The waning days of Summer and early Fall are the best times for Engagement Sessions for couples who are planning their Weddings during the off-season. And this is the case with Kelly and Josh.
Kelly will be the 4th of four siblings in the Cook Family that I've photographed when she and Josh tie the knot on Christmas Eve. She asked if they could have their Engagement pictures done on the beech at Grand Haven. I suppose that one of the benefits of having a long-standing relationship with your Photographer is that he will more aptly agree to using his day off for your benefit! (lol)
In addition to some of the more expected images, I also created some super-cool, more abstract images which are more out of the ordinary - and which satisfy the creative bent that I, as a Photographer, have. Here they are!
What a cute couple!
It's always great to have something different! Too cool....
I'm really looking forward to Kelly and Josh's June Wedding next year! It's going to be fun!
So, you're getting married.... You need a Photographer, and are pretty sure what style of Wedding Photography you're looking for. The next question is ... what form will those Memories take? What will you have in your hands when all is said and done?
It wasn't long ago that the typical Bride was given but two choices for their Wedding images: Have them placed in a fully finished Traditional Wedding Album or have loose Enlargements printed.
The Traditional Album, with Enlargements ranging in size from 4x5's to 8x10's, typically contained pockets into which the Enlargements were placed. Although supremely constructed and considered "top of the line" at the time, their unimaginative format "failed to stir one's soul", as I like to say. Because of this, many Brides opted instead for loose Enlargements, ingloriously stuffing their memories into an envelope or box, and rarely being seen by friends or family.
All this has changed with the digital age. (Background cheers sounding in the distance....) Today's Bride has some new and exciting options:
Flush Mount Albums are now all the rage in displaying and sharing your Wedding Images with friends and family. Incorporating the best in Graphic Arts design, the Flush Mount Album has caught the fancy of Brides across the spectum - and from across the country. Why are they different?
First, each Spread Page (both the left and right sides of an open Album) is thematically unique. You may have, for example, a Spread Page of the "Bride Alone":
Or a page with "Cake Cutting":
These images are either fused together, overlaped, merged, collaged, or otherwise graphically placed in a way which never fails to elicite "ooows" and "aaahs" as the viewer is pictorally transported back to the time of your Wedding Celebration. Instead of being shelved in a box, Flush Mount Albums find themselves on coffee tables awaiting the next guest or relative who may drop by and muses, "I heard you got married this past year".
At RCP, we don't "farm out" the Album creating process. Owner Rob Annis personally takes the time to design each Flush Mount Album (FMA) himself, creating unforgetable pages of your memories. All FMA's are constructed from the finest Leather and include up to two lines of imprinting on the cover. Classy. Definitely worth showing to your friends.
In addition to the new FMA's, it is not unusual for Brides today to inquire about another possibility: Receiving their images on a disk for archiving - and possibly printing Enlargements themselves. At first blush, it would seem that being able to "print your own" is a no-brainer. What drawbacks could there possibly be? Answer: Well over 99% of all wedding photographers are guilty of providing "rough draft" images to their Brides when they supply "Hi-Res" DVD's. I personally find this to be crime, as most unsuspecting Brides are expecting their Wedding Images to have been completely Enhanced and Retouched (I call it "Lab-Ready") and fully believe they will be able to have beautiful finished pictures made. Nothing could be further from the truth. At least be aware of what you are bargaining for. I have a blog article written on just this topic.
The bottom line: Have in mind the end product you would like to have and show to your friends and family. Whether it's a Flush Mount Album or Hi-Res DVD, you'll be way ahead of the game.
Having photographed almost 500 weddings over the past 30 years, I've been eye witness to a score of changes - some for the better, some not. I've seen Wedding Photography evolve from stiffly posed "formal" portraits to a more realistic, effervescent radiant style. I've seen the size of our tools shrink from the Medium Format heavyweights to the smaller SLR size. And of course I've seen perhaps the biggest change of all: the digital revolution which has supplanted the use of film.
With digital capture, there have been plenty of positive changes including
Finer detail recorded
Unimagined post-production possibilities
The ability to "preview" an image after capturing it
Aaaah... the ability to preview the image immediately....
Perhaps no other change in photography has opened the door to allow for a free flow of weekend wedding warriors than the "guarantee" that there will be ... something ... to present to a Bride and Groom after their "Big Day". And sometimes that's a problem.
Last year I photographed Kori's wedding in June. She is the middle of three sisters. When they visited my Studio, they made reference to "the problems they had last year" with her older sister's wedding, and they wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. Not wanting to pry, I let the topic pass.
At Kori's Reception, I was approached by Katie, Kori's younger sister. Katie was effusive in her praise and repeatedly mentioned how relieved she was "after last year". So I had to ask. "Last year", she explained, "the woman photographer came up to the head table just after the toasts and told us 'My battery died. I guess I'm going home'". "My battery" - as in singular?, I asked. Indeed. The woman had taken on the role of Wedding Photographer with (you guessed it) a single camera and a single battery. "What happened?", I asked. "She left. She just left. And mom told me, 'Katie, you'd better get your 'point and shoot' camera and take the rest of the pictures'".
I felt bad for her oldest sister, but accounts like you've just read are all too familiar.
Just this week I was approached by a wonderful woman who teaches Elementary age students. She inquired about the possibility of being able to "work some magic" with the printed wedding images from her daughter's wedding from two years ago, saying "They are simply horrible". I advised her to obtain the original files, since once an image is printed on to photographic paper, there is little that can be done to "rework" an image. Three days later, she texted to say that the photographer had deleted all the images from her hard drive, so the original files were gone.
These two real life scenarios are tied together with same twine: Just because an image appears on back of a camera, it most certainly doesn't guarantee the Quality of the images or Professionalism of the service.
If you live in Michigan, it's probably not much of a suprise to know that the vast majority of weddings take place during the warm summer months of June to September. Brides and Bridesmaids usually seem unperturbed by these hot, hazy days, as they simply counter the heat and humidity by donning open-air "spaghetti" strap or strapless atire.
Dissimilarly, Grooms and Groomsmen, whose internal thermostats naturally run warmer, are destined to find themselves in long pants, long sleeved shirts, vests, and (ugh) a formal jacket to boot - which add up to one thing: a lot of guys with internal temperatures running much higher than the normal 98.6 degrees.
Hyperthermia (over heating) is a cumulative process, but there are ways to slow it down to ensure your wedding - and reception - are as enjoyable as possible on a warm day. Beside the obvious (have an air conditioned church and transport vehicle), here are a couple of suggestions you may not have thought of:
1. Have a Spritzer Bottle on hand
Spritzer bottles shoot a light mist of water, instantly cooling the skin. They act the same way as "cool zones", used frequently by Professional Football players in the early, warmer months of the season. Spray it directly onto your face from approximately 12", and you'll feel your body temp noticably drop
2. Bring a 2nd Shirt
On a 90 degree day, having a dry shirt to change into when you reach your reception may spell the difference between surviving an ordeal and being able to enjoy the second half of your day. And don't be shy about packing a towel, baby wipes, deodorant, and some body spray to use during the change-over. You'll thank yourself repeatedly as you swap that wet shirt for a clean dry one
3. Pack Gatorade
With excessive heat comes dehydration - which is not to be taken lightly. Even moderate dehydration will render you listless and lethargic, making you feel more like a spectator than a participant at your reception. Drinking Gatorade (or something similar) replenishes the electrolytes and minerals you will have lost during an entire day to persperation. I personally pack two 32 ounce bottles of Gatorade and drink whatever water may be found to offset the water I lose while photographing a wedding
Although these three suggestions won't actually lower the ambient air temperature, they'll go a long way to making your Wedding Day everything you had hoped it could be!
We all hope for ideal weather when "the big Day" approaches, but sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. However, less than ideal weather conditions should not be a reason for your Professional Photographer to provide you with less than stellar images that he/she has created for you of your Wedding Day!
Here in Michigan, our "Wedding Season" is usually limited to the months of mid-April through mid-November, and during these 7 months, we are never guaranteed sunny, blue skies on any given Saturday. And as a Professional Wedding Photographer, I am charged with always capturing images which reflect the glory of a day which may have been planned for months in advance.
This was the case for Theresa and Tony's early March Wedding. With temperatures in the low 50's and a strong NW wind blowing, Theresa opted for the confines of the church, rather than brave the inclimate out of doors. Many "weekend warrior" photographers suffer substantial trepidations at the thought of having to photograph an entire wedding in doors.
We did some creative problem solving and used only existing light to photograph all participants prior to the Ceremony. Here are some of those images:
Theresa with her Father
With our "Painter's Touch" FX
Here is our finished Spread Page, created for Theresa's Album
And her Family Spread Page
Not always will we be able to use the great outdoors as our natural Studio. Sometimes using the existing light indoors - and molding it creatively - produces equally good results!
See our quick 30 second "Animated Images!" video of Theresa & Tony (below)!
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:
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.
Whites or off-white 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:
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:
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.
Robert Charles Photography provides Classic, Timeless, Elegant Wedding Photography, by combining the craftsmanship found in Traditional styles, mixed with the best in modern Photojournalism. Unlimited time and locations for those seeking to preserve their memories for years to come.
Package pricing starts at just $995 for our Introductory Package. Our Signature Package is an investment of just over $3,000, including multiple Albums, Wall Portraits, numerous enlargements - and more!