I’ve posted some of my favorite wedding photos from the last 12-24 months in a series of blogs, Volumes 1 -3. The work I’m including is a collection of mostly wedding photographs that Austin Americana Photography captured at various weddings in the Austin, Texas area. Some of the Venues include places like Casa Blanca on Brushy Creek, Green Pastures, Canyon of the Eagles, Avery Ranch Resort, Laguna Gloria, Zilker Botanical Garden, as well as a few not-so-familiar other venues. There will be a 2nd volume of wedding photos to follow this one in the next day or so. Enjoy!
The wedding photographer is tasked with a stressful, difficult job – take great photos of a constantly evolving, mobile event (with no re-takes or do-overs) and do it with grace and confidence. Experienced photographers, as well as most new photographers and photo novices who try shooting weddings and end up quitting understand this pressure. Being a wedding photographer is a job kind of like being a rodeo cowboy; it looks exciting and fun, but behind the scenes the preparation and expectation, as well as the physical and psychological toll required to complete the job can be overwhelming.
So imagine adding one more challenge to the balancing act: other photographers. It seems like a recipe for disaster.
Scenario 1: The Sniper. You’ve photographed the bride and bridal party as they stroll down the aisle toward the altar. You settle into a nice spot where you can quietly capture some intimate photos of the bride and groom exchanging vows. As you focus the lens of your camera on the bride and groom you realize that in the background (behind the bride and groom) one of the guests is moving around trying to get a photo of the wedding couple, and he’s in your frame, essentially ruining the shot!
Scenario 2: The Paparazzi. It’s time for the toast. A large group of guests assemble around the bride and groom to “clink” their glasses in celebration of the new life that has begun between the bride and groom. As you glance around to find the best place to position yourself, you realize that the large group of people is tightly packed around the bride and groom and many of them don’t have champagne glasses; instead they are donning cameras and are intent on getting photos.
And, unfortunately, there are many other situations where guest photographers will challenge your ability to get the best shot at a wedding, such as during formal photos and other important events involved in the wedding ceremony and reception. So how do you avoid having problems and focus on getting the best shots while being courteous and respectful to the bride, groom and their guests?
One word: Preparation.
The first thing that you as a professional wedding photographer can do to prepare for a wedding is to meet with the bride and groom. Listen to what they want from you and ask them questions if needed. Meeting(s) with the bride and groom can be your opportunity to explain how important capturing photographs of their wedding day is and how you appreciate them choosing you over other photographers. Obviously, it’s not good to scare the newlyweds, but it’s definitely ok to define yourself as “the” wedding photographer. It’s important for the bride and groom (and anyone else attending the wedding, for that matter) to know that a professional photographer (you) are being paid good money to provide photographic coverage for the wedding. And as such, the photographer should be given free license and full authority to photograph everything, free from limitation, i.e., free from guests hanging out of the pew into the aisle trying to get a cell phone snap shot of the bride.
Obviously, human behavior is unpredictable. And we can’t tell guests what to do. We want everyone at a wedding to have fun and enjoy the day. But at the same time, it’s important for you as the photographer to empower the bride and groom with this knowledge of photographer privileges so that they can share it with others who will be there on wedding day. Because ultimately, if I’m following the bride down the aisle as her official photographer, and a guest hops out in front of me to take a picture (believe me, it’s happened), there’s no undoing the shot.
Now let’s talk about insurance. We live in the digital age where the way we photograph everything is different. In the old days (picture the 1980s ), getting “the shot” was of the utmost importance. Photographers had to make sure everything was ready and right before pressing the shutter button on their camera. After all, there were limitations; each roll of film that was used costs money, and there was a finite number of rolls of film that any photographer would bring to an event. In addition, equipment used for low-light photography (which is needed for most weddings – think dark, candle-lit rooms with few windows) was not as good then as it is now. These days we have high powered flashes, an abundance of fast lenses, great editing software and amazing technology for processing light in cameras.
In 2011, I can shoot a wedding continuously and go home with 3,000+ images to choose from (note: I don’t usually shoot that many). Having the ability to use top-notch equipment and shoot digital with almost unlimited capacity for images means that I am bringing an insurance policy to weddings. I am hedging my bet, insuring that I will get lots of great images from each event, thanks to technology. So even if someone steps into the shot, 9 times out of 10, I’ve already gotten a very similar shot prior or after the instance where someone stepped in and blocked my vantage point. The same reasoning goes for the “sniper” scenario above. Problem solved.
So what about the paparazzi? Again, part of the solution to avoiding the paparazzi scenario is education. Brides need to let their guests know that it’s ok to take photos, but that it’s also important to her and the groom to allow each important event during the wedding to be captured appropriately by the official photographer who is being paid to cover the event.
The second part of the solution is assertiveness. Be courteous but assertive when you are charged with photographing an event. It is obviously very important to your client to have photographs of their event and they have put a lot of faith in you (the photographer) to act in their stead to capture those precious, meaningful moments. Keep that in mind when you politely ask guest to give you a little space.
You can also advertise that you are the official photographer, albeit in a somewhat quiet way. You don’t need a bullhorn to announce to everyone your intentions (ok, maybe during formal photos). All you need to do is look the part. Have you ever been to a costume party in full costume? I’ve always noticed that if you attend the party donning a special costume, you get treated differently, perhaps even better than if you just showed up wearing what you do every day. So do the same at a wedding. Show your clients and their guests that you are serious and professional with your work. Dress up and include a lanyard with an ID badge with your company’s logo. People make judgments every minute about the way a person looks, is dressed or carries themselves. What judgment do you want your clients to make about you?
Ultimately, I don’t have a solution for every possible shot. Every now and then something or someone will find itself in your shot when you don’t want it there. Your job as a wedding or event photographer is to show up for the event prepared for the worst, expecting the best and ready to handle anything that gets thrown at you. I’m sharing all this because it has worked for me, and I’m certain it can work for anyone else. Good luck with your shooting!
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?
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.
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!
I wanted to take a moment to share 7 new, great reviews we received in the past few months with everyone who reads my blog. Recently I asked my clients to tell others on Yelp.com about their experience with myself and Austin Americana Photography. And I’m happy to say that many of our happy clients responded in larger than expected numbers. All of our clients had nothing but fantastic things to say about Austin Americana (we’re now rated 5 Stars!), which makes me feel like I’m doing the difficult job of being a wedding photographer well.
Unfortunately, Yelp.com (or it’s filtering software monster) doesn’t like too many good reviews at one time. Even though all 7 of our Yelp reviews were legitimate past clients of Austin Americana and were not paid or compensated for their reviews, Yelp.com will not allow 6 of the 7 reviews to be posted to the Austin Americana Yelp Page (the reviews were essentially relegated to Yelp’s “filtered” area where almost no one views them, and thus not available for easy viewing by future clients).
I’ve officially complained to Yelp about the problem, but I’m not holding my breath since the Yelp FAQ website states that all filtering is automated and not under the control of one individual (hard to believe, I know!) In the meantime, I’ve taken the liberty of posting these wonderful reviews that I’m so very proud of here on my blog for all past, present and future clients to see.
Again, I’d like to send out a big “Thank You” to all our happy clients who took time out of their busy schedules to tell others about their positive experience working with Austin Americana Photography. Thank you! All of the reviews are below…
You Can View Our YELP.COM Business Page Here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/austin-americana-photography-austin
Filtered and Unfiltered Recent Yelp Reviews For Austin Americana Photography:
1. 9/17/2010 5 Stars *****
The website photos are great! I can’t wait to see the photos from our wedding. Martin was very pleasant to work with and I recommend that you contact him if you are looking for a photographer for your special event!
- Anna K. – Austin, Texas
2. 9/16/2010 5 Stars *****
we are so pleased with our photos. Martin is extremely professional and warm in his demeanor. he arrived early to set up on a saturday morning to take photos of our doctors for our website. we recommend him highly and have already called on him again for another photo session.
- Sylvian U. – Austin, Texas
3. 9/9/2010 5 Stars *****
We would like to thank you for doing such an amazing job in making our Wedding day so special. We also thank you for showing such patience in a very long wedding. We knew that you had not done Indian Weddings before, but we felt relaxed after we had a sitdown with you few days before the wedding. We were confident that we were in safe hands.
Every moment big and small was perfectly captured.
We highly recommend Austin Americana Photography. The wedding pictures posted on http://austinamericanastudio.com truly speak about your work. What more do I have to say.
We are blessed too to have you as our photographer. Thank you for providing your services!!
- Pallavi and Praveen – Osseo, Minnesota
4. 9/2/2010 5 Stars *****
When I started planning my wedding, the only thing that I wanted to make sure was amazing and flawless were my wedding photos. Martin’s photos were just that. Martin went above and beyond my expectations. Every time I look at my photos, I’m sucked right back into that day, because his photos captured the mood and tell the story of my wedding moment by moment. Martin was very professional, showed up on time, and my photos were available to view before the promised date. You can’t go wrong with using Martin to take photos for any occasion.
- Monica O. – Austin, Texas
5. 9/1/2010 5 Stars *****
I met Martin and Michaela when they were traveling through our home town in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Martin used his incredible eye and talent to capture our community coffee house, The Common Cup. His photography has made a difference in our online presence, and I recommend his service if you need to capture the true essence of your business and project it in your marketing. Thanks Martin for what you do, and thanks for helping us here in Costa Rica!
- Kenneth L. – Monroe, Georgia
6. 8/31/2010 5 Stars *****
Martin did both our engagement photos and our wedding. Outstanding! His eye to catch the unscripted moments is priceless. We had to reschedule a couple of times for engagement photos due to weather, and Martin was most accommodating. His prices are reasonable and the extraordinary value received exceeds expectations. Martin goes above and beyond. We will be recommending him to our friends and family.
- Renee H. – Austin, Texas
7. 8/31/2010 5 Stars *****
I hired Martin twice to take photos of my extended family and then again of my immediate family. Both sessions were a success! His pictures were great each time. He is excellent at the formal type pictures as well as the spontaneous ones. He can do large groups and individual pictures without blinking an eye. Additionally, Martin is flexible in his dates and times and accommodated my schedule. He was always on time and I received my discs earlier than expected. His prices are very reasonable and he delivers quality work! I highly recommend him! Nina
- Nina J. – Round Rock, Texas
I have a lot of favorites when it comes to photography of weddings, but I think one of the things that I enjoy photographing most is watching things unfold before the ceremony as the bride and groom get ready. You can almost feel the magic and mystery in the moment of anticipation – it’s the calm before the storm when you can almost feel the electricity in the air. The bride and groom ready themselves both physically with elaborate costumes, jewelry and makeup for one of the biggest moments of their lives: when they will stand before their friends and family and a higher power to commit to one another everything they have.
Normally for the groom and groomsmen it is a time of camaraderie and reflection. But for the bride it is the foremost time of her life where she shines like never before. All of her bridesmaids, her mother and other family members recognize that she has officially made the transition from single daughter to independent woman. Like a burgeoning flower, her beauty is in full bloom and at this moment her womanhood has come into full fruition. Everyone around her recognizes the amazing, glowing aura that emanates from the bride. She is confident and hopeful for the fortuitous future that lies ahead of her and her groom.
Like I said, the “getting ready” shots are a fun thing to capture with a camera. The moments before the wedding ceremony are frequently bursting with emotion and excitement. And if I do my job right as a photographer all this is translated into the images that my camera captures.
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.
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…
Ever thought of having your wedding on a movie set in Texas? Perhaps you didn’t know such a thing exists, but it does! It’s called Star Hill Ranch and it’s located right here in Central Texas, about 30 minutes from downtown (depending on how you drive), out near Hamilton Pool (near Bee Cave) in West Austin.
In 2002, the movie The Alamo was filmed on the set of Star Hill Ranch. One of the reasons that Star Hill Ranch was chosen is because it resembles an old west town. The 30-acre tract has one main street of dirt lined with antique buildings and churches that were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, giving Star Hill Ranch the look of a western town.
Creating the town was the brainchild of architect and 5th generation Texan, Adam Woolley, who dreamed of creating such a set for years before making it happen and opening officially in 2004.
“Some childhood dreams DO come true. By the time Adam Woolley was nine years old, he knew that someday he wanted to create a town of his own, just like his great-grandfather’s hometown of Industry (the first permanent German settlement in Texas, near Brenham). When his fourth-grade teacher asked the class to write an essay on what they’d like to do when they grew up, Adam earned an “A” by detailing plans remarkably similar to what he has put together, thirty-four years later, in Bee Cave. “
“My goal was never to build an Old West town,” he explains. “I was aiming for a Hill Country town – the kind of civilized, self sufficient community that European immigrants built when they came to Texas. I wanted a location close to an urban area where people could go to experience that lifestyle; one where people could just step off into an earlier time.” – Hill Country Magazine Online
Star Hill Ranch hosts many different events including movies, weddings, corporate events and more. On site facilities include a historic, indoor chapel, an outdoor arbor (for outdoor ceremonies), a bride’s house, a groom’s quarters, large and small reception halls which can accommodate up to 300 people, a bier garten and lots of fun props including a windmill, wagons and more.
Recently I had a bride ask to see some “artistic” wedding photos. This is definitely something that we do, albeit not as much as I’d like to. There are two parts to an artistic photo: framing and editing. When you frame the image you make it appealing to the eye. In the editing process afterward you can add cool effects. Here are some examples. There’s almost no limit to the possibilities when getting creative with photos…