First Look Tips For Wedding Photographers
The First Look. The idea of the first look (where the bride and groom see each other in sheer delight before walking down the isle) is a relatively modern one. Traditionally, the bride and groom do not see each other until that exhilarating moment walking down the isle.
As a seasoned Calgary wedding photographer, I can give fellow photographers many reasons why you should absolutely consider doing a first look. If your bride and groom feel that the more traditional route of seeing each other at the alter is more their style, that is absolutely wonderful as well, and has an equally amazing feeling and result! I am by no means indicating you should pressure them into one or the either, just offering advice as to why a first look is a great option, and offering some of my favourite tips.
You want to suss out the location with your couple well in advance. If you can’t, attempt to do something near the venue but away from all of the family, friends and staff of the venue so that the moment is truly private. This is a special, exciting and private moment for the bride and groom and you don’t want it to be interrupted!
I place the groom in a great spot and tell him that his lovely bride will be placing her hand on his shoulder or telling him to turn and at that point he can turn around (so that it’s not me ruining the moment by directing the moment) I let the bride decide since I used to direct the moment and it was too scripted! I tell the groom ahead of time which direction, left or right to turn to ahead of time, so I can catch his full reaction. I also tell the couple to pretend I’m not even there.
Because I usually shoot by myself, I have to pick a spot that will enable me to see both the bride & the groom well. My goal is to be at a 90° angle when the groom has turned around. Sometimes this requires me running to a different spot if the groom didn’t turn as I anticipated.
4- Let go of the moment
I then let go of the moment & put the action entirely in their hands. I let her walk up to him. I let him turn on his own. I let them hug, kiss, laugh, admire each other for however long they take. Then, when they are ready, one of them turns to acknowledge that I am there, & we proceed with their portraits. All in all, the whole process takes about five minutes.
5- Don’t Ruin their moment
At one wedding, I had no choice but to stand about five feet away from the groom during their First Look. I had given each of them their instructions, but because I wasn’t able to back way out of the picture (pun!) they couldn’t forget that I was there. So, instead of focusing on each other, the bride said several times as she walked up behind him, to make sure he turned to his left. While I really appreciated her dedicated-ness to my instructions, I felt like I ruined their moment.
6- Keep Learning!
If you’re anything like me, you love to keep up with the latest and newest! Keep up to date on what other photographers are doing, save images from Instagram and Pinterest to inspire your first look planning. It’s also fun to go “out of your comfort zone” and try something completely different. This is something I could also work on. Second shooting for other photographers or staying connected within the community may offer you some new tips and ideas for your next wedding!
I hope you found these tips useful, and remember to have fun (and don’t forget the kleenex!)
For a fun project, check out our post on making marbled clay dishes here!