What are getting ready photos ?
I have just arrived at the bride's home, and have put down my gear and slipped off my shoes. The girl who let me in--a bridesmaid, no doubt--has bounded back upstairs and into a room from which several unmistakably female voices emanate. A cackle, a squeal, a pained 'ooh, I think I just broke the..'; one girl is looking for her cellphone, another for a particular shade of nail polish. Stopping halfway up the staircase, I ask for permission to enter this swirl of activity at the centre of which is the bride. She is aglow--despite still being in a robe. And I'm just about to take my first photo of the day.
In short, getting ready photos are photos of the bride as she prepares for her wedding day. But, really, as the above suggests, there is so much more going on prior to the ceremony: the bride's dress hangs in the doorway, a bridesmaid snips at a bit of ribbon; the groom and groomsmen are goofing off (usually at a different location, and lucky for them !). The time before the mad dash to the ceremony is usually teeming with activity and unique moments. Getting ready photos are all about capturing these.
Should we do getting ready photos ?
They certainly aren't for everyone. But for those on the fence about having this portion of the day documented, here are my top 3 reasons why I recommend doing at least a few getting ready photos.
1. Details, details..
Most couples spend at least some effort deciding on the details that will make up the day: the wedding dress, the shoes, the cuff-links, the hair and makeup that will likely never be more exquisitely done. If you think photographing these details is important, the best time to do them--sometimes the only time--is before the ceremony begins and everything is officially in motion.
2. Great candid opportunities with friends & family
Getting candid, unposed photos on the wedding day featuring, e.g., the bride and her mother, or the bride and her best friend is often challenging. During the ceremony such opportunities are rare; during the reception people are often scattered and sitting at different tables. When possible, I totally encourage the bride to have close friends and especially her mother nearby during the getting ready portion of the day to guarantee having these moments photographed.
3. Wedding days are stories
I find that the wedding photos I look at that tell the most interesting stories, the most authentic and emotionally powerful stories, are inevitably a product of candid or documentary-style shooting rather than posed or staged photography. This is the main reason I definitely emphasize the prior in my own work. The 'behind the scenes' aspect of the getting ready portion of the day lends itself brilliantly, I think, to doing documentary-style shooting, and to finding these stories.