UPDATE 2/15/14: I’ve posted a sequel to this article – 2013 Best Of: 70 Creative Wedding Ring Photos (you’re looking at 2012).
The ultimate symbol of marriage, the diminutive ring is often overlooked, or treated as a checklist item for photographers to simply “get” during the wedding day. Since a couple usually spends a lot of time (and money) finding the perfect rings to represent their eternal love for one another, I think it’s only fair for us photographers to put in the extra effort into creative ways to capture the rings in our photographs. I usually shoot the engagement ring twice – generally at the end of engagement sessions, and then again (with the groom’s wedding band) at some point on the wedding day. There are of course the go-to solutions for photographing the rings – the bouquet is probably the most obvious (and as you’ll see I include plenty of those shots below), but we should always be on the lookout for new and exciting ways to present the rings with our photographic skills. Whether you use party favors, flowers, desserts, or found natural surfaces or objects at the location, there are always opportunities to do something unique, fun, and even amazing with the ring photos.
Below are my favorite ring shots from engagement sessions and weddings taken during 2012 (in no particular order). These are almost all artificially lit with an off-camera flash source using Nikon cameras with the Nikon 60mm/2.8 macro lens. Most of the shots fall in the F11–F22 aperture range as extreme closeups mean extremely shallow depth of field. Enjoy the photos, I hope you find a couple of them inspring in your own work.
If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, I invite you to peruse the numerous galleries at www.GoodEyePhotography.com.
Many venues have pianos, and this one was being expertly played during the wedding reception. The gentleman was kind to step aside for a couple minutes to let me get some shots of the rings on the piano keys.
The indirect light falling on the beautiful irises in this stunning bouquet really help make this shot. How about that engagement ring – ginormous!
I’m glad the bride didn’t see me setting up this shot. This is part of a grape-grinding machine set in a garden at a winery. It’s lit from below and camera left to really give it dimension and have the texture of the old iron and paint pop. Talk about contrast!
I love the flowers in this shot – the one in the foreground provides depth, and the crisp petals in the middle contrast nicely with the black background. It just makes me smile 🙂
This couple had this fine bottle of scotch whiskey at the reception, and I really loved the label’s fine typography and design and had to integrate hte rings into it somehow, and this outdoor picnic bench made a good background.
You can’t shoot a wedding in Maui, Hawaii and not get ring shots with a tropical flower! This Bird-of-Paradise flower was stiff enough to hold both rings no problem. The background is a pool with blue light emanating from it.
This is the top of a fence at Foothill Park in Palo Alto, California. The lichen and moss provided color and texture, and the backlighting and pattern captured in the composition really draw the eye to the engagement ring.
I love reflective objects in macro photography, and this decorative crystal sphere on top of a gate at Il Fornaio, Carmel made for a great platform for these unique bridal rings.
This beautiful emerald and diamond ringreally stands out against the pink, red and orange bouquet flowers.
It took some time balancing this blue-stoned engagement ring, but the nail in the old rotted wood made for nice composition and contrast in this shot.
There’s no shortage of props at Ramekins Culinary institute in Sonoma, California – this old-school waffle iron decorating a hallway armoire provided some interesting texture for this wedding ring shot.
Another tropical flower for this Maui wedding ring shot.
This was from an engagement session in the woods south of San Jose. The acorn husks made for an interested natural contrast in this wedding ring photo.
Some interesting flowers in this bouquet made for a wedding ring shot that looks more like a sea-creature in an aquarium!
I imagined the bride cringing as I set up this shot in a not-so-well-maintained barbecue in Nisene Marks Forest in Aptos, California. It was the end of an engagement session and I just loved the orange colors from the rust. Worth the effort I think!
These neat coffee cups at the Willow Heights mansion in Morgan Hill were the perfect prop for these ring shots. They were on a surface that was studded by fake diamonds, so that texture, contrasting with the plain white cups, overlaid with the wedding rings really worked well. Blingy!
Really interesting tight flowers in this arrangement provided great textural and color-contrast for the wedding rings.
Ferns are really neat plants, and it can be challenging to find one that will support the weight of an engagement ring. But this one was up to the task. It’s hairy too!
This metal frame holds a pot with some succulents in it. I like the degraded blue paint and the mossy stuff.
Moss, mushroom, cool engagement ring. I remember the groom helping me hold my lighting equipment to get this down low shot.
Rusted chain and rough wood provide color and textural contrast against this stunning blue-stoned engagement ring.
Another beautiful engagement ring accented with green emeralds – they really pop as the only colorful parts of the brown-toned image. The ropy surface is actually the frame of a mirror, as is obvious by the reflected image.
I think this was part of a fence during an engagement session, but the blue stone in this ring glows from the backlighting and really draws the eye and keeps it there.
The tightly-overlapping petals in this cactus allowed me to arrange all the rings on edge, which is pretty much impossible to do normally.
A simple shot on the surface of the table. Usually the focus is on the engagement ring, but this stunning groom’s wedding band deserved a little more attention.
This is a “standard” bouquet wedding ring shot but for some reason it jumps out for me. Maybe it’s the linear arrangement in the context of curving, natural background, or maybe it’s just the clarity of that main stone, smack in the middle of the photo that demands, “Look at me!”
The three dominant colors and three rings complement each other nicely in this wedding ring bouquet shot.
Another fern shot – this one is more delicate, and seeing the fronds disappear into the black background is pleasing to the eye.
This is a shot that my second shooter at the wedding recommended, and to which I immediately dismissed as something that just wouldn’t work well. I was wrong, and humbly apologize for my dismissal. The surface is a multicolored LED the DJ used as wall backlighting. It’s also the only light source (no off-camera lighting – that would surely “ruin” it). The multiple colors and bokeh make it a successful ring shot.
Balancing the wedding rings on these billiard balls was way harder than you’d think it would be. And usually more effort tends to pay off when it comes to photography. I think this came out well.
Side-lighting really brings out the natural beauty and texture of the leaf, which draws you to the unnatural beauty of the cut stones in the engagement ring.
This piece of wood is actually the base for the couples’ wedding cake. The natural break in its side worked as a nice little nook for the rings. Side lighting brings out the texture, as if these natural and man-made items were meant to co-exist in this little space..
The rings are on the bride’s purse, and her bouquet is in the background. The curve of the purse is a nice break between the natural and faux-natural textures.
The rings in the context of a drawn fingerprint-tree add a special, personal touch.
A standard ring composition, but the dimpled, reflective surface adds visual interest. I think this was a metal tray inside a bathroom (of all places). It just goes to show that the opportunities for creative macro shots are numerous, and ubiquitous.
There’s something about the light blue and textured gold that attracts me to this otherwise standard ring photo.
This couple had a candy “bar” at their wedding, so of course I made good use of it for the sweet wedding photos. Here I put one of the rock-crystal desserts through the rings.
Just some sticks in a tree, but the composition makes it more interesting.
There was a bowl of fruit for the girls to snack from during the bride-getting-ready stage. I couldn’t resist using the interesting color and texture to my advantage for these ring photos.
Too often we think of surfaces to set the wedding rings on, but forget about the opportunities for putting objects through the rings. In this case, a small floral bud from a vase of flowers perfectly fit through the rings – so it looks like they’re encapsulating this small bud of life, like a living cocoon.
The giant, rigid leaves of this fern had no problem supporting the weight of the ring. Side lit and also lit from below, the craggy organic texture and bulbous surface of the plant make for a really interesting composition.
It’s not uncommon to have a bucket of ice for the champagne while a bride is getting ready. Ice is always an interesting environment to shoot wedding rings in. The challenge is controlling the light so you create interesting shadows as well.
The sprinkled faux gemstones on this table surface add some bling to the composition of this ring photo. The purple bouquet in the background is a nice hint of color.
The textured grape leaves and curling stems provide a nice backdrop for these rings.
The groom built this miniature bridge as a cake-topper. The rings snuggled nicely in-between the struts for a truly unique wedding ring photo.
This ultra-closeup wedding ring shot really loses all context of setting – I think it was on the side of a tree… But the intricate detail and the attractive main stone demands your full attention–and gets it.
No props around? Bah! There’s always…something. In this case, a polished fork. Done and done.
I loved the organic curves of this part of a wooden fence. I was able to fit the engagement ring onto the splintered wood coming out to provide depth. The side-lighting makes it 3-dimensional. The burled knot-hole echoes the circular nature of the ring. Basically it’s a really cool shot on multiple levels.
Shooting up towards the sky brings in some dramatic azure blues into the composition. Plus, the heavy stone would normally force the ring into a downward position, but the tension from the two stems inside the ring and the angle I’m shooting from make for an atypical, and successful comoposition.
Closeup of the large stone demands attention, putting the subtle natural setting in a nice background role.
The texture of the frosting in this wedding ring shot is the first thing you notice. Upon closer inspection, the rings present themselves. They’re not always the center of attention. And that cake? Yum.
The green plant growth and fascinatingly-textured mushroom provide ample viewing pleasure for this engagement ring photo.
These branches make for a low-key organic backdrop to show off these wedding rings.
This was shot on a rock outcropping at the end of a beach engagement session.
Rings on top of a photobooth printout of the bride and groom.
The bride’s high heel made for a neat background of this wedding ring photo.
Wedding rings with kisses! Nuts for her, plain for him.
Symmetry and nature don’t often coexist.
This ring doesn’t need any extra bling, but there you go.
The fuzzy leaf from a lambs-ear plant created a snuggly little womb for the wedding rings in this shot.
Wedding rings with a little JD.
This couple loves scrabble.
Jelly beans and wedding rings.
The Glenlivet whisky bottle again. I like how it emerges from darkness. I think the other shot with the label (far above on the page) is better, though.
Personalization – the groom’s sister drew this picture of the bride and groom, where it was then displayed at the wedding reception.
The engagement ring emerging from an acorn casing, set in the niche of a boulder.
The bride had this lovely sequined purse that provided interesting texture for this wedding ring photo.
OK, so you can see the groom’s thumb holding the ring in this dandelion shot – but it’s still neat. Some environments are just too delicate to hold the rings. This shot could easily be cropped to hide the offending appendage, butI wanted to show that assistance is sometimes necessary.
I think this is the ONLY naturally-lit ring photo out of all 80 photos in this post. I had the setting sun at an extreme angle, and the ring was wedged in a small split in the wood. Shot from straight above, there’s something about the linear directionality that just works in this photo. You have the grains of wood, then the long shadow of the ring, and then the square/linear top of the ring itself, with the curved part hidden below. You don’t see many rind shots that only have straight lines!!
I love the delicious play of light and shadow in this photo. The subtle blue flowers, the pale green of the dried plant stems, the frayed brown rope and the warm wood beneath – all work together to create a compelling photo of these wedding rings.
I almost never incorporate the wedding dress and rings in the same shot – I’ve just never been inspired. But the deep folds on this dress caught my attention, and after discovering some of the folds are actually holes that the rings can fall through, I eventually found a nook where all the rings could rest. They did not want to stay in position, however, so I almost gave up. But I’m persistent, if anything, and I was rewarded with this pleasing ring shot.
I was trying to figure out how to use all the apples this couple had at the reception tables. I just wasn’t inspired. I didn’t just want to put the rings around the stem. So I grabbed a knife, and cut out a wedge in one of the apples and stuck the rings inside. Done! I’m sure the couple was wondering why I gave the rings back a little sticky…
The decorative “G” wedding topper made for an interesting composition for this couples’ wedding rings.
Last, but not least, I used the wedding invitation that was laying around in the bridal suite for this high-key shot of the rings. Blowing out all environmental details except their names and the rings makes for a simple, yet striking image of their rings.
Looking for a creative and talented wedding photographer? San Francisco / Bay Area Wedding and Engagement Photographer Chris Schmauch makes you look like you belong on a magazine cover! Call (831) 216-6210 or fill out this nifty contact form (for serious inquiries only).