Shooting the "Shoe" with Elisa Bricker
Here at Heirloom we have been long time friends and fans of Elisa Bricker. She has been photographing weddings for over a decade and creates the most stunning wedding imagery with classic and feminine details. We asked her about her styling process, how it has changed over time, and how she tackles that challenging “shoe shot.”
Did you always include flat lay images in your work?
When I first started, there was more of a emphasis on photojournalism, not inserting yourself into the image or changing its components. As I looked at my results I felt frustrated at times thinking about the ways it could have been better. The more I grew as a photographer, so more I considered the flat lay images I created a gift to my couples and their families. These items are usually chosen very thoughtfully and often include family heirlooms that deserve their own thoughtful portrait. I use my styling boards to photograph welcome gifts, the paper suite, shoes, bouquets, bridesmaid gifts, boutonnieres - for anything when you need a clean background!
Do you style your own details, or do you enlist the help of a stylist or planner?
I love having a stylist or planner involved. The collaborative process is always fun for me. Most weddings days have a concise timeline, so we create these images in advance. If they must be taken on a wedding day, then I create them myself.
Shoe shots are very popular, but can be hard to style, can you share your process? Anything photographers should keep in mind when shooting the bride's shoes?
Angles are everything! I love a good shoe shot. I’ll often use my styling board and then overlay a veil if the bride has one. Keep the heels very tidily together or separate intentionally. I also like shoes in detail shots with rings and perfume, or lying on their sides (especially if there are straps that look like they are drooping when the shoes are upright).
What are your favorite styling tools to use? How do you pack your tools? Do you bring them to every wedding?
I used to use lens caps to prop items up, but now I always bring my styling blocks. They are so useful! I carry them in my linen case with my styling boards so that they go everywhere together. I don’t use any ribbon or other props. Even if I’m using a linen as a background I still place it on my styling board so that I know that everything will be flat, and I clamp it to my board as well so it doesn’t move.
Are there any compositional rules that you use when you style details? How do you begin, and what steps do you take? How do you know when you're done? Is there a different process for styling shoes vs. styling the invitation suite?
I try to stay true to to the design and feeling of the wedding, so I start by getting to know as much as I can about the design. You can learn a lot from the details you have, but I get to know the entire design scope before the wedding so I know what linens, flowers, paper, rentals, signage, etc. will be used on the day. It informs wether I create intricate flat lays with lots of details or simpler, classic ones.
For shoes in particular, I try to have a few options because I want to make sure I have choices after the wedding day when it’s time for album design, feature, etc. There is always a moment when I know I’m done and I know I’ve got ‘the shot’!
My process for shoes is very different than for paper. When I’m photographing paper, I usually incorporate the couples ribbon or some flowers. For shoes, I generally want more of the bride’s personal details and want to make it feel like I’m giving you an intimate getting ready moment (though sometimes that means I include flowers too!).
What do you do to make your detail photos uniquely you?
I think the longer you create and ask yourself if it pleases you, the easier it is to create something you’re proud of and that feels authentic. I try to follow a lot of different creatives, but not many photographers. I’m always asking myself ‘what do I like about this’ when I come across an image I like. That way when it’s time to create I’m ready to produce something I’ll like!
To see more of Elisa’s beautiful work, visit ElisaBricker.com