Master Class
The Wedding Day Part II

Photos © 2001, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved

Some photographers don't take the time to consider the fundamentals of good lighting when they're working with daylight. They seem to feel as if they're working under such precarious lighting conditions, they have to turn the bride into the light to make sure that they're getting enough light on her. Funny enough, the exact opposite is the case. When one turns the bride directly into the light, you lose much of the detail on the front of her body. The flat lighting completely washes it out.

But when you turn her body away from the light and then turn her face back to the light, you get good detail in her gown as well as on her face.

So, I did a 3/4 length close-up of the bride standing with camera position both in the full face and the 2/3 view of her face. Of course, I turned her body slightly more toward the camera while showing the 2/3 view of her face. That kept her neck from being strained and the cord of her neckline from popping out too far and distorting the width of her neckline.

The background for these portraits and the few that follow was my 4 to 6 ft Westcott translucent panel. What a simple way of eliminating background distraction!

Combinations Of Four
Actually, there are all kinds of ways you can put together the same four people into different pictures. That was one of the keys to creating all these images with just four people present for this wedding. Here are a couple of portraits of the groom's mother. Don't forget, I'm actually not showing you all the pictures that were taken. Sort of just giving you an outline of how we worked this particular wedding.

I sat the mother on the arm of a chair and then brought the groom beside her to get a portrait of the two of them hugging each other. Do you think that either one of them would like to have that picture in their albums? To get these expressions my directions to the two of them were, "Push your cheeks together."

Then I brought his mother's significant other over so that Joan Burton, who I was assisting, could create a portrait of just the two of them.

Without the translucent panel this is what the background looked like. Not bad at all for a couple of the portraits, but I liked the simplicity of the plain background better.

Don't forget, these people had no idea that we were going to make this many different combinations for pictures. They just fell into the spirit of it all and did what I asked them to do.

"No Squint" Outdoor Portraits
I really believe that most of the time photographers don't work out in the bright sunshine because their subjects squint their eyes. So, why not position your subjects in a location where they will be looking into a dark area, rather than into bright light?

What I did for these portraits was to turn the subjects' backs to the sun (great backlighting for hair and veil) and let them look into the dark area under cover of the porch roof, where I'm standing to take the pictures. Thus, no squinting of the eyes.

For both of these portraits a background was selected that had the sun shining on it, so that when I exposed for the bright sun shining on the back and sides of my subjects I would still have detail and depth throughout the entire background.

A simple flash on the top of my Canon D30 was set manually to bring the light on the faces up to match the exposure of the bright sunlight. Thus, I retained detail throughout the composition. Even though the flash matched the sunshine, because the sunlight was coming from behind, the brightness of the sunlight still retained its natural backlighting appearance.

The Groom Stands Alone
Oftentimes, photographers neglect to create portraits of the groom alone. I'm showing here two of the several pictures I made of him.

In the first one I was careful to position the height of my camera at about his waistline. A higher camera position would have resulted in a large body and short, stubby legs. I've seen too many portraits created with this appearance, simply because it was more comfortable for the photographer not to have to get down lower. Again, it's one of those things€how much effort are you willing to go through to get the best results possible?

The second portrait of the groom originated when I saw him leaning on the back of the chair, while he was waiting to be called for a photograph. The chair was a little lower than I would have preferred, but the pose looked so natural I took a picture like that. I like the results.

Here Comes The Bride
For the bride and groom together I continued the same lighting technique shown in the "groom alone" portraits.

When I posed the bride alone full length I brought her gown out on both sides of her. When I posed her with other people, however, I brought her gown out only behind her. I like it positioned that way better than having the gown appear from behind the other people.


This little flurry of pictures here is to show you how simply I used the same setup for three quick pictures of the bride and groom together. For this second photograph all I did was to ask the groom to leave his body exactly as it was, but turn his face to look at the bride. You just have to be careful to position the lens, so that profiles are against a simple background. For this third picture I simply asked them to look at each other.

Small Group Options
Once again I brought the groom's mother together with the bride and groom for a more formal picture. And then I asked them to look at each other. You have to be careful in turning faces like this that the camera sees good facial angles and not the backs of heads. In a situation like this I usually would have the groom look at his mother, rather than at his bride. In this way his mother would be more interested in having the photograph, rather than had he turned away from her. Subtle, but interesting, huh?

Set The Scene
Before the ceremony began I sort of set the scene by showing where the marriage was to take place. Rather than taking a picture of the gazebo by itself, I posed a back profile of the bride, so that I could show the back of her gown and the train, just as it was designed--to be behind her dress.

The groom was positioned behind her to be a secondary interest in the picture. When photographing a wide angle scene like this, notice that I usually pose my subjects close to the camera, rather than losing them in the environment by positioning them within the background.

Down The Aisle
Whatever the environment of a ceremony, I try to pose my subjects just before they begin walking. This is as opposed to photographing them as they're actually walking. In a church I usually open the door to the outside and photograph each of the main people in the procession with the outdoors being used as a background.

In this way I solve many problems. I don't have to worry about the background going dark. Plus, I don't have to be concerned with people getting in on the sides of the pictures who are relatively unimportant to the bride and groom. Most importantly, I am able to know that I'm getting good expressions on everyone. There's always a second chance. Or, even a third€

It was at my suggestion that the groom walked to the ceremony with his mother. It was also at my suggestion that the groom and his mother looked at each other for this next photograph. No way could they leave out these pictures from their albums. Then, too, if the first picture didn't come out good, there's always that second picture as back-up. Maybe, even both of the pictures could/will be used in their albums.

One picture in which you definitely want to make sure that the subject looks perfect is the one in which the bride is walking down the aisle. No problem when you pose her just before she begins.

One thing that you really have control over now is the height at which the bride carries her bouquet. Have you ever noticed that all women tend to hold their bouquet up too high? Usually, they'll cover the whole top of their body with the bouquet, rather than holding it down below their waist, as she's doing in this picture. So, there's a lot to be said about posing these pictures before the people actually start walking down the aisle.

As the bride was actually approaching the gazebo there was time to capture the entire scene.

To see more great images like these, visit my web site at: Next month, Monte's wedding coverage continues.