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).
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/)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.