Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

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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.


Just a Suggestion

Wedding suggestions

Wedding suggestions

As a professional in a field that I have worked in for over a decade. I’m fairly confident that when I give someone photo/wedding advice I know a little more than they do. I’m not trying to being arrogant, but I do go to almost two dozen weddings a year and I network with other vendors and get feedback from couples.

You don’t always have to follow my, or other vendors advice, but you should at least take it with a grain of salt as you typically only get married once.

On occasion I see internet message boards that have posts from brides-to-be looking for services or having questions about planning their weddings. If I have time I’ll send a quick answer or suggestion. I’ve helped couples from England to California. Often getting very pleasant replies for my advice.

However for whatever reason, when I give advice towards the aspect of photography I often get very rude replies, especially closer to home. Telling me to mind my own business, or how dare you tell me what a bride wants.

These are always set as suggestions like the ones in this blog
-the 3 Most Important Things You’ll Choose
-Wedding photographer under $500

The fact of the matter is, it’s a suggestion. Just some advice I’m giving you, you don’t have to take it, sorry if it was unwanted, but it never hurts to get another opinion, even if you think I’m biased.

All wedding vendors have a wealth of knowledge and many will help you find reliable sources for other vendors, offer you advice outside of their area of service. They may or may not be trying to win your business over, however chances are they know a few things you don’t and if it stops you from paying $15 for another bride magazine it just might be worth it for that.


WANTED; Wedding photog, $500 or Less, Students Welcome Part 2

So you’re still hell bent on going this route here are a few suggestions. (continued from part 1)

1. Know where to find your student photographers. Realize that the world is a big place and photo students aren’t as numerous as accountants. Colleges and universities that have photography programs are few and far between, or are concentrated in one area. While the wedding might be 50 miles from a city like San Francisco, or New York, with a lot of photo students. Students don’t always have transportation, or at the vary least reliable transportation. Living in Memphis might yield few photo schools, but the small towns of Columbia, Missouri, Missoula, Montana, or Bowling Green, Kentucky are home to some of the countries better photojournalism programs.

2. Also, not all photography students want to shoot weddings. My senior year I turned down $800 from a relative to shoot their friend’s wedding (this was in 1997).

3. Have patients. When you use non-traditional avenues for wedding vendors, you have to remember you will no longer be dealing with professionals. Hobbyist/students most likely will not know half of what a full time vendor does on the business side of things. So set time aside for portraits sessions to be longer and don’t expect full-on pre & post ceremony consulting. Also, while couples with graphic design knowledge will cry “not fair”, third party vendors like album publishers will not sell to clients not already in the industry. This means the hi-end magazine style album you wanted probably won’t be available through the student, or amateur photographer.

4. Ask to see a portfolio. Realizing you know nothing about what makes a good non-wedding portfolio, look for photos that capture people. Great photos of trees, lake views and sunset do not translate into great photos of people. Look for somebody with a knack for documenting events like a photojournalist. Believe it our not, great photos from a party or night club on their flickr page, may say more about their talent than that amazing sunset.

Alternative suggestions.

1. Buy somebody a good camera. Find a relative or close friend who is into photography. Take the $400 or $500 (or more) and use it to help them buy a new camera like the Canon Rebel, or Nikon D70 with a kit zoom lens package, or if they have a nice digital already, upgrade with a better off camera flash or fast glass lens. Or if they have good equipment now, pay for an advanced photo class with a pro. I actually know a dentist who has always had more expensive equipment than me, but I still get better pictures. Make sure your wedding is at least 3 or 4 months away so they have time to use and get used to shooting with it. You’ve just strengthen a bond with someone and found a photographer.

2. (This should be done in conjunction with suggestion #1)
Ask guests to bring their point and shoot digital cameras and up load the photos to a photo sharing web site like flickr or photobucket. Or better yet, ask them if they’d mail you a CD of the images. Two of my favorite wedding photos came from my father and a friend’s husband. While they took some good photos the rest of the wedding our hired photographer beat everything else they had hands down. But you can’t go wrong with 10 cameras vs. 1. (Do this even if you hire a professional).

3. Do a destination wedding. I know three different people who just took themselves, their best man/maid of honor and went for broke on a beach in Mexico or Hawaii. Most resorts have a photographer who will take a few handful of photos for a hundred or two hundred dollars, but basically by eliminating the pomp and circumstance with your wedding you’ll eliminate the need for serious photography. Oh and flowers & dinner for 300 people & a limo & so on and so on. Plus you already on your honeymoon.

4. Move the date back. If all these ideas don’t seem like such a good idea now that I’ve spelled them out, move the date back. There’s nothing that can be more catastrophic to a wedding than squeezing it into an unrealistic time frame. While you might find a few deals, weddings are expensive and if you are doing it solo (like my wife & I did) you either need to scale your plans down (150 guests in stead of 400) or save some more money. Unless you need to be married at home plat in Yankee Stadium before it’s torn down, the best thing you can do is wait a little longer & save.

www.vincentdavidjohnson.com