by Sarah Blome of Blomes Paperie
How to get the best wedding photos… by decorating.
The best way to start this blog post is to explain some of what I do…Have you ever walked past a store window display or an art installation that made you stop and stare? That’s what I do. I create unique focal points and part of that is pinpointing where the best place to put that focal point is.
To that end I do something called framing the shot. I scout out not just venues, but locations within venues that add that special oomph. I figure out the exact spot the first dance should be for optimal beauty and photographs, and then I decorate to highlight that spot with just the right about of detailing in the background to draw all eyes to the bride and groom. This is definitely something you can do yourself. You start this process by answering two simple questions: what photos will be taking place and where?
First, create your required shot lists; most photographers will work with you on this before the wedding. There are a few standard shots in most weddings:
- Family photos
- You getting married “the altar shot”
- Bride and Groom at their reception table
- The First dance
- The cake cutting
- Bouquet/ garter Toss
- Grand exit
Second, ask yourself and anyone else willing to help: Where the best place to take those photos?
- Is there somewhere naturally beautiful?
- Does the venue have unique architecture?
- Where will the sun be and will it be in your eyes?
As you are deciding “where” keep this in mind, great photo backgrounds have at least one of three things
- natural beauty (there’s a reason so many photographers shoot outside)
- combination of both.
What does your venue offers on its own, it can be great lighting, a picturesque landscape, cool architecture etc. This is usually the thing that attracted you to the venue in the first place.
To frame the shot ask yourself, what do you want in the photo behind you, where should you stand to get that view in the background, where should the photographer stand and finally are you highlighting it correctly?
For example this wedding was at the Gardens of Bammel, which is known for is beautiful glass conservatory. For years and years people got married inside the conservatory.
Photo on website
After scouting the location I decided to stage the ceremony on the side of the conservatory so we could catch it’s cool architecture in the altar shot photos.
Photo by Alyse French Photography
If it’s not pretty on its own and you have to take a shot there, add décor. I could also name this the dance floor debacle; dance floors are almost always make for ugly shots. (It could happen anywhere, but dance floors are a usual culprit) I personally think it is very important to try and decorate the dance floor because something always happens on the dance floor, be it first dance, toasts to the bride and groom, the bouquet toss and some many other photo worthy events Who doesn’t want a first dance photo with something gorgeous in the background, or to have a photo of their fathers speech in front of something more than a blank wall. You don’t need to do a ton so add a great touch. In the photo below we scouted the dance floor and instead of blocking out the black shades highlighted them and included them in our installation by scattering paper flowers on them
Photo by Nicole Riggs Photography
Now this photo is frame worthy not only because of the moment they captured, but because of the décor that helps pull focus to the toast itself.
Photo by Sarah McKenzie Photography
The photos above of the bride and groom dancing is a great example of a combination framing the shot. There was some interesting architecture we wanted to highlight, but it might have taken focus away from the bride and groom in the photos, so we “blocked the openings” with paper flowers and strung paper streamers and papel picados to help give more definition to the space. In the photos these details help draw eyes to the bride and groom.
To show an example of the impact these things had I offer a separate photo from the same wedding in which the bride and groom look amazing, but for some reason the photo doesn’t capture attention as much. What’s missing from the photos is the decorations. Somewhat counterintuitively instead of pulling focus in the previous photos it helped highlight the bride and groom.
Another example of when the combo is good to put into effect is when the architecture just isn’t working with you, and you have to add décor in to fix a visual problem in the venue. The below photo was taken at an old southern plantation building. This venue was awesome, very unique, and had a huge glass enclosure for the ceremony and reception space…. The problem was there was a door right smack dab in the middle of where everyone chose to be married. And in every photo I looked at online there was a door that pulled focus away from the bride and groom getting married.
Photo by Shans Photography
To fix this we added a large drape behind the bride and groom, and an arch in front of it. The drape and arch successfully hid the door for the ceremony photos and when it flipped to the reception we removed the arch and gathered the drapes so people could see out the awesome glass wall.
Photo by Foto Tech Wedding Photography
So there you have it guys. It is an often overlooked detail in wedding planning but taking the time to plan out where photos are happening and decorate and/or rectify issues in that location can have a huge impact on the quality of your big day photos.
Blome's Paperie is a Houston, Texas based installation artist that specializes in weddings, celebrations, and store displays that aren't of the norm and have your style written all over it. Known for our large paper flowers we work hand in hand with each client to capture the customer's theme and design aesthetic to as to create one-of-a-kind handmade decor.
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