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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!
The slower season gives me more time to think of ways I can help you plan your portrait session. I’m going to do just that with today’s post on why to have privacy for portraits.
First, a little primer: this post on why to have privacy for portraits was created with wedding day portraits in mind. But after looking over the tips I realized they can all apply to portrait sessions as well. Sometimes people need to bring someone along for an engagement, couples, or maternity session to watch their dog or child(ren), or to help carry things. So if that’s the case for your portrait session, these tips will also apply to you.
I noticed this past wedding season that for one reason or another, a group of wedding party and/or family members would gather to watch a first look or newlywed portraits. The other thing I noticed is how that gathering affected the couple. My number one goal on a wedding day or during any portrait session, is for the couple to have a good experience. And my second goal is to get good photos! Those two goals are inextricably linked. When I notice something is impacting both of those goals, it’s a signal to me that I can do something to help. And that’s why I’m giving you these reasons for why to have privacy for portraits. Let’s dig in!
HAVE CALMER ENERGYA wedding day is not always a calm event and there can be lots of nerves and anxiety swirling around. The couple is usually a little anxious or at least excited-anxious. And that is to be expected and perfectly OK. I do my best to keep things as calm as possible and not amp them up further.
I know family, friends, and wedding party mean well, and they want to participate and be supportive. In reality, though, it can be unhelpful to have additional people around, contributing their nerves and anxiety to the the couple’s vibe during a portrait session or first look.
In my experience, the best way to be supportive is to give the couple privacy. This allows them to revel in their own energy and enjoy each other’s company on their big day. A portrait session is typically the only time when the couple gets to be completely alone together on their wedding day.
So if you’re a family or wedding party member (yes, even a maid of honor), skip participating in or observing a first look or newlywed portraits. And if you’re the one getting married, ask for privacy. Or hey – blame it on me! I am happy to be the bad guy and break the news. I am well practiced in gently explaining that we need privacy and offering an alternative time for them to participate.
STAY IN THE FLOW / BE IN THE MOMENT WITH YOUR NEW SPOUSEAs I said, a wedding day is full of excited energy. That means there’s loud talking, laughing, joking, cat-calling. Just general merriment and celebration. Which is awesome! And at the same time, if there is a group of people standing around while you’re having romantic portraits taken, all of that energy and noise can be a distraction. And I know what you’re thinking – maybe you like that kind of energy and feel like it would pump you up. And it could… but it could also really interrupt the flow of a photo session.
In addition to that, I’ve experienced family and/or friends interrupting the photo session to make a suggestion (“Stand like this…” “Walk like this…”); ask a question (“Are you going to have them do xyz pose?” “What time are we doing xyz?”); criticize the person having their picture taken (“stand up straight!” “fix your hair!” “don’t look that way – that’s not your best side.”). I have seriously heard ever single one of those during portrait sessions!
Again, I want to assume people mean well. And you may think your best friend, your mom, or best man won’t act like that… but I have seen the closest of friends and family behave this way. (I’m spilling so much tea in this post!) And those interruptions do two things: interrupt the flow AND diminish self confidence.
I want to keep things positive and I am always encouraging my clients. I take that very seriously because I know those are important components to getting good photos! The best way to make sure interference and distractions are at a minimum is to have privacy for portraits.
GET THE SHOTS YOU WANTThis reason kind of builds off the previous reason. Only you and your photographer really know the types of photos you want because you have communicated about that. And you hired your photographer for a reason: because their work is aligned with the vision you have for how you want your big day to be documented and memorialized.
If there is a group of people around watching you, being loud, talking to you while you’re having your photo taken, or interrupting and distracting you, delaying things – your photos will not be all that they could be had you been given some privacy.
Another aspect of this reason is physical space. If there is a group of people standing around, it limits the amount of space your photographers can utilize. Especially if we’re in a tight space. Trust me – you want us to have all the space we need so we can get the type of photos you want.
HAVE FREEDOM TO BE YOURSELVESWedding day portraits are inherently romantic. I mean, that’s the point – right?! So imagine trying to be in the moment with your new spouse, going in for a kiss or a nuzzle or enjoying a sweet, emotional moment – and having your mom and dad and siblings watching you, or your partner’s parents and siblings! Or your best man. I don’t know about you, but for me that would make things pretty awkward. I would likely half-ass those moments, go in for a quick kiss, and would feel really self conscious and shy. That is not the vibe for wedding day portraits, y’all!
Again, I want you to have the best experience AND the best photos. For that, we need space for you to be yourselves. Whether that’s goofy or playful or super sentimental and romantic. Maybe you would feel called to do some slowwww kisses (ow! ow!), or grab each other’s butts. Or have some sweet, tender moments. Maybe you would tear up or use private nicknames.
I want you to have free range to behave as the two of you do when you’re alone – with the caveat that you are in front of a photographer haha! We’ll keep it PG-13! But doing those things in front of one person who’s encouraging you and who does this as their job vs. doing them in front of your family are two different things!
MAINTAIN YOUR TIMELINEAnd finally, a more technical reason why to have privacy for portraits: your timeline. There’s no one who is going to know your priorities for each portion of your wedding day more than 1. your planner/coordinator and 2. your photographer. Your family and even maid of honor or wedding party or grandmother or best man or aunt so-and-so likely will not know the ins and outs of your timeline like you and your photographer.
I work with all my clients on their timeline. I’ve asked the questions, read your responses, talked to you about it, and studied it intently. I also know exactly how much time is needed for each portion of your day. What tends to happen when family or wedding party are standing around watching newlywed portraits is they get impatient. Everyone is human and humans have their own interests. They want to move on to the next thing, or they want to go relax or drink or sit down. So they want to rush you through or end early so you can come with them to do something they want you to do.
It can seem like newlywed portraits are taking a long time – but I promise you – they take the amount of time we have allotted on the timeline. That time allotment has been well thought out and planned, and it means a lot to the couple. And a couple should not be rushed through their newlywed portraits on their wedding day. (If the timeline is running behind due to other reasons, then I will make the best use of what time we have.) Have privacy for your newlywed portraits so that we can stick to your timeline and not feel pressured to rush to appease someone else.
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 helping individuals and couples feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. If you’re a dog owner, that’s a plus! I’m currently booking 2023 portrait sessions, micro-weddings, and elopements, as well as 2023-2024 weddings.
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Rachel is a wedding and portrait photographer
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