Wedding Photo or Video?

Wedding photography has it’s place as an art form used to document and display the beauty of your day, but so does a wedding day video. Yes I know that sometimes what is made these days for wedding video’s leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the state of the art for story telling and watchability. (Yes I made that word up!)

The problem is the same, as with wedding photography, most couples have no idea what’s involved in the production of a good wedding video. Here’s one we started months in advance of their wedding. We interviewed Aaron and Kate and found out just what was important to them about their relationship and each other. That was what they wanted to communicate in their wedding video.

We are very selective about the video projects we take on and will only shoot a wedding day short for you if you have already booked our photography team for your still images. Why? Simple, our videography team understands that when both the photos and video come together there will be a beautiful story to tell. We have the day and camera positions planned out. No mysteries. We have the wedding day storyboarded weeks in advance and everyone understands his or her role. If your considering video for your wedding day, do realize that if you book separate companies, their goals are probably less like a wedding day team and more like “I was hear first”. Which is great for that camera operator but not the best for your wedding day results.

Break out the popcorn…

 

Veronica , looking beautiful getting ready.

Do I need a Wedding Day Photography Timeline?

Wedding day photography accounts for 15-25% of most couples wedding day expenses but probably gets far less planning other than finding that perfect photographer. So it’s a photographer’s job to guide their couples wedding day plans (if possible).

One of the questions I’m asked regularly is “how many images will I get?”. Of course this depends on the am mound of coverage and if there are set times to actually spend with a bride and groom to spend on making images. Yes, the photography will happen to document your day, if that is all you had allocated, but if you book your photographer before you book your reception location or set the time of the ceremony, they will be able to guide you through the planning process to allow for that essential time to make beautiful images.

Most photographers (myself included) have times included in their contracts that inform couples of just how much time they need to set aside in the day. Mostly though, probably because there is so much in a contract these days, couples forget completely what they need to plan for and leave the day up to the wedding planner. So it’s the photographers job to communicate that important information and make a plan for the day with their couples.

So for wedding day details like rings, wedding dress, shoes jewelry, flowers etc. it usually takes 30 mins to take these images. I usually request that flowers are delivered by the time we take these shots because the flowers are most beautiful the moment they are delivered. Morning is best for these shots, before

Bridal prep images are usually next. From hotel rooms to living rooms, to interior rooms without windows at the reception location, we have shot it all. My preference is for window light in these situations, but we have used flash, and continuous light for details and bridal prep at times. Give your photographer an hour for bridal prep images, and free reign to rearrange the furniture and adjust the room in any way necessary to provide you with some beautiful images.

Groom and groomsmen need about 30 minutes of time set aside as well to record images to immortalize them in your wedding album. Just like the bridal prep images but usually at twice the pace! Same rules apply for the grooms prep area, in that the photographer will need to have permission to “edit the area” because your photographer may need to change the area to suit the style of images they intend to produce.

For First Looks, you need to allow 20-30 mins, but this also varies depending on their location and distance from the ceremony location. Even though the actual time to do the first look might only be 5-10 minutes, the rest of the time is used to take some pre ceremony portrait images of the bride and groom which will become beautiful keepsakes and key images in your wedding album.

Wedding family and wedding party formal images take about 4-5 mins each so long as everyone is available and ready for their photo session. These are usually formally or informally posed images using whatever is available in or near the ceremony location. Most couples have these done immediately after the ceremony while everyone is still in the area and the rest of the guests wait for the couples exit.

Couples session is immediately after formals and can be done in the same location or in another one close by. Remember though to discuss exactly how much time is needed to travel to this place and allow for any travel logistics it may take to get everyone there.

Reception Venue and location images. This is an area where many couples skip, but weeks, months, or years large regret that decision. (We did) Our reception venue was in one of the the most beautiful restaurants in the area, but our photographer (long retired) didn’t get a shot of the place. It still lives in out memories, but like the 1 foot afro on one of my buddies, it would be great to relive that on occasion. So don’t skip out on the details of your day and make 15-20 mins to allow your photographer to shoot before the guests are seated.

One of the most important things to remember is to relax. Your perfect day is filled with loved ones, family and friends, and its all going to be OK. I’ve seen smiling photos of bride and groom cutting their wedding cake…as it collapses backward supported by Mom and Dad. So yes perfection is a goal, but the people in your are more important than anything that might try and spoil your celebration. Enjoy them and celebrate with all your might the beginning of your lives together! Perfection is a dream that every bride works months to achieve, but if it’s at the price of a single relationship, the cost will be far too high. So relax, and roll through your day with grace, peace and joy to start your marriage together.

Why you should have Professional Engagement Photos

We understand that it can seem frivolous to have professional engagement photos taken and we understand how tempting it can be to skip engagement photos completely or resort to having a friend snap photos with their “nice” camera, when you’re on a tight budget. Engagement photos are not just another photo session, but a very important way to help you prepare for the wedding.

They’re a Great Way to Practice Posing

Not everyone is born photogenic and completely comfortable posing in front of a camera. It can be awkward, we’ll be the first to admit. You’ll be thinking, “Where do I do with my hands?” “Does my smile look awkward?” “Do the two of us look natural, or does it look like picture day?” All of those questions can be answered well before the wedding day arrives if you schedule an engagement shoot with your wedding photographer.

Even if you’re totally comfortable as the center of attention, an engagement session is great way to figure out which poses work best for the two of you, which angles are most flattering, and so much more. Believe it or not, even seasoned professional models still practice posing for the camera.

They’re a Great Way to Get to Know Your Photographer

An engagement session will give you a chance to really get to know and get comfortable working with your wedding photographer. It’ll give him/her the chance to discover what’s important to you guys as a couple, to get to know your personalities, and to learn how to make you both comfortable. This is precisely the reason so many photographers include engagement sessions in their packages.

If you and your photographer just don’t click, it’s important to discover it now and not on the wedding day. The truth is, if you and your photographer aren’t jiving, it’ll be obvious in the photos.

Remember even if you love your photographer,  communication is vitally important at every step.  Did you enjoy the engagement shoot, and the resulting images? Is there something you would have liked to see different? Your photographer is certainly going to look at each image very critically and learn what works for both of you together and individually.

As a test drive

Besides using the engagement session to practice posing & what not, also try make this a trial for your hair & makeup the morning before the session. That way, you’ll be able to find out how your ‘hair & makeup holds up & how it looks in photographs.

They’re a Whole Lot of Fun!

Your engagement/connection session is a chance for you and your fiancée to bond even more while learning how to get photographed together. Plus, it’s just plain old fun being together in some of your favorite places before all the hectic wedding planning gets underway.

With an engagement session, you can be a lot more silly & a lot more creative than the wedding day often permits, so take advantage of it!

They’re Wonderful Mementos

Most of all, your engagement photos will serve as precious first mementos. While of course you’ll have your formal wedding portraits when you’re dressed to the nines, it’ll be so wonderful to be able to pull out professionally photographed images of the two of you in more casual wear during this oh-so exciting and emotional time in your life. After all, how many professional photo shoots are you really going to have together in your life? If you’re like most people, not many. So take advantage of this new beginning.  Your engagement is a fleetingly short period of time in your life’s love story, so having photos you can return to for trips down memory lane are truly priceless, both for you & for future generations.

Super useful later!

And, last but not least, engagement photos are no longer images that you stick in an album and forget about they can be used for save-the-date notifications, send out copies with your wedding invitations, use them in wedding day guestbook, incorporate them into the reception decor, or use them for thank-you cards or holiday cards, many couples frame them and use them as decor for their first home, etc.  So as you can see the uses and possibilities are endless and your investment can be put to good use!

 

wedding in church, bride walking down stairs

Wedding Photography! You can Photoshop that, right?

Some of the most mysterious and unimaginable things photographers do is after the wedding day image post processing fest. Their are many ways to shoot and process wedding day photos, some more time consuming than others, but the first step is copying the cards from the cameras to back up drives. Yes that’s plural. I prefer to do this as soon as I get home from a wedding for two reasons. The first is I really want to look at the results from the day and the second is to protect my clients images. After the images are copied from their cards, those cards are squirreled away as additional back up. After creating 3 back ups of the original files, it’s time to cull through the images and rate them. I use Adobe software to do this since I have had a very long and close relationship with this company and firmly believe they produce the best products. The culling stage is quite time consuming and usually reduces the image processing load by 1/2 to 2/3’s. So I go through and look for all of those things artists look for, composition, exposure, focus, subject issues like are everyones eyes open, and is this the best expression out of the 4 or 5 shots taken of this subject. Depending on the wedding this process can take many hours to do.

After culling I quickly choose which of the images should be processed first to post to social media for my couple so they can get a quick look as a few images from their day right away. These first images are quickly processed, watermarked and posted. Then comes the heavy lifting. Now some photographers prefer to use Adobe Lightroom for this task, but I have found it a bit too limiting for my style of image. Since like most professional photographers I shoot raw files, these files are not images yet. They require special processing to convert them from raw to the Jpeg file that’s delivered. I do use Adobe Lightroom for quick color correction work where there isn’t any particular artistic style I’m attempting to convey in the images, but I do most of the heavy lifting in Adobe Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, and Adobe Photoshop. One of the advantages to being an Adobe community Professional is that I get all the Adobe software for free (and have for many years) but the other is I also have an inside look at most of the beta software long before the public can purchase it and get to provide input and tease out the bugs. So having worked in Photoshop since 1981 and keeping these tools readily at hand is a great advantage for creating amazing images. I tell my couples, it doesn’t matter at all what the camera see’s, the art starts in image processing! That’s more true than my brides and grooms can grasp if their only exposure to photography is the Jpeg images they got from their smart phones or compact cameras and the image processing is no more than filters applied by another app.

Now the fun starts! This is where all of the prep and lighting and artistic vision come together to create art for my couples. I identify those images that will receive signature edits. These are special for my couples that purchased black label packages, and really produce an artistic rendition of an image based on what I have learned about my couples in the months leading up to the wedding. I show before and after images to couples when we first meet to show them what they can expect and in every case the reactions go from wow to complete disbelief that the after image is ever even the same image I started with. Many photographers charge for extensive editing in Photoshop, because it can be very time-consuming. I do as well, but include it in many of my package prices. This includes any “non-permanent” blemishes and photo distractions. These days the issue of guests photographing with their cell phones comes up in many wedding day images. Sometimes I take them out (the phones not the guests) and sometimes I leave them as a record of the times, depending on the image and the potential distraction from the main subject of the image.

 

So here’s an example of the time consuming post processing things that happen between the time the images are copied to their specific back ups and when the images are ready to be delivered.   One of the craziest things I noticed when delivering heavily edited images to couples is that they loved the images and preferred larger prints, but when they weren’t told the images were edited, they didn’t even notice!  That was a revelation!

Although I have been told “I must have a really good camera” because I take such good pictures, I think most people anyway just don’t have any concept of what image editing can and does do beyond those pesky Instagram filters. Since I’ve spent many years training retouchers for some national brands like Victoria’s Secret, and Max Factor, image retouching is and has been a normal part

Tara & Preston - Chicago Engagement Before retouchingThis is the same image after editing.  As you can see the difference is dramatic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see now this is a very significant change, but seeing it beforehand requires artistic vision and a deep understanding of the limitations of both cameras and lighting as well as what’s best to be done beforehand and in post processing to get the best results.

So when your photographer tells you it’s going to take a couple weeks before you see your images, please understand that what’s being done is more than likely much more than just making prints or posting them to your online gallery.

Top 10 things that make Brides look their best in wedding photos

Chicago_Wedding_Photography_A4H1040
The first few recommendations revolve around preparations that will allow you to relax and enjoy your celebration. If you want to look your best, having all of the important wedding day details taken care of is the number one way to look your best.

1.) Relax! Yes this is your big day and you have been planning for months to get everything just right, but if your stressed on your wedding day it will show in your photography. Trust your wedding photographer! They are there to make you look good in your images. Give them your time and trust.

2.) Work with your photographer to create a wedding day timeline. I really need at least an hour with my brides and grooms (nobody else in the wedding party) in order to provide beautiful images for their album. Less than that and if anything goes wrong (No wedding day is perfect) Time must be made up.

Bridal prep and grooms prep are usually another 30 minutes of dedicated photography time. If the timeline indicates that there really is no possibility to meet the minimum photography requirements then make arrangements to take some of your images the day before or the day after. It gives the bride a chance to try out her hair and makeup, and you’ll the time to make those perfect wedding photos. Taking photos the day before or after will allow you both to be more relaxed in front of the camera and keep your day on track.

3.) Create a shot list. Of course we do this in questionnaire format with every couple, but if your photographer has not asked you and your fiancé to create a shot list then take it upon yourselves to provide them one. That list helps your photographer keep track of the images that are most important to you.

4.) Let the beautiful emotions flow! There’s nothing better in your wedding day photos than the real outpouring of emotion between a bride and groom. Don’t worry about messing up your make-up, let the good times roll and your photographer will collect them.

5.) Posing, posing, posing! Some people eschew posed photos as wooden and American Gothic looking, but let me assure you that beautiful relaxed positioning comes accross very well in your wedding photography. So start by learning a bit about posing so your ready to discuss that and provide some of your likes. Good photographers have their own styles so don’t expect that they will duplicate any image you provide. These images are still helpful as guidance for your style though. Good photographers will appreciate the ability to get to know you better.

6.) Don’t look at the camera! Some of the best images are simply moments between a bride and groom. Images where they are engrossed in each others love so much so that the whole world fades away. Those are the images you want for your walls and wedding album.

7.) Lift your chin slightly and keep your elbows away from your waist. The female form is most beautiful when we can see it, but keeping your elbows close to your sides adds to your waste, so take a tip from the top models and keep you elbows out from your sides!

8 ) Ballet hands! Take a tip from the most beautiful dancers on the planet for how you hold your hands. Never tense, always soft when posing for pictures. Palms down or out and fingers together with only the possibility of the index fingers being put to use.

9.) Shoulders back, (No slouching!) Yes it’s true if your not in the habit of practicing good posture now, then start today for a more beautiful you in you wedding day photos.

10.) Communicate with your photographer. Use them as a resource, and certainly as the artist you hired and make sure you can and do take the time in the busy months before your wedding to meet with them at least once before your wedding day. Since this is usually the first time most couples have hired a professional photographer, it’s in your best interest to maximize that investment and dialogue about your day, your album, your images and anything else.