Category: Artvesta’s Advice

5 Helpful Tips for Beginner Photographers

There’s a lot of pressure to take a great picture, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As a beginner photographer, you’ll just need the right tools and tips to help you get started. If you’re looking for some guidance on how to capture your life in photos, here are five helpful tips:

1. Understand your camera 

We all started somewhere! If you are embarking on an exciting journey of becoming a professional photographer, congratulations! It is a very thrilling and rewarding career but keep in mind that it may take you some time to get where you want to be.

Before you start taking photos, it’s essential to understand how your camera works. Take some time to read the manual, learn about the different modes and settings, and practice adjusting them. Knowing how to control your camera will give you more creative freedom and help you capture the shots you want.

Here are three things you probably want to do first:

  • Understand your camera.
  • Learn to use the manual and understand all of its functions.
  • Familiarize yourself with all modes, settings, and lenses that come with your camera.
2. Use natural light before you invest in professional lighting

The best kind of light is the one that doesn’t cost a thing.

Natural light is more flattering, it’s free and it’s more forgiving than flash. It also allows you to take pictures at any time of day without worrying about running out of batteries or recharging your flash unit. Natural light gives you more interesting shots too because it casts shadows on your subject in different ways throughout the day–this adds depth and dimension to an image that can’t be replicated with artificial sources (or even by using natural ones later on). Practice to get the result you want with natural light. Try taking photog in different times of day. Do you nitice how the colors change in the morning, afternoon, and right before sunset? Practice to position your subject in the most flattering light. Try getting exposure right on manual settings.

Pro tip: Lighting is one of the most critical factors in photography. As a beginner, it’s best to start with natural light as it’s readily available and easy to work with. Try shooting during the “golden hour,” which is the hour after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft and warm. Avoid harsh midday sunlight, as it can create unflattering shadows and make your photos look flat.

3. Pay attention to composition

Composition is the art of arranging elements in a photo to create an aesthetically pleasing and balanced image.

As a beginner photographer, you should practice composing your shots carefully. Start by applying the rule of thirds, which involves dividing the image into thirds horizontally and vertically and placing the subject at one of the intersecting points. Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and framing to create visually appealing images.

Compositional elements include:

  • The rule of thirds – Imagine your frame divided into thirds horizontally and vertically, then place your subject on one of those intersections (see below). This helps create an image that isn’t too centered or overwhelming for the viewer’s eye.
  • Leading lines – Lines that lead into or out of the frame can help direct attention toward or away from certain parts of a photo, as well as add depth to an otherwise flat shot. Pay attention when taking photos at night–often times there will be street lights that act as leading lines!
  • Framing – Use objects in front of you like trees or buildings so they frame what’s behind them! For example: take a picture through glass doors at night so only part of yourself shows up but everything else outside looks amazing because it’s lit up by street lights.
4. Practice, practice, practice 

Practice is a great way to improve your photography. It will help you understand the camera better, and it will also help you understand how to use natural light. Practice also gives you an opportunity to learn composition, as well as gather feedback from others who see your photos. Finally, practice is important because it allows us to repeat what we’ve already learned in order to become more proficient at our craft.

Photography is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Take your camera with you wherever you go and challenge yourself to shoot in different environments and lighting conditions. Experiment with different techniques and settings, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Learning from your mistakes is an essential part of the process.

5. Gather feedback and repeat

Finally, seek feedback from others to improve your skills. Share your photos with friends, family, or online communities and ask for constructive criticism. You can also attend photography workshops or join a photography club to meet other photographers and learn from them. Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and set goals for your next shoot.

If you want to become a better photographer, you need to learn how to take criticism. In order for people to give feedback on your work, they have to see it first. So make sure that every time you show off your photography skills or post something online, there’s also an invitation for comments and critiques.

When someone gives you feedback on something in your photos (whether it’s technical advice or just general thoughts), listen carefully instead of getting defensive or arguing back right away–they might have valid points! Take the time necessary so that when someone gives you advice about improving their technique with lighting equipment and other factors involved in creating great shots like composition and angle choices among other things then try implementing these changes into future shots before deciding whether or not they were worth following through with based upon how well they worked out after doing so.”

In conclusion, photography is an enjoyable and rewarding hobby that anyone can learn. By understanding your camera, using natural light, paying attention to composition, practicing, and seeking feedback, you can develop your skills and create stunning images. Remember to have fun and enjoy the process!

We hope these tips have helped you get started on the right foot. Remember, it’s all about the journey, so don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t perfecting your craft right away! The most important thing is to keep practicing and having fun with photography as much as possible–and we’re sure that once you do, your pictures will reflect that enthusiasm in no time at all.

5 Tips on Becoming a Better Wedding Photographer

Wedding photography is a tough business, but it’s also full of opportunity. If you’re looking to make a name for yourself as a wedding photographer, you’ll need to learn from the best and practice constantly. That said, here are some tips that will help you make it in this competitive industry:

New York City Wedding Photo Shoot

1. Build your technical skills:

As a wedding photographer, you need to have a solid understanding of camera settings, lighting, composition, and post-processing. Take the time to learn and practice these skills regularly to improve your craft.Practice is the key to improvement. If you want to be a better wedding photographer, then practice shooting in low light and at night. Practice shooting in different environments and at different times of day. Practice shooting at different locations as well!

It’s easy for us all to get stuck in our own comfort zones when it comes to photography (and life), but if we want our work or abilities as photographers or people who love photography and are passionate about it all around us in general–not just weddings–to grow and improve then we need to step out of those comfort zones every once in awhile.

2. Develop your people skills:

Wedding photography involves working with clients, wedding party members, and vendors. You need to be able to communicate effectively, put people at ease, and build rapport quickly. Practicing your interpersonal skills will help you build a good reputation and ensure that your clients are happy with your work.

Attitude is everything. If you’re the type of person who gets down on themselves, or if your attitude is negative, it will show in your photos. Keep an optimistic outlook at all times!

Don’t let a bad experience get you down; learn from it and move on.

Ask for help when need be; don’t be afraid to ask other photographers for advice or critique (and don’t take their advice personally). Also, it’s okay for friends/family members not being photographers themselves to do test shots with their phones–they’ll still give valuable feedback on things like lighting, composition etc., which can be just as useful as having an actual photographer there helping out!

Don’t be afraid of taking risks either: try different things with composition or lighting styles until something clicks!


3. Invest in quality gear and learn from other pros:

Having good quality camera gear can make a huge difference in the quality of your photos. While you don’t need to go out and buy the most expensive equipment, investing in good lenses, a sturdy tripod, and a reliable camera body will help you produce high-quality images.

There are a lot of great ways to network with other wedding photographers and get feedback on your work. One of the best ways is to join a community of like-minded people who share their knowledge and experience in order to help each other improve. You can find many such groups on social media, but you’ll also find them at conferences and workshops, or even just by asking around at local events where photographers might be present (you never know who might know someone!).

If you want to learn more about how wedding photography works from someone who has been doing it for years, seek out mentors who are willing to share their knowledge with others–and don’t forget that there are plenty of online resources too!

4. Build a strong portfolio:

Your portfolio is the key to attracting new clients and establishing yourself as a professional photographer. Make sure your portfolio showcases your best work, and includes a variety of shots that demonstrate your range and style.

When you’re first starting out as a photographer, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many skills that you need to develop in order to become better at your craft–but where do you start?

The best thing that you can do for yourself is to learn from others and practice as much as possible. Study other photographers’ work, see what they do well and how they do it differently from other photographers. Then try incorporating these techniques into your own style of shooting weddings (or whatever else).

You also need practice shooting weddings yourself! It sounds obvious, but the more time spent behind the camera at real events will help build confidence and improve technique over time–and make sure that when we get into editing later on this list of five tips for improving wedding photography skillset becomes easier for everyone involved!

Same sex wedding at Robert restaurant in New York City

5. Keep learning and evolving:

Photography is an ever-evolving field, and it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques. Attend workshops and conferences, follow other photographers on social media, and continue to learn and grow in your craft.

In conclusion, if you want to become a better wedding photographer, there are a few things you can do. First off, practice! The more you shoot weddings and portraits, the more experience you will have under your belt. Second, study the work of other photographers–both professionals and amateurs alike. You never know what tips or tricks could help make your photos even better than before. Finally, network with other photographers so that they can give advice on how best practices would work in their own lives as well ?”


Manhattan wedding flatiron building wedding photo black ebony couple

Starting your wedding photography career? Hey, I’m Tatiana, a wedding photographer based in New York City capturing love since 2004 and I’m here to help you start your journey! Leave me a comment below or shoot me an email at artvestastudio (at)

Speak soon!

5 Tips on Planning the Perfect Christmas Marriage Proposal

Christmas is often a popular time for couples to get engaged due to the festive atmosphere and the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends.

Christmas is a time for celebrating love and creating meaningful memories with loved ones. If you’re considering proposing to your significant other on Christmas, it can be a romantic and memorable way to ask them to spend the rest of their life with you. However, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure that the proposal is a surprise for your partner. In this article, we’ll provide tips for proposing a marriage on Christmas, including how to plan ahead, consider your partner’s preferences, make the moment meaningful, and get creative. Whether you’re planning an intimate and private proposal or a grand and elaborate gesture, these tips will help you plan the perfect Christmas proposal.

Here are the top 5 tips to plan a perfect Christmas engagement: 

A couple getting engaged in New York - a Christmas marriage proposal
1. Plan ahead

Proposing on Christmas can be a romantic and memorable way to ask your partner to spend the rest of their life with you. However, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure that the proposal is a surprise for your partner. This might involve coordinating with family and friends, or finding a special and private location to pop the question.

2. Consider your partner’s preferences

Take the time to think about what your partner would enjoy and appreciate. For example, if they’re not a fan of public displays of affection, a more intimate and private proposal might be more suitable. On the other hand, if they love surprises and grand gestures, a more elaborate proposal might be in order.

3. Make it meaningful

Christmas is a time for celebrating traditions and creating meaningful memories. Consider incorporating elements that are meaningful to both of you into the proposal, such as a song or a special piece of jewelry.

Meaningful details for an engagement - a couple getting engaged
4. Consider the timing

While Christmas Eve or Christmas Day might seem like the most obvious time to propose, it’s important to consider what will feel most comfortable and special for your partner. Maybe they would prefer a proposal on a quiet morning walk, or perhaps a cozy evening in front of the fireplace.

5. Get creative

There are endless ways to propose on Christmas, and getting creative can help make the moment even more memorable. Some ideas might include hiding the ring in a Christmas ornament, creating a scavenger hunt with clues leading to the proposal, or incorporating a Christmas carol into the proposal.

Engaged couple - she said YES!

With these five tips in mind, you should be well on your way to planning the perfect marriage proposal. Remember to consider your partner’s tastes and preferences, make it personal and meaningful, and be sure to put some thought into the details. And most importantly, don’t forget to let your love and excitement shine through. With a little bit of planning and a whole lot of love, you can create a proposal that will be remembered for years to come. Good luck!

Top 6 Tips for a Summer Wedding in New York

Summer Wedding in Long Island City
Wedding Season is Here

The summer wedding season is officially here! Summer temperatures in New York City can reach 90°’s (the hottest summer temperature ever recorded in New York City was 108°) It is essential to know that although summer weddings are incredibly romantic, such hot temperatures can cause some real discomfort to you, your wedding professionals, and your guests. Being considerate (read being well-prepared) is key. Proper preparations are especially important for an outdoor wedding.
From abundant shade and hydration stations to appropriate summer bride and groom attire, in this article we are covering the most important things to consider when planning and outdoor summer wedding in New York. We have compiled expert tips of the pros you’ll want to follow to ensure your guests enjoy your special day, too!

Here are the top 6 tips to plan the best outdoor wedding for your guests:

Summer refreshments for a wedding ice cold water with lemon
1. Pre-ceremony refreshments 

While your traditional glass of “welcome” champagne is always tempting, keep in mind that for the next hour, your guests may be under the scorching summer sun. Try opting to serving non-alcoholic drinks as pre-ceremony refreshments instead.

Cold water, iced tea, fruit and mint-infused water, lemonade – keep your guests thirsts quenched and their well-beings in mind and hydrated. There will be plenty of time to pop the bubbly later!

2. Shade

If you can host your wedding ceremony in a shaded area or under a plethora of trees, it will probably be a good idea to do so. Otherwise, don’t forget to provide parasols and personal fans (wedding programs make great fans!) for your guests. You may also want to provide sunscreens, sunglasses and hats depending on the wedding style and length of the ceremony.  

3. Timeline 

To avoid the mid-afternoon scorching heat, begin your ceremony later in the day such as around 6PM. A later time will provide a more comfortable environment and save your guests from sunburn and heat exhaustion.

Remember, sticking to the timeline will help to keep your guests happy and comfortable. You never want to make your guests wait too long. They are excited to share your day with you and the more comfortable they are during your wedding ceremony, the more energy they will have to keep your dance floor lit during your reception!

Punta Cana summer ceremony seat allignment
4. Seats 

Even if you host a short and sweet 15 – 20 minute ceremony and opt for a non-seated arrangement, plan ahead for your elderly guests and pregnant friends. In extremely hot weather, even 5 minutes standing can become challenging. 

Seats matter, and not only the quantity but the type of seats as well. For example, metallic chairs are great and may look pretty in the pictures however, for obvious reasons, chair cushions are a must.

5. Pests

We love summer weddings. And so do bugs! Be sure to ask your venue about their pest control schedule. You may also want to provide travel-sized bug spray for your guests if your ceremony runs long.

Also, talk to your florists as they can suggest some specific flowers that help to keep the bugs away! 

Summer wedding ceremony tips
6. Sunglasses

Help your guests to be more present and comfortable during your ceremony by providing them with sunglasses and protecting their eyes from direct sun light. Those glasses can also double up as souvenirs and keepsakes of warm and lasting memories of your wedding day.

Sunglasses as wedding favors for a summer wedding in new york

Following these simple steps will most definitely enhance your guests’ experience at your wedding. With so many significant details to keep in mind, planning your own big day can get overwhelming. When it feels like a little bit too much, try reaching out to your local event planners for help.

Thank you to Olha Barabash at Sense of Moment for contributing her knowledge and expertise to this article.

Featured venues: Ravel Hotel Events, Queens Botanical Garden

Photography: Tatiana Valerie, ArtVesta Studio

The Practical vs The Traditional. The First Look at a Wedding.

Wedding traditions often times will come in conflict with capturing the most important posed photos at a wedding, such as family pictures, bridal party pictures, and couples portraits.

If you follow strictly with tradition, the most important shots happen right after the ceremony because the first time the bride and groom see each other is during the ceremony.

The challenge with the traditional way is organizing group photos when everyone is already tired, hungry, and don’t look their best any more. Sometimes it is impossible to hunt down all the family members for the pictures as they are already enjoying the food and drinks at the cocktail hour, all scattered around.

The solution to this often overlooked problem is simple – the first look!


First look is a moment staged by a planner and a wedding photographer for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony.

The first look is a very romantic and emotional moment that is not only very special for a couple but it also helps to save a lot of precious time and give the couple peace of mind. Instead of taking couple’s portraits, family photos, and bridal party photos after the ceremony, when everyone is tired and eager to eat, drink, and party all these important photos are taken care of right after the first look, when everyone is still enthusiastic and looks fresh.

First look is the answer to a no-stress pre-ceremony photo shoot … and you will be able to swing right into the cocktail hour, have your first drink, meet and greet your guests minutes after you say your “I do’s”

13 Questions About Wedding Photography

1. Should I hire a professional wedding photographer or relative/friend?

While you may feel comfortable with a relative or friend to capture your big day, a professional photographer possesses the technical mastery of shooting, logistics and time constraints. Experienced photographers will work with you, understand the vision of your event, and then capture your most precious memories without getting swept up in the celebration, lose entire segments of your wedding or forget backup equipment. If a relative or friend shoots your wedding, he or she is more likely to get caught up in the celebration and miss important shots. Professional photographers anticipate and capture the most expressive split second at the exact time. They know how and when to crop the picture to highlight an important detail and keep all the other elements in the background. Professional photographers can also preserve all the details in a picture and keep all the important objects in sharp focus. Most importantly, experienced photographers can make your event look magnificent regardless of your wedding budget.

The Venetian New Jersey Jewish Bride

2. What is a proof?

A proof is a low-resolution digital image or small-sized print. Photographers do not retouch all the pictures from their event shoots. Instead, they print or create a low-resolution version of all “open eyes and in-focus” photographs for a customer to view and then select a handful of the best pictures for further post-production and larger prints. Artvesta Studio is committed to ensuring the highest quality of proofs. 

Wedding in Montauk Long Island The Haptons

3. Should I hire two wedding photographers or a solo photographer?

The decision of hiring two wedding photographers depends solely on your budget and photography needs. 
While the first photographer’s primary responsibility is to take all standard or classic wedding shots, the second photographer focuses on snapping additional action shots and different-angled images that capture those precious and fleeting moments. Many authentic emotional shots usually take place outside of the lens scope of the main photographer. He or she can also support the main photographer if something unpredictable happens. A photography duo will also give you two distinct styles of photography that complement each other. The only disadvantage in hiring two wedding photographers is a higher price in the wedding photography package due to the extra cost of production and post-production.

Award-winning photograph of groomsmen in new york city hotel

4. How can I determine the best wedding photography package?

A typical wedding package includes 8 hours of photo coverage by one or two professional photographers, digital or printed proofs, and a password-protected online preview gallery. Sometimes, wedding packages also include enlargements such as 11×14” or 16×20” as well as wedding albums for the bride and groom and two sets of parents. We offer 4-hour, 8-hour, and 10-hour wedding photography packages that include digital proofs and an 8×8” or 10×10” Artvesta Photo book. We also offer a number of a la carte items such as additional photo albums, photo canvases, prints, pre-wedding and post-wedding photo shoots, additional or reduced hours of coverage, and customization options.

5. What is the average retainer to secure a photographer for my big day? When is the remaining balance due?
A customary retainer for a photography package is at least 10% of the entire package price. While some wedding photographers prefer a 50% retainer, other photographers request 100% of payment delivered upon contract signing. At Artvesta Studio, we require a 35% retainer to reserve a date.

Creative book ring shot

6. How come the price ranges drastically among various wedding photographers?

The wedding industry has been known for having low barriers of entry. Most photographers soon realize that the costs of running a legal, well-equipped, and fully insured business are high and they must charge market rates to provide quality service and stay afloat.

7. When should I book a wedding photographer?

Start scouting for the right wedding photographer as soon as you secure your wedding date. Since experienced photographers accept bookings years in advance, it’s in your best interest to book your wedding photographer once you find the best combination of vision, skills, personality, and price that meets your requirements.

Creative rings shot wedding rings

8. What qualities must a wedding photographer possess?

As you interview multiple wedding photographers, look for the right combination of personal and professional qualities that will assure a smooth flow of your wedding day and captivating photos. Make sure you understand a photographer’s personality and figure out why he or she became a wedding photographer. For example, I became a wedding photographer because I love capturing emotions and enjoy brainstorming creative photo concepts and ideas and bringing them to life. Nothing is more rewarding than creating the exact shot that I had in mind and the satisfaction of the couples with the finished product. I spent years honing my craft before offering my talent commercially.

After the wedding photo shoot

9. What should I be aware of when scouting wedding photographers? 
Make sure to view several full galleries of weddings that the potential photographer shot from the beginning to the end. Many wedding photographers start out as second shooters for well-established studios and often include second-shooter pictures in their portfolio when booking their own jobs. Even if those pictures are impressive, you cannot be sure that the photographer can withhold the pressure of being the first or, especially, the only photographer at the wedding. Another helpful tip when scouting a wedding photographer is whether he or she is willing to give you printing rights to the photos. Withholding of reprinting rights is the main source of hidden additional costs in the industry. For instance, a photographer can offer you a very low price for their photography services, and after the wedding, they can inform you that the only way for you to receive your pictures is to pay $6.99 for each 4×6” print. Considering that a professional photographer takes between 1,000 and 3,000 images per wedding this can get very pricey very soon.

Midtown Loft & Terrace Bride

10. What equipment should a wedding photographer carry?

Since wedding photography is a rapidly-changing industry, new technologies and equipment are being constantly introduced to professional photographers which makes it difficult to give exact specifications of the equipment required for a quality photo shoot. However, some standards remain unchanged such as having at least two professional-grade photo cameras, a set of various lenses and speedlights, as well as off-camera photographic lights, reflectors, stands, portable batteries, and photographic umbrellas. In my professional kit, I usually carry three professional-grade photo cameras, five to six lenses, five speedlights and one video light, at least two photo stands, a tripod, three sets of wireless speedlight triggers, 2-4 light stands, a stepladder, and a set of creative props.

Wedding in Punta Cana Dominican Republic Paradisus Palmareal

11. Are photography prices less expensive for off-season and weekday weddings?

The prices for professional wedding photography vary for off-season and weekday weddings. You can potentially save up to 20% on a regular photography package with a winter wedding on a weekday. If you want to include albums in your package, the discount will probably be much smaller because the cost of album production is fixed and included in the photography package price.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden Wedding

12. Can I order both black and white and color photos?

Since it is fairly easy to convert a color photograph into a black and white one, do not worry about making this decision in advance as long as you agreed on color photography.

Jewish Wedding Photography New Jersey

13. Why do wedding photographers copyright the pictures they take at weddings?

Transfer and printing rights can easily be confused with a copyright. The copyright is granted to any photographer at the time a picture is created. It does not need to be claimed, documented, or registered by an author. If you want to reproduce the images from your wedding photographer, make sure a reproduction release is included in your contract. For more information on copyrights, visit It is common for wedding photographers to retain the original hi-resolution files to be able to maximize their profits by making additional money on prints.

Still have questions? Please feel free to ask me by commenting below or email me at

What makes great wedding photography

What is great wedding photography? Is it the perfectly posed photo that captures a couple’s brightest smiles and star-struck gazes of true love? Is it the candid photo of the two caught in the act of being their goofy, down-to-earth selves? Better yet, what is great wedding photography in the perspectives of the photographer and those who are photographed? How does that saying go…”A picture says a thousand words.”? That’s right, photos are like works of art that are interpreted in the eye of the beholder. We all see the same thing, but at our own angles.

Today, we hear from a professionally photographed bride paired with my own thoughts on what makes great wedding photography.

From Photographer (Tatiana):

What do you see when you look at a wedding photo? Excellent lighting, ideal composition, great direction. That’s what you see when you look at these photos. What my clients see transcend the beauty of these photos, they relive the meaningful moment captured in that image over, and over again – the photos are alive and have breath, they will live on and on, through memory. To capture these once-in-a-lifetime shots for my clients, I need to understand who they are as a couple and what is meaningful to them. I have to be present and listen to exactly what it is that these smitten couples are communicating to me and capture that at the moment it happens – it is not orchestrated, it is organic. I have to be intuitive and feel connected with the couple to deliver meaningful photographs that tell the couple’s story in the most perfect, natural way.

Romantic meaningful moment between a bride and a maid of honor.

Photo: The bride, Jessica, and her 12-year-old maid of honor.
Wedding date: 04.12.2015
Wedding venue: The Water’s Edge, NYC

Story behind this photo: This is the bride and her 12-year-old maid of honor. The bride and the groom are high school sweethearts. They started dating when their maid of honor (groom’s sister) was born. The age of their love story equals to the age of this lovely girl on the right. The two girls symbolize the beautiful pinnacle moment of this relationship. The light and the skyline ahead symbolizes the bright future ahead. I strive to capture photos that captures my clients the way they see themselves. Photos, that reflect the very essence of my clients’ most memorable moment.

Both the bride and the photographer agree that great wedding photography results from a connection between the photographer and those who are being photographed. An unspoken understanding between the photographer and the couple combined with the photographer’s skill to beautifully capture meaningful moments creates magic – exceptional wedding photography that keeps bringing to life every treasured point in time over and over again.

Why a Couple Should Hire a Professional Photographer for Their Wedding Day

Midtown Loft & Terrace bride

Photo by ©Tatiana Valerie – this image has no association with the content of this post.

Planning a wedding can be a daunting task as every decision is like a building block that you will eventually solidify as an event of a lifetime – One of the most important days of your life, your wedding day.

Hiring a professional photographer to capture every memorable moment of your big day can require hours of research, but it will prove to be well worth it when you’ve yet again “found the one”. Take it from the words of a self-planning bride herself, Meredith from Texas, USA shares with us her sentiment on who, what, when, where, and why she chose a professional photographer for her big day.

Q: What is your vision for your wedding day?

A: Well let’s start off by saying that my vision includes absolutely no rain, plentiful sunshine and a ton of love in the air. Other than marrying the love of my life, the thing I’m most excited for is seeing all of our family and friends together. I anticipate a ton of laughs, very little stress and an all around beautiful day.

Q: What has been the most memorable or eventful time during this process of your wedding planning?

A: The day we got engaged! That was the best day. It’s been a whirlwind since then and has been surprisingly non-stressful.

Creative wedding photo ©2012 Tatiana Valerie

Photo by © Tatiana Valerie – this image has no association with the content of this post.

Q: Do you feel that choosing the perfect photographer for your big day is an essential? What if you had to go without one…how would you feel?

A: Yes! The photos from our wedding day will last forever. Making sure we had the perfect photographer was very important to me. I can’t imagine not having a photographer on that day. Those photos will be cherished forever. We are spending as much on our photographer as we are spending on the dinner for 250 guests. It was THAT important to me.

Q: Rewind back to when you were a little girl…did you always picture your dream wedding to become what it is now? What are some similarities and differences?

A: Well, when I was little, I thought I would be married at the age of 18. I’m thankful that it took me another decade to find my prince charming. He was worth the wait! I never really planned out my wedding in my head – other than knowing it would be a giant party – and a giant party it will indeed be!

Q: What’s some advice that you’d give to a “bridezilla” during the wedding planning process?

A: This should be one of the happiest days of your life. If you’re stressed, just keep that in mind and remember to breathe. The day will come and go so quickly. If you’re being a bridezilla, are you really going to have fond memories of your big day?

Destination wedding in Punta Cana Wedding Photography

Photo by © Tatiana Valerie – this image has no association with the content of this post.

Q: Does your fiancé feel as strongly as you do about capturing those once in a lifetime moments?

A: He LOVES good photography. Since seeing how the engagement photos turned out and how much they already mean to us, he is 100% on board with having a great photographer at our wedding.

Q: Tell us how everything will unfold on your big day!

A: The entire ceremony and reception will be at my fiancé’s parents’ property on Onion Creek in Driftwood, TX. They have thirty-eight acres of Texas Hill Country land, so we won’t be short on space! There will be approximately 250 guests. The ceremony will be fairly simple and will take place by the creek on property. A good friend is marrying us and all of our immediate family will be walking down the aisle. Thinking about the moment that I walk down the big stone steps to “At Last” by Etta James gives me chills (good chills!) every day. After the ceremony, everyone will walk up the stairs to the reception area. They will be greeted by hill country views, a mariachi band, a giant white tent, dance floor, a hog roast and plenty of local beer and wine. The speeches and dance will begin at sunset and we will party and dance the night away while drinking champagne and eating ice cream cookie sandwiches (We decided on this instead of a wedding cake). Guests are invited to camp at the property (Seriously, we already have RSVPs signed up to camp out). The party likely won’t stop until the next night!

Q: Do your parents or in-laws have wedding photos halfway as beautiful as your engagement photos?

A: To be honest, I haven’t seen many wedding photos from our parents weddings. The photos I have seen are mostly ‘staged’ photos of all the family together – which are still wonderful to look at.

Q: If there was a fire, and you had to choose 3 things to take with you….would your wedding photos be at the top of that list? Why or why not?

A: Not just wedding photos, but all of my photos would be at the top of the list – after my dogs, of course.

Q: You mentioned that you must have a photographer but not necessarily a videographer… Why is that?

A: I will still be looking to secure a videographer for the wedding – but a photographer is much more important to me. Am I going to watch our wedding video every day? No. Will I see our beautiful wedding photos around our house every day? Yes.

Wedding at Montauk NY

Photo by © Tatiana Valerie – this image has no association with the content of this post.

Q: What feelings would exude from you, after viewing the most absolute perfect wedding photo (yours or someone else’s’)? Feel free to be as sappy as you’d like.

A: Upon seeing our engagement photos, I cried, a lot. They were all happy tears because the photos meant so much to me. When we first see our wedding photos, I expect the same reaction – times ten. I will probably be smiling for days and showing them off for years.

Q: When you see bad wedding photography, what are you thinking about?

A: It shocks me when a bride and groom don’t realize how important wedding photography is. I knew a girl that got married a few years ago and she didn’t hire a photographer for her wedding. She said “everyone can take pictures with their cell phones.” I just about died.

Q: Photos/photography has been around for ages…painting portraits, film cameras, black and white photos only, then color photos, digital cameras, and now cameras in our phones that we can instantly print out at any local drugstore – Do you feel the significance and cherished quality of true photography has dwindled throughout time? Do you have actual photo boxes or photo books?

A: I think that there is an even greater appreciation for good photography these days. There are so many mediums for photos to be seen by so many people. I still print a lot of photos and keep them in photo albums and photo boxes. Eventually, digital photos will likely be a thing of the past – and I would hate to not have all those great photos in hand.

Q: You’ve taken on photography before…as a photographer and being the person being photographed…what tips would you give someone who is searching for the perfect wedding photographer?

A: Find someone that will truly understand you and your fiancé’s relationship. The more they get you, the better the photos will be. Do not be afraid to tell your photographer what you envision. A good photographer will take your advice and use their skill to build on your vision and make it better than you ever imagined. Trust your photographer. Sometimes you may feel silly taking a photo using their direction, but the outcome of that photo could be amazing.


From the lady of the hour, and like many other soon-to-be-married brides, hiring a professional photographer for your wedding day is one of the single most important aspects of planning your wedding. After committing to your chosen photographer, you’ll be counting down the days to when you can flip through the pages in your wedding photo book and swoon over the sweetest day of your life.

My Secrets to a Flawless Bridal Getting Ready Photo Shoot

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I was recently asked by to share my secrets to a flawless wedding getting ready photo shoot. Here are my eight tips that will help to get the best getting ready photos.

As a former corporate employee, I treat every wedding as a complex project where every element depends on advanced planning prior to the Wedding Day. With more than 12 years of hands-on wedding photography experience, I believe that pre-planning helps all the major players of the big day – including the couple, bridal party and immediate family members – stay on schedule and get better quality photographs.

Here are my top tips on achieving better getting ready photos:

1. Ask your hair and makeup artist for the estimated time needed to complete your wedding day makeover. Add 30-40 minutes to their estimate and be prepared for anything. There are always unexpected things that will get in the way including an urgent phone call, an important missing item, or a friend who wants to congratulate you early. This all adds up and consumes precious time. Don’t be surprised or frustrated by it; just plan for it.


2. Ask your photographer to start shooting when your makeup is almost ready. The makeup artist can always apply an extra layer of lipstick or powder for “on camera” shots. If you start your photo shoot too early, you will be responsible to pay for that extra time of photography and also risk the potential of unflattering photos in your wedding collection.


3. Eat something before your makeup artist starts working on your face. An early nutritious breakfast will ensure that you have enough energy for the entire day and save your foundation and lipstick from smudging and becoming uneven

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4. Make sure the room for your getting ready photos is clutter-free and well-lit (great daylight is always preferred). You don’t want a random bra left on a couch to be in every photo. There is no guarantee that “photoshopping that bra out” will be a seamless process.

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5. Set aside your “must be photographed” items in one place before your photographer arrives. Make sure the invitation, wedding rings, earrings, special clutch, flowers or your fiancé’s grandfather’s cufflinks, are in one location ready to be professionally styled and photographed. Don’t forget to ask your florist to deliver your flowers before your photographer starts her or his work. In addition, this will save unnecessary stress and time and ensure that you will have all those significant items beautifully captured.

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Yelena & Alex Punta Cana wedding rings

6. Share your ideas for specific shots with your wedding photographer. For example, one of my brides asked for a photo of her pinning a boutonniere to her father’s jacket. If you don’t communicate your preferences with the wedding photographer, you may miss out on some special shots in your wedding album.

7. Make sure that you, your wedding planner, or one of your bridesmaids brings a sewing kit. It can be a huge time saver if anyone needs a safety pin, a pair of scissors, or someone’s button falls off. It is much easier to fix the problem before snapping photographs then photoshopping that button on in over a hundred photos.


8. If you would like a mini-boudoir session before you get into your wedding dress, hiring a female wedding photographer may be a better choice for you. It will definitely help you feel more at ease and capture some stunning and tasteful shots that you and your husband will treasure forever.



Overall, great communication with your wedding photographer and thorough planning are imperative for a successful wedding day photo shoot.

Planning a destination wedding or a honeymoon? Let a professional travel specialist help you!


Yesterday, we sat down with travel agent, Laura Hanaford. Laura specializes in custom vacations, honeymoons, group travel for destination weddings and travel for out of town guests to local weddings. Her company, The Trip Trotter, is part of the Tzell Travel Group. Laura helps us understand why in the world of internet bookings where information is at your fingertips, it’s still best to work with a travel agent.

What is your process for working with couples choosing a destination wedding?

Resort matching is the longest and most difficult part of planning destination weddings, yet it’s the most important. Most of the time, couples don’t have a resort in mind, but they have an idea for a location. It’s also important to know where they don’t want to have their wedding and why. Ironically, couples actually book on islands that they originally did not want to because they had previous false misconceptions. I begin by either meeting the couple in person or having a phone interview. It’s important to learn about who they are, their families and any expectations and must-haves that they need for their wedding. Obviously, budget is a largest factor when planning but unlike planning non-destination weddings, the costs for the guests is often more important than the wedding itself. It’s also important to note if you’re allowed to bring in outside vendors and if there’s a cost. After getting to know the couple, I pull a few different properties and have the couple let me know what they like and don’t like about each. We will then look at different properties until we find the perfect fit.


What’s the advantage of working with a travel agent over booking the property directly with the resort yourself?

As an agent, not only do we have access to the best group rates possible, but we can also help negotiate extras in addition to the group amenities. They vary depending on the resort, but can include free transfers, upgrades, better room locations, wedding packages, and extra parties. Sometimes, we can even negotiate services of a judge or minister- that’s huge! There’s also more flexibility with the cancellation policy within our contracts. Many couples complain that the upgrades that were promised do not get delivered, but as we have relationships with these properties, promises are delivered. The contract can also be confusing and most couples have never booked group travel before. We help explain the ins and outs and make sure that you’re taking advantage of everything that is available.


Ok, but what about booking the honeymoon?

I usually book my own trips. Why should I hire a travel agent? Couples come to me at the last because the pressure and time needed to plan the wedding became overwhelming. The honeymoon is a once in a lifetime trip for most couples, so why not have a professional plan it. Travel agents also are able to get better rates at many top hotels and resorts. One of the hotel programs that my agency is part of is The Signature Group, which gives upgrades, amenities and value-adds at over 800 properties worldwide. Add-ons include daily breakfast for two, early check- in/late check-out upon availability and resort credit.

We’re the ones that can send bottles of champagne to your room. We also make sure that you’re taking the right tours, have all of the right transfers and are not trying to fit in too much or make unreasonable connections. We’re not just your booking agent, but your consultant and can provide you with destination opportunities that you’ve never dreamed of. Couples often have an idea of where they want to go, but in reality it may not match their personality, honeymoon time, or budget and we help you realize that and come up with alternatives. For brides that like to plan, I help target their searches so it’s not so overwhelming yet they still feel in control.

For instance, I’ll give them several hotel options and let them choose. Most importantly, when something goes wrong, you know that you have someone with influence to call when you need help. Because my agency has such strong relationships with vendors, we’re able to step in when there’s a problem and get you help faster than those who book themselves. For example, my agency even has a direct line with Delta, so we can get to the airline agent that much faster.

Great, I’m sold. So what’s the best way to contact you?

I’m reachable by phone at 212-537-7154, or email at Can’t wait to help make your next dream vacation a reality.