How to get better photos of the groom and groomsmen

August 19, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

How do I get better photos of the groom and groomsmen?

wedding party photo Penn State Eisenhower Chapel I'm a photographer, and I've been to a lot of weddings. After a while, you start to see some patterns.

My clients often ask me (too late) what can we do to look better in our photos? It starts long before your wedding day. Venues and scenery can make for some amazing wedding portraits, but at the end of the day, it's you I'm taking pictures of, not the landscape or architecture.

Every bride agonizes over the dress, and rightly so. Men just don't seem to get it: clothes make the man.

As a photographer, it's my job to find the right settings and poses to make you look good, and I will. One thing I can't do is change your wardrobe.

With rented tuxes, you don't have a lot of choices, but you can certainly make better decisions and instruct the rental agent on how you want the jacket and slacks to fit. Make sure he does it, too. For companies that are in the business of formal wear for special occasions, you'd be surprised how lax their standards are.

Double--or triple--check the fit. Fifteen minutes before my own wedding, I didn't have a shirt that fit, even though I had checked it a few days earlier at the shop. True story, but we'll save that for another blog post!

Here are my suggestions to make the guys in your wedding photos look measurably better - with almost no effort required.

The ill-Fitting Tuxedo Jacket

wedding tuxedo jacket too small A bad fit on your jacket is the #1 thing you can screw up if you want to look shabby on your wedding day.

Too big and you look like you're wearing your older brother's hand-me-downs. Too small, and you look like you've been stuffed into a sausage casing. A jacket that's too small can ruin your photos altogether. It bunches up and forms all kinds of pulls and wrinkles that cannot be fixed in Photoshop with any reasonable amount of effort.

The #1 issue I see with jackets is that there isn't enough room in the shoulders. This causes the jacket to bunch up and create all manner of ugly puffs and wrinkles.

For example, the jacket on the left is a bit too small. Note that it pulls on the buttons and creates a snag on the lapel, also the sleeves are wrinkled. Other photos I have from this wedding show that there just isn't enough room in the shoulders and upper sleeves.

For the shoulders, you should have enough room to comfortably reach in front of you, for example, as if you were eating dinner...which you will be doing; or dancing, which you will also be doing. You will be moving around a lot, reaching, wrapping your arms around your new wife, reaching over, bending. Make sure you have the room to do that.

The #2 issue I see is sleeve length. They are usually too long. With your hands at your sides, the sleeves should fall about an inch below your wrists, or just about where your thumb starts. Your shirt should stick out about a bit, too.

Consider Buying

You spend thousands on the dress, so why not buy the tuxedo? If you make a classic choice, it's likely that you can use that tux again. Having a tailored jacket and pants makes all the difference in photos, and tuxedos don't cost any more than a decent suit. Think about it. You'll spend thousands of dollars on photos that are going to be hanging on your wall and passed onto the next generation. What is it worth to look your best?

Droopy Pants

bad tuxedo pants It's rare when I see proper hems on men's pants. They are almost always too long; often by four or more inches. This looks terrible in photos, and it's very difficult to fix in Photoshop. Have the inseam measured accurately, with the pants where they will actually be worn, as opposed to "up on the waist".

bad wedding pants A good hem will allow your pants to touch your shoe laces about halfway up your shoe with about an inch of "break". Don't be afraid of "high waters", or having the inseam a bit shorter. It'll look better than stepping on the back of your trousers every step...and you're less likely to trip.

Esquire magazine has a nice entry on how to make sure your suit fits. I agree with it, wholeheartedly!


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