Whats In My Bag

A truly great photographer is always looking out for the brides. That means being prepared and aware of the brides needs. This goes a step beyond capturing those photos that they don’t want missed. I’m talking about a few disaster prevention items that can keep those beautiful moments flowing. Here are 4 non-photo related things I keep in my bag. 

1. Water & Snacks: 

There's nothing worse that trying to look photo ready when you're tummy is grumbling. Like they say, you're not yourself when you're hungry. Even the loveliest of brides can become the bridezilla they hoped to avoid on an empty stomach. So, what I like to do is keep bottled water and a few healthy snacks in my bag, such as: nuts, dates, dried fruit, and a variety of protein bars. This way whether someone just forgot to eat or needs a little something to anchor the mimosa breakfast I'm able to offer some healthy, energy fueled options. Not to mention, photography is hard work! Rather than being weighed down by a gourmet meal, I eat a light breakfast and may choose a snack to hold me through the day. This way I stay alert and focused.   

2. Ibuprofen/Aspirin

Since I brought up the mimosas, it just makes sense why I would have ibuprofen and aspirin on me. Of course, there are brides that will not be drinking. Although, with so much anxiety they may forget to hydrate which could lead to a bad headache. Now, let’s not forget there is a lot of running around too, so their feet are going to get tired eventually. Having this available if needed may just help someone get through the day, and help you get those amazing shots.

3. Tide To-Go

Life is dirty, stains happen! I like to dress dapper for the weddings I shoot and i’m not afraid to get down and dirty to get an amazing angle for a photo. Not only has this been useful for me personally, but it's turned out to be useful for many brides in pinch as well. Tide To-Go sticks, or Shout stain cloths are great for cleaning up little accidents with food, liquids, makeup, or other unforeseen dress disasters. Granted it isn’t designed for every fabric, but it doesn't hurt to have it available. When it is useful for someone, it feels good to the prepared hero. The bride will be so thankful. 

4. Portable Speakers 

Keeping a small portable speaker on hand is a great option for a little added ambience. Having some of the brides favorite jams playing (yes I said jams, I’m hip like that) is sure to have the bride and her bridesmaids singing along and dancing in no time. Who wouldn’t want to capture cool, spontaneous photos of that? It can also be great during the couples portrait session. Most people do not like being in front of the camera, I know that’s why I’m happily the one behind it. A great way to ease into a portrait session is to put on some familiar music. The next thing you know someones foot is tapping, a little dancing, and then you get the first of many great shots to come. 

Some may say, these items are not necessary. That is true. But, don't be one of those photographers that only caries what is necessary, think outside the box and wow your clients. 

5 Tips to Picking the Best Wedding Photographer

For a bride and groom, choosing a wedding photographer isn’t easy. Why? Because you’re bombarded with misleading advertising, confusing claims, simply bad information, super-low prices and high-pressure sales to unqualified photographers and near-worthless gimmicks. I’ve dedicated my business to educating and serving brides and grooms just like you. Now, with this information, you can make an informed, intelligent decision.

Here are 5 steps to help you avoid Wedding photographer rip-offs.

1. The Portfolio- Check out their website. Most professional photographers keep a curated portfolio on their website. This is a good way to gauge their style of photography and see if it’s the way you want your wedding to be shot. If they have a portfolio, look a little deeper. For starters, Consistency. Is there a consistent Style and level of professionalism? Have they covered a full wedding? Do they have consistent portraits that meet your artistic taste? If the photos look good to you, you’re off to a good start. Checking the portfolio goes hand in hand with examining the second step, lighting. 

2. Lighting- Proper lighting is essential. Be prepared, there are a lots of "Natural Light Photographers" out there. They may be amazing photographers that can take great Natural light photos, but it generally means they don’t know how to use off camera lighting.  It could be in your best interest to hire a photographer who is equipped and proficient with off-camera lighting set-ups. For example, if you've ever been to a ceremony or reception that was poorly lit and dark, or outside with unfavorable, harsh unflattering, natural light, likely the photos taken without use of off-camera lighting, do not come out too flattering. In these less than favorable situations, off-camera lighting can take the ordinary to extraordinary. 

3. Budget- The big question now, do they fit your budget? This may be hard to determine, since not all photographers post their prices on their website. In addition, it may be difficult to understand the all the different combinations of services to be offered. Some will offer all your photos on a disc, while others will include an engagement session. They may shoot by themselves or with a second photographer. They may have albums or canvases, or they may only allow you to get prints through them limiting third party options.  This will require some inquiry on you part. If the prices are available on their website, you’re off to a good start. Photographers usually have their price points based on hours of coverage. To better understand how long you need your photographer start by accounting for preparation time, travel time if there is going to be more than one location you will be at during the day. Make sure to listen and trust your photographer on recommendations. It’s surprising how fast the day will go and every photographer’s nightmare is running out of time. Time is needed to get you the best possible shots we can.

4. Contract- You need a contract! NEVER EVER hire a wedding photographer without one. It can turn into a negative experience very fast for either party if there isn’t one. Things to make sure are in the contract- their legal obligation to fulfill all services they promised to render. This includes the time they start to when they leave. Also the delivery time of physical products like prints and albums. How many photos are to be delivered and when. Things to double check are if there are limits to your photos, such as altering them after delivery, where you can print them, sharing them on social media or even with the other venders that you used for your wedding. Also there will be the terms of the deposit to retain their services. Check to see how many days before your wedding day you have to pay or cancel. But there are somethings to expect too. For example a standard model release. In layman terms, you are giving us the right to use your image as we see fit. Now this isn’t really anything to be afraid of because most of the time it is for us to add to our already carefully produced portfolio. We love our photos so much we want every client to see how our newest wedding turned out. But if you’re a privet person don’t be afraid to inquire privacy options. No matter what, look through your contract and make sure your comfortable with everything in there.

5. Communication- And this brings me to my last and easily the most important thing to consider when picking a wedding photographer. COMMUNICATION. It should be easy to talk to them. And they should be wanting to talk to you. Your photographer should be able to communicate with ease about what you’re getting through them and make it easy to understand all the little things your getting. If you need more clarification about the photos, the products or even the contract, they should be able to put your mind at ease. Do they meet your priorities when you’re ready to hire them? And above all else do you get along? They are going to be with you and sharing all those precious moments, being there for the laughs and the joyous tears. So do your instincts tell you to book them or maybe they are telling you to look for another photographer? If everything screams Book this Photographer now it’s because now you know how to make the best informed, intelligent decision to have the best wedding photos possible.

Why I Do What I DO

Maybe the most interesting thing about how I started, is that it was a bit of a fluke. I wanted to get a hobby outside of work, just like a lot of photographers out there. I ended up getting an entry level Nikon camera after days and hours of a one-sided debate with my wife. Bless her heart she had no idea what it would turn into. I shot just about everything I could. Most of my early shots were of my dog and close family members.

Then, life happened and my camera remained in its bag, untouched, at least for a bit. Fortunately, the best thing happened to me. One of my good friends, who had actually shot my own wedding, invited me to shoot a wedding with him. I quickly jumped at the idea, with little understanding of the full undertaking of a second photographer/assistant, let alone shooting such an important day with a beginner camera. Fortunately, I am fast learner. I hit the web and read as many reputable articles as I could, as well as posting all sorts of questions to various online forums. Before I knew it, the day came. I don’t know who was more excited or nervous, me or the bride and groom. It was a blast! All I can say is, I just knew I was hooked and there was no turning back.

Naturally, I dove deeper into my research. I read up on gear, the best techniques, and searched any question that came into my mind. It became clear that this road was not going to be an easy one and was not about to happen overnight. The competition was going to be endless. The one thing I know and have purely relied on, is being me. I am confident that shooting in my own personal style, through my esthetic is far better than striving to be a second rate version of someone else. So, I continued to sharpen my skills and understanding of all aspects of photography. I made sure I had a firm grasp for composition and advanced lighting techniques. I’ve never stopped practicing. I continued to shoot friends, family, coworkers and even shoot for a modeling agency, working with their amateur models. I’ve taken every bit of knowledge and experience and applied them to the one thing I love to shoot most, weddings.

I love it, pure and simple. I guess you could say it’s the inner romantic in me. From the big smiles, the tears of joy, and the genuine embraces, I love it. It is so meaningful to be a part of a couple’s specials day. Even though I have just met the new couple I get the honor and privilege to be there and document some of their most precious moments. Although weddings can be stressful, nerve racking, and fast paced, I would never trade it for anything else. I can only hope to continue meeting new couples and working hard keep doing it for as long as I can.