Monthly Archives: November 2009

Pursuing the Picture Perfect Wedding :: Perfect Ten

11 | 19 | 2009

sf photo blogs perfect 10

I have been pretty busy making and editing photographs these days and I am decidedly behind on the news (by which I mean reading everybody else’s blogs).  Even so, we were happy to discover that {Style Unveiled} named our blog one of the top 10 San Francisco wedding photography blogs!

Here’s what they say:

“Filled with tips, advice, ideas, and, of course beautiful photographs, this blog will give you something interesting to read and look at …”

Yay! Thanks, Style Unveiled!


Making A Proper Wedding Photography Inquiry

11 | 18 | 2009


I get dozens and dozens of inquiries for wedding photography at this time of year, nearly all of them by email; like most wedding photographers, I have an email query form on my website.  And although the form suggests the basic information I need to send couples correct pricing, folks still foil themselves (and me!) and I think giving a few notes toward good and sensible wedding photography inquiries will be helpful all around.  Couples want and deserve to get the right information up front.

I. The Essentials

Your Date

Finding out the photographer’s availability is the first step in any wedding photography inquiry.  Although much of the time we book six months to a year out, sometimes we’re still available for last-minute bookings just weeks before an event.

A side note: until a couple has booked their venue(s), their date is really still up in the air.   My advice is not to book any vendors until you’ve secured a venue and therefore, a date.  If your date switches, your photographer and other vendors may already be booked.

Your Venue(s). Be Specific.

Some people might interpret Catalina Island as a wedding location in “Los Angeles” or “Southern California.”  You don’t want to find out there are extra travel fees or mileage charges because you weren’t detailed enough when you inquired.

Your Email Address

Of course.

Your Phone Number & A Good Time to Call.

I can’t tell you how many people leave their phone number off the query form.  Not only is it sort of obnoxious (you ostensibly want me to photograph this intimate event in your life, but can’t be bothered to talk to me), it’s not sensible.  If the photographer’s email response ends up in your junk mail—which is likely since lots of spam filters pick up the word “photography”—you’ll never know they even wrote you back.  I know this happens because I sometimes get multiple inquiries from the same people who didn’t leave their phone number either time.  Or my emails to them will bounce back, but I’ll be helpless to make another contact.  We read phone number omissions as folks who are just fishing for our prices.

II. The Nearly Essentials

The Number of Guests You’re Planning For and Any Other Pertinent Details.

This actually isn’t a big deal for me most of the time.  A wedding with 400 guests isn’t that much different than a wedding with 150 guests.  For the most part.  But if you are planning a wedding on a Thursday morning with ten people, your photographer may have special small-wedding/elopement or off-peak packages available.

A Personal Note.

I’m pretty sure most photographers feel as I do on the following:  we don’t need to be flattered (although we don’t mind it either!), but we do want to know you are interested in our work specifically, not that you’re just looking to hire a—any—wedding photographer.  Writing a note that says “prices and packages please” sends a very different message than “I love your work and hope you can photograph my wedding.”

All of the above items comprise a proper wedding photography inquiry.  As much as you might not want to hear it, all inquiries aren’t created equally.  We’re more serious about serious inquiries—or rather, ones that seem to take our work more seriously.  If you decide to call instead of email, good for you!  We love to have personal contact right from the get-go.  Just be prepared with same information.

For those of you who are at other points in the process of hiring a wedding photographer, you might want to read our general overview {here}.

photo: Gia Canali


Love in Bloom in the LA Times

11 | 15 | 2009

There’s an article in the Sunday Los Angeles Times about winter wedding bouquets.  Dubbed “Love In Bloom,” it features Yifat Oren and Krislyn Komarov, two of my favorite people to work with.  The article also includes a photograph I took of one of Krislyn’s permanent bouquets, which is decidedly and happily not “in bloom,” as it’s fashioned from balsa wood “flowers,” coral, and Swarovski crystals.



Collaborating With Your Photographer, 107: Choosing The Most Stellar Photographs For Your Wedding Album

11 | 14 | 2009

traditional matted album

Choosing photographs for a finished wedding album is a big (permanent!) commitment.  It can be really daunting for some folks—and couples tend to get paralyzed more at this step in the wedding photography than at any other.   I know lots of couples are at some point in the album design process at this time of year.  Either they’re going over the final touches, are trying to amend a design proposal, or are desperately trying to narrow their favorites down to a manageable number of images.  Some are just starting to think about choosing an album, and might want to read {this} post about album lingo.  For those of you wading through piles of proofs and clicking your way through online galleries, there are—fortunately—a number of things you can do to make the process quite a bit more efficient.  Starting with good album image choices is essential.

*** Most Importantly***

1.  Don’t overthink things.

Your first instincts are probably right.  (We remind ourselves of this all the time when we’re editing).  The photographs you loved most the first time you saw your photos are a good place to start.

2. Choose the photographs you love most—rather than the ones you feel obligated to include.

Although it’s important to have an overall sense of narrative, when illustrating the story of your wedding day, don’t feel like you need to include every single event/moment/important person.

3.  If you can meet with your photographer and work on the design together, do it!

Not only is it much easier to share ideas and make decisions quickly, but your photographer will really understand the album you’ve chosen (how it works in terms of layout and design, cropping, and color-correction; which images might work better than others, and more).  Although you and your photographer may have slightly different opinions (two people always do!), having an expert opinion always helps!  You and your spouse should both be present for this meeting.

Bringing your proofs (if you got any) can also be really helpful.  I am super tactile myself, so I like sorting proofs into piles and spreading out favorites on a big table.  Lots of photographers do all their design on a computer and that can work great, too.

coffee table book

Regarding What To Choose

Try to choose images that illustrate your entire day—beginning, middle, and end:

If you can, include you and your spouse getting ready, a few portraits of the two of you, photographs with your family and wedding party, the ceremony (don’t forget your processional and recessional), first dances, cake cutting, and the party.  We love to end our albums on a romantic nighttime portrait if we can, but each and every album is different.

Choose only the most essential group photographs:

Group photographs are mostly for family history purposes.  You don’t need all of them in the album.  One nice photograph of the whole family–perhaps on each side is all you really need.  When we have clients who are really trying to stick to a certain number of photographs because of budget or album restrictions, we suggest including either one photograph of the whole bridal party or a photograph of the bride and her attendants and a photograph of the groom and his.

Include your guests in the photos!

We like to be able to show who came out and celebrated you two tying the knot!  Years later, you’ll want to know who was there!  (And a whole book of just the bride and groom won’t do that!)  I can’t tell you how often people emphasize that they really want great photographs of their guests and then don’t include them in the album.

Most people prioritize including family over friends in their choices.  Whatever you choose should be strong photographically, though.

Include some of the details!

It’s important to remember how it felt to be at your wedding, not just what happened.  And how it looked is a big part of that.  Honestly, who hasn’t obsessed over at least a few details in the planning process?  You want evidence of all that hard work!

We like to include good overall images of the ceremony and reception decor (with or without people in them), floral arrangements and bouquets, the cake or desserts, etc.  Anything wonderful and inspiring that lends a sense of place or shows the uniqueness of your event.

Regarding cover photographs:

A lot of albums feature one (or more) special photographs on the cover.  Good cover photographs usually have very simple compositions and read well small.  Mood-setting images (details, flowers, etc.) and portraits usually work well.  A striking image you can think of right now without looking through all your proofs is probably fantastic.

Regarding retouching and image editing: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace!

We all live in the age of digital imaging. So there’s no reason I can think of that we shouldn’t indulge our vanity just a teeny bit.  I, for one, had the worst acne outbreak in my whole life the week of my wedding and if I ever get around to making a wedding album, I will certainly be retouching a few zits out of the photos.  My point is that if you don’t like something like a zit or a bruise on your shin (apparently there are lots of tomboy brides!) or the way your dress lays across your back in a photo from the ceremony, or the fact that there’s a random person in the background of a photo, you should speak up!  Don’t assume your photographer will retouch it if you don’t say anything.  Don’t assume it is or isn’t an easy fix.  Do expect to pay for any revisions.  If you get a quote, at least you can make an educated decision about retouching.

coffee table book

In The End

Wedding albums are custom made to order and are generally unalterable and non-returnable once they go to print.  You need to be thrilled with whatever is going to be in the album.  If something drives you nuts or disappoints you now, chances are that it will still have that effect years from now.  Trust me.  So I say again, speak now or forever hold your peace!

Photographers and newlyweds who’ve been through the process: am I forgetting anything? I want to keep the dialogue on album-making open!


Notes Toward Beauty

11 | 13 | 2009


This past weekend, I stumbled upon an exhibition of Lillian Bassman photographs here in LA.  The photographs were stunning—and, as Emily Dickinson would say, I felt as if the top of my head were taken off.  I couldn’t believe I’d never seen Bassman’s work before.  Each woman she photographed was a classic beauty in the way people used to describe old-time movie stars and models.  Long necks and long evening gowns, gloves, hats, and silk and lace lingerie certainly added to the effect, but there was something else that made the women and their photographs so extraordinary.  I think I’d still be hard-pressed to articulate exactly what that is.  The word that comes to mind is grace, or maybe poise.  These women knew how to hold themselves.  And Bassman knew how to present them.  Gloriously.  As I left, I felt dazzled by the photographs, but also wondered where all our glamour had gone.  Like: were women only really beautiful in the 1940s and 50s? (We were puritans and pioneers before and hippies and porn stars afterward).  Or, what in the world had the sexual revolution done to beauty? Did we lose something we should have saved?

A bride on her wedding day is a rare exception, the only one I can think of easily.  A bride can be a classic beauty: feminine, graceful—in ways that seem ever otherwise out of place in our culture.  A woman’s wedding day is the one day in her life where it’s socially acceptable to do and be the things those classic beauties, in their heyday, did and were.  I just wish (sort of wistfully—it seems practically impossible) that we could feel more comfortable with a sort of everyday elegance than we really are nowadays, that we could somehow hold onto part of our once-in-a-lifetime bridal beauty knowledge in daily life.  I am implicating myself here, too.  I’ve worn makeup only about three times in my life (and not that makeup matters much in the point I am making, but I am embarrassed to say I don’t even know how to put it on).  I digress.  I am lucky I choose to photograph brides, for I get to photograph women on the day they are their most beautiful.  This is just to say: brides, all of you are so lovely, true beauties, each and every one.  Cheers to you!


A quick read on Lillian Bassman’s career will reveal that she destroyed much of her body of work in the 1960s, and for decades quit altogether making photographs for fashion magazines.  She was wholly frustrated by the new breed of models in the 60s; everything was different. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever see that in my line of work and art.

photo: Gia Canali