By: Kristen Castillo
You know what you want from your wedding photography. You’ve got pages ripped from magazines and websites and you’re planning your wedding album. Now you have to convey your photography wish list to the professional photographer who’s going to make it all happen.
There are certain shots every bride wants such as her walking down the aisle, dancing the first dance and the bouquet toss. But in between there are lots of other photo opportunities to be had. You’ve got to trust your photographer to use his or her instincts to capture all the golden moments and to work with you to figure out your other must-have shots.
Since your photographer isn’t going to read your mind, you need to envision your day and get a sense of what you want. Maybe you crave lots of candid moments or maybe you really want some nice family portraits with your parents and siblings.
Wedding photos with the family are often very important. “It’s virtually the only time everyone will be together,” says Brett Charles Rose of Brett Charles Rose Photography who tries to shoot a shot of the entire group.
“It’s their day,” says Rose. “There’s no status quo. It’s whatever they want.”
A shot list is a guide to help a photographer not miss any important photos.
“Prepare a list so we run down the checklist,” says John Schnack of Schnack Studios. “It also helps everyone who needs to be photographed – they know where they need to be.”
A shot sheet can be helpful but it can also be cumbersome if a photographer feels tied to the checklist. Don’t forget – a must-have list should be helpful, not a distraction. After all, you want your photographer to be able to shoot your event creatively without worrying about focusing on your checklist.
Your must-have list means nothing without an extensive conversation with your photographer. You need to explain what shots you want and what shots you don’t. Let him or her know who the important people are at the event and give your photographer a chance to ask you questions or share photo insights with you.
“If the bride and groom can be open and honest with the photographer, it’s always good,” says Schnack who says he’s always going to cover the basics such as the cake cutting or the first dance, but if a couple wants a specific shot, they should tell him in advance.
“The more a bride and groom can tell a photographer what they want, the better a photographer can do on the day,” says Schnack.
Aaron Thompson of AS Photography agrees, saying he recommends brides and grooms spend time during the consultation discussing expectations. “It should be a detailed process, not just a list,” he says.
Talk about what kinds of images you want and what’s reasonable for the photographer. Your photography time table on your wedding day will be limited so you need to be efficient. Rose says it’s best to allow at least two hours for preparation photos and one hour for post-ceremony photos.
It’s always a good idea to give your photographer as much information as possible, especially regarding small details. For example, if you want photos of each centerpiece, the buttons on your gown or notes in your guest book, tell your photographer your preferences before the big day.
Your must-have shots will be different from another couple’s preferences, but that’s good. It means you’re personalizing your event and images to reflect your style.
There are so many photos to shoot like the father-daughter dance, silhouettes of the couple after the ceremony, and dancing fun with the wedding party. Others include detail shots such as close-ups of rings, holding hands, glowing candles on the cake table and images of the bride’s veil, shoes or flowers.
The possibilities are huge and it’s up to you and your photographer to choose which images you really want and can successfully capture.
For example, brides often want to see the exchange of rings in photos, but typically the ceremony set-up makes that tough to shoot.
Rose suggests the bride faces toward the guests when the groom puts the ring on her hand. “If you want that close-up,” says Rose, “Face your hand out a little toward the crowd.”
One photo that’s a must-have is that first kiss. It’s a sweet moment to treasure. Make sure the tender smooch lasts long enough to be snapped on camera.
“Hold the kiss,” says Rose. “It’s all about you two people, so hold that kiss.”
Simplify the Scene
Be as organized as possible to get the best results. Let your photographer know if you’ll have a professional coordinator or someone else to assist you during the photos. Your coordinator may organize all the people you want in photos such as your bridesmaids, all your college friends or all your co-workers.
You’ll make your photographer’s job easier by helping him out with your set-up.
“Get ready in a nice space,” says Rose. “It’s money well spent to try to find something close to the spot where you’re getting married.”
If everyone can get ready at one place such as a certain hotel, the photographer can concentrate on shooting the preparations rather than driving from location to location to shoot one element of the preparations such as the groom getting dressed.
“We can get the details of the bride getting ready and the groom getting ready and we can do it all over the property,” says Rose.
Part of deciding your must-have photo list is making sure you’re working with the right photographer.
“Get to know your photographer,” advises Rose. “With my clients, I want to hang out with them, so on the wedding day, it’s just Brett behind the camera. It’s really a personality thing.”
You need to click with the person who’s going to be documenting your day from the little details to the big picture.
“The client needs to search for a photographer who matches them and takes good photos,” explains Thompson. “You have to look extensively at their portfolio to see if it meets your expectations.”
Interact with the photographer so you get a sense of how he or she works their craft. An engagement session should help you get to know your photographer better.
“An engagement session gives you a trial run before the wedding,” says Thompson. “It’s an opportunity for the bride and the groom to get to know me.”
Look for wedding photo inspiration by browsing your photographer’s portfolio and reviewing images in magazines and online. Share your preferences with your photographer and your wedding day will be camera-ready.
By: Bob Brichmann
Magical photographic moments do appear during the course of a wedding.
These moments may be spontaneous, artistic, semi-posed with a stunning sunset backdrop or may even happen by accident. More often than not, though, the artistic and experienced eye of your photographer is what is truly needed to find the “best shot.” It’s generally not just one shot, either. It could be a sequence of pre-ceremony shots of the bride primping and getting ready. It might be the capturing of the groom’s nervousness before the ceremony with his groomsmen trying to lighten the mood. Perhaps it’s several shots of the parents or grandparents embraced on the dance floor – lost in the moment. Maybe it’s the toss of the bouquet?
“You can’t capture a connection, unless you have a connection,” professes photographer Betsy McCue of La Vida Creations. Engagement sessions can be a crucial tool to ensuring photographic success for a wedding. Each party gets to know each other and a relationship is built. The groom starts to lower the typical “I hate pictures” guard. The bride warms to the moment. “Getting to know them as people enables us to relate with them more easily. Comfort equals better pictures. We can capture the essence of who people really are, especially once they start to drop their guard,” adds McCue.
There are many incredibly beautiful locations around San Diego to shoot engagement sessions and/or wedding day pictures: the Hotel Del and its beaches, Luscomb’s Point at Sunset Cliffs, The Marston Houses’ gardens near Balboa Park, anywhere in Balboa Park, Wind-N-Sea beach, the Mission Bay areas around The Dana and The Paradise Point Resorts. Photographer Jen Bosma is also a definite fan of engagement sessions. She’ll try and meld to what the couple is looking for and strives to relate to her clients. “I want couples to be comfortable in front of the camera. I’ll encourage a groom to whisper in his bride-to-be’s ear and get her giggling. This warms them up. Maybe a cute little piggyback ride down the beach lightens the mood,” shares Bosma.
Most people are slightly uncomfortable in front of a camera. It’s the photographer’s job to ease that angst. Compliments go a long ways. Relating to them on their level often does the trick as does speaking their lingo. The photographer is often a liaison on the day, especially early on, between the bride and groom. The groom has not seen the bride so he’s nervously asking how she looks or is feeling. The bride may ask how he looks in his tux or suit and they reassure her he looks really handsome. This gets both parties excited with anticipation and drops some of that photo guardedness. “My philosophy is don’t make it happen, let it happen. Every bride is beautiful in my eyes. Don’t be aware of me. Be aware of each other. Get the two close, let them interact and capture them,” offers photographer Joseph Guidi from The Studios of Joseph Guidi.
One key aspect in getting the best shot is allowing the professional to use creative lighting techniques. Shadows, natural lighting, unique angles…these are not necessarily new ideas, but perhaps with a more modern thought process. Use the twilight creatively. Everyone is used to sunset photos, but there are other periods of daylight that lend themselves to some creative shading. A professional photographer can coach you through this. Another benefit to hiring a pro to get the best shot is the overall expectation difference between bride and mom (or bride & groom vs. family).
“Mom has a totally different expectation. She needs the classic, full length, back of the dress shot. Brides want ‘photojournalism’ with minimal posing. We have to connect with both and capture both,” explains photographer Jared Bauman from Bauman Photographers.
Clarifying the volume of family shots expected versus candids ahead of time saves everyone a whole world of hassle. The best is generally a mix of both. Every bride is beautiful. Some may have some less than photogenic qualities. Your professional photographer can overcome this with their expertise and various techniques.
“Shooting down generally offers a more flattering angle if the nose is an issue. It hides into the face. Analyze the bride’s features and plan from there. Thicker arms…consider veiling them a bit,” says Guidi.
Body positioning can be very important. Without over-posing, some simple instructions can create some memorable shots. Turn your foot this way. Lift your chin this way.
Make-up and hair are always an important issue. You can be the most beautiful girl in the world, but make-up is almost always needed to enhance the day – for photography’s sake. Ask your photographer for recommendations or look through San Diego Style Weddings Magazine for make-up professionals.
“Water based is generally the safest choice. There’s less chance of a reaction. Make sure they are a licensed esthetician and know what they are doing,” states Melanie Littlewood from Hair and Makeup Artistry by Melanie.
One of the other more important and understated factors to getting the best shot falls back on the eye of the professional. When all is said and done, they know what to shoot and when. They have that creative eye. You’ve seen this when you’ve interviewed them and their work. They may shoot you smiling with mom through an open side window of the church prior to the ceremony and you don’t even know they are there.
They might semi-pose you to bend a certain way so the twilight bounces off of you just the right way.
They might coach your interaction to a degree, but be yourself. Capturing the two of you in your own comfort zone is what will provide the best shots.
By: Stephanie Wolters
San Diego provides a beautiful backdrop for photographs for any occasion. When today’s brides are looking for a perfect place to shoot their engagement or wedding photos, they don’t have to look far. There are so many gorgeous settings to choose from — the beaches, the cliffs, parks, and downtown. With so many fabulous settings, all a girl has to do is pick which location best represents her and her future husband.
Still, finding a location that best fits you, the bride and groom, can be a challenge. One of the best ways to help you decide is to visit the spot first. Make a day out of it — pack a lunch and a camera, and travel around to some of the different sites available. Spend time at each location to see what kind of vibe you get. Another way to start the process is to think of places where you and your groom enjoy going together. If you are beach people, there is over 70 miles of San Diego Coastline at your disposal. If the beach is not your scene, downtown offers several hip, urban areas in which to take beautiful pictures. Wherever you choose to have your pictures taken, make sure the setting reflects your personalities.
A cute option for a photo location is to revisit the place where you first met. Since there is already sentimental value to this spot, the emotions will shine on camera. Even if you met somewhere that is difficult to visit again, recreating the atmosphere might be possible. Perhaps obtaining one or two tokens from the first meeting place and bringing them to the photo session of an engagement shoot can help recreate the special day when you first met. For a wedding photo session, going back to the place you got engaged is also a great way to honor that memorable day, and give it extra special meaning. Many photographers agree that pictures with emotions and meaning behind them turn out best on camera because the feelings transfer to print.
San Diego County beaches are some of the most beautiful locations in the world. One of the most well known beachfront locations is the Hotel Del Coronado. Here, the beach offers a wonderful variety of scenery combined with ocean views, says photographer Don Cole. If you are into the beach, Cole believes the stretch off the Hotel Del Coronado is the perfect place for gorgeous scenic photos.
Cole also suggests the world famous La Jolla Cove near the Bridge Club. It provides a magnificent view and the beauty of the ocean all rolled into one. If the beach itself isn’t your main draw, the La Jolla Coves can still provide the perfect ocean backdrop for your photo shoot.
Bauman Photography suggests Windansea Beach in La Jolla as the perfect place for oceanfront pictures. The rocky shores are best known for their beautiful scenery and surf breaks created by underwater reefs. The rocks along the beach act as a dividing wall, creating a very secluded area for taking photographs without being disturbed.
Aaron Feldman of True Photography offers some general tips about shooting photos by the ocean. “I have found that the best beaches photographically not only have sand, but have cliffs or tide pools to help frame the image as well.” The framing technique will give the photograph a sense of depth, drawing in the eye. While the focus of the pictures is obviously the bride and groom, a beautifully framed couple can give the extra special touch that makes the photo stand out.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
For couples that love the outdoors and landscaping, Balboa Park is a great place to shoot from both the photographer’s perspective and bride and groom’s. With so many different settings throughout the park, there is sure to be a location to please any couple. Shannon Henry of ProVision Studios loves Balboa Park for the beautiful architecture that can frame a photo. “There are so many beautiful angles to shoot from that it adds a real sense of elegance to each image,” she says.
Don Cole likes Balboa Park because of its versatility. If couples really enjoy camping in the desert, the Desert Garden provides the perfect location. And if the couple enjoys hiking, there is a huge grove of pine trees just a short distance from the Desert Garden. The park has lovely landscaping and a natural beauty that glows on camera.
Fallbrook offers a great location for outdoor lovers. Stephanie Sundell with Creative Photography Inc. loves the scene at Arbor Terrace. The location has a wonderful, recently built waterfall that provides a beautiful backdrop for a ceremony. The waterfall stands 30 feet tall and creates a great focal point for photos. Sundell thinks this location provides a great alternative to the park, or an ocean feel for those who want a unique outdoor location.
THE URBAN FEEL
Some of the best places to shoot are downtown, says Jennifer Spengler of studio m. La Jolla. Downtown provides a variety of different locations with something to please everyone. Feldman of True Photography enjoys the way the downtown area has developed over the years. It now has that mix of new and old architecture and lifestyle, lending itself to the creation of the perfect photograph — taken from any direction.
The Gaslamp district has proven to be a favorite for many photographers asked to do an urban-feel photo shoot. Bauman Photography has a specific location in the Gaslamp Quarter (5th and G) that works best during evening hours. This location has a great urban feel and very unique lighting which looks great against a night sky.
Bauman Photography also suggests the Santa Fe Train Depot as a great urban photo spot. The area is not too crowded which allows for several opportunities to take fantastic shots. Bauman likes the Train Depot because the architecture gives a great look to the pictures and provides a photo with the look of movement fitting with today’s fast-paced lifestyles.
The roof of the Saint James Hotel is a wonderful location to shoot from. The background is great with the skyline as the frame of the photo. The Saint James sign gives a great secondary focal point to draw in the eye of those flipping through the photographic memories of your special day.
Getting an urban feel to your photos doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stand in the middle of downtown surrounded by hundreds of people watching you get your photo taken. studio m. often takes couples to the alley behind their studio and has you walk down it. This still gives an urban look to the photos, but allows you to be more secluded. Keep in mind that there are several different ways to achieve certain photographic looks. Find the one that works for you as a couple and gives you the feeling you want in your pictures.
Spengler has noticed a new trend in the direction that photo shoots are going this year. She sees many couples asking for a more photojournalistic, documentary style of photography. This entails seeking out diverse and unexplored areas to meet the needs of the bride and groom. These photos have a different look to them than the traditionally posed photographs. The unique locations give a sense of spontaneity to a photo, even if it is posed. Some of the ideas Spengler has come up with give great photojournalistic results — standing in the center of a fountain, in crowded parks, or in the middle of busy city streets. These settings provide a very unique look for the couples, achieve fantastic results, and satisfy each and every couple with their photography experience.
While certain locations lend themselves to beautiful photos, they may not represent you as a couple. The key to capturing beautiful pictures is capturing the emotion behind the photo. Find a place that has meaning for you and your groom, and that emotion will translate on film. These pictures are about you, so find a location that makes you excited to be in and let your imaginations run wild.