The Secrets of Great Wedding Photographs

great wedding photoLet’s be perfectly honest here, after the “I do’s” have been said, the best man’s toast made, the dancing and laughing have since ended and the happy bride and groom have gone off on their honeymoon, there is one item in particular that has to be absolutely perfect when everything else is but a pleasant memory. The wedding photos. They are the ever-lasting document of the day’s events, a day that these couples will cherish for the rest of their lives. (more…)

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Weddings from Heaven and Hell!

weddingThat’s not just a bunch of hyperbole either. I get a lot of clients who hire me to do their wedding and engagement photos but they still don’t have a lot of ideas for the actual day itself. Some of them just want a simple affair with family and friends gathered around to celebrate their union, others want a big production with a running theme for the day.

The themed weddings are usually the strangest. I’ve been to superhero themed weddings, a costume party wedding on Halloween, there was a Game of Thrones style wedding, a Hello Kitty wedding. I’ve worked some pretty unique wedding days, there’s no doubt about it. (more…)

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Budget Doesn’t Have to Mean Cheap

cheap weddingI’ve worked incredibly lavish, expensive weddings and I’ve been to small, intimate affairs where the bride and groom invited thirty to forty of their closest friends to celebrate their nuptials. Believe me, it’s not about how much money goes into the wedding, it’s all in the planning. Some of the best events I’ve ever attended didn’t cost much. Less money spent doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to cheapen your day. Times are tight but that doesn’t have to preclude you from having a memorable wedding.

You may be pulling your hair out right now, trying to find inventive ways to cut down on quickly spiraling costs. So here are a few ideas that I’ve seen implemented, first-hand, at more than a few terrific weddings. Hope some of these help!

 Get Creative with the Venue

You can find a whole bunch of low-cost venues that are a great alternative to costly reception halls and swanky hotels. I’ve been to weddings in the backyards of beautiful homes and outdoor public parks. Even an aquarium once, which cost a heck of a lot less than the high-class banquet hall that the couple had been eyeing. Maybe you have a favorite location that you frequent a lot. There was a couple who loved Dave and Buster’s, and guess what – that’s where the reception was held. It cost a fraction of what they were expecting. Come up with something unique and inherently YOU.

Keep the Guestlist Under Control

Forget obligation, this is YOUR wedding. Invite only the people you want there and who are absolutely essential. Don’t start inviting casual acquaintances because you think there will be hurt feelings. This is going to sound cruel, but hurt feelings are better than a hurt wallet. Thirty close friends is going to feel more personal than having a few hundred people there, most of which you’ll see once or twice throughout the day or evening.

 Pick Your Day Wisely

Most weddings are held on Saturdays or Sundays, when the most people can come, right? But you’re going to save a lot of money on venue, hotel accommodations, food, just about everything if you have your wedding on a less “popular” day. How about a Thursday afternoon with an evening reception at the place of your choosing. I guarantee you, the prices on most rental spaces and rooms will be a fraction of the cost on a weekday versus a weekend. Ever notice how a hotel room in Las Vegas can be $99 a night on a Thursday and $499 a night on a Friday? Same thing applies, especially if you’re having your wedding in Vegas.

Flowers and Decorations are Fleeting

So don’t spend inordinate amounts of money on them. By all means, decorate, just don’t go overboard on buying umpteen bouquets of expensive flowers. They’ll be dead in a week. Instead, choose a few carefully placed bouquets or give the bridesmaids singular flowers that are the bride’s favorite. Roses are wonderful but if the bride loves irises or lillies or sunflowers, why not go with those instead? The bride can have an understated and tasteful bouquet made of same. As for decorations, shop around at art and supply stores for the best prices or even big sales with deep discounts. This would require you not to wait to the last minute, but instead shop year round to get everything you want for the venue.

Food is Important

Catering can get costly. So you can either make all the food yourself (or get help from friends or family who can cook in case you’re not one of the culinary-inclined) or find some local mom and pop owned restaurant that would be willing to work with you on a reasonable price for what you could classify as a very large order for takeout. There’s no better advertisement for a dining establishment than an event where many potential customers will be eating their food. It could drum up a lot of business if your guests really enjoy the appetizers and dinner at your wedding.

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Personal Fortune

wedding photographerI’m one of the lucky ones. My job is doing something that I love. I’ve always had a passion for photography, but when I realized I could make a living at it, then I knew it that it could be more than a passion but instead, a calling. We don’t all get to focus entirely on the thing that we feel God has put us on this earth to accomplish. The world is filled with unfulfilled dreams, abandoned by people who didn’t have the patience, the energy, or the ability to reach them. Those unfortunates who, for whatever reason, gave up their struggle to achieve their ultimate bliss. Life got in the way, perhaps. Priorities changed. We all change over time, of course, the things we think we want at one time are no longer the ideals we desire as we grow up, grow older, grow apart.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I got to find my footing early, able to prove that I could produce and provide something of value. My art was worth paying for. Sure, I can take photographs of my own choosing, pictures of compositions that you might want to hang on your wall. I certainly have plenty of my own photographs on the walls of my home and office. I also have the work of other much more prolific, more successful, more talented artists than myself. But where I really find my privilege and honor is in those jobs that I’m hired for by couples tying the knot.

They’ve chosen me to document the day that they celebrated their love, the day of their everlasting union. A moment in time, one of the most important events in their lives, and I’ve been tasked with memorializing it through images. Capturing the emotion, the happiness, the promise of an amazing future. This is a milestone that will never happen again. The cynics will discount such a romantic notion of the wedding day being a sacred, one day only landmark, but I like to hope that each and every wedding I shoot will last forever. My photographs living on for an eternity, a record of the special day that the bride and her groom will have for posterity. Proudly displaying them for friends and family, showing them to future generations decades from now.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I knew what I wanted to do early on. There are so many people out there who still don’t know what they want from life. They can’t find a job much less a career, they can’t find a mate. They don’t know what they want in either. But it’s not too late. It’s never too late to find your passion, chase your bliss. Live your life to the fullest. Don’t let indecision stifle you. We were all put on this earth to do something…and there’s someone out there for each of us.

I’ve been lucky to find the first. The second still eludes me. But all in due time.

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Don’t Be Afraid of Black and White

black and white photoDigital photography lets us do so much more than we once could with cameras. Nowadays, our photos can be edited in the camera itself or you can do extensive amounts of post production work on them. Even the filters have changed, allowing you to do all of that electronically now, by just changing the settings with the push of a button. That includes altering your photos from color to black and white. What’s great about this little feature is the confidence to shoot photos with the lighting, contrast and exposure of a color shot and the versatility to convert into black and white after the fact.

Now some cameras don’t have this feature but you can certainly change the look of your pictures in photo editing suites that you use on your laptop or desktop computer. You wouldn’t necessarily want to do it the other way around (shoot black and white and convert to color afterward), because you’d be making all kinds of creative choices for a black and white picture, rendering any useful color post-conversion a moot point. You get a lot more autonomy and creative freedom shooting for color because it offers you more choices. Shooting in color, you know your shot is going to look great, and doing some work on it in post to change it to black and white won’t take nearly as much time as it would the other way around.

The best way to do all of this is by shooting in RAW files. Not all cameras offer the RAW format option, but if so, learn how to work with those types of files. What’s great about RAW is that it’s an uncompressed format that captures all the possible visual data through the sensor for a high quality full resolution image. It gives you the complete range of information from which to work with when you’re doing touch ups in post, and it’s ideal for black and white conversion from color because you can really get in there to tweak and correct virtually every aspect of the image. Best of all, RAW files keep all of the color information of the original version of your image, so if you ever want to go from color to black and white…and then back to color once again, you have all the necessary photographic data to reproduce it accurately.

If you’re going to shoot directly in black and white, you need to keep your ISO low so you have less visual grain in your original image for a clearer picture. If you like the grain and want to increase it but don’t feel comfortable with how much you think you’ll end up with in your shot, you can always add in some artificial noise for increased grain in post. But more importantly, use the primitive aspects of the subject in your shot when you’re lining it up, because you won’t have colors or hues to help you. Focus your eye on texture, shapes of objects and the relationships between them to measure your image. Empty space plays a big role in framing your subjects and use that to design what you want to see.

So don’t feel intimidated by monochrome. If you’re unsure, shoot it in color and then fix it up later.

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