Brides, admit it: once that ring was on your finger you began searching for wedding inspiration online.  In your searches, I’m sure you came across the terms “real wedding” and “editorial shoot”.  You may have also seen “stylized shoot” or some other adjective describing the type of photo session you were viewing.  It’s time to take away the smoke and mirrors and talk about real weddings and editorial shoots.

Wedding blogs love showcasing real weddings – they share photos from a bride and grooms wedding day with their readers and all of these photos were taken on the actual wedding day!  Blogs and magazines also like to show you extra fancy images; things they call editorial shoots or stylized shoots.  These are sessions that, albeit beautiful, are as fake as Paris Hilton’s… well, her everything.

Is there anything wrong with editorial shoots?  No – only if you understand what it is you’re actually looking at and set your expectations accordingly.

I often have clients bring in tear outs from magazines or send me links to blog images saying that they want that particular shot.  Upon further investigation, 90% of those shots they love come from highly planned stylized shoots.  During a stylized shoot, the bride (more than likely a trained model) will have her makeup and hair prepped, be given an exquisite bouquet by a florist and will proceed to a set designed specifically for the event in question.  The set has been chosen for it’s style, lighting, architecture – all things that are important for a photograph.  The model then begins to work with the photographer, attempting various poses that she has refined over the years and the photographer can take all the time in the world to get the “best” shot.  The photographer brings in unlimited amounts of studio lighting and although that results in cords and battery packs scattered on the floor, the set is controlled entry so they don’t need to worry about a layperson tripping over anything.

Now that you know what an editorial shoot is all about, do you really think this can be mimicked on a real wedding day?

Editorial shoots aren’t bad – they result in beautiful images that are often used to sell products (like the dress the model of wearing) with great success.  Editorial shoots, however, should never be used to inspire a bride for real-life wedding day experiences.

If a bride and groom are looking for photos that resemble a stylized shoot, my suggestion is to either plan their wedding day around making the most out of their photography time or arranging for a post-wedding fine-art portrait session.

  1. Making the most out of your wedding photography: Plan ahead!  With some careful planning, you can maximize your wedding day for photographic opportunities.  Unless you’re having a multiple-day wedding event (which would allow for much more time for photos), there are many little tips and tricks you can follow in order to help you photos have more of a high-end or “editorial shoot” feel and you can read about them here and here.
  2. The post-wedding fine art portrait session:  What is this, you ask?  Well, you both get back into your fancy clothes, your hair and makeup is prepped by a professional and you spend the day with your wedding photographer without having to worry about attending a ceremony or headlining in the receiving line.
IMG 7404 2 - Real Weddings vs. Styled Shoots - Can You Tell the Difference?
In order to maximize their photo opportunities, Deb & Ryan took a creative approach to their scheduling and chose to take all of their photos before the ceremony (photo courtesy of yours truly!)

The wedding industry is filled with smoke and mirrors; couples are often made to feel like they must have certain things in order for their day to be a success.  Blogs, magazines, Pinterest – they’re all wonderful sources for wedding inspiration, but to my dear brides and grooms – please, please view these images wisely!  Always know what it is you’re looking at and find out whether it’s even possible to achieve such a thing on your wedding day.  You should never feel like you must have a certain thing or take a certain photo for your wedding day to be considered a success – self reflect on what you feel is important on your wedding day as this will lead to a truly fulfilling wedding day experience!

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Laura
April 5, 2013
I looked back at some of my wedding magazines after reading this and I'm shocked at how my eyes have been opened! It never dawned on me that the pics I was looking at might be fake... wow!!! New perspective!!!
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