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Proud pup mom, type A creative, lover of the outdoors, Top Chef fan girl, and wedding and portrait photographer. Welcome to the blog!
HI, I'M RACHEL!
When I’m helping my couples with their wedding day timeline, I include ‘finishing touches photos’ for a portion of both the bride and groom’s getting ready timeframe. I inevitably end up having to add something in parentheses to explain exactly what finishing touches photos are. That way they have a clear idea of what we’ll be doing and why it’s important to have on the timeline. This blog post is essentially a longer version of what I include in those parentheses.
‘Finishing touches photos’ document the portion of the day when the bride and/or groom are already dressed, but still have details of their outfits to add. For the bride, it’s when she has on her wedding dress only; she still needs to add her jewelry, shoes, perfume, and veil. For the groom, he’s in his suit; he still needs to put on his shoes, tie, jacket, and cufflinks. I like for the bride/groom to get dressed privately, and then when they have on their clothes, I take photos while they put on their ‘finishing touches’ – the add-ons (jewelry, veil, tie, cufflinks, etc.). I’m usually with the bride for this portion of the day, while our second photographer is with the groom.
These photos are important to include because for wedding photography, we are documenting your day, and this is part of your day! It’s the part of the day where there is a lot of anticipation and excitement. These are the quieter moments where you’re preparing for the rest of the wedding activities. (Some might even say, preparing for the rest of your life!). They are usually the moments right before seeing your fiancé(e) for the first look or walk down the aisle. It’s like the most momentous ‘getting ready’ of your life! It’s also a lovely way to document time with your friends and/or family as they help you get ready. Finally, it’s a way for you to get warmed up to being in front of the camera for the rest of the day, and get into the groove with your photographer.
I explain to potential wedding couples that on a wedding day, there are parts of the day when I’m more involved, more active, and there are parts of the day where I step back and take a more passive role. Anytime we’re doing portraits, I am very involved, give lots of instruction, and basically directing the ‘scene’. With the finishing touches photos, it’s funny because they often look candid. I mean, who needs to be instructed on how to put in earrings or put on their shoes?! Even though adults are very practiced at doing these everyday things, this is actually a part of the day where I do give some instruction.
I’m always paying attention to LIGHT, first and foremost. And for finishing touches photos, I don’t like to use flash unless I absolutely have to (like if we’re in a room with no windows or a room that’s painted very dark colors – red, green, dark blue, dark purple, etc.). I usually like to set up the bride or groom near a window so we’re using natural light. In that case, I need to give instruction so they are well lit. That’s especially true when we bring in another person or two to help out. Everyone needs to be in the same kind of light (light and not shadow) so the photo is properly exposed. That’s where I step in to tell people where to stand so they’re all in the best light.
While these activities are happening, I also want to make sure everyone looks their best. I will give the bride or groom some tips on how to stand in a flattering way. I’ll tell them how to move their head, how to smile if they’re looking too serious, where to put their hands, etc. There are slight adjustments that can be made to help the photo look more refined, while the person still looks natural, relaxed, and in the moment. I try to walk the line of giving all that instruction while still allowing the bride/groom to be in the moment. I want them to soak in the peace while they’re alone, or to be connected to whomever is helping them get ready.
I personally love these getting ready photos! They are some of the most beautiful photos I take all day. The light is usually good, and the lines and shapes a person makes while they’re putting on jewelry, shoes, etc. look elegant. There is so much quiet joy captured in those moments. It’s a chance to get to showcase your personality, even if you’re nervous. These photos are also all about the bride or groom. The rest of the day is about the couple together or the couple with their friends and family. It’s fun to see the bride and groom shine separately for a few minutes while they’re getting excited to see each other.
So, now you know what I mean when I say ‘finishing touches photos’! And hopefully this post got you that much more excited to have those photos taken on your wedding day.
Did this post get you excited to book your own wedding, micro-wedding, elopement, or engagement session?! If yes, send me a note and we can chat about what you have in mind: contact me
Hi – I’m Rachel! A wedding, engagements, and headshots photographer in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and northern Virginia. I love taking photos of elegant people who love to laugh, as well as of much in-love couples. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2022 portrait sessions, as well as 2022 and 2023 weddings.
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Rachel is a wedding and portrait photographer
Serving brilliant, elegant couples in Washington D.C. + Beyond
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