From speaking to wedding couples day in day out we know the volume of brides and grooms that suffer pre-wedding photography nerves – and trust us, there’s a lot!
The case is often that individual doesn’t like having their photograph taken full stop, never mind during a ‘once in a lifetime’ occasion that will be looked back on for many years to come. As a solution to this common fear, many wedding photographers now offer couples the opportunity to have a pre-wedding shoot, providing a practise run in front of the camera, ready for the big day to come.
For those photo phobes out there what’s important to remember is that the guys capturing your wedding day are professionals – it’s not your mum or dad behind the camera with a shaky hand and bad lighting, these guys know all the tricks in the book to make you look and feel amazing on your big day, leading to both stunning and natural photos.
Two photographers who are big believers in the power of a pre-wedding shoot to calm any camera-shy couples’ nerves are Stan and Jane of Stan Seaton Photography. And so to find out exactly what’s involved and how couples can get the most out of such shoots, were putting our pre-wed questions to the pros…
With images by Stan Seaton Photography.
Can you explain what a pre-wedding shoot is?
jane says: A pre wedding shoot is an opportunity for us as photographers to meet with our brides and grooms prior to the wedding day and see how they interact together. At our first couple of meetings the discussion is usually geared towards nitty gritty things like pricing, albums and coverage, so it’s really lovely to get to know a couple as people (after all that is what we are going to see and capture on their wedding day).
Where and when do you advise couples to have their pre-wedding shoot?
We usually recommend that couples choose a location that is special and personal to them, often this is the place where they got engaged or somewhere that they like to go regularly. We have covered shoots in Paris, London, Oxford, as well as many local beauty spots such as Fountains Abbey and Seaham beach. Once we have decided on location we fix a date and time, usually six months prior to the wedding day.
There isn’t really such a place as the perfect location for a shoot, many contributing factors can make a good shoot, this could be good lighting/sunlight, a foggy day or fresh untouched snow and as the shoot date is usually arranged well in advance we really don’t know what we are going to get. However, we always say to couples that living in Britain the same could be said for their wedding day, so if we can get some great shots of them on a beach, on a blustery February day then their minds are at rest that we will get some amazing photos on their wedding day.
What about styling? What outfits should couples where and is this a good time for brides-to-be to have their hair and makeup trial?
We usually recommend that couples wear toning complimentary outfits, scarves and hats usually work well and wellies are good, if appropriate. All black isn’t good as this can have a tendency to look like two shadows in the pictures.
Some girls do choose to have hair and makeup done prior to the shoot and while there can be benefits of this, often it’s lovely to have a set of images which are of the bride and groom in their relaxed natural environment and not necessarily with full makeup and styled hair.
During the shoot how can photographers help couples to relax in front of the lens?
We usually find that most couples are very nervous for the first ten minutes of shooting, so we usually give them a few tips and start off with them just walking along hand in hand chatting to each other – what could be difficult about that? We chat to our couples during the session and it usually makes it easier as when Stan and I are both shooting we tend to have a bit of banter between us, which makes for more interaction and less formality.
What is your advice for couples when it comes to posing?
Don’t pose! As photographers use subtle direction and then let couples be themselves.
Can props, or even pets, be incorporated into pre-wedding shoots and how can this help couples during the shoot?
Often couples choose to bring their dog(s) along to the shoot. If doing so we usually suggest that they bring some else along to look after the dog after the first ten minutes or so, enabling us to get some photos of just them. A few of our clients have horses and often we start at the stables so that we can take some photos along with their horse or some riding shots. Involving animals does take the pressure and focus away from the couple, helping them to relax.
How long does a pre-wedding shoot usually last?
We usually suggest they allow up to two hours, including coffee and chat time.
What would you say is your most memorable pre-wedding shoot to date that might inspire other couples?
It has to be Paris…. Becci had been to Paris and wanted to take Ian there, so when she asked us if we would photograph them there for their pre wedding shoot, how could we say no?! It really is an inspirational city – we were there for two days in November and though we didn’t get the best of weather we still came away with some beautiful images that we never tire of looking at and I think Becci and Ian feel the same.
What do couples tend to use the pre-wedding images for?
Our most popular product from the pre wed shoots has to be the signature frame. This is a photo from the shoot with a large blank white mount surround in a bespoke frame. We usually take this along to the wedding for them, where it is displayed and they ask guests to sign the mount. Many couples also use the images to display at the wedding, either on the tables at the reception or simply around the room. A nice touch is to give a framed image to parents on the wedding day.
What do you enjoy most about pre-wedding shoots?
We are both people people and love getting to know our clients, we like the fact that many clients say to us afterwards that it is like having two friends turning up to photograph their wedding, but we also like the confidence that it gives couples in us and in themselves. We enjoy going to the variety of places we get to photograph and as photographers we just love the opportunity to be out creating images.
Do pre-wedding shoots tend to be included in photographers’ packages or do couples have to pay extra for the shoot?
It can vary from photographer to photographer but we include a complimentary shoot in our package and clients are able to purchase images and products from the shoot when they have viewed and critiqued the images.