Because a couple’s wedding day may be the most important and memorable event of their lives, capturing that day in pictures presents a unique challenge to wedding photographers. Compared to nature photography or other professional photographic endeavors, the margin of error with bridal photography is much lower. Wedding photographers get only one shot to capture the memories of the bride and groom’s big day, despite any environmental obstacles, such as poor weather; or situational obstacles, such as malfunctioning camera equipment.
Modern-day bridal photography has taken a special focus on capturing all aspects of the couple’s wedding day, including before, during, and after the ceremony. A bridal photography shoot may begin as early as the bride begins preparing for the wedding, and feature the bride in various stages of hair, makeup, and dress. A unique challenge for bridal photography in this early stage is to be able to capture the bride in a flattering and intimate manner that does not interfere with her wedding day preparations. The bride may require lots of physical space at this time, and the photographer should refrain from extreme close-up shots. Also at this time, the bridesmaids and family members may be assisting the bride with her preparations, and shots featuring the bridesmaids attending to the bride’s dress or jewelry are popular photo opportunities.
Once the couple has arrived at the church or other ceremony venue, the photographer is faced with the challenge of capturing shots during the ceremony in a manner that does not interfere with the service. Wedding photographers are often permitted to position themselves close to the couple while they recite their vows for a few quick shots. Professional bridal photography requires a unique proximity to the couple; therefore guests who also wish to also take photos may attempt to gain the same proximity. To avoid a “photo scrum,” guests may be asked at the beginning of the ceremony to refrain from taking photos until the service has ended.
Following the ceremony, the wedding photographer has a prime opportunity to capture photos of the bride and groom with their loved ones as they leave the venue. Photos that feature the bride and groom thanking and embracing their guests are a popular and iconic photo op. At this time, the couple and their attendants are freed-up to take posed portraits versus candid photos, and the photographer may work more closely with them to determine which types of poses they would prefer.
Due to the advances in digital cameras which have made photography more efficient and less expensive, more and more people are pursuing bridal photography as a freelance or full time profession. Keeping prices competitive are another unique challenge to bridal photography, as is long-range preparation, in order to avoid scheduling conflicts. In the age of the Internet, the most popular promotional item for a bridal photographer is a website, featuring the best wedding portraits from various ceremonies, used with the couple’s permission.