Many of my prepackaged Wedding contracts today come with what is called a Wedding Album. The wedding album has come a long way in the last ten years or so. Gone are the days of the 50 4×6 albums in an ornate album much like the ones that your parents wedding photos are displayed in. No, today’s albums are truly works of art designed to do more than simply display the images from the couple’s great day. They are designed to tell a story, the fairytale if you will, of this couples love and how it blossomed into the marital bliss of the wedding day. Today’s albums are essential to your wedding package offerings.
Everyone has their own style and while we are photographers at heart and not necessarily Graphic Artists many times we can get by with just simple Photoshop skills to get things done. Many imaging companies today offer software to make this process easier. I have used several from several different printers for several different styles of books. I can say 1st hand that the software can range from very easy to use (beginner) to more of a moderate user level. They all offer their own version of free templates and most let you do some minor editing to those templates. Fortunately for those of us not graphically inclined there are plenty of Graphic Designers out there who have created custom templates for you to purchase to use for your photography album clients. Read More→
Procrastination, we all do it. It’s easy to fall into a routine and become complacent. When it comes to your client’s event date though, the last thing you can do is fall into a routine; you need to be prepared for everything. Here are some of the things I do to prepare for an event to make sure everything goes smoothly for me.
Batteries, new batteries, charged batteries, just batteries. Besides your memory card these are the most important and most easily forgotten about part of your camera bag and it can bring your event to a screeching halt. I always prepare for an event by ensuring all of my flashes have new batteries, not barely used but new, and I always test them. One time I had the misfortune of buying new batteries an hour before the event only to find out the batteries I just bought at the store and hour earlier were completely dead and had I not kept my old ones I would have been in a lot of trouble. Test your equipment once you load the new ones and keep enough spares to run through however many cycles you think you’ll need. I keep enough in my bag for 3 battery changes just in case. I charge my camera batteries the night before and make sure everything is working before I leave. You don’t want any surprises when you get there.
Memory cards! On those tiny little wonders of technology can really put a cramp in your style if you turn on your camera right before your client’s event only to discover the photos from the event of the previous weekend are still on the card and you forgot to transfer them to your computer. You can’t erase them and you don’t have enough room for the photos for the current event. That will bring your event to a screeching halt and you want to avoid shooting an entire wedding in low resolution. Always check your cards at least the night before and make sure that any images on there have been transferred to your computer and make sure that you format your cards before your event. You will want to have a clean slate for your client’s event. Bring spares even if you think your 60GB card is enough. You never know when that little devil will suddenly decide to start giving you a card read error and then you not have a backup plan. Ever heard the joke about the film photographer running out of film during the wedding???? Well, it can happen to us digital photographers as well so remember the Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared! Read More→
In my last post I dived into the items that I like to focus on during wedding prep and why they are so important to a couples wedding album. While in the scope of the entire wedding ceremony it is but a small part, in terms of the photography it plays a very large role. So large in fact that I was only able to dive into what I focus on during the bridal prep. In this post we get to talk about the guys.
Guys can be hard to photograph. Often times they are uncomfortable in front of the camera, uncomfortable with a stranger in their mist with a device that records their every move, and uncomfortable showing their feelings and emotions of their boy who’s about to “go the distance”. I have tried many different things over the years to try and get guys to lighten up around me. We all have our own methods but really when it comes down to it, just blend in.
Introduce yourself when you walk into the room. I always immediately seek out the groom and offer my congratulations and let him and the other gentlemen know why I am there. Introductions are made and I usually step over the side of the room to be out of the center of attention and to let the guys go back to doing what they were doing. Guys are different when it comes to their preparation. There is less “oohing” and “aaahing” and more high fives and whiskey glass cheers. Capturing these moments are what matters to the client.
So often in wedding photography we tend to overlook some of the smaller events of the day. Whether it be the grooms preparation because we only have one photographer or maybe the departing shots of the couple because of contract time limitations. All of the events of the day are important and for a bride and groom trying to remember specific moments of the day later in life can be difficult. There is so much emotion, so many family and friends to meet and talk to, so many places to be and schedules to follow that they tend to lose focus of the minor moments and they become erased from memory. I myself think back now and have a very vague recollection of preparing for my own wedding, what I was doing immediately before the wedding, and a lot of the reception is fuzzy and not because of any alcohol. There is just so much to focus on that you tend to just remember the big ticket items of the day.
This is where you as a wedding photographer get to play the superhero. It is your job to capture these fleeting moments in time so that you clients can relive these nearly forgotten memories in a way maybe they didn’t recall. Read More→
I was reminded recently why I became a wedding photographer. Not long ago I was visiting one of my wedding clients, dropping off an album from their wedding, when they invited me in to view a wall they had decorated in the house they recently bought just before their wedding. I walked in, turned the corner, and was amazed at what I saw. They had decorated the entire wall with photos from their wedding, engagement, and bridal sessions. All of the photos on the wall were photos that I had taken for them.
It touched me in a way I hadn’t realized before. Seeing how they placed the images I captured in such a prominent way in their home, it made me realize that wedding photography involves much more than just photographing the couples day. What we do lasts their lifetime. To know that the art I create is cherished so much by the people that hire me humbled me. The gift we have as photographers to create art or to “paint with our lens” (like I like to say) touches our client’s emotions. We capture their memories, their most precious moments, on film for them to cherish and enjoy for years to come. As wedding photographers we are able to touch people’s lives in a way that few others can and it is a great responsibility that we should not take lightly. Read More→
There is a critical piece of CYA that I incorporate into my wedding contracts that I never thought I would need but got the idea from reading about other photographer’s experiences. The responsibility of capturing important people in the formal photos and ensuring they are present to be in the photo. In one of my previous posts I discussed the possibility of having to deal with less than cooperative guests. I wanted to expand on that and more specifically narrow that down to the formal wedding photos and the guests that are included in them.
Formal wedding photos can be a frantic situation for a new or shy photographer. Generally you have a very limited window to get a very large number of people set up in several different poses with people who all want to move onto the party all while trying not to sweat to death and maintain your professionalism. The most important thing to do is maintain an element of control. You are the paid photographer, you are in charge. Yes, Aunt Sally may want to get a quick shot but unfortunately, you are on a schedule and that schedule doesn’t allow for Aunt Sally to hold the show up. On top of that you realize that Grandma and Grandpa decided that they wanted to high tail it to the reception. What to do now? Read More→
Ah yes, the age old problem. Open Bar + Close Proximity To Others + Party = the Less Than Cooperative Guest. It’s something that we’ve all had to deal with and if you haven’t yet as a wedding photographer, you will. There is always the one guest that has had a little too much to drink and either offers an abundance of unsolicited advice or proceeds to just make your night rough. As a professional you should remember that you are there at the request of the wedding couple and most importantly, you have a job to do. This is business, nothing personal.
I’ve had this happen to me unfortunately on a couple of occasions. I’ve had the “friend” who is a photographer come up to me and try to “one-up” me on everything from equipment, to style, to poses for photographs. I’ve also had the gentleman who’s had one too many proceed to try and get in every single photo I took whether he was supposed to be in the shot or not. These kinds of things are going to happen and these aren’t the kind of things your photography class instructor probably went over very much when you took their crash course. The most important thing to remember is to maintain your composure. Most of the time they don’t have a clue who you are and are just talking to someone who will listen. I make it a point to try and be as professional and courteous as possible and let them know that unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to chit chat right now that the bride and groom are on the move. You will learn what works best for you the first few times you use it.
As for the wedding guest who insists on trying to get in every shot that I am taking whether invited or not, that is going to take a little more tact and a little more “air of authority” in your voice. I make it a point to lower the camera and with a smile on my face, politely ask the guest to please step aside for just a few seconds while I gather this shot. Most of the time they will comply. If in the event they do not, you have a few options but one that I would probably employ is simply to ask the guest you are trying to focus on to simply change their location so as you might get their shot without interruption. I’m sure they will be more than accommodating.
Weddings are very expensive, very personal, very intimate events to be shared by the wedding couple and their closest friends and family. It’s a time when two people promise before the world their love for one another and their commitment to each other till death do them part. It’s truly a once in a lifetime event. Never again will these two people stand together at this moment, in front of these people, saying these words to one another. The last thing they want is some goofy photographer running around getting in the way and causing a distraction! It’s our job as professionals to not become part of the event but to simply capture the event for the couple and their family to enjoy for generations to enjoy.
I know it’s hard to stay inconspicuous while at the same time capturing once in a lifetime moments but it can be done. I am a 6’ 2” 300lb beast of a man and I can blend in with the best of them. The trick is being aware of your surroundings. Plan out your shots. Be familiar with the schedule of the event so you know when and where to be for all the right moments. There is no reason to be running up and down the aisle if it’s not necessary. Many ministers don’t appreciate it and most of all your clients and their guests will not appreciate the distraction. Here are some tips I employ to practice what I call non-invasive wedding photography.
Invest in a quality long lens. Somewhere in the 70-300mm area and make sure it has IS (image stabilization). These lenses take great photos, are wonderful at getting close-ups of the ring exchange and first kiss as well as capturing those intimate fleeting moments between the bride and groom all the while letting you remain behind the wedding guests but still able to capture wonderful images. Long lenses allow you to be where you need to be without you being in the way. Ever heard the expression “you make a better door than you do a window”? Guests will appreciate it that you are not distracting them from an event. I attended an event one time where the photographer had an assistant who was holding 2 slave flashes and he had the master on his DSLR. He was running (literally running) up and down the aisles to capture that shot. When the bride and groom were leaving back down the aisle he had all flashes going off in front of them as he and the assistant walked backwards down the aisle not 8 feet from the bride and groom. It was distracting, I was distracted. I don’t remember much about that wedding but I remember a lot about that photographer and that is not the kind of memory we want to be remembered for. Read More→
Weddings are great ways to gather new business. For one, the wedding couple has already placed their stamp of approval on you by hiring you to capture their special day. You have instant access to lots of potential clients from expectant moms, to high school seniors, to newly engaged couples, to family photos. Every potential client in one place. So how do you reach them? There’s a few different ways to do this without being disrespectful to your paid clients, the bride and groom.
One method that I like to use is the couple card. I take a few photos that I have taken of the couple and I create a 4×6 image with their photo as well as my information at the bottom. I also include my website and album information for the event. I normally print anywhere from 60-100 images and have them displayed somewhere around the sign-in table. They are 4x6s so they are inexpensive and they make great keepsakes for the wedding guests. Many times if you print more than one image people collect them. Its great branding for your business and inexpensive advertising.
Another great way is to talk to the guests. Get to know them a little bit. If you see some children dancing on the dance floor and children’s photos are your things, get a little creative with your images. Many times guests will go to the album and order photos of them from the event. Getting great shots of their kids keeps you in mind when they are thinking of new family photos.
Another great advertising piece is Facebook and other social media outlets. I know, I know, everyone uses Facebook but really it works. I have received quite a bit of repeat business and new customer business via Facebook from other events that I have posted. By posting images of your events and tagging yourself as well as your clients it gives their friends the opportunity to visit your business page and look at your work. It increases traffic to both your business page and your website. I try to only post a few images of events on Facebook and then provide a link to the entire album on my website thus driving traffic to the site. The key here is timing. You need to be quick. I always post a group of “teaser” shots from the event no later than 4 days after the wedding. This keeps the event fresh in the guests mind and the couple is usually still on their honeymoon so when they return to internet surfing they get to view some of their photos right away. This is a great advertising took and costs you nothing other than time. Read More→
I love doing bridal portraits. Its normally sometime prior to the event, the bride has their dress fitting perfectly; they have had hair and makeup appointments all day so they truly feel like a princess without any of the stresses of the wedding day. Bridal portraits make for beautiful images.
Bridal portraits are what brides look at and dream about their own wedding. They see a princess in every image and that princess is a reflection of their own desires. Capturing a great bridal session means preparation and research. I suggest taking the following steps to create a perfect bridal session.
First, meet with your client. In the day and age of online payments, email, and websites, sometimes we don’t meet our clients until the day of the event. If you are doing a bridal or engagement session for that matter I suggest meeting with your client and getting a feel for their personality, likes and dislikes. Many times they will rely on your expertise for location choice for the photos and you’d hate to choose a great western theme for a city girl who has never been out of town and doesn’t like dust. Personality shows through in your images especially when you are photographing subjects who are not used to being in front of the camera. If they are uncomfortable it will show.
Second, prepare your bride for the shoot. Make a list of commonly used items and send it to them so they know what to prepare for. Here is what I normally tell my brides. Read More→