We’ve all seen “getting ready” photos from a wedding. The bride and bridesmaids pop a few bottles of champagne, have their hair and makeup done, get into their dresses, etc. The groom and groomsmen lounge around, drinking longnecks and passing around a bottle of top shelf whiskey before donning their tuxes. It’s one of my favorite parts of the wedding day to shoot because it’s fun and casual and chock full of great candid moments.
Groomsmen Getting Ready: The Problem
But there’s one small issue I run into at approximately half of the weddings we shoot. It’s that “the guys” don’t understand what candid photography is.
Allow me to explain. I show up at the predetermined time for getting ready photos and the groom and groomsmen are either 1) fully dressed and expecting to head outside for formal portraits like this…
…or 2) say something like “I thought we were doing photos after the ceremony!” and sit around awkwardly eyeballing me like I’m the paparazzi.
As a bride, you get it. You’ve been looking at wedding photos for months now, so you know what to expect. Your groom? Not so much. And who can blame him? He’s interested in football and lawn care. He’s not keeping up with the latest wedding trends. When he hears words “wedding pictures,” he envisions standing in a line, looking at the camera and smiling on the count of three.
But modern wedding photography encompasses so much more than that. It tells the story of the whole day, from beginning to end. Wedding photographers capture all of the candid moments that make your wedding unique. The best photos – the most natural photos – are taken when you’re unaware the photo is being taken. When you’re not trying to look or act a certain way. Just being yourself.
But every second or third wedding, when I show up to the guys’ hotel room and introduce myself, they collectively ask, “Where do you want us and what do you want us to do?”
Groomsmen Getting Ready: The Solution
So how do we remedy this situation? There are a handful of things that you, the bride, can do to mentally prep your groom-to-be for the getting ready photos. Here are five quick tips:
1) Explain ahead of time what candid photography is and why it’s important.
I do this myself when I meet up with the guys, but it holds a lot more weight coming from you. Also , they’ll be way more relaxed if they know what to expect ahead of time.
2) Encourage them to drink.
A little liquid courage goes a long way to forgetting that there’s a camera in the room. This is especially important when the groomsmen aren’t a tight-knit group of friends (for example, two brothers, a childhood friend, a college friend and a work friend).
3) Suggest an activity.
Maybe a round of golf. Or a game of poker. Or corn hole. Or just grabbing a drink at a bar. It doesn’t take guys long to get dressed, so there’s probably going to be some time to kill. Incorporating an activity that everyone enjoys distracts from the fact that there’s a photographer present and makes the photos that much more interesting.
4) Exchange a present or a letter.
This gives the groom something to do to occupy his mind and forget that there’s a photographer in the room, even if only for a few moments. And hey, it’s makes for some great photos!
5) Let them know they won’t be photographed naked.
This one seems obvious, but a lot of guys get nervous about it. They hear that there will be a photographer taking pictures of them getting dressed and think the worst. In reality, I’m just there to shoot ties being tied and cuff links being attached and pocket squares being folded and boutonnières being pinned, etc. In other words, the finishing touches.
And hey, if all else fails, have a traditional Hindu wedding. The groom prep prior to a Hindu wedding is super cool and extremely photogenic.
The best getting ready photos are candid. You and your bridesmaids understand this. Your groom and his groomsmen do not. The best course of action is to explain to him ahead of time what to expect. Keep in mind, you might have to explain it more than once, but you’ll be glad you did!