As I have ventured into the world of wedding photography, I've quickly fallen in love with detail shots. In a short time I have learned quite a bit about how to achieve those amazing detail shots with a few little tips and suggestions! I work it into my timeline with my brides to take the first 45 minutes to an hour to capture all the beautiful details (rings, shoes, invites, jewelry, etc). I say my hellos to the bride and groom before I grab the goodies to hide out and get the creative juices flowing. Taking those first minutes to get creative with what I have sets the tone for the rest of the day. It's at this time I'm able to think outside the box, start a theme and just have some time by myself to mentally prepare for the rest of the day. So here we go!
1. USE A MACRO LENS.
You've heard it before so I'm sorry that this isn't a new concept (maybe it is new and that's great!) but you should always have a macro lens with you for the wedding day to capture those beautiful detail shots, especially rings. I've also fallen in love with my 100mm 2.8 for gorgeous portraits as well! Each lens has a limit on how close you can get to capture those incredible details. While I primarily shoot with my 35mm, it doesn't do the "full" job for this part of the day! Yes, I still shot many details with it, but to get the zoomed in beautiful details I need my macro. Investing in a macro lens should be a priority if you are a wedding photographer. Or I also like to recommend renting! I used to rent equipment before I made the investment. I still rent when necessary and love to use Borrow Lenses.
2. GET FOCUSED.
One of the best techniques I learned quickly was to focus on the prong, not the diamond when you're shooting ring shots. This will ensure that the details in the ring are SHARP and gorgeous. While on the subject of focusing, depending what you're shooting it is nice to use manual focus. Make sure your image stabilizer is turned on as well.
3. LOOK FOR OTHER PROPS.
I've found some of my most favorite detail shots have been when I find material, greenery, or other textures to add to the scene. For the shot above I used the bride's veil to create that gorgeous texture with the shot. This shot was with my 35! For the image below we found some extra greenery from the florist on site who was setting up the flowers for the ceremony. My favorite shots have been from gathering various props to make the image pop even more. There is nothing wrong with implementing your own ideas to give the image something special and unique. A little bonus tip is to be in strong communication with your clients beforehand to emphasize the importance of the details and that you need everything ready to go and organized when you arrive. It's not fun to spend the first 30 minutes trying to gather all the details and only to later find out there was something missed that was important to your bride and groom. (That's not on you, but either way, you want to avoid those issues and make sure everyone understands the importance of the details, what you need and that it needs to be ready and organized for you.)
4. MOVE AROUND.
Make sure to change your angle. I learned early on with product photography to capture something from several different angles because while in the moment you might think one is best, sometimes that other perspective is the real winner in post production. I'm constantly working my way around a specific scene getting it from all sides, from above, below, etc. Some of my favorite shots have completely taken me by surprise just by moving my body around.
5. BONUS: SLIGHTLY UNDEREXPOSE IN CAMERA.
I've found that when I slightly underexpose my images for the details (especially flowers) I am able to get more creative in Lightroom post production and the highlights aren't blown out. I tend to underexpose regularly because I always shoot RAW and when you shoot RAW it is much easier to manipulate the image and bring it to life in Lightroom! I can't stress enough the importance of shooting RAW. If you want more information about that, you might find this blog post helpful on A Simple Guide to Manual Mode.
Most importantly, remember to relax. Give yourself the hour to completely immerse yourself in the wedding at hand. Find a quiet space where you can be alone (or with your second) to just be in the moment. That first hour has been critical in my detail work because the rest of the day is filled with shuffling bodies, directing, and constantly moving around. Take this hour to relax, breathe, and find your creative spark that will fuel the rest of the day.