These are my opinions and preferences of course. As a professional I have to work in situations that I may consider less than ideal. My main goal is to tell the story of your day whatever that story is, and however that story goes. These are just a few tips that I think might help pour a little icing on your wedding day or Lifestyle session without me trying to control the flow of your day and being hands on.
I will be adding to this page as things pop into my mind over time.
I love to shoot in soft light when we're outside. If the day is cloudy or overcast, I’m typically elated. Because I can’t control the weather, I try to control the time of a lifestyle session. I tend to shoot around the last hour and a half before sunset. If I’m completely honest, the hour and a half after sunrise would work well too, but it pains me to even admit this because I don’t love to get up that early at all!
Consider having your ceremony within that last hour to hour and a half before sunset. The light is beautiful, trust me! If you can’t move your ceremony to this time (especially during the summer when the light stays up through the evening), consider taking some alone time with your spouse to walk the grounds of the venue around this time. The mood is typically one of romance, and the romantic light will stamp that mood. While many people will want to congratulate you and be in your presence, taking 15-30 minutes to breathe with the one you just said your vows to won’t hurt too much. In fact most people really enjoy the quick break to just love on each other.
Outdoor Tent Ceremony
If you are having your ceremony outdoors in the daytime but under a tent, perhaps due to rain, consider leaving the overhead lights off if applicable. One light source (ambient, outside light) generally works best in these conditions.
Getting Ready Light
In many instances, the natural light pouring in from outside is best. If the room can be filled with natural light, I recommend turning off the lamps and overhead light when possible, and letting that soft light from outside shine through.
Putting your makeup on near window light works way better (photographically) than near an orange tungsten lamp, or the weird blue/greenish fluorescent light. That's my two cents as a photographer, but you may need to defer to your makeup artist so they can have you looking right!
Watch your distance! These lights may add interest during your reception, but be careful when doing some of your important activities near them. You don't want to be too close for a number of reasons. One of which is that you don't want to be made into a bright, neon-green something or other – unless you do!
Photojournalism & Guest
You may have already looked through the many pages of my sight, and chances are that we've spoken via video chat already and you truly appreciate my work and approach to documenting a wedding. However, I haven't spoken to your parents, bridal party, and guest. If your parent's photography wishes are very important to you, and they are more on the traditional side of picture taking, it's probably best that you do not spend your hard-earned money on my services. In my mind I'm there to capture moments and not "take a picture" so much. The constant call of "Mr. Photographer, take my picture" interrupts whatever creativity that I bring to your day's event and may interfere with you receiving the art that you were attracted to, and hoped from me, in the first place.
I hope this doesn't sound too high-minded and snobbish. I just know how I get the best work, and I find that when parents, close guest, and coordinators understand that I am there to capture moments and trust me to do so, I'm free to get the best work that I can.
The ideal client will not want to "create a moment" for pictures, but will rather "live in a real, heartfelt moment," and then be able to be brought back to that genuine moment in my images.
Getting Ready Location
In some instances Airbnb > Hotel. My only tip is to consider it as an option. Sometimes you can get an entire beautiful home, or loft, or the like for the same or better than a hotel room. With respect to space, layout, design, light, and price, renting a home may be the way to go.
ceremony: Mic Stands
If you can, avoid them. If you can't, maybe it can be set low and the mic set to be more sensitive to sound. This may help to keep the stand out of the way of beautiful, sentimental moments.
Kiss. Nice and slow <insert smiley face here>
Doing a Sendoff?
Don’t sprint through it. Enjoy it. Slow walk it. Stop in the midst of it and take it in. Give your beau a kiss.
Define for yourselves what you want, and hire vendors who meet those expectations. Communication is key here. I think that vendors should agree with your vision on how you may want the day to go, but if you don't convey your expectations or the vendor doesn't explain what they can and can't do (or will or won't do), unnecessary awkwardness may ensue. If you feel that you want a lot of hands on instruction from a photographer, for example, you shouldn't hire a photographer who is upfront with you that they are mainly hands off, and preferring to capture natural moments of romance, love, and affection. It's also a good idea to tell other vendors – outside of the photographer – what you expect. I have had clients accept my approach and style to wedding photography, only to have planners or day-of coordinators try to boss me into who, what, when, where, and how to shoot. I have been told, "well the other photographer did it this way," or "here, let me see your camera." Uhhh, no. The only point that I want to make here is that the more people that are on board with what you want, the better.
My favorite seasons to shoot in are true spring through fall. When I say true spring I mean when there is actually some green or something on the trees. Depending on how much of a fight Winter puts up, this may be around late April.
What do I wear?
I would say something romantic or fly. Whatever that means to you. More than that what ever makes you happy and lovely. I’ve never seen your wardrobe so I can’t give too much direction on this. Do you have a feel that you want in your pictures? If there was a feeling that you both evoked as a couple (cool, funky, dope, elegant, street, etc.), what would you say it is? Dress in a way that tells that story.
Locations are secondary for me. I really want your interaction. That’s what makes my images. I’d be lying if I said a dope location couldn’t help. I wouldn’t want to go to Iceland to have a shoot with you if amazing locations didn’t matter. But an amazing location without your love and chemistry would still fall flat in my opinion. That being said I guide couples by asking, “who are you as a couple?” Are you a netflix and chill couple? Do you hike and walk trails? Do you walk the city or township? Do you love the beach or panoramic views of the mountains? Travel much?
I think capturing moments around things you like to do can be more meaningful than just “taking pictures.” Let’s hang out by that favorite trail you walk often. In ten years, after you’ve moved once or twice, looking back on moments captured in a setting that is relevant to your love and journey together can definitely be a heart warming activity.
If your wedding venue has beautiful grounds, they may be happy to let you have a session there. But do see if they will let you have the session from 1.5hr before sunset until sunset as they may be closed to the general public at that time. I have found that some places don't mind at all – even if they're closed.
1.5hr of loving. However you love. Don't spend this time worrying about work, or responsibilities, etc. Both of you should be prepared to concentrate on each other. Hold each other, laugh with each other, speak of your love to each other, enjoy every moment with each other... for 1.5hr. These are your moments. I want you to really be into your love. I'm not posey at all. I may have an idea or two here and there, but my inspiration from the time comes from your love. My work (what you get back) is built on your expressed love to each other. I'm not lying about this! So if you play a lot, play. If you kiss a lot, kiss. If you laugh a lot, laugh. Be close to each other. Love. Be friends. Be engaged.
“What do I do/How should I act?”
Whether at a wedding or during a session, embrace the moment. During sessions I like to say you’re not here to take pictures. Don’t tell your friends we’re going to get our pictures taken. Say that you’re going on a date with your beau (or bey as we say in 2018). So what does the moment call for on a date with your bey? It calls for fun, love, romance, flirting, jokes, etc. I’m just a cool third wheel documenting those moments that you can enjoy and reference for years to come.
The same applies to weddings. Embrace the day and the moments that go by. The day will be a blur. My clients don’t want to worry about pictures. They want to laugh with their girlfriends; play a little pool with their best friends. They want to cry with their mothers, and struggle to fix their ties with their uncles and favorite cousins.
Embrace all of the joys of the day, and don’t worry about the pictures. You’ve hired me for a reason. Be yourselves. I love being able to capture a moment that showcases some of your unique nuances. Your daughter or granddaughter will look at your images and see where she gets her smile. Your son or grandson will see where he gets his style. They may identify their own personality in you.