How to Shoot Details with a Story-telling Purpose | CMP’s 3 Tips for Photographers
This should be a familiar photo if you follow my work. It’s our bride Lindsey’s gorgeous bouquet from her wedding earlier this spring designed by Two Lemons in Love. This image sums up what I love about detail images so much: the impact a few carefully placed elements can have on enriching the story-telling component of documenting a wedding day.
As a wedding photographer, I consider myself a story-teller. This is why capturing authentic feeling (as covered in the first volume of this series here) and intentionally placing material details is so important to me. When my couple’s come away from their wedding day, I want them to have a beautifully told story from start to finish of the day they promised their lives to each other. This comes to life fully in my absolute favorite product piece, the album, and on my blog in a more focused way. I love it, and it doesn’t just happen by chance. I think in terms of this photo story I’m creating during all parts of the wedding day. Today, I’m capturing my thought-process on how this comes to life with styling the carefully selected details of a couple’s wedding day.
#3 Style elements according to the theme of the day.
A crucial piece to my wedding client workflow is having my clients fill out a super detailed questionnaire form prior to their wedding. This is huge! It allows me to know in detail the theme/vibe of their wedding day before I even arrive. Knowing this theme gives great direction when it comes to styling details, and it’s important to creating a consistent story. Though from a styled shoot, I love the picture below and feel it’s a prime example of this idea of capturing a theme in an image. This particular photo is of my gorgeous friend Teena for a shoot in which the goal was telling a story of an intimate and romantic garden-themed wedding day. I wanted to capture these romantic silk sleeves that draped on her arms in a way that was richly elegant and romantic to match and add to our story. It’s still one of my favorite images for all the feeling it encompasses!
#2 Use natural elements found in the surrounding environment.
One really practical way to stick to the theme of the day in order to tell your story is to take a moment to look around you. Are you in the red rocks of Sedona? Is it a fall day with fallen leaves grazing the ground? Or spring with fresh blossoms? This has been a game changer in capturing story-telling and artistic images for my couples. I love the below picture of bride Lindsay’s shoes for her Arizona winter wedding earlier this year. She was getting ready in a cute historic house in a well-known local neighborhood and I knew I wanted to incorporate those elements in keeping with her story. I found this pile of fallen leaves on the outside stairwell in pretty even light and shot this simple image of her carefully chosen shoes. I love the way in which all the colors work together: a gold shoe with matching-toned leaves surrounding them on a soft-colored stair. That touch of green from the vines growing overhead (characteristic of this particular neighborhood) is just perfect. Using what’s naturally occurring in the space around you will help keep with your story and will keep your styling looking more effortless and organic.
This is one of my favorite tips and was definitely learned through trial and error. It’s often easy to grab everything and try to fit into one creative image. However, I’ve found the simpler the focal point, the more artistic and beautiful the image. Also, don’t feel like you have to capture everything. A few beautiful images of the most important details will go way further in telling your story than a mass volume of every little detail incorporated into the day. I captured this pretty pair of earrings first with the shoes, and it was a beautiful shot. However, I then found these pretty vines that are characteristic of the venue Sassi and shot the earrings there alone. It’s still one of my favorite detail shots.
I so hope this post has been insightful and will encourage you in taking more intentional steps to bringing a more powerful and focused story to life as you document the special days of your couples. If you have any questions, feel welcome to comment below or write me an email directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is Vol. 4 in the series “CMP’s 3 Tips for Photographers”. Check out the previous posts here:
- How to Create Authentic Feeling in Photographs
- How to Stand Out in a Saturated Market
- How to Balance Work and Mom Life