To do a first look or not to do a first look, that is the question.  When I sit down with my couples for our very first meeting, I bring up the subject of a first look.  Some have heard of a first look and some haven’t.  I explain to them what a first look is and how I like to do them.  

I don’t ever pressure a couple into doing a first look.  I know there are many photographers out there that really push for the first look because they do make for great photos, but if your bride and groom want to be more traditional, then let them be traditional.  After all, it’s their wedding and we need to respect that.


The best part about doing a first look, besides the pictures, is the opportunity it gives the bride and groom to get the jitters out before the ceremony. They see each other for about 10-15 minutes and it’s just enough time to relax, catch their breath from the frenzy of the day and just be together. I always scope out the spot where we will do the first look well in advance. Typically, my second shooter will get the groom in place and have him facing away from where the bride will be walking in.  He’s told not to turn around until she touches his shoulder. 

The bride is told to walk in and towards the groom.  I usually have my camera on the bride and my second shooter has her camera on the groom.  We work together to get those shots that just ooze love and adoration. This is a unique opportunity for a photographer to be a part of an intimate and vulnerable moment that nobody else gets to see during the wedding day.  This is the first time he’s seen her in her wedding dress.  This is the woman he will spend his life with.  And in front of her is the man that will stand by her side and be her partner in all things.  So of course, tissues are always good to have on hand.  For the couple and for yourself. 

Once we spend about 5-10 minutes getting our photos, I tell the couple we’re going to leave them alone for about 10 minutes.  I ask the videographers and anyone else around to leave.  I want them to have those moments to just be together and not have to think about everything else.  That is so important on a day that they have put so much preparation into. 

So remember, it’s the couple’s choice if they decide to do a first look, but always go over it with them when you have your first consultation with them.  You never know, if they don’t want to do the first look, they may be up to holding hands on the other side of the door, which makes for some great moments as well!  And if they are totally traditional and want to wait for their first contact to be down the aisle, support them in their decisions.  Just by showing a bride you support her, you’re already proving you were the right photographer to capture her day! 


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   Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California.  Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children.  When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.