Even though we are photojournalistic destination DC wedding photographers, we still take a lot of pictures that are not spontaneous. Do not get us wrong! We would love to be able to photograph your entire marriage celebrations without having to interrupt you or direct you in any way. The reality, though, is that such an approach is impossible. There are certain shots that you will expect and that we will want to deliver to you that cannot be impromptu. They simply have to be posed or staged. Pictures of your wedding outfits, rings or reception decor cannot be captured on film in a photojournalistic manner. The next time that your shoes spontaneously arrange themselves in a visually pleasing way just as our cameras are trained on them will be the first time!
A less humorous example of pictures that need to be staged are the so-called family formals. These are the portraits that we take of you and your future spouse with your families. They are extremely important pieces of your wedding album — important mementos from a time when your entire family was gathered together. For that reason, we devote a lot of time and effort to making sure they look great. And that requires that we do considerable work to set up each shot. We arrange every group of family members carefully to ensure that everyone can be seen clearly in the frame. We also take great pains to light you and your families perfectly so that no parts of you are bathed in dark shadows or harsh sunlight. There is simply no way that all that is possible if we let your family members organize themselves spontaneously. We have to pose and stage these shots.
Your couples portraits exist somewhere between the extremes. In some respects, taking those pictures is like capturing on film the more free-flowing portions of your wedding day. The portraits we take can be looser and less structured than your family formal pictures. We do not have to stage everything perfectly to ensure you get the shots you are looking for. You are freer to be you and to let out the emotions you are feeling at that moment.
At the same time, the process of creating your couples portraiture is not entirely dissimilar from the way we will take your family pictures. One of our most important jobs when we capture images of you and your new spouse is making the two of you look great. Yes, we want to bring out what you feel for one another and what brought you together in the first place. But even the most genuine and heartfelt expression of love cannot save a portrait if either of you does not look your best. And to make sure you look fantastic, we need to guide you a bit. We need to position you in spots that provide favorable backdrops, for example. We must light you in ways that highlight your best features. We have to adjust your posing so that your combined body language looks visually pleasing.
Even though we have to structure the couples portrait portion of your destination wedding a bit, we do still want to approach it as documentary photographers. One of the ways in which we achieve this is by encouraging you to interact as you normally would. If you are talking and laughing as though you were not being photographed, it helps keep your bodies loose and relaxed. And that way, your photos look natural and unposed.
You can see the results of this approach in the pictured posted here. We took it at a destination wedding at the Now Larimar Resort, an opulent all-inclusive hotel in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The day before their ceremony, we did an engagement photo shoot with them on the beach near the resort. One of the first things we did was to identify the setting that would make them look their best. In our opinion, that was in the water. We liked how the blue of the sea and sky contrasted with their white clothing and wanted the backdrop of their pictures to be composed as much as possible of those two expanses. Because they were wearing casual beachwear for the session, they were more than happy to get their feet a little wet. We then spent a few moments adjusting their posing to ensure that they fit together nicely. To add the aforementioned spontaneity and avoid stiffness in their body language, though, we waited a minute or two before starting to take pictures. During that short pause, they started whispering to each other and making one another laugh. Once those natural interactions started producing genuine emotions, we aimed our cameras at them and began creating portraits. As you can see, the results were images that were posed but that still have a very spontaneous feel.
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