We talk to photographer Polly Alexandre about the importance of a pre wedding shoot and take a look at the photographs she took for wedding dress designer Charlotte Balbier and her partner Teddy.
Why are pre wedding shoots becoming so popular?
Several reasons…in this image conscious time we live in, people use and share images of themselves across platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a daily basis. Brides in their twenties have grown up with these technologies and are very image aware. They value photography and love the opportunity to share who they are, and their style, through photo shoots. They know from seeing images of celebrities in the media, what a difference professional images can make.
Photographs are very powerful - now more than ever - and are a visual record of the people and the things you love. They freeze a memory in time - so the moment can be enjoyed again and again. Having your relationship and your love celebrated in images in this way can be very powerful. My clients love to frame their images for their homes, and order beautiful albums and wall images. The pre wedding shoot images may also be used for a guestbook for guests to sign at the wedding, or for clients who order them to be displayed at the wedding in albums or slideshows.
There is a big trend in Asia of couples taking their pre wedding shoot very seriously…it's a full production and involves hair and make-up artists, stylist and even sometimes, actual sets! Some of the more international style savvy couples have now started travelling to shoots in Europe - Paris, London, Italy….. and commissioning European photographers to create their shoot. Hair and make-up artists and multiple outfit changes are involved and the bride to be will shop especially for her shoot. Sometimes the location is chosen because the couple went to university there. In many instances however it's a way of creating recording a magical and memorable trip, with the best souvenir ever…. their own photo-shoot to take home. In Asian weddings these are displayed at the wedding itself for guests to enjoy and admire. In the US the bridal shoot - a pre wedding shoot with the bride only in her dress - is a long standing tradition, and the US market too now has an established pre wedding shoot market.
In the UK pre wedding shoots have been done for a while as they are a great opportunity for the couple, to get used to being in front of the camera before their big day. Like anything practicing helps take away any nerves, and once the couple see they can look great in professional photographs, they are more relaxed about the wedding pictures.
Please can you tell us a little bit about Charlotte Balbier’s pre wedding shoot in Ibiza?
Charlotte and Teddy planned a September break to Ibiza, a couple of months prior to the wedding and it gave them much needed break and the chance to spend some quality time together away from the pressures of work and wed min! The weather is beautiful in Ibiza then and the intense heat and crowds of August have passed. It's a place Charlotte adores, and she knew it would be perfect for both the break and the shoot.
Why is it so important to bond with your photographer before the wedding day?
Weddings are a big deal, and often the first time British couples have been photographed professionally (at least since school!) so having a shoot before the big day it helps get over any nerves or fears about being photographed. Their confidence grows when they see they can look great - and indeed, love images of themselves.
The pre wedding shoot also helps the photographer get to know the couple better, see how they interact and get a sense of their personality, which they can then bring to the way they capture their wedding. Every shoot I do is tailored to each couple - no two shoots are the same, and it's the same with weddings.
The photographer is also around the bride and groom all day so it’s important they feel comfortable and relaxed with the one person who will be around them all day….the better you know each other the more fun and enjoyable and relaxed the process will be. I am very much at the artistic end of photography and at the more I know the couple the more I can work with this in terms of how I capture their wedding.
Why is it important to pick a place that is special to the couple?
It is up to the clients if they wish to choose somewhere significant to the couple - many leave it up to me, and I advise on where makes a great backdrop, with good light, and would be a nice relaxed location for a shoot.
How can the break bring a couple closer together?
The break gives the couple a chance to spend quality time together in the lead up to the wedding, which with all the preparations, usually means all the weekends get taken over by wed min! Reconnecting just the two of you, away from the pressures of everyday life, is chance to fall in love all over again, and remember how much fun you have together, relax and laugh together and have catch a romantic sunset or two. It’s especially precious to do this in the lead up to the wedding.
What sort of shots can be expected of a pre wedding shoot?
Relaxed, intimate, shots of my clients in love and being their most beautiful selves….happy, having fun, being authentic and who they are. Stylish, flattering and evocative.
What is the process of organising the pre wedding snaps and getting the shots ready before the wedding?
When clients come out to Ibiza for their pre wedding shoot I can help them with recommendations for where to stay and what to do, and with what to wear for their shoot. I can arrange hair and make-up artists who come to their hotel to ensure they look and feel their best.