10 Worst Wedding Photo Shoot Cliches

By Lacey Hauptman

With the value that couples (your potential clients) attach to their precious wedding photos, it is easy to get carried away when it comes to copying every tried-and-tested pose out there that other wedding photographers tend to stick to.

But while it’s perfectly understandable to want to take the same token wedding shots every time to play it safe, there are certain ones that are so overused, so corny, and so totally cliché, people will end up cringing at the sight of them instead of applauding your incredibly flattering lighting setup or the crispness of your photos.

These days, most couples tend to shy away from the conventional and opt for more imaginative concepts for their own wedding shoots. Boring, overused wedding poses are not what they are looking for, and having those kinds of photos in your portfolio certainly won’t do you any favors or earn you more business.

Create a better portfolio and attract more clients by taking note of these wedding photo shoot clichés that you need to stay away from at all costs:

1. The Dip and Kiss

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This is a type of shot that was once adorable, but now makes other people want to roll their eyes due to overuse.

It comes in slight variations, like the couple kissing with their hands clasped, the bride’s bouquet covering the couple’s faces, or perhaps an overly exaggerated pose where the bride’s foot is kicked out like a can-can dancer as she is being dipped for that romantic kiss.

2. Groomsmen Helping the Groom Put On His Wedding Attire

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Come on, is this moment really worth shooting? What’s so special about the groom putting on his coat?

There are more creative ways to capture the unspeakable bond of brotherhood between the groom and his groomsmen other than this pose. It’s actually pretty weird too, because grown men don’t really help each other put on their clothes in real life, right?

The same goes for the bride—shots of the bridesmaids helping the bride put on her shoes or fix her veil is not the only way to convey sisterhood. Be more innovative.

3. Bride and Groom Holding Hands (and Staring Into Each Other’s Eyes)

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We’ve seen too much of this shot already, and if cutesy shots like this are not the couple’s thing, this pose can appear forced rather than sweet.

It’s hard enough to make couples who are not used to being professionally photographed feel comfortable with posing.

4. Couple Forming a Heart with Their Hands

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Can anything be cornier than this? They are getting married, aren’t they?

There’s no need to show that their hearts are now one through this pose.

5. Jumpshot of the Bride and Groom

17556048381_c5fcfab90a_hFlickr (Photo by Ly Thien Hoang / CC BY2.0)

Probably the most overused pose out of everything in this list. It was great when it first came out, but it soon got tiresome to look at after it’s been used and abused in almost every setting.

Besides, think of how difficult it would be for the bride to jump in her dress. Unless trashing the bridal dress is what you really intend to do, the shoot might just end up in disaster.

6. Shot of the Bride’s Shoes

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Unless these shoes are incredibly significant to the couple, there’s no point in giving them a special photo shoot all to themselves.

If the bride really wants to have her shoes in the photos, photograph them while she is already wearing them on her feet, and use creative poses to make the shots look more interesting (and not like she’s just trying to show off her shoes).

7. Couple Posing Behind an Empty Frame

19735676755_8740b35130_kFlickr (Photo by Prayitno / CC BY 2.0)

Again, there are many other fun and creative poses that won’t make people cringe upon seeing your photos. So just leave the empty gold frame at home when you set out for your next wedding shoot.

It’s okay to bring props, of course, but make sure to choose ones that actually make sense for the couple you are shooting.

This idea might have been fresh and innovative at one point, but now it’s just terribly cliché.

8. Black and White Photos with a Pop of Color

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What’s worse than mindlessly editing photos into black and white? Adding a pop of color to random objects in the photo.

Not only is this technique overused, but it also makes the photos look incredibly tacky and makes you look like a complete Photoshop newbie.

9. Wedding Dress on a Hanger

dress-349675_1920Sure, this is a classic shot, but have you ever noticed how unsightly the hanger of the dress looks in this shot? Better shoot it while the bride is wearing it instead.

Need some inspiration? Take a cue from the many wedding dress shoot ideas out there. Just please stay away from taking a photo of it on a hanger.

10. Weddings Rings on Random Things

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Sure, it’s important for the bride and groom to have a photo of their wedding rings—but let’s use some imagination here. It’s always the same shot: the rings stacked one on top of the other, carefully placed on some random object.

The most commonly used for this token wedding shot are wedding invitations, Bibles, or the bride’s bouquet. And unless your chosen object or background holds something really special for the couple, it’s probably better to just avoid it altogether.

As a wedding photographer, you are able to perceive things differently.

Use that skill to tap into your creative juices and come up with one-of-a-kind themes and concepts for all of your wedding photo shoots.

Ask the couple what they like and which places and objects are significant to them. From there, you can come up with shots that are uniquely their own without relying on cookie-cutter ones to carry you through.

What’s your favorite cliché wedding photo?

lacey-hauptmanLacey Hauptman is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and stay-at-home mom, as well as an animal lover, a frustrated fashionista, a hopeless romantic, and a Harry Potter nerd. When she’s not fulfilling her wife and mom duties, she enjoys reading YA fiction (which she’s probably too old for) or writing stories, poems, essays, and more.

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9 thoughts on “Top 10 Wedding Photo Shoot Clichés to Stay Away From”

  1. Brian says:

    “As a wedding photographer, you are able to perceive things differently.

    Use that skill to tap into your creative juices and come up with one-of-a-kind themes and concepts for all of your wedding photo shoots.”

    One of a kind themes every time? Get in the real world…

    Then why don’t you show that same skill as a writer, instead of throwing together some quick and easy to get on somebodies blog?

  2. Pam Rolley says:

    In or out, on or off trend, budget high or low, amateur or professional, posed or candid – there’s no magic formula – just one element captures the day and it’s the emotion. If you have the eye, become engaged, and can capture the emotion, then the most ordinary becomes extraordinary.

  3. Josey S says:

    As a wedding planner I LOVE this article. First read finds me feeling a bit defensive, wait… I have pictures of my dress hangin and my shoes and a dip… But after I recover I remember that was 3 years ago, right as pinning a wedding board was catching on and videography was only a little more than Uncle Jim with a camcorder.

    My point? Everything else in the wedding business grows and evolves and matures, why should photographers feel immune? Think about the first photobooths (hello mall movie theater, right next to the tattoo machine), or how about wedding dresses themselves? I mean, if we didn’t change with the times we’d all still be getting married in the church we were baptized in with a reception to follow in the basement. Decor? Forget about it, food that isn’t potluck friendly? What do you think the budget is!?!

    See what I’m saying? We will all have those ‘behind the trends’ brides and that’s fine, but even a burlap and lace wedding can be elevated in retrospect with some stunning candid photos, which equals memories, better memories.

    Kudos Lacey, your exactly the type of photographer I recommend to my brides and grooms, one that is passionate about photography, one that shows up and shows off in print.

    1. Joel says:

      Josey, I don’t think Lacey is a professional photographer in any capacity, least of all weddings. I can’t find any evidence of it anywhere on the Internet. Just because she writes about it doesn’t mean she understands it.

      That’s what’s scary about this article: anyone could’ve written it (you really think this is the first piece on cliche photos?) The definition of trend is something that has already been done. So being “off trend” by nature makes me the very thing brides claim to want — different.

      Also you think she’s great but right after she tells you not to get pictures of the dress hanging, she links to an article suggesting you do it.

      Also, nobody in support of this article can provide a simple logical alternative to photographing the guys helping the groom get ready. This can sometimes take the majority of the time, so while I’m paid to be there, should I just keep my camera off that whole time? Lacey’s not telling us to do it differently, which I do. She’s telling us NOT TO DO IT.

      And don’t forget “grown men don’t really help each other put on their clothes in real life, right?”

      If she can publish that, then I can publish Stephanie’s not a professional, Jeff doesn’t know marketing, and neither of them were ever in the wedding business because now we’re just making things up for reactions and I thought this blog was better than that.

  4. Jean Neuhart says:

    “Groomsmen helping the groom put on his wedding attire.” “What’s so special about the groom putting on his coat?” Um, because it’s THE GROOM! What makes this type of photo any different from a pic of the bride getting her makeup done?

    What one person thinks is cliché, another thinks is fabulous. This is so subjective.

  5. Joel says:

    A lot of the most successful photographers in the world do these shots. My main problem with the article isn’t that. It’s with the way it’s written, the apparent lack of thought and understanding, the unprofessional tone and who’s writing it.

    I Googled the author and could barely find two articles she’s written and nothing in her profile information that qualifies her to write two words on weddings, let alone wedding photography. Her Twitter feed is locked and she has 52 followers in apparently seven years as a freelance writer.

    Lacey’s article contradicts itself. In her section “Wedding Dress on a Hangar,” there’s a link to “Wedding Dress Shoot Ideas” in which *shots on a hangar* are a featured suggestion because they’re “so popular.” That’s not to mention the suggested shots also include being fussed over by bridesmaids and picked up (similar to a dip), two other things Lacey’s article says not to do.

    Some lines make me wonder if Lacey has ever seen a wedding — for example, the whole section 2, specifically, “Men don’t really help each other put on their clothes in real life, right?” It doesn’t take a lot of wedding experience to see they do. When it happens, I’m going to photograph it.

    Lacey is also saying there are better things to photograph than bridesmaids fussing over the bride. Not according to most brides and best-in-world photographers (i.e. Yervant, Ghionis according their collections of industry hardware), however. In some form or another, brides want those shots, and by contrast can you imagine standing around doing nothing while those moments are happening, like when they put the veil on you put the camera *down*?

    Not only that, my inspiration for bride preparation shots, and I think the inspiration of a lot of photographers, goes much deeper than what Lacey’s article is covering. Think “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli. Think paintings of queens and hand maidens. Where Lacey sees corn, I see the potential for legendary art and story that have real meaning to the bride, her family and friends.

    Language like “makes you look like a complete Photoshop newbie” — not just a newbie, but a complete one — unnecessarily demeans anyone who does a spot color shot. And I doubt anyone truly new to Photoshop could do it. I did one two years ago and it’s one of the couple’s favorites. It’s one of probably only two spot color shots I’ve done for weddings, but when it works, it works.

    To her credit, Lacey does say “adding a pop of color to random objects,” which I would agree should be more than random, but that’s not what the section header suggests, and if you have to open an image in Photoshop, make it black-and-white, and then make a detailed selection of only certain areas of color, it’s not random.

    I’m also not sure the spot color technique is “overused” as I see only a minority of shots from a minority of photographers using it. It might actually be one of the least used obvious post-processing techniques.

    I know what it takes to craft a balanced, informative story that isn’t merely opinion. I’ve been published too. Thousands of times. I worked as a reporter and photojournalist. I put long, hard hours, interviews and research into my articles. I’m also a poet published in national literary magazines. I have a degree in writing.

    Lacey’s article doesn’t meet the basic requirements for publication. If I would have submitted such an article as hers to a local newspaper, they would have scolded me for poor tone, told me to offer more supporting facts and find a balance that would better serve the audience.

    My suggestion is to remove the article and let the author gain experience in the topic if she chooses before attempting to write a supported, balanced story worthy of publication.

  6. Michael Rose says:

    I think the only item on that list that I agree with is the heart shape with hands cliche, and even that, if it’s done right, can be useful and desirable. The jumping shot may also be a bit over-used…but everything else is used regularly for a reason. I wonder how many weddings Lacey has done. the detail shots are SOOO important. Just my two cents.

  7. When you see the work of someone like Jason Lanier and Joe Buissink you see how good some wedding photography can be and Jason does take many of these kinds of shots, the difference being that he can make it appear fresh and new. It is a lot easier to simply say “Don’t take these shots” than to offer alternate ideas and options. Yes some are way past their use-by-date but some are classic and it’s knowing which and which and when to use those and for which couple that separates the best from the rest.

  8. Bogdan says:

    Umm… not sure I agree with everything here. Apart from the obvious aspect of clients wanting such particular shots (which happens more often than not) there is one onservation I need to make. Almost every single male side of the bridal party struggles with ties and other accessories, resorting to YouTube tutorials and the like. More often than not they ARE helping eachother along the way with various pieces of wardrobe. Those are simple observations over more than a decade of photographing weddings.

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