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!