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Editor’s Notes Edition No. 02 (just for photographers!) is all about shooting details! If you haven’t read our first Editor’s Notes article about publication, you can do so here! Today’s post is all about the importance of shooting details and how to improve those images! All of the amazing examples are by one of my absolute favorite photographers (who subsequently rocks at detail shots) Lane Dittoe!

*All images by Lane Dittoe

If you’ve been anywhere near a wedding blog within the last few years, it’s likely you know how important “detail shots” are to editors. Knowing what details to shoot and how to shoot them can make a big difference between getting published (consistently) and wasting precious hours shopping around images that just aren’t cut out for publication. But why, you ask, are details so important? The honest-to-goodness, no-patty-cake-I’m-worried-about-your-feelings-answer is this:

Readers come to blogs for ideas first—not for your amazingly awesome photography.

Ideas, usually in the form of detail shots, run the gamut: fab flowers, DIY projects, color palette inspiration, et al. Readers obviously love gorgeous images of the bride and groom, and they obviously know your work is amazing! But mostly, blogs exist to supply ideas—to help brides and readers find the next big idea for their own wedding, home and life. We need you for those ideas. You are the vehicle. Editors rely on you for this content (as well as really inspired brides that keep coming up with great stuff you shoot) so I’m not saying you aren’t important. But recognizing what editors and readers want is the best way to improve your chances for publication. So if publication—read: free advertising—is an important part of your own personal marketing endeavors, then read on! Here is an honest list of editor’s suggestions to help you improve those detail shots, get yourself published, and ultimately, book those brides!

1. Zoom in Zoom Out

When you are shooting a particular detail or set up, remember to zoom in and zoom out! When scrolling through submissions, I often notice a really great detail that might be sitting on a table, but it’s surrounded by lots of other distracting items. Zooming in allows you to get us a full frame shot of the detail and see it close up. On the other hand, zooming out is important so we can see the context of the detail at hand…we want to know where it was placed, how it was hung up, and how the entire scene looked as a whole. Here’s a great example of this technique: Shoot the whole wedding cake (fill the frame). Zoom in to shoot the cake topper then zoom out to shoot the entire cake table. All three perspectives are important.

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2. Shot List

If you don’t already have a shot list, get one! Every wedding has a list of standard details that we (and our readers) want to see. You’d be surprised how often photographers pass on shooting close up details of a killer dress (read: not hung up on a hanger) or how often I wish I could have seen a clean shot of the bridesmaid bouquet or the boutonnieres. Brides always provide at least some details, and while not every wedding can get published, it definitely helps your chances if you go in with a shot list and make a habit of shooting the standard stuff! (For more on a specific shot list, stand by. We’ve got an article cooking with all the specifics!)

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3. Style It!

Hotel carpet is ugly! Hotel chairs usually are too. So when you are shooting bouquets, stationery, jewelry, shoes, etc do your best to find a clean background to shoot them on, rather than the ugly carpet or out-dated chairs in the bride’s dressing room. Also, salt-and-pepper shakers (and other types of distractions–ugly cake cutting utensils, tables crowded with dishware and butter plates, ugly ballroom carpet, et al) are my pet peeve. So many great details are lost because ugly stuff gets in the way! These distractions prevent viewers from being able to focus on the subject of your image. Don’t be afraid to “style” your shots. Direct the bride, move the details, find a cool chair–do what it takes to secure a clean shot!

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4. Right Angles

Weird camera angles are often times really distracting. Wonky perspectives also look gross when we’re pairing two vertical images (which bloggers do a lot!) So while I’m all about supporting your artsy ideas, make sure you give us straight on, clean shots to choose from. Also, vary your perspectives…some photographers are in the habit of shooting just horizontal, while others often send me just vertical. It’s nice to have a mix.

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5. Keep It Clean!

Editors are love photography that has minimal distractions – read: WHITE SPACE! Shooting details is really like still life photography so take that approach into consideration. One of the biggest differences between sought after photographers and the rest of the crowd is the ability to compose images that are clean, fresh and free from clutter.

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6. Coordinate!

If you don’t normally have time to shoot details, then see what you can do about scheduling it in ahead of time with the bride and/or coordinator. If it’s a priority to get published, then planning plenty of time to shoot details is very important! As a plus, the florist (and all the other creative vendors) will thank you for great shots of her work (you send her those images, right?).

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7. When in Doubt, Blow it Out!

Blowing out your background helps keep beautiful details in the foreground as a strong subject. This technique is underused, yet very much appreciated by editors! Get rid of those distractions!!!

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8. Think Big Picture

At the very beginning of the wedding, ask the bride her color scheme and/or theme for the wedding. Take note of this. The bride may not really have tons of awesome details, but that’s okay. Look for things throughout the day, whether or not it’s something provided by the bride, that incorporates those colors and use them.

The color is yellow. You’re walking by a lemon tree on the premises of the hotel? Shoot it. You’re walking by a wall that is yellow? Shoot the bride in front of it. One of the guests is wearing a yellow dress? Have that guest hold the guestbook. And shoot it. You get my drift right? Use what’s around you (especially if it works with the look and feel of the wedding) to add unplanned detail shots to help the wedding get published. Don’t forget to use the venue! If you can train yourself to think like a stylist (even a little bit) and consider the theme and color of the wedding, it’ll help when you are composing your shots. Take a step back and keep your eyes open for those detail opportunities!

****All images by Lane Dittoe