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 Photography

Where The Rubber Meets The Road

Everyone from the bride and groom, your family and  the wedding coordinator wants your wedding to go off without a hitch. Because I play such an important role in the use of your time on your wedding day, I recognize that it is part my responsibility to make the photography at least flow smoothly.

Often times we will ask for a shot list if we feel that it will help us in the end to facilitate some very tricky maneuvering. And there are many weddings where a shot list is completely necessary because of divorce or family dynamics. My personal preference is to have a shot list for the formal portraits. Every family is different and some family members are no longer with us, therefore the standard shot list of family groups and sub-groups is necessary to coordinate the formal portraits in a respectful and timely manner.

You also want to inform your photographer of important traditions you may be paying homage to, special objects of affection that you may have with you that day or special relationships that you want to respect.

If you are hiring your photographer to tell the story of your day as it unfolds however, the photographer must be free to capture anything that draws their attention or spurs their emotion because the humanness of those moments are the ones you will cherish the most. It is after all the shared human experience that we are capturing.

Some couples just want a photographer on their wedding day to document the day but its my desire to not only document your day but your experience. When looking at photographers make sure you hire one whose photos excite your emotions and make you feel but also a photographer that moves you. You are not only hiring a person with a specific skill set or talent but also a person in which you must be able to bond. Trust is of utmost importance so you must have a rapport to build on. You should feel at ease in their presence and enjoy them as much as they enjoy you.

In the end, any portrait artist can paint a portrait and any person with a camera can release a shutter. Look for the artist who can capture emotion in the portrait and the photographer who can engage you in such a way that you are certain that you can work with. Then allow them to gain freedom for their art through trust and respect. You will be surprised at what the freedom of creativity can produce.

Here We Go

Long before your wedding day, you have planned, hoped and dreamed about the day. Long before your wedding, I too have thought about your family dynamics, your personality and the ideas that you have expressed to me.

How are "we" going to accomplish those ideas and plans that we have discussed? I say "we" always, because there is no possible way for me alone to see your dreams and plans come to fruition.  This is going to be a joint effort and any photographer who tells you differently, is delusional. Granted I could come and shoot your wedding day completely documentary but then what would we miss? 

A wedding is an opportunity to shoot many different types of photography and your photographer must have practiced all those types of photography. On that day we will be shooting portraits, candids, photo-journalism, documentary and a little fine art. When you get your prints back, how exciting to get the combination of all these styles instead of just one static representation?

Shot Lists

I supply all my couples with a shot list. This is merely a nicety and is not a necessary. What is necessary is that if a certain group of people or certain shots are important to you then its your responsibility to insure that we know before your wedding day.

The list I provide is an over all view of the things we will be looking to shoot on your wedding day. This is so you'll have a better understanding of the work we do. Beyond that list is an opportunity for you and your families to discuss the shots you place as a priority before, during or after the ceremony.

Once you have discussed the photography with both sides of the family, you can rest easier knowing that no one will be left out, no one will be excluded and that no one will be forgotten. 

A standard list is very simple. Like I have explained we have the items and details covered. Your list should concentrate on your priority groups. Lets look at an example list.

Before Ceremony (Sharon is our Bride)
Sharon, Mom
Sharon, Dad
Sharon, Mom, Dad, Brother James
Sharon, Mom, Dad, James and Girlfriend Sara
Sharon and Grandma Milly
Sharon and the generational ladies
Sharon and entire family

Joe (Joe is our Groom)
Joe and Mom
Joe and Dad
Joe, Mom, Dad, and Grandma Ella
Joe, Dad and Step-Mother Jill
Joe and Brother Mike (Best Man)
Joe and entire family

Now lets break down this list and look at it from the photographers perspective. This is what we see. First of all, Sharon has married parents and one unmarried sibling. So no divorce dynamics to worry about. Brother James being unmarried may stay with girlfriend Sara and he may not. This family has included her out of respect but has also insured they have an individual family photo with out her just in case. We also see that a Grandfather is no longer with us. Out of respect, we do not want to bring any more pain to the fore front then his absence already brings. Next we see that the women in this family, value the sentiment of their generations. This is a priority shot that if not thought about might have been missed. 

Now if we look at Joe's dynamics we see a divorce that appears to be amicable. Again a missing Grandfather and it appears that Joe and his brother may be very close. See where this is going? See the awesome responsibility that I as your photographer has? Some times it feels like a study in diplomacy, human nature and psychology. I hate it when we have to add physic to the list. :)

Beach Weddings

As most wedding photographers, I am busy booking my weddings for 2011 and 2012. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work throughout North and South Carolina and that means..."beach weddings"....I have several beach weddings in the coming year and I am guessing that it can be hard to plan and coordinate such an event. I have gotten several requests from brides to show them samples of other beach weddings because it can be difficult to determine what flowers work best, what type of gown looks nice, how to arrange seating, what time of day is ideal, etc....

It impresses me how creative families can be and I get excited to see the new and innovative ideas that they come up with whether its a beach wedding or a chapel. I encourage taking chances and drawing on your own personal ideas and tastes.

  I shot this wedding at De Bordieu in South Carolina. Amy and Dave had so many wonderful ideas that they incorporated into their wedding that were unique and personal to them. I chose some of their images because I loved their choice of flowers and how elegantly her gown worked with a beach wedding. Wonderfully sweet couple so I hope you enjoy these.

The Question of Sparklers

For many couples, the departure from the ceremony or from the reception presents an opportunity for some very memorable shots. The use of sparklers can help to create dynamic photos and incredibly interesting images that will add to the visual interest of a finished product such as the album. Through the years, I have been asked repeatedly about the safety of sparklers and to what if any damage may be caused to the bride's dress or veil. Several years ago, I did a test of typical fabrics that may be effected to determine if any damage would result from an ember that may fall from a sparkler. I tested silks, satins, rayon blends, charmeuse, organza, shantung, chiffon, tulle and lace. Held at a reasonable distance to the materials, the falling embers had little or no effect on any of the materials. As a result, I have felt comfortable with actually recommending the use of sparklers to my clients. That was until this happened!!

If you look closely, you can see the glow from the ember that is burning a hole in Randi's dress! The ember is stuck in a fold as she runs under the arch of sparklers. Having decided it would be easier to go barefoot through the gauntlet of friends and family, she is also oblivious to the burning ember on the ground before her. Two strides later, she steps on the burning piece of metal.

As always, the purpose of this post is to not sway opinion but to merely educate. Will I continue to recommend the use of sparklers? Absolutely....I adore the fun and animated images that the use of sparklers help create. I would have it though that couples have all the information available so they can make an informed decision about the potential hazards. If you do intend on using sparklers, I would recommend the 3 foot sparklers and not the small ones. I would also recommend a comfortable distance between you and your guests. 

Finally, I think this photo is self actuating....shoes definitely and to be extra cautious around gowns that have folds in the fabric or the bustle because the burning embers can get caught in them. Left to fall away, the small embers cause relatively little damage... if any.

The Case of a Touch of Tradition

It can be overwhelming for couples as they try to determine what style or type of photography they want to use to capture their wedding day. Traditional photography started getting a bad rap a few years back when suddenly the catch phrase of the day was "photojournalism".... I still meet with clients who are confused about the differences and who are being sold a "product" that they don't fully understand. I suggest anyone considering styles of photography to take some time to investigate their differences. In some cases I look at a photographer's portfolio and find that although they call themselves a photojournalist, the style is more reflective of candids.

No wonder it can be so confusing for clients who are looking to capture not only the subtle nuisances of their day but to also have wonderful portraits of their families and bridal party. This is my personal take on the question of photography style when it comes to shooting a wedding. First of all, it takes a special type of photographer to cover a wedding thoroughly and to be personable and responsive to family and guests. Many photographers radiate to a certain style like a physician to a specialty. If a die cast photojournalist was asked to create a studio portrait, they may not have the skills necessary. I believe a wedding can be captured in a variety of styles that meet the needs of not only the bride and groom but their families as well. Couples gravitate to the documentary and candid and grandparents often want to see smiling faces. My philosophy incorporates a mix of styles that can document objectively and narratively but also use basic elements of light, symmetry and composition.

I get many clients who after reading all the latest magazine articles and looking at photographer portfolios stills say..... "I just want beautiful pictures." There are many traditionalists and many contemporary non-conformists. Its the photographer's job to listen to what types of photographs spur feelings and elicit emotions in the hearts of their clients. I shot this couple's wedding a while back and what I found not only from listening to them, but also deemed from their personalities was the need for simplicity and fun. Shelley and Hank's photographs reflect a classic traditional style yet they have many photographs that reflect a more candid, photojournalist approach. Shelley epitomizes grace and elegance. Throughout their day, I was able to get many candid, unsolicited shots as well as more formal posed shots. I had opportunity to be creative and to be inventive while being unobtrusive.