Monthly Archives: December 2009

Weddings Are Not …

12 | 22 | 2009


Your wedding is not the ultimate statement of who you are as a couple. I mean: your wedding should certainly reflect you two more than it reflects just the idea of wedding. Of course.  But—and I know this is hard, and that my husband and I didn’t quite manage it ourselves when we wed—don’t let yourselves get out of hand.  Weddings are really just a public acknowledgment, an affirmation, marking the beginning of the adventure of your (official) partnership—kind of like a bon voyage. Our parents and grandparents had such different weddings.  They walked to the county courthouse, or married at a neighborhood church, with a party in Grandma’s back yard.   These weren’t grand affairs, at least not in my family, but I have such romantic ideas about them: my parents and grandparents have beautiful photographs by which I still imagine those weddings.

Weddings  are now so much bigger and more splendid and more extraordinary in design and scope than I possibly could have imagined when I was a little girl.  When we all were.  But.  How you live your married life, each and every day, or rather the sum of your days, eventually becomes a much more powerful testimony of who you are as a couple.  So, plan the wedding you imagine, great or small, near or far, lavish or serene.  I hope it is a wonderful and honest celebration (and that the photographs are fantastic, too!).  I’m just saying, I hope your marriage is even more marvelous.  Were it up to me, and were my husband and I so extraordinarily lucky, I’d rather let our fiftieth anniversary than our wedding be that ultimate statement of who we are together.*

photo: Gia Canali

p.s.  My husband says I should say that perhaps the “tip” here, if there really is one, is to plan your wedding for the couple you want to become.


Collaborating With Your Photographer, 108: What You’re Really Paying For (And Waiting For!) With Your Wedding Album Purchase

12 | 14 | 2009

fine art book

{pictured: Leather Craftsmen Fine Art Book. click any image to enlarge}

Although I’m not surprised that folks balk at album prices—most people don’t know what goes into making them (!)—a wedding album is really essential, the finishing point of your investment in wedding photography.

I. The Labor

I like to think about the album making process as a labor of love.  It is certainly laborious—even a simple album can sometimes run upwards of thirty hours of labor.  Custom books can amount to much, much more work.  So what goes into making an album that can add up to so much time? Well, here goes:

  1. Design time.
    This is a big one.  Perhaps it’s the big one with custom albums.  Album design is a back and forth process—and sometimes a long one—a collaboration between a photographer and her clients.  Often, there are meetings.  There is always time laying the album out.  An opportunity for client feedback.  Changes to the design. Another opportunity for client feed back and/or a final approval.  Design time is all about decisions: decisions about which album(s) to use, which images will and won’t be included, how to tell the story of the wedding day and best flatter the bride and groom; decisions about making the best overall presentation, including choosing cover treatments (leather vs suede vs book cloth), cover photos, deciding on stamping or imprinting …
  2. Editing images.
    Once the images are chosen, and the client has “signed off” on the album design, we begin preparing images to print.  Final color corrections need to be made.  We always take a good second look at images that will be included in a client’s album.  Retouching issues need to be addressed.  The images need to be sized and cropped (if the album’s matted) or inserted into an overall layout (if the album is flush-mounted).
  3. Ordering prints from the lab.
    This seems pretty self-explanatory, but this often takes an hour or two depending on the album type.
  4. Checking quality.
    When the prints come back from the lab, we check every single print to make sure it’s up to snuff.  If we don’t like a print, we have to send it back to the lab.
  5. Assembling the prints & order forms.
    Not my favorite part, for sure.  I check everything about a zillion times.  Prints have to be put in numerical and size order and sometimes hand-trimmed.  I always reference emails and notes to make sure I get everything filled in properly on the order form.
  6. Shipping or dropping the order off at the album bindery.
  7. Checking quality again.
  8. Shipping or dropping the album off to the client.  (Phew!)

fine art book

II. The Prints

A gorgeous album requires gorgeous and expertly-made photographic prints.

III. The Binding (Album Assembly)

This is actually part materials cost and part labor cost.   The album cover and its pages are certainly a substantial cost in and of themselves, but binding is all about the artisan who actually makes the book.  Handmade albums are more laborious and therefore more costly.

fine art book fine art book fine art book

So why is it worth it?

So, although the price of making a wedding album seems high, there is very little markup in the end.  Not only are the materials quite costly, but album-making is also quite labor-intensive—for both the artisans involved and for the photographer.  Ultimately,  your wedding album becomes the official record of your wedding day.  We work tirelessly to ensure that our clients get albums that will become heirlooms.  That’s the goal.  Frankly, your grandkids aren’t going to be interested in a digital photo file.  And neither are your grandparents for that matter.  The albums available to consumers don’t even compare to those available to professional photographers.  And getting expert professional help with the design, printing, and binding is invaluable.  Not to mention that not doing it yourself is pretty grand.  I own my negatives from my wedding (which was back in the all-film days).  I am not sure when I’ll get around to making an album for us … and I think it’s the labor time that’s my hangup (that and the five hundred or so dollars I’d need to spend on prints).


Those of you who are working on albums might also want to check out these posts:

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

Decoding Wedding Photography Lingo, IV: Wedding Albums

photos: Gia Canali


Nicole & Abram’s Malibu Wedding

12 | 07 | 2009

walk in the woods

Nicole and Abram had a beautiful summer wedding in Malibu.  And although they wanted to wed on the beach, both imagined having some photographs that were decidedly more woodsy and magical.  I’m not sure how many times Abram went scouting by himself—at least twice!—but the afternoon the three of us visited this site (pictured above), we knew we’d found what we were all looking for.  This brings up an important point about working with a photographer: communicating your vision can make all the difference in the world.  While you’re at it, it’s good to let your imagination run a little wild.  You don’t know, really, what is and isn’t possible.

The feeling I got from this place made me want to pull out all the toy cameras …

{click any image to enlarge}

woodsy kiss

bride by tree

giacanali073 giacanali075



cute couple

giacanali059 giacanali061

Megan Fickling-Pearson from {La Partie Events} did an outstanding job on the day-of wedding coordination.  We love her boundless creativity and good spirits and cannot wait to photograph a wedding where she does the floral design, too.  Her {blog} is always a good read—Meg knows where to find all the cool stuff! Below: a few photographs from the ceremony. Nicole and Abram were so sweet with each other.  I love that!


ceremony overview lean on each other recessional

walk on the beach

Below: some of the details. Chalkboards can be really fun decor elements at weddings. Abram decorated these for the reception.  DIY projects like this are great for weddings, as they are easy and memorable. We also liked the sweets table!

cake reception overview centerpieces

candy candy2 candy bar

n+a chalkboard you are so divine to me giacanali037

After the ceremony and just as the sun was setting, Nicole and Abram took a few more minutes to run around the beach.  If you have an opportunity to take advantage of multiple setups or locations for portraits, do it!  Your album will have lots more variety.

sunset beach kiss

walk on the beach

Nicole and Abram made a point of getting the portraits they wanted—and it really paid off.  Photographers are always ready for a happy collaboration!  We highlighted their good sense previously, but this tip from their wedding is definitely worth reiterating: take a walk!  It’s nice to have some quiet time with your beloved and it makes for really good photographs. 

photographs: Gia Canali Nicole’s gown: Edgardo Bonilla Florals: Michelle, Larchmont Village Florist, (323) 464-8146


Getting Great Wedding Photos, Tip #11: Make Sure Your Hairstyle Looks Good From Any Angle

12 | 01 | 2009

It turns out that looking great on camera is more sculptural than you’d think; or rather, if you want to look good on camera, think about it like making a good sculpture.  Sculptures look good from any angle.  And on your wedding day, the camera—and all your guests—will see you from lots of angles, not just the front or back.  It’s particularly important that your face not be obscured during the ceremony (unless you’re wearing a veil over your face, of course).  And I’m not saying you need to wear your hair up—I love when brides wear their hair down—just be mindful of multiple viewpoints when you do your hair test.

Below: one of my favorite hairdos ever …

hairstyle1 hairstyle2

photos: Gia Canali

hair: Angelique Stanford, 323-702-5767