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How to Photograph A Wedding Dress – Tips for Capturing Detail in Wedding Dress

wedding dress
Photo by: Bob Suir

Is detail in a dress (generally pure white) that important? It is; especially so in the case of a wedding gown. Many days or even months are spent choosing / designing a wedding dress and its worth much to the bride both emotionally and monetarily. Most brides take pride in their selection of wedding dress and want to look their best in their wedding album.

Also creating a wedding dress is a collective work of several artists (costume designers); an arduous task that takes several days; if these hard made details in a gown is to be captured perfectly in your shots, you need to be aware of certain properties of white dress and also master some techniques to deal with them. In this article we will discuss one such technique that will make sure you successfully capture all detail in your brides dress every time.

bridal gown
Photo by: The Q

When shooting bridal gowns, photographers are faced with two major challenges:

1. To meter and expose the shot properly
2. To capture detail in the dress in the photographs

Shooting in Auto Modes - Use Exposure Compensation

wedding dress photography
Photo by: Homers Lunac

A vast majority of bridal gowns are white and this brings with it the perennial problem of photographing white objects. The camera’s meter will think of the white gown as a grey subject in very bright lighting and it will set the exposure to capture the subject as grey. Shooting in any of the auto / semi auto modes need sufficient compensation to get proper exposure. It depends on the metering mode you have set but usually an exposure compensation of +1 should do the trick. Those who shoot in fully manual mode need not worry about setting exposure compensation.

One trick to minimize exposure issues is to use spot metering mode and meter from your subjects face.

Check Histogram for Highlight Clipping

photographing bridal gowns
Photo by: Tizzie

Regularly check your histogram to make sure you are not clipping your highlights, in this case it will be the white wedding dress that will get blown out taking all detail in the dress along with it. Remember details in the wedding dress are important.

Shoot in RAW Format

Shooting in RAW format helps you to capture the scene with more dynamic range. It also gives flexibility in post- production to change white balance settings.

Tips for Capturing Details in the Wedding Dress

photographing wedding dress
Photo by: Katy

Please see our earlier article on’ How to Photograph Texture’; the very same principles apply here. The trick is in the way you position bride in relation to your lights; the idea is to let the light rake across the surface so that it accentuates the shadows and brings out detail in the fabric.

The best way is positioning the bride so that her shoulder closest to the camera is angled towards the light.  Be it a soft-box or a large window. Angling the shoulder towards the light is important because if the shoulder closest to the light is not in front, light will hit the wedding dress straight on and will result in flat lighting that captures little or no shadow and detail.

So first and foremost thing for better capture details in wedding dress, the shoulder closest to the camera should be aiming toward the light.

In wedding photography oversights are not pardoned. A photographer gets to shoot a wedding photo based on his/her reputation; this makes him under perpetual stress to keep his reputation intact in this field. So as professionals we need to do that extra bit to make sure what’s important for our clients are all present in our pictures just the way it should be.  Climb any mountain or ford any river to keep up your reputation. 
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