From the Experts: Wedding Photography
A Q&A with wedding photographer, Bruce Plotkin
Photos courtesy of Bruce Plotkin Photography
What is the most creative bridal portrait you have ever taken?
That’s a tough one. At every wedding I photograph, I’m always looking for those one or two unique moments with the bride and groom alone where the location is interesting, the lighting is perfect and the bride and groom are truly in the moment. If I’ve captured that moment in all its glory (a photograph that the bride and groom will be able to share and treasure forever) then I’ve truly fulfilled my creative goals.
Are there any dos or don’t for engagement photos?
What makes engagement pictures really fun and special is when I have the chance to take the couple to a location or locations that have some special meaning to them. For example, the bar where they first met or the spot where he (or she) proposed or the beach that one or both of them grew up going to. I’ll encourage them to dress more casually and to keep the clothing simple and less patterned. I really want the photos to be less about the wardrobe and more about them.
What is the best way to feel comfortable if you are shy in front of the camera?
It starts with hiring a photographer with whom you personally feel comfortable. A great way to really loosen everyone up prior to the wedding day is by scheduling an engagement session, which is a way for everyone to get to know each other better. My own personal approach during an engagement session is to make it as relaxed and “conversational” as possible, all the while taking lots and lots of pictures and whoever starts as “shy” usually ends up realizing-especially after they’ve seen the results of the session-that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
Where are the some of your favorite places to shoot in Fairfield County?
For weddings, any place by the water (from Spring through Fall, that is) including the many beautiful private clubs from the CC of Fairfield to Belle Haven, the beach clubs of Weeburn and Woodway as well as Westport’s own Inn at Longshore, right on the Long Island sound. I also do my fair share of tented home weddings, which of course can be very special.
What is the best way to choose a location for engagement photos and bridal portraits?
For weddings in particular it’s choosing a location that’s both visually interesting, but also perhaps in some way captures something of the essence of the venue that you’ve chosen for your wedding day. One key factor, at least in choosing the specific location for family photos and bridal portraits, is the direction and intensity of the sun at the particular time of day that you’ll be shooting these pictures. As much as we all love capturing the water and sky as a background at one of these wonderful beach locations, the reality is if it’s a sunny day and the sun is right in everyone’s eyes no one will be able to keep their eyes open and the pictures won’t be very good. In this case we’ll sometimes have to head for the shade or backlight the groups, and then bring the bride and groom out at dusk for a couple more special moments when the light’s “just right”. All of the same is true for engagement pictures, although in that case we tend to have more flexibility and can just get in our cars and go to another spot with better light.
How much guidance do you provide couples during their photo shoots?
Every couple is different in terms of how much direction they need. Some people are just “naturals” in front of the camera. More often than not the grooms tend to not know what to do with their hands during the shoot so that’s where I’ll end up doing a fair amount of direction. Once they “get it” I’ll usually set them free and do I do best, which is to capture “real moments”. The less posed photos show more of the essence of who they really are.