how to get great wedding photos {groom survival guide}

Male fashion model with sportcoat

I love creating portraits at weddings, especially of grooms. Guys look so suave in suits and tuxes. The problem—we sometimes don’t seem as comfortable in front of the camera as our lovely ladies. So I’ve been exploring male fashion to better coach grooms. It lets me be creative and practice without the time constraints of a wedding.

I’ve been recently been working with a great, local model: Vernon Mitchell. During this shoot, as he shrugged into the sport coat his demeanor changed—he suddenly seemed stiff. His persona went from relaxed to very formal.

Then it hit me. This happens to grooms all the time. 

I’ll be photographing a chill groom getting ready, but once fully dressed, he’s prim and proper as a butler. No offense to butlers, but I want to capture a guy’s true personality. So here are a few ways to stay relaxed and end up with much better wedding pictures.

Rock the Outfit
Whether it’s a suit or tux, make it yours! Get properly measured, because if it’s too tight, you’re uncomfortable—believe me, it shows. And if it’s too loose, you’re playing dress up. Pick a good quality tux or custom tailored suit that flatters you. It’ll fit better (extra suave points), and the material looks great through the lens.

Add your own shirt, tie or killer kerchief to the mix. The more it feels like yours, the less you notice it. If you can, wear it at least once before the wedding day. Imagine getting pictures taken in your favorite outfit that makes you feel great vs. one that’s full of starch and you’ve never worn before. 

Smile, but not too much
A wedding day is like an 8 hour workout for your face. Your cheeks are burning and you’ve only finished the ceremony. The best thing is to start practicing now. Go ahead, smile! On the wedding day, take several 60 second breaks to relax your face. Even give your cheeks a mini self massage.

Your natural emotions are much more powerful than forced ones, and a real smile makes you look good. When I’m shooting portraits I always give couples a few minutes to relax their smiles. You two can share a quiet, uninterrupted moment and save face.

Breathe
It’s quickly apparent in pictures if you’re faking a smile, tense or exhausted. So please tell your photographer if you need a moment. Grab a bite, drink, or just breathe. Many times at a wedding I’ll stop to take several slow breaths. It helps me calmly refocus, stay in the moment, and gives me energy. Plus, it’s a great reminder not to take things too seriously.

This is a really special day for you and your loved one. Why not slow down and enjoy it? If I’m photographing your wedding, I’ll make sure to help you relax and take care of yourself. With Vernon, I offered him some water and we talked about the stitching on the suit jacket. Then kept on shooting.