Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Wedding Planning

Bests Months of the Year to Plan a Texas Wedding

Planning a wedding in Texas but not sure when to have the wedding? You’re not alone. Thousands of weddings are held in Austin, Texas alone each year and you are wise to be contemplating what month you should reserve for your wedding.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question of when is a little more complicated than might first be anticipated. First let’s talk about the weather and then we can touch on some other potential issues that may affect what month you host your dream wedding.

As a wedding photojournalist, I’ve covered dozens of weddings in Austin in every month of the year. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly (weather). I’m here to tell you that in many cases, good planning on the part of the bride and groom can alleviate some problems and lead to a happier, more comfortable wedding.

Generally speaking, the weather in Austin can be relatively mild during many parts of the year. Austin doesn’t generally experience terrible snow storms or prolonged frozen periods like you might find in the Northeastern U.S.; and Austin doesn’t normally get as much rain as many parts of the U.S. either, which can eliminate some obstacles.

bride and groom at Zilker Botanical

On the flipside, however, we have an abundance of sunshine. And Austin temperatures in the Summer time can be downright miserable. In 2009, just 2 years ago, Austin posted 68 days of 100+ degree temperatures – almost 2 ½ months of scorching temperatures! The lesson: avoid peak summer weddings (July & August).

So what months do I recommend for weddings in Austin, Texas? In general I recommend spring and fall months, which normally are the mildest, most beautiful times of year for fair temperature and nice foliage. There are always exceptions, but I think the best times in Austin for weddings are:

Late March

April

May

Late September

October

November

No offense to anyone who plans a summer wedding, but I’ve never understood why summers are so popular for weddings in Texas. I personally love summer, as long as it involves swimming, shorts/flip-flops and something cold to drink. But imagine standing in direct sunlight wearing a full wedding gown or black suit, outdoors, reading your vows to your fiancé’. It can be miserable, and it kind of takes away from a moment that should be meaningful, not miserable.

Other considerations

Keep in mind that venues book events like weddings pretty far in advance, and the desired dates go fast, so it’s in your best interest to book early – otherwise you may end up with a date that you didn’t really want.

I’ve rarely photographed weddings that were interrupted by rain. Central Texas is pretty dry during most of the year, but you should always be prepared. Check with the venue to make sure there is a “bad weather” plan in place.

Depending upon location and time of year, wind can be a minor concern as well. Summer time in Texas tends to be when wind is of the least concern. Other times during the year, especially late fall, winter & early spring, it can be a little windy (in some places). For example, I photographed a wedding at Chapel Dulcinea, a small chapel sitting atop a hill in the hill country, where although late winter temperatures were mild, wind made things feel much, much colder. Be sure to visit your venue around the time of year you’ll be having your event. Good luck!

Austin Weather information provided by KVUE

Austin Weather information provided by KVUE and Austin American Statesman

 


Wedding Planning Stress Tips

Getting engaged to be married can be an intoxicating and stimulating experience for a bride. Just think of all the excitement around planning a wedding – selecting the perfect dress, choosing a wedding venue, decorating, re-uniting with old friends and family. Yet somewhere in the process of all the joy and excitement, a bride can feel overwhelmed by the stress of the upcoming wedding. Questions arise related to logistics, relationships and money – how many people will come to the wedding? How do we separate feuding relatives? How do we pay for everything?

So in the midst of the chaos don’t let the wedding planning stress overcome you. Here are some tips for reducing wedding stress and making your wedding experience more rewarding and relaxing.

General Tips:

1. Don’t be a Bridezilla. Allow yourself time to relax and rejuvenate.

2. Your friends and family want to influence your wedding. Let them know that it’s your day.

3. A wedding precipitates strong feelings and some doubts. Remember that being married is a journey and a process, not a final destination.

People that might stress you out (that you may want to limit contact with):

-Wedding vendors

- family members/divorced

-Parents

- bride/groom

Bride Chasing Groom Cake

You Can Take Steps To Reduce Stress

Some basic things to remember from Wednet:

  • Remember that no wedding is perfect.
  • Remember that you can’t please everybody.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Delegate responsibility where possible.
  • Remain calm and rational when faced with stress.
  • Communicate effectively (without anger).
  • People are unpredictable
  • You are not to blame for problems that your guests have.
  • Be honest with yourself and your guests.
  • You don’t need to be a mediator between guests.
  • There are some things that you cannot control.
  • A wedding takes a long time to plan.
  • A variety of emotions are normal during the planning process.
  • Take time out for yourself.
  • Take time out for your relationship.

-         Source: http://www.wednet.com

Specific things known for their relaxation properties:

Lavender has long been known for it’s ability to promote mind and body relaxation through its powerfully calming aroma. When combined with bath salts relaxation effects are amplified through vapors and direct skin contact.

Getting enough rest can improve your body’s ability to fight off sickness and help you feel better and more relaxed. If you are not getting enough sleep, try a natural herb to aid in sleeping, such as valerian root or melatonin.

Cocktails. Having a bad day where nothing seems to go right? End the day early with a happy hour with your friends. A cocktail or two will help you forget about the stress of the day and your friends can be there to support you when you need it most. Just remember that if you drink, do it in moderation and be safe.

Not relaxed yet? Register to win a “Zen Bride” package (includes a book on reducing stress and lavender products like bath salts/candle, etc.)

Email us at: AustinAmericana@Gmail.com – include your name and upcoming wedding date.

We’ll give away 3 of the Zen Wedding packages starting June 1st, 2011.


Are Your Wedding Photos Saved or Archived?

As a person who just got married or as a bride who will soon be married, you may not be thinking about what will happen to the photos that are captured on your wedding day. But perhaps you should. Do you know if your wedding photographs/images will be archived or saved by your photographer? Do you save your wedding photos?

Ok, I know that this isn’t the sexiest, most fun topic to think about. I’m sure it would be fun to talk about Lindsey Lohan or Charlie Sheen, but perhaps this topic is worth considering.

Today, on my way downtown to meet a couple for a photo session I was listening to NPR on my car radio.  The story being discussed was that of silent movies from the early 1900s, when Hollywood was new and the idea of a film for entertainment purposes was in it’s infancy. The discussion that was ongoing was that many of the silent films from the early 1900s were missing or lost and some were being recovered from Russia, of all places, to be placed in the Library of Congress vaults. The disturbing statistic that stuck in my mind was that somewhere around 80% of all the silent movies of that era were considered missing or lost. 80%!! That means that only 1 in 5 movies made during that time is still around, approximately 80-100 years later. And what I’m talking about here is a little different because what I’m discussing is digital images captured on a SLR camera. But the topics are certainly related. Those movies that were filmed and lost surely weren’t intended to be lost or go missing, and neither are peoples wedding photographs

In the past when a wedding photographer took photos of your wedding with his/her film camera, they would have the film developed and either retain the negatives or hand them over to the bride and groom. Since most photographers shoot digitally these days, they can save your wedding or event images in a number of ways. And you have the power to save the images too, if you choose. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking your photographer.

I think what compelled me to blog on the subject of photo archiving was a couple of things. One thing to remember is that your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life and you will definitely want to have some lasting momentos to remember it by, in particular I’m thinking of photos. The second thing that concerns me is that these days if you are creating a budget, do-it-yourself wedding from scratch and you’re on a limited budget, you can visit Craig’s List or other sites online and connect with photography novices who make big promises, but may or may not actually be able to deliver. What I’m saying is that the guy who you picked to photograph your wedding for $225 from Craig’s List, who has a great portfolio of images from his trip to Machu Pichu, Peru and the Dominican Republic is likely not archiving your photos for you. This means that the burden is on you to keep the images safe.

CDs are an obvious and easy option for archiving images

What to consider when archiving important images.

Many times photographers deliver images to their clients in a more refined, manageable format. For example, after your wedding the photographer may provide you with selected images which have been edited to his/her personal standards, which have been reduced in size (and possibly quality). They may look fine when you post them to Facebook, but what happens when you decide to make large prints? You may discover that this is not an option.

I recommend that if you want to archive your images, ideally you will want to start by using the original images. That is to say, if you are archiving an edited version of the original, then you are saving a degraded, reduced file. Saving the original image, whether it be in RAW format or a JPG file, will allow you to have maximum leverage when you decide to access it for use in the future, which equates to more printing options and better image quality (in theory).

Options for archiving are abundant, but I’m going to discuss a few that are familiar to me and that have worked for me. The first and most obvious way to archive is to save images to a compact disk (CD) or digital video disk (DVD). Both options are relatively inexpensive and the only noticeable difference between the two is amount of storage space available; DVDs tend to have significantly more space available for image storage than do CDs.

Another thing to keep in mind is that among CDs and DVDs, you have the option to upgrade to a truly archival CD or DVD. However, however truly archival the CD/DVD may be is unclear. I purchased some a few years ago, but it’s still too early to tell if they will outlast regular CDs/DVDs in longevity. Based upon my research, regular (non-archival) CDs/DVDs are rated up to 100 years or more; however, there are reports of disk failure in much shorter times (less than 10 years), so who really can say?! I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t have a straight answer regarding how long a CD or DVD might last. For now I suppose I’ll just have to trust in Verbatim (the brand I frequently use).

When I shoot a wedding, I return home and immediately dump the images from the camera’s compact flash card onto my computer hard drive. As a secondary backup system, I subsequently burn the original images to DVD disks. I also save a copy of the originals onto my external hard drive as a tertiary backup. External hard drives are fairly cost effective if you have gigs and gigs of images to store. For PC users, last time I checked, you can purchase a 1+ terabyte external hard drive for around $100. That’s 1,000 gigabytes of storage (a whole lotta photos – even in RAW format!). One consideration with external hardrives: treat them gingerly. Several years ago I bumped my old external hard drive and it never worked again, so keep in mind that they may have sensitive parts inside. For my $130 external hard drive, I was quoted my the manufacturer a price up to $2,500 to recover my lost data. I just about fell off of my chair when I heard the price. So buyer be ware!

One other option for storage as a go between are flash drives, also called stick drives. These are tiny, pocket sized storage devices that are great for storage of images, sharing of images and more while you are on the go. For example, if you are shooting on location and want to dump images from your notebook on to the USB flash drive,  it can be easy and quick. These can also act as backups considering that these days flash drives can store up to 256 gigabytes of data (Amazon: $700 – not all that cost effective, by the way), which is no joke considering how small they are.

One relatively new method of storage is to save your images onto a storage host website. Many websites offer this as an added option to having an account with them (think smugmug, wordpress, picasa, etc.), but often you are limited in storage size. However, some websites are dedicated solely to image/data storage and guarantee the safety of your data. These sites are of course not free, but can be a great and convenient option for image storage.

So my whole point of this blog was to explain many of the options that are available for backup storage for important events, or even those that are just dear to your heart. I personally sleep a little better at night knowing that I have multiple copies of images of my family stored away safely. And most of my wedding and portrait clients probably have no idea of the trouble I go to so that their images are safe, but that’s ok. So the question that begs to be asked when meeting with your photograher: will our photos from our special event be archived? Hopefully they’ll have the right answer for you!

External Hard Drive for backing up images to your computers hard drive

Portable flash drives work great for temporary storage

Archive CDs, specifically designed for long term storage


Choosing a Church for Your Wedding

I recently received an email from a newly engaged friend and bride-to-be who asked if I could provide some advice for finding a church in Central Texas to host her wedding. While I’m not the expert on finding a church, I’ve been a part of dozens of weddings and events in and around Austin, so I thought I’d give her question some thought.

Essentially, there are two primary questions that you’ll need to find the answers to before moving on to the next step: planning. Assuming you’ve already chosen a particular church because of its significance, location or beauty, here’s what you should be asking your church representatives…

As it turns out, each church is different in how they deal with weddings and events. And there are a number of things to consider about a church prior to booking your wedding there. The first thing you should ask is if the church is available for the day that you are planning your wedding. This seems like the obvious thing to ask, and it is; and if inquiring about availability is the first thing that you ask you might save yourself some frustration and headache. After all, there’s no need to start making decoration plans and attending church-specific relationship classes if your day cannot be booked.

Assuming your day is available and the church is not somewhere you regularly attend, then the second question to ask is whether there are special requirements for non-members of the church to marry at the church you’ve chosen. Obviously different faiths have different requirements and restrictions on who can marry in their place of worship and how ceremonies can be conducted and by whom. Some churches are strict and some are not so just ask and you will know.

Here are some other considerations and questions that you’ll want to find answers to, based on you and your fiancé’s preferences, wedding size, etc.:

-         Is there a rental fee/cost associated with using the church you have chosen?

-         Will the church facilities accommodate a ceremony and reception? If so, for how many attendees?

-         Does the church require that you use their Officiant/priest/minister, or can you use an outside Officiant?

-         Do you need insurance for your event?

-         Do you need a written contract to use the church?

-         Does the church allow/limit decoration?

-         Is there a time limit for how long you are allowed to use the church? If so, is there an event following your ceremony/reception?

-         Do your wedding participants (bridesmaids/groomsmen) fulfill church-related obligations?

Helpful Hints: In many cases churches have a designated wedding coordinator who helps in planning and organizing weddings. The coordinator can be very helpful in providing you information about what the church needs and what is expected of you. Many times the coordinator is also on hand the day of your ceremony to help make sure things go as planned. Don’t be afraid to ask your coordinator for advice or help when it is needed. They’ve probably witnessed lots of weddings in the same venue and know what you need.

Bride & Groom Exchanging Nuptials

Central Christian Church - Austin, TX

 

 

 

 

 

 


Are You Prepared For Rain On Wedding Day?

Many people don’t know it, but many cultures believe that it is lucky for it to rain on wedding day. Be that as it may, there are still some issues to attend to if it rains on your wedding day. So are you prepared if it rains?

As a photographer I’ve seen several weddings that got “rained out”. Ok, so it wasn’t like a baseball game where everyone just goes home early in the 2nd inning and the game is rescheduled for another day. Weddings aren’t allowed to do the same things that occur at sporting events. These are once in a lifetime events where family and friends come from far away and where plans are made a year or more in advance.

The weddings that I photographed where rain unexpectedly appeared were outdoor ceremonies with indoor receptions. Well, that’s not completely true; one of them was actually supposed to occur entirely outdoor, but luckily when the rain started during the reception everyone was able to quickly (not by choice) move the event into the large, family residence on the property where the reception was being held. But not everyone is so lucky…

So what can you do to prepare for a possible rainy day?

Outdoor Wedding Reception In South Austin About 30 Minutes Before It Started To Rain

First, when you visit possible venues for your ceremony/reception ask if they have a plan in place in case it rains on the day of your event. Many popular wedding venues these days that host both the wedding ceremony and reception have the capabilities to facilitate both indoor and outdoor ceremonies and receptions. Since the bride and groom will likely be renting the entire facility for the day this usually means that the indoor facility will be at your disposal in the event of bad weather (assuming it will accommodate the number of people attending). But ask first.

If for some reason your outdoor ceremony or reception does not have the indoor contingency option, then you might consider renting tent(s) for the day. Tents typically make nice protection from direct sunlight and wind anyway, so having them at the ready for rain just makes sense.

Groomsmen Walking Indoors To Escape Rain During Reception

If it does indeed rain on your wedding day don’t let it ruin your day; embrace the cards that have been dealt you. You may have imagined a bright sunny morning or afternoon for your big wedding day, but rain can be refreshing and cathartic. And as a photographer I can tell you that it makes for dynamic and beautiful photography. So if you do all you can to prepare for the worst and it still rains, just smile and go on enjoying the most beautiful day of your life. Keep telling yourself that it’s good luck when it rains on wedding day! :)

View From Rainy Window of Austin, TX Wedding Reception


Wedding Horror Stories (How To Avoid Them)!

Some hints on what to look for (and what to avoid) when searching for a wedding photographer.

The Amateur. When I first came to Austin, Texas about 10 years ago my family (my brother, my sister, my mother and I) were all together for a limited time and it was decided that we should hire a photographer to take photographs of us as a family. We all knew that we would be moving in different directions for years to come and who knows when the opportunity might present itself again. So my mother got in contact with a photographer who promised to meet us at Zilker Botanical Gardens and capture some family images. I distinctly remember what the photographer looked like. She was slim, small framed with short curly hair. She was quiet, reserved and she photographed us with what may have been a “Rolleiflex” medium format twin lens reflex camera. At the time I didn’t know much about medium format cameras, so I can’t say what kind of camera it was for sure.

After about 45 minutes of photographing in different locations of the gardens she let us know she was finished and that she’d be calling when the photos were developed and ready to view. Little did we know, that would be the last time we would see her or our photographs again. After some exchanges of voicemails, we accepted that we wouldn’t likely ever see our photos, probably because she really didn’t know the first thing about professional photography. We had simply been her experiment in portraiture – an experiment that went horribly wrong.

The Swindler (allegedly). And this summer I read an article about another photographer in San Antonio who is accused of not delivering what he promised to his clients. The surprising part in this story is that he charges so much and is apparently a talented wedding photographer. One couple even claim that they paid him as much as $7000! Wow! According to the article the photographer in question enthusiastically charmed his clients into paying exorbitant amounts of money for wedding photography. Then when wedding day came he photographed their weddings and they never heard from him again. I personally looked him up on Wedding Wire, and there are a lot of angry brides that are mad at him for not returning their money, and most importantly, not providing them with wedding photos as promised. I would be mad too!

So you’re probably asking, “Well, how do I tell the difference between a wedding swindler and a legitimate photography business?” That can be tough to do, but the most important thing you need to know about any business is their record of service. Do they have a history of providing a quality service? Are people talking raving about how great their experience with the business was? I recommend starting your investigation by reading my article on Finding The Right Wedding Photographer. Bottom line: do your homework! If he/she sounds too good to be true, perhaps you should look elsewhere. I wish you the best of luck in your search!

Martin Whitton is a professional wedding photojournalist who lives and works in Austin, Texas. Email: AustinAmericana@gmail.com


Gifts For Groomsmen & Bridesmaids

Finding a gift for your bridesmaids and groomsmen isn’t always easy. I found this article that has some great ideas and suggestions for buying gifts for your guys and gals. Personally, I bought my groomsmen fossil watches, which fell into my budget nicely and insured that everyone would at least be sporting one piece of jewelry (and hopefully show up to wedding day on time!). Get creative and think about what they might like, along with what you can afford, of course. Happy hunting…

Wedding Gifts

The ARTICLE.

Wedding Rings

Gifts


Favorite Wedding Cake Toppers

Over the years I’ve seen lots of different wedding cake toppers. Some have been funny, some have been traditional and others have been unique. The wedding topper is like the flag that a ship flies; it sort of sets the tone and mood for a cake.

Bride Chasing Groom (My Favorite!)

The old traditional topper was usually a depiction of a happy, in love bride and groom or of wedding bells. But these days there are a few new ones to choose from that give your cake a little personality and set it apart in some instances. What will your cake have on top?

Check out some of the memorable or favorite toppers that I’ve photographed over the past few years…

Bride & Groom Holding Guns

Decorative Flower and Vine Motif for Pseudo-Topper

More Traditional Wedding Cake Topper

Bride & Groom Ball & Chain I

Bride & Groom Ball & Chain II

Topper with Cupcakes


Poll: Brides Use Internet For Wedding Vendor Searches

Where do brides go to find a caterer, photographer or other wedding vendor? In the past they’ve used the Yellow Pages, visited brick & mortar stores, attended bridal extravaganzas or asked a friend. But today the answer is clearly “The Internet”!

Jeff Kear and the gang at My Wedding Workbook (an online resource for wedding planning) recently conducted a poll that surveyed over 800 brides. They discovered that when searching for wedding ideas and information, brides go online. In fact, the top three kinds of pages that brides visit when researching for their wedding are wedding websites, wedding blogs and search engines (like Google).

flowers captured at an Austin, Texas Wedding

Here’s some great information taken from the My Wedding Workbook article:

Generation Y and the Millennials have been using computers and the Internet practically their entire lives, so it only makes sense that these are the first resources they use when they start planning a wedding,” said Jeff Kear, owner of My Wedding Workbook.

In fact, when brides were asked what will be their main source of aid throughout the wedding planning process, the Internet (17.8%) ranked just behind brides’ fiances (28.4%) and their mothers (21.3%) – one of the more interesting statistics from the survey.

And what do brides specifically look for when they are surfing the Web? The top items are wedding advice and how to’s, planning tools, wedding attire, floral and decor, and photography/videography.

“It’s no surprise that wedding guidance and shopping are definitely the two areas of most interest for online brides,” says Kear. “However, the recent recession has made brides even more reliant on the Internet for assistance in these two areas. Brides are more budget conscious than ever, so they are planning more events and details themselves and need more guidance. They are also spending more time comparison shopping and browsing for bargains, and the Internet has become the default venue for comparing prices and vendors.”

Likewise, it’s also critical for brides to do their homework in evaluating vendors they have discovered online. “Don’t just rely on the ratings on websites, as they might be unfairly weighted toward positive or negative reviews,” says Kear. “Instead, ask your friends who have planned weddings, pose questions in local online forums and even talk to vendors who you have already found and trust. I guarantee a caterer has already worked with a florist they admire, or an officiant knows of a great wedding coordinator who they would recommend. The Internet can be helpful, but there’s no substitute for word-of-mouth.”

The complete online system for planning a wedding, My Wedding Workbook offers a step-by-step process for planning and sharing your wedding, from the proposal all the way through the honeymoon. Included in the system are dozens of wedding planning tools, a wedding website, guest email communications center and dozens of tip sheets and checklists that walk you through the whole wedding planner process.

You can contact Jeff by email at jeff@myweddingworkbook.com or by phone at 1-877-266-3885.

Source: My Wedding Workbook


Last Night I Had A Nightmare…About Weddings

This morning I awoke from another wedding nightmare. Perhaps brides have nightmares about dress malfunctions and grooms dream that they are losing their freedom, but wedding photographers have dreams of equipment malfunction – which is the worst thing that can happen to a photographer.

I’ll set up the dream: It’s a balmy summer afternoon and I photograph a vivacious blonde bride and her robust, biker groom at a church that doesn’t exist. Everything goes well. Then we all climb into automobiles and travel to the reception location. When we arrive it’s much darker (perhaps evening or night) and time passes quickly. Everyone is seated around a big table (including myself, which I would never do in real life) and we’re imbibing and eating and having a great time. As the meal is finished the groom stands and announces that he and his bride will soon make their grand exit and everyone prepares. I panic. I realize that during all the fun and excitement I’ve forgotten that I’m the official photographer for the event and my batteries are not charged. I quickly load my flash with 4 AA batteries, but to no avail – They’re dead. The room is dimly lit and the shutter won’t move in such a dark environment, at least not without a tripod -which is akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight!

As the menacing groom escorts his bride out he gives me a menacing look, as if to say, “I know your batteries are dead because your flash is not popping”!

Ahhhhhh!!!

….and then I am awake and wondering why I’m having a nightmare about something that has never happened and will never happen. But how can I be sure this bad situation will never come to pass? Preparation – it’s the only way to fly.

The day before a big event, like a wedding, I charge up dozens of batteries for my cameras, flashes and other equipment. I follow a check list for everything I do, kind of like a pilot or an astronaut would follow a mission checklist when they prepare to fly an aircraft. 1. Do this. Check. 2. Do that. Check… You get the idea.

Austin Bride & Groom

Having photographed dozens of weddings, I’ve never had a major incident like what happened in my nightmare. Some people might say that I’ve been lucky. When I was in high school one of my athletic coaches, a gruff, stocky old man who played NFL Football before the use of helmets (that’s my theory anyway) used to say that luck was when “preparation meets opportunity.” I like to think that he was 100% correct. That’s why I use a checklist to prepare for weddings. Besides, I can’t afford to just be lucky. I have to take every step possible to make sure that I am prepared to capture every great moment from a wedding, quickly and seamlessly.

Special Wedding Gift

Bridal Veil & Hair w/ Tierra


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