4 Tips in Ensuring Beautiful Environmental Bridal Portraits

Brides today want more from their bridal portraits than just a photograph of them in the gown. Today's brides spend so much money on a gown, they want to be sure that they have photographs that capture them in beautiful settings in their gowns. They'll only wear their wedding gowns once, but want to remember the experience of what it felt like forever! 


Environmental portraits are the new trend. Taking the bride outside of a boring studio with a neutral backdrop and putting them in a location that not only shows them and their gown off, but provides a more stunning image than any studio could provide.   However, this can be challenging. Below you'll find my 4 key tips in getting a beautiful environmental portrait.

Remember, key things to think about in getting a beautiful environmental portrait is the location, the time, and most importantly, the RIGHT PHOTOGRAPHER! 


There are so many possibilities for environmental bridal portraits no matter where you live, big city or small town alike. Every large city has that signature land mark that you as a bride may want be photographed near as to associate yourself with your city.

For me, I love photographing my brides in nature. I choose beautiful trees and flower settings. It may seem like were in the woods, but we're really not. As I'm a wedding photographer based in Raleigh, North Carolina,  I love using the NC State Arboretum (of which I'm a member).

Shade: having shade is important to portraits. You don't want to be squinting in the bright sunshine, or have speckles of light all over your portrait to distract the viewer. You want your photographer to control the light to provide a superior portrait, while still enjoying being outdoors. 

Ask your photographer if he has "diffusers" and an assistant to help if necessary. This is important because many times, finding the perfect shade is difficult, but providing "man made shade" on the spot is easy, if you have the right equipment. 

Beautiful Background:  having a non distracting background is so important. This provides a compliment to the portrait, allowing you the bride to really stand out and "be the star!!!".  Another reason why I like using nature areas for my bridal portraits. Having the soft blur of green trees or muted flowers in the background provides for such beautiful portraits that can never be reproduced in the studio

  TIP 2: TIME 

Your photographer may suggest setting the time to be photographed late in the evening. Your first thoughts may be "he's just too busy during the day and just squeezing me in".  Nothing could be further from the truth!

The first thing any photographer should think about in doing an environmental portrait is "what will the light be like".  The best time to shoot someone is either either early in the morning or late in the evening.  As a bride doing her portrait, I'm sure you'll want your hair and makeup just perfect, so shooting in the evening is the right choice.

Picking a time later in the day towards the evening allows me to shoot when the sun is low, the light is soft and golden. This is the perfect time!

This is why I prefer to to my bridal shoots separate from the wedding day. First of all, their more relaxed and for me, I can have more fun with my bride making it a much better experience for her.  Most of all, we don't have a wedding timeline to worry about so we get to pick the perfect time for the perfect picture 


Are you nervous about posing for your portraits? There's no need to be!  In every session, I show my brides the 4 simple rules of posing that make for beautiful portraits.  By the way,  you should use these rules when your friends pull out their cell phones to take a snapshot of you,  you'll be amazed the difference it'll make! 

Rule 1:  Your head and shoulders should not be pointing in the same direction

Ever watch a female TV news reporter doing her stand up?  Ever notice that her body is pointing in one direction, but her head is just turned slightly towards the camera? 

This one move will remove 5 pounds on a woman to the camera and does a beautiful job flattering the female figure. Never have your head and shoulders pointing in the same direction.  The turning of the head doesn't have to be obvious,  just the slightest turn will make all the difference in the world!

Rule 2: Put your weight on one leg (usually your right leg).  

Turns and bends are what make for a pleasing portrait. Having a bent leg provides one of those bends.

Notice what happens when  you're standing and you put your weight on one leg (don't' stand on that leg, just shift your weight to that leg).  Your other leg naturally bends. You don't even have to think about it, your body just does it for you. That helps to set up any bride for a beautiful portrait.  Yes, I know, you may not see the bent leg under the gown. It doesn't' matter, it still positions your body for a beautiful portrait. 

Rule 3: If it bends, bend it! 

This rule goes along with rule 2. It's really about the question that I hear from my brides "what do I do with my arms?".  It simple, the one thing you don't want is to have your arms straight at your side. You want them bent, maybe on your hips,  touching an tree, holding your flowers. Angles always look beautiful on brides! 

Rule 4:  (MOST IMPORTANT)  Have FUN!!!

Doing your bridal portrait should be fun, not stressful! If you're enjoying yourself, it'll show in the photos you have. To make sure your having fun see TIP 4, the last and most important tip. 

TIP 4:  Pick the right photographer 

I've written earlier that's it's important to make sure that you use a photographer that you're comfortable with and like. Nothing can be more true when you're doing your bridal portrait. You want to be sure that you "click" together (that's will help you in having fun while doing the portrait session).

You want to also be sure that your photographer is experienced and comfortable with doing environmental portraits. Shooting outdoors is a different skill set, and takes patience and experience to do it correctly.  Choosing the right photographer is key! 


Selecting a photographer with Experience in environmental portraits is important!

Selecting the right photographer to capture your beauty as a bride outside in nature is important.  I've worked with many brides doing all my portraits outdoors, merging the beauty of nature with the beauty that every bride holds. I'd love to capture the same beauty for you!


Contact me  via the web  , via email  or by phone at 919-523-2018 for a very casual, no pressure, conversation on how I can capture your special day and provide you with those special images that invoke emotional memories for years to come! 

Let's Stay connected!