3 Tips for Photographing Wedding Stationery

[Beautiful Letterpress Stationery by Christa Alexandra Designs & Calligraphy by Lindsey Leichthammer]

As wedding photographers, it’s our responsibility to document the heartfelt moments that fill our clients’ day, while also capturing the details they so thoughtfully chose.

Our clients have a wedding day vision. They know the vibe they long for, the look they desire, the people they want to celebrate with and the moments they wish to experience. As they plan for this dream day to become a reality, they are faced with endless decisions from the location of their ceremony and song they want to accompany their first dance, to the texture of the table linens and colors of the floral arrangments. Each detail is personally chosen to build the day they’ve dreamed of for so long.

A detail that can be challenging to photograph is the couple’s stationery suite. This set of paper goods was chosen as the first impression. They carefully decided upon the paper quality, design elements, font styles and message, then sent them along to wow their friends and family in anticipation for their wedding. So how do we celebrate the uniqueness of their stationery through a photograph? Here are three helpful tips!

1 // ADD DIMENSION – Paper is flat, that’s no secret. Therefore when we photograph wedding stationery, the overall image can also turn out rather flat and creatively dull. So how do we fix this? How do we add that creative depth we long for back into the frame so that we can really showcase this beautiful collection? The answer is – We choose a location that allows us to leverage natural light, and then literally create the interest we long for by placing items under the stationery and embracing the look of shadows.

After finding a piece of furniture, chunk of fabric, or section of cool flooring near a window, I’ll then grab a lens cap, a small picture frame from the table, my phone – or whatever is around – and place that item beneath a piece of stationery. This approach will do two things – 1) allow the window’s light to bounce itself more creatively throughout the stationery pieces from a controlled direction, letting on shadows and highlighting detail such as letterpress impressions, and 2) add different distances between my camera and each stationery piece so that the final image looks more dimensional and interesting to the eye.

2 // STYLE WITH RELATED DETAILS – When will my clients actually use this image? Usually the answer is in their wedding album alongside other images from the day. I then think like a wedding album (if wedding albums could think?) and ask myself how can I incorporate other details that align with the style and aesthetic of my clients’ wedding, so that the design flows seamlessly through the album’s pages. Items I’ll usually grab include…

Wedding rings or other bridal jewelry // Ring box or dish // Ribbon or string // Florals & greenery (which I either pull from outside or retrieve from the floral designer) // Special heirlooms // Decor from the venue // Bride or bridesmaid’s gown // Viel or other piece of fabric // Interesting platter // Antique book // Bride or Groom gift // Stamps // and the list continues…

3 // ESTABLISH FRAME BALANCE – The stationery now has dimension and I’ve collected relevant design items. So, how do we arrange the pieces to look nice?

During my workshops and mentor sessions, I teach establishing frame balance with paper goods by asking the photographer to imagine an oval outline. I ask them to lay the stationery out first, then the styled pieces, working their way from that imaginary line inwards toward the center of the frame. Once the pieces are laid out, they revise – making sure that the weight of the items is evenly spread throughout the “oval”, while also paying close attention to keeping clean vertical and horizontal lines throughout. This approach really helps when you’re in a time crunch by streamlining your thought process a little bit, so that you can focus more on creativity and less on the clock.

[Behind the scenes photo by Brittany Medeiros]

BONUS TIPS

  • Photograph at a higher aperture to allow for more of the stationery print and fine detail to remain in focus.
  • Ask your couple in advance to bring along a copy of their full invitation suite along with any favorite stamps.
  • If you’re photographing a larger stationery suite, I recommend using a 35mm lens. (This one is my favorite: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 II USM Lens)
  • After taking a photograph of the full suite straight on, get closer to the stationery with a macro lens (I love my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens) or 50mm (My best buddy the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens) directed at an angle and snap away while moving around your styled suite for those desired close ups!
  • Practice at home so you can become more comfortable with styling skills! Use any cards laying around your house and pull the images onto your computer so you can critique your results and measure your progress.

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March 9, 2017

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