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A great Q & A with Photographer Cierra Johnson of Southern Amore Studios!

You’ve said “Yes!” to your dream dress and can’t wait to wear it on your wedding day. But what if, instead of waiting til the day of, you could get dressed up and wear your dress for another special day? “Why? What for?,” you ask. For your bridal portrait session, of course!

Cierra dishes on the who|what|when|where|why of bridal portrait sessions. Read on to see if this type of photo shoot is right for you!


Q: What exactly *is* a bridal portrait session?
A: A bridal portrait session is a pre-wedding photography session of the bride in her full wedding day attire. We like to call it a private dress rehearsal!

Q: Tell us about the planning that goes into these sessions. Do they need to be super-structured or is spur of the moment better?
A: Every photographer is different, but I like to plan my bride’s session based on three things: her personality, her gown and her wedding theme. Bridals are more of a stylized shoot so you can be as creative or as simple as you’d like when planning – as long as it complements the bride’s personality.  Once the location is determined, it’s totally impulsive the day of! None of my brides are the same, so I shoot them to show who they are. No matter what, bridal sessions are fun because we are just a group of girls playing dress up, making memories. What girl doesn’t love that?!

Q: What type of bride would you recommend a bridal session for?
A: Every bride who purchases a wedding gown! Realistically though, not all brides may be interested in this type of session. I ask every bride a series of questions:
How important is your wedding gown to you?
Tell me about your gown…what made you say “yes!”?
How important is it to you to have portrait of yourself in your gown?  Asking a series of open ended questions allows us to determine if a bridal session is valuable to her or not.

Q: Some photographers consider Pinterest their best friend, others their worst enemy. What are your thoughts?
A: I think Pinterest is an amazing tool! When a client is having a hard time communicating her personal style, Pinterest is a great way for me to get a glimpse into who she is.  I usually suggest that she create a board of bridal portraits she likes to give me an idea of her style.

Q: What are the benefits of a bridal portrait session (outside of great photos!)?
A: The first, is that you actually get more than one day to wear the dress, lol! No, but seriously, a bridal session is like a dress rehearsal; it allows you to see yourself exactly as you will be on your big day. The benefits of this can be realizing you need alterations, different jewelry, different undergarments, a different hair style, etc – and then having time to fix these things.

Q: How far in advance of the wedding should these portraits be done?
A: I always recommend that my brides schedule their bridals at least two months prior to their wedding. This is enough time to accommodate possible weather related issues and allows time for product design and printing. This timeframe is also beneficial if there are alteration issues that arise during the session.

Q: Should the bride bring anyone with her to the session? Is there such a thing as too many people on the shoot?
A: Yes and Yes! I require that the bride bring at least two people with her, usually the maid of honor and her mother. Each person that comes along with the bride is given a special responsibility in ensuring that the bride’s session goes smoothly. There is such a thing as having too many people at a bridal session though. Too many opinions can be a major distraction for the bride and can really ruin the mood.

Q: Some brides might worry their dress will get dirty. How do you address this concern?
A: I knew this one was coming because this is the number one concern I get when booking bridal sessions. Having been a bride myself, I understand how important it is to keep the dress in tip-top shape during portrait sessions. I always strive for my brides not to need their gown cleaned before the wedding. I have a series of thick bed sheets that I bring along for bridal sessions to cover the dress when we are moving between photos and to create a barrier between the dress and the ground. We tuck the excess sheet under the hem of the gown so it is undetectable.


1. An elegant full body shot with all
accessories and her bouquet

2. A pose to showcase the back
of the gown along with the train

3. A closeup of the bride’s face
to show her beauty

4. A waist-up image of the bride
to showcase the upper details of the gown

5. Unique details that display the gown and the engagement ring together

6. An image that uniquely showcases the bride’s shoes

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