Trash the Dress with Photographer Phil Steingard

Phil Steingard of Steingard Photo Studios in Alliston, ON, or as we know him, “Photo Phil”, is a staple at the Majestic Resorts in Punta Cana and a creative genius when it comes to Trash The Dress (TTD) photo shoots. Photo Phil had just returned from a 3 week gig of destination weddings at Majestic Resorts when we caught up with him to chat TTD.

How long have you been a destination wedding photographer and how many TTD sessions have you done?

I have been a destination wedding photographer for about 8 years and I would say I have done well over 200 TTD sessions.

What percentage of your wedding couples choose to TTD?

85% to 95% of my destination wedding couples opt for a TTD session.

Why is TTD photography so popular?

Brides are definitely looking for something different and creative in their photos, but it’s also a great way to just have some fun after the wedding day and at the same time, create some truly memorable images.

How do brides feel about ruining their wedding dress?

They are fine about it. In fact, most times the dress isn’t even ruined at all. Usually the dress gets filthy dirty after the wedding day, and the salt water is a great cleansing agent. And I do find that most brides no longer want to pack the dress away, for what? For years and years, in the hope that one day their daughter might wear it on her wedding day? Those days are long gone. And brides that do want to save their dress will bring a second dress anyway, so there are no worries if it is ruined. I would say that two thirds of my couples use the original dress and the remaining one third will go with a secondary dress.

When are TTD sessions usually done and what time of day is best for photos?

I like to do sessions usually 2 days after the wedding. I like to give the couple a day to recover after the wedding. I find the best time of day to do a TTD is either sunrise of sunset. The lighting at this time of day can really impact your photos, but more importantly, there is no one on the beach and couples can basically own the beach.

Can you take us through a TTD session?

Sure. Each TTD session is different and really depends on the couple and as I give you example, you will have to imagine that I am shooting pic after pic after pic throughout it all. It’s sunrise and the sun is barely upon the horizon. The bride and groom slowly walk along the beach, elegantly dressed the same as on their wedding day. They playfully move towards the shore. The bride dips her toes in the surf and splashes the groom. The groom playfully picks up the bride and carries her into ocean until the water reaches his knees. They eventually end up frolicking in the water and this all is happening as the sun is rising behind them.

Are they always done on the beach?

Not always, but they are the most popular. I have done sessions pools, the spa, the golf course – just about anywhere around the Majestic Resorts. I have also gone off site to locations such as a fishing village, an old abandoned building or downtown Higuey – I did an incredible TTD session in the town with a blonde bride in a white dress that contrasted with the Dominican locals in town. The images were amazing. But it really depends on the couple, for example, some couples may not be able to swim or be uncomfortable in water, in these cases, I would stick close to the shore or in and around the resort.

Tell us about one of your most memorable TTD sessions.

I have to say, my first Triple Trash The Dress session I just did a couple of weeks ago. Myself, Michael and Jamie, both destination wedding photographs that work for me at Steingard Studios, talked about doing a triple TTD for about two years now but it never came together. We all just happened to be shooting weddings at Majestic Resorts on the same day, and thought this could be the day. We asked all three couples how they felt about doing the shoot and all were very enthusiastic and happy to participate. We did shots with the three brides together, the three grooms, the group together – and all three of us photographers shooting at the same time. I think I got some of my best photographer ever! What an experience.

Can you give us your top 3 tips for couples considering a TTD session?

For my shoots I encourage couples to make the sessions daring and believable.

Figure out when is the best time for your TTD session. Some couples agree on early morning or sunrise, but for some that might not be the best idea. Some couples over- indulge the previous night and really are not in shape to do an early morning shoot.

Keep it Simple – Don’t overdo the make-up or hair. Some brides go all out for photos, but for these type of sessions, a lot of make-up is not recommended. Just a matter of minutes in the water and the hair-do and make-up are ruined and can become quite the mess.

The Groom should dress down. I recommend that the groom dress down a little, make it a little more casual say with khaki pants, no belt. I find that groom’s that dress to the nines in tuxedos end up looking like a drunken groom that fell into a pool!