All things considered

I have heard all too often in the past few months that this photographer or that one over there was offering such a great package it could not be passed up. When all things are equal, money is likely to be the deciding factor, as it should be. The thing is that in wedding photography, rarely are all things equal, even if it's as simple as personality differences between photographers, or as meaningful as shooting style. For argument's sake, if you consider that the money is equal, then all of a sudden the other things are maybe not so equal any more. So my advice today is make sure, especially in this economy, that you choose your favorite photographer for all the right reasons and that you assume that price may not be as much a stumbling block as you'd think. Speaking for myself only, there has not been many brides for whom I was their #1 choice that I didn't book, either because I fit nicely into their budget as-is, or because I was able to work out something special for them that allowed them to get what they wanted for a price that worked.

Please, if you like what you see on my site, enjoy what you read on the blog, in an email I send, or hear on the phone, and are moved to add me to your list of possible wedding photographer candidates, don't let your decision rest solely on an emailed price list. And by all means don't assume that what you want is impossible. Asking will never hurt, and most of the time ends up in at least three happy people; you & your fiance because you got the photographer you wanted within budget and me for getting the opportunity to work with a couple willing to risk asking a question to get what they want.

Have a great day!

Style Redux - Tips on Choosing a Photographer

So many photographers are getting into wedding photography these days and it can be daunting for you as a couple to sort through the masses and find the perfect fit for not only your budget but your style. What you need to know is that a good photographer's style will come through in everything he/she does. A photographer's style should enhance and reflect your style as a couple, not replace it. So when looking at portfolios and interviewing photographers, ask what you need to do to allow him to get the best shots of you. If the answer is anything but "not too much other than be yourself" then you may have a problem if you really want your wedding day to be laid back and your photographer to be simply a part of the day, not the ring-master. The last thing you want is to be pushed around on your wedding day so your photographer can express himself. What you may think you're looking for is what is called "photojournalism" styled photography but in reality, you're just looking for someone who can take great pictures WITHOUT being a royal pain in the butt. You're being told (by photographers, websites, books, magazines, etc) that someone who shoots a "photojournalistic" style is going to deliver that because they won't interfere in your day but the reality is that you can do more than just show up with a camera and "record" the day without being a distraction. Just being there with talent and pro camera gear, hoping for great light and praying fantastic moments happen in it just leaves too much to chance. When it's dark, off-camera lights or bounced flash can be used to enhance and dramatize the day without looking fake or distracting. Fear of using these techniques, or a lack of experience leads many photographers to claim they're "evil" and they will ruin the ambiance. Not true if used properly. The key is to match the technique, or style, with the situation while considering YOUR wishes first and foremost.Simply suggesting that the wedding party move into better light, or asking the bride and groom to go into a phone booth to make out does not constitute distraction, and can often be fun but it's all up to what YOU want to do as couple. To me being a good photographer means being willing and able to use all techniques and equipment to deliver the absolute best photography of your wedding day sans the limitations of a rigid style. It's a strange comparison when talking weddings but... Bruce Lee is not thought of as the best martial artist of all time simply because his skill was greater than everyone else but rather because he was open minded, enterprising and adventurous enough to embrace all styles to make a hybrid, unique style all his own. Today's best wedding photographers are able to combine all styles and techniques to fuse a unique blend of tradition, art and "edge" on their way to producing beautiful images at every wedding they do. They end result is an artistic, sometimes faithful, sometimes fantastic rendition of your wedding day that allows your relive your own excitement and experiences but also the beauty and wonder your wedding day inspired in an artist. So when you are talking to your next photographer, ask them again what limitations they place on themselves. Don't just ask them how they like to shoot, ask them how they DON'T like to shoot. Ask them what they won't do. If the answers to those questions bother you, maybe it's time to move on to the next photographer.

Style: Part II

I admit to being a bit consumed by this idea of wedding photography style and how it’s segmenting an industry that used to be strictly one style; formal/traditional. The business of wedding photography has been splintered, and much like painters during the renaissance, there are schools of thought cropping up everywhere. Some of them just wanting to coexist, others hoping to revolutionize the entire industry. There are the manipulators, the photo-journalists, the neo-traditionalists, the off-camera strobe shooters and the natural light purists, all of them doing things that are reinventing what wedding photography is and will be. The fact is that the revolution has already happened and people like myself and others saw it happening and realized that there was now not only room for a more flowing style of wedding photography but there was a growing demand for it by today’s modern brides. There is a place for traditional wedding photography. Actually I probably incorporate much more “tradition” into my work than I admit to myself but it’s that ability to bend the rules and explore a more artistic side that really has set the wedding photography industry on fire. If you look at any top 10 list, or who’s who list pertaining to wedding photographers and you will find people pushing the envelope, doing work that 10-15 years ago would never in a million years have been considered acceptable in this genre.

The last thing to realize is that wedding photography has become much more organic. Many photographer’s style is largely a work in progress for the simple reason that it can be now. Gone are the days of having to be locked into one particular “look” to your images. While it’s still important to create a way of working and an a overarching vision so clients know what in general to expect from you, I think it’s now possible to tinker with style and not lose that which makes you unique. I know this is true for my work, and I suspect it is for others as well. So at the end of the day, while I LOVE that brides are choosing the type of art they want to represent their wedding, it’s really equally as important that the ARTIST be a comfortable, positive influence on a wedding. Versatility and the ability to listen to a particular client’s desires is also paramount to delivering the kinds of fantastic images they hope to see from their wedding. That way this newfound artistic freedom can be used ultimately to the greatest benefit of the client.

These are indeed great times to be a wedding photographer… and great times to be a bride getting to get a much more personal and artistic look to their wedding photography than ever before.

Use the force young brides...

I am often surprised how few brides (and grooms for that matter) actually take advantage of the almost Jedi-like power they have over the wedding party. These people, for the most part, are there to make your day easier/fun/romantic/exciting/memorable and in general, great. That means they are usually willing to do just about anything to achieve those goals.

In the case of David and Blanchie's wedding at Cypress Grove Park, the bridesmaids were instructed by Blanchie to really go for it when it came to the bouquet toss. She wanted action. She wanted bridesmaids airborne, hair flying, faces clenched in rapt concentration and she wanted all of this captured by me. While they all may not have given it their absolute all, one of them promised to... and clearly delivered. This girl not only promised to go for it, but actually got higher off the ground than most NBA players. She's gotta be clearing 2 feet (or at least in a bright, shiny blue dress it seems like she is) and for sure gave Blanchie the memory and photograph she really wanted at her wedding. I managed to fire at the right moment and the rest is history, a portfolio piece... and a favorite picture of the bride.

The moral to this story is that if you have any fun ideas, any shots that you just want to try, don't just tell me, tell your people. Tell the best man or maid of honor and have them get the troops ready. Make sure everyone is on board because I'm here to tell you that they are probably game for whatever you have cooked up. They're probably not entirely comfortable in those dresses or suits/tuxes anyway so why not go all the way :)