Engagement Photography - What should I wear?


One of the most overlooked aspects of Engagement Photography is the choice of attire when a couple is to have their Engagement Picture taken.  

Before you roll your eyes and skip ahead to the next post, concluding that this is going to be the most boring topic ever featured in a photography blog, hang in there with me for just a few minutes!  These rules apply anytime you'd like to have a visual impact in a group situation, whether it's in a photograph - or just attending a formal occasion with another person.



              Catrice & Jonathan in formal attire.  Not for you?  Then keep reading, this next section should help!


First, ask your Photographer for some ideas concerning what you should wear for your Engagement Session - and what to avoid.  If he/she stares at you blankly with a "deer in the headlights" look, don't worry.  Just refer back to this blog entry for some helpful tips and suggestions in making your pictures the success they should be.

Here are some quick-hitting bullet points that are hard and fast rules:

   Try to Avoid:

  • checks
  • stripes
  • patterns
  • plaids
  • prints
  • logos
  • "hot" colors
  • shades of green - if your pictures are going to outdoors


Checks, stripes, patterns, plaids, prints and logos cause visual confusion to the person viewing your photograph.  When you add a second person to the mix, it only amplifies the visual clutter.  Remember:  our goal is draw attention to the you - the subject featured in the photograph - not the  clothes you are wearing!

 "Hot" colors are equally distracting.  Reds, Oranges, bright Yellows, Fuscias, etc. are subliminally alarming to someone viewing your Engagement Pictures.  These colors also tend to reflect/bounce discolored light onto your partner, hopelessly discoloring their faces.  Guys:  Leave the red shirt for Tiger Woods to wear on Sunday afternoon at the Masters Golf Tournament.  Don't risk having your fiancee's face look like a freshly cooked lobster.

And if you choose to wear clothes that are predominantly green, you will find yourself undoubtedly clashing with some or most of the folliage surrounding you!  You don't want to "camoflage" yourself by receding into a background of folliage! 




Having eliminated the clothes to avoid, let's take a brief look at what you should wear.

  Do Wear:

  • Whites or off-white shirts
  • neutral colors
  • soft pastels
  • long-sleeved shirts 


White, off-white, and neutral shirt selections will bounce clean light onto your faces.  Your photographer will love you for it.

Since the human eye is naturally attracted to skin tones, large areas of uncovered skin will make it difficult for your portrait viewer to ultimately find your face.  Long sleeved shirts help steer your Portrait viewer to the most important part of the portrait - you!

By following these guidelines for attire, you'll be looking great in your Engagement Portrait - and that's the goal!  


If a conventional Engagement session seems a little too tame, you may want to try this:



Categorized In: engagement | engagement photography | engagement portrait | grand rapids wedding photography | wedding photography

Banquet Photography


For the eighth year running, Robert Charles Photography has been privileged to provide photography for a local High School's Winter Homecoming Banquet.   This year's Banquet was held at The Kellogg Center, a part of Michigan State University. 


Every Location shoot brings with it a set of challenges which require adaptation in order to create the best possible images given the limitations of the environment.  This year, the room accommodations included a lower than optimum nine foot ceiling and very tight quarters for a full-length backdrop, large softboxes and, of course, yours truly.  Instead of using my usual set-up - including a hair light and gridded side kicker lights, we resigned ourselves to two large (6' x 4') softboxes.   


Photographer's note:  Why use softboxes which are so large?  With today's digital cameras, we've found that smaller light sources tend to be too "specular", producing unwanted hot spots, while the larger variety of softbox produces a gentle, softer, more forgiving quality of light.  Does it make a difference?  You decide.  Here are a couple of images from the banquet:



            Homecoming Queen and King                                       Lexie and Zach



One of the advantages of photographing a School Banquet where one's kids attend is being able to use the opportunity to create a great portrait of one's own children.  My two older offspring are to the left; all four kids on the right.  The portrait of all four children now hangs in our family living room.


Next week RCP will be photographing a prominent law firm in town for use on the back page of the Yellow Pages phone book.  We look forward to the opportunities and challenges of photographing on location!

Until next time,



Categorized In: | banquet photography | formal photography | location photography

Reception Tips and Suggestions


    One of the benefits of having photographed Weddings and Receptions for over 25 years is being able to witness firsthand what makes a successful Reception.  Unfortunately, it seems that very little information is available to the Bride who is looking for helpful Reception Tips and Suggestions in planning the second half of her Big Day.

    If you find you could use a little "coaching", then read on - this post is for you!  Here is a quick list of considerations which we think you'll find useful: 


    1.  Arrive on Time!

     We've all attended Receptions where the Bride and Groom have arrived an hour - or more - late to their Reception.  Most figure the Photographer to be the culprit.  More often than not, the delay can be attributed to something more basic:  A failure to follow a well-defined "game plan" for the day.  Remember, your Food Preparers will be anxious to dazzle you and your guests with their best efforts.  By arriving on time, you'll help ensure that your dinner will be as good as you envisioned.

     Solution:  Subdivide your Wedding Day into subparts, complete with "fudge factors" (built-in vacant time intervals which will help you get back on track, should the inevitable unplanned situation arise).  Your Photographer should be instrumental in designing a Schedule of Photography which will guarantee that you arrive to your Reception within 10 minutes of its designated Start Time making everybody happy.   



               With a well-planned agenda, you should know when you'll arrive at your Reception within 10 minutes!


     2.  Before you enter your Reception, decide when you will be cutting your Cake.

     Frequently, Reception Halls and Caterers will encourage the Bridal Couple to cut their Cake immediately upon their arrival to "get it out of the way".  Perhaps I'm a purist, but the "Cutting of the Cake" (the desert) prior to dinner is woefully nonsequitur and, in my opinion, diminishes the symbolism involved in the event.

     Although I understand there are times when efficiency may trump symbolism, you'll have to decide for yourselves which works best for you.




     3.  Be sure your DJ is capable of doing more than loading a CD tray

     Most Brides assume their DJ (or band) will be acting as a Master of Ceremonies by offering much needed structure throughout the night.  Sadly, more often than not, we've found this is not the case.  Much of the success of your Reception rests in the hands of your DJ, so if at all possible, be sure to see your DJ in action prior to your event to get a feel for his/her abilities. 

     Do you want a DJ who will recede into the background, or would you rather have someone who actively "gets the crowd going"?  It's actually a matter of preference.  Just remember, your Reception spans almost half of your Wedding Day!


     Over the years, we've worked with literally hundreds of DJ's and bands, and the Best of the Best include:

                                                   (also visit:  http://video214.com/play/WolDYGoavxP507zGkG6A7w/s/dark)     


  •            Zack's Tunes    (517)  819-0405   

                                                    (also visit:  http//video214.com/play/YPh1PKL8VhSGM1XuW25ytw/s/dark)                                            




                                                         Zack's Tunes                                                    Dean Rusch Entertainment


     4.  Throw the Bouquet and Garter early!

     Many inexperienced DJ's place the throwing of the Bouquet and Garter toward the end of the Reception, only to find that a vast majority of possible participants have already left.  Throw the Bouquet and Garter early-on while the level of enthusiasm is highest!




     5.  Avoid the dreaded "Dollar Dance"

     Dollar Dances have fallen out of favor in recent years - and for good reason.  They offer limited participation (two people at a time) and sometimes drag on for up to a half hour, dropping the crowd's energy level, and sending people to the exits.  Just a suggestion, but you may want to nix the Dollar Dance altogether.


If you are looking for more Tips and Suggestions as you plan your Wedding Day, you can find more hints at  http://blog.robertcharlesphotography.com/dashboard/edit-page/id/4



                                                           We're here to help make your Wedding an Incredible one!


Until next time,


For more information about Robert Charles Photography,  see us at  www.robertcharlesphotography.com   or call us directly at  517-394-2192



Categorized In: grand rapids wedding photography | michgan wedding photographers | michigan photographers | wedding hints | wedding photography lansing michigan | wedding tips and suggestions

Wedding Tips and Suggestions - Part 4

 This is the 4th article in a series of Tips and Suggestions for Brides to help you prepare for your Big Day.  To read more, click  http://blog.robertcharlesphotography.com/index/view-post/id/40


In over 25 years of photographing Weddings, I've met a variety of different Brides. 


Some are very Sanguine, effervescent, and exude an "Energizer Bunny" level of non-stop energy.  Others are more reserved, with a quiter spirit. 


Still others who are very "left-brained" and approach their big day with a meticulous precission, orchestrating and finessing the finest nuanced details in order to create the "perfect" day.  If you find yourself identifying with this third group of Brides, read-on:  This instalment is for you!


If you relish overseeing every aspect of your Wedding Day, because you want to make sure every "t" is crossed and every "i" is dotted, you are in a special class of Brides.  You've probably discussed ad infinitum every possiblity and contingency which may arise - and have back-up plans for your back-up plans.  You've also probably arrived at your first Wedding Photography consultation with a fully tabulated notebook, replete with questions, lists, and pictures you've cut out from your favorite wedding magazines.


If any of this sounds familiar, let me give you a piece of advice which will make your Wedding Day everything you dreamed it would be:  Wedding Tips and Suggestions #14:  On your Wedding Day, Delegate the oversight of the details to a trusted friend.


Why?  On your Wedding Day, you need to "change hats" from that of "Wedding Planner" to that of "Bride".  


Sure, by the end of the day you may have a check mark next to every single item on the Wedding Day Checklist that you've created.  And sure, you may ultimately arrive at the end of the day, with a well-deserved smile of satisfaction, knowing you "pulled-off" the biggest, most complicated day you've ever planned without a hitch.  But, if you do, you will not have enjoyed the day as a Bride! 


Here are few suggestions in bullet point:

  • Hire only Vendors and trusted Professionals to be on your Wedding Day "team"
  • -  Because they are Professionals, loosen the reigns - and allow them to surpass your expectations!
  • -  Delegate - to a trusted friend - the responsibility of making sure everything on your Final Check List will be taken care of
  • -  Find a friend or relative who will be willing to act as "go-for" on your Wedding Day - to run errands when needed, etc
  • -  And here's the most important suggestion of all:  On the morning of  your Wedding Day, shift gears from "Wedding Planner"  to "Bride", knowing that you've done a great  job planning your Wedding!
  • -  Then enjoy - truly enjoy - you Wedding Day! 



                 You've done all the planning ...                               now enjoy your Wedding Day!


We've been helping to plan weddings for over 25 years.  Give us a call!  We're here to help.

Studio:  517-394-2192      or    Direct to Cell:  517-285-3688

Until next time!








Categorized In: grand rapids wedding photographers | michigan wedding photographer | ourdoor wedding photography | wedding hints | wedding photography lansing michigan | wedding tips | wedding tips and suggestions

Robert Charles Photography - Grand Ledge Opera House


This is the 2nd in a two part series of memorable weddings from 2011.


When Kori, her Mother Patti, and younger sister Katie, stopped by the Studio for a consultation late last year, they mentioned that having the best Wedding Photography was of paramount importance. 


This isn't always the case.  When photographing weddings for another studio years ago, I recall one Groom intimating to me, "I don't know what they told you at the studio, but we just want to get the reception and open a keg!!"  Needless to say, creating great wedding memories was not foremost in their minds.


As we discussed her Wedding plans, Kori told me that her older sister had gotten married the year before, and they weren't at all pleased with the results.  I was told how her sister's photographer had approached the family just after the Toasts were given, saying, "My battery died.  I guess I'm going home."  And the photographer left!  No cake cutting pictures.  No First Dance pictures.  No Bouquet and Garter Pictures - or other festivity-pictures spanning the next 4 hours of Reception.


I shook my head in disbelief.


I felt bad for their experience, knowing that in today's digital world, there are a great many undertrained photo "enthusiasts" offering their services who all too frequently offer disappointing results.  I reassured her that, having photographed Weddings since 1978 - including "top tier" weddings in the Detroit area for over 12 years - I looked forward to the opportunity of being on her team and creating some absolutely beautiful wedding images for her!


On her June 25th Wedding Day, Kori looked resplendent!  Out of the hundreds captured, some of her photos include:


                             Kori - at the Opera House Gazebo - with the first images of the day!



                     With her Bridesmaids ...                                               and new husband Nathan



                                      After a long day, Kori and Nathan had one last dance


What I remembered most from Kori's wedding was her sister Katie's gratitude at the end of the day.  After being asked to use her "point and shoot" pocket camera to finish covering her sister's Reception the year before, sister Katie was so relieved that Kori had been in good hands during the 14 hours of her Wedding Day.


Kori's Mother was gracious in later writing, 

                   "My Daughter was Married this June and Robert Charles was amazing to work with!  He is truly a Professional - the creativity in his photography is wonderful!  Robert also makes everyone @ ease on a very busy and special day.  I highly encourage everyone to use Robert for any event - especially a Wedding."  


What could be more rewarding?

Until next time.


To see a quick 30 second video of Kori, follow this link:     http://video214.com/play/SOTumqJvZmrYUANvjcclwA/s/dark

To see more of Rob's work, click on http://www.robertcharlesphotography.com/  and see his Galleries!


Categorized In: lansing michigan wedding photographer | michigan wedding photographer | outdoor wedding photography | wedding photography lansing michigan

Grand Ledge Opera House & Robert Charles Photography


This is the 1st in a 2 part series on memorable weddings in 2011.


When Catrice and Jonathan scheduled their wedding for August 14th, they had no idea what they were in store for.  Their Wedding and Reception were held at the Grand Ledge Opera House, a site with unique charm - and one of my favoirite locations.


When I suggested to Catrice that we work together to create some incredible Wedding Images, she was 100% on board.  That is not always the case.  Too often, wedding photography today has devolved into a collection of haphazard snapshots collected throughout the day, resembling something similar to a family gettogether  or backyard BBQ.  I've always believed that you, the Bride and Groom, have a lot to contribute by working together to create awe-inspiring images which will be remembered for a lifetime.


OK, by now you've probably realized I'm a romantic at heart.  I admit it.  (And I also watch "chick flicks" - just don't tell anyone!) 


Prior to their wedding, I had the opportunity to get to know Catrice and Jonathan by way of an Engagement Session from February. Here is one of their images:



     Now, on to their Wedding:

Despite some foreboding skies and a threatening weather report, I was anxious to create some incredible images. We started with Catrice outdoors, under heavily clouded skies.


To see more pictures of Catrice:   http://video214.com/play/XyCjVHd81s3eDTJ7R1lZ1Q/s/dark


My Wedding Philosophy is simple:  If a Bride has spent $800-1200 - or substantially more - on a Dress which will be used for a single event, her pictures should show an amount of Refinement and Craftsmanship which will stand the test of time.  Sure, there will be opportunities throughout the day to collect images as the day unfolds, but I encourage Brides not to shortchange themselves by settling for "snapshots".  My suggestion:  Make sure your Photographer plans on setting aside time to Create some incredible images!  Fewer and fewer do today.


Although these images are memorable, it was what happened during the Ceremony which I will never forget! 


After a number of breif "rain delays", Catrice and Jonathan agreed to forge ahead with their outdoor Ceremony.  The rain briefly abated and Catrice descended the huge staircase to the outdoor patio, making her way to the end of the aisle.  At this point, the skies opened up with a downpour not seen since Noah built his ark!  


     Rain speckles the camera lens ...         but Catrice and Jonathan, much to their credit, decide to soldier-on.


                   Umbrellas in full array,                               Catrice and Jonathan share a First Kiss


What I remembered most about this Wedding:  Sometimes a "perfect wedding day" is remembered more for the feelings and emotions exchanged between two people than the weather conditions!


Until next time,



To see more of Rob's work, just follow this link and click on Galleries:    http://www.robertcharlesphotography.com/  




Categorized In: grand ledge opera house | grand ledge opera house photography | michigan wedding photographer | outdoor photography | wedding photography lansing michigan

Planning Your Wedding - More Tips and Suggestions


Planning a Wedding is a big undertaking!  With numerous decisions, both big and small, staying on top of things can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming.  We understand!

So to help you with your planning, we've compiled a list of Tips and Suggestions (a.k.a. "10 Common Pitfalls to Avoid") into a Handout which each Bride receives at our Studio.  These are now available on line:


To these 10, we'd like to add numbers 11-13.  We hope they are helpful as you plan your Big Day!

11.  Hi-Res DVD   If you are planning on obtaining a Hi-Res DVD of your Wedding Images, know what you will be receiving - or you may be in for a surprise!  This information is so critical, that we've written a comprehensive blog post for you:    http://blog.robertcharlesphotography.com/index/view-post/id/26

12.  Hot Summer Days and Fresh Flowers   If you're planning your wedding for the warm Summer months of June, July or August and plan on using fresh flowers, then take steps to keep them looking fresh and crisp throughout the day!  Bring along a large cooler and empty a bag of ice into the bottom.  Then place a couple newspaper sections on top of the ice.  Bingo!  You've got a portable "refrigerator" which will pay huge dividends in having your Bouquet look great all day long.


13.   Wedding Dress - Delivery Date   Even though you've ordered your dress well in advance of your Wedding Day, it is common for dress retailers to set a delivery date just prior to the date of your Ceremony.  To avoid unnecessary worries over its timely arrival, sizing concerns, and possible alterations which may still need to be made as you come down the "home stretch", set a delivery date at least one month prior to your Ceremony date.   You are going to have a lot of last minute concerns; a great looking/great fitting dress doesn't need to be one of them!



 We're here to help you put it all together!  If you have any questions, we can help.  Call us - we're here for you  517-394-2192.

Until next time,



 See more images by following this link and click on Galleries!   http://www.robertcharlesphotography.com/  

Categorized In: grand rapids wedding photographers | lansing michigan wedding photographer | michigan wedding photographer | outdoor wedding photography | wedding photography lansing michigan