Parent dances, such as the mother-son dance and father-daughter dance, are critical events during most wedding receptions. They are opportunities to capture beautiful, emotional moments that showcase key relationships in your client’s lives. They also give photographers plenty of opportunities to showcase their creativity with interesting compositions, impactful lighting, and more. To help you take better parent dance photos, here are six essential tips.
The following images are provided by the wedding photographers at Wedding Maps and used with their permission.
Plan and PrepareAs with other events during the shoot, communication is key. During your wedding talk-through, discuss the nature of the parent dances. Will they be slow dances or choreographed spectacles? Understanding this helps you prepare for the kind of shots you'll take.
Also, ask about the duration of the dance to ensure you don’t miss out on any moment. For shorter dances, consider leaning more towards safe shots and a single lens. For longer dances, you have more freedom and flexibility to get creative and even change lenses. Lastly, always check for any planned surprises. Being in the loop ensures you're always ready to capture unexpected, poignant moments.
Here are a few common variations to plan for.
Mother-Son and Father-Daughter Dances at the Same Time
Understand and Assign Roles
If you have multiple photographers, assign each photographer a specific role. For example, you might have your second shooter stay on the middle angle, capturing the standard photos while you, the lead shooter, roam for more creative shots.
Use a Wide Angle Lens
A wide angle lens allows you to zoom out and encapsulate the entire environment. This provides context and showcases the scale of the venue, giving viewers a full perspective of the dance floor and the emotions surrounding it.
Zoom in Close
While capturing the grandeur is essential, the heart of these dances lies in the intimate moments. Zooming in allows you to capture the subtle emotions — the teary eyes, the tight grips, and the beaming smiles.
Consider Using a Wide Angle Lens Up Close
Marrying the two approaches above, consider getting close with a wide angle lens. This offers a more intimate and dynamic view, capturing the energy of the dance. However, remember to be unobtrusive, especially keeping in mind the audience and the videography team.
Expose for Your Backgrounds
Backgrounds should never be an afterthought. Ensure they're properly exposed and not overpowered by flash.
Use the Appropriate Lighting TechniquesThe best lighting technique will depend on your photography style, the scene, and the overall mood that you envision. Here are some common interesting lighting techniques to consider.
Soft, Diffused Off-Camera Flash: This lighting method provides a gentle illumination, highlighting subjects without creating harsh shadows.
Natural Daylight: If the reception is during the day, leverage the golden hues of natural sunlight for a warm, ethereal glow.
Flash as Spotlight: Use flash to accentuate the dancing pair, making them the focal point against a softer background.
Ambient Lighting: The inherent lighting of the reception can lend a moody, atmospheric aura to the photographs.
Get Creative With Your Vantage Points and Compositions
The angle of your shot can significantly influence the story it tells.
Side Angle: This perspective ensures both dancers' expressions are captured, immortalizing their shared emotions.
Higher Vantage Point: Consider photographing from elevated positions like balconies for a bird's eye view.
Foreground Elements: Incorporating elements like flowers or decorations adds depth and intrigue to the photographs.
Viewer Reactions: Moments like the bride’s reaction to the mother-son dance can be as moving as the dance itself. Don’t miss these.
Creative Compositions: Use techniques like negative space for an artistic touch, as you see in the image below. Other common compositional techniques for the parent dances are leading lines, symmetry, and rule of thirds.
Choose Your Backgrounds With Intent
A clean background highlights the subjects and perhaps a beautiful background, while shooting towards the audience captures both the dancers and the crowd reactions. Neither is necessarily better than the other, so the decision is based on your artistic and storytelling intent.
Here are a few more examples of parent dances for your inspiration.
Beyond these tips, always stay alert for other unique parent dance images and moments. Remember, each wedding and dance is unique, and the key lies in capturing the authenticity of emotions and the beauty of relationships. As a photographer, you're not just taking pictures; you're telling stories, and these tips will ensure they are tales worth revisiting. For more images and inspiration, see this parent dance article on Wedding Maps.