Tom Corbett and a Tradition of Elegance with The Knot
Whether jubilant or solemn, every wedding has at least a measure of pageantry in it. The ceremonies are steeped in tradition – maybe the words echo through generations, or actions are dictated by a culture, or the fashion is designed by the trends of a community. Each element comes together to create a ritual that’s deeply personal to those getting married and their witnesses entering the public covenant with them. Because those moments and expressions are so specific and personal, when Tom Corbett shoots wedding dresses, like in this month’s issue of the Knot, he makes them less about the wedding and more about the clothes. “When I shoot bridal I never think of it as bridal,” says Tom. “If you think about it like that you’re going to get bridal pictures, and nobody wants to see that. So when I shoot bridal I think of it as a fashion shoot and they just happen to be white dresses.”
For this latest story with The Knot, Tom and the magazine went to Saratoga Race Course, a horse-racing track with its own storied history. Not exactly the first location you’d think of when considering a spot for a bridal shoot. But for Tom it was about the shared traditions and pageantry. Maybe a racetrack isn’t used to hosting a gaggle of brides in big white dresses, but the racetrack has always been a crucible of elegant fashion. “Back in the day people would really dress up to go to these places,” says Tom. “The buildings and the grounds have an old movie quality to them. It still exists, that feeling, and we tapped into that.” Tom and his team let the images draw on that environmental essence with a blend of energy and stillness, framing the images as an extension of that emotional heritage.
Part of what makes the images so successful is how the light hits the models and the dresses. The diffused and filtered light allows for all the details on the dresses to be clear – because, after all, it’s about the dresses. This was possible because the day of the shoot was cloudy, and that’s exactly what Tom hoped for. “It did rain very heavily for some of the shoot, but what I said was the biggest thing that could go wrong for us is we get a really sunny day,” explains Tom. “The fact that it was overcast, we suddenly got this big, beautiful light. We could shoot all day long.” So they did. They only had to alter the light for one shoot, but the rest of the day Tom and his team were able to use what was available to the greatest effect and create a beautiful story.