Most of the time, I don’t pull the bride aside for a dedicated portrait session. My clients tend to be fairly camera-shy, and one of the reasons they’ve hired me is because I help them feel natural and at ease in front of the camera—mainly by letting them be themselves and allowing them to forget that they’re being photographed. I find plenty of great opportunities throughout the getting-ready process to shoot a bride in ways that capture beautiful, spontaneous, expressive portraits without asking her to pose for me (Figure 4.11). Figure 4.10 is another good example of this.
A great time to look for portrait opportunities is right after the bride has gotten dressed—she’s still standing in the window light, she’s excited about finally wearing the gown “for real,” and she’s surrounded by her best friends and family, who are all equally excited. The interplay between them creates some wonderful, vivid moments, and the bride is so caught up that she doesn’t even notice that I’m shooting.
I’m nearly always able to find naturally occurring portrait opportunities for the bride, but if I feel that it’s not happening, I’ll simply ask her to come to the window or step outside if it’s a pretty setting, and shoot a few quick images in a casual way. Portraits are most flattering when shot with a longer lens, such as an 85mm, and I use a wide aperture (usually f/2.8 or f/4) for shallow depth of field, to keep a soft look. I make it really fast, because my clients generally want to simply enjoy their day with minimal interruption from me.
Figure 4.11. As this bride walked away from me into the next room, I could see that the light and the frame of the doorway would make a wonderful shot. I couldn’t anticipate the lovely gesture of her head and arm as she walked through, but I was ready and released the shutter at the crucial moment.