Wedding photography is a celebration of the family and the union that results. As such, the day should be chronicled with the eye of an historian. When I photograph your wedding I consider my role to be your Scribe, but instead of a pen, I use a camera. In this sense I am a scribe of light, your light on one of the most special days of your life, and I take this position very seriously.
The details are what counts. In twenty years or more will you remember what your place settings looked like? How about the moon the night before your wedding day? Will you remember the faces of not just your friends and attendees, but of the individuals hired to cater to you.
You see, I believe that to chronicle your days journey requires that I capture the moments leading up to and after your wedding. To do so requires much discipline and training. Below I will showcase some of the moments captured and why I believe them to be the backbone of a story. Although you will not know the people in the photos, Imagine that the scenes are of your wedding; think of the happiness when you view your pictures to see your day as it unveiled itself, one portrait at a time. Enjoy.
A Very Happy Couple
In Quiet Contemplation
Bride on the Beach
The above photos are the kind of photo you expect from your photographer. You expect to be captured naturally in an expression of joy with your bride as in the Top Left Photo (A Very Happy Couple). Although this seems a natural situation, many couples find it difficult to come off candid when a camera is in front of them. A good photographer, like myself, will be able to develop rapport with his couple. When this happens, magic appears.
The Middle Photograph (In Quite Contemplation) begins to open up the door to creativity from your photographer. Here the bride is preparing her make-up just moments before she is to walk down the aisle. But there is more to the picture than meets the eye. As your focus draws from the brides face, you realize that this is not a photograph taken straight on, but of the brides reflection from a mirror. The mirror actually frames the bride in the picture and creates beautiful soft focus from the edges.
This photo would not have happened if I, being as creative as possible, had not put a mirror in front of her. Your photographer must be able to read the light and understand it if he or she is to be your Scribe of Light.
The Photograph To The Far Right (Bride on the Beach) may seem normal enough, however, shooting light colors (such as white) in the harsh summer sunlight of 4pm on a beach is no easy feet. Notice that detail remains in the dress and shirt. Notice that there are no harsh shadows under the chin or eyes of either subject. This requires training, knowledge, and experience.
Sadly, one can not just face the subjects directly into the sun light- this would make the subjects squint and blow out the highlights. Instead, the ability to read light allows me to angle the subjects along side of the direction of the light, have an assistant use a reflector, and then use a fill flash form a synchronized speed light. A pop up flash would be have a hard time here.
In the previous examples I have attempted to discuss some situations that most clients would think are typical of wedding photography. In presenting these I hope that I explained the situation, whether technical or sophisticated, and share with you the the knowledge required to make a beautiful portrait.
The photograph to the left is from my series, "The Well Kempt Bride". What makes this photograph unique is its candor. Mary, the bride, is preparing for her wedding day as anyone would. For a moment she weeps a little brought about from the gravity of the day. Seconds later she composes herself, stands up, and walks out the door heading towards the aisle.
The reason it is unique and special is that this face lasted only a moment- - then it vanished. How could this picture be captured, along with others form this series, without the constant reminder that a photographer was in the room? The answer seems simple enough; be quiet and don't use a flash. However, there is nothing further from the truth.
Remember, to be your historian, your photographer has to get all the moments, not just the big ones, not just the ones that are expected.
Getting these shots means being as unobtrusive as possible. I have had Clients say to me that they never saw me during the wedding other than the family shots, but are absolutely amazed how many great moments I captured. This is because I generally do not use a flash during a wedding, instead I use very expensive gear that allows me to get beautiful shots using the ambient light within the room. This helps make me invisible. On the back end of the photography, I use the best computers and software. But most important to my workflow is me. Like the old saying, "You get out of something what you put into it", no matter the equipment, no matter the software, it first takes knowledge to have a great result.
In the above picture from my series, The Well Kempt Bride, I got the shot because I was ready, the bride had forgotten that I was there, and a moment of overwhelming joy befell her. I took the shot, and it has become one of my very favorite photos ever taken. The clients were astounded.
Detail Photography of Your Wedding
The difference between doing the job well and a job well done is in the details, all of them. Of course, many clients will be quite happy with a their photographer doing the job well. With this I mean that many clients don't get married every year, so they have very little understanding of the difference between a photographer as a working professional, and a photographer who has done work. Most couples make buying decisions on price, and generally go with which ever photographer fits their budget. In some cases very astute clients know exactly who will do the job well and who will provide a job well done.
To demystify things, doing the job well is being through and getting all of the expected shots. Yet, a job well done means more. It requires paying attention to the time; when is the bride going to appear? Who will be with her? Where will the groom be? Things along this line require thought and experience. Without them the best one can hope for is doing the job well.
The details separate the two. Below you will find detail shots from different weddings with different creative styles applied. Notice that no two are the same- not just because they are different people, it's because the shots are composed at the time the picture was taken.
When enjoying the detail shots below, keep in mind that you can find the individual photos within the client galleries. This is important because when examining an individuals portfolio, you should examine the entire album, not just the top twenty or so photographs.
That last statement leads me to a final tip before I let you go. When you meet with a photographer they will show you their portfolio. The photographer will only keep his or her very best photographs in their portfolio. Why would you show off the not so good stuff anyway? This is normal and quite alright. You, as an astute potential client, should feel very free to ask to see an entire album from recent work. This way you can judge the full range of a photographers skill. Professional photographers appreciate this inquiry because it shows a grasp of technical skill and knowledge from you, the client.
Without further delay, I present to you a selection of detail shots. Enjoy.
My Top Five Pro-Tips: Choosing a Photographer
Tip #1: Ask About The Hands.
The hands are the language of our soul. They chronicle a life well lived, under hardship and through times of plenty. Your photographer should focus on your hands, not just as an afterthought, but during your wedding. your hands tell your story, and when joined in marriage, they build the foundation of your future. Always ask to see pictures of hands when looking through a portfolio. They do not always have to be during the ring ceremony, but they should be artfully and flattering when presented.
Tip #2: Is There Focus on the Groom?
The wedding day is all about the bride, right? But what about the groom? He's not just eye candy ladies, and I'm talking to the brides right now. Your husband may be the strong silent type, but he is just as important to your marriage, and your wedding portraits, as you are. Good photographers will have a portfolio showcasing the groom as well as the bride. This hot tip is about the detail with the groom's pictures AND building a relationship between the groom and photographer. It can be a bit daunting to be in front of the camera, the bride needs to feel beautiful and adored; the groom needs to feel strong, dashing, and empowered. When interviewing potential photographers, ask to see the man shots; get the groom involved.
Ah, the first kiss as man and wife. This one is a simple one. If you don't like the style of the kiss pictures your prospective photographer is showing you, then do not hire that person. You will regret it. Kiss pictures are hard because they can take so many forms, however, at the end of the day you need that shot. So, ask to see the first kiss photos. If they are great, it is likely that your photographer is too.
What was on the menu for your wedding? Don't remember. Go an pull out a copy. Many times I hear horror stories of how some key detail of a wedding went misplaced. Oh, if only there had been a photo. When you choose a photographer, make sure they are as diligent in planning how they will shoot your wedding as you are in planning the wedding yourself. A photographer who has a keen eye for detail as well as unique perspectives that you can see in their photography is a good sign that you are working with a master.
IN fact, ask your photographer about their shooting style. Ask them about specific pictures. They should be able to tell you everything about the picture, not just the numbers, but rather the feeling and mood at the time the picture was taken.
Cakes are a central part of any wedding. but cake shots are usually very boring. It's almost like they are the last thing anyone thinks about.... but wait they are. Here is why. The photography begins this way many times: Preparation photos of the bride and groom. Ceremony photos. Receiving line photos. Bride and Groom/Family photos. Photos of the first dance. Photos of the mother/son and father/daughter dance. Photos of the bouquet toss. Photos of the garter belt belt retrieval. Photos of the wedding cake... oh yeah. This is when many photographers first take pictures of the cake- right before the cake is to be cut. It's no wonder that the pictures of the cake itself are not interesting, the photographer didn't think about the cake until the last minute.
Instead of going through all this, ask your perspective photographer when they photograph the cake. If they don't say thirty minutes before they were supposed to arrive you are likely dealing with an amateur.