The Hippo


Apr 19, 2019








BrideScapes by Stephanie Wales Creative Imagery.

Picture [im]perfect
Wedding photography that lets you be you

By Angie Sykeny

 Wedding photography has traditionally meant having the couple stand and smile for what seems like hours on end, their cheeks cramping as the photographer assembles them with every possible combination of their friends and family members. However, a growing number of couples are taking a more free-spirited approach to capturing their special occasion. 

Stephanie Wales owns and operates Stephanie Wales Creative Imagery out of Amherst with her husband Seth. She said she has noticed less demand for heavily edited and staged wedding photos and greater interest in a more authentic, natural look. 
“Most couples, even if they’re attractive and confident, they care how they look, so they can get very stiff in their wedding photos,” Wales said. “The pictures of them the next day, running around the beach, exhausted, hungover and with no makeup on — those end up being their favorite pictures.” 
In 2009, Wales launched her signature BrideScapes, a day-after wedding photo shoot set in a natural landscape with a theme unique to the couple. Past BrideScapes have included couples on a golf course,  in a body of water, at a seaside arcade, on the beach at sunset, riding a horse and riding a bike. 
While similar to the “trash the dress” trend in that the photos involve a location or activity that contrasts with formal wedding attire, BrideScapes is less about the shock factor and more about representing the couple and what makes them special. 
“It’s different from, ‘Let’s go roll around in mud and spray paint just to trash the dress.’ That’s a trend,” Wales said. “But a bride riding a horse because she’s an equestrian and a groom riding a bike because he’s a bike rider isn’t a trend. It’s more like, “This is who we are. We’re being silly and making a mess, but we’re being ourselves.”
Whether it’s trash-the-dress, a BrideScapes-type theme or another nontraditional wedding photography concept, a day-after shoot has many benefits, like flexibility with location. Unlike the wedding day, a separate shoot provides a more relaxed atmosphere. It helps the couple let their guard down and take more natural photos without the pressure of other people watching, and it allows the photographer to work more freely. 
“A wedding is this big scripted event where everything is planned, so with the photos, I think many couples like the idea of being able to relax and be themselves,” Wales said. “With a more personal shoot, they can really let loose and show who they are. Instead of [having them pose with] stiff wedding smiles, it’s more like, ‘OK, just go over there and be in love.’”
If you’re interested in using a creative alternative to conventional wedding photography, Wales says the best place to start is online. Browse some wedding albums for ideas and try to nail down exactly what you want so you can pitch it to a photographer. Finding the right photographer is crucial if you’re taking a more experimental route. If you’re viewing a photographer’s website and the gallery has nothing but cookie-cutter wedding photos, move on. Once you find a photographer who seems to have a creative eye, tell them about your wedding and what kinds of photos you want. Before you hire them, make sure they can explain to you exactly how the creative shots will be achieved. 
“It’s all about the artistic vision,” Wales said. “If you find someone with talent and a similar vision and their images resonate with you then let them do it.” 

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