wedding photography singapore p01a

wedding photography singapore p01a

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Top Twenty Absolutely-Must-Have Wedding Pictures For Wedding Photographers*

capella singapore

*Disclaimer: This is a satirical piece that's intended to both entertain and "educate", whichever way you see it and depending on who is reading it. All images used here are for illustration purpose only and the persons in the images are in no way representative of my views expressed here.

You may be an up and coming wedding photographer, or a seasoned (aka jaded) veteran, or a clueless bride looking for inspirations.......no matter......this piece is for all of you. It is a continuation of my previous blog entry on "Don't Believe What You Read in Magazines or Online" , which I invite you to read it. At the same time, you must always be very wary of who is telling you what and why (this author excluded).

I have shot weddings for ten years now, starting with charging $500 a wedding to the current $5000 a wedding. My business is not great, a one-man show, because I never see it as a business but something that aligns to my interest and strength and fortunately helps bring food to the table. There are other far more successful "Masters of Photography" who can better advise you on how to expand your wedding photography business, but for this article, I am focusing on the photography aspect and sharing on how to build an excellent (wedding day) portfolio with twenty images.

1) The Wedding Dress

wedding dress
Remember the pickup line:"Your dress is gorgeous. I think it looks better on my bedroom floor"? I don't know who was the first genius who started shooting a wedding dress off the hanger (I always thought wedding dresses look better on a female body) but if you really must shoot the dress being hung, make sure it's hung somewhere with nice lighting and/or background, and if possible, in context. I have seen published pictures of dresses against ugly window grilles, or against doors with cheap paint-jobs. Always remember: if the dress costs $1,000, make it look like a $5,000 dress. If it costs $10,000, just don't dirty it. Let the videographer handle the dress instead.


2) The Bride, The Bride, The Bride

brides portraits
I was once asked by a magazine what the three most important things to shoot at a wedding are, and my reply was "The bride. The bride. The bride." Conforming to common belief and popular conception, the wedding IS about the bride. There are a thousand and one items that go on a bride or associated to her, but the most important item to the groom is the woman who is standing next to him at the altar. Photographers can build a portfolio without a single image of the groom and no one will notice. Just make her look beautiful, or better still, include pictures of beautiful brides. They can more than compensate for the lack of photography skills.

 3) Getting Readybrides getting ready
The last time someone attached so much importance to the phrase "Getting Ready" was my "A"-levels teachers who had to hothouse my classmates and I in preparation of the most important examinations of our lives. When weddings are concerned, words and phrases take on extra significance and if we were to take this to the next level, I guess we would have to start taking pictures of the bride as soon as they are born because they would be spending the next two or three decades getting ready for the BIG DAY. It's also funny to see so many photographers devote fifty percent of the portfolio to the least important part of the wedding day. My plausible explanation to this anomaly is that the photographer has plenty of time to capture a non-moving subject. Don't forget to include a picture of the bride looking at her own dress as if it's her first time seeing it. Oh....and brides putting on earrings and shoes? Nail those.

4) The Wedding Shoes 

jimmy choo manolo blahnik christian louboutin salvatore ferragamo
 I would have lumped this together with "Getting Ready" if not for the importance of the WEDDING SHOES which merit a separate category of their own. In my younger days, I knew nuts about ladies' shoes (I still don't) but today I know for a fact that if someone's names are printed on the soles of the shoes, you better have pictures of them. Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Yves Saint Laurent, Li Ning etc, just to name a few. The pictures also play a very important role here because we will not be able to see those shoes once the bride puts on her dress.


5) Veil You Marry Me?
bridal veil
Do not underestimate this very expensive piece of soft fabric. Not only does it shield light, hide blemishes and soften the image, a long one also allows the bride and photographer to indulge in some cosplay. You can create (with the help of the wind or an assistant) as much drama as you want with the veil, according to your level of "cheesiness".


6) Time for Reflections
getting ready reflections
The mirror, glass, TV screens, water puddles, sun-shades, in short, all things reflective are highly sought after by wedding photographers and videographers alike. It's as if creativity is multiplied as you double what you see behind the camera, even when sometimes a straightforward head-on shot can tell a better story. So always look out for shiny surfaces to get your reflection shots. Afterall, viewers can also reflect on the complexity and layering in your images.


7) Hugs and Kisses
hugs kisses embrace

As long as you are not shooting a Taleban wedding in conservative Afghanistan, you can pretty much witness a lot of kissing and hugging at weddings here....even though we are Asians. There are hugging pictures in every photographer's portfolio. If you need to join the big league, make sure you have a couple of those too. They are also easy to capture, as a hug typical lasts more than one second, considered an eternity in photographic terms.

8) The Great Recessional

church wedding husband and wife
If until now you have failed to have any of the above seven pictures, do not despair. You can hardly go wrong with picture number eight: the recessional. The wedding ceremony might have been boring, the guests unresponsive, or the venue uninspiring. All these can be forgotten the moment the couple is pronounced husband and wife, as they waltz down the aisle choked full of emotions. It is one of the most straightforward pictures to be captured, unless an Uncle Bob unexpectedly stands out of line and blocks your view. Be sure to have an assistant ready to bounce him off the line of sight.

9) Kids: Pillars of Your Future


kids will be kids

I am not going to joke about this, but I seriously love children. They don't tell me which their better side is, they never complain about double-chin, they don't pretend to be somebodies they are not, and except for the annoying few, never question the types of lenses I am using. So yes, I love to make pictures of children. Cute/naughty/blur/smart/filthy/silly ones et al. Almost all brides like a solid supporting child cast. Just don't shoot some kids whose parents the couple don't even know. Ration your time well.

10) Bride and Groom Portraits

bride and groom portraits

For obvious reasons. 

11) The Rings
wedding rings cartier tiffany
I admire photographers who can create innovative images of the couple's wedding rings. They can spend a long time arranging and rearranging the rings with the help of strings, chewing gum, water, fire, mirrors etc to capture pictures that put De Beers advertisements to shame and make Smeagol proud. I guess evolution of wedding photography has come a long way. I always think: "If they want to remember how their rings look like, all they need to do is to look at their fingers, right?" Makes me an equivalent of a Neanderthal in wedding photographers terms.

12) Emotions
Brides cry emotional
Real and raw emotions are not meant to be glamourous. The only woman who can cry and still look sexy is Kate Winslet. If brides are still concerned, I promise them I'd make them look like Kate, provided they bury their faces in their hands when they cry. I can so picture that touching scene.

13) Bridemaids
bridesmaids dresses alkaff mansion
Think of it as bride x the number of bridesmaids = Level of sexiness. On the wedding day, the bridesmaids exist to bring out the best in the bride. I know some of you guys like to take pictures of pretty bridesmaids but just check your level of enthusiasm for a minute. Imagine the awkwardness if the pretty bridesmaid's photo garners more likes than the bride's. BFFs or not, you can kiss your next referral goodbye. When I type "Bridemaids" up there, I am referring to that movie.


14) Bridal Entourage Group Photos
Bridal party portraits groomsmen bridesmaids
This is one of the most consumer-friendly set pieces which you can pre-conceptualise and then on the day itself execute according to plan. Do something that gels with your target clients' age group and you will have a positive multiplier effect in the social media, depending on how big the group is. You can be crap in other aspects of wedding photography, but you can still be well-known for taking the best group shots.


15) Flowers and Decor
wedding bouquets flowers floral design
Just take lots and lots of pictures of them. Wedding planners, florists, stylists and practically all the girls I work with in the industry love them. Most importantly, almost all brides love them too....unless they are allergic to pollen.

16) Face "Off"!

portraits red wedding shoes movenpick hotel
On an off-day when creativity eludes you, just take pictures of your bride and groom sans heads or with just close-up of their limbs. This is a quick and dirty trick that instantly elevates mediocrity to Art status. The challenge lies in convincing the parents of the brides that.


17) Body Temperature Check
embrace tiong bahru
No one will take you seriously if you don't have at least one picture of the couple touching each other with their respective foreheads. Kudos to the photographers who can make this shot look so natural because frankly speaking, in all my 17 years with my then-girlfriend and now wife, we have never done something like that before. It just seems unnatural to us. After our foreheads touch, my nostrils would be smelling her eyelashes and she would be smelling my lunch breath. Anyway, that's just us. There are thousands of couples out there who own this pose. It's also one of the best poses for me when I run out of ideas.

18) Negative Space

negative space fullerton hotel
Another handy trick on my list of cheat codes, when the well of ideas run dry. The immense negative space lends an air of grandiose and artiness. "Imagine how magnificent it'll look when it's blown up to a height of 5 metres! If it's not big enough, it's not artsy enough." It's also a panacea for brides with low self-esteem issues.

19) Aggregate of Averages=Awesomeness
wedding reception
There's hope yet for the lesser photographers. Anyone can be good. If I can shoot, so can you. When you arrange a series of average-looking images in a collage, the sum of the parts suddenly become larger than its whole. Unfortunately, it also means that other lesser lesser photographers can easily encroach into a market that has seen its barriers-to-entry fall to the price of a micro four-third camera.


20) The Token "Ang Moh"
inter racial fusion wedding
Lastly, the token "Ang Moh" (foreigner, specifically Caucasians) can give your portfolio a true cosmopolitan and global appeal. Suddenly, you have proven that your skills are internationally recognized and you are ready to market yourself as an International Destination Wedding Photographer who is willing to work for airfares.

But wait. If everyone follows (which I highly doubt) these 20 easy steps to creating a winning portfolio, then won't everyone else's wedding pictures look the same? Possibly. Then be sure to tune into my future instalment----- "Top 20 wedding images that your competitors don't even know exist". For the brides-to-be, thank you for coming this far. I didn't expect to still see you here. With these twenty clich├ęs of an image, you can now better appraise your prospective photographers, almost all of whom are far less caustic (and younger) than I am.

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