When brides first get engaged, they start with the big picture: venue, caterer, photographer, band, etc; but once they get those larger and important things squared away, they start to look to the smaller things that make and add to their day: the details. While these may be smaller on the scale of the wedding planning, I feel like they are just as important as the larger items of the day. The details a bride chooses for their day add to the artistic vision of their day and shares a lot of their personality. It’s really what makes each and every wedding unique. These details include their florals, reception decorations, but more what I’m talking about and blogging about today include even the smallest details down to the pair of earrings they wear. They have picked each of these items for a reason. They are important enough to them to be a part of their day, so I feel as photographers, we have a responsibility to capture these items for them.
For this reason, I educate my brides ahead of time through my Bridal Magazine and at our timeline meeting. I encourage my girls to put all of their detail items in a bag or box and have them all ready for me the day of when I show up to take pictures. I like to show up an hour to an hour and a half before portraits begin in order to allow me enough time to get these detail shots. These are some of my favorite pictures of the day mainly because it allows me to be creative and artistic.
What are these detail items I ask them to bring?
-rings (all 3 of them: engagement ring, her ring, and his ring)
-invitation suite (all parts of the invitation that get mailed out to guests)
-save the dates
-potential written vows
-heirloom items (grandmother’s broach, mom’s ring, etc.)
-any additional small and meaningful items to the couple
I love getting not only closeups of the rings, but also the earrings. Invitation suites are great backdrops for detail shots!I always get a wide shot or two of all of the detail items. In this shot, you can see my silk ribbon spool and the chiffon ribbon both used for Amber and Tyler’s wedding. NOTE: I always avoid addresses in the shots. The invitation suites often have RSVP addresses, so I encourage my brides to bring one without an address if possible; but if not, I just keep it covered in the shot.
I also bring my own Wedding Day Details Kit to weddings in order to add to these detail shots. Over the years I have added to my kit in order to add to the pretty details that the brides include.
So what are the items in my Kit?
–ring boxes– I have three cream colored ones of different shapes and sizes. Cream works as it is a neutral color that goes with almost every set of details my brides include. I love a Mrs. Box, but as a photographer, I can’t justify spending that much on their boxes, so I have purchased some from companies on Etsy and supported smaller business owners like myself.
–silk ribbon on a spool– I have a handful of colors of these that allow me to unroll and use for detail shots. I have a cream that I use most often, because, again, it’s neutral and works. I have a couple of other colors that often will work with what the bride has for her color scheme. My favorite place to order these items is Ling’s Moment.
–chiffon ribbon– Another purchase from Ling’s Moment, these chiffon ribbons are a perfect addition to a softer look with the details shots.
–decorative embroidery scissors– I recently ordered these to add to my detail shots. They are just a cute and different item that is something fun to add to the details. I won’t use them at every wedding, but I do think they will be a fun addition.
–white foam boards– I added these recently because I kept finding myself searching for good backdrops at the hotel room or getting ready space that weren’t always what I wanted for the detail shots. I don’t use these every wedding as I often do find something that works and matches the aesthetic theme of the day, but they are great to have, especially as reflectors to balance out the light in the picture
Throw the earrings, necklace, or other small detail items on the ring box for a different use of the ring box. I do this often with detail shots.
What gear do I use to get these pictures?
–Nikon D850– this is one of my two camera bodies I have. I use the D850 more recently for my detail shots- prior I used my D750 for these shots.
–Nikkor 55mm macro– I often get asked which lens I use for my details and when I share with photographers what I use, they are always shocked. This old school Nikkor 55mm macro lens is amazing and one that you can still buy today. This thing is 40+ years old. The last time they made my version is 1979, so this lens is older than me! Talk about a good quality lens! My version is a f3.5, and the newer one you can buy is a f2.8. My second shooter, Ben, gifted it to me some years ago as he no longer needed it. He bought it used (obviously) for $20 when he got it. It works like a modern day 105mm that most Nikon users (100mm for Canon) purchase for their detail shots. I had considered at one point in purchasing the 105mm, but why fix what isn’t broken? This lens rocks and takes excellent close up macro shots! It’s completely manual focus, which is fine with me as I like to be able to control the focus on the close up shots anyways. I highly recommend this lens to photographers who want a macro lens and don’t want to spend the $900 on the 105mm.
–Sigma Art 35mm– I use the 35mm for the wider shots that show all of the details in one shot. I only take a handful of shots with this lens. I also do dress shots with this lens.
How do I shoot my detail shots?
One mistake I used to make when shooting details shots was I shot my f stop wide open like I would on many of my shots during the day. This is a big mistake as you need to shoot at a higher f stop in order for your camera to be able to provide these sharp and in focus pictures. I learned years later that you need to shoot at a f3.5 or higher when shooting detail shots. Since my macro lens doesn’t go lower than f3.5, it works out for me that I’m not even tempted to go lower than that! Obviously, when you bring your f stop up, you need to compensate with your shutter and ISO to still get enough light into the picture. I typically shoot at a 200 shutter speed and bump up my ISO depending on how much light is in the room I’m shooting.
I try and find a large window to shoot near to allow the natural light to be used in the picture. If possible, I often take the whole kit and detail bag/box outside and find a spot with good light.
I love that Shannon and Robby included their elephants as they were an important part of their relationship. These are obviously not traditional items I include in detail shots, but they play an important part of their relationship, so they were a perfect addition to their detail shots!
If you’re a newer photographer and don’t have the money to invest in macro lenses or Detail Kits, that’s okay! I didn’t have any of this stuff in the first three years I shot! Use the lenses you have and take the shots you can get. A lot of photographers purchase macro lens adapters to put on their lenses to bring it up to a macro look. This is a cheaper option that allows you to still get decent macro shots while saving up for a macro lens. Add a couple of items to your Details Kit as you can.
Good luck as you develop your detail shots! Practice at home with your own stuff whether it be rings, jewelry, or it be your kids toys! Any practice helps you improve! And feel free to comment in the post and ask me any questions you have!
Play around with different designs. This is from the same wedding with the same detail items, but moved around and a wider vs a close up shot. This was shot with my 35mm to get a wider shot of the florals, shoes, and veil. I also took a close up of the shoes and veil without the florals.