It doesn’t. It shouldn’t be hanging out of windows or dangling from big chandeliers in the middle of staircases. In fact, the place your wedding dress really belongs is somewhere damn close to where you’ll put it on – probably your hotel room. Why? Because that’s the only place it makes any sense for it to be.
I see all these crazy photos of wedding dresses – inevitably taken before the bride puts it on, before she walks down the aisle, or sees her soon-to-be-spouse for the first time – in the most ridiculous of places. For some reason it recalls Dr. Seuss – would you wear it in a tree? Would you wear it by the sea? Would you wear it on the stairs? Would you wear it freakin’ outside where it could get dirty as hell before you even get into the thing? No! So why do photographers insist on making “art” with this thing you’ve spent hundreds to thousands of dollars on?
Because it’s popular. A couple of people around the world do really cool stuff with the dress – artsy photos that maybe even their own clients liked. All the rest of us see that and think “hey cool, I want to take artsy photos of the dress too!” and now tons of brides around the world are subjected to this outrageous practice of dragging this huge, beautiful, white thing outside for a “dress shot.” And yes, I’ve definitely heard horror stories about the dress getting dirty and/or irreparably stained through fault of the photographer. Yeah, it’s his fault because why the frack is the dress outside in the first place!? Plus, it’s just freakin’ creepy. A headless body hanging from chandeliers and light fixtures? Weird.
For almost everyone, their dress will be safe and sound. The photographer takes it outside, puts it in a godforsaken tree, takes it down with the utmost care. It looks just like it did when she took it outside. Except…. what the hell are you going to do with a photo of a dress in a tree? The major problem with this practice is it takes the photographer away from the action, away from the giddy getting-ready bit, to go do this silly, selfish thing that pretty much zero people would want. Even if the dress makes it back in the room unscathed, there’s still this question lingering in the air: why?
I must acknowledge the very moment I realized this was a ridiculous thing to do. I was at a local photographer meet up with wedding photo duo Justin and Mary giving a talk. They told the story of one wedding where they took the dress everywhere around the mansion, nothing was working, and eventually they just photographed it in the closet where they found it. That’s the image that made the album, because it was the only sensical place for the dress to be. Then and there I decided that I wouldn’t take these crazy “detail” photos anymore.What is anyone going to do with the dress-in-a-tree photo? For 99% of weddings, it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t add to the story.
The same can be said of any detail at the wedding, really. Shoes, jewelry, flowers, even the rings. If we put them somewhere nonsensical, it’s not going to add to the story, but instead confuse. Why on earth were those shoes in that light fixture? Let’s keep it real, people. Shoes go on feet. And wedding dresses go on brides. Anything else is just silly.
[And a disclaimer, of course: I have - just one time - photographed a dress in a tree. And it's in my sample album, that I show every single couple I meet with. So if you are a client of mine, you've almost certainly seen me show you a photo of a dress in a tree. But, hey, we all try out bad ideas some times and to my great relief, it actually made a bit of sense at this particular wedding.]