I LOVE small, intimate weddings! They are casual, usually low stress, and I have lots of freedom to move around to shoot since there are so few people in attendance. This blog post is a good reminder that I photograph ALL kinds of weddings: big, small, first marriages, second marriages, all religions and cultures, gay and straight…love is love in my mind. This wedding took place at the beautiful Proctor Mansion last October. Just to get an idea, coverage for this small wedding was 2-3 hours, and included getting ready photos, ceremony photos, family portraits, a champagne toast, and cake cutting. These photos are also a good reminder of green grass and warmer temperatures…can’t wait for spring!
Everyone needs a good head shot! Head shots are good for:
Linked In profile pics
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus profile pics
Match.com or other dating websites
Overseas job applications
Personal or Professional Blogs
Bio pages for authors, artists, and other professionals
This winter has been great for my business. Not because I’m shooting a lot of weddings, but because I have been spending nearly all of my time creating materials for my clients. One of my goals for 2014 is to do a better job educating my clients, assisting them, and overall improve my customer service. For so long I have been so busy, and have really just maintained things so that my business ran smoothly and my clients were satisfied. But just being satisfied isn’t enough any longer. I want my clients to be thrilled with their experiences. Some of the ways that I can better the client experience is to help educate all of my clients, so that they are prepared for their session/wedding as well as afterwards when ordering products and albums.
This post is dedicated to album design. Many of my wedding clients are from out of state, and aren’t able to visit the studio to view sample albums. Therefore, I am posting an album entirely online! So, how does one go about ordering their wedding album?
1). The first step would be to choose the style of album you’d like. There are many different kinds. This album is a flush mount album. In a flush mount album, the images are adhered to card stock. They are thick, but page thickness does vary from company to company. The album also lays flat when open, unlike a photo book. It is more durable and less fragile.
You’ll also want to decide on the number of pages and cover material. Most album companies have swatches so that you can see the different cover materials. This album is from Red Tree Albums. They have a variety of leathers, silks, and fabrics. You can either have your names debossed on the cover, or have a cameo (small image).
2). Next, you’ll want to decide who chooses the photos. Many of my couples choose the photos on their own, but I recommend letting your photographer choose them, and then doing an image swap during the revision if one of your favorites is missing. Designing an album is an art, and while you may not think to choose photos such as reception table details, they really enhance the album, and are needed to help tell the story of your wedding day. Not to mention, it’s really, really hard to choose the photos for the album! It’s much easier for a photographer to choose them, since they design albums often, and know what will look great. Keep in mind, the more pages an album has, the more you can include. This album has 20 pages, and I included getting ready photos, the ceremony, bridal party portraits, bride/groom portraits, and the reception. If the album were 30 pages, I would have also included all of the family formal pictures. If the album had 40 pictures, much more of the reception would be included. See the design below:
Getting ready photos are the perfect way to open the album. It starts the album off with excitement and anticipation. It also provides close up details shots of everything the bride is wearing, from her jewelry, to the shoes, to the dress and veil.
Depending on how long the ceremony lasts (some ceremonies are 10 minutes, and some are one hour), the ceremony pages can vary, from two pages for a short ceremony to approximately 6-8 pages for a long ceremony. Ceremony and church details are also included here for both the story and for important details to remember. The iconic shot of the bride walking down the aisle, as well as the first kiss and grand exit are included in my albums as well.
Bride and groom and wedding party photos are must haves in the album. I also like including details of the bouquets, and details of attire. They are items that can be forgotten, so it’s important to include them….not to mention they look beautiful!
These are the kind of shots a couple might forget to choose if they were picking their own photos. The shots of the venue and reception details are the little things that you forget, especially because the day goes by so quickly. But they are oh so important- just think how much time you spent planning them (and how much money you spent on them!). Not to mention, they are part of the story of the day.
I love this series! This is the part of the album where I include the guests. Photos of the guests dancing and enjoying themselves at the reception are always the perfect ending to the story of the wedding day.
I often like to finish the album with either a night shot, or one of my favorite portraits of the bride/groom.
3). After the images have been chosen, and the album has been designed, the couple is allowed to make one revision to swap out any photos that they’ve missed. After the last proof, the album is sent to print! Album production can take quite a bit of time, since your album is hand made to order just for you. It’s also another reason why albums are so expensive. Bookbinding in itself is an art, and these artists are making a specialty product just for you. It’s also a beautiful, archival product that can be passed down to your children and grandchildren. For this reason, I recommend every couple have a high quality wedding album.
What’s a wedding photographer to do in the winter, otherwise known as the off-season? Head shots! Last week I travelled to Newport to photograph students in the theatre and dance departments at Salve University. Often in the summer I get frantic emails from recent graduates needing a head shot immediately for an audition in NYC the next day. Well, turnaround time in the summer is much longer than one day, so a wonderful dance professor at Salve University, Lindsay Guarino, contacted me to see if I’d come to the university to get the students updated head shots for their upcoming summer auditions well ahead of time! This of course was perfect timing, as January is typically a slow month for me.
If you or a group that you are affiliated with need environmental head shots, don’t hesitate to contact me! I’m happy to travel to locations with larger groups. Just a note, I don’t do “corporate head shots”, but use natural light and the available surroundings to shoot. For this reason, all head shots are either done in my studio, outside in nice weather, or indoors in a well lit, bright space. The photos below were all done in a hallway at Salve. One side of the hallway had a stone wall, and the other side was all windows- it was perfect!
Planning a wedding and choosing a wedding photographer can be really, really hard! Most people have never planned an event in their lives, and now suddenly, you’re thrown into it (but for a good reason!). Below I have outlined the process for choosing a wedding photographer, booking the photographer, all the way through until you receive all of your wedding photos and/or album. I know, I know….you’ve already gotten your information from a wedding blog or wedding magazine. Why should you read advice from me? Well, I am not a professional writer, or a professional wedding blogger….but I am a professional wedding photographer. I know my business, and have photographed weddings for five years now. When seeking advice, I always think it’s best to seek advice of those who work in the field, not just those who write about it. Your best resource in your wedding planning are your actual vendors. They do this every weekend. Wedding vendors eat, sleep, and breathe weddings in the season, so if you have a question, just ask them! That being said, all opinions below are my own, and you may find other professional wedding photographers who have a different take on things, and that’s fine! For all those reading on, I put a lot of effort into this post, and I hope it helps!
STEP 1: CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
When choosing a wedding photographer, make sure you look at their entire website. Look at all of the galleries (not just the first few photos), read the About Me page, the investment page (if they have one), take a look at the blog for recent work, and any other information they have for you. Then, ask yourself these questions:
-Did you connect with the photographer and could you picture them photographing your wedding? ( Why this is important: your photographer will be with you all day, more than any other vendor, so this is important!)
-Are they a professional wedding photographer? (Why this is important: wedding days are not the time to portfolio build- you want/need/deserve a professional who is experienced in wedding photography. There are no do-overs on wedding days for missed moments. Professionals have things like extra batteries because wedding days are long, backup equipment in case their primary camera stops working or primary lens breaks, and liability insurance in case they fall on the cake or break something at the venue. )
-What did you like/not like about their work? Things you should consider are the emotion, moments, editing, posing, and lighting. (Why this is important: there are several different styles in photography. Some of the popular styles right now are vintage (yellow color or matte color to make the image look old, “film” like, no skin smoothing, posing can be natural or posed), bold color and clean processing (saturated color, looks “digital”, skin is smoothed, often more posed portraits than candid portraits, perfectly exposed), photojournalist (a mix of color and b+w photos, natural posing, candid moments, timeless editing and posing), and what I like to call the “magazine” style (images look like those on Style Me Pretty- right out of a magazine, shallow depth of field so background is blurry, color is in the middle of vintage and bold- not saturated but not desaturated, very artsy, often bright). It is also common for photographers to have a mix of styles. Make sure you choose a style that you are drawn to and like!).
-When you picture looking at your own wedding photos in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, can you see yourself still connecting with their style of photos? (Why this is important: is the style dated, or will it be dated, and will that bother you).
-Is their pricing within your budget? (Why this is important: Professionals cost money and are a worthy investment, but are you going to spend $3,000 or $10,000? If price is an issue, does your photographer offer payment plans or can you buy your album after the wedding instead of in a package to break up the payments more? Photography is one of the few things you’ll have left after the wedding day is over, so are there other areas you can cut from to allocate more towards photography? While many wedding magazines might suggest asking for a discount, your potential photographers might frown upon it. Photography studios are small businesses, and often their prices are as low as they can go while covering overhead and living expenses. They aren’t large corporations, chain hotels, or owned by the State/town like the venues, so offering discounts can hurt their businesses directly).
STEP 2: SET UP A CONSULTATION
If you like what you see, schedule a consultation. This is really important, and most consultations just last an hour. Your photographer will be working with you more than any of your other vendors (they are with you the WHOLE day on your wedding day, the engagement shoot, the album design process, etc.), so it’s important that you like them! The best way to do this is to meet in person. The other benefit to meeting in person is so you can view sample albums and see more of their work. Albums really vary in quality and content, and it’s also a great opportunity to see a full wedding and what your own wedding album might look like! Finally, it’s the perfect time to ask any looming questions that you have. If you aren’t local, set up the consultation via phone or Skype.
STEP 3: BOOKING
If the consultation goes great, get in your retainer and contract as fast as possible!
It’s standard policy in the wedding industry to only hold dates with signed contracts and retainers. Wedding seasons are short, and there are only so many weekends available. Wedding vendors want to make sure you are serious in reserving the date before they turn away other interested couples. However, make sure you read the contract carefully, and know what you are signing. Retainers are non-refundable.
STEP 4: SET UP YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION
Congratulations, you’ve booked your photographer! Now it’s time to book the engagement session. Choose the season you’d like, and reserve a date. Photographers can get really busy in summer and fall, so it’s important to reserve your date early. Engagement shoots are great to get to know your photographer better, to get photos for Save the Dates and other wedding display items, and to practice being intimate in front of the camera- kind of like a warm-up for your wedding day! For my studio, the turnaround time can be up to one month in the busy season, so keep that in mind as well when scheduling engagement sessions.
Great photographers will work with you prior to the engagement session to pick a location and help you decide what to wear. Certain colors and fabrics photograph better than others, so your photographer will want to provide you with a guide for what to wear and ways to prepare. For my wedding clients, I often suggest having their hair and makeup done prior to the shoot to make you look and feel your best. For locations, I often suggest to my clients to choose a different location from where their wedding photos will be done for some variety. So if they are getting married in the city, I might suggest a beach town, and if they are getting married on the water, I might suggest the city. You can work together to pick out a great spot. Often photographers have certain spots they like photographing at to avoid crowds or know of any fees that certain parks or landmarks may charge, so it is important to discuss the possibilities ahead of time.
STEP 5: MAKE YOUR WEDDING TIMELINE
For my studio, I like the couples to reserve two full hours for wedding photos throughout the day. I recommend doing both hours prior to the ceremony, or one hour prior to the ceremony and one hour at cocktail hour. The two hours includes couples portraits, bridal party photos, and family portraits. It is important to keep in mind the time of the sunset when scheduling portraits. If you are having a winter wedding, I strongly recommend doing all couples portraits in the daylight, prior to the ceremony. For fall and spring weddings, the “golden hour” of light often happens during cocktail hour, so I recommend doing couples portraits at this time, and family portraits prior to the ceremony. For summer weddings, the sun sets late at night, so scheduling 15 minutes prior to sunset is a great way to get perfect lighting for a few portraits, even if the majority of photos take place earlier.
When making your timeline, it is best to schedule more time than not enough time, just in case there are bumps in the road (i.e. the makeup artist runs behind) or things don’t go as planned (the limo shows up late). Then, you won’t be stressed. It is also a HUGE reason to hire professional vendors who do a lot of weddings for all services- hair/makeup, florals, DJ/Band, caterer, transportation (limo/trolley) etc.. These vendors know what it’s like working a wedding, and can make sure correct schedulingis in place, and that things run on time.If you want to be positive things run smoothly and don’t want to worry about it, hire a day of coordinator or planner. If you need any referrals for other wedding vendors, just ask! We all work together often and are happy to recommend someone.
For my studio, I always ask to review the timeline one month to two weeks prior to the wedding to make sure enough time has been scheduled for photos.
STEP 6: THE PORTRAIT LIST
For my studio, I require a list of formal family portraits from the couple 2-4 weeks prior to the wedding (along with the timeline). I recommend including immediate family and grandparents in the list. Extended family pictures can be take at the reception or cocktail hour. Organizing really large groups can take a lot of time, so if this is a must for you, make sure to schedule at least 10 extra minutes per extended group shot in your timeline. In the list, include names of people, and try and keep the combinations to a minimum. If you write the list in an organized format (i.e. start with two people then add in more, or start with a large group and deduct), it goes a lot faster!
Make sure the family know where and what time to meet for family portraits. Have a meeting point and exact time. Also, dedicate a family member to locate those members that are missing, and to help out the photographer (remember they won’t know all of the members of your family!). Finally, make sure your parents have seen the list and approved it prior to the wedding. This is for two reasons: you don’t want to forget anyone, and you don’t want a bunch of family photos added on the day of the wedding as a surprise. Everything has been scheduled to the minute on your wedding day, and if family photos take an extra 20 minutes, that 20 minutes might have to be taken away from your couples portraits or wedding party photos. It’s hard to say no to family in the moment on the day of your wedding without it being uncomfortable or being taken as rude, so it’s best to prepare ahead of time. If all sets of parents approve the list, then you know there will likely be few surprises the day of. Lists for the bridal party photos and couples portraits do not need to be included. However, if there is a must have shot, please let your photographer know!
What about Pinterest inspiration? While Pinterest can be a great inspiration for planning wedding details, for photos it can kind of be a nightmare. Often the best photographers’ photos in the world are pinned, and expectations can be exceedingly high. We don’t want to disappoint you, so let us be creative and make our own shots so that they can’t be compared to anything else. You are unique, and your photos should be too. Another reason it’s hard to recreate Pinterest photos is in the nature of photography. Photos are really defined by light. A photo can be created in the same place at 7am, noon, and 7pm, and they will all look shockingly different due to the position of the sun in the sky. For example, here are two photos I took on vacation in Scotland in 2005. The photos are of the exact same scene, but the first one was taken at sunrise, and the second taken at sunset. See the difference in the light and color of the photos, even though it’s the same scene, just different times of day? (taken with film, scanned from print…excuse the quality)
Same goes for cloudy and sunny days- photos in the same location won’t look the same if the clouds are filtering the sun versus when the sun is strong and bright with no clouds. Another issue is copying. Imagine handing a writer a book and asking him/her to write it for you. Copying is generally frowned upon in the photography community. So, it’s best to stay away from Pinterest for wedding photos.
Lastly, it’s good to have a backup location for your portraits in the case of rain. If you know it’s going to rain, have lots of umbrellas available too. A few rainy day portraits are always beautiful, and many times end being my favorites! Rainy day back up locations can be hotel or venue lobbies, historical buildings like mansions and public libraries that will rent by the hour (they often have gorgeous interiors), or think outside the box- like a botanical center.
STEP 7: THE WEDDING DAY!
Everything is in place, and now you can relax and enjoy the day after all of your hard work and planning! Let your wedding party and caterer hand you drinks to relax, and make sure you eat so that you don’t pass out (you’d be surprised how many couples forget to eat!).Try and stick to the wedding timeline and to not change anything in the heat of the moment- remember, you’ve planned this for a long time with a lot of thought, and don’t want to regret anything later!
STEP 8: GETTING YOUR WEDDING PHOTOS
The average wedding photographer takes two weeks to three months to send you your wedding photos. Turnaround times differ from photographer to photographer, depending on whether the photographer edits the photos themselves, outsources the editing to a lab, has employees that edit for them in house, whether they are full-time or part-time, etc. So why do you have to wait so long? Well, we take THOUSANDS of photos on your wedding day, and we have to cull them and edit every single photo…..which takes a really, really, really long time! We don’t want to rush this process. We know it’s hard to wait, but it’s worth it, we promise!
Once you get them, the first thing you should do is BACK UP YOUR WEDDING PHOTOS. So many things can happen: your hard drive could crash, your home could flood, a fire, etc. It’s best to have at least three copies in three different places (i.e. your computer hard drive, a USB, and a bank safety deposit box).
Next, PRINT YOUR PHOTOS. Do not let your photos sit on your hard drive or on Facebook! Print them, frame them, hang them on the wall! Print a copy of every photo if you can. I do NOT recommend printing at your local drugstore or shopping center. You paid a lot for your photos, and they harbor some of your best and most important moments and deserve to be printed with a quality printer and on quality paper. Local stores do not use calibrated printers, so your skin tones can look yellow or green. Use a professional print lab. Order through your photographer, or from a professional lab online. I recommend Mpix, Minted, and Pinhole Press.
STEP 9: ORDER AN ALBUM
Whether you got an album in your package or not, ORDER one! I have a lot of clients who order one for their one year anniversary. Can you imagine a better first anniversary than to flip through your new wedding album?? Wedding albums should always be ordered through your photographer, as they have access to the best quality, hand made albums. I love flush mount leather albums with fine art paper, but there are a lot of options out there. Statistics show that newlyweds who don’t order their album within one year of getting married never will. Don’t put it off! Do it right when you get your wedding photos back, or wait until your one year anniversary, but don’t wait longer! And remember, technology will change. Film became CDs which became USBs….but tangible prints and albums never change. They are archival, and can be passed down to your children. They last a lifetime, and more.
The best way to order an album is schedule an album ordering appointment. You’ll want to look at and feel the album cover swatches in person. If you aren’t local, at my studio I will redirect you to the album company’s website (I like IrisBook and Red Tree Albums) or send you an email with the color samples in pictures. You can often choose the papers too, and even see a sample of a finished album so you have an idea of what yours will look like. Albums often take a long time to design, proof, and print, so the entire process at my studio can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. This depends on who chooses the photos (you or me), how many revisions you make (0 or 1), the specific album you choose, and the season you order the album. Albums ordered in the summer/fall will take the longest (since wedding and album studios are very busy during this time), and albums ordered in the winter/spring will be the quickest (since we often call this album season!).