It is important to avoid the bride standing square in front of the camera. Turn her slightly to one side, perhaps 30 to 45 degrees away from the camera, and then ask her to turn her head back towards the photographer. This narrows her body and emphasizes the shape of her bust, waist and hips. When people are being photographed, and when they are tense, the shoulders are often raised. The bride should therefore also be encouraged to relax her shoulders and let them drop naturally to a lower position. This gives the appearance of a longer and more elegant neck, slightly narrower shoulders, and a generally more relaxed subject.
Less experienced photographers sometimes say that the bride's foot position is unimportant because most wedding gowns cover the her feet, but this misses the point about the consequent shape of the body. Photographers should avoid allowing the bride to stand with her feet together and the toes and heels of both feet on the ground. Her nearer foot should be pointed towards the camera, and her farther foot turned away by about 45 degrees. In some instances, she might be encouraged to point her leading foot downwards so only the toe of her shoe touches the ground. Her weight should be transferred to her back foot, which will cause her hip to move significantly. Her body will then adopt a more curvaceous and attractive shape. However, the effect should be subtle and certainly not exaggerated. The bride's position must be elegant, even a little sexy, but should retain a modest innocence.
The bride's arms should generally be held just slightly away from her body, so creating a small but visible gap that has the effect of slimming her torso. This position also makes more apparent the narrowing of her figure towards her waist. If her arms are tight against her sides, the eye tends to see a wider body as her torso and arms merge, which is less flattering. Only a very slim bride should be allowed to ignore this advice. Although the separation of her arms from her torso may not be so visible when she is turned away from the camera, the position remains good practice. Larger upper arms appear somewhat slimmer when held marginally away from the body. The best way to achieve this is simply to ask the bride to move her elbows a little away from her body without raising her shoulders. Once again, the effect should be subtle and must look natural.
The best position for the bride's head is not easy to define in general terms. There are a number of considerations. If her body is inclined away from the camera, and she then turns her head back towards the photographer, the skin on side of her neck may wrinkle. This is best avoided, but may have to be accepted and minimized with all but the youngest brides. The effect can be reduced by asking her turn her body away from the camera to a lesser extent, so reducing the angle through which she must turn her head back. She might also be asked to incline her head slightly sideways towards her further shoulder. Any remaining wrinkles of skin may also be reduced by raising the chin a little, although this makes the chin more prominent and begins to reduce the emphasis on her eyes. If her neck position is not a problem, it may be better to ask her to lower her chin fractionally. This brings her eyes closer to the camera than her other facial features and consequently renders her eyes marginally larger and more prominent. Too much lowering of her chin may produce the beginning of a double chin. A good compromise position for the head, and certainly one worth trying, may be achieved by asking the bride to incline her head slightly sideways toward her further shoulder, and perhaps a little towards her back.
Large eyes usually enhance a portrait because the eyes are the points of contact when we communicate with other human beings. We therefore tend to be drawn to them in a photograph. Eyes which open wide may be seen as conveying innocence or sexual attractiveness in women. The shape of the eyes is also significant, particularly for close-up shots. The bride may consequently be encouraged to open her eyes widely, but caution should be exercised. As her eyes are forced wider, so her eyebrows will rise and her forehead wrinkle. These secondary effects are not usually desirable. The bride might therefore be better advised merely to avoid narrowing her eyes, and open them only to an extent that allows her forehead to remain relaxed. A bride who has naturally wide eyes should probably not be encouraged to extend them further. A bride with narrower eyes should be photographed away from bright light and harsh reflectors, and asked only to widen her eyes to a small extent. It is a difficult balance to achieve.
Spectacles represent a further problem. Ask the bride whether she can manage without her spectacles, and photograph her without them if she finds this acceptable. If she cannot manage without spectacles, ask her about contact lenses or non-glare lenses. Otherwise, try to avoid tilting spectacles upward because this rapidly increases the risk of reflections - particularly when using flash. If possible, ask the bride to lower her chin a little to avoid or reduce the reflection problem. Dark glasses are obviously undesirable because the eyes cannot be seen clearly. This may be a problem when photographing bride's in sunny or tropical locations, particularly on beaches. Transition lenses darken in bright light and are therefore to be avoided for the same reason.
The bride's hands should be positioned in a tidy but natural manner. This is easier said than done, particularly when she has nothing to hold. When empty handed, ask her to let her arms hang naturally from relaxed shoulders with her elbows just marginally bent. She might also try pulling the arm further from the camera back slightly, perhaps with a little more of a bend at the elbow. If she is holding a bouquet in one hand, ask her to use the hand further from the camera and let the nearer arm hang naturally with a slightly bent elbow. Her fingers should be allowed to adopt a natural relaxed curve, and her hand should be seen from the side to make it appear smaller. When she holds her bouquet with both hands, ask her to keep the bouquet low with her elbows slightly away from her hips. Indeed, her wrists should be on or near her hip-bones. Higher positions for her bouquet should generally be avoided, particularly in full-length shots.The bodice of a wedding gown is often very attractive, so there is no reason to hide it from view. The bride's bust and waistline also make significant contributions to her overall shape, so use them to full advantage. When her bouquet is held high, her arms form an near-horizontal line which cuts her body in half, and her elbows become sharply angled. These effects are undesirable.
When holding a bouquet, the bride should avoid clenched fist positions. Her hands, if visible, should be relaxed with a small separation between her index fingers and the other fingers of each hand. With the bouquet held in one hand, the other hand may be placed lightly across the back of the first. A key requirement is that her hands remain relaxed and comfortable.