Wedding Photography: Be Imaginative

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The world of wedding photography is becoming more and more competitive as time goes on. New techniques are discovered. New shots are developed. The envelope continues to be pushed. As a result, it’s easy to rely on the creativity of others rather than finding your own originality.

wedding-imaginative.jpg

The most notable wedding photographers are the ones who are most innovative in their portrait creations. So the question is, how do you become a trend setter with your wedding imagery? Start with these ideas and you’ll be on your way to becoming an edgy and creative wedding photographer that impresses.

1. Think with movement: Just because your wedding subjects are dressed in formal wear doesn’t mean your portraits need to be all formal also. Try to capitalize on every day motions and movements to add interest to your shots. Skipping. Laughing. Dancing. Karate moves. Leap Frog. The more movement you can incorporate, the more interesting your shots will be.

2. Use framing: Shoot “through” as many objects as you can. Car windows. Tire swings. Key holes. Rings. Positioned fingers. A type of “third party” element will give more depth and dimension to your imagery.

3. Show off your subjects: Treat a wedding party as simply many individuals making up a whole group. Allow each individual to pose themselves to add variety and personality.

4. Think “polaroid”-esque: Take a photo with an iPhone, a Polaroid, or a digital camera. Face this image screen toward the camera and set up the shot again with your subjects mirroring the previous image. Layering these images adds another dimension that boasts “no photoshop” creativity.

5.Utilize space: Gone are the days when everyone was positioned equal distance from one another and from the camera. Play with your subject spacing and placement to the camera. Variety of distance and space will add an illusion of alternating “levels”, and used rightly, will give additional importance on the Bride and Groom.

In an age of creative genius all around us, don’t forget: No one sees the way you do. Don’t be afraid of taking some creative risks. You never know when you may hit on a new trend simply because you aren’t afraid of thinking outside the box.

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

  • Dean S.

    Great ideas. But sometimes it’s the bride and groom that aren’t imaginative. The last wedding I shot, both the bride and groom weren’t having anything to do with my ideas and just wanted the standard and boring “formal” shots… clichĂ© shots.

    But what ever, they were paying me either way so I guess as long as they get what they want, it doesn’t matter.

  • Jesse Kaufman

    @dean yeah, that’s the most frustrating part … I deal with that a lot in web design, too … people don’t seem to want imaginative, interesting websites/photos, they want the standard stuff they’ve seen a million times and are comfortable with … but, you can always take some and keep them for your portfolio so when you DO get an imaginative client, they’ll not be turned away by your portfolio only having the “tried and true” poses 🙂

  • Loving the idea of combining wedding photography with forced perspective methods. Def on my to-do list.

  • johnp

    I’m afraid I dont like the posed look when taking wedding photos apart from those “must have” shots like cake cutting, signing the register, etc. Even then I’ll try to get a few candid shots of those before the re-enactment for the “official” shots. I find the candid shots although not so easy to take usually work better.
    It helps of course to have an outgoing happy bridal party. I think you can contribute to that to a certain extent by not ordering them around too much but, with maybe suggestions only, leave them to their own devices and ideas while you snap away.
    One technique I found by accident towards the end of a shoot when I was running out of ideas, the bridal party was getting a bit over having their photos taken and when I was asked what pose I wanted next I said more as a joke as they were sitting comfortably “just talk amongst yourselves”. They got into animated conversation about the ceremony, etc and totally forgot about me, laughing and joking. They ended up being some of the best shots of the day.

  • Pete Zerria

    Perhaps step number one of your five steps should say: Be aware of what is in your frame before you shoot.

    Could that blue thing behind bridesmaid-left be a recycle container? The electric pole, wires and high voltage transformer as well as the “junk yard” fence and occasional weed that pops up out of focus in the foreground are not only distracting, they scream amateur. These “features” are the very first things that drew my eye.

    To be a pro is to create beautiful and imaginative images consistently, time after time. An important part of that creation process is know what you are shooting before you press the shutter button. Your bride deserves nothing less.

    I am not criticizing your idea. I think it is rather refreshing to see something different in wedding photography. I am however taking issue with your process of seeing. Keep an eye on the little things and the big picture will be that much better.

  • What a photos. Very cool.

    I like to congratulate you for yuor beautifull blog. Very Elegant. Incredible informations. Very usufull.

    I like to take this opportunity to invite all yuor guests to visit my wedding guide in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    We are open to any collaborations to stand together.

    Thanks

    http://www.avenuecelebrations.com Team.

    Montreal Wedding guide

  • To me the first tip is the greatest, “think with movement.” I will definitely keep that in mind and incorporate it into the next wedding shoot. I think clients will still want the stodgy still formal portraits, but for sure should add some cool movement portraits.

  • Nice tips for those that are stuck in a rut. After 10 years of photographing weddings the thing that I feel makes the biggest difference between shooting a mundane boring wedding and a innovative one is all done before the lens cap comes off. When your clients know and trust you, they allow candid moments to happen. Some people are way more accessible then others, but as someone who loves to shoot with wide angle lenses in tight spaces it’s become a necessity. When I shoot a wedding I show up and memorize the names of every wedding party member, close relative and anyone else that may be slightly important. Using people’s names, sharing personal stories, and just being friendly will do more to help you create true to life images then anything else. Don’t let the camera become a barrier between you and the client. Be prepared to put it away (however briefly) and really interact with others. The difference in how your candid shots look will be life altering. [img]http://ijphoto.net/portfolios/wedding#4[/img]
    http://irenejonesphoto365.blogspot.com

  • Wedding is the best moment of life and the picture of that event must be look unique and unforgettable.The topic which are described here is really useful for a photographer.

  • I do think the bride & groom dictate the photos on the day … but sometimes they dont know what they like untill they see the finished photos … and by doing a few different imagintive shots during the day makes it more interesting

  • How about this being part of the rules for the contest. “I just discovered the DRAGON Filter and now going to play it to death on every photo” so do not use it to death like the contest creator……

  • I’ve got to agree with the first poster – sometimes the B&G aren’t all that into ‘creative’.

    However!

    It’s our job as their photographer to capture their wedding day using all the skills at our disposal. One of the most important of those skills is people management.

    Without being pushy and bossy it is possible to have the B&G be in ‘creative’ images without them knowing it.
    A good example being last week when I shot a wedding in the rain – took the B&G out with their umbrellas to an alcove and they gave me awesome shots without them being aware of it happening (the brollies themselves also made for excellent framing objects)

  • Great tips Christina,

    Just to add to your tip on movement, this can be enhanced further using a slow shutter speed so that the actual movement is captured in the image rather than being frozen. Using sync flash set to the second shutter curtain can give you movement whilst freezing the final instant of the movement being captured.

    Pat
    PatB Wedding Photography

  • I always thought MangoRed from the Philippines were cool. They specialize on crazy pre-nup pictorials.

    MangoRed photo albums

  • great ideas!!! dont be afraid to experiment…wedding photography is the field where you can be creative in many ways…

  • hal mooney

    You’re right that young couples want creativity, and new, imaginative ideas, and we have to think that way.
    BUT, they still want to see the old standards. You have to have your mind running both ways when you’re working.
    I had a couple come to me in tears, recently, because their photographer gave them a whole book of “art”, but didn’t bother with “boring stuff” like formal shots of the whole wedding party at the altar, them with their grandparents, lighting their unity candle, etc. (He had a picture of the unity candle, seen through a spray of flowers and greenery, but not one of them lighting it!).
    And he had no formal portrait type work (he didn’t believe in it, he told them).
    I did some nice studio work for them, but it wasn’t the same as if it had been captured on “THE DAY”.

  • Joe Elden

    @hal mooney . Great comment. This happened to me back in September. I recently second shot my niece’s wedding as a gift (reduced rate from the main) and the photographer that did it was very good with the artsy stuff but like my business manager (wife) told me, “Years from now you’re going to want to see those formal shots.” And she is right. We’ve been married 36 years and after the recent passing of a relative we pulled out our wedding album and had a good cry. Though my shots were not formal studio work I did follow the bride and groom around to get shots with relatives and friends.

    The upsetting thing is the comment about not believing in formal portrait work. ITS NOT YOUR WEDDING! I’m finding more and more that anyone who can tilt there DSLR on a 45 and add an action to it in LR thinks they’re a great wedding photographer. I believe its all weeding out though. The streets around here are dotted with empty store fronts that were studios for a short time.

  • Mindy

    Further to what Hal is saying, beware of too much “creativity” in wedding shots – it can very quickly become all gimmick and no substance. What does leap-frogging, for example, have to do with the relationship between these people? If they are a really goofy, fun pair, then fine – but if you’re just having them leap-frog to make an “interesting” shot, you may be missing the point. And the sale.

    Yes, of course we need to be creative and try new, exciting perspectives. But in my view we need to remember first and foremost to make images that reflect the personalities and feelings of the couple’s big day.

  • Keith

    I liked the shot and thought the cloud formation added a great deal – but you overlooked the powerlines and pole mounted transformer in the background – the sort of thing that can dog all of us. This clearly calls for removal in Photoshop or similar.

  • This a wedding I did this year at Newport, Oregon with my Canon 20D. I told them to just have fun and this is what I captured.
    Also the camera I used got destoyed when a sneaker wave came up and got me, knocking me to the ground my camera was full of water and sand. It was not fixable and ended up trading it in to Canons Loyalty Program for a better refurbish Canon 50D camera for the price they wanted to repare my 20D and I love it! [img]http://gailapple.smugmug.com/wedding/john/9857156_K5ZrG#671337365_XKnLC[/img]

  • Thanks for all these great tips! I am slowly trying to break into wedding photography and have my first bridal shoot on Saturday. I will be thinking both creatively for her and traditionally for her Mom.

  • Jordan

    I think the tips are great, but it would be nice to see some photo examples of each!

  • Great thoughts on wedding photography. Creativity is where it’s all about.

  • Interesting article with some good advice. I am a New York Wedding Photographer that blends candid photojournalism and fine art portraits to create unique wedding photos. Many of the elements discussed are important for capturing a great wedding photo.

  • In this digital era, creativity will define competitive edge. Thank you very for the timely information

  • hal mooney

    Christina – I enjoyed your article, and I appreciate your point – to think creatively, and look for opportunities for unusual shots. Our posts may have seemed to turn against you – not so. Just expanding the view. I believe in giving couples everything I can. I tend toward the traditional, so articles like your remind me to step out a little further. Thanks.

  • Fun-arere

    Great ideas, but guys, we should note that in as much as we would like to express our , we need not be selfish ‘cos the wedding ceremony is very sensitive and we should try as much as possible to please the couple, give it to them the way they want it, that is if you have any idea…luaghs.

  • ^^^

    Yes, you do need to respect the ceremony and the occasion – that’s the biggest lesson I think a lot of new comers need to learn. The trick is to incorporate your ideas and vision around what the bride and groom want.

    It is their wedding after all, you must make sure they are happy 100% of the time.

  • Excellent ideas posted in this blog. Having been in the wedding industry for some time now, each couple will have their own style anc characteristic that you will go by. That is you are only creative to the extent that the bride and groom will give you. A relaxed couple will provide you with the money shots, which reflects on the wedding photographer. Creating candid, contemporary shots, in coporating the bridal party works excellent. Cheers from Perry in Sydney

  • I do a lot of industrial photography in addition to weddings. Some of these ideas are really applicable to both.

  • I like the image, but I do feel that with a little more care (power lines in the background etc..) it could have been an amazing shot, rather than just a good one.

  • wonderful ideas!!! …wedding photography is the field where you can be creative in many ways…

  • I’m really loving the idea of buying one of those old professional Polaroid camera’s and using that for some shots during a wedding.

Some Older Comments

  • James Reyes January 19, 2011 03:25 pm

    I'm really loving the idea of buying one of those old professional Polaroid camera's and using that for some shots during a wedding.

  • calgary photographers December 8, 2009 09:16 pm

    wonderful ideas!!! …wedding photography is the field where you can be creative in many ways…

  • Alex December 8, 2009 08:56 pm

    I like the image, but I do feel that with a little more care (power lines in the background etc..) it could have been an amazing shot, rather than just a good one.

  • Pallet Stacker November 17, 2009 07:26 am

    I do a lot of industrial photography in addition to weddings. Some of these ideas are really applicable to both.

  • Wedding Photographer Sydney Guide November 12, 2009 10:08 pm

    Excellent ideas posted in this blog. Having been in the wedding industry for some time now, each couple will have their own style anc characteristic that you will go by. That is you are only creative to the extent that the bride and groom will give you. A relaxed couple will provide you with the money shots, which reflects on the wedding photographer. Creating candid, contemporary shots, in coporating the bridal party works excellent. Cheers from Perry in Sydney

  • Alex @ Ipswich Registry Office November 12, 2009 09:59 pm

    ^^^

    Yes, you do need to respect the ceremony and the occasion - that's the biggest lesson I think a lot of new comers need to learn. The trick is to incorporate your ideas and vision around what the bride and groom want.

    It is their wedding after all, you must make sure they are happy 100% of the time.

  • Fun-arere November 9, 2009 06:41 pm

    Great ideas, but guys, we should note that in as much as we would like to express our , we need not be selfish 'cos the wedding ceremony is very sensitive and we should try as much as possible to please the couple, give it to them the way they want it, that is if you have any idea...luaghs.

  • hal mooney November 8, 2009 02:30 pm

    Christina - I enjoyed your article, and I appreciate your point - to think creatively, and look for opportunities for unusual shots. Our posts may have seemed to turn against you - not so. Just expanding the view. I believe in giving couples everything I can. I tend toward the traditional, so articles like your remind me to step out a little further. Thanks.

  • Sonny Dimaliwat November 7, 2009 11:15 am

    In this digital era, creativity will define competitive edge. Thank you very for the timely information

  • James Thompson - New York Wedding Photographer November 6, 2009 03:29 pm

    Interesting article with some good advice. I am a New York Wedding Photographer that blends candid photojournalism and fine art portraits to create unique wedding photos. Many of the elements discussed are important for capturing a great wedding photo.

  • Walzer Photography November 6, 2009 02:54 pm

    Great thoughts on wedding photography. Creativity is where it's all about.

  • Jordan November 6, 2009 02:24 pm

    I think the tips are great, but it would be nice to see some photo examples of each!

  • Gretchen Eck Photography November 6, 2009 07:49 am

    Thanks for all these great tips! I am slowly trying to break into wedding photography and have my first bridal shoot on Saturday. I will be thinking both creatively for her and traditionally for her Mom.

  • Gail Apple November 6, 2009 05:27 am

    This a wedding I did this year at Newport, Oregon with my Canon 20D. I told them to just have fun and this is what I captured.
    Also the camera I used got destoyed when a sneaker wave came up and got me, knocking me to the ground my camera was full of water and sand. It was not fixable and ended up trading it in to Canons Loyalty Program for a better refurbish Canon 50D camera for the price they wanted to repare my 20D and I love it! [img]http://gailapple.smugmug.com/wedding/john/9857156_K5ZrG#671337365_XKnLC[/img]

  • Keith November 6, 2009 05:11 am

    I liked the shot and thought the cloud formation added a great deal - but you overlooked the powerlines and pole mounted transformer in the background - the sort of thing that can dog all of us. This clearly calls for removal in Photoshop or similar.

  • Mindy November 6, 2009 05:05 am

    Further to what Hal is saying, beware of too much "creativity" in wedding shots - it can very quickly become all gimmick and no substance. What does leap-frogging, for example, have to do with the relationship between these people? If they are a really goofy, fun pair, then fine - but if you're just having them leap-frog to make an "interesting" shot, you may be missing the point. And the sale.

    Yes, of course we need to be creative and try new, exciting perspectives. But in my view we need to remember first and foremost to make images that reflect the personalities and feelings of the couple's big day.

  • Joe Elden November 6, 2009 04:51 am

    @hal mooney . Great comment. This happened to me back in September. I recently second shot my niece's wedding as a gift (reduced rate from the main) and the photographer that did it was very good with the artsy stuff but like my business manager (wife) told me, "Years from now you're going to want to see those formal shots." And she is right. We've been married 36 years and after the recent passing of a relative we pulled out our wedding album and had a good cry. Though my shots were not formal studio work I did follow the bride and groom around to get shots with relatives and friends.

    The upsetting thing is the comment about not believing in formal portrait work. ITS NOT YOUR WEDDING! I'm finding more and more that anyone who can tilt there DSLR on a 45 and add an action to it in LR thinks they're a great wedding photographer. I believe its all weeding out though. The streets around here are dotted with empty store fronts that were studios for a short time.

  • hal mooney November 6, 2009 02:57 am

    You're right that young couples want creativity, and new, imaginative ideas, and we have to think that way.
    BUT, they still want to see the old standards. You have to have your mind running both ways when you're working.
    I had a couple come to me in tears, recently, because their photographer gave them a whole book of "art", but didn't bother with "boring stuff" like formal shots of the whole wedding party at the altar, them with their grandparents, lighting their unity candle, etc. (He had a picture of the unity candle, seen through a spray of flowers and greenery, but not one of them lighting it!).
    And he had no formal portrait type work (he didn't believe in it, he told them).
    I did some nice studio work for them, but it wasn't the same as if it had been captured on "THE DAY".

  • jpm8jpm November 5, 2009 04:48 pm

    great ideas!!! dont be afraid to experiment...wedding photography is the field where you can be creative in many ways...

  • briliad November 5, 2009 06:13 am

    I always thought MangoRed from the Philippines were cool. They specialize on crazy pre-nup pictorials.

    MangoRed photo albums

  • Suffolk Wedding Photography November 5, 2009 01:06 am

    Great tips Christina,

    Just to add to your tip on movement, this can be enhanced further using a slow shutter speed so that the actual movement is captured in the image rather than being frozen. Using sync flash set to the second shutter curtain can give you movement whilst freezing the final instant of the movement being captured.

    Pat
    PatB Wedding Photography

  • Alex Kilbee November 4, 2009 08:45 pm

    I've got to agree with the first poster - sometimes the B&G aren't all that into 'creative'.

    However!

    It's our job as their photographer to capture their wedding day using all the skills at our disposal. One of the most important of those skills is people management.

    Without being pushy and bossy it is possible to have the B&G be in 'creative' images without them knowing it.
    A good example being last week when I shot a wedding in the rain - took the B&G out with their umbrellas to an alcove and they gave me awesome shots without them being aware of it happening (the brollies themselves also made for excellent framing objects)

  • vizcara November 4, 2009 06:24 pm

    How about this being part of the rules for the contest. "I just discovered the DRAGON Filter and now going to play it to death on every photo" so do not use it to death like the contest creator......

  • marie November 4, 2009 06:21 pm

    I do think the bride & groom dictate the photos on the day ... but sometimes they dont know what they like untill they see the finished photos ... and by doing a few different imagintive shots during the day makes it more interesting

  • markrobinson November 4, 2009 04:12 pm

    Wedding is the best moment of life and the picture of that event must be look unique and unforgettable.The topic which are described here is really useful for a photographer.

  • irene jones November 4, 2009 04:08 pm

    Nice tips for those that are stuck in a rut. After 10 years of photographing weddings the thing that I feel makes the biggest difference between shooting a mundane boring wedding and a innovative one is all done before the lens cap comes off. When your clients know and trust you, they allow candid moments to happen. Some people are way more accessible then others, but as someone who loves to shoot with wide angle lenses in tight spaces it's become a necessity. When I shoot a wedding I show up and memorize the names of every wedding party member, close relative and anyone else that may be slightly important. Using people's names, sharing personal stories, and just being friendly will do more to help you create true to life images then anything else. Don't let the camera become a barrier between you and the client. Be prepared to put it away (however briefly) and really interact with others. The difference in how your candid shots look will be life altering. [img]http://ijphoto.net/portfolios/wedding#4[/img]
    http://irenejonesphoto365.blogspot.com

  • Jason Collin Photography November 4, 2009 02:41 pm

    To me the first tip is the greatest, "think with movement." I will definitely keep that in mind and incorporate it into the next wedding shoot. I think clients will still want the stodgy still formal portraits, but for sure should add some cool movement portraits.

  • Montreal wedding guide November 4, 2009 02:40 pm

    What a photos. Very cool.

    I like to congratulate you for yuor beautifull blog. Very Elegant. Incredible informations. Very usufull.

    I like to take this opportunity to invite all yuor guests to visit my wedding guide in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

    We are open to any collaborations to stand together.

    Thanks

    www.avenuecelebrations.com Team.

    Montreal Wedding guide

  • Pete Zerria November 4, 2009 01:27 pm

    Perhaps step number one of your five steps should say: Be aware of what is in your frame before you shoot.

    Could that blue thing behind bridesmaid-left be a recycle container? The electric pole, wires and high voltage transformer as well as the "junk yard" fence and occasional weed that pops up out of focus in the foreground are not only distracting, they scream amateur. These "features" are the very first things that drew my eye.

    To be a pro is to create beautiful and imaginative images consistently, time after time. An important part of that creation process is know what you are shooting before you press the shutter button. Your bride deserves nothing less.

    I am not criticizing your idea. I think it is rather refreshing to see something different in wedding photography. I am however taking issue with your process of seeing. Keep an eye on the little things and the big picture will be that much better.

  • johnp November 4, 2009 08:47 am

    I'm afraid I dont like the posed look when taking wedding photos apart from those "must have" shots like cake cutting, signing the register, etc. Even then I'll try to get a few candid shots of those before the re-enactment for the "official" shots. I find the candid shots although not so easy to take usually work better.
    It helps of course to have an outgoing happy bridal party. I think you can contribute to that to a certain extent by not ordering them around too much but, with maybe suggestions only, leave them to their own devices and ideas while you snap away.
    One technique I found by accident towards the end of a shoot when I was running out of ideas, the bridal party was getting a bit over having their photos taken and when I was asked what pose I wanted next I said more as a joke as they were sitting comfortably "just talk amongst yourselves". They got into animated conversation about the ceremony, etc and totally forgot about me, laughing and joking. They ended up being some of the best shots of the day.

  • Elizabeth Halford November 4, 2009 08:37 am

    Loving the idea of combining wedding photography with forced perspective methods. Def on my to-do list.

  • Jesse Kaufman November 4, 2009 07:24 am

    @dean yeah, that's the most frustrating part ... I deal with that a lot in web design, too ... people don't seem to want imaginative, interesting websites/photos, they want the standard stuff they've seen a million times and are comfortable with ... but, you can always take some and keep them for your portfolio so when you DO get an imaginative client, they'll not be turned away by your portfolio only having the "tried and true" poses :)

  • Dean S. November 4, 2009 07:08 am

    Great ideas. But sometimes it's the bride and groom that aren't imaginative. The last wedding I shot, both the bride and groom weren't having anything to do with my ideas and just wanted the standard and boring "formal" shots... cliché shots.

    But what ever, they were paying me either way so I guess as long as they get what they want, it doesn't matter.

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