DIY portraiture

I’m fighting a block today…a writing block, that is. I just can’t think of anything to write about, which is a bummer, since I approached today’s post in the mood to dive into a topic. So instead of just posting a pic of a pretty dress, I’m going to let Rain and Peter do the talking for me.

Who are Rain and Peter, you ask? Two enterprising young folks who bravely donned their wedding attire and took self-portraits in Europe without working with any professionals. As they put it: “We were our own photographers, stylists, and models! Like most of you, we are not professional photographers or stylists. Peter was a software engineer and is now in graduate school. Rain is a software product manager.”


These lovely newlyweds created an easy-to-navigate web site that instructs readers on how to compose and shoot their own pro-look wedding portraits. Of course, they were lucky enough to stage theirs in Oxford, London, Paris, Versailles, and Loire, which I imagine goes a long way toward upping the class quotient of any photo. But the guidance they give will work anywhere in the world.

Here’s a sampling of the style, posing, packing, and shooting advice offered on their site:

We came up with the idea to have a mock trip: we put our gear and gown in a carry-on travelbag and pretended that we were taking photos on the road. We headed to the same college campus where we had our first shots. The campus, with its European style buildings and a gorgeous garden, is very similar to the places we would be visiting. It is an excellent playground for our rehearsal.

Time was very important not only during my trip but also on my wedding day. I tried to master a quick bridal makeup. This does not mean giving up quality. Instead, I practiced until I could remember and got familiar with every single step.

This is probably the simplest and most useful tip. The more you shot, the higher the chance of getting good pictures. This is especially true for people pictures. People are spontanuous. You never know when a smile is at its best, or when someone blinks.

When I was preparing for this project, I spent some time browsing plenty of wedding photos from the Internet and books. When I saw a good shot, I would ask myself the following questions to analyze the photo and reverse-engineer it: What elements make this picture good? What is in the background? How did they pose? How did the environment relate to the couple?

At home, I identified these angles by posing in front of a large mirror. I would adopt a particular expression and pose, and then rotated to see myself from right to left, and tilted my head at different angles. This helped me not only to identify my more photogenic parts, but also helped me feel more natural and comfortable in front of a camera.

Now go check out their albums and see how wonderful DIY can be. Meanwhile, I’ll be studying their advice so The Beard and I can get our photo on post wedding!

4 Responses to “DIY portraiture”

  1. Toni says:

    My husband and I frequently take self-portraits. The three most important things are a tripod, a remote, and a willingness to feel like goodballs in front of the camera. It can be hard to “pose” when you’re posing for a tripod. This photo was taken in our backyard, and this one was taken at the Grand Canyon. Yes, we hiked the Canyon carrying a tripod. Of course, we usually end up with lots of shots like this.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    Wow, Toni, those are great!

  3. Toni says:


    Whoops. Let me try that Grand Canyon link again.

  4. Olivia says:

    Very well thought out and executed. Wondering if they also executive-produced their wedding video. While it isn’t possible to actually videotape your own wedding, you can still do-it-yourself with near-professional results. Just takes a little thought, planning and communication. Great way to save BIG BUCKS!