Twenty-six years ago today, I did something really amazing that I’d like to celebrate: I was born. *Takes a bow* “Thank you, thank you very much.” Gabriella at The Knot magazine must have known my birthday was coming up when they emailed me about Jackie and Rob’s engagement photo taken in Hoboken, NJ in front of the New York City skyline. “We just added a story about how couples met and I found this adorable engagement shoot on your blog. We would love to feature this couple in our story in The Knot New Jersey!” Five minutes later they emailed me about Christina and Alex’s rowboat engagement session for The Knot New York. What a present! Needless to say I was thrilled for my two lovely couple, and of course nothing strokes a photographer’s delicate ego more than seeing their photos printed on the glossy pages of a wedding magazine. It’s going to be a great day! :) I was also thrilled to see a lot of my closest photographer friends featured as well- go pick up a copy today!
So you picked your wedding photographer; you love her personality, her style, her work. But let’s be honest: she’s human. You’ve seen her wedding photos that are good and her photos that are AMAZING. What can you do to help your photographer do her very best work for you? Here are a few tips to help your photographer get you her best wedding photos ever:
1.Trust her to use her Creative Eye
Skip the shot list. You may have seen a photographer do photos in front of a fountain or a gazebo on your wedding venue’s property, but remember, you didn’t hire that photographer for a reason. You hired YOUR photographer because you love the way she composes photos, creates scenes, uses light and creates candid moments. She may see lighting issues you don’t see, or she might realize how awesome the light looks in what you thought was just a drabby little staircase, or and how magical it’s going to look when its blurred out in the background of your photos. If you want her best work, trust her to do what she does best. Give her a general idea of where you want to go and leave it to her to find the magical gems you would have never looked twice at.
If anything goes wrong on a wedding day, guess what’s the only thing you can cut time off of? You guessed it: the photography. The more rushed your photographer is, the less chance she’ll be as creative and seeing those opportunities for jaw-dropping photos or the amazing moments unfolding. To avoid this, make sure to leave extra time for photos and any traveling between locations. Especially if you aren’t doing a first look, make sure your cocktail hour is sufficiently long to fit in all the photos you want. I recommend 45 minutes to an hour for bride and Groom portraits. Why so long? This allows us to walk around the property to different locations, to play with different techniques and most of all to give YOU time to get comfortable in front of the camera and for me to discover what angles and poses are the most natural and flattering for you. If you are considering doing photos off site, which I sometimes recommend if the venue doesn’t offer many options, leave double the time you think you need for travel. Keep in mind that photographers have a lot of equipment to pack and unpack at every location, so be sure to leave time for that as well.
3. Make and Manage Your Family Photo List
Everyone wants family photos, but no one wants to pose for them. To keep them moving as fast as possible, I ask my clients in advance to provide a list of each shot they want with each family members name listed out. Moving from larger to smaller groupings allows us to move through the photos very quickly by pulling people out rather than having to repose a group several times. Always make sure family knows when to arrive for family photos and I recommend telling them 10 minutes before the real start time if you don’t want waiting on your notoriously late aunt to hold up the day. I do not recommend family photos in the middle of cocktail hour as gathering everyone can be impossible. Doing family photos directly before or after the ceremony usually works best.
Sample Family Photo List:
-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur, Charlie, Fred, George, Ron
-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Fleur
-Harry, Ginny, Molly, Arthur
4. Consider an Engagement Session
Though I don’t require that all my couples do an engagement session (and indeed for some of my out-of-state couples it’s not possible), but I do highly recommend it whenever possible. So many brides and grooms come into their wedding day unnecessarily nervous about the photo portion of the day, and the photographer ends up spending the first 15 minutes getting you relaxed and warmed up. That’s time that she could have been getting “Best-Photo-Ever” material, if you had already been warmed up to your photographers style of working before the wedding day.
5. Sunset Photos
It’s true what they say! On a sunny day, the 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after sunset gives of the most beautiful, soft, light. That’s why us photographers call it “Golden Hour.” If it’s at all possible to do your portraits during this time, or to take 15 minutes for sunset photos, I highly recommend making time for it.
6. Complimentary Videographers
Your photographer, whether they know it or not, has a method for getting her best photos out of her clients. Some photographers, like myself, chat a lot to their couples to keep them feeling relaxed and at ease and to create candid moments during portraits. I will also move very fast from one pose to the other to keep clients from getting bored or feeling embarrassed or stiff. I never interfere in the real moments of the wedding day or ask couples to “redo” their first look or cake cutting or to smile at the camera during moments like that. Whether you know it or not, the videographer you hire could affect your photographer’s ability to get those relaxed, candid-looking portraits or real candid moments if they have a different method. In my case, I do not produce my best work when I work with videographers who are directing the couple during portraits, interfering with real moments (or even worse, trying to create cheesy fake moments). Chances are your photographer has a list of videographers that she loved working with who were a great compliment to her style and a list of ones that were not. Check in with your photographer for her recommended videographer list, and if you don’t see what you are looking for on her list, talk to her about it. What kind of video are you envisioning? Show her vendors you are looking at and like. She will probably be able to tell from their website sample videos if she thinks it would be a good fit or not.
To Keep in Mind: Obviously picking a gorgeous venue, a great florist, an amazing wedding designer etc. is going to make some weddings photos stand out more than others; however, the above tips paired with an excellent photographer will help your photographer give YOU her best photos for YOUR unique wedding story and venue. The fact is, weddings are living breathing organisms. Every wedding is different and every day plays out differently. While no wedding is perfect, and a good photographer should be able to adapt to any situation that might come up, the above are just a few tips to help avoid unnecessary problems that can affect your photos!
What can I say about Lauren and Ryan’s charming Ryland Inn wedding that these pictures don’t already convey? A wedding is a wedding. They are all beautiful, romantic and joyous occasions; but a wedding with so many happy tears and hearty laughs from supportive friends and family is a wedding that this photographer never wants to leave. If happy tears wasn’t enough to keep me there thirty minutes later than I was hired, then it would have been the cake-dropping cake-cutting, the dance floor busting grandma, the fun videographers or the friendliest group of guests that I’ve ever met. Lauren and Ryan joked with me later that everyone cried at their wedding except them, but I think they were just having way too much fun as is evidenced by all their pictures. The weather could not have been better or the day gone smoother – it was in short, a perfect day. While I don’t have more words to convey how much fun I had capturing Lauren and Ryan’s wedding day, I hope it’s pretty obvious in the pictures themselves.
Ryan and Lauren filled the recently opened Ryland Inn ballroom with gorgeous rustic decor that made use of tree stumps, birch bark, and rustic lanterns. The flowers and foliage added pops of mint and pink everywhere that transformed this beautifully open, bright ballroom into a garden party. They had an adorable first look before the ceremony, which contributed to it being such an easy-going, stress free day, and after the ceremony we had a few minutes to take advantage of the gorgeous sunset light for a few more bride and groom portraits.
I could hardly believe my ears when my assistant Leandra warned me that I only had one roll of Fuji left. In addition to my digital images, I had shot 22 rolls of medium format film, which many of the images you see above. I’m excited that incorporating film into the wedding has become so seamless. My second shooter Julieanne captured awesome moments throughout the day and my assistant Leandra’s help was invaluable. I’m so lucky to work with such talented, hard-working people.
Receiving my film scans this week was like a second mini-trip to Italy. Unlike digital photos, which you can view a thousand times throughout the trip, looking through the film several weeks later, brings to memory places and moments I had forgotten. I ambitiously packed 40 or so rolls of film to Italy and for the first few days in Venice, I religiously brought my medium format with me everywhere. But eventually the fatigue of my shoulders got the better of me and by the end of the trip I was shooting mostly digital and phone pictures. That is my poor excuse for why this post is mostly images of Venice, Siena and Tuscany and none of Ciqnue Terre and Lake Como. But I promise another post with more photos of the missing locations shortly!
One of the fun experiments I tried in Venice was photographing with a high sensitivity black and white film both at night and during the day. It turns out that my film loved the lights reflecting off the water in Venice’s flooded San Marco Square, and I think, captured its magical aura perfectly.