Wedding photographers can do a lot more than just capture your big day, whether you want the intimacy of a boudoir session or the full-on exhibitionism of a trash-the-dress shoot
Words by Sarah Howden
Your wedding lasts for just one day and, as any bride will testify, months (if not years) of planning are over in a matter of hours… and it will feel a lot less. It’s the memories that will last forever, those precious moments captured on camera and immortalised in print.
It’s easy to see why a wedding photographer is one of the first items to be booked after the wedding date has been set, and why it can be the largest expense after the venue hire and catering. After all, it’s the photographer’s job to capture the very essence of the day, to tell a story in unforgettable pictures. And now it seems that today’s brides and grooms are looking for even more – that extra-special photographic ‘touch’.
We talk to some of Scotland’s top snappers to find out what’s hot in wedding photography extras, from engagement, boudoir and post-wedding shoots, to reception slideshows, social media images and memory boxes.
Once upon a time the engagement shoot was an expensive luxury, a rehearsal for the real thing at the venue. Not any more.
“Engagement shoots are hugely popular, with more than half my clients requesting them,” says award-winning wedding photographer Mark Archibald of Archibald Photography (archibaldphotography.co.uk). “This isn’t about a dummy run or awkward poses in a studio – today’s engage-ment shoots tell a story about the couple.”
According to Mark, the shoot covers what is meaningful to the couple, be that walks in the park with their dog or at places that hold sentimental value. Photographer Ron Young (ronyoungphotography.co.uk) agrees: “Today’s pre-wedding shoots are about recreating a moment that’s personal to the couple, but it’s also about relaxing them and making them more confident in front of the camera ahead of the wedding.”
Mark adds: “These shoots are increasingly popular because more couples want a photo-journalistic style of wedding photography – one that tells a story about the day, from the weather and the venue to the guests and the atmosphere. Couples want to have their day and do their thing, rather than spend hours posing for photographs.”
Photographer Richard Craig (richardcraigphoto.co.uk) goes one step further: “After my pre-wedding shoots, I create miniature engagement cards which feature the bride and groom’s favourite pictures as well as the date of the wedding and the name of the venue. We scatter these across tables at the reception and it becomes a huge focal point for guests, who can take them home as a memento – they love these personal pictures of the couple.”
These engagement shoots are going to even greater use; from doubling up as save the date cards, bespoke guest books featuring the imagery or statement outsized prints which guests sign at the reception.
Pre-wedding or engagement shoots are often incorporated into a wedding photographer’s fees, so it’s worth asking in advance.
Brides used to give their new husbands a watch, a piece of jewellery or a fine fragrance. Now some are giving the groom an unforgettable picture for his eyes only.
Sarah Tulloch of acclaimed Alan Hutchi-son Photography (alanhutchison.co.uk) explains: “Boudoir shoots are really popular with brides-to-be. When couples come in to discuss their wedding photos, the brides often see our Allure Boudoir Photo-graphy (allureboudoirphotography.co.uk) portfolio, run by Alan’s wife Morag; we usually get a call back from them to discuss a secret shoot for their husbands-to-be.”
Costing around £85 inclusive of hair and makeup, the discreet and tasteful shoots, held in a private studio with an all-female team, remain a surprise for the unsuspecting groom. Bedside albums (£295) and acrylic-edge prints (£245) are the most popular purchase.
A boudoir shoot has its advantages, according to photographer and founder of Allure Boudoir Photography, Morag Hutchison: “As well as giving the bride loads of confidence on how she looks for the wedding, she can also present the groom with a tantalising little gift, saying, ‘Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to!’ We also build a good, trusting relationship, which I think helps enormously on the wedding day – I am with them from bridal preparation right through to the first dance and they are so relaxed with me, which gets us fantastic wedding pictures.”
The wedding reception slideshow has become a must-have for some brides and grooms looking to give their guests added entertainment. Involving a projector, a blank wall and photographs from the ceremony and drinks reception, the results can be
Richard Craig is one photographer who offers clients this sought-after add-on. He says: “We have been offering reception slideshows for a while now and they are hugely popular. When guests see images from the ceremony and drinks reception projected onto the wall during the meal, their reactions are amazing.”
“As I continue to take pictures, my partner uploads ten of the best so far and projects them. It’s always a blow-your-socks-off moment when the guests first see them. I know some photographers charge extra for this, but I offer it as part of the service.”
Also known as ‘rock the frock’, ‘trash the dress’ or ‘cherish the dress’, post-wedding shoots are becoming increasingly popular as brides look for one last special moment in their wedding dress. Think splashing in the sea, rolling around in a field or simply an editorial-style fashion shoot in a stunning location.
Mark Archibald really enjoys shooting them: “The post-wedding shoots are so popular now. I find couples who went completely photo-journalistic on their wedding day sometimes want a further shoot that is just about them. It could be a fashion-conscious woman who wants funky, editorial-style photographs, or someone who wants one last time in her dress. I recently went over to Mull and spent two hours doing this kind of shoot.”
SOCIAL MEDIA IMAGES
Facebook and Instagram have become the online galleries of choice, with images from the big day being uploaded as they happen. Andrew Weild of Andrew Weild Photography (andrewweild.com) knows all about this.
“I have seen some weddings project images taken by guests at the ceremony, while at others guests have been banned from taking pictures so the images that appear online can be controlled. Social media sharing is definitely here to stay, which is why, in addition to giving couples a USB stick, I now create a DVD slideshow of the top 12 images set to music. Importantly, I create a second low-res downloadable version for them which they can post on Facebook. I choose the music myself and ensure it matches some of the songs from their wedding and captures the feel of their day. It’s hugely popular and it drives traffic to my website, which is great for me.”
And rather than simply receive a CD of images in the post, some photographers are offering coffee-table-worthy displays in addition to the traditional wedding album.
Richard Craig explains: “I provide my brides and grooms with a very special product called the memory box. It’s a beautiful keepsake box which houses 200 of their favourite images. This has become one of the biggest hits with couples as they look for something more than just a CD or USB stick, something physical they can show off to friends and family. Mind you, even our USB sticks come in a professional gift box featuring 12 physical prints!”