Welcome to Spotlighting. Here I will spotlight new and interesting wedding details that I find in a hope to be a reliable resource to my brides and families. Here you will find honest, unsolicited advice and recommendations. Hopefully, you will also gain valuable insight in to who I am and how I view my work!

Wedding Education 101, The Photographer's Perspective

There are so many details for a couple to remember when planning their wedding that I almost hate to add anything else to their plates. Unfortunately if I don't... then some very important photography ideas go unnoticed and they don't even get the opportunity to consider their options. I always think its best to educate my couples about their photography prior to their wedding so they are armed with all the best of what I have learned throughout the years. Their wedding photography is theirs and my responsibility. We share it equally. I can only shoot what you are GIVING me!

Certainly there are the scripted moments that are par for the course at most every wedding. Often times I will hear the bride and groom use terms like "photojournalism and candid" when referring to those scripted moments and truly they are candid in that sense of the word. We can not interject ideas or rearrange the dress, fix necklaces or put the groom's boutonniere upright during the ceremony. But even though these moments come about as they may, there are some general ideas that every bride and groom can keep in mind.

Let us start with the beginning of most wedding days...the getting hair and makeup done or getting into the gown. Too often there is very little smiling, talking or laughing taking place during any of these moments. Sometimes we can get enough candid shots that can capture those moments fairly decently but I can say hands down the best shots come from the interactions during these moments. While getting in to the dress, too often the bride, mother and bridesmaids look like they are concentrating on a math test and not so much with enjoying the moment and laughing with the bride. Just a little smile will go a long way. We so often have to remind everyone to relax and have a good time. This is supposed to be FUN after all. The guys are having a blast, so why shouldn't the girls?

This is a good time to mention a phenomenon that I noticed several years ago. It's what I call "the sabotage." Funny thing is some times one of the bridesmaids or family members will do the strangest things that will almost sabotage the couple's wedding photos. I have seen it all...from getting a tattoo a week before the wedding, spray tans that turn them orange, or going to the beach and coming back with white triangles on their chests from burning in their bikinis. Some times it can be as simple as refusing to smile in the pictures or complaining about walking in the high heels. I hope this is an unknowing effect but sadly I sometimes think its subtle sabotage. So my best advice is to insure absolutely that your bridal party actually wants to and are excited about participating in your wedding. Then you should give them some guidelines as to what you expect about their appearance and tell them what the photographer will be needing from them. Its so simple really. We just need their enthusiasm, their joy and to not complain. This is not so much for our sake as it is our bride. She doesn't want to say anything but we can read it all over her face that she is sorry to inconvenience her family and friends in any way.

Next, lets talk about the ceremony. I can not tell you how many "here comes the bride" photos that are ruined by the coordinator fluffing the gown before the bride and her Father go down the aisle. I am not saying this isn't a necessity but its also necessary to get out of the way quickly. Undoubtedly, the doors open and the coordinator is ducking or squatting, looking up with a deer in the headlights look and ruining a beautiful shot. A pause just past the door frame and the coordinator to move completely out of the shot could help eliminate that problem. So open communication with your planner is absolutely imperative. Next thing that can ruin a good shot is "The Kiss!" You wouldn't think this one would be something I'd have to address but it's a biggie. Some churches do not allow us to shoot with flash during the ceremony and if its low lighting, we have to compensate for that. I'll put it simple here...we need more then a peck! I am not saying a three minute kiss that makes everyone uncomfortable but definitively more then a quick pucker. And that brings me to another shot killer, The Pucker." The kiss should be flat lips on lips. The alternative is the sucker fish on sucker fish. Again, I can not tell you how many couples get their pictures back and recognize immediately that the pucker kiss looks a little silly. If that's your kiss and that's what you want...have at it but I can tell from experience you'll like your photos better if you modify it a little.

Here is a couple of things that I won't elaborate too much on because I think they are self explanatory. Needless to say, they are all things that I think could just help you... help your photographer take better images on your wedding day. First when doing the posed shots, try to remember the bride should be on the opposite side of the boutonniere so that it isn't sticking out of her head or face. Secondly, don't stand straight on to the camera because that has a widening effect. Try blading your body sideways a little so that you achieve a slimming effect. Then listen to the photographer's directions. He or she may be seeing a bit of a double chin, or something unflattering about the pose you strike. Their directions are invaluable in creating images that are not only creative but also appealing to you visually. Its their job to capture you in the absolute best light possible and they are the only ones looking at you through the lens so listen to their suggestions.

Next I can not say too much about whitening your teeth if you are a smoker. When standing next to a brilliant white dress, your teeth will look dingy by comparison. This rule goes for the groom as well. The bride with nice white teeth and the groom with yellow stains is not an attractive photo. Along those same lines is tanning. Your bright, white dress will make you look orange if you tan too much or use a spray tan the day before your wedding. Next, please do something with your hands. Its awkward to see the groom or groomsmen standing with their arms lifeless by their sides. Just a hand in a pocket will change the mood of the image. You will appear more relaxed instantly! Lastly, insure that all the groomsmen get their tuxes fit properly. So many times, one or more of the groomsmen and some times the groom are left to settle for arms too shorts in the tux or dress shirts that are so large they protrude from the neck of the tux. If the vest shows your shirt at your waist, the vest is too small. If the tie hangs below your belt the tie is too long. If the tie only comes to the third button on your shirt...the tie is way too short. A professional men's clothing store can mean all the difference for your photos.

Now let us talk about the reception. There are really only two pet peeves I have about a reception. To begin, the first dance should be subtly lit. No flashing strobes or twinkling lights should be utilized during the couples first dance or the parent dances. Twinkle lights add tiny little dots all over the couple's face and body and can be virtually impossible to retouch out of the image. This is especially true if the lights fall in a precarious place that can't be retouched in Photoshop and there is no "do over" of the "FIRST" dance! My second pet peeve is the severs who continue to serve or clear plates during the first dance or parent dances. I have seen severs cross the dance floor behind the couple. I have seen severs stand on the side lines of the dance floor gawking during this intimate moment. So many times I want to say "The couple does not know you. Please exist this priceless moment." But at last I don't because it is not my place but open communication to the venue sight prior to your wedding could potentially eliminate this problem.

My last best advice of what I have seen that could have changed the quality of the image or at least made more personal those precious moments, would be "eye contact". Let me give an example. The couple is on the dance floor and they are having an in depth conversation. Granted they may be talking about how much they love each other OR they could be talking about the fact that brother James has been drinking too much, bridesmaid Carry has been acting like a real pain all day or should they tip the DJ. That's right, I know these things cause I am not far from these conversations and I hear it all. What you might consider is getting back into the moment.It a beautiful, once in a lifetime chance to first dance together as husband and wife. So what are you waiting for...revel in it...look into each others eyes, make each other laugh, kisses are good and laying your head on his chest, well that's just priceless. Look at each other as you come down the aisle. In that ONE moment, I can capture in time the joy and excitement you are feeling especially if you are looking into each others eyes.

So this is the end of Weddings 101, The Photographer's Perspective. Check back again when I take on invasive DJs, dancing pictures, taking the first bite of cake and making more time for artistic photographs!