Bridal portraits are quite possibly one of my favorite aspects of wedding photography.  When I first started shooting weddings, I was most interested in pure photojournalism.  I wanted to be a fly on the wall, capturing organic moments as they unfolded naturally.  But as time went on and I began to study more about posing and lighting and wedding photographers I admired, I fell in love with portraiture.   As someone who struggles a bit with social awkwardness, walking into a hotel room bustling  with activity and bridemaids, makeup artists and hair stylists and nervous energy everywhere, I take a few moments to photograph details first.  It helps me focus, keeps my empath brain from absorbing nervous energy while I concentrate on making art amidst the chaos.  I then grab candids of the girls getting ready, getting to know everyone that I will be spending the day with.  Finding the girl who’s going to be my go-to if I need help, quickly figuring out which are the most important or longest relationships to focus on throughout the day.  Once the bride is dressed and ready to go, is my absolute favorite time to quiet the chaos, focus the room, and take a precious few minutes for bridal portraits.

Portraits are a totally different experience than any other time of the day.  For brides who didn’t have an engagement shoot, this is the first step of a new relationship between the two of us.  This is the first time I’ve asked them to sit or stand in a specific pose where the light is prettiest, and ask them to look into my lens and just relate to me.  There is a wonderfully beautiful mix of excitement, nerves and pride.  These are most likely the most beautiful photos a young woman has of herself, in the last few moments before she enters an entirely new journey in life.  I like to start with the bride sitting near a window, preferably one I can climb into to shoot down in an angle that is flattering to everyone.  I turn off all the lights in the room to use natural light for my bridal portraits, and with my Nikon 85mm 1.4, shoot with a large aperture between 1.4 and 2.8, which will blur the background if the room is messy.  This is my chance to show the brides jewelry, to play with their veil, to photograph their rings and flowers, to have our moment where I get to know her through my lens before the rest of her life begins.

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Bridal portraits.  Every girl’s princess moment.  Nothing makes me giddier on a wedding day than having tons of time, perfect light and a happy, relaxed bride who wants nothing more than to go play in her dress for us.  Unfortunately this is rarely the case.  The most carefully planned schedules run late as the sun goes down ruining her visions of warm, romantic sunset photos, unforseen weather at the worst possible time, a bride who thought she’d be fine for photos before the ceremony is suddenly a bundle of nerves and it shows.

Scheduling a separate bridal shoot after your wedding is a perfect solution.  Without the pressure of a schedule, guests to entertain, and no fear of getting a little dirt on the train of a gown you’ve waited your whole life to dance around in.  Maybe your wedding was a rustic country affair, but you’d love to play in Center City in a cool urban shoot.  Take a day to play, it’s absolutely worth it.

For this winter bridal shoot we called on model Lily Cheshire who we’ve shot in various haunted locations throughout Philly.  Lily is a true pro, and one of our favorite models to work with.  We were loaned a lovely little number from Simply Bridal which fit to a tee right out of the box.  If you’re looking for a beautiful dress that’s affordable, I highly suggest them.  Save your money for amazing accessories that you’ll use over and over from somewhere completely unexpected like we did here! Lily looked stunning with hair and makeup by Jennifer Haines, who’s work with brides is really fantastic, and added some totally rock and roll accessories from our buddy Psydde’s Delicious Boutique.  After all, the real fun of a bridal portrait session is to free yourself from the constraints of the wedding.  And there’s nothing like throwing on a red leather jacket from Delicious with a spike necklace and glittery hoodie and dancing around the globe lights in Rittenhouse Square.  A standard bouquet didn’t feel right either, so we tapped into the twisted creative mind of Rev Mackenzie Moltov to create a one of kind winter bouquet to tie everything together.

And then we played.  First 30th Street Station for some pretty shots in a Byron Lars dress  from Silk and Burlap then wiggling into a wedding dress on a side street for some truly unique shots at City Hall, Broad Street and Rittenhouse Square.  A big thanks to everyone involved.  SO very BWR!