You don’t have to work with an event designer to style your bridal photo shoot, but it can be helpful to approach the session like an event designer would.
As an event designer myself, I usually start the process of planning a photo shoot in the same way I plan an event — by assembling the right team. This is the number one secret to getting photos you’ll actually want to frame!
From there, I develop a storyline for the photos, put in some time planning all the elements and how they’ll come together, and think through what’s going to make the bride feel confident and comfortable on set.
Think of your photography session as a chance to tell a story.
When I’m designing a bridal photo shoot, I start with a concept for the story. Do I want the photos to be ethereal and aspirational? Or is this bride going to be happier with a more natural, everyday setting?
From there, I can determine whether we’ll want to bring in a florist, have multiple backdrops, create our own backdrops, or shoot in a location with a lot of variation. Depending on how the bride’s planning to use the photos, we can adapt the design story accordingly.
If you’re struggling to determine what story you’d like to encapsulate with your bridal photos, I’d suggest chatting with your photographer about whether it makes sense to include an event designer or stylist to create a clear design story.
When I’m brought on board to style a photo shoot, I look at it as a mini event production. Because of the more flexible nature of a photo shoot, I tend to map out the details of location, timing and design, but I also leave room for last minute changes so we can pop into the space with the best lighting in the moment.
If we’re bringing in any rentals or additional decor, I run this side of the production with the same precision level I use when designing events. If you’re designing your own photo shoot and plan to include props, I’d highly recommend checking out my FREE guide to Austin’s best vendors. It’s all about your team — the better they are, the better you look and feel.
The photos I’m sharing here are from a photo shoot I planned and designed with du soleil photographie. Additional credits to Goodman Film Lab, Barnsley Manor (historic Pennsylvania wedding venue coming soon!), Sarah Saunders Studio (florals), La Belle Marieé (bridal boutique), Alon Livné White (lace dress), Pronovias (off-shoulder dress), Victoria Roggio Beauty (hair and makeup), Papertree Studio (paper goods), Midnight OO (shoes).
Figure out what’s going to make you feel the most comfortable and confident during your photo shoot.
Your bridal portraits should capture you feeling confident, happy and ready for the next chapter of your life. For some brides, that means having hair and makeup done professionally to feel extra glamorous. For others, simply going with an effortless, natural look feels the most comfortable. I’d urge you to do whatever makes you feel good.
The same concept applies to attire. If you want to wear your wedding gown for the photos, go for it! If you’d rather wear something that feels more like “you,” do that. When I’m working with bridal photo shoot clients, I usually send them a list of attire recommendations, and we decide on the day which feels right based on their mood, the lighting and all the other details.
Not used to being photographed? That’s okay! If you’re not working with a stylist and aren’t super comfortable with your photographer, I’d recommend bringing a friend along — someone who will make you feel relaxed or provide you with a good laugh at just the right time. I find that when I’m working on site as a bridal photo stylist, especially if I’m working with someone I work with regularly (like Matt and Katie of Matthew Moore Photography), the bride instantly feels like a friend and it’s not usually necessary to bring along someone else for comfort’s sake. In my mind, this is one of the huge benefits of having a team you LOVE working with — they really do start to feel like your friends!