For every approach, there is an optimal client who resonates with and appreciates the style of work that is made. Our diversity in approach is what creates connection with specific clients. Regardless of what approach you take when making bridal portraits on the wedding day, there are several simple ways to improve your work.
Quit Shooting and Capturing. In the wedding business, we sometimes get a bit lost in the idea of what we “make,” the pictures we “take,” and the images we “capture.” Much of the terminology in photography is rather aggressive and a bit pompous (and dare I say it, a bit too Male). We have too much ego, and sometimes it hinders the creation of truly great images. Instead of directing your energy to “taking” and “capturing,” focus on Observing and Receiving. Every person interacts with you and the camera differently. Everyone has a unique preference in how they are seen and viewed. If you are open to what the subject will “give” you, the results will generally be much more honest and interesting than those from contrived poses. Every image you make reflects your relationship with the person being photographed. Care about who your subjects are. Care about all of the intricate details that make that person beautiful and unique. Look for the moments where the person is more “open” – moments that truly feel like them. On many occasions, it is the in-between times where you find what you are you looking for. Don’t give up if she is self-conscious or awkward. Move through the experience with the subject as a companion. Eventually you will find a genuine laugh or a second where she lets her guard down.
Location and Light. Find great light. In my opinion, light is the most important element for a portrait. Location is secondary. Wonderful light (rim light, Rembrandt light, window light, butterfly light, backlight, delicious light!) can be found in the most unusual places. Do not discount any light source available. Sometimes the most unassuming lights make amazing images. Be bold, move your subject around in the light. The smallest adjustments in positioning can alter the look of the light in a big way. Also be sure to look at the bride from every angle (literally walk all the way around them) to ensure that you have chosen the best version of the light for the images. In the event that you have no viable light, consider using video light. Video light can be a lifesaver if you are making an image indoors or outside at night when all other light sources are too dim or unflattering. Do not choose a location just because it is there or because someone has requested it. A dingy little bridge might be sitting in the middle of the golf course. Ignore that heinous little bridge! Forget the ugly gazebo. You are better than that! Interesting imagery is created when the artist thinks beyond the obvious. Be creative! If you found wonderful light, the next step is to be intentional about what you will put in the frame with the subject. I try to always shoot with the words “clean,” “colorful,” and “dramatic” in mind. Do not include the window AC unit in your portrait (unless you are aiming at humor)! Do not have a tree growing out of the bride’s head! Do not shoot a portrait on the beach if the light is horrid! Choose a different location with GOOD light.
Make It Work. In this same vein, there will be times when you will not have golden evening light for portraits. Your bride will not be dancing amongst deer, glowing angelically with rim light in a forest. She will be expectantly waiting for you to make her look like a goddess whilst standing amongst piles of bridesmaids’ underpants and hairspray in the ugliest Holiday Inn you have ever seen on a rainy day. However, despite all of this, as Tim Gunn would say, you must “Make it work!” I have made lovely portraits in bathrooms, elevators, and messy hotel rooms. Become a master of the unassuming. You create the frame. Seek out simplicity, shoot with a very shallow depth of field and compose carefully, including only elements that compliment. In these situations, instead of shooting full-length images, it is advantageous to focus instead on closely cropped portraits.
Give Onlookers “The Boot.” Some of the most difficult people to work with during a wedding day are overly “helpful” wedding party, coordinators, and guests. If you fail to excuse onlookers from the room while making portraits, you run the risk of causing the bride to feel more self-conscious during the image-making process, not to mention the inevitable (and obnoxious) advice from all who are watching. By removing extraneous people from the space, you craft a more natural and relaxed environment for the bride.
Be Detail-Oriented. A great image can be ruined by overlooking details. Keep a watchful eye on stray hair, lipstick lines, clothing, or jewelry that is askew. Also pay attention to the subject’s body positioning, posture, and hands. While framing, be aware of awkward cropping. Generally speaking, cropping at the ankle or wrist does not have a flattering effect.
Contrary to Popular Belief, the World Does Not Revolve Around You. Do not be the jerk who makes the bride late to her own ceremony. Wear a watch, start a timer, or have your assistant keep track of time. Don’t succumb to feeling nervous or rushed, but be aware of your client’s valuable time. Respect their schedule and do not cause them to run behind.
No Negativity! Many people become self-conscious in front of the camera. Impress upon your subject that she cannot ever do anything “wrong” during the shoot. Do not EVER modify behavior with negative direction. Instead of saying “Please don’t hold your hand in a horrid claw fist,” try something like, “Your hands look beautiful when you clasp them gently in front of you.” Negative direction amplifies awkwardness. Focus on the positive. Tell her how stunning she looks. If she does something graceful, compliment her! Endow her with confidence and calm.
Be Confident. Taking time for the creative process with your subject (who will be waiting and watching) can be intimidating. Take heart, though! Even if you have no idea what you are doing, the client assumes otherwise. That is why they hired you! They have confidence in your ability to capture the beauty and nuance of their wedding day. Do not be afraid to take the time to truly look at everything around you and make the wisest choices for light, location and angle (without holding her hostage until her next birthday, of course). Act confident- even when you feel like a doofus inside. Eventually, that nervous feeling disappears and the practice you invested in making images in different situations will pay dividends.
Find Her Best Angles. If you treat the bride like she is a professional model, the results will be comical at best. Most subjects do not know their strongest angles for the camera. You must find them. Observe her features from all positions and find what flatters her most. Literally walk all the way around her, looking for her most graceful elements. Try moving to a position that is slightly higher or lower than her. Move farther away and closer in. Search for what looks most beautiful for her build and facial features.
Be Prepared and Think Outside the Box. There will be times when you must rely on “tried and true.” Sometimes the bride is running an hour behind schedule and you have 2 minutes to make photographs of her before she races to the church. This is not the time to reinvent the wheel. However, with a little foresight and planning, you can make great images even in a small amount of time. Scout your location and have viable ideas in mind ahead of time. In relaxed situations, don’t be afraid to experiment! Avoid formulas that result in clichéd imagery. Be brave!
Category Archives: New Orleans Wedding Photographers
EPaul Julien wedding photography
How to choose Wedding Photographers in New Orleans La
You have seen it on practically every wedding photographer’s web page and in bridal magazines. It seems that everyone wants to give the bride and groom advice on how to choose a wedding photographer. Most of what I have read is useful, but know one talks about how not to choose a wedding photographer. So lets look at the mistakes brides and grooms often make in choosing their photographer.
Here are the top 7 mistakes I feel many brides and grooms make when selecting a photographer for their big day:
1. RELYING ON WEDDING VENDOR REFERRALS. This may be the worst mistake of them all. Many wedding vendors trade referrals with other wedding professionals with no real knowledge of each other’s work. And yes, many times it’s an honest referral based upon working a few weddings with one another. But how much can a DJ, for example, really know about the quality of a wedding photographer’s work? Often times this type of referral is just based on the fact that the DJ has worked with the photographer at a number of events and liked him or her. What photography school did the DJ go to? Does the DJ know the difference between RAW files and Jpeg’s Probably not.
2. JUDGING A PHOTOGRAPHER BASED SOLELY ON A “GREATEST HITS” WEDDING ALBUM PORTFOLIO. There is nothing more misleading regarding a photographer’s talent than looking at a sample wedding album that is a compilation of their best shots at 50 different weddings. An album such as this may be useful in understanding just how great an image they are capable of producing, but that’s really all it tells you. Ask to be shown an album of one entire wedding from start to finish. A good wedding photographer should be able to give you a better idea of how your own wedding will be photographed. Virtually anybody with a decent camera can get one great shot per wedding!
3. PAYING TOO MUCH ATTENTION TO THE SALES PITCH. Every photographer can tell you great things about themselves and so they should. But in your initial wedding consultation, look for photographers who are interested in YOU. A good photographer will want to know the types of photography styles you are interested in and what you are looking for in a wedding photographer. A photographer who asks you lots of questions about your wedding and your preferences will probably also be more likely to listen to you and have a better sense of what you want. If the wedding meeting is just one long lecture from the photographer, move on to the next photographer. Find someone who is interested in you.
4. NOT ASSESSING THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSONALITY. This is a biggie. You will spend the entire day with your photographer. If you don’t get along with him or her, it can ruin what should be the happiest day of your life. Rude and bossy photographers can also cause problems with your guests. Find a photographer who is easy to talk to and who you can establish good rapport with.
5. CHOOSING “UNCLE BOB” TO SHOOT YOUR WEDDING! With digital cameras now in practically everyone’s hands, there seems to be a lot more “wedding photographers” out there. The fact that a friend or relative is good with his new digital camera does not mean he can handle a wedding. And what about file backups? Does your family photographer know how to do a correct backup, or even have the proper computer hardware to do it? When I get back to my studio, the images are uploaded to my main computer and then backed up on an external hard drive. Once that is complete, 2 back up DVD’s are burned. Only then will I erase the cards I used for the wedding. You don’t want your memories to go up in smoke along with a burnt out hard drive.
6. CARING ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHERS TYPE OF CAMERA EQUIPMENT. In this day and age, a photographer can make great images with any medium to high quality camera. Wedding photographers who spend an inordinate amount of time discussing the type of equipment they use may not be the right person for you. What you really want to know is what type of images they can produce and if they can show you plenty of samples. It’s the final result that matters. If you are happy with what they show you and everything else checks out OK, you can assume their equipment is adequate for the task.
7. CONFUSION OVER PRICING. If you can’t understand the pricing or packages, keep looking. Package pricing, if flexible, is the best way to go. It allows you to have a better idea of what your final bill will be. Ala carte pricing can confuse and be misleading. You may assume that something you though was included in their coverage costs extra. Like a wedding album! However, a photographer who only offers strictly structured packages should also be avoided. Ultimately, you want to find someone who will work within your budget and give you exactly what you want. If you don’t see a package that fits your needs, ask the photographer to let you design your own.
This list was not intended to intimidate people looking for wedding photographers in the new orleans wedding market. It should, however, help you understand what’s important. Find a photographer with a style you prefer and who shows you images that you love. Use that initial consultation as a way to get to know your photographer and develop rapport. Talk to some former clients to get a sense of how the photographer behaved at the wedding. If everything looks good, you are ready to make your decision!