What do Sundays with your in-laws and getting-ready photos have in common? For some folks, the idea of either of those generates the same amount of sweat on the palms. With getting ready photos, there’s sometimes the impression that they’re about staged shots in your undies (I can assure you i’m not really that interested in seeing that either). When you’ve just rolled out of bed with yesterdays ashtray still in the room, and that this is the part of the day when everyone is caught at their worst.
Fortunately, things have changed, and there’s another way you can look at it.
Of all the weddings I’ve photographed the world over, the getting-ready part of the day consistently provides some of the most wonderful moments and as a result, some of the most wonderful images. It’s a unique part of the day where some of the closest are present, the guard is down and a beautiful context is set against the rest of the day.
Here’s 5 reasons why I think that if you don’t want that part of the day covered, you should reconsider.
1. The wind-up
Think of it as a baseball pitch. if you’re camera shy (as I am), think of this as the warm up. Pretty quickly you won’t be noticing the camera there for the rest of the day. Being comfortable in front of a camera is one-part having someone calm and natural taking the photos and one-part exposure-therapy. The more time you are in front of it, the quicker that natural guard drops, all by itself.
2. The Timeline
The rest of the day can be manic, so those moments before the ceremony are unique and calm in contrast to other parts of the day. This can make you feel like your brain has been thrown into a nutri-bullet (don’t dig too deep into visualising that metaphor).
3. The light
It stands to reason that generally, getting-ready happens indoors. Whether the vibe of your day is colourful, moody, or a mix of the two, there’s something magical about the indoors that a skilful photographer will be able to capture. Whether it’s a castle in Italy, or, light in a broom cupboard (this has actually been a backdrop, once).
Make sure this majestic light isn’t being compromised by other light sources: turn off TV’s (unless you really think that midday football and the latest Kardashian scandal in the background will add to your images).
Indoor light is like nothing else: whether it’s a beautiful air-bnb you’ve hired or a cluttered lounge-room, trust in your photographer to be able to see the best in it, and find the magic that’s already there.
That’s what we do.
4. Family feels
Whether it’s family, friends, or your partner that are around, this is one part of the day without the craziness of all the guests and other logistics. It’s a unique little part of the day, full of smaller moments, surprises and connection that are worth having a record of.
This isn’t about the staged shots, the makeup being applied, blah blah. You can have those, of course – we’ll be there for them too and they often make for much more interesting images than you’d imagine. But this is about that normal human dance that happens with you and your nearest, without the charade and ceremony that informs the rest of the day.
This might just be the only time in your life that you’re lucky enough to have an artist document a little bit of your everyday.
5. Someone on your team, from the start
A great photographer is there to serve you and make great images for you, not against you. So It’s worth remembering that even in the most seemingly simple or plain situations, their job is to find magic.
And if you make a space for some prep shots, know that in the right hands, it’s going to be so much less about “prep” shots, and so much more about creating a little record of the everyday.
We don’t need long – just like Sundays with the in-laws. 20 or 30 minutes is often plenty. But if you’re weighing up whether to have more photos of drunken partying at the end of the day versus having someone capturing everyone getting ready, it’s worth considering which one will hit you more in the feels.
Ms Zebra Says: It’s such a special, once in a lifetime day that capturing the important memories will never be a mistake!
About Briars Atlas: Briars photographs love and ritual from America to Antarctica, and is an advocate of cutting sandwiches into triangles over rectangles. Away from weddings, he experiments with and writes about the future of analogue, and runs workshops on creative-thinking worldwide.
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