The 10 minute portrait session

Generally speaking myself and the couple will allocate a realistic amount of time for the creative portraits on their wedding day. But things don't always go to plan. So what happens when the schedule changes last minute and you can only allocate 10 minutes to these portraits?

Well, last week I was confronted with this exact situation.


The plan was to take the portraits in between the first look and the ceremony.

Now we had agreed on a location for the first look since the test photoshoot. Test shoots are actually great for that reason. Not only does it act as a way of breaking the ice with the couple. But I’m able to get an idea of what they like and dislike and it gives me the time to scout the area for potential areas to take portraits on their wedding day. While scouting the area before their test shoot (I always arrive 30 minutes to an hour early to scout) I came across a lovely secluded alcove on the church grounds and we agreed to take the first look photos there.

Anyway, I met the groom at the agreed location. Now I should say that first looks generally last no longer than a minute once they start. It’s the arranging and waiting for all the elements to come into play that can take time. In this case the bride let me know that she was going to be late. No big deal. It gave me and the groom an opportunity to chat while also allowing me to make mental notes of areas in and around the alcove to take portraits after the first look, as I had a feeling that we would be pressed for time.

After a while I got the go ahead and the first look started. She walked down the long pathway leading to her future husband.

The groom could hear foot steps on the pavement and started to smile as he realised who was coming. A few people has previously walked by during our wait, but I never told him who was coming to keep some suspense in the air :p

He turned towards her and they looked at each other and smiled, then laughed, then kissed. I could see them both relax and just enjoy having a moment to themselves. Once the first look was over and they had their moment together I suggested that we move onto the portraits.


This is where the count down started to kick in as we knew we didn’t have much time. Still I didn’t want to rush things because if they felt rushed or stressed it would show in the photos. Time to take photos and capture the images that I made in my head during the wait.


Time - 14:22

I didn’t want things to feel rushed so I let them sit down and talk among themselves while I took photos. I snapped a few photos until I felt happy with what I captured. Time to move in closer for some more intimate shots.


Time - 14:23

I let the couple stay in the same position, but I moved in closer and took some photos. I asked the bride to look towards the camera while they still interacted with each other.


Time - 14:36

Happy with my previous photos I asked the couple to stand a bit off to the side while I tried to frame the next photo that was in my head. As I was trying to decide where exactly to position the couple I noticed the light change and create a lovely backdrop behind them, so I abandoned my idea and without telling them I took more photos as they were chatting amongst themselves. Then they spotted me taking photos I got them to pose a little before moving on.


Time - 14:29

We decided to leave the secluded area and walk to another area that we used for the test shoot. But as we were leaving I asked them to pose in the exact area where the first look took place. However this time I would be looking from the opposite direction. I kept my distance and let the trees wrap around them while gently directing them into poses.


On the way to the other area we noticed a lot of guests arriving so we called an end to the portraits as there was a good chance that they would be spotted before the ceremony.

All in all, the portraits lasted less than 10 minutes.

However we were only able to pull this off for a few reasons. I had prepared before hand by scouting (during the test shoot & before the first look) and making mental notes of all the areas where I wanted to take photos. Without the preparation these photos would have taken a lot longer.

But one of the key elements was that the couple were extremely relaxed in front of the camera. Yes they were nervous as most people would be. But they were over the moon to see one another I think it showed in the photos.


Now the brief for this wedding was to focus more on candid photos of guests mingling, but because I only managed to take portraits in a few different settings I decided to try and grab a few more through out the day. Just to be sure I had enough.

After the ceremony and a bunch of mingling and family portraits, I took a photo of them leaving in their car, heading towards the reception.


Just before I was about to head home after my time was up I asked the couple if they wanted to do one last portrait. We walked towards the pier beside the reception and took a handful of photos before congratulating them once again and heading home.


Not a huge amount of portraits, but I was happy with what I captured and grateful that I had such a relaxed and friendly couple to photograph.