• Ask Anything

Sometimes I wonder if there is anything left to teach after hosting workshops, coaching and online resources for over 4 years now. Are there really MORE areas of the wedding day that photographers need help with? The answer is YES. I could break down the wedding day piece by piece and really never run out of advice to share! Over the years I have established patterns in the way that I photograph wedding days. It used to be that I only held myself accountable to getting AWESOME portraits at every wedding.

It’s almost like I didn’t think that it was possible to get crazy amazing shots during other parts of the day like during toasts or when the bride gets into her dress. I KNEW how to capture amazing portraits and I knew how to push myself during those parts of the day but when it came to other areas, I didn’t challenge myself for the longest time! Now I know that all of that was a lie. I CAN be creative when the bride gets into her dress and I CAN try knew things during all different parts of the wedding day!!

Today’s post is focused specifically on when the bride gets into her dress! When the bride is getting into her dress, I’m looking for a few very important things:

– I need access to natural light and it needs to be full length if at all possible. This means that I don’t want to use one small window that is up really high because only the bride’s upper torso would be properly exposed!
– I’m looking for a clean, neutral space without any distractions in the background! This sometimes means asking the bridal party to clear the clutter in one part of the getting ready space!
– I need mom AND bridesmaids to be dressed. I usually ask them to start getting dressed about 20 minutes prior to the bride getting into her gown!

So, once I have those things and the girls are changed and ready… now it’s time to process through all of the “must-have” shots that I want and need to capture.

In my head, this is what I was thinking when the bride was getting into her dress this past weekend…. and I’m actually going to write it like I processed it internally so that it really does show you how I work and achieve my end result :

– Soooo… she’s going to get dressed over near the large windows but I’ll have to over-expose the background and there is no reflective light inside the room to brighten the front of her and so I don’t want to take ALL of her “getting in the dress” portraits with such a strong back light in case it’s TOO strong and they don’t turn out. So I’ll just do a few completely backlit and then I’ll start shooting from a side angle to have some of that window light exposing the sides of their faces. I also might decide to pull the sheer hotel curtains out to SOFTEN the window light and that helped because once I scooted over to shoot from the second angle with the direct window light hitting her face, it was too harsh! Those sheer curtains softened the light perfectly!

– Next, I’m thinking about vertical and horizontal…. I always need some vertical shots of the “getting in the dress” process for blogging purposes. These vertical shots show the whole dress and once I take that vertical shot, I scoot in close for another vertical shot that is tighter. (I do this because I’m thinking of the blog post! I also want to capture one of two gorgeous horizontal shots of this part of the day too! Horizontal shots will break up the blog post AND give my couple get options for their album design!)

– After the bride is zipped, buttoned or laced into her dress, then I have a whole new list of things that I want to capture. I work hard to capture some vertical shots of JUST the bride acting like she’s putting her earrings in. I usually use my 85mm for these shots so that it’s focused just on the bride and it’s extra creamy and soft! 

– Now is the time when I get to be creative because I’ve gotten my “must have” shots. In this specific situation the bride only had her mom help her get into the dress because of time constraints and she also needed to have her veil put in!! So, instead of photographing the veil being put in from the same angle as the shots I had taken before, I rotated to the other side of the room and tried shooting from that angle and I loved it even more than the first shots! And once I realized that I loved that angle more, I stages a few shots of the bride and her mom!!

So before I go I should probably share that EVERY wedding is different and this is just ONE example to learn from!!! I hope that it was helpful walking through my thought process during this 10 min span of the wedding day!!! If you like hearing my thought process and my approach to certain parts of the day, let me know and I’ll keep doing them!! 😃

View Other Ask Anything Posts, HERE!

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View This ENTIRE Wedding HERE!

xoxo, Katelyn
23 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. jaclyn reply

    This is SO helpful Katelyn!! I love how you thought of different angles just in case the backlighting didn’t work out. They all came out beautiful!! I always love these posts and would love to read more like them. Thanks!!

  2. Brett reply

    I loved the “inner thoughts of katelyn” part! Perfectly explained! I could visualize it and picture myself doing the same thing!

  3. Elizabeth Gelineau reply

    This is such a helpful post Katelyn! Thank you!!!

  4. Anna filly reply

    I love your thought process !! So easy to understand and helpful !! Xoxo thanks kk !!

  5. LISA K reply

    I loved this post! Thanks for sharing your process, I’d love to see more!

  6. Kayla reply

    This blog post was so helpful Katelyn! Would love to read more like this! Thanks for sharing your thought process with us! I Would love to hear about your thought process in how you pose the entire bridal party and how many different poses you capture with them. I really struggle with these portraits and every wedding turns out with the same poses.

    • Katelyn James reply

      Great!!! Thanks so much for the feedback Kayla! Maybe we can do a post on that some day! :) FOr now though, our “15 minutes Bridal Party Portraits” mini-Guide may be helpful for you! I share how to gently command authority, posing system for full group, just bridesmaids, and just groomsmen, as well as our roles as second and main shooter. You can check it out here if you’re interested:

  7. Naomi reply

    Katelyn, THANK YOU so much for sharing this! It’s sooo helpful as this portion of the day always happens so quickly and has seemed rushed in the past for me to capture. Your suggestion of using the curtains to soften the light is great! Also, definitely appreciate how you think of the blog post while you’re shooting certain orientations or angles… :) Please share more thought processes like this for other moments of the day!

  8. Mariann reply

    It is a wonderful post and very helpful! The images are gorgeous! I would love to hear more, and if you cover slowly, slowly a whole day, I would be delighted to read them all. Thank you!

  9. Lindsay reply

    I love hearing your thought process!! It’s awesome + SUPER helpful simply because instead of “telling” us what you do, you’re “showing” us what you do! It’s that whole “teach a man to fish” analogy:) THANKS FOR SHARING!!! Keep ’em comin!!

  10. ashley reply

    Yes! Keep ’em coming! :)

  11. Cindy reply

    Yes I agree with everyone else who has posted their comments! I love this kind of post…actually I love all your blog posts!! So keep ’em coming!

  12. Robin reply

    Thank you so much for this! This was so helpful- I especially love the way you wrote it from an internal monologue. This should be an ongoing thing! :)

  13. Amber reply

    I love hearing how you think through something like this! Thank you so much for sharing. We always learn so much from you! :)

  14. Rachel Hegarty reply

    Thanks for sharing! It’s fun to read what you’re thinking & know it’s similar to what’s running through my head. Us photogs have to think on our feet! And you demonstrated that perfectly here, with beautiful results.

  15. Kayla reply

    Love reading about your thought process, especially since you use multiple lenses and we are switching to prime lenses now.

  16. Romello Williams reply

    This is so helpful. I recently just moved back home and I work for this company that shoots lots of destination weddings so I’m very knew to this. But your posts and your Instagram have helped so much. I have a friend that absolutely adores you and I’m glad she showed me this!

  17. Megan reply

    I really liked the thought process on paper! I’d love to be a fly on the wall of every photographer’s thought process! There is so much to learn inside every thought!

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