After twenty seven years photographing weddings all over the U.S and Europe I have seen it all!
My best advice to you on having a creative wedding is make it your own! Ask yourself What are you passionate about? Next,throw tradition out the window!
Sometimes its the venue that you pick that makes your wedding unique.I had a couple who instead of spending allot of $$ on the wedding they flew a few friends to Germany and had an intimate wedding at Neuschwanstein castle.It was just the couple their two closest friends ,me,(their lucky photographer/me) and the wedding coordinator.Personally,this was most appealing to me.We had the ceremony at the castle and afterwards went for a carriage ride in the mountains,it was breath taking like a real life fairy tale without all of the stress that comes along with most weddings.
In my experience, its always the place that makes your wedding unique and memorable.Below,the Biltmore in Asheville N.C how incredibly beautiful!
I had an unusual wedding in Clearwater Florida,The couple was inspired by their favorite movie”Pirates Of The Caribbean ” The bride and groom dressed as Pirates,they rented a Pirate ship for the reception and all of their guests dressed as pirates!
If you are a fun couple and love live music,art,food excitement,New Orleans cannot be beat.In my book one of the best backdrops for photography! You can actually have your very own parade and hire a second line band!
Also in the Florida keys there is an Island called little Palm Island (best kept secret of presidents and celebrities. Recommended for intimate weddings and a great place for honeymooners.There is no T.V’s or phones (for a reason). The private island has only thirty suites ,five acres of paradise. I dont know how the miniature Key deer got on the island but be warned they might eat your wedding bouquet!
Maybe in your mind, rain on your wedding day is the worst thing that can happen. A sign, if you will, that you have really bad luck. “in some cultures, rain on your wedding day is considered good luck, symbolizing fertility and cleansing.
This blog is part of a four part series on weddings. “Getting Ready” The Ceremony” The Intimate session” and lastly “The Reception”
After twenty four years of photographing weddings nationwide, I have been to allot more receptions that most people on the planet.in this blog I am going to share with you advice to make your reception memorable.
The venue you choose is important,its all about the atmosphere. I know that venues are extremely expensive.Here is my suggestion,why not rent a beautiful house on the beach and have everything come to you,caterers,hair and makeup,band or D.J. Some of my favorite weddings were at private homes.Also I do believe you would save allot of money this way.
I do suggest you have live music,D.J’s are alright but so redundant .Personally I feel a live band is so much more memorable.Makes your wedding more unique.
I would stay away from the big resorts,unless you want to feel like a number and see other couples getting married the same day.Some of these places to me feel like an Assembly line of weddings
Make it your own,be creative,be unique.
Why not hire a cartoon artist, a magician, a fortune teller,a cigar roller.Give your guests something to talk about.To be honest,a great deal of the receptions I have been to were a bit boring.You want yours to stand out,you want your guests to have a great time.
A photo booth is allot of fun for children and to get adults to feel like a child again.
part of a four part series on wedding photography. getting ready,the ceremony,the intimate session,and the reception Advice for the client.
The only thing that I do insist on with my clients is an “intimate session” This will perhaps be the only alone time that you will have on your wedding day.I feel that these photographs are the most romantic and probably the ones that you will be hanging on your walls.
When you are working on your timeline, leave at least a half hour or more in the best light of the day,the last hour before the sun is setting.Think about the background,are there some beautiful nature spots on the grounds of your venue? If not try to explore and find a beautiful nature spot nearby your venue
Do not allow anyone to tag along,this is a distraction to you and to your photographer.Your guests will be fine, might be a good time to plan a cocktail hour. Always work with your D.J. and wedding coordinator and let them know in advance .
When I am photographing a destination wedding,I sometimes plan with my couples for a “day after” session. using the destination as my background. My couples are always so much more relaxed the day after,I get to spend allot more time with them = more beautiful and interesting photos.
This blog is in a four part series,Getting Ready,The Ceremony,The Intimate session and the reception.,so stay tuned!
If you are having an outdoor wedding,hope for the best but always prepare for the worst.make sure that you have a back up plan!! If you have your heart set on getting married outside,go with the flow,have lots of umbrellas handy,incorporate your wedding colors. Do keep in mind that overcast is best for portraits
As far as ceremony sites I have seen it all in my twenty four years of photographing weddings nationwide.From elaborate castles in Germany,to beach blankets in Key West .Make it your own.There are no rules!
I am often asked about timelines.The best light for photography is when the sun is low in the sky. I would say ,if you are having an outdoor wedding,look up the time of sunset for that day and schedule your ceremony two hours before time of sunset.Allowing plenty of time afterward for your group shots and saving the very best light about a half hour before the sunset for your “intimate session” the photographs of just the two of you alone .Dont rush your photographer through this,give them at the very least a half an hour.Remember these are the photos you will probably be hanging on your walls.
Some couples now a days have a “first look” before the ceremony. This helps take the edge off, (good for nervous couples).Also a wonderful time for your photographer .Also a great Idea is the “first look” for Fathers and daughters
I always ask my couple,”what is the most important photo to you” 99% of my brides and many of my grooms will say (or better say) the first time I see my bride!This is such an important shot,I never miss it!!
The most important kiss of your lifetime is your first kiss as husband and wife. I always have a second shooter and we are both getting this most important moment from two different views. I would highly recommend that your photographer have a 2nd shooter/assistant,especially for the larger weddings
This blog will be in four parts,”Getting ready” Ceremony”., “The intimate session” and the reception.
Today I will be covering “getting ready”
I always get to the location early. The first thing that I photograph is the atmosphere of the venue,this is important to my couples,they have chosen this venue for a reason. After twenty five years of photographing weddings I have had the privilege of traveling to castles in Germany,the super dome in New Orleans,the Biltmore in North carolina,Hemingway house in Key West just to name a few.
During this time I like to photograph the details, have a go to person for your photographer. I always ask to have the details ready for me when I come in.The rings,the flowers,an invitation or newspaper,something with the date on it,shoes dress,vows etc…
Advice to the ladies,choose a room with the most natural light,remember that light is very important for the sake of the photos,you do not want to get ready in a room with florescent lite with no windows.Try to keep the room free of clutter.
I am always asked these question and I am happy to help in fact, your photographer is the best and most valuable person to go to to help you plan the timeline. Photography IS 50% light,50% composition.
Keep in mind if you have two locations for guys and girls the photographer will need allot more time to go to two location,driving time,finding parking,packing and unpacking equipment etc that takes allot of time and can take time away from what is most important,capturing your wedding day.When I have the guys and girls at the same location, I just go back and forth, if mot much is going on with the girls, I check out the guys. During this time is not only about “getting ready” doing hair putting on makeup and getting “the dress” on its about the details, have them ready when the photog comes in, your rings, an invitation, newspaper something with the date, wedding vows,your grandmas necklace,Have the flower there as well, whatever it is you want photographed. During this time if I am at one location the entire day (best option ) I will usually go into the reception room and photograph the set up,the venue itself the atmosphere is also very important. The set up for the ceremony and then back to the brides room to spend some quality one on one time for bridal portraits
Have hair and makeup come to you ALWAYS!. Brides, DO NOT be the last to get ready,allow more time for everything than you think it will take.Get ready early, if you are last and its almost time for the ceremony, not only will I not have enough time for bridal portraits,you will feel nervous and rushed and it will show on your face, again I stress this do not rush your photographer! The ultimate time for me at the beginning of the story if everyone is at one location is about three hrs. It is a very important time with so much going on and so many wonderful photo opportunities also a good time for me to get to know family and friends of the couple.
TIME- If outdoor wedding,two to three hours before the time of sunset. Two if you dont have a million groups shots and the ceremony is very quick,three if you have allot of group shots with a long ceremony.Group shots take more time than you think. Again allow more time for everything
Most important leave the last half hour or more of light (The magic hour) the best lite of the day for just the two of you alone, I call it the “intimate session” plan a cocktail hr for this time your guests will be fine and it will be the only “alone “time you might have together all day. Out of this time comes the most beautiful portraits of my couples capturing their relationship and the love they have for each other, this is absoulutely my favorite time to photograph, DO NOT miss this time, do not rush your photographer or cut it short, I have had couples after we have disused this only give me five minutes, you will never get this time back!
Again will there be a huge party with dancing bouquet toss,cake cutting sparkler send off/parting shot, do you want the entire reception covered,if not push up the most important moments to you. If so, remember photographer, D.J all of your vendors should be fed,treat people the way you would want them to treat you. While everyone is eating take care of your vendors.People dont look their best when they are eating!
My full coverage (the time I need to tell the story is about eight hrs. You can always add more if your photographer is up to it.
If it is a small intimate wedding on the beach with just the two of you and a few close family members, I have a minimum of two hrs and have it on an off day, most photographers are booked on the weekends or wont take a two hr wedding on a Saturday.
I do hope I have helped and answered allot of your questions.Keep this in mind, I am an award winning international fine arts wedding photojournalist with a very unique style, I travel worldwide http://www.creativefreedomphoto.com/
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS copyrighted property of http://www.creativefreedomphoto.com/
Of all the wedding photographers I know, one of their biggest gripes is when a client hands them a detailed shot by shot list of every single thing they want photographed – the dress hanging in front of the window, the shoes, bride getting into her dress, dad looking proud… you get the idea. Trust your photographer. They’ve been doing this a lot longer than you and they will be well aware which shots to get .
Creative people need “Creative Freedom”That is why I call my business creativefreedomphoto.When artist are told what to do, they can loose their passion,it interferes with the creative process.When I was a photojournalist for newspapers they give you 100% “Creative Freedom”they trust your eye and talent to tell the story” That is why they hired you!
obviously if you have something particularly sentimental or unique that you’d like photographed (maybe a piece of jewelry passed down through your family or a DIY project that you spent days on) then be sure to let them know, but don’t hand them a blow by blow list of every single shot you want. Allow your photographer to do their job and to be creative. They’ll enjoy the day more which will result in better photographs.
THINK ABOUT THE LIGHT
This is another thing that couples tend to not consider (or not even know they have to consider) but be aware that the light changes throughout the day and different light will result in very different photographs.
Usually two hrs befog the sunset will give enough light and time for group shots and the”intimate session. Even better, do a ‘first look’ (where you see each other before the ceremony and get your photos taken then). If you’re not superstitious about seeing each other beforehand, this is a great option too.
When looking at venues think about the light in each room. Is the bedroom you’re getting ready in to small, if there will be allot of people in the room ,obviously you need a big room.does it have an abundance of natural light ,DO NOT get ready in a locker room with florescent light. Are the ceremony room walls covered in dark wood with small windows? Remember, photography is essentially painting with light and if there isn’t any, there’s only so much your photographer can do without using a flash.
Getting ready: “Having about two hrs with the bride before the ceremony would give me enough time to photograph all the details of the dress, shoes, jewelry etc as well as take some informal photos of everyone getting. I always ask to have the grooms nearby,keep in mind if I have to go to two location you are missing out on photos I could be taking while I am traveling
Another thing to consider is to politely ask your guests to not take photos during the ceremony (you can do so in the order of service). Guests holding up mobile phones as you walk down the aisle or flashes going off throughout the vows are only going to be distracting for you and other guests (and/or ruin the professional shots).
LEAVE ENOUGH TIME
As I said, time is of the essence and the more time your photographer has the better. They are the experts so ask them how long they think each element should take. Group shots for example are notorious for taking longer than you expect. Having to round up a half-cut usher or a camera-shy aunt for the photos can take a while Give a trusted friend or relative a list of the group shots you want, do not put down every combination of everyone,keep it simple, try to photograph the elderly first and if possible delegate the task of helping round people up to a trustworthy usher or bridesmaid.Best to let them know beforehand.
Your photographer is not just there to snap away aimlessly. Wedding photographers are a super creative bunch so be open to their ideas and again, trust them! For your portraits, listen to their ideas and don’t be afraid to walk off that beaten path a little bit. These often result in THE MOST AMAZING PHOTOS! Set aside as much time as possible for this part of the day. The more time the photographer has, the better the results will be.
The “intimate session”I like to call it is probably the only time the two of you will be alone.leave the best light for these photos.I like to have at least a half hr,the last hr before sunset. pick a beautiful location nearby,do not allow anyone to follow you and your photographer.This is a good time to have a cocktail hr.
Do not go out and get a tan,does not look flattering in photographs. Guys watch out for those racoon eyes. Try your best to get plenty of sleep and drink as much water as you can before the big day! Hold your bouquet down low it will elongate your waist . Never stand straight in front of the camera, turn your body and put weight on your back leg. If you are self conscious about back fat (yes I said it) or your arms are not perfect, why not get sleeves 3/4 sowed in, I know it seems like all wedding gowns are sleeveless I dont know why ,if that wont work for you,do go with a veil or even a bolero jacket or a shawl depending on your style of dress. Do established a friendship with your wedding photographer,the more comfortable you feel the better,the less nervous you are in front of the camera the better,! I always make a strong point of getting to know my clients,I have heard so many times that they felt so at ease as if family were taking their wedding photographs,believe me it really makes a difference!
Most of all forget about the camera and enjoy the day!!
For months, sometimes even years, wedding couples look forward to their wedding day. They want to be fully prepared and don’t want to settle for anything less than perfect. Hopefully, that one special day will be one of the most beautiful days in their lives. Unfortunately there are always aspects that can’t be controlled, however prepared you are. That does not matter. Matters only become a problem, when you make them a problem. There is always a solution. Wedding planners have the capacity to be creative and are known for their problem solving. Let’s discuss a few “worst-case scenario’s”.
“WHAT IF IT RAINS”!
Do not agonize over what you’re going to do about, or how you’re going to cope with, the rain. Decide early on what you want to do if it’s raining and stick to it.
I cannot agree more, you’ll not want to wait until the last minute to make a decision. I’d usually play on the safe side you do not want to compromise with the outdoor ceremony and have it no matter what, make a decision, (purchase umbrellas),Incorporate the wedding colors and stick with the idea. Better to be safe than sorry!
2. Trust your vendors
You hired professionals for a reason. They know their craft, they know your venue, so they will make it happen, rain or shine. This is where having an experienced wedding planner and photographer really makes the difference! I have a trunk filled with different color umbrellas!
3. Be prepared
This either means purchasing matching umbrellas for your guests, or having a tent ordered and delivered to your location (remember quick deliveries take an all new meaning when you’re in Tahiti, where logistics are a little more difficult than anywhere else), or at the minimum communicating with your guests so that they also get prepared (and wear adequate clothing and shoes).
If you are planning a wedding lets say in Florida,avoid the rainy/Hurricaine season! Yes it will cost less,but there is a reason!
4. Embrace it
The forecast says there’s a 100% chance you’re going to get wet, now what? You’re in Tahiti! Have fun!
AS a fine arts wedding photographer,rain presents some creative ideas,I use it to my advantage,The reflections in the puddles after the rain,or framing the couple with different color umbrellas. Also keep in mind overcast is one of the best light for skin tones.
What if…. my wedding dress doesn’t fit on the day itself!
advice: don’t go crash- dieting shortly before the wedding. A bride always feels most comfortable during the first fitting session. Try to maintain that weight. Should things come to the worst, than rely on our toolkit and make use of handy tips and trics provided to us by well- known bridal stores.One of my brides did gain twenty lbs, she ordered a lace corset and pulled it off
What if…. a make-up stain ruins my dress!
Don’t fret! Talcum powder, a special tailor’s chalk or TMC 520 stain tissues should do the trick.
What if…. our tight time-schedule is being endangered by the hair- and make-up session!
Our advice: go for a trial session first. It will give you a good idea of how long it will take. Then add some extra time in your time-line. That will take the pressure off and will allow you to look and feel great all day long.
WHAT IF MY MOTHER-IN LAW IS TAKING OVER?
Give her a job to do, get her off your back,if she is a control freak, make her in charge of the group shots ets, she needs to feel wanted and in charge put her to good use!
“Keep a brush, comb, hairspray, ponytail holders and bobby pins in an extra bag (along with makeup if you think touch ups may be in order) and then if it does fall out pin it back up. Or pull it down completely and do a side French braid where the end trails over the shoulder or a side pony at the base of the nape. It will look classy and guests will assume that you wanted to change it up for the reception.”
What if I have a low blood sugar attack? EAT SOMETHING!
MY BEST ADVICE TO YOU: “Most importantly, focus on your marriage versus your wedding. The reception is a party to celebrate that you’ve made a commitment to spend the rest of your life with someone you wanted to meet your whole life. Just relax & have fun!”
Dont just keep pressing the shutter and hope that something sticks,wait,watch,observe.Do not ask people to do anything,allow life to happen .There are moments at a wedding like the dances that you are just about guaranteed
that there will be plenty of emotion to capture.Shoot like you are using film.If you are just starting out,I suggest that you use film. One of the best angles for capturing candid is above,do take advantage I always look for this vantage point
…A great wedding photographer is a great story teller. . Get to know your clients,meet with them, do an engagement session, it is very important that they feel comfortable with you, the more you know them the more passion you will feel.
As a wedding photojournalist, I allow the story to come to me.I very rarely tell people what to do (unless I am doing the group shots,my least favorite because I feel I am missing out on the “real moments”) I ask my clients to keep the group shot list to a minimum. They didint hire me for a bunch of posed group shots but for my ability to “capture emotions” To me weddings are by far the easiest because they tend to be a field day of emotions.
At the beginning of the story,remember to photograph the place,the details,the venue.These are all important to the couple and are a part of their story.
Keep in mind that there are two sides of the story,during the ceremony for instance,its not just about the couple but pay attention to the audience,know who the parents are,most often the Mothers will shed some tears.
The most important shot during the ceremony most often it is the grooms reaction when he sees his bride for the first time
My students often ask me what do you photograph during the reception when everyone is eating. Good question, it is not flattering to photograph people eating,but children can be adorable during this time.It is also a good time to shoot some of the details.Also the atmosphere,the musicians if they do have live music
A great story has a beginning,middle and an ending, think of a parting shot,it could be a back shot of the couple walking away in the sunset or grandma asleep at the reception,most often I dont think, I just allow things to happen naturally.Sometimes my couple does request a specific parting shot .