Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Better Photos

Are You Getting All You Paid For; Full Frame vs. 8×10 Prints

How would you feel if you were only getting 15-20% of the photos that you paid for?

Well chances are it’s happening and in most cases it’s not your photographer’s fault. The 35mm film & digital SLR camera take photos with an aspect ratio that prints out fully when on 8×12 paper, but losses between 15-20% of the image because it must be cropped to fit into an 8×10 print (see the comparison below).

The difference between full frame printing & 8×10.

 

Considering 35mm film & digital cameras have been the dominate camera format since the 1960′s, I’m not sure why the 8×12 hasn’t taken over from the 8×10. The good news is more and more printing labs are offering 8×12 and other options large & small to fit full frame. A short list of the most popular full frame sizes are shown below. If you used me as your photographer, you’ll be happy to know beyond being able to order full frame prints, you’ll have the option to get frames custom made to fit your full frame prints. (Orders can be placed here http://vincentdjohnson.zenfolio.com/)

 

 

 

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Image Friendly Wedding Tip #6: The Silent Treatment

Image Friendly Wedding Tip #6: The Silent Treatment

Couples are always looking for ways to make their wedding as perfect as possible. Over my years as a professional photographer I have found all sorts of little tips that brides & grooms can do to make sure their wedding photos come out even better, almost regardless of who’s behind the camera. I hope these posts improve your wedding experience

Modern ceremony, especially those that take place out side of religious venues, often are shorter and less verbose. While this is a windfall for your guests looking to hit the cocktail hour, it can however put your photographer in a pinch if they wanted to get several different angles, or viewpoints, as there may not be many verbal clues to when an important part of the ceremony will happen. One of the best things you can do is let you photographer know exact phrases, or timeline of the ceremony once you’ve done your rehearsal.

While most photographers have a game plan and will start approaching a location we want to be in for the rings & kiss, on occasion a short ceremony can catch even a seasoned pro off guard if there is little in between readings and vows.

One of my most mortifying misses I had was at the wedding of Michi & Jesse (pictured above). The vows had been said and the rings were asked for by the officiant, I was in place, but nothing was said after and the rings were placed on their fingers. After getting the shot of the best man handing the rings off, I had looked down to make sure I had plenty of space left on the memory cards for covering this and the kiss, but when I looked back up the ring was already on the brides finger and not a word was whispered.

The ironic thing is that they didn’t even notice and in most situations, the camera doesn’t have a clear view of the brides ring finger anyway. Regardless, I apologized and added a little gift in with their wedding photos.

So, if your wedding is on the short & sweet side, make sure you drop a hint to the photographer about silent parts of your ceremony.

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Image Friendly Wedding Tip #5; Dress To Impress. Grooms.

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Image Friendly Wedding Tip #5; 10 Things Grooms Should Be Thinking About When It Comes To Attire

wedding tux for men
#8 Make it personal. My wife loves Audrey Hepburn, so if you’ve ever seen Sabrina, you’ll recognize this white Tux jacket. If you’re wondering why the odd look on my face, I was just told the DJ couldn’t find the processional music.

Gentlemen, I know its not easy. For months the focus seems to be on your bride-to-be, but when it comes to your clothing choice for the day, don’t just mail it in.

Sure you got her to agree to marry you, but that doesn’t mean you can just hit cruise control. People will be looking at you and feeling so-so about what you’re wearing shows up in photos. Here’s a top 10 list of things you should be thinking about when it comes to looking for your attire.

1. Put some thought into it. First are you even going to go with a tux, or will you be wearing a suit? Bow tie, or normal tie? Black, white or gray? If you’re getting married for the second time, or are doing a small low-key wedding, going with a suit might be an option. Getting married in Texas and want to show your inner-cowboy off, maybe you go with a bolo tie. Tuxes don’t just come in black, but as with all of these choices, talk with your bride-to-be the more adventurous you get. You want to look better than some schmo who picked something off a rack, not overshadow her.

2. Rent or buy? Just about every bride keeps their dress and just about every groom rents his tux, but it should be the other way around since, you’ll be far more likely to wear your tux again after the wedding. So you have to ask yourself, what are the chances I might need to rent a Tux again soon. The benefits to owning your own tux are limitless, but being 100% sure it fits perfectly is all you need to worry about now. Look for stores like Filene’s Basement, or other outlet stores that sell suits. I managed to find a tux for about $75 more than what I rented my wedding tux at. Even if I don’t find a black tie charity event to wear it at, I’m always solid on Halloween as James Bond.

3. Don’t just go with the first Tux the guy at the mall tux rental shop shows you. This goes back to my main point, you can’t just mail this in. It might be the one you go for in the end, but don’t just do what they say is the in style this year.

4. Do some research This goes back to the last point. Maybe read up on a few blogs and see if there is any advice for tuxes based on body type. Maybe do a few searches on the internet and see what the new trend is out there, or even better, don’t end up like those who got married in the 1970′s with baby blue ruffled shirts & cumber-buns, find something that is classic and will stand up to your children’s ridicule. Your hair style may be a different problem.

5. Try and find a store use to adult rentals, AKA not the mall. Not that being in a mall makes a bad rental store, but sometimes these places can be staffed with people who are use to dealing with a majority prom crowd.  This could lead to your fitting, or order not getting the full attention it needed because there were 150 other people renting tuxes that week. There are usually a few tux rental shops in downtown areas of larger cities. Try one of these places out. Chances are they’re use to dealing with adults who need the occasional tux for a black tie event and aren’t going to be over run during prom season. No matter where you go, its always a good idea to ask what their peak season is, so you can make arrangements not to get fitted then.

6. Read Reviews. Wedding web sites and consumer web sites like Yelp, are full of reviews on local businesses. Just because the tux you rented from a national chain for your friends wedding in New York was good, doesn’t mean their store in your home town is on point.

7. Stand out from the groomsmen. I did a white jacket while my groomsmen did black jackets. You can switch it up in several different ways. Vest color, tie color. I’ve even seen the groom wear a bow tie while his groomsmen went with a regular tie. What ever you do, make sure your groomsmen all stick with the same plan. Nothing looks worse than two guys wearing bow ties and two guys with normal ties. Dads, ushers and other tux wearing non-groomsmen have a little more leeway. While I’m not against groomsmen matching the bridesmaids color scheme, don’t make them wear teal green, purple, or some other less than flattering color. Black, grey, silver and other neutral colors won’t clash with the girls and the fact you’re putting some thought into it might help convince your bride-to-be not to put your buddies in pink bow ties.

#7 Going with a white jacket is a nice way to stand out from the groomsmen. It can also be as simple as switching up yoru vest or tie color.

8. Make it personal if you can. Did your dad and grandfather both have tails on their tuxes? Go with that if you can find the right style. My wife is a huge Audrey Hepburn fan and if you’ve ever seen the movie Sabrina you may recognize my white jacket. Custom cufflinks with a message or theme are another way to go.

9. Cuff Links. Yes Please. Two things I’ll say right now about cuff links, while they might not have always been the most popular, they have never gone out of style, or made someone wearing them look dated. Sure most rental places will give you standard cuff links, but why not go with something a little more stylish, or take a cue from tip #8 and make it personal. On top of adding just a little more style to your look, cuff links also make a great groomsmen gift. As a groom think about getting your own french cuffed shirt for your wedding day. Rental shirts have cheap cuffs, don’t always fit properly and you can always have your shirt tailored to fit you like a glove so it’s one less thing to worry about on the day of your wedding.

#9 Cuff Links Yes! At a recent wedding each groomsman had custom cuff links with an image of something that made them happy.

10. Make Sure You Feel You Look Good. I always say one of the top 3 most important things at a wedding is the dress. Why? Because if the bride doesn’t feel she looks like the most amazing person in the room, its going to show up in the photos. The same thing can be said about the groom. If you feel like you’re tux fit is to baggy, or to tight best, its going to show. Do you feel like it isn’t for you and was something you went with to make her happy.  Let her know long before the wedding so you can work it out. Either way, loving what you’re wearing makes all the difference in the world.

 

#1 Put some thought into it. Shoes are another way to showoff some of your own style.

If you are a former groom and have some dressing advice for future grooms, post in the comments section, or on my Facebook page.

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Image Friendly Wedding Tips #4; Classic Car

In this case the groom owned the Mini.

When most of us think of the bride & groom driving away from a wedding, it’s either in a limo, or in their own car (cans on strings from the bumper are optional).

I don’t have anything against limos, or your car, but let’s face it, limos make up for style with size and personal cars in most cases are something most have been hanging onto through college, not really great for photos.

So why not add a little charm and go with a vintage ride?

If you would prefer for the least amount of leg work, go professional. There are companies who rent out vintage cars with drivers, for everything from filming movies to driving around brides & grooms and they usually have several car options to choose from. If you’re in a rural or small urban area, as opposed to a New York or Chicago, you may need to go with this next idea.

If a car rental agency isn’t an option, or you’re on a budget, be sure to check out local car clubs. You might not have a choice of a 1937 Rolls Royce in 3 different colors, but finding classic cars from the 1950’s & 60’s shouldn’t be a problem.

Because this isn’t a full time business, some car owners may not have an exact idea of what to charge, or what will be required of them & their car.

Not that I want you low balling people, but a good dollar amount to start at is between around$100 for an hour or two. Owners who maybe have done this once or twice before may already have a price in mind.

Make sure you specify when & where you’d like the car to be used and who will be in it. Since the purpose of this post is about making better pictures, I’d suggest making sure the owner knows you’d like to be using it as a prop after the ceremony. Make sure you mention everything you have planned. Nothing will sour your mood more than finding out you can’t sit on the top of the rear seat of a convertible as you’re leaving the ceremony.

A few last tips:

  • Ask for the car to be at least washed and maybe waxed the day of or before the wedding
  • Ask the driver to dress accordingly and in a solid color (preferably black)

Want to see how cool a vintage car can make your wedding photos? Just Google for photos from the recent Royal Wedding where Prince William & Kate Middleton left in an Aston Martin convertible.


Imagine Friendly Weddings #3 – Grooming For The Groom

On your wedding day most of the people & cameras will be focused on the bride, but chances are the groom will end up in more than a few photos.

Here’s a day by day list I’ve made up from tips from around the internet & personal experience on how to prep before the wedding.

Grooming tips for the groom

The Week Before

6 Days Out: Make sure you’re really on top of your game plan for your teeth. You’ll be smiling a lot, so it’s good to make sure not only that your teeth are clean, but your gums aren’t overly irritated. A good week of flossing once a day & brushing at least twice should keep everything looking good. Don’t forget to brush your tongue, you’ll be doing a lot of kissing and you don’t want bad breath. Teeth whiting & a professional cleaning are options you might want to talk to you dentist about at least a month before.

Brush your teeth

5 Days Out: Hair Cut. The rule goes, it looks best 4 days after the cut and for the following 4 days after that (days 4-8). Professional stylist recommend you test any color changes a minimum of 1 month out. This gives you time to change it back in case you, or the bride don’t like it. (Ask your barber/stylist to groom your eye brows (see 4 Days Out).

4 Days Out: Moisturize. If you never used the stuff before, it’s not going to work miracles now, but a twice daily cleaning regiment, followed by a facial moisturizer this far out might just save your skin from a blow up on your wedding day. Ideally, you’d want to have your products picked out & tested by this point, as everybody’s skin is different, so what works for your best man, might cause you to dry out or become oily. Don’t forget sunscreen, at least SPF 15, nothing worse than have a facial sun burn a few days before the wedding . Several companies make a moisturizer sunscreen (I like Aveeno), so you kill two birds with one stone.

3 Days Out; Body Hair. Eyes, ears, nose, back, whatever. If your stylist/barber didn’t groom your eye brows, now is the time. Don’t forget your nose and ears. Back & chest, while it won’t show up in wedding photos, think honeymoon. Wearing a three piece Tux in the summer? I’ve even heard it suggested that you trim arm pit hair to lower the area for order causing bacteria.

2 Days Out: Hopefully you don’t have to much wedding stress, but either way, let somebody else do the work today. Get a massage.

Manicure

1 Day  out: Manicure. I’d have slapped the hell out of any of my friends who suggested this when I was getting married, but as a photographer I can tell you there will be several close up photos of your hands so it’s not a bad idea. At the very least, trim & file your nails and scrub underneath those bad boys.

The Day Of: Take a good hot shower & shave. make sure to really soak your face with hot water before shaving & for god sakes use an after shave balm, not after shave lotion. Save the Old Spice for the honey moon.

There are of course several things you should look at doing at least 1 or 2 months out, but that’s a whole nother post.

If you have any thoughts on what to include in this list, post a comment below.

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com

 


Image Friendly Wedding Tips #2; Dress Code

Dress Code? Or Dress Theme?

I will say this tip isn’t for everybody, but requiring, or suggesting a dress code isn’t as far fetched as you think.

There are two main reasons why you may want to have a dress code; First, either the you, or the reception venue want to maintain an appearance fitting for the location. Second, you feel there may be some confusion by your guests about how they should dress.

Black Tie & Jacket Required

Although not very frequent, there are still Black Tie & Ultra Formal weddings. Also, some country clubs & high end hotel venues may also have a “Jacket Required” policy. And while most venues might not stipulate that the policy be in effect for your guests, your guests eventually will have to enter, or leave the reception area and could end up feeling out of place, so a suggestion, or request to dress appropriately should appear on your invitations.

General Wedding Attire

Let be honest, in most cases, women are pretty clear on what to wear to a wedding, us men on the other hand can fail miserably. A personal shameful incident came while I was in college and after asking to be invited to a cousin’s wedding reception at a fancy country club, I showed up in mock turtle neck & a bad multi-colored sweater vest. I looked like the offspring of Steve Jobs & Bill Cosby, while everyone else was in suits & ties.

The point of that story is, even though I was well intentioned, I wasn’t aware at the time that most men wear suits & ties to weddings. Especially if you’re a young couple, you will most likely have guests who are at their first wedding where their mothers aren’t dressing them. Once again a suggestion on your invitation will help insure you don’t have any photos of you rolling your eyes when you see a friend in a work polo, or your cousin in a club attire.

Weather & Locations

The two examples above are both related to how you & the venue you might want the guests to dress, but what about how the guests themselves would like to dress? If you’re getting married outside in the summer, especially if the reception is outdoors as well, you might want to seriously think about letting guests know if you’re ok with dressy casual attire, so nobody shows up in a dark suit & tie for a beach wedding and women aren’t in high heals on the beach.

Themed Weddings

I’m not talking costume party here, but on occasion some couples like to have a theme, or style to their wedding. Often it sticks to decorations and the venue, but I have seen it incorporated into the guests attire. Last summer, Jinnel & Randy (pictured above) had a 40′s style swing theme to their wedding. While many of their friends showed up dressed to play along, it wasn’t a mandatory thing, but enough guests played along so that combined with the swing band & the ball room at the Mayslake Peabody Estates, the wedding took on the vibe they were going for.

Above all make sure your guests know they can come to you, or your wedding planner with questions about how they should be expected to dress.

Remember, keep it simple if you do a dress code. There may be one or two people annoyed by it, but best scenario it stops a few people who would only RSVP for the open bar from coming. Although chances are you still won’t be able to stop uncle Charles from wearing the fish tie.

Did you include a dress requirement for your wedding, or did you have any wedding attire nightmares? I’d love to hear about them, post in the comments section.

For a breakdown of wedding dress codes, check out this post from the You Look Fab blog
http://youlookfab.com/2006/05/15/the-wedding-dress-code-primer/

Doing an homage to your love for Star Wars as part of your first dance… Cool & funny.

Making your grandma dress up like a Jawa… Not cool.

VincentDaivdJohnson.com


Image Friendly Wedding Tips #1

Shooting into the Sun doesn’t always turn out this nice.

Its All About The Light

The most common photography question I receive from people is “How do I make a good picture?” and I tell them its all about light.

Understanding how light works and where it will be on your wedding day is key to making sure you get a good photos.

Having professional gear, a degree in photography and 15 years experience helps, but that only gets you so far.

When it comes to your wedding day, think about the lighting.

One light that never changes is the sun. From the Druids at Stonehenge to the Aztecs in Central America, people have known where the Sun will be for millennia, so with the internet it shouldn’t be to hard for you to knock it out in 10 minutes.

First up, where are you getting married? Church, park, beach, banquet hall, in a cave?
Second, what time are you getting married?

Forget about clouds or rain. If you are outside, think about which direction you will be standing, surroundings that may block light and how that effects your background as that is the one thing you can predict.

Having an October wedding at 5:30 when sunset is at 6:15 may give you that awesome golden light, but if you are in a small valley or depression, trees or hills may mask or block out that light.

Late afternoon can still give you harsh shadows, but the pay off comes in the reds, greens & blue sky.

Midday has it’s issues as well.

Harsh sun from directly over head can make nasty shadows, but scheduling after noon may lead to it’s own issues. I was married on the Chicago lakefront, on the patio of a beautiful fieldhouse. This put us between the fieldhouse (West) & the lake (East). Besides not wanting to have our wedding too early in the day, photos before 11am would see less true colors in the sky & the lake to the East. But after 1pm the patio area would be covered in shade, meaning to get proper color from my wife & I, the sky and background would have to be over exposed.

We settled on Noon as our start time and our ceremony was covered in bright sun light with a fantastic skyline and lake in the back ground.

Next time you’ll see why I also mentioned indoor locations too.