Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Posts tagged “weddings

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


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