UPDATE: We have released a full workshop on Groom Preparation called “Photographing the Groom.” In this tutorial, we teach you how to execute grooms portraits, candid moments during groom prep, groomsmen group photos and much more.
Original Article Below:
We’ve written about Groom’s preparation before in Michelle’s Tips for Shooting Groom Preparation Photos article. But since we’re rolling into the heart of the wedding season, I wanted to share our internal guide that we use in our studio, Lin and Jirsa. The original purpose of this article is for training LJP second shooters, so keep in mind that other studios may do things differently. Be sure to ask your lead shooter if you have any questions, as studios (and even different shooters within the same studio) depend on their second shooters to varying degrees.
Show up early and start with a friendly introduction. If you’re naturally a reserved person, force yourself to be outgoing right from the start. Sound excited, upbeat and ready to get started. Introduce yourself to everyone in the room, from all the groomsmen to all of the family members. From there, make sure the room is fairly tidy. Enlist the help of the groomsmen in cleaning up the place a bit so that there aren’t random distracting elements in all of your images.
1) Groom’s Detail Photos
When you get there, start with a few shots of the details such as the shoes, watch, tie, socks, flasks, etc. Don’t spend too much time on these, however, as they’re not nearly as important as the bride’s details. These are not necessarily “must-have” shots and only capture the ones worth capturing. For example, a cuff link from the rental tux is NOT picture worthy. However, a watch that was a gift from dad IS. Capture these details with composition and lighting creativity and don’t settle for “as-is” locations on ugly coffee tables or uninteresting compositions.
2) Candid Moment Photos
Your main goal in the first part of the groom’s prep session is to capture fun candid moments, as the boys joke around, drink, and hang out. If these moments aren’t happening on their own, then simply move onto the “getting ready” stage of groom’s prep. If they are happening, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by putting yourself in the right position, listening in on conversations, and anticipating reactions and laughs.
3) Getting Dressed Group Photos
Few guys actually need physical help getting dressed, but nonetheless, having others help with the action leads to some meaningful moments. The two important ones are: 1) straightening out the bow tie and 2) putting on the jacket. So even if you arrive at the groom’s suite and he’s fully dressed, consider reenacting those two scenes, having a groomsmen or dad straighten out the bow tie and another one help put on the jacket. Keep in mind that our style is a hybrid of posed photography and photojournalism. If the moments happen naturally and you can capture them, then that’s ideal. But if you need to get a shot, don’t be afraid to jump in and recreate a moment. These types of shots are MUST-HAVES in our studio.
Tip: If you’re in a room with a large window, simply set them up facing the window so you have clean, soft light for most of your photos. Consider throwing a backflash into the back corner of the room but make sure it’s subtle and not visible of causing flares in all of your images.
Getting Dressed Solo Photos
Be sure to also capture some solo shots without others in the frame as well. Zoom into moments like the groom putting on his cuff-links, tying his shoes, putting on his tie, etc. Again, if you can get this naturally, then great; but if not, have him reenact the moment. Take interesting angles that might require you to be on the floor or standing on chairs. If there is a mirror with decent lighting, be sure to grab a few of him looking into the mirror and adjusting something.
Tip: A common mistake with these types of mirror shots is a bland expression on his face. People don’t generally just look into mirrors and smile at themselves, so you may have to ask him to smile or even crack a joke to get a good reaction out of him.
[Product Highlight: Learn about our Posing for Couples Photography Here]
These portraits should immediately follow the “Getting Dressed Solo” shots. One of our MUST-HAVE shots is the groom seated next to the window, as you see below. Be sure to get a variety of shots, including the groom looking out the window with a smile, looking into the camera with a smile, looking into the camera with a no-smile expression, etc. The idea here is that once you’ve taken the time to set up a great shot with great lighting, then it’s time to maximize your opportunity with a variety of looks. This is a great time to show him what you’re getting in-camera so that you can make adjustments and get the perfect shot. This shot will likely be one in the album, so make sure it rocks!
Tip: Don’t be afraid of the dramatic lighting. However, also consider using a reflector to fill in some light if you feel like the light is too directional.
The prep time is also a great time to capture moments between the groom and his family. Take a proactive approach and make these happen. These are also MUST-HAVE shots in our studio.
Group Shots with the Groomsmen
Groomsmen shots are some of the most fun and wild shots of the entire day, so be sure to take advantage. Here are the two must-have shots during this short portion of the day.
- Standard Shots (not pictured) – Start with a couple basic shots with all of the groomsmen facing in, hands in pockets and solid expressions on everyone’s faces. The most common mistake I see here is gaps between the bodies. Guys typically don’t want to get close to the point of touching, but if there are random gaps, it looks odd. Secondly, I often see inconsistency with hand placement. For example, if only one person isn’t putting his hand in his pocket, this shot just doesn’t work.
- Fun Shots – Consider using your off camera flash for these. You can try jumping shots, “hadouken” shots, or anything else that fits their personalities and the scenes. Note that not all groomsmen are outgoing but you can’t use that as an excuse. It’s your job to bring out the laughter and create scenarios where creative and fun things are happening. Of course, you can always default to the “Resevoir Dogs” walking shot.
On our Must-Have list is also a photo with the groom and each one of his groomsmen. Do one standard shot and one silly shot. For the standard shot, make sure both hands in pockets, shoulders slightly touching and flattering expressions on their faces. Make sure your backgrounds are clean and make sure your lighting is perfect. For the silly shot, give them a chance to bring out their inside jokes. Some groomsmen will naturally get crazy, while others will need some guidance.
I hope this has helped. Next I’ll move on to the second shooter’s responsibilities in other parts of the day, including the first look, ceremony, venue shots, and reception. Stay tuned.
For more information, please see our Groom Prep Tutorial. See the trailer below.