Post by Rick Sammon – Follow Rick on Twitter.
The book mainly features photographs and tips from top wedding photographers; I acted more like an editor than an author (my usual role in producing a book).
Stephanie’s chapter is entitled, The Woman’s Touch.
Okay Stephanie, take it away!
Be Cool, Calm and Collected
My clients tell me all the time that I have a calming influence on them. When everything is crazy and everyone is stressed, I usually remain cool, calm and collected.
In the midst of commotion, a bride or her attendants will ask, “Is this normal?” I assure everyone that all weddings have chaotic moments and stressful ties. Then I suggest that everyone take a deep breath, relax and just enjoy the moment—because it will be gone before they know it.
How can I remain so calm in the midst of the chaos? Well, I’ve been there before … hundreds of times as a wedding photographer. And more importantly, I have been a bride. I have been in those shoes, and I can relate to the butterflies that brides feel in their stomach. I know the anxiety, the excitement, the stress and the relief that they feel now that their wedding day has finally arrived. So when I tell them to relax and enjoy it, they know it is coming from someone who speaks from experience.
The bride in the top left image was very calm all morning while she was getting ready. However, when she arrived at the back of the church—waiting for her moment to go down the aisle—and heard the music playing, she showed her first signs of anxiety. She looked up to keep from tearing, took a deep breath and said a little prayer to herself. Then it was time to get the show on the road.
Sometimes, in order to get beautiful images, you have to ask your clients to do things that they normally would not do. Groomsmen, in particular, can be very challenging. Many times they don’t want to do things that they think will make them look silly. However, because I am a woman, I often have an easier time than my male colleagues in convincing them to comply.
One thing that rarely takes much convincing is when I suggest that the couple take five minutes and just enjoy a few moments alone together. I love getting them to just be together and soak in a few moments of each other on their wedding day.
It took just a bit more convincing than normal to get this couple positioned for the top right image.A massive storm had rolled in just two minutes after their outdoor ceremony ended, which cut short our portrait time. So later, during the reception, when the rain had finally passed, I suggested that the couple join me outside for a few more pictures. They were very open to the idea of walking around the grounds of the wedding location because that was one of the main reasons that they had selected it.
The sun was going down so we had very little time left to shoot, but a beautiful rainbow developed and I knew that we had to capture it. I asked the bride and groom to walk up into the grass on a small hill so I could line up everything the way I wanted. The grass was very wet which caused a moment of hesitation, but my clients trusted me and cooperated. They were rewarded with this memorable image.
Trust the Bridesmaids
I have noticed that the bridesmaids can be an enormous asset when shooting a wedding. They want the best for their friend on her wedding day, so they include me on inside jokes and things I should photograph. These are insights that perhaps I would not get if I was male.
Maybe it’s general female camaraderie. Women in general like to make others feel special, and so they go out of their way to make sure that the bride gets the very best of everything on her wedding day.
The bottom left image was created with the help of bridesmaids. I was in the back of the church waiting for the bride to walk down the aisle, when one of the bridesmaids came out of the little room in which they were waiting to tell me that the bride was peeking through the crack on the hinge side of the door into the sanctuary. I went into the sanctuary and got the shot from the other side of the door.
Now the bride will always remember her smile as she saw her ceremony about to begin, and it is thanks to her bridesmaid … who let me know what was happening when I was elsewhere.
The brides I’ve worked with have been very comfortable with me photographing them getting ready. As a woman, I blend in with her mother and bridesmaids. This allows me to capture some of the most intimate moments that a bride has on her wedding day.
The time spent getting ready is when the bride transforms from her normal self into the princess that she has pictured herself to be since she was a little girl. It is amazing to see emotions change as the transformation progresses. Usually the veil is what sends the bride and the family over the top emotionally.
The bride has likely worn fancy dresses before, but only on her wedding day does she put on a veil. The bride tends to be less than fully dressed while getting ready and usually needs a handful of helpers to get into her dress. Getting into the dress can be a fun and chaotic moment and one that definitely should be preserved.
I love the bottom right because it truly shows how many people it takes to get a bride ready for her wedding.