Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Posts tagged “photography

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.


What’s more important the photographer or the photographs?


If you think about how your wedding day will unfold, you’ll realize that out of all the people you’ll be spending time with, almost no one, including your soon to be spouse, will be with you more than the photographer.

Often when I’m contacted by a couple about my services, I often hear about how they like my photos, but later I’ve been told a big reason why a couple chose me, is that during our face to face meeting I made them feel very comfortable.

This is something that took me a year or two to realize, that it was part of the services I had to offer and not just my ability to dress well & smile.

In the past I’ve talked about important things to think about when choosing your location, ways to make sure your photographer has a the opportunity to get good photos and ways to get a good photographer if you’re on a tight budget, but I’ve never actually talked about getting a photographer you’d like.

While I can’t tell you what you should personally like in a photographer, I can tell you that no matter how good the portfolio, package prices or options offered, you should actually like the photographer you’ll be working with as much as you like their products.

A few good examples of when having a likable photographer is nice are;
-when the bride and bridal party are getting dressed & ready
-in the extra small waiting rooms before the ceremony
-those intimate moments when the couple are alone, away from everybody after the ceremony
-and interacting with your guests

Still not quite sure what to look for in a photographer? Here are some good starting points.

1. Do they sound like they enjoy shooting weddings, or is this just a 9-5?

Wedding photography is a job, but while the responsibility of taking photos on one of the greatest days of a couples life is intense, if they’re not into it, it will show up in the photos as well as possibly being disruptive the day of.

2. Do they talk about bad weddings & bridezillas more than happy brides & beautiful ceremonies?
I’ll admit I’ve talked at length before about wedding mishaps and bridezillas, but I usually try to focus it on how a future couple can avoid pitfalls, as opposed to just an all out rant. Stories about how to make your wedding better are often a sign a photographer cares about your experience as much as your business.

3. Do you actually get to meet them and are they guaranteed to be your photographer?
Studios often have a sales person you meet with to discus packages, albums & prints. While you might have a choice based on portfolio, meeting the photographer is often a day of the ceremony occasion. Also, be sure to ask up front what your photographer’s switching policies are? Even small independent photographers have been know to double book a date and substitute a second photographer or assistant photographer in place of themselves.
Above all, follow your gut and not your wallet. If you get a recommendation for a photographer, ask your friends about their personality as well as their professionalism.


The 3 Most Important Things You Will Choose

Every couple I ever sit down with I tell them about the three most important things you will choose for your wedding in order.

1. The Dress

2. The Location
Chicago Skyline wedding photo

3. The Photographer

Explanation;
The Dress
– Honestly if the bride doesn’t fell like the most beautiful/important woman at her own wedding, people will know. It will show up in photos, videos and the bride sets the tone for how the guests behave and in general whether or not everybody is having a good time.

Brides, this does not mean you need a $50,000 D&G one of a kind dress. It just means you need to be happy and comfortable with what you’re wearing. If you have somebody with you whose opinion you value, take stock in what they think, but go with your gut whether it’s the first, or 20th dress you’ve tried on.

About half the brides I shot in 2008 got their dresses at David’s Bridal (unpaid plug). And I’ve seen everything from designer dresses to individual one of a kinds ( OnlyJangMi.com shameless plug for my wife’s web site), but once the dress goes on and brides see themselves in a mirror, they know why this is number 1.

The Location – I’ve seen backyard weddings that are beautiful and Luxury Hotel Receptions that are awfully tacky or bland. While renting out Millennium Park in downtown Chicago might not be an option for most of us, intimate or unique locales also set a tone for your wedding.

In a sense your wedding is as much about the day as it is about remembering the day. Is your location something that people will be talking about? Do you feel that it’s a perfect setting for your perfect day? Or is it more of a place of convenience?

Finally, will it add to, detract from, or be a non-factor in your wedding photos? Which brings us to the third most important thing.

The Photographer – Yes, I do seem a little biased on this third most important factor, but honestly it’s true. Your wedding photos will live on long after you do. Family tree albums, anniversaries. Wedding photos of deceased grandparents have been displayed at many welcome tables at weddings. The only other thing that last as long if not longer than your photos are the rings.

Not everybody you want will be able to attend your wedding, they will however want to see images from that day. You will of course want to see images from that day too, but often some of my couples’ favorite photos take place before the ceremony, or in the little moments between. Having the day documented and also having formal group photos to go along with that is the key to why photography is #3 on the list.

If you think of your wedding as just a “Day” event, then food and band selection might be more important to you, but if you realize that a wedding actually will come to symbolize so much more than just one day, you’ll make decisions based your feelings in the future.


Photojournalistic Style

New Lenox Wedding reception

Chances are if you are reading this, you have at least heard of the term “Photojournalistic Style Wedding Photography”, but what is it and why is it so popular?

Back in the day wedding photography consisted of a trip to a photo studio where a formal posed photo would be taken after the wedding. Mainly because cameras were far to large and churches were a lot more strict. When cameras got smaller, formal photos went from the studio to the aisle and eventually the reception. Since most of this work was done by studio photographers, it retained much of the look and feel of studio work. Heavily staged & formal. You can read more about the changes in wedding photography here.
http://www.wedpix.com/articles/001/evolution-of-wedding-photography/

So why did brides start to prefer a “Photojounalistic” look, over a glamorously posed photo studio session?

One big reason as mentioned in the article I linked to above was magazine coverage of royal weddings in England & Marolyn Monroe’s wedding by magazines like Life & Look. What’s more glamorous than having your wedding covered like a newspaper or magazine story.

Another was back in the 60’s & 70’s photojournalists started to photograph weddings out side of their newspaper work and it was often done using black & white film only and shot mostly as unposed candid images. They’d go back to their darkrooms and develop and print images up at a much lower cost than color film would allow. Why do you think they call it Photojounalistic Style.

Well the natural look of it took off and some in the Photojournalism industry left and started shooting weddings full time. Some wedding photographers never even worked in the industry, but employee similar techniques. Since Photojournalism isn’t really a style, it’s a field in photography, you’d truthfully be better off and I actually prefer to call it what it really is, which is “Documentary” style photography.

As I mentioned before “Photojournalistic Wedding Photography” has kind of become a buzz word in the wedding industry, but many outside of the photo world often mistake it for several things. Make sure when you are looking for a photographer who says they shoot “Photojournalistically”, that not only do they shoot documentary style, but that you actually know what that means yourself.

First a little bit about what “Documentary” style isn’t

1. A wedding shot in all black & white, is not documentary style. Black & White film was a cheap alternative to color film and many of the photojournalists I talked about above, started out shooting just in black & white. This is a film choice not a style. Although there is a different astetic to black & white photography. It is not a style in itself.

2. Different angles, close up & purposefully blurred photos, doesn’t make it documentary. All photographers strive to get different looks of a subject, myself included. These are part of a photographer personal style.

3. It has to be candid? No not really. It’s very hard to not notice somebody standing 2 feet from you with 3 cameras wrapped around their neck, but it’s easy to get use to that person being there and in time forgetting about them. Plus, all good documentaries have head shots or group photos. Looking at the camera isn’t a sin in this style, but doing the old “buddies with their arms around each others shoulders” photo isn’t what it is about.

So what is documentary style?

Basically it is the idea that what you are taking photos of will eventually have a final output, and ending if you will. Your wedding is essentially a story and capturing moments that happen during it are very important. Detailed images of rings, glasses, hands and so on are elements of that story and when laid out in a book or slide show, these images should flow together like a story without words, or voices.

A photographers personal style is their own, you can see this in their portfolio, as chances are it is a collection of the work they have done that they feel represents what they do best. A sample of how they photograph a wedding from start to finish,is a good indicator of the overall style they shoot in. Are they Documentary? Artistic? Commercial?

And while you may not have the eye that a photographer has to tell the difference, just know if you see a lot of straight on photos of people looking right at the camera, chances are that photographer won’t be laying upside down on the dance floor to get the guys diving for the garter. And if you see an image like the one at the top of the page, chances are that photographer isn’t going to grant somebodies request for a grip and grin photo.

There’s a photo I show in my full wedding presentation. It’s of a groom on the ground with his butt in the air looking under a bed. I love the weird look I get from brides, but the next photo is his cat, under the bed, because he was looking for it as friends and family gathered at his home prior to the ceremony. I always say that there’s a method to my madness. Make sure you ask about that method and figure out whether it’s right for you or not.

www.vincentdavidjohnson.com