Monthly Archives: August 2011

Quotable Brides: “No Matter How Many Times People Warn You About How Fast It Will Feel, It Feels Faster”

08 | 28 | 2011

To reiterate (because I say let’s hear it again):

“No matter how many times people warn you about how fast it will feel, it feels faster”

Victoria & Nick, June 18, 2011

photo: Gia Canali

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Interviewing Photographers: Why “How” Doesn’t Matter in Choosing a Wedding Photographer

08 | 12 | 2011

I get asked pretty much the same questions by each new couple I meet.¹  One of those questions is being asked with increasing urgency and is about how I work (and by this I mean how I work mechanically—with my camera gear, not relationally—how I work with people).  People want to know if I shoot film or digital and what cameras and lenses I carry around with me and how and when I choose to shoot what I shoot.

I.  Beware the Marketing Plugs

The curiosity about how I work doesn’t bother me.  I’d be curious, too—and not just because all the camera-gadgets are so fascinating.  It’s that it sometimes is asked of me—and all my fellow professional photographers—with judgmental weight behind it.  There’s information swirling all over the web about what folks think is the “best” way to go at making photographs.  And not surprisingly, everybody says “hooray” for his or her own way of doing things. (Translation: beware the marketing plugs).  There are lots of best ways of doing things.

II. It’s The Artist Not The Medium That Matters

What worries me is that couples might discount working with a digital photographer whose images they really admire and whose style they really love because they think they’re supposed to like a film photographer better.  Or vice versa.  There are great photographers making great images with all sorts of cameras, regardless of brand or medium, with fancy-schmantzy lenses and with plastic toy lenses … or even with no lenses at all.  And that’s why I don’t talk about cameras or lenses or image capture very much around here on the blog, as much as I can help it.²  This is an exciting time to be a photographer, and we have more choices about how to make an image than ever before.

But—and this is important—we photographers make the images we make because of how—and what—we choose to see.  The camera is, and always will be, no matter how many bells and whistles it may tout in its limitless incarnations, a box with a hole in it.  Whatever medium we use (film, digital), it’s just a medium.  It’s the artist and his or her own very personal vision that matters.*

III. Go With What You LOVE

What you want to find is work that really connect with.  Keep in mind that WYSIWYG, for the most part. There are certainly limitations to an online portfolio site, but once you’ve seen enough of a photographer’s work, on- and off-line, to feel like you “get” it, you probably do.  And then: go with your gut.  Don’t get caught up in the trappings …

photo: Gia Canali

__

¹ When I first started this blog, I talked a little bit about interviewing photographers {here} and, in a way, also {here}.
² Except, of course, for the very occasional mournful salute to discontinued film stocks.  And sometimes I can’t keep my mouth shut when I’m excited about a new camera.  But I do try.
³ This is a good reminder for us photographers, too, who are kind of gear-junkies and always, always want at least one more new camera to play with.
*Of  course, “how” I work does in fact matter, in a “big picture” sort of way.  I believe in my process; I am constantly refining it.  I want to give folks the best art and the best products and the best service I possibly can.  But the way I do things most certainly isn’t the only “best” way to do things.  And I don’t think how I do things (how I make my images) actually matters in evaluating my portfolio or any other professional photographer’s either.  It’s how that work hits you in the heart that counts.
FacebookTwitterPinterest

J + TJ’s Love Shoot

08 | 04 | 2011

Sometimes it works out to do engagement photographs before the wedding with a destination wedding. Other times, it doesn’t. Jess met me for her bridal photographs in Los Angeles, but TJ couldn’t come. So we took an hour the morning after the wedding (yes! we were all a little groggy) to capture some images of the two of them together. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: I love how relaxed and sweetly intimate post-wedding portrait sessions always are. Really, it’s the recipe for perfect portraits …

That’s a wrap! Now, we are drawing near to Jess and TJ’s first anniversary and I am quietly wishing them, as I wish all my clients, a marriage as marvelous as—or more marvelous than—their wedding!

photographs: Gia Canali

FacebookTwitterPinterest

A Handmade Wedding Gift

08 | 04 | 2011

One of the things we did with Jess’s bridal portraits was make a gift for TJ.  Jess chose a photograph and, in the weeks before the wedding, I printed it in one of my favorite styles.  My friend Jennifer, of Tiny Pine Press, stitched the photograph to fabric, along with a few blank pieces of paper so Jess could write TJ a note to accompany the photograph.  Jennifer also handmade a beautiful paper folder, with a tiny twig clasp.

{click any image for a closer view}

photographs: Gia Canali; handmade folder and stitchin’, Tiny Pine Press

FacebookTwitterPinterest

Jess’s Fine Art Bridal Portrait Session

08 | 03 | 2011

The great thing about bridal portrait sessions, as opposed to weddings, is that you have the real luxury of having time to make portraits, slowly.  I mean: I love the challenge and the rush of making portraits happen in the swirl of the events and obligations of a wedding day (what wedding photographer doesn’t?!).  And Jess’s session was slower than most because we intentionally sought to make images on our slowest, most deliberate cameras.

Bridal sessions are about the bride and certainly also about her exquisite refinery.  Jess’s dress was designed and lovingly crafted by Suzanne Hanley of Atelier des Modistes.  Sue is a genius designer and I feel lucky to count her among my friends.   I particularly love the lace chevrons (though, seriously, I can’t fathom how much time it took her and her team to make those) and the bustle, which reminds me so much of the wild, wild west.  Jess’s bridal session is also featured {here} on 100 Layer Cake today, with an interview from Jess about the custom dressmaking process.

Neither one of us could have known that Jess’s wedding day would bring rain (or rainbows) and mud or that the slow moments in the day could be counted on the fingers of two hands, so I am extra grateful we made time early in the summer before her wedding to make these portraits.

Jess found other value in making these images.  This is what she wrote:

“I thought it was really helpful to do the portrait session before, because it was an excellent introduction to you and Matt, and how you like to work. It was also great for me to hear some tips from you on posture, how to stand, how to act, etc., before the “main event,” so to speak. It was certainly a little more challenging to take photos alone, as opposed to how much more natural and easy it felt when I was with TJ.  But I think for people who haven’t been photographed much before [their weddings], it’s a great introduction. Plus seeing these initial proofs, I could then say to myself—well, I like it when I smile like this or that, and I love how my hair and makeup looks in these photos, and so onso it was a great dry run overall.”

photographs: Gia Canali

gown: Sue Hanley, Atelier des Modistes, whose little shop in San Francisco I featured awhile back; hair and makeup: Sharon Tabb.

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J + TJ’s Stationery by Keegan Meegan Press (or Why Everybody They Invited Came to Their Wedding)

08 | 03 | 2011

So sweet, right?!  The whimsical letterpress portraits of Midas and Jess and TJ made by Keegan Meegan Press in Portland still have me smiling!  The descriptions of the events are also pretty enticing (take a closer look if you’d like).  Jess’s grandmother also addressed all the invitations in her own pretty handwriting.

{click any image to enlarge}

photographs: Gia Canali; paper goodness, Keegan Meegan Press, Portland

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J + TJ’s Rustic Handmade Colorado Ranch Wedding (With Rainbows and a Rodeo Arena Reception)!

08 | 03 | 2011

Now, finally on to Jess and TJ’s actual wedding day!  By the morning of the wedding, it really did feel—as Jess and TJ had so hoped and schemed—like everyone there was one big family.   We woke before dawn to take in the “jingle” with some of TJ’s cousins.  Then, everybody else began readying themselves for the day.  I’m not sure what I could really say to do this wedding justice, so I’m keeping my notes uncharacteristically brief.

Jess and TJ saw each other for the first time in a wide open field, a couple of hours before the ceremony was scheduled to start.  We had planned to make a bunch of portraits during that time … but it started to rain just as they finished with that first quiet moment, so we retreated to stay dry.  Wedding party and immediate family portraits were made in the little sliver of shelter under the eaves of the barn.

Jess’s grandfather was quite the photographer in his day, and he even used to make carbro prints (the vintage photographic process on which I have the second biggest crush).  So when he asked me to make a portrait of him (with his bow tie!), I obliged using one of my favorite vintage cameras.

Jess and TJ’s wedding ceremony was perhaps my favorite part of the whole weekend.  It took place atop a cliff overlooking an incredible valley.  We loved how they made the ceremony so, so personal … and got everybody involved!  One friend officiated, others did readings, or sang songs.  Their dog, Midas, was the ring bearer (bearing the real rings). And Jess and TJ’s guests had sent them pieces of fabric with their reply cards to make a quilt that was incorporated into the ceremony.  Here’s what Jess says:

“I wrote the ceremony (which I would also recommend since it made it sooo personal for us) and as part of that, we did a “community blessing” where everyone in the audience held hands and connected all the way to us—as we were wrapped in the quilt with pieces of them all around us. It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony, and maybe one of my favorite pics from the entire wedding (maybe also because this was when it started to pour rain!). We then used the quilt as a backdrop for our photo booth which was fun because people got to go up and pick out where their piece was on the quilt. TJ and I now have the quilt on our bed and it’s an awesome reminder of that amazing moment.”

I did my best to hide under an umbrella while the rain pour downed and keep my cameras (more or less) dryish while I was shooting (although I was more conspicuous than I would have wanted to be for sure).  But I love the photos from the recessional, with light reflecting through raindrops on my lens glass.  By then, I think I’d dashed out from under the umbrella!

Guests moved to the indoor rodeo arena for dinner, dancing, and bull-riding.  Despite the enormity of the space or the fact that it was really (really!) just a barn, Jess and TJ made it feel cozy, welcoming and even (kind of, but not too) fancy.  The warm happy color palette seemed especially appropriate after a day that had gone from clear and beautiful, to dark and stormy, to rainbows …

Below: Jess and TJ’s first dance and the beginnings of a long, happy night of dancing.

The photo booth was so fun!  You might recognize the quilt, re-purposed …

Maybe the best thing, though, was the mechanical bull!  I loved seeing everybody’s best wild west moves!  Jess made the operator buck her off (although she really, really didn’t want to buck the bride).  It was so funny!

The wedding is featured {here} today on 100 Layer Cake (hooray!).  Be sure to stop back tomorrow and Friday for photographs from Jess’s bridal session and Jess and TJ’s post-wedding love shoot, plus a peek at some of their paper goods …

photographs: Gia Canali

wedding planning: Stacy McCain; wedding design, Duet Events (the bride and her friend’s design company); florals, Sweet Pea Flowers, Denver; lighting & other magic tricks, Pink Monkey Solutions; dj: DJ Smiles Davis; dessert buffet, Tee and Cakes; venue and catering: C Lazy U Ranch

FacebookTwitterPinterest

J+TJ Rehearsal Dinner Party

08 | 02 | 2011

After Jess and TJ’s guests thoroughly wore themselves out in the field day tournament, everyone dressed up for a tented rehearsal dinner party.  It was the weekend’s most formal event.  Guests dined in a tent that opened up on a little pond and it was embellished with dressy-up, woodsy decor and lots of sweet, handmade touches.  We especially loved all the wooden table numbers, the tree-bark wrapped “vases,” and the escort card heart made of stones with each guest’s name.

{click any image for a closer view}

We stole Jess and TJ away for a few minutes, just before sunset for photographs along the dirt road out to the horse pasture (and spa!) at C Lazy U.   Taking a few minutes here and there out of a busy wedding weekend schedule—particularly in moments with perfect light—to make some beautiful portraits always has a huge impact on the overall coverage of your wedding. We’ll hurry you back to your guests, promise …

I think getting great wedding photographs is one part trained eyeballs (by which I mean vision) and two parts time-management, both on the part of the photographers and on the part of the couple. One little great time-management helper with multi-day weddings is to space out the group photographs across the events.  Not every family photograph needs to be on the wedding day.  We photographed Jess and TJ’s extended families separately at the rehearsal and then TJ requested this lodge-style combined family photograph, which I just love.

Jess and TJ’s friends and families also made almost all their toasts at the rehearsal dinner.  Except for a quick welcome toast from the bride’s father at the wedding reception, this freed them up on the wedding day for an uninterrupted party (!) … a fantastic bonus since it always goes by too too quickly, even when you have four days of celebrating.   This was a sweet way for everyone to get to know each other, too.

~♥~

The event is also featured {here} on 100 Layer Cake!  Come back tomorrow for more from Jess and TJ’s wedding day!

photographs: Gia Canali

event design: Duet Events (the bride’s design company); planning, Stacy McCain Events; venue and catering, C Lazy U Ranch; florals: Lisa Anderson, Sweet Pea Flowers; dessert (aka tower of awesomeness), Shamane’s Bake Shoppe, Boulder CO.

FacebookTwitterPinterest