So, if you'vebeen browsing my blogs over time you'll have noticed that as wel as real weddings and other creative shoots I sometimes shoot bridal themed shoots. So why bridal?
A bridal photoshoot isn't necessarily representative of my skills as a wedding photographer. Roping in beautiful models, expert hair and makeup, dream dresses and dream locations all under perfectly controlled conditions (well, as controlled as any photoshoot truly can be) does not a wedding photographer make.
So why do it?
Well, like weddings, I enjoy the thrill of photoshoots, so there's the getting to play with all the toys in the toybox aspect, I can't deny, but there are other key factors.
Working with a dress designer/boutique, makeup artists and hair stylist you build up connections with people in the wedding industry. You can show yourself as someone to be trusted and find people in turn who you can trust and refer clients to.
Working with a venue or location, whether it be a hotel or a stately home, has the same effect. So you get the right results, show them in a good light and make sure they get something out of the shoot and this feeds through into strengthening your relationship with that provider.
Not to mention the links with models, model agencies, magazines, newspapers, bloggers and others.
If you want your weddings to approach a particular sector of the marketplace, then you have to think how your portfolio can reflect that. Providing a strong consisten look for your photography can be an important part of creating your brand. A bridal shoot can give you the chance to develop a style and look which you can bring to a real wedding. Working with providers that suit those market segments broadens your reach in those areas. Now me, I'm a generalist, both a good thing and bad, I can show a wide range of skills to tailor to any wedding, but I perhaps lack the focused portfolio of a dedicated "vintage", "alternative" or contemporary photographer.
In the hurly burly of a real wedding it can be hard for a photograpger to risk experimenting or trying something a little out of the ordinary. A controlled bridal shoot can give me the chance to try new things, new angles, new lighting and new poses which I can then improve on and use in the real wedding world.
Working with both experienced and inexperienced models can improve the way that you pose your subjects and how you explain those poses. If you can create chemistry between a "bride" and "groom" as models by adjusting a pose, just think what can be done when the eyes and hearts match the pose!
Practice and learning new things are a vital part of creating memorable wedding photographs for couples. A static formulaic technique, in my opinion, will never have that personal, human touch that a good wedding photographer should be giving to their clients.
The best advertising is still free advertising. Sharing the resulting photos from the shoot with blogs, magazines, press can all be useful tools in getting your name out to the wider world. Many magazines are desperate for content and will reach out to dress designers, venue owners and others for material. If these folk, who have collaborated on your shoot, submit your pictures for publication, then make sure you are credited. It's obviously even better if you can get yourself to a point where these publications commission or pay for your shots, but sadly they will almost always resort to free images and will often only feature images from suppliers who advertise in their pages. So letting the suppliers use your images lets you piggy back a little on their advertising pennies. Still and all, a lot of the wedding magazines are more interested in real life weddings for their non editorial pages, so don't get too caught up in this.
5. The Training Day
As well as self arranged bridal shoots some photographers offer training days for other photographers. Photographer A will set up the shoot, models and venue and a bunch of photographers will turn up and take a few pictures and maybe learn a few tricks of the trade, techniques or lighting setups. The pictures are often the same shots from slightly different angles, a virtual camera club shutterfest, if the day is managed badly. So this is a variant of the bridal shoot which reduces the human interaction even further, without the elements of networking, building relationships with providers and creating your own branding you are left with the learning experience, which may or may not have value.
So back to the key thing, weddings.
In a real wedding there are a thousand variables that can influence how the day happens, how the guests behave, how they will react to being in front of the camera, how amenable they will be to posing advice, what funky lighting the venue might have, the disco's laser spot lights, random child invasions. All of those elements of the day that humanise the ceremony and pomp of the carefully planned arrangements.
Yes I will capture a beautiful picture of the bride and yes the shot may have been influenced by things I've learned from other shoots, both creative and bridal themed, but it will be a picture wholly of that moment, whether it be a moment's emotion, a moment's fun, a random gust of wind or just a trick of the light.
So to answer my question, why bridal? If I'm going to be there to capture your day, then I want to make sure I have all the tools and experience I can have to create the results you want, tailored to what you want, but with a little flavour of my experience.