We're approaching the peak season for pre-wedding shoots, with more and more couples now expecting this as part of the package. Even if you aren't shooting the actual wedding, you might get asked by a friend or relation to do one to help them save money, so here are some tips to ensure it's a success.
1) Don't force it on people
Although many couples now expect a 'pre-wed' as standard, others aren't bothered. They might not have the time, or feel shy and self conscious, just regarding photography as a necessary evil of the big day itself. So you should treat it on a case by case basis, but don't be afraid to offer a pre-wed to help sway a wavering bride.
Explain that it's a great chance for you all to get to know each other in a much more relaxed environment than the big day, which will then result in better images when they actually get married.
2) Work together on the location
Ideally you would do the pre-wed at the location where the couple are going to get married. This gives the advantage of consistency, and you can also hunt out some cool places to photograph them on the actual day.
This might not always be possible though, in which case get the couple's suggestion of alternative venues, rather than forcing them to drive out to a photogenic beauty spot that they don't feel much of a connection with.
A scruffy local park where one partner proposed might be a much more evocative location for them!
3) Take (some) control
Maybe they can bring along props like bikes or running gear, that reflect joint passions or how they met. When it comes to the actual photography, aim for a mixture of posed portraits and a more candid, documentary style.
Encourage the couple to be affectionate, but don't force it – some couples are more touch-feely and demonstrative than others. You may need to get them to relax and stand in the best light, however, so be proactive where necessary. This will also make them more confident in your abilities.
Returning to the subject of light, make sure you check the weather forecast in advance and suggest rescheduling the shoot if it's going to be grey and wet. The timing of the pre-wed is crucial too. Try to avoid doing it in the middle of a very sunny day, as you will be battling harsh shadows and blown-out highlights.
4) Go through the shots together
Once you have edited the images (always shoot raw to give you the most leeway and highest resolution files) sit down with the couple and get their feedback. You will soon get a sense of the kind of images they like, which will give some invaluable pointers to shooting the big day. Remember, you want happy clients, so they will gush about you on social media and recommend you to other family and friends who are getting married!
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