Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Many couples tell me that getting "Instagram-worthy" photos is a priority for their wedding. A big part of that in recent years is "detail photos," but not everyone understands the hype. Below, I tell you why I love detail photos and how to make sure your photographer gets beautiful ones on your wedding day. I spoke with Jamie Lied of Jamie Beth Photography for more pro tips from a top Colorado wedding photographer.
Why shoot Detail Photos anyway?
First and foremost, your wedding day will go by *so* quickly, and you can't be in two places at once. When you get your photos back, you will be thrilled to be able to look back on all the things you were too busy or too overwhelmed to notice in the moment.
Second, some of the items you use or wear on your wedding day are family heirlooms. Some items will *become* family heirlooms that you might pass down to your children. Capture these special items for posterity.
Lastly, you've put so much thought and care into every element of your wedding day. Why not capture those details?!
Tip #1: Collect all the things!
Many couples only have their photographer for eight hours on their wedding day. There's so much to capture in so little time, and not a minute to waste! Be sure to collect all your "detail items" in one place a few days before your wedding, so you don't have to stress about hunting things down on your wedding morning.
Here are some suggested items you might want your photographer to capture:
your wedding dress and veil
your jewelry and hair pieces
both partners' rings in a beautiful ring box (photographers and planners often have a pretty ring box in their kits for this purpose)
letters or gifts you and your partner plan to exchange
a full set or two of your invitation suite
your ceremony program
your dinner menu and place cards
personal flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres)
a bottle of your signature scent
the groom's suit or tux, tie or bowtie
the groom's watch, cuff links, tie clip
the groom's shoes
the clutch your mother carried at her wedding
your grandmother's handkerchief
other special heirlooms
something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence for your shoe
You and your planner and/or photographer may also want to curate a selection of "pretty things" with which to arrange and shoot your detail items. Jamie of Jamie Beth Photography recommends that you "tell your photographer beforehand what colors will be incorporated in your day. This helps them to bring any coordinated pieces to use in your getting-ready photos." As Jamie suggests, I like to curate my kit for each wedding with the appropriate colors and vibe. Here are some things I often include:
a few blooms and greenery (I request these as part of your floral order, to be delivered to the getting-ready location along with the bouquets)
floral frogs so the flowers stand up straight
some beautiful silk or velvet ribbon
a silk scarf
an antique silver or brass tray
small bowls or dishes, salad or b&b plates from my collection
pretty velvet ring boxes
a linen or napkin from your specialty linen order as a background
items for stacking, to give some depth to the items in the photo
Another Pro Tip from Jamie Lied of Jamie Beth Photography:
"Make sure your dress, your veil, your bridesmaids' dresses, and even their getting ready robes are steamed and ready to go before your photographer arrives. This helps to save valuable time!"
Tip #2: Don't forget the groom!
Photographing bridal details is pretty much a given, but in all the busy-ness of the day, the groom (or second partner) is sometimes neglected. This often happens when there is only one photographer and two getting-ready venues. In the absence of a second shooter (because we understand not everyone can afford it), a thoughtful and well-timed plan can help alleviate this problem. Plan ahead with your photographer to capture some special moments and details with the groom (or second partner). Their mother will thank you!
Tip #3: Make a plan!
As I alluded to above, it's absolutely crucial to make a plan with your photographer (your wedding planner can help with this!) to capture all the many details you've spent months lovingly organizing. It should be built into your timeline just like every other element of your day.
Again, having a second shooter can make this easier (for example, a second shooter can capture reception room details while your primary photographer handles post-ceremony portraits and candids at cocktail hour), but it can be accomplished by a single photographer given some creative planning and flexibility.
Be sure to have your reception room photographed *before* it has been opened to guests. Guests always want to put their clutch, shawl, etc. at their seat and enjoy cocktail hour hands-free, but those items distract from a clean and beautiful photo. Unfortunately, the reception room often isn't ready until just before go-time. Here's another pro tip from Jamie on how to handle that:
"If the entire reception room won't be ready until after the ceremony, see if your planner can have one or two tables complete and ready to photograph by the scheduled time. Ideally, choose tables that sit in the path of beautiful natural light."
In a pinch (or in cases where it's impossible to keep the room closed to guests), I'll let guests know I'm going to tuck their items under the table, hidden behind the table linen, in order to get those gorgeous shots for the bride and groom.
A few more suggestions:
Allot a solid ten minutes during cocktail hour (and before the room has been opened to guests!) to capture the reception room.
Photograph the escort display before guests take their escort cards with them.
Other items to capture at the reception: a memorial photo table, your guest book set-up, you get the gist.
One last tip, which might seem obvious... but trust me... Be sure to photograph the cake before it's cut!
I hope these tips will give you the know-how to confidently prepare for your wedding detail photos. You'll be so pleased with the results!
Still have questions about wedding photography? Drop us a line via the contact form on our website! We'd love to hear from you!