Like all DC wedding photographers, we have developed “signature” shots that we try to take at every marriage celebration. These are images of Washington brides, grooms, wedding parties, and invited guests that are captured in a particular way. We endeavor to produce them in more or less the same fashion at every Washington, DC, wedding we photograph. These photos serve as representations of our brand and style of wedding photography. They are immediately recognizable as ours and ideally help future brides and grooms identify our work. Though we are certainly not the first photographers to create these shots, we have made them a crucial part of our portfolio.
One of our favorite signature shots comes near the end of the getting-ready portion of a DC wedding day. It involves the moment when the groomsmen assemble to toast the man about to get married. This is something that happens at most of the marital events that we photograph. Even when the groom or groomsmen do not drink alcohol, the group will often share a soft-drink toast. It is a lovely way for the groomsmen to wish the groom well and send him off to the altar. At the same time, it is a chance for the groom to thank his brothers/cousins/friends for standing by him at his wedding.
The ubiquity of this moment at Washington weddings might make it an unusual choice for a signature shot. If they happen nearly every time two people get married, how can DC wedding photographers make their photos stand out? Though the moment is very significant, it sometimes lacks dynamism. That is a fancy way of saying that the toast is generally a bunch of guys standing in a circle. It can also be a little challenging for a Washington, DC, wedding photographer to get a clear shot. A circle of people tends to mean a lot of backs are facing the camera! A picture in which it is not clear what is happening is not a great recipe for a signature shot.
To turn these scenes into something special, the best Washington, DC, wedding photographers just need to unlock their creativity. They need to find a unique spin on a potentially mundane scene. For example, we will sometimes stand on a chair facing the groom. That allows us to capture more of his face and the emotions it displays during the toast. Another possible take would be a series of pictures taken from inside the circle. Those could then be stitched into a panorama image of everyone toasting.
We like to approach the scene from the bottom up. Instead of photographing from the side or from above the group, we lie down on the floor or ground. We then ask the guys to crowd in close around us. Finally, they raise their glasses, cans, bottles or cups in honor of the man who is about to get married. Once they do, we take a picture of their outstretched arms from below.
Is there a significant risk that we will get doused with whatever the groom-to-be and his siblings/closest friends are drinking? Of course there is! We generally joke that no one gets any bonus points for soaking us. But no wedding photographer has ever gotten epic and unforgettable images by playing it safe. So if we have to get a little wet to give our clients something special, we have no problem with it!
We have spent years working to perfect this particular signature photo. Getting every single detail right has been of paramount importance. The glasses/cans/bottles/cups must be centered nearly exactly above the camera. The rest of the composition must be perfect, especially the positioning of the groom. If faces can be seen, then his must be one of the ones visible. A Washington, DC, wedding photographer should also ensure that there are no distracting elements above the group. The lighting is also important. A tightly-packed circle can block out light, so getting the faces properly exposed can be challenging.
Though we have taken this shot many times, this image — one of our first — remains one of our favorites. We took it at Springfield Manor Winery & Distillery in suburban Washington, DC. Before heading to the ceremony on this rural wedding venue’s back lawn, the groom poured bourbon for his groomsmen. They shared a quick toast to him and his impending marriage, and then went out the door. Not surprisingly, we made sure to be in position for the toast when that moment happened!There are a lot of reasons why we like this picture so much. The main reason, though, is it looks fantastic! The colors are absolutely beautiful. Orange and blue complement each other perfectly. So the amber hue of the bourbon mixes with the blue ambient lighting in a visually pleasing way. It is a very artistic take on the moment and the kind of photo every bride and groom would love to have.Washington DC wedding photographers (24).