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”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to help make your next dream vacation a reality.
Photography by Tatiana Valerie 2015
WHY HIRE A PROFESSIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
OR WILL UNCLE BOB DO THE JOB JUST FINE
1. NO MISTAKE CAN BE MADE BECAUSE…
THERE IS NO SECOND TAKE!
2. SHOOTING ON “AUTO” CAMERA SETTINGS
WORKS “OK” OUTDOORS BUT DOES NOT WORK WELL INDOORS
3. GREAT CAMERA WILL NOT PRODUCE GREAT IMAGES
IF ONE DOESN’T KHOW HOW TO USE IT
4. IS UNCLE BOB ARTISTIC ENOUGH?
HAVING A GREAT EYE IS PIVOTAL FOR A (WEDDING) PHOTOGRAPHER
5. PLANNING IS A MUST FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
UNLESS YOU ARE OK WITH LOSING SOME IMPORTANT SHOTS
IS UNCLE BOB A PHOTOSHOP GURU?
7. IT IS CHEAPER TO PAY A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER
THAN TO TRY FIXING UNCLE BOB’S PHOTOS AFTER THE WEDDING
CONTACT ME, A FULL-TIME WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER;
MY LIVELIHOOD RELIES ON DELIVERING HIGH QUALITY PHOTOS!
MY NAME IS TATIANA VALERIE, GOOGLE ME
ARTVESTASTUDIO.COM | 212.300.3897
YOUR PERSONALITY, YOUR VISION, YOUR STYLE, YOUR BEAUTY, YOUR STORY…
I GET IT. I CARE ABOUT IT. I WORK HARD TO CAPTURE IT.
Your big day is approaching and you have everything in order. You have your caterer, your church, your reception hall, the cake, the rings, the dresses, vows are written, and everything is in place. Or is it? Who is doing your photography? Oh not to worry – your cousin is an amateur photographer and he is taking the pictures. It was a good way to shave a few dollars off the budget. Good idea right? Wrong.
Why is it not a good idea? Why do you want to hire a professional wedding photographer for your big day? Pictures are pictures right? Again wrong. There are benefits to having a professional photographer for your wedding and these benefits far outweigh what you can shave from your budget by having an amateur do it for free. These pictures are the placeholders for the memories of your wedding for the rest of your life. Your cake will be devoured in a night. Your pictures will last longer than a lifetime.
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and those pictures will be one of the most important items in your box of memories. The more incredible the pictures, the more incredible the memories will be. What are the benefits of hiring a professional wedding photographer?
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Wedding Photographer: Education, Training and Experience
A professional photographer is going to get you the best possible pictures, using the best set ups and props. The photographer will make sure the lighting and angles are excellent. When you interview photographers for your wedding, remember you want someone with great credentials. What are great credentials? Education and training in photography and years of experience, specifically with weddings.
Style is a vital component in why you should choose a professional wedding photographer. If you let a relative who is an amateur take your pictures what style will they have? Do they know they have a style or is it all haphazard? You take a huge risk by doing that.
Hire a professional whose style matches yours and who will give you the type of pictures that you want. Do you want modern shots that are black and white and very stark but stunning? Do you want the more traditional and formal style of pictures, mostly in color with set ups that everyone will recognize? Do you want pre-set pictures from a list you give the photographer or do you want candid, not preplanned pictures? Can an amateur deliver what you want in this area? Think this through completely and make sure your wedding photographer matches your desires and go with a professional who will immediately understand what you are talking about when you say you want modern, contemporary shots or you want a traditional wedding portfolio.
Camera Equipment Knowledge:
You will want to hire a professional wedding photographer because they have the right equipment to provide you with the pictures and quality that you want. Your relatives or friends might have a really nice digital SLR with zoom lens, but usually they will still be handicapped by not having a variety of lenses and a couple of cameras of professional caliber. The type of photographic equipment used is as important as the person behind the camera. This is your wedding day after all. You are looking for the memories of your lifetime and you need the right professional equipment and the right professional with the training and experience to make the best use of it.
The Photographer’s Role:
Another reason to avoid having a relative or friend be your wedding day photographer is that they are emotionally involved in the activities of the day. They are more likely to get distracted and not get the pictures you want. Then what happens at the reception when they want to eat, have cake, and dance the night away? Do you end up without any pictures from your reception? Also it is very common for the guests at your wedding to give leeway to a professional wedding photographer because they understand that person’s role. They understand that you are paying that person. However, they are far less likely to give the same leeway to Uncle Bill. They will not see him as a professional photographer. They will see him as equal to themselves in just trying to get a good picture. He might have better equipment than they do, but he is still Uncle Bill and they have no reason to get out of his way or to let him get the picture.
Unlike a professional, your friends or relatives will not have a proven track record of taking photos at many weddings. The professional wedding photographer needs to be able to show you a proven record of success – they should have a portfolio of pictures from all the different types of weddings they have done.
Wedding Photographers do More:
Another benefit of hiring a professional wedding photographer with a lot of wedding experience is one that most people never think of. Your photographer will be your right hand woman on your wedding day. You will spend more time with your photographer on this day than with anyone else including the groom. Because of this you need a professional who is focused on you and not on their own role in the ceremony. The professional wedding photographer does a lot more than take the pictures. They also make things easier, more relaxed, and more enjoyable for the bride and groom, but especially for the bride.
Think about this for a few minutes. Who will be with you, the bride, from the moment you start your day until you get in the car to leave for your honeymoon? He or she will be in the background and never interfere unless you need them. But you will need them. The photographer is probably the person who assists the bride the most as she goes through her day.
Your photographer will be there for your pre-wedding breakfast. They will tell you if your makeup is good and if your hair is out of place. Who is there every minute calming the bride and assuring her that she looks gorgeous? Who is there every minute to tell the bride that her jewelry is right and her hair clip works perfectly. The photographer is always says “That’s it. That’s good. You’re beautiful. Great shot”. All these things calm an over excited bride. What we know for sure is there will be moments when the only person available to calm the over excited bride is the photographer. If this is a relative, they are in the church seated while the bride is alone in her nervousness.
So many brides and grooms never consider this aspect of hiring a professional wedding photographer. Even if you have a wedding planner, they will not be your shadow every minute of the day like your photographer will be. Your photographer has to be an organizer and a cheerleader. They have to be a professional and the bride’s best friend for the day.
She also needs to be a therapist for the entire wedding party keeping them calm and keeping them on schedule. It is more likely to be the photographer who says “let’s go it’s time to start”, rather than the officiator. When something goes wrong the photographer has to be able to keep things calm and get whatever shots they can until the crisis is resolved. They also then have to readjust their timing to make sure they get all the shot you requested.
Communication and Reliability:
Because of the importance of the role as stated above you need a professional wedding photographer and not an amateur. You need someone who can communicate very well with the entire bridal party and get them where he wants them when he wants them there without anyone feeling like he is an intrusion into the day.
She must be available emotionally for the bride so this means she has to match the bride’s personality as much as possible, be relaxed and outgoing, compassionate and sensitive, fun and energetic. It’s a big order to fill and that is why you need someone who knows how to do it and has done it successfully for years. He or she must be all of this and yet stay out of the way, in the background and of course, most importantly get the best and most intimate photographs while taking care of everyone in the bridal party. No amateur, no matter how good, relative or friend, will be able to maintain the distance and impartiality needed while still offering the intimacy and support needed and still get the shot.
You need to hire someone that you, the bride, are comfortable with. Think about spending ten to thirteen hours with this person on the biggest day of your life. You had better like being with them. You will expose your most intimate self to this person. Make sure you will be treated with respect and sensitivity. This photographer needs to be the best possible combination of experience and patience. Patience just might be the most important characteristic any wedding photographer can have.
Props: Remember this is your photographer. You will spend all day with her but the most important thing is the pictures. Make sure she has the props and set ups she needs at every stage of the day: before the ceremony, at the ceremony, at the reception, and as you leave the reception.
Remember the most important thing is that this is the biggest day of your life.
They will give you the best quality and the most creativity. What is so important about having a professional is that they will find a way to be in the right place at the right time in order to get the right shot. No amateur can have the experience needed to be able to do this. It takes experience and training to be able to do this. The professional also knows how to coach the subjects of their pictures – to help them relax and look natural in every shot.
He or she has the experience to deal with the bride, groom, bridal party, families, guests, friends, officiator and wedding planner all day long and still stay out of the way, while taking great photos.
Establish a great rapport with the bride. If this does not happen then you will see it in the pictures.
Finally a professional wedding photographer will have outstanding planning skills. They have to be able to plan for any contingency that might occur on the day of the wedding. They need to have a plan for the story they are telling of your wedding day.
With all of this taken into consideration it only makes sense – both from a budgetary and a personal – for the bride and groom to hire a professional wedding photographer.
What is an after the wedding day photo shoot? It is a photo session a few days after the wedding or after the honeymoon. The bride and groom dress in their gown and tux and have a relaxing and stress free photo session.
What is really nice about this session is that you don’t have to worry about getting your wedding clothes dirty or wrinkled if your photographer wants you to take pictures outside. Since these pictures are taken within weeks of the wedding, the bride and groom are still in the honeymoon stage and the emotions come through in the photos from any good professional wedding photographer.
Another major advantage to this kind of after wedding photo session is that the pictures can be taken anywhere in any setting. If you live in New York the pictures can be taken at Grand Central Station or in Times Square or Central Park.
When you are not pressured on time, your professional wedding photographer will be able to use her creativity to the best of her ability. In this way her photos taken after the wedding are exceptional. This is an opportunity to get some very different kind of pictures than you were able to get on your wedding day.
Benefits of an After the Wedding Day Photo Shoot:
Wardrobe Changes: It lets you take more great pictures in your wedding gown with the groom in his tux, as well as in your reception and honeymoon clothes.
Go Places: This second shoot, whether after the honeymoon or the day after the wedding, allows for pictures to be taken in a wide variety of venues – indoors and out – in an art museum or in a forest. Go to the first place you met, kissed, started dating, etc. Make some exciting memories!
Less Stress: You get all these extra shots and you don’t have to put any extra stress on your wedding day schedule. You can even be a little more relaxed on your wedding day, knowing that there will be another day for taking more pictures.
More Props: You can choose to use all types of props that you could not use on your wedding day. These after wedding photos can be playful and teasing or they can be serious and sultry. Of course they can also be both. That is the real glory of the after wedding day photos – they can be anything at all that you want them to be. They are not held back by the formality of the wedding day.
Variety: You can have your after wedding day photos shot at different times of the day. You can start with sexy day after breakfast pictures and then move to pictures in the forest in the early afternoon. Finally some night shots at a slightly fancy dinner out and slow dances afterward. With these pictures you would have a complete story of your wedding and the day after.
New Likes: You can provide your professional wedding photographer with a list of things that you and your new groom like and are attracted to. The photographer can use this list to put together a creative list of after wedding photos. If you like ice cream, then your photographer can find a quirky ice cream parlor to take some pictures at.
Playful Poses: Some brides advocate having a trash the dress session where you have pictures taken while you do things that will destroy your wedding dress, like sit in the ocean or a swimming pool with your dress on. Or maybe you want to lie on the beach and get sand all over your dress while various posed pictures are taken. These are usually fun and playful poses.
No matter what the reason might be the decision on when to take the traditional or artistic wedding day photos is up to the bride and groom. Your professional wedding photographer will be willing to work with you and take the shots whenever you prefer they be taken.
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