I'm passionate about couple portraits on a wedding day, and always like to find time for them - whether I'm working on the wedding photography in London, or elsewhere. Check out my previous blog on engagement photography here.
Even though I’m a documentary wedding photographer, I think it’s important to take some time out of the day to make some beautiful portraits of the bride and groom, and here’s why.
It’s a great chance for the bride and groom to spend some time alone. Sure, it’s your wedding day, so that means you will get loads of time together, right? That can definitely be the case, but I often find that couples are so busy greeting all their guests, and taking part in the rituals of the day, that they don’t often get a chance to spend quality time together, and that’s where this can make a surprisingly big impact. I often describe it as just going for a walk together, with me in the background. I try not to get in the way of the couple’s interactions, so they can focus on each other, and just enjoy themselves - together.
It doesn’t have to take a long time. Sure, we’ve all been at a wedding where the bride and groom disappear for a few hours, nobody knows where they are, and it seems to take forever - but it doesn’t have to be that way. I always try and work with couples to get the best fit for them, their schedule, and their preferences, and have often done couple portraits in less than 15 minutes in the past. That said, sometimes you’re in a beautiful place, with several beautiful locations, so taking the time to make the most of them can be really beneficial. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ time amount to allocate to this, but I’d say that 45 minutes is a happy medium.
It allows us to find - and use - the good light. Being a wedding photographer in London, I am used to working in less than ideal light, whether it’s really dark, unflatteringly yellow, or coming from an overly ‘dramatic’ angle. Working with - and often modifying - this, is a big part of a wedding photographer’s job. However, there are definitely times where taking some time to take some flattering portraits in beautiful light can really add to the shots as a whole. I often request that we take least some of the portraits in and around golden hour, which is the time period that encompasses the hour just before sunset. At this time, then light tends to be quite soft and diffuse, and comes from an angle that allows for the couple to look their best. Unsurprisingly, it also has a golden tinge to it, and has a poetic quality to it - entire films have been shot mostly at golden hour!
It doesn’t have to involve cringey posing. I know that when people think of portraits, especially couple portraits, they think of cliched, stiff, and old-fashioned poses, which are boring to do, and boring to look at. While it might seem strange for a wedding photographer who usually focuses on documentary or reportage work to mention posing, I think I manage to incorporate a natural, relaxed feel to the poses from my reportage work, meaning that the couple can focus on being themselves. I tend to stick to general direction, allowing the couple to interpret my instructions in their own way, which allows them to act more naturally. I might be a bit more specific if a slight tweak might make the end product look less awkward, but I generally take a minimalist approach, and I think it works well.
Bride and groom portraits are not for everybody, and I’ve often worked with couples who prefer not to have any at all, but I think they can be a great way to guarantee some beautiful shots of the couple together, in good light, whilst also allowing them some couple time on a day that is, after all, supposed to be about them.
If you want me to take couple portraits at your wedding, then please feel free to get in touch, and let’s have a chat!