The first dance is a very traditional part of a wedding day – I’ve been to a few where the happy couple don’t have the first dance, but 90% of the time there is a first dance – or as I like to call it the ‘first shuffle’
The first dance is often the last ‘traditional’ bit of a wedding and the majority of couples I have photographed really don’t like the first dance.
They don’t like the attention it brings but I always offer the same advice to every couple; start off with just the bride and groom and then after a minute or so, start to grab other couples and get them up on the dance floor and before you know it, everyone’s up, joining in and the happy couple can relax!
The first dance can be very challenging to photograph, it’s often dark, dark and really dark!
I sometimes use flash for the first dance, mostly a simple on-camera flash set-up, but sometimes it’s nice to change it up and go off-camera flash – but you have to really make sure that you don’t kill the feel of the moment and that you are only adding in flash to add a little light to the couple and not to light the room.
Another potential problem with the first dance is… disco lights! these things can kill an amazing photo. When the light hits the skin of a person it can blow out and leave harsh highlights on the face; worse still when photographing in colour – you get the colour of the disco lights on the faces, dress and suit – it looks shite;
I will always speak to the DJ and ask them for the first dance to try and turn down the rave lights, most will turn off the overhead lights that bounce around the room, but some just forget so you have to make do!
The first dance doesn’t have to be inside the venue, I love it when a couple thinks outside the box and they do things a little differently. Olivia and Ian decided that they were going to have their wedding first dance in the park next to Bridgford Hall where they got married.
The shot below is a favourite first dance shot and was taken at the wedding of Jack and Sarah – I love the depth of the picture and the fact that they are surrounded by their friends.
Whilst the first dance is going on, I am always on the lookout for people’s reactions, I love seeing people getting carried away with emotion at their son, daughter, brother, sister or best friend dancing their first dance on their wedding day.
I love it when you can see people straining to get a better view and I love it when people watch the first dance in person and not through their mobile phone…
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