8 Tips for Getting That Perfect Dress Shot!
Every wedding photographer has their own idea of what’s the most important photograph to take during the wedding day. Is it the first kiss, first dance, or the groom seeing his bride coming down the aisle for the first time? These are absolutely some of the most important events during the day to capture. However, I would argue that getting an image of the wedding dress by itself should be near the top of any good wedding photographers list. But how do you get that perfect dress shot? Over the 8 years that I have been a professional wedding photographer, I have picked up small techniques along the way that will really set your images apart from the rest. Your photographer will be in charge of this shot of course, but below are 8 tips if you wanted to take one yourself!
1.) Find that perfect dress that matches your style. I know, this is kind of a no-brainer, but, you are going to want something unique, that also matches what you’re into. One way of doing this is to go somewhere that you trust to find a dress and talk to a professional. They will be able to guide you towards a dress based on what your vision is, while also picking something that is relevant to the current trends. So, whether you want to go with a dress that has a sweetheart neckline, a mermaid silhouette, or a puffy princess dress, a professional is going to be able to guide you in the right direction.
2.) Get a different hanger. A lot of dresses seem to come with a cheap plastic hanger that tends to stand out in images. Usually, a wooden hanger, or a custom one, with your new last name on it looks best! If you go with the custom hanger option, it is a nice keepsake that you can use for years to come. One other problem with plastic hangers, is they are very flimsy, especially when holding larger dresses.
3.) Keep your eyes on the details. Before you put the dress on your fancy hanger, make sure to take off all the tags and tuck in the ribbons that are sewn into the dress (those are usually used for the cheaper hangers.) Also, make sure the bust line is looking as it should and that it isn’t caved in. If it’s being a little stubborn, try stuffing it with some paper or a wire form to resemble what it would look like if you were wearing it. Take your time with this, there is nothing worse than seeing a tag hanging from your shoulder when you get your images on the computer.
4.) Find a place to hang your dress. This step is key. Some photographers like to lay dresses on beds (the only time I would do this is if there was no way to hang it). I have been in every situation that you can imagine, and the key places to look is curtain rods and door frames. If you are hanging your dress on a curtain rod, make sure that you are putting the hanger on an anchor point, you don’t want to pull the curtains down! Curtain rods are usually where I tend to lean towards, this way you can get that beautiful backlight that embellishes your dress. If you are in a hotel room, try to hang the hanger in the track itself rather than on top, this way the dress will be lower to the ground and will look more natural.
5.) Play with angles. Once your dress is hung, look around from different angles. I like to step outside of the room, close the door a little bit, and create some mystery in the image. Another interesting idea is to get reflections. Look for a cool mirror and see how you can frame the dress in it. Get low, stand on the bed, or try a vertical shot. This is the time to experiment, especially if you have a little extra time.
6.) Add someone to the photo. I always like trying to get an image of a flower girl looking up at the dress, or one of the bridesmaids adjusting it. Anytime you can put a human element in an image, it becomes more personal. You can also use the dress as a focal point the background of other images. For example, when one of your girls is getting her makeup on, or when one of the groomsmen delivers a note from the groom (I wish more grooms did this).
7.) Timing. When should to take photos of your dress? I would recommend photographing your dress before the photographer gets there and even a few days before. You have enough to worry about on your wedding day so pick a time where you don’t have anything else going on and where you can have fun with it, you’re making art here!
8.) Camera Choice. Don’t worry too much about your camera choice! If you have an iPhone or one of the newer android phones, you have more than enough camera to get the job done. To get the best image possible you’re going to want to brace yourself against something, so you can hold the camera still. Also, when you are about to take the image, you want to focus on the dress itself and this will adjust the exposure based on the dress. If that is a little too bright or dark, try focusing on something that is in the same plane of focus. Usually, the wall right next to the dress will work perfectly.
About Vince. Griff Photography is an award-winning Naperville wedding photographer, providing unbelievable wedding and engagement photography, with a creative artistic style. He has been a professional wedding photographer for 8 years, and has photographed over 300 weddings both locally and across the United States. He is passionate about what he does and you can see that in every one of his images.