What are detail photos?
Detail photos are what photographers call all the photos of your personal items, outfits, and decorations.
Why do they matter?
These are the items that make your wedding day feel like you. You will probably spend hours, and hours, and hours either picking out or even making a lot of the details. From ring shopping, to designing invites, to hand crafting décor with wedding party members or family - the details are a lot of work! And after the wedding, you may sell, get rid of, or return the décor to the rental company. That’s why it’s so important for photographers to capture all these details – so you can remember what they looked like and what your day felt like forever.
What does a photographer need to get these shots?
Let’s break it down. Throughout the day, I’m doing details photos at three main points – right away in the morning, before the ceremony, and before the reception.
In the morning:
In the morning is when I get all the personal items, lay flats, and outfit shots.
The best tip I can provide is to think about what you want photographed ahead of time and pack a box (or two). The details can be combined (even if you have separate getting ready spaces). You can have a wedding party member transfer anything that needs to be transferred, or your photographer may be willing to do so if they’re heading to the second location anyway.
What to put in your box:
· Invite + other stationary
· Vow books
· Bouquet(s) + boutonniere(s) + extra pieces from florist
· Jewelry (earrings, bracelet(s), necklace(s))
· Hair piece(s)
· Tie clip(s)
· Cuff links
· Pocket square(s)
· Ribbon or dress/fabric scraps
· Any other items you may want photographed: gifts, drinkware, pieces that fit the theme
Note: It's totally ok to have a lot or a little here. No specific items are required or not allowed!
Backdrop + Light
This is where your photographer comes in! I am looking for natural or interesting light, primarily. I am also looking for a large, clean space that will compliment the color or theme of your day and won’t distract from your items. I am commonly using the floor, chairs, windowsills, fabric (from veils or tablecloths), and various other things like side tables, barrels, or countertops.
I could spend hours arranging and re-arranging details. This is where I can really get creative because all of the items are so pretty and unique! My process is to start with combining as much as possible for a large lay flat, and then to break it down into each partner’s items. After that, I’ll pull out my macro lens (a lens for super close up photos) and start photographing each item individually or in groups i.e., all of the jewelry or all of the stationary.
The next thing in the morning I typically get shots of is each outfit. I try my best to get both dresses and suits, or whatever you may be wearing.
Make sure to have any custom hangers ready for the photographer. It’s easiest if your outfits are ready to go – for wedding dresses this usually means in the bag for transport, but steamed if needed. For suits, it’s also easiest to transport them in a bag most of the time as well. For bridesmaid dresses, it’s easiest if they’re out of their bags (because they are typically much easier to move than a wedding dress) but hung on hangers with turn-able hook. Almost always I am hanging things in spaces that require the hook to be turned 90 degrees from the hanger! If I’m taking photos of bridesmaid dresses, a helper or second photographer is usually necessary so I can get them all transported and hung up quickly.
Tip: Wash your hands before handling any fabric.
Before the ceremony:
Some couples have a lot of décor, and some like to keep it simple. Either way, I like to capture what the ceremony space feels like before guests arrive (so I can focus on guests arriving as they do).
Now this can be any time before the ceremony (as early as right away in the morning!) if the ceremony space is set up. The earlier the better, but of course I always wait for things be completely set up. Typically, once the florist is finished or as soon as I am able to travel to the ceremony site is when I get these done.
Make sure to give your photographer enough time before the ceremony to get shots like these if it's important to you. This may mean scheduling your photographer to arrive earlier than you might have expected. Talk to them, and see how long they will need based on the rest of your timeline.
What am I looking for?
· Full space or room
· Floral arrangements
· Aisle décor
· Surrounding vibe (venue, view, treeline, etc.)
Before the reception:
The same goes for the reception space as the ceremony space – the sooner I can get these done, the better. I also like to get in before guests arrive because it’s easier to get clean shots of the full room, tablescapes, etc. without any drinks/phones/coats.
If it’s possible to have the reception space set up early or to keep it private until just before dinner, that will make for the best photos. Logistically, it can be a bit trickier to make that happen, especially if you have separate venues that require travel or a room flip. It can help if there are two photographers, or if you plan to have a first look, so portraits can be done before cocktail hour. Cocktail hour is typically when photographers are doing reception details (unless of course, if it’s all set up before the ceremony / accessible to us by then).
Some things simply can’t be set up early though, such as candles being lit, re-used floral pieces and signs, bouquets, and dessert. Make sure your photographer will have time to capture these things if it’s important to you.
Another tip - once portraits are finished, get all bouquets to where they need to go (either assign someone to be in charge of this task, or give them to your coordinator or photographer(s)). Getting bouquets to the head table or wherever they need to be is better for the photographs and so you can hold a drink instead.
What am I looking for?
· Full room from multiple angles
· Seating Chart/Escort cards
· Floral arrangements
· Center pieces
· Place settings
· Head table / sweetheart table
· Gift table
There’s a lot to think about on your wedding day – that’s why it’s best to get as much out of the way before the big day comes. It will make it SO much easier on you + your partner and your photographer.