5 Tips for Wedding Portraits You’ll Love

October 27, 2023

No matter how excited you are for your wedding, a lot of people find they get nervous about wedding portraits. When you invest in professional photography on such an important day, you want your photos to reflect the day’s energy and your relationship as it really is. I’ve rounded up five of my favorite tips for cool candid wedding photos that feel like you. As a Philadelphia wedding photographer, I find that these tips help even introverted marriers get comfortable enough for authentic wedding portraits.

A couple in wedding attire sits on a couch before their Terrain wedding.

5 Tips for Wedding Portraits You’ll Love

1. Be present with each other.

We sometimes get the message from the wedding industry that wedding portraits are about “looking right.” The wedding photos that make people happiest are the ones where they’re connecting with each other. The soft touches at a first look and giddy laughter on the dance floor are the most memorable moments of your wedding – and material for the best photos.

So be present with your partner and your people. Breathe. Touch. Check in with them. Talk about what’s bringing you joy in that moment. Your expressions will bring life to your images that no stiff posing could. Even when I give my clients prompts, I often find it’s the in between moments as the move from one place to another that the best photos happen.

A bride and groom poses for wedding portraits on the steps of a historic Philadelphia building.

2. Don’t sweat the details.

On your wedding day, it’s easy to get caught up in every detail. Where are the flowers? Is everyone where they’re supposed to be on time? I recommend a day-of coordinator or planner who can sweat those details for you. 

A couple poses for wedding portraits in an aisle of plans at Terrain.

When it comes to wedding portraits, know your photographer can stress about the little things. They’ll find the good light and the cool backdrops. Focus on being with your partner. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

A bride and groom laugh during their first dance at a Philadelphia wedding venue.

3. Keep moving.

In my experience, people tend to get uncomfortable if they’re still for too long. Keep it moving during your photo session. Your photographer can prompt you to walk, run, skip, bump shoulders, stroll, spin, or sway. If you have physical limitations, your photographer can work with you to modify the prompts and still get that carefree, relaxed feeling.

A bride and groom hold hands and walk through Old City.

When it comes to wedding portraits, I like to say that my photography style leads with personality. Your photos should feel like you, not a pre-planned shot list. Movement is an important part of this. You can read more about my approach to centering personality and movement in wedding photography here.

A bride and groom walk across a lawn with their wedding party for wedding party portraits in Philadelphia.

4. Switch it up.

Know that you can change what doesn’t work for you. If you feel uninspired or uncomfortable, tell your photographer. I’m always happy to help my clients find alternatives that make them feel more at home in front of the camera. Sometimes just changing environments helps. For example, at this Royal Boucherie wedding, I had the couple walk through the reception space and interact with each other. It led to really natural, joyful photos. (You can see more from that wedding here.)

A bride and groom walk through a reception space decorated with flowers in a Philadelphia wedding venue.

On that note, it really helps to hire a photographer you trust based on their work. When you’re talking to photographers, ask to see galleries and hear about their process. You’ll end up with a photographer who will help you make any necessary adjustments. 

5. Make time for creative wedding portraits.

Most of my clients come to me because they want a more creative approach to their wedding photos. For portraits, that can mean leaving more time for your photographer to experiment with light, composition, and movement. I work with film and switch between several cameras and film stocks during portrait sessions. If you’re adding video, like Super 8, that takes time, too. Take that all into account when you’re building your timeline.

A groom poses for creative wedding portraits against a wall of shelves in a Philadelphia wedding venue

If you’re hesitant to take 30 to 60 minutes away from cocktail hour to do portraits, just remember that it’s probably the only alone time you’ll have until your reception is over. Chances are you’ll want to bask in that just-married feeling. Enjoy the excuse to sneak away and make some art.

A bride poses with a bridal bouquet for a bridal portrait in a shadowy hall at Royal Boucherie.

Would you like me to photograph your wedding? I’m a Philadelphia film photographer, and I specialize in candid wedding portraits on film. Reach out to me here!