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Wheelchair Wedding - need help

Eric Guel , Nov 03, 2000; 01:48 p.m.

I'm shooting a wedding this weekend and the groom is in a wheelchair (the bride is not). Does anyone have any advice for posing the two? I've never even met the people before so I don't know how sensitive an issue it is. Thanks.


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Steve Singleton , Nov 04, 2000; 05:43 p.m.

In my experience, the biggest challenge in answering questions like this is overcoming your own reluctance to discuss it with the bride and groom. Assuming you want to keep their heads on a similar level for a tight composition, it would be well to scout the location for posing ideas, come up with a few thoughts about how you could arrange the bride and groom in relation to the chair, and finally, just ask them if they have any preferences or suggestions. As long as you ask without embarassment, in a straighforward manner, the couple will probably appreciate your professionalism.

Lori Dotson , Nov 04, 2000; 05:53 p.m.

I haven't photographed a wedding, but I was asked to photograph a couple in the same situation. To be meaningful, I believe a photo must show a relationship between the two people. I had the woman put her cheek against her husband in the wheelchair, which caused him to immediately light up with a wonderful smile---I anticipated his reaction and caught the moment. This was a shoulder/head shot--the wheelchair didn't show. I wasn't trying to hide the wheelchair; my main purpose was to catch the couple's intimacy. I wanted to get their faces on the same level. I suggest that you avoid posing the woman behind the man which often results in the woman standing stiffly with hands on the wheelchair. Such a pose says nothing about them. The wheelchair is part of the reality; no need to try to hide it---just work with it to catch their particular warmth. Other posters will have to help you with the formal wedding setups (the line up with bridesmaids, etc.) I hope this helps!

John MacPherson , Nov 05, 2000; 03:24 p.m.

Some good advice above. I would add that you should shoot a few shots of the couple whilst you are sitting on the floor. Folks in wheelchairs usually have to look UP to non-chairbound people, which will give a certain 'look' to the images (and it pisses off most folks in chairs). Get low and allow the person to look straight at you, or down towards you. Couple shots should have some with the bride sitting down so she is level with the groom and relaxed. Having to crouch is a pain, and she wont thank you for it. <P> Dont totally ignore the wheelchair, for you it might be a lump of metal that says 'disability' but for most chair users it means 'mobility' and is a big part of their life. If the couple are up for it and have a good sense of humour get the groom to 'carry' the bride on his lap as the chair is rolled slowly forward, with the pair of them smiling or laughing, and do a short zoom longish exposure shot with some fill-flash at the end, which should give you a blurred background with a real sense of movement/excitement and the fill-flash will freeze the couple at the end. A lot will depend on your confidence and the couple's sense of fun. One thing is for sure - you will have the opportunity to get some unusual shots. <P> One thing to watch out for is is bright chromy bits on the chair which might throw off a big sparkle when you use flash. Take some opaque scotch tape (the easy peel off stuff) to cover any parts that face you and might be a possible problem. <P> Definately ask the couple what poses and images they would like beforehand. It should enlighten you a great deal but even if it doesn't it WILL break the ice for you and should help to ensure that you do a good job on their big day. <P> Good luck! And PLEASE can you give feedback here so we all can find out how you did? Lots of advice comes out of photonut but too few folks give any feedback........

David -- , Nov 05, 2000; 05:09 p.m.

I don't do weddings and have not photographed a situation like yours. But to add to the thoughts about the personality of the folks. I have good freind in Texas who is 1) a photographer and 2) either with a prostetic leg or in his chair. He is very laid back about it and even uses it to poke fun at things.

One of his favorite stories is when he was making jokes with his friends and they got to one that involved his leg (or lack thereof). A PASSERBY got offended and came over to say something. They all looked at her like "Lady, he knows its missing. what's the big deal?"

My point is: TALK with these people. (I won't ask why your doing their wedding and have not done so yet). YOU need to be comfortable -- only then will you be able to relax them. How you deal with this will depend on THEM, what they want, and how they handle things.

Steve Levine , Nov 06, 2000; 02:45 p.m.

I do shoot weddings.common sense tells us that the height difference between the sitting groom and the standing bride must be dealt with first.I'd seat the bride in a chair at an angle to the seated groom.This is exactly the way Id shoot them if they were both standing up.Then of course if the groom can sit other places besides his wheel chair,you could then have unlimited options where to sit him,providing he can be wheeled there.This would allow lots of different seated poses,available to couples disabled or not.

Robert Kennedy , Nov 07, 2000; 03:00 p.m.

The best advice here I think was get on the floor. I don't shoot weddings, but visually you do want this person to be looking AT the camera not UP to it. Avoid anything where one person is looking up at the camera and another is looking into it. Just try frame things so it shows the couple as partners not someone "looking up to" another person.

Jay Millington , Nov 20, 2002; 01:18 p.m.

While the chair is certainly part of the reality, I don't know that it needs to be in all of the shots. If the person is capable of sitting up reasonably well on their own, maybe have the couple on a bench, like a park bench or something similar. By the way, I am just now reading through this, and I do realize that the original post was more than 2 years ago, and the wedding has likely long since past. Too bad we never had a post about the results.

... Timber ... , Dec 16, 2003; 10:54 p.m.

Place the bride on a metal folding chair at a 45 degree angle. Place the Groom with his knees nearly facing the background. Have the Groom twist to the right, about 90 degrees. Then have the Bride cozy into him. The arm of the wheelchair should be draped with black velvet or a color that matches the Groom's suit. Their two heads can be side by side looking, yet they don't need to touch. You may have to put the Bride on telephone books to increase her height.

The Groom's knees don't point directly at the background, but at an angle, by the way. The Groom can be put on telephone books as well to make him more prominent, instead of slinky into the wheelchair. The Groom's hand can rest in her lap.

The wheelchair will be obsured by the Bride's body. You can drape the entire wheelchair with dark velvet.

Only picture them 3/4 body shot or 1/2 body shot.

In order to make them look alittle less stiff, have the Bride lean just alittle in the Groom.

Use a mild telephoto lens in order to avoid knees and hands growing in size compared to their heads. A 100mm on a 35mm camera is fine.

The groom can slightly look downward at the Bride's cheek or he can look at the camera. The Bride looks at the camera.

Curtis Neeley , Mar 27, 2005; 02:50 p.m.

Well I am a professional wedding photographer who just joined the wheelchair community. I shoot weddings from a wheelchair so it will be no different for me if a subject is in a chair too.

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