How to Direct and Set the Mood for Wedding Party Portraits

Happy Friday, Ya'll!

I've been getting asked questions about direction and posing so I thought I would do a blog post about how I get those upbeat wedding party shots. So stay tuned and get ready to read some of my secrets about amping up the crowd.

If you have ever shot with me you know that I act a fool to get brides, grooms, and their party to get hyped up for wedding party portraits. I want this to truly be the best day of the couple's lives, so I have tricks to get people in the mood and ready for stress-free photos.

COME PREPARED WITH PROPS OR MUSIC

Before a wedding, I'll go to party city or the liquor store and get some confetti, or champagne, or balloons, beach balls, anything that goes with the theme of the wedding. I bring a bluetooth speaker and play some music to get them dancing. I believe that bringing fun props and good vibes really engage the wedding party and get them pumped up about the day. Plus, people really appreciate when you go the extra mile for them!

DON'T GET PISSED WHEN PEOPLE AREN'T DOING WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO

I've heard horror stories of photographers yelling and being super demanding with wedding parties to get them to photo well. That breaks my heart a little bit because then every photo you take is contrived, posed, and not real. Plus, then for the rest of the night, everyone is talking about how the wedding photographer is a huge bitch. Don't be that photographer that takes their job too seriously. Weddings are supposed to be fun, and if you aren't trying to have fun then everyone will know... especially the bride and groom.

TREAT EVERYONE LIKE YOU ARE THEIR FRIEND

Treat everyone that's in front of your camera like you would your friends. Building that relationship helps break down the walls that most people have when getting their photo taken in the first place. 

Below are some of my favorite wedding party photos and what I did to get them excited and ready to party!

 
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Because this was a New Years Eve themed wedding I brought gold confetti and black and gold blowers. I passed out handfuls of confetti and gave everyone a different colored blower. Once I put on some tunes from my phone I told everyone that I was going to count to three and on three to throw the confetti at me, and act like it was midnight and scream HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

 
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For this photo I had everyone disperse around the couple and to get comfortable. "Make a mosh pit around the couple," is something I would say to be goofy. Good wedding photos are all about direction, so think of scenarios when you direct. I am such a movie buff so I quote a lot of movies. I say things like, "Now everyone cheer as if you're the crowd at the end of Titanic seeing Jack and Rose kiss at the clock!" It's so silly, but shit, it works!

 
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This goes along with what I said about bringing props. Having something for people to interact with makes it so much easier for people to be in the moment and have fun. For this shot I had all the girls grab a balloon that was filled with confetti and told them pop it over their heads. Once the confetti hit the bed I told them to act like they were having a confetti fight. The confetti adds dimension to the shot which is what I like most about this one.

 
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This group was already such a great bunch, which made this shot easy to direct. Whenever there is time to kill try suggesting to your client about going to their favorite cocktail bar for drinks and party pics. For this shot, we were at a champagne bar. We came here in between the ceremony and the reception for celebratory drinks. I told everyone to pile around the couple and to clink their glasses and yell cheers! It was so perfect because customers in the restaurant clapped for us and everyone in the party was laughing and blushing so hard from all the attention.

 

I hope you learned something from this and can use some of my tricks for your next wedding!

I am all for education and answering questions. So feel free to email me with any questions about direction and setting the mood that you might have!