot more photos done before the ceremony, but typically what tends to happen is after the ceremony, you'll have kind of a designated time to be able to take portraits with your family. Okay, now, I actually think this is a really good idea, even though this is the norm, this is probably one of those things that it's the norm for a reason and it tends to work out really, really well because you know, this is gonna be a time when your family is going to be there for the ceremony anyway to get these portraits done right afterwards tends to help keep things orderly, keep things smooth, everybody's already there, everybody's kind of already at the ceremony site and ceremony location to wrap the ceremony and then go as quickly as we can into the family portraits does tend to make a lot of sense, right?

Because you're not having to go like search for people too much as soon as you get declared, like, people are going to start running for the cocktail bar or the reception area, they're going to start finding order. But it really is like logistically the most challenging part of the day, I think is just wrangling people right? And if you've got a big family, it can get out of hand. So getting it knocked out right after the ceremony helps you move through that quickly, right? Because it doesn't take a ton of creative energy, right?

Because you're kind of typically using a similar backdrop for a lot of those photos, you just kind of knock it out and get it done. Yeah, it's it's really good. What I tell most bridegrooms is this and this is no matter what photographer you're working with, the photographer might ask you for this, but if they don't maybe suggested to the photographer to maybe help things work as fast as they can. The very first thing I always do during this day or when planning this part of the day is always ask the couple for a detailed list of the groups that they want to get photographed with, right?

This is really important for a couple of different reasons. The first one is you have no idea how crazy your day is going to be. And especially this part of the day, like once you guys get to say I do, everybody will be coming up to you, things are going to be happening so fast, everyone's going to want to hug you and congratulate you and love on you and all that's great, right? But what's going to happen is that there's gonna be so many directions your attention's gonna be pulled that you don't want to forget a portrait with somebody who's really special to you in your life, right?

And that's what these family portraits are all about. You really, is about making sure that the people who are closest to you and the people who mean the most to you which probably is your family. It doesn't necessarily have to be but probably your family that we really capture all of them and at least one what I would say more formal photograph. So I always ask the bride and groom for this. If you are working with a photographer that doesn't ask for it, maybe just offer it to them.

I promise you, I think any photographer would really appreciate it because what tends to happen is we'll get the bride and the groom set up and then we'll literally just work down the list and we'll call it the people. There's there's some hacks here, some life hacks like starting with a big group and then kind of peeling people away from that big group. Like there's things that you can do to speed up even further. But this will go a long way towards keeping things organized and moving so that the photographer just called the names, Get them in into the group and get them posed really quickly where it looks nice.

Get that shot and then move on to the next one because we all know that you guys want to get to the reception as well. Yeah you want to make the most out of your day. So you don't want to spend time, you know finding and linda because she wandered off and you can you and I can probably both agree we've all shot weddings that that don't have any sort of plan in place afterwards. And you always remember oh one more photo with this this particular group of people or this collection and you've dismissed somebody and then have to come back.

So it definitely helps logistically to just move through it quickly to have a list in a big way. And then the second really like another really big to that point that person just made another really good suggestion is once you have that list, go ahead and contact those people like sent a mass text, put them all into a facebook group, send an email to each one of them individually or put them all into an email and send it to everybody whatever you gotta do. But just let those people know that you want to get a photograph with them right?

Because that's a big deal. Like your second your first cousin, second removed. Like they might not know, they might not know and you know nobody wants to be that guy who like walks up and he's like you want to get your photo with me right? Like most people if they're not sure if they're going to be in the photo or not, they're going to tend to shy away they want to presume right? So to just send them a quick text or send a quick email that entire list that you created and say listen, you mean the world to me and I really want to make sure that I get a portrait with you after the ceremony.

So if you don't mind, please just stay in that area. The photographer and us will come back to that spot and you know, we'll get all the family portraits done. Just kind of listen for your name to be called and just kind of do what the photographer says to do at that point, but just letting them know right? Because we've been to a lot of situations where we'll call out the name of the list and then like somebody's gonna go like search for them at the bar.

So we're missing two people even missing a little bit of planning goes along. Yeah. And communication. Yeah, it goes a long way for sure naturally. I think it does make sense to do. And this is typically what you see it done this way to do family photos right after because of course your family's not hanging out before the ceremony right there, getting there and they're getting into their seats. It's my personal preference. If I was planning my own wedding, I would try to push for having most of the other portraits done before the wedding.

I think there's a lot of value in that. Tell me what you think about this. I mean typically after the ceremony like it's kind of action time. Right? Obviously if you're having a nice sunset. It makes sense to go get the right light and and kind of sneak away from maybe a portrait session with you and your new spouse. But my preference is to do as much as we can before the wedding that way we kind of get the work done early. Like would you agree? Yeah, no I think I think that's great.

So typically what'll happen is and I think you're talking mostly about like the wedding party bridal party. So switching now from the family portraits to like the bridal party or the wedding party portraits. So yeah, like a lot of times what will happen is to try to get some of the more formal photos and portraits done with your wedding party out of the way a lot of times what we'll do and again some of this depends on if you're doing a first look or not doing the first or whatever, but at the beginning of the day like we can go ahead and get lots of those photos, those portraits done.

So like the bride when she's ready with the girls and when they're ready and we'll go ahead and get portraits of them both together as a big group of girls and then individually get, because I was getting like a portrait of each of the bridesmaids with the bride right? And then doing the same thing on the guy's side of the venue right? So wherever they're going to be and we can go and get a lot of those kind of things done for sure if they're not doing a first look, if the first time they're going to see each other is when they're walking down the aisle, then obviously we can't do the whole party together, pretty much has to be after.

So typically what I'll do is I'll do those huge wedding party photos with everybody together, both the girls side and the guy's side. I'll do all that stuff after the family. And so typically we'll go through the family list and we'll do all the porches to the family and then I'll grab the wedding party and then we'll take the wedding party out to go do some photos. I try to do the family first mostly because, you know, especially when it comes to like your older family members just helping them to get the portrait done as quickly as possible.

So then get somewhere more comfortable. You know, in a lot of cases you might be outside, it might be wet or it could be really cold or really hot or whatever the situation is just to go and get as much of that done as we can up front so that the elderly can kind of find a place to get more comfortable and to enjoy themselves for the rest of the night totally. You know, I focus more on the film side of things here and so I actually don't have as much experience actually posing groups.

It's really fun to come and work with Nathan more and more and see how he interacts with groups. And I think that makes a big difference for like whether you have kind of a really boring photo session with your bridal party versus like actually having fun and I've noticed you do a handful of things to like get them relaxed and kind of create the emotional atmosphere to get really capture, you know, people in their natural element and make those post photos not feel quite as post you want to talk a little bit about like what's your philosophy when you're working through bridal photos and portraits?

Because I think you did a really good job of kind of helping really set the tone and get people relaxed. Yeah. So you know our philosophy here angle like photography is that we would always prefer. It's not to say that portraits are bad, we do those as well. I was actually on a call with a broad earlier in here who's looking to book for april and she was like, but you still like take photos of family, right? And I'm like, yeah, we do that. Yeah, we do that too.

But you know, for us, even though getting those portraits with your family is very, very, very, very important right to us. We want to always be able to see the character of the people that you surround yourself with shine through, right? That's the whole concept of like photographing who someone is rather than what they look like. 100%. You take that not just from the documentary side, but like you take that into, into the portraits right? Right? So like typically we'll do a few more formal things where everybody just kind of standing nice looking at the camera.

But then I introduced to for lack of better words, some games, right? We kind of just play some games with the wedding party now depending on the wedding party, like they could get a little saucy and it's fun, right? It depends on the group, right? You got to read the group and it's got to be the right group for it. But regardless I enjoy doing things that get the wedding party interacting with each other. Like that's the key right? Where they're not just standing there looking at the camera and everything feels kind of stiff and awkward.

I really want them to I want to give them the space and the environment to be themselves, right? And through the games that we're playing and the things that we talked about and the way I asked them to interact with each other, I've really found that that really opens the doors to getting some really genuine and authentic. I know we keep saying that word over and over here in the studio, but like it does open the door to be able to capture more of the essence of who those people are.

There's a reason that we say that so much, you know? And I think there's a huge difference if you've ever been in a bridal party in the last few years, you know, there's a huge difference between the photographer saying, hey, I want everyone to smile and laugh at each other versus helping, you know, doing something that just makes them smile and laugh, right? Like it's a small difference, but it makes a big difference. And I think you did a really good job about that. So maybe that's something for couples to have a conversation with their photographer and ask them just a little bit like, what's your process when it comes to portraiture because it can take a boring experience and make it into something fun. Yeah.

You know, it does come to this kind of deeper idea that when the couple is looking at their album in 20 years, right? Are they going to look at that photograph and maybe it's a cute photograph. You know, if the photographer was like, all right, everybody laugh everybody. Like the photographers, like everybody, everybody towards me telling me we've done right? But the deeper idea here is that when the couple is looking at their photographs in 20 years, right there looking at that album, they wake up on a sunday morning and they're flipping through the album together.

It's a cute photo maybe right of all the people laughing when they were told to laugh. It might be a cute photo and it's definitely insta worthy for sure I guess right. But it's not real like nothing actually happened. Like it's not like you can look at that photo of your friends and think to yourself man that was that was so funny when you know the photographer asked us to do something crazy and remember when cory flipped kim upside down and he was holding her upside down, everybody lost.

It actually literally happened that literally happened right. Like when things like that happen and people have a real reaction to a real moment, you're going to remember the real moment right? You're looking at that photo and it's amazing because it really brings back how it really felt because it was a real thing that happened right? And I think that's the thing that keeps motivating us here. We do try to stay away from like those ideas of like just say laugh or what to say like they'll say everyone, everyone smile and look at the look at the bride and laugh and you know we asked people to smile and things like that but like to do things fake for a photo and a lot of cases can make things look good but just doesn't mean anything right.

Erika and Lanny mann call this like a lifeless representation of an idea right? Like it's at the end of day when you're looking at it, it's cool and I'm not saying it's bad but it's just not real. The litmus test. I always think to myself, for every photograph that I look at, every photograph I take is is this going to mean anything in 20 years? It's like a song being written and being listened to on the radio? Like is this going to be a song that anybody's gonna wanna listen to in six months?

Right. I can think of examples of photos that are, you know, I guess I'll say well engineered and they're very aesthetically pleasing. But when you look at them, it seems incongruent with who that person is like and it doesn't elicit the same. Like for instance, like some of the favorite photos that I have, my dad, he isn't like smiling or cheesing very big, right? He's not like an overly expressive person. But a lot of my favorite photos are ones where he's just being himself in his natural element and they make me feel warm and fuzzy.

You would think that it would be kind of the smile, jovial photo, but that's not necessarily how he carries himself right now. But I think the idea though is very insightful, right? Like I want any time that somebody's looking at a photograph of somebody else. I want them to think to themselves. Yes, like that is him totally or that is her, right? And we always keep it within the context of like we want them to look good, we don't want somebody look bad, right? Right? We just want them to look like themselves.

When somebody looking at the photograph, we want it to feel like it's them. Yeah. Are there any more like pragmatic tips? Or like just surface level rituals, things to have things to bring with you or anything like that? I'm kind of racking my brain for like what makes the portraiture sessions go more more smoothly? I think a huge part of it is because the photographer really is you know, they're not the wedding planner, they're not the director per se, but that does kind of fall on you at some point because you are kind of directing people where to go, who's in that photo.

So I would say, you know, a huge part of that going well is just know your photographer know what they stand for, you know, and ask those questions. Have those conversations before. So when you get in the moment, oh and this is what I was gonna mention this to you shared this the other day, we were out an engagement session up at Sassafras Mountain and Nathan was like, that's so that's one of the things I really enjoy about having engagement sessions and that's part of our process here is because when you get to the wedding day, you've already spent time with your photographer taking formal posed photographs, right?

So it makes it go, it's completely different when you jumping around out of the gate and you're in your wedding dress and it's the first time you've done, you know, you've worked posing with the photographer. It can feel a little alien. You know, most of us aren't, you know, in front of the lens all the time. So I think, you know, having an engagement session asking your photographer, hey, can we go somewhere and can we practice shooting? So that way you feel a little bit more natural that can help that organic side come out a bit more on the wedding day.

Yeah, that's a great suggestion. And we probably should do a whole episode one of these episodes on engagement. So I gotta think about for sure. Like that needs to happen for sure. So, I mean, you know, to wrap this up, like I know that, you know, a lot of people are looking at the timeline there. Like how much time should we dedicate to this? Generally speaking, I want to give you just a few. And these are rough guys. Remember rough because not all weddings are the same, right?

You have some wedding parties that have 12 on each side. Right? And you've got some that have two or three. You've got some that have ginormous families, you've got some that, you know, only have really the immediate family, maybe grandparents. And that's, that's really all that they care to have photographs. So just take this with a little bit of green assault. But these are just general guidelines. I usually tell people to expect to schedule for on average between like 2 to 3 minutes. A family portrait, right? Is it going to actually take that long?

Probably not. But it does build enough of a buffer that if things were to happen or for some reason things were to go slow if you have kids that are there and we're having to spend just a little bit longer to get those kids smile and something and enjoy themselves tracking somebody down. Right? Or like you know if something happens with your dress or like the girls have got to go get their bouquets because they left them in the like something always happens chaos. So if you want to try to guesstimate how much time it's going to take or you're trying to say to yourself, how many family photos should I have?

Probably just kind of roughly think to yourself 2 to 3 minutes per photo. That'll probably give you a rough estimate. I don't hear any life photography. Generally speaking, we always keep the family portraits and the wedding party photos all within that cocktail hour. And so it usually takes between like 30 to 40 minutes would you say 30 45 minutes. Maybe you move through it pretty quick. Again it makes a big difference to the sides of your bridal party. Right? It does. Yeah. And how many photos you guys want. So I want to end this thing by saying that you know, present suggestion, I think I want to put a pin in that and I really want to emphasize this point, which is your photos are going to probably one of the only things like in the film to right, it's gonna be like one of the only things that's going to stay with you after that wedding day is gone.

Everybody says that everybody kind of knows that it means though, that this is important enough for you to ask your photographer. So how do you handle this part of the day? Like, and and it's really, I don't think any photographer would be offended. Like honestly, I would be surprised when I came to ask, like, how would you handle family portrait, but then take it a step further and then ask why, right? Like how do they handle it? And then why did they do it that way? And if that why resonates with you, then You found the right one right?

Like that's that's how it goes. And then this it works this way for getting ready portraits, the ceremony reception, how they handle the entire day. Ask them about the entire day. And if they're why resonates with you. And it's something that appeals to you, then you've found your perfect photographer. Yeah, not that that was really the intention of this podcast episode. Of course, of course I do think there's, you know, as someone who doesn't go as crazy for the formals, you know, I'm sure that will mean something different differently to me, you know, at a later point in my life, but it's almost like we want to document, you know, kind of fully like do a full cover of like all the people that are the closest to you when we do those portraits and we get kind of the basics out of the way it opens up the creative possibilities because then we don't have to worry about capturing the entirety of someone's face and like capturing all the little details we can really break outside the box and the second half of the wedding and figure out, hey can we put my camera and all these sorts of funky places and really start getting creative because we've captured kind of the the essence of someone in the portraits and we can kind of go crazy outside of that and start getting some really creative results.

Is that No Yeah, I think that's right on point and you know like I don't know if that was as meaningful as I I think it's one point I was just thinking to myself as you were talking, we just did a reveal this past sunday. You walked in when they were like we're going to podcast and it's funny their family portrait we took in kind of a different location on the wedding day. I actually thought it was like the worst photo from the gallery, right? A lot of times, as hard as a photographer to pull yourself out of this place where you're judging a photo on its technical accuracy or like your preconceived notions of what something should look like instead of how they see the photo, right?

And so like we were talking afterwards and she was like, oh yeah, that family porch that we took in front of the fountain. And I was sitting there thinking what, like that was like one of your favorite photos, right? Because it's not that technically groundbreaking. No. Yeah, in a lot of ways it was technically inaccurate, right? I think that's really refreshing to like in the age of instagram, like when you reject kind of the philosophy that my generation grew up with, you know, regarding photography, like we post with face filters and we, you know, we tune everything up and it's all about maximizing the aesthetic at the expense of, you know, resulting in your minimizing the authenticity.

And I think what we want is the pendulum to swing back in the opposite direction and not to reject, you know, making something look great, right? Not to reject the aesthetic in and of itself, but realize, Yeah, I mean it's not always going to be 100% perfect and everyone is not going to be looking, let's say like they're on paper best, but the photographs that are the most meaningful are ones that really capture who someone is and sometimes they're just not smiling. Sometimes they have flyaways in their hair and sometimes the bottom of the dress is does have a little bit of mud on it.

But like that's the real, that's the human that's like what we're really chasing after. It's not, you know, just trying to make someone look pretty. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. I do want to agree with you. This is a fight that I constantly, this is an internal battle that I constantly have, right? Like how do you still honor the beautiful right? And honor the idea? Like, I don't want to post a terrible photograph of myself online, right? Or I don't want to share it with anybody, right? So like even I have those inhibitions where it's like I want to look as good as I can.

I just don't care about it quite as much as other people, right? I don't know where I'm going with this. It's just an interesting like, like as a photographer, how do you honor the beauty while also focusing on the real because sometimes they're not the same thing. But a lot of times they are like you are in your sunday best at your wedding day, you know? And so we're trying to lean into that and accentuate all of the things that do go into your made up self too.

But I mean, I think some of the most beautiful moments that we capture our like inherently maybe not the textbook definition of beautiful. Like when I take a photo of like mom holding the baby and the baby's like screaming its head off. Like it's not a pleasant moment, but it's a really sweet and impactful memory. It's like, oh, I remember he was waling during the ceremony, but like that to me that's just the way that we see things. It is beautiful in and of itself, even if it's not maybe polished I guess. Yeah.

Well to me, the essence of documentary photography honestly comes down to this fundamental principle which is we're here to photograph what it means to be human, right? If our goal is to express humanity through our photographs and the artwork that we can create through our cameras which are tools, right? And the lights that we have in the different lens choices we can make, right? Like fundamentally that baby crying is not a beautiful, that might not go on a pampers commercial. Right? Right. Right. But like it is what it means to be human.

Any parent knows what it's like to look at a crying child, like it's a part of the human experience, right? But it is a part of the human experience, right? Which is to feel pain. Alright guys, thanks for tuning in with us and hearing a little bit from myself and Nathan. Feel free to check us out on facebook, There's a weddings from the pros facebook group also angled light photography, you can find us on facebook and instagram check out some of our work. Send us a message, asking some questions.

We really appreciate you tuning in and hearing some thoughts from us anyway. Have a great rest of your week and we will check in soon. See you here, angle life photography. We believe marriage is an amazing adventure and your wedding is the jumping off point. We'll explore planning authentic and meaningful wedding experience as we connect with real life couples and the industry's top professionals. We're here to inspire and encourage you as you begin this journey of a lifetime.

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Up coming Episode

Episode 63: Designing a Remarkable Wedding Reception with Shawn Stom

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