My Wedding Shot List

Today is Wednesday Words day and I’ve decided I would like to share a little business secret with you all.  This is a list I wish I could have accessed when I first started photographing weddings.  I remember so many questions running through my mind always.  What kind of staple shots does every bride and groom want?  How many shots of the bridal party should I take and in how many different formations?  How can I best capture the ceremony for the bride and groom?  Well, three full wedding season summers later here is what I have come up with on my own.

Keep in mind these are only the bare essentials.  They are the easy, but necessary shots.  All the artsy stuff, of course, is incorporated also but those are different for every wedding because of the flavor of that wedding and what the day and locations have to offer.  I take WAY more pictures than the list below and have WAY too much fun with creative poses and shots, I know this looks stiff but please don’t fret… I really am fun 🙂  Don’t believe me, check out my work HERE.

Bridal Detail

  • dress
  • shoes
  • jewelry
  • flowers
  • other (handkerchief, special pin, etc…)

Groom Detail

  • boutonniere
  • cuff links
  • tie

Getting Ready

  • just candids but I like to get a bird’s eye picture of the bride applying mascara if I can

Bride Alone
(smiling, serious, and looking over shoulder)

  • full length
  • mid-waist level
  • chest level

Groom Alone
(smiling, serious, and looking away)

  • full length
  • mid-waist level
  • chest level

Ceremony

  • processional: stand (shooting up at people isn’t flattering) near the front of the center aisle, tucked into an aisle if you can manage
  • back, wide
  • right, wide
  • left, wide
  • behind (if available), wide
  • back, 50mm or 85mm
  • musicians
  • audience shots (particularly bridesmaids, groomsmen, bride’s parents, groom’s parents)
  • candids of all the main events (kiss, exchange of rings, vows (particularly their facial expressions during this), candle lighting, etc

Family Portraits
I ask for a family shot list so any additional arrangements come from that form.

  • Bride with mom
  • Bride with dad
  • Bride with parents
  • Bride with siblings
  • Bride with each sibling separately
  • Bride with immediate family
  • Bride with grandparents (if in attendance)
  • Repeat with Groom
  • B & G with both sets of parents
  • B & G with both immediate families

Bridal Party/Couple Pictures

  • B & G smiling (full length, waist level, chest level)
  • B & G looking at each other
  • B & G kiss
  • Ladies smiling in a straight line (flowers held at the belly button)
  • Bride with each bridesmaid separately
  • Bridesmaid’s flowers
  • Guys smiling in a straight line (hands in pockets)
  • Groom with each groomsman separately
  • 3+ more arrangements of both the guys and the girls
  • Full bridal party smiling in a straight line (guys on groom’s side, girls on bride’s)
  • Full bridal party smiling in a straight line (guy, girl, guy, girl, etc…)
  • 3+ more arrangements of the full bridal party

Reception

  • your number one job at a receptions is to capture the moments (introductions, cake cutting, first dances, speeches, etc… the list below excludes these obvious needs)
  • ring shot
  • place cards
  • room shots
  • cake
  • table
  • head table details
  • details on table
  • any other visual decor details

These are all the things I have logged in my brain to capture at every wedding.  It’s a sort of mental checklist that I have never written down until now.  Outside all this stuff is all the creative freedom, but these things are important so don’t forget them!

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Wedding Planning Advice

Sorry to not be delivering my “a Photo a Day” blog post today as I usually do on Mondays! I am out of town and writing this on my iPad 😉

I got married before I photographed or attended a wedding. Though I had no idea how to plan a wedding, thankfully my mom did because otherwise I would have a lot of items on my “I wish I did this at my wedding” list.

Now, because I do love the value in unique wedding planning, I don’t want to advise extraneously but there are a few items that really are a MUST and I will tell you why.

Give your guests a meal. It has become mildly common to only serve appetizers, desserts, or finger foods at a wedding reception. In their defense, this could work. Say, instead of providing a meal the couple gave suggestions for where everyone could grab some dinner and then they held their nontraditional, but very entertaining reception outdoors and still provided dessert and drinks. The trouble is that not providing a meal feels like a slap in the face. All of your family and friends have not only come from far and wide to celebrate your wedding day but they have bought you an expensive or thoughtful gift as well. To not say “thank you” by at least providing them food during such a long day just isn’t remotely hospitable. Think of it this way, you wouldn’t invite people over to your house all day and not feed them ever would you?

Small gap between ceremony and reception. Again, this is a hospitality recommendation. It never sits well with your guests when their belly’s are left rumbling for hours on end. I also understand that it it your day, but be considerate. Before I became a photographer I assumed that the wedding photographer’s were responsible for keeping the bride and groom from the reception so long. Now I’m not so sure because whenever my bridal party is late it certainly wasn’t on my watch. If a bride and groom asks me how to schedule their day I typically ask for 1.5 hours between the ceremony and reception, 30 minutes for family photos and 1 hour for bridal party and couple pictures – I could do less time if it was easier to rally family members and keep everyone on track. With the providence of a cocktail hour this time goes quickly with the guests. And your photographer should be skilled, timely, and reliable enough to close the gap between ceremony and reception.

Hire a phenomenal DJ. Some couples are very skilled at creating a playlist for their reception. However, a DJ doesn’t just control the music. In fact, I would argue that their most important role of the evening is controlling the flow of events. The weddings that don’t have a DJ, or a skilled DJ, end up suffering in awkward moments and confused silences. I’ve photographed well over 50 weddings and I can’t recall a reception that ran smoothly without an incredible DJ. Your DJ is the most important reception detail, so you should see a fun spirit and sense of organization and responsibility in the DJ you hire.

Don’t pick your wedding budget before you do your vendor research. You only get married once. The most common phrase I hear from clients is “we are on a budget.” Well of course you are. The trouble is, most couples clearly pick their budget before they have looked at the numbers and as a result they hire vendors for cheap and their wedding takes hits because of it. You can get crafty and wiggle around pricey items in a lot of areas but with photography and a DJ I would HIGHLY recommend picking those budgets after significant research. This may sound biased but the most common wedding woe I hear about a bad photography experience. Your photographer is in charge of these most important life memories, make sure you adore and trust them. And, as stated above, your DJ is responsible for the life of your party but they also contribute to the quality of those memories and to the quality of photographing those memories. Your cake, flowers, decorations, and venues are important but your loved ones and moments are more important. I actually had friends buy and put together my wedding flowers, my grandma made our cake, our decorations consisted of things like 5 cent goldfish and goldfish crackers, and we had our ceremony in my parent’s backyard. For just a few ideas 🙂

Don’t let your best man get drunk before his speech. Enough said.

Do you have any wedding planning advice to share?

6 Tips to People Photographers

Advice to Photographers
Some quick words on photography business.

  1. Ask Lots of Questions
    The best sources to start gathering info for your photography career are other photographers. Some photographers may let you down, they may even be rude, but most photographers will kindly chat.
  2. Get Shot
    In order to best understand your clients you need to get in front of the camera at least once a year. And not just any camera, you need to hire a fellow professional. Why is this important? If you don’t put yourself in your client’s shoes you might not realize that some of your requests are confusing, or that their questions actually aren’t stupid, and that maybe you need to change your direction during a shoot. This is crucial research for your business. Besides, you’ve gotta have some good pictures of yourself anyway right?  My husband and I do an anniversary photo shoot every year and I often have portraits done every now and then as well.
  3. Research
    Not only is getting in front of a camera important but reading some books, blogs, and essays is also of the utmost importance. You need to know how to fairly price yourself for your skill level, how to put together effective and balanced packages, how to invoice, how to build a fail safe contract, how to properly correspond to clients, how to build an effective and beautiful website, how to prepare for taxes… and that just scratches the surface.
  4. Invest in the Good Stuff
    Almost every photographer starts out with a starter DSLR and a kit lens. But when you are thinking of launching a photography business plan to upgrade as quickly as possible. And, until you do, price yourself accordingly. Better equipment gets you a higher price. More importantly though, better equipment delivers better work. But lets be clear, a better camera doesn’t make you a better photographer. The framing, posing, and editing is all up to you but the equipment makes the difference in image quality.
  5. Professional Branding
    Hire a professional. I got my branding wrong the first time and had to do it all over the next year. The second time around I actually hired a pro to help me put the pieces together. Branding is a lot of work, don’t do it twice! So, in order to do it right the first time, hire the professional who knows how to brand and have them help you, even if it’s just with the concept.
  6. Do Work for Free
    This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your photography business. Getting paid for doing what you love stifles creativity. Going from session to session like routine produces stagnant material. You want each of your clients to have fresh, creative material that they will cherish for a lifetime, not the same shot you’ve done a hundred times over. It is so important to fuel your creativity. I just recently started doing this again and the change I’ve seen in myself and my work is insane! However, it’s important to note though that the free sessions to be doing are those that you request the models for, rather than gifting an originally paying client their session. Why? If you ask for the models you have all the artistic freedom. And artist mind needs room to wander and experiment so that artistic freedom unleashes creativity.  One of the other ways I encourage my creativity is by doing “A Photo A Day,” makes me pull my camera out every day 🙂

Happy 200th Blog Post Giveaway! (CLOSED)

I HAVE A WINNER! Congratulations Micayla Crosby!  Our 200th comment was “John Lennon wrote ‘Good morning, good morning’ after hearing a Corn Flakes commercial.”  I absolutely loved how all of your rallied and really had fun with this!  Loved your creativity!  And of course I loved all the very kind and thoughtful compliments.  You guys certainly know how to make a girl feel good 🙂  Thanks everyone!!!

February 5th was my 100th blog post.  It’s only May 17th and I’m already at 200!  Crazy!  I guess that’s what committing to Monday-Friday daily posts with the occasional Saturday or Sunday blog post will get ya.  To celebrate I have a few things up my sleeves…

My gift to you:  a GIVEAWAY (more info below) and a few interesting BLOG STATISTICS

Your gift to me:  SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG and COMMENT ON THIS POST

MY INTERESTING BLOG STATISTICS

My second blog post:  My dog (May 16, 2011)

Top 5 blog posts:  

  1. Simple and Eclectic Studio Boudoir Session (308 views)
  2. Please Pray for my Grandma (279 views)
  3. FACT: Col. Chris Hadfield takes pictures from space (258 views)
  4. Studio Boudoir | Will you be my Valentine? (240 views)
  5. The Makings of a Musical Marriage (234 views)

Post Most Commented On:  100th Blog Post Giveaway (CLOSED) (15 comments)

My 200th Comment was my mom on April 27.  Love you mom!  The Man with the Pretty Garden

THE GIVEAWAY:  200 minutes of photography with me! Yes, that’s 3 1/3 hours!
I recommend using it to book me for a party (birthday, baby shower, costume…) or a series of sessions (maternity, newborn, family…)
The 200 minutes may not, however, be used towards birth or wedding photography… sorry.

Click on the image below to read the giveaway details.

200thBlogPostPromo

TO ENTER: comment with these details…

  • say hello
  • favorite color
  • photography service/s desired

Here is how to comment… look for this below…

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 11.09.15 AM

TO WIN:  you have to be the 200th commenter!
Requiring 200 comments is little risky because the most comments I’ve had on any one given post up to this point is 15 so it’s up to you guys to rock this!  Let’s make it happen!

COMMENTING RULES:

  • You have to comment on this blog post, Facebook comments don’t count
  • You may comment as many times as you like but you have to say something real and different every time
  • contest closes one week from today (May 27 @ 9 am )

I am also running a Senior Portraits deal.  Check it out HERE.

Graphic Design | Welcome Packet

I’ve been collecting various marketing components all year.  I started out with temporary solutions in every category until I could put my efforts into creating something unique and personal.

One of my most important pieces in my branding material is my welcome packet and the items I include in that.  It is important because they are all the answers to any questions my clients usually have about a session.  What should we wear?  What props should we bring?  What else do you need from us?

To my wedding clients I sent out a card with my “Style Tips” and “Photographer’s Checklist” postcards and a basic, handwritten greeting card.  To all of my portrait clients I simply email the “Style Tips” PDF to them after they complete the contract and deposit.

To design these post cards I stuck with my design model: simple, natural, and colorful.  To over complicate design makes it harder to read and messy.  I decided I would stick to my two regular fonts for the little variety I wanted, my logo, and my colors.  My natural component is the handwritten card and the envelope.  My card is a natural brown like my disc packaging and the envelope is a stark white to go with my website (it is also the neutral color in my chosen color palette).   And, since I have had my color palette all sorted out for several months now, choosing colors was easy.  I had six choices to work with: stark white, natural brown, yellow-orange, rust red, leafy green, and sea blue.  I always keep the yellow in the mix because that is my main color and then I chose the green because I liked the way that would pair with the yellow and I didn’t use it in my marketing materials yet.

A full blog post of what the whole Wedding Welcome Packet looks like will be coming soon 🙂

Style Tips Photographer Checklist