Monthly Archives: July 2009

We Heart Nighttime Portraits

07 | 28 | 2009

I love nighttime portraits.  Love them.  I love the carefree spirit nighttime portraits inspire, particularly on these long summer nights.  Also, the images are usually sensual, moody, and show the teeniest bit of motion—three things I like in photographs taken at anytime.  I decided to assemble some of my many favorites, a few of which are already on our main {website} and elsewhere on the blog, in the hopes that they’ll encourage you and your beloved to sneak away from your own reception—if only for a moment—in the hopes of something electric.  What better way to end your wedding album?!

{click any image to enlarge}

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More blue hour, than golden hour …


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Sepia-tone or color work equally well.

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Kiss, kiss, kiss …

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The weather was actually freezing cold at this wedding, day and night.  We did almost all the daytime formal portraits and their nighttime portraits under the ambient warmth of this twinkle-lit tree.  Though the setting was the same, the images vary considerably because of the light.

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It was as hard for Julia and Bob to want to leave the dance floor, as it was for anyone else, but I’m so happy they made time to.  In fact, that’s always how I feel: that nighttime portraits might seem like kind of a hassle, but they are always incredibly worth it.  There’s a certain release once you’ve come to the end of the scheduled events.  You’re married.  You’ve cut cake. You’ve danced your first dance.  You’ve danced maybe twenty dances.  And for the first time, it’s just you and your love.  This happy realization reads quite well on camera.  So be spontaneous!  Be adventurous!  And leave yourself open to the idea of a tiny escape.

photos: Gia Canali


Getting Great Wedding Photos, Tip #7: Have Somebody Else {Really} Learn How To Bustle Your Gown

07 | 21 | 2009


I always think the bustling of the gown is a great and funny occasion at weddings.  Actually, and although I never mind, I find myself bustling the gown more often than really makes sense.  (I am not a “pro”).  Many bustles are complicated to figure out, and I have a good feeling that it always seems much easier when your seamstress is showing you with her deft fingers how to do it.  So I suggest you bring to your fittings someone who the seamstress can really teach to bustle the gown.  And then maybe you two can practice again, when you are alone, and it is not your wedding day.  Because it always seems like it’s awfully hard, on the wedding day, for the bride to stand still and be bustled … Much less to do it several times if the bustling comes undone.


photo: Gia Canali


I Dream of Fireflies

07 | 17 | 2009

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Sorry for the recent radio, or rather, blogio-silence.  We have been working hard on Julia and Eli’s wedding, and we promise to share lots more images soon.  We also have lined up an interview with an esthetician to talk about making your skin beautiful, a post about color, another about nighttime portraits, and lots more photo tips and full length articles.  We are even scheming up some new DIY projects.  But right now, on a hot summer night, all I can really think about are fireflies.  And how I wish we had them here in LA.  But Krislyn’s handmade reinterpetation of a garden full of them is pretty fabulous.


Our Work Featured on Pretty Chic Blog … in Denmark!

07 | 13 | 2009

Today, some of my vintage processes are shown in a {post} on the {Pretty Chic Blog}, which is the first of its kind in Denmark and one of the first in Europe.  I can’t read the post, or the other posts, for that matter.  But I’ve had a lot of fun looking through all the photographs (besides, mine, I mean!) and clicking on various links.  For instance, there are photographs and a link to {Emplume} a company that makes feather bouquets! UPDATE:  Please {click here} to view the feature of Claire & Jeff’s wedding photos.

polaroid-transferpolaroid transfer: Gia Canali


Vows To Set a Home By

07 | 10 | 2009

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Every once in a while, a wedding ceremony just knocks me out.  The words stick with me for months or years and I repeat them in my head.  At a wedding I photographed in Turks & Caicos last year, the officiant closed the ceremony by saying, “And now, not only by the laws of these islands, but also by the laws of your hearts, I declare you husband and wife.”  By the laws of your hearts. With these vows, it is the word home.

Eli to Julia

“Before I start vowing Jul, i have to tell you that you are so heartbreakingly beautiful, I could cry, and I’m probably gonna…

As you know I’ve been trapped in my usual writing routine, wavering ten times over on the proper metaphor to express my love and eternal commitment to you, wracking my brain for the best possible framing device to give you, and I guess 145 of our nearest and dearest, the vows you deserve.

And I will get to my pat metaphor. But in a second, because the first thing I keep coming back to isn’t a metaphor or a quaint turn of phrase, but an overwhelming, simple gratitude. You save me every day, constantly encourage me, make me a better person just by allowing me to be in your presence. You’ve loved me without question as a friend and as a girlfriend. And now you’re even willing to marry me. And the only condition you’ve ever put on that love is that I take the trash cans out on Sunday nights.

So I guess that means I’ll be getting my first screw-up as a husband out of the way right off the bat. But I feel like we’ll get through the trial of the trash cans the same way we got here: together. Today we’re not starting to make a home, we’re continuing one. We both already know that our home is wherever we are. Home is just a synonym for the word “us”, because we already have the safety and security of absolute acceptance and optimism and faith in each other.

Now then. I promise, I VOW, to do everything I can to keep building our home up, to keep it safe and warm and inviting and fun and–of course–clean. The only way that I know how to do that is not just to feel love for you, which for me is involuntary, but also to act with love for you every day: to consider your feelings as much as I consider my own, to communicate and be patient and listen and laugh. To never shut off or shut out or forget that we are our home. To be forever thankful that I’m with someone as incredible and advanced and awe-inspiring as you. I promise I will take the cans out next week and every week thereafter.

I promise to always act with love, to return your faith and your support. No matter what successes or difficulties may come our way, I promise to remember that our home isn’t under this Huppah or even the house in Venice. Home’s in the way we treat, respect, believe in, and love each other.  And I’m so grateful that I get to build that home with you. Long story short: thank you, Julia.”

Sunday, July 14, 2009

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Thanks for sharing Julia & Eli! Check back soon for lots more photographs from their wedding.

photographs: Gia Canali


The Flattering Wedding Dress

07 | 08 | 2009
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Nevermind the all-day real-life focus on the bride, let’s say (only) that the bride is in a decent portion of her own wedding photographs.  Perhaps 75% of them, even.  So if we consider the dress as a design element, it needs to be off-the-charts incredible.  But it also needs to be right for the bride—for her body and personality.  It should suit her.

Here are some general considerations to keep in mind when and however the shopping happens:

  1. Keep in mind that the dress will be an important part of setting the tone for the overall wedding design.  Choose a dress that will be appropriate to the venue and type of wedding your planning.  Or, if the dress comes first, then vice versa.
  2. Consider structure and shape.  The dress should be extremely flattering to your specific body.  It should accent your loveliest features and downplay anything you don’t like.  If your collarbone is fabulous, for instance, choose a dress with a neckline that highlights it, rather than a high-necked halter dress.  If your ankles are great, perhaps consider a shorter dress … If you hate your back fat, don’t go for a corset-style bodice.  If you’re wonderfully curvy, the mermaid shape can be a total knockout on you.  The list goes on and on.  If you are having your dress designed and made for you, it’s easy to make these considerations.  But if you’re looking in a shop for a vintage or new ready-made gown, bring someone else.  Someone whose honesty you can depend on.  I think this advice is often-repeated, but judging by the number of bride’s body – to – bodice mismatches, I’d say it’s possibly ignored more often than it should be.
  3. Be sure you can move in it.  Shimmy and shake, walk, dance, twirl, and definitely lean over.  Even if you feel a little silly at the dress shop, it’s totally worth it.  You want to be 100% sure your chest is both flattered and concealed during any movement you might make in front of people on your wedding day.
  4. Be sure the dress is properly and expertly altered.
  5. Wear the best undergarments you can afford, and the right ones for your dress.  I saw a fabulous feature in a gossip magazine recently (truly, and unfortunately I can’t remember which) on what the stars wore under their gowns for the Academy Awards.  I loved that the article seemed like it could have been written Bridget Jones under the headline “Knickers of the Stars” and that it also debunked the myth of effortless Hollywood glamor.  It reinforced something I think about a lot: good undies cover a multitude of wrongs.  In all my years of photographing weddings only one bride has gotten away with wearing absolutely nothing under her gown.   For the rest of us, an honest assessment of what might use a little cinching or perking up is priceless.  Spanx are a well-known option, but lots of other undergarments exist with lots of other self-improvement powers.  More on this in a future post …
  6. Consider craftsmanship.  Most people buy clothing for emotional reasons.  Or rather, it’s an emotional purchase.  I think wedding gowns are at the top of the list here.  But the wedding gown is a big investment for a big day.  So I suggest you take some time to look really, really closely at the gown.  Evaluate it.  Even if you’re not a clothing expert, you’ll be able to see how well made it is.  Look at the hem (if it’s finished), at the seams, the waist; look at the fabric content and at the fabric itself; evaluate the fit on your body.  Fit is an important aspect of craftsmanship (and your future happiness with dress!).  I should mention even if in a whisper … that as much as I love designer clothes and wedding gowns myself, I have seen a couture gown fall apart before the bride even put it on.  So don’t be less tough on a high-end well-known designer.

Happy shopping!  There are zillions of ways and places to get a gown these days … And no matter how many tips I offer, I still think the gown you choose will be the one you fall in love with.  But try to keep your wits about you … in love and in shopping!

{*My sister Reva studies fashion, so she helped me  compile the craftsmanship-evaluation tips.}

UPDATE:  As Jessie pointed out in the comments, lots of brides end up buying the first dress they try on—even if they try lots of other dresses on after it.  So maybe one last tidbit of advice is to choose that first dress to try on very carefully!


polaroids by: Gia Canali … I took these dress shopping with my friend Katie on a hot June day in Chicago.


The Unposing Guide, Part III: What To Do With Your Face

07 | 06 | 2009
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{as always, click any image to enlarge}

This is maybe the trickiest part, both of unposing and of posing.  For one thing, you can’t mind your face all the time.  But you can mind your face in intervals, and we’re going to offer you some tips for what to do with your face while you’re paying attention to it.  (So this post probably falls closer on the spectrum to posing advice than unposing).

I. Let Your Face Be Relaxed.

How often do I say “be relaxed”? But how often do we remember our facial muscles?!  There is a thing called smile fatigue.  Your face actually starts to hurt. And when that happens, you’ll start smiling these odd, frozen smiles.  So, don’t smile so much!  You don’t have to smile at the camera all the time anyway.  And you don’t have to smile super hard, either.  There are actually lots of kinds of smiles—everybody has them—and they vary from a slight turn of the mouth or a soft closed-mouth smile to a big gleaming toothy cheese smile.  Most of us are pretty self-aware by the time we’re of marrying age, but I don’t think it would hurt to practice your various smiles in the mirror to see what sorts of smiles you like on you.

When you can, relax your face between posed shots.  And stick to the really essential formal group photograph combinations.  The less time you are standing there, the better—for lots of reasons and not only because your face will tire.

II. Let Your Mind Be Present.

If your mind is elsewhere, it will show in the photographs.  I don’t just mean during formal group photos.  I mean all day long.  If you are thinking about how a bridesmaid showed up with the wrong shoes or a groomsman arrived an hour late; if you are annoyed your cake turned out to rival the Leaning Tower of Pisa or that your dress seems to pook out at the neckline; if you are devastated that somebody stepped on your train or are wondering if your caterer is having the napkins folded properly, let it go. Let it go. If all that goes wrong at once or if you are obsessed with wondering if it will or won’t, you need to re-focus.  Remember why you’re there.  I am speaking from experience: my husband and I had one of those weddings where all the superficial stuff went totally and completely wrong.  I probably won’t ever tell you about it.   But … and it was hard … I never—not for a second—forgot what we were doing.  And that helped, just enough. (Well, truthfully, I may have had a few lapses …) But my point is that if you have a blank stare or a worried look, it’ll show in photographs.

III. Look On Camera For Formal Group Shots.

I don’t care if you don’t look on-camera even once, even for the tiniest split second, for the entire rest of the day.  I’ll be happy.  But look on-camera for the group photos.  Sometimes there’s a lot going on in the background, behind your photographer (forty-five family members milling about with drinks, say, or kids climbing on chairs, event staff moving tables and chairs, groomsmen doing cartwheels, other folks snapping photographs, etc).  But—and trust me on this—you’ll feel pretty sheepish if you aren’t looking on-camera.  If there is one thing I say at almost every wedding, it is this!

IV.  Don’t Talk Too Much During Your Portraits.

If there is one thing I wish I could say at every wedding, but often don’t get the chance, it is to not talk too much during your intimate portraits.  Particularly if you have a very relaxed photographer who doesn’t do a lot of posing and who mostly wants you and your beloved to interact, this can be a challenge.  You and your beloved have lots to say to each other.  And that’s a good thing!  I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk at all during your intimate portraits, but try not to talk very much.  A wide-open talking mouth is rarely flattering.

V. If You Tend to Blink …

Tell your photographer ahead of time.  I come from a whole family of blinkers, and although I have little advice for the blinkers themselves, I can say that photographers tend to develop their own ways of shooting around the blinking.  A heads-up is always an advantage.

* Click {here} and {here} to read about other aspects of unposing. (Or just scroll down).

photo credit: Gia Canali


Happy Independence Day!

07 | 03 | 2009

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When I was five, I tied streamers on my bathing suit and my dog (!) and joined a 4th of July parade through the neighborhood.  (My twin sister, Meghan, tied streamers on her big wheels!) Ever since then, I have had a fondness for streamers, which look so festive and fun.  I like them at weddings, too.   Here’s another Polaroid from my friend Jenny’s wedding.  Her streamers were her something-borrowed.

photo: Gia Canali