Friday, December 28, 2007

Winter Musings: December. Wedding Day Photography

The title says “Photography” but this is all about the schedule. As photographers we face the challenge of delivering on our promise of providing artistic photographs from your wedding while working within a schedule. What I have been told by many other professionals and noticed over the years is that, despite advice and warnings, schedules run late and among the first things sacrificed is photography. Everyone wants the style of imagery they hired the photographer to take, but are willing to give up photo time when the ship starts to sink. Time is a resource constraint so tradeoffs are made. Oftentimes, looking back, the client is not too happy with the tradeoff.

How can we control the schedule and obtain terrific photographic results? Here is a very short list of suggestions that get you started down the right path.

Make photography a priority and give the photographer a lot of time. Set aside time, before the ceremony if necessary, for photographing the bride alone, the groom alone, and the bride and groom together. Couples frequently do not give enough time for these tasks. Great portraits are rarely shot while in photojournalist mode.

Pad your schedule before the reception. The vast majority of album-worthy images are taken before the reception so if you think a missing piece can be covered during the reception, please reconsider. Allocate plenty of time and then add a little more. It is better to have extra pockets of available time should things become dire. Schedules tend to run late when no one is in control.

Make someone else accountable on the big day. Your wedding day means you (bride or groom) should not do any work or have to make major decisions. Designate someone to make sure things run according to your plan. Make sure this person has a thick skin, is responsible, will not hold a grudge against you, and is stern when necessary. They will need all of these traits when dealing with you and others on the wedding day.

A new BMW costs upwards of $30K; that does not mean you can build one yourself if given the money. The answer is "highly unlikely"; your wedding is no different. Hire a day-of planner or, better yet, a full event planner. Leave it to the experts who are far more experienced. They are paid to be accountable and will do a great job for you.

Winter Musings are monthly posts between November and February. They cover a range of topics related to wedding photography with couples and photographers in mind. I hope you will tune in next month. Comments and requests are appreciated!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter Musings: November. Make the Most of Your Engagement Session

I enjoy these opportunities to work with my clients. Couples should never pass on a prewedding shoot unless you absolutely must. Becoming comfortable with one another in front of the lens is a valuable takeaway as you progress towards the big wedding day. Also, it is oftentimes more artistic than the wedding itself because there are fewer time constraints making for a carefree and unprescribed shoot. How can you take advantage of this with whomever you hire to photograph your wedding? It really is simple:
  • Make it special.
  • Choose unique locations.
  • Use the seasons.

Treat it like the extraordinary day that it is while still being true to the kind of people you are. Avoid dressing like your going to play hoops or off to work (unless your career involves modeling couture clothing). Try employing a theme or treating it like a first date in every way.

Kalaya and Dan accomplished this exceedingly well with their 1960's movie-inspired shoot and it shows. When they told me about their intentions my mind started to race! The anticipation was incredible. I even rewatched Breakfast at Tiffany's and Dr. No to study the look they were going for. Now, not everyone is going to hire a professional for a hair and makeup session or dust off a tuxedo but a little effort goes a long way. Afterall, you are getting married soon and this is likely the one day of two in your lifetime dedicated to photographing you! The investment will not be disappointing.

I would never suggest you avoid beaches, parks, and sunsets but the Bay Area is so much more diverse. You are after feelings of fun and romance; perhaps the images will have a dash of sex appeal and a hint of history too. Think about the look you want, what you enjoy doing, or where you enjoy going and then build around that. Have you considered a destination engagement session?

Go somewhere with exclusive settings and scenery. Flights are so inexpensive these days and, WOW, within a two hour flight of the Bay Area are some very interesting locales. For example, I once offered to shoot a couple in Las Vegas at no extra cost because I was going to be there anyways. It was such an incredible experience that I decided to offer it annually to one couple (first-come...) as I travel there consistently once a year.

Why wait until summer? The middle of the year is hot and dry as well as a photographer's busiest which makes for scheduling challenges. Try capturing the incredible colors of Fall and Spring or the moodiness of Winter. Autumn is rife with golds and reds while Spring features pink and white fruit blossoms and yellow mustard blooms. I hope more people see the potential of these seasons.

Be aggressively creative and challenge your photographer!

Winter Musings are monthly posts between November and February. They cover a range of topics related to wedding photography with couples and photographers in mind. I hope you will tune in next month. Comments and requests are appreciated!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sabline and Aaron's Wedding. San Francisco

Ceremony at Citicorp Center and reception at Atrium restaurant in downtown San Francisco.

This wedding from Saturday was my last event of the year :(

Sabline and I spoke briefly at the San Francisco Modern Bridal show this past February. I am glad she kept my contact information and called me because the three of us have had a great time together over the last several months - including their unique July prewedding shoot at AT&T park, home of the SF Giants.

We started the day with the guys at the Club Quarters hotel. Notably, Sabline's brother was able to obtain leave from the Marine Corp. He had just completed training and there were not certain he would be there. After some quick shots around the Transamerica building we returned to photograph the ladies. Their room was quite a hotbed of activity with people in various stages of preparation and lots of nieces and nephews dressed and ready to go! We grabbed some quick shots before heading over the to ceremony. Made it just in time.

It is really amazing how many places in the City double as venues for weddings and events. Citicorp Center is on the corner of Sansome and Sutter with thousands of people walking by everyday never suspecting what goes on there over the weekend. After the ceremony we went over to the 101 California building which houses the Atrium. The courtyard had just been decorated for the Holidays with huge red ornaments. More ornate ones hung inside the building's lobby. They resemble the lanterns hanging inside the Wynn in Las Vegas. If you have the time to visit, it is really is quite beautiful! During the reception many guests wandered outside to enjoy the display.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sotheary and James' Wedding. San Jose

Ceremony at the home of Sotheary's parents and reception at Phu Lam Restaurant both in San Jose.

I usually try to have images blogged a few days after the event but I have been swamped so sorry these are later than usual!

Sotheary and James' traditional Cambodian wedding ceremony was a multi day affair filled with music and song, chanting, dancing, offerings, prayers, clothing changes, and rituals too numerous to list here. It was an incredible experience which ended with a HUGE Saturday night reception. I mean 500 people huge! If you are inclined, I found a website that describes the typical ceremonial events here.

We started on Friday as James and several musicians led a parade of family members to the bride's home with gifts and offerings. Before going inside, there was some choreographed banter between family representatives. Once inside, gifts were presented for everyone to see and included liquor, soft drinks, all sorts of food and fruit, and a large roasted pig. Among the memorable events were all the clothing changes, chanting monks, and a ceremonial hair cutting and cleansing. Everything started up again bright and early on Saturday morning as married couples encircled the bride and groom and passed lit candles around the circle as a blessing. Next family and close friends were invited to tie red string on the wrists of the bride and groom. As strings were tied rose petals and palm flowers were *sprinkled* on the couple. I learned later that this was actually a somewhat abbreviated and compressed version of the marriage rite.

Saturday afternoon, after some lunch and latte's, we regrouped at the Hotel Montgomery in San Jose. Sotheary, James, and the rest of their wedding party changed into western (as opposed to traditional Cambodian) clothing and we had a fun photo session in and around Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. The night ended at Phu Lam with a large banquet, a Cambodian live band, and Cambodian dancing which involved everyone gathering on the dance floor and circling in unison with a certain hand gesture which I still cannot seem to master.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Torie and Todd's Wedding. Woodside

Ceremony and reception at Thomas Fogarty Winery in Woodside.

When it rains on the East Coast get ready for a week of drizzle, dreariness, and clouds - that is how I remember it, anyways. Well, I bet friends and family were wondering if they would need umbrellas and Wellingtons because it was really raining on Friday! Behold, Saturday's weather was incredible, sunny with scattered clouds, incredibly pleasant, and no fog - which seems ever present along Skyline Road. As you many recall, Windy Hill is special to them so it was fitting that their wedding was hosted just down the road at Fogarty.

Fall is always a wonderful time for a wine-country wedding because grape leaves begin changing color shortly after crush begins and the warm days give way to cool, clear nights. The vineyards around Fogarty were painted in picturesque hues of green, yellow, and red. Amy Burke constructed a floral arch with plenty of autumn accents to match. Torie and Todd's ceremony was held on the lawn situated atop a hill with spectacular views of the Bay. It was so clear, in fact, you could see the buildings in San Francisco's financial district. Their reception was held indoors in the Hill House and Terrace. Tables were named after many of the couple's favorite Bay Area open space preserves and were decorated with colorful centerpieces - many featuring fresh fruit! An afterparty at the Crowne Plaza Cabana hotel was hosted by Torie's aunts and uncles where many Red Socks fans were entralled with the ALCS game.

Thanks to Raymond, a previous coworker of mine, for referring this great couple.

Coordination: Becky Thatcher (in-house)
Floral Arrangements: Amy Burke Designs
Catering: Continental Caterers
Cake: Marcus Coy at Draeger's