September 22, 2011

Pancake Session: Shooting Details

It’s pancake day on the blog! So grab your maple syrup and get ready for a heaping pile of piping hot pancakes!

I spent a lot of my time this year thinking about details, dreaming about details, and talking about details in preparation for our workshops. After ten Walk Throughs, I’ve also learned a ton about setting up and shooting details! So I thought I would dedicated today’s pancake session to all things details!! So here they are, my top 5 suggestions, for shooting the details at a wedding! I’ve chosen a picture from our Houston sneak peek to illustrate each one!

1. Don’t be afraid to style the scene
When I’m setting up a Walk Through, I already have a pretty good idea of what I want each table to look like. I have a list of what’s going on each table and in general how I want the pieces to interact. But once they are set up we often move things around to shoot them. This can be as simple as rotating something so it’s in better light to grabbing a bunch of details off of different tables to create an interesting grouping! When we are styling, we also make sure to remove distractions that might take away from the detail shot. Things like salt and pepper shakers, water bottles, purses, etc. Don’t be afraid to move things out of the way. Just don’t forget to put things back where you found them once you get your shot!

These seeds were our favors at the Houston stop. They were all lined up on a table with the seeds and flowers in jars surrounding them. When it came time to shoot the favors, we decided to style (and simplify) them a little bit more. We took one bag with a jar of seeds to a wall nearby where the light was better. We tried a few different combinations but this ended up being our favorite!

2. Accentuate the really cute/important details by having the bride and groom hold them!
Brides and grooms spend tons of time planning their details and most of them are super important to the couple! So it makes for some really good images when you choose one or more of their details and add them into your portraits of the day! And if there isn’t really anything to hold, you can find something! It can be a pretty red leaf or a wildflower picked from nearby!

We borrowed a fiddle as an extra detail for our reception in Houston. And it looked really neat sitting on the welcome table! But once we took it outside and took some portraits of the groom holding it, the fiddle really popped! And it made the portraits more unique to the couple and theme!

3. Don’t be afraid to use found details to help tell the story!
Natural scene setters are a great way to help tell the story of the day! Make sure to pay attention to the details that surround you, not just the ones that are set up at the reception! A unique aspect of the venue, a pretty tree outside, even some tall grass waving in the wind can make for some really good images!

Our venue in Houston had these really cool lanterns on the wall outside. They mix right into the other images we took from the day and also make the story we were telling more interesting!

4. Use the scene/background to tell help tell the story
Make sure to get some wide shots of all of the details together as well as the couple in the venue itself. Find a place in the venue that really embodies the feeling of the day and use it for portraits or for those little detail setups that I talked about in point number 1!

Our theme for Houston was “Cowboy Take Me Away” so we wanted to be sure to find a spot on the venue’s property where the vibe was “wild and free.” The trees in the background and bare ground beneath their feet really helped to capture the feeling we were going for.

5. Be sure to get in close
Small details can tell a big story. It’s nice to have the wide shot of the room and table, but don’t forget to take some interesting shots of details on their own in the environment they were placed. Sometimes table cloths have wrinkles, or there is just too much clutter to remove to get the shot you want! Don’t be afraid to get low so you don’t see much of the table cloth or the surrounding area. Focus on one small detail that really speaks to the wedding!

This jar of blueberry sticks was a small detail on a much larger dessert table. But this particular detail was really important to us, so we got low, and focused on it alone. It made for an interesting image and helped to enhance to the story we were telling!

I hope this helps!! If you have any questions, feel free to ask ’em in the box below and I’ll do my best to answer them! And don’t forget to pop a comment in the post from yesterday! I’ll be choosing the winner of the Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Pancake Mix tonight!


  1. ashley barnett

    I love this post! Thanks Julia :) I have been moving items away from the tables but never thought of taking small details somewhere where they would be photographed better anyway…or even outside into the bride and grooms hands! Needed this little creative push!

  2. Christina Dely

    All great tips! I will definitely keep them in mind for my wedding next week! Thanks!!!

  3. rich

    such great tips – your panckae session blog posts are so helpful!

  4. Suzy G

    Awesome, so needed this post. Love the pancake sessions. =)

  5. Jil

    awesome! way to rock the pancake session Julia!!

  6. Kristin Nicole

    I love it…great advice and such pretty shots.

  7. Sarah

    I am notorious for moving things around & styling it, but I am even more meticulous about putting it back just as I found it. I’m going to make an effort to incorporate more details in the portraits, that just makes sense! Great post as usual..AND, I’ll be seeing you guys at the DC smug meeting!

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