Considering a First Look

January 01, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Considering a First Look

What is a first look?

First look sessions are becoming increasingly more popular in the wedding industry. While less traditional than the standard "first look moment", they offer an excellent opportunity for candid portraits of the couple on their wedding day. We get a lot of couples who come to us for our ability to make portraits feel natural and unposed, and first looks are a huge advantage for us in this regard. Because it is less traditional, we try not to push them on anyone, we respect your beliefs and are more than comfortable covering your wedding in the way you envision. For those couples who are not familiar with what a first look is or are considering it, read on.

Traditionally, the first look moment occurs when the bride is being walked down the aisle to be given away. The groom is standing at the alter, and both see each other and, in a moment of sheer happiness, they both smile big (or sometimes cry!). This moment is often one of the bride's favorites. When we shoot traditional weddings, we can capture the groom's response as well as the bride's, but rarely are we able to capture both in a single image. The solution modern wedding photographers have developed is the first look.

Planning the session

During a first look session (see the images below), we scout out a meaningful or photogenic location to set up the first look. Generally, we have the groom facing away from where the bride will be coming and she comes up behind him to "surprise" him. Of course, he knows she's coming, but he has no idea what she will look like. Once the groom turns around, and they get to see each other for the first time, they usually end up sharing a personal moment. From there on, we get to cover a meaningful candid moment with the reactions of both couples accurately portrayed in a single portrait.

Many couples are sometimes concerned that this will have an effect on the reaction when the bride is being walked down the aisle, but we have not found this to be the case in any of the weddings we have shot. In most cases, the reaction to that moment is a completely different one, and both the bride and groom are still reacting, only instead of reacting to seeing each other for the first time, they are reacting to the reality that they are about to become husband and wife!

Benefits of a first look session

For couples who value their portrait sessions highly, we recommend the first look sessions for timing purposes. During traditional weddings, the portrait sessions are conducted during the cocktail hour. This usually means that photographers have about an hour to capture the family portraits, the wedding party portraits and the bridal portraits. If we divide those evenly, that's a mere 20 minutes for each session. By planning on a first look session, we are able to have nearly unlimited time for the bridal party portraits and the couple portraits because we are taking those before guests even arrive. All that is left after the ceremony are family portraits and then the couple can enjoy their cocktail hour for even more candid-stlye portraits of the couple fraternizing with guests and just generally relaxing. For venues which have a lot of places to shoot at or couples who would like to hit a couple locations for portraits, a first look is almost necessary.

Below we have included some photos from a recent first look session we conducted with a couple. We put these images together to tell a story and really illustrate how the first look sessions work, so we hope you will take some time and enjoy this intimate moment. If you want more information on first look sessions, you can send us a message on or contact page.

Sadie & Kyle



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