Recently we had the pleasure of shooting a wedding at Payne Meadows in North Carolina. This is a hidden gem of a venue with 38 acres of beautiful land with an authentic farmhouse. Adding to this picturesque charm are the most hospitable hosts. In this business, that cannot be overstated in importance. After shooting here we can state emphatically that a Payne Meadows Wedding is different!
Many times when people are planning a wedding, they tend to fall into the trap of believing because a wedding does not have 300 people then it somehow does not deserve to be covered beautifully. Thankfully this couple believed just the opposite!
Locating this beautiful and authentic barn/farm location was a stroke of both luck and genius. The farmhouse is welcoming and wonderful for getting ready and being comfortable. The barn and other buildings are gently updated to be secure while retaining their authenticity. The land, the land you just cannot say enough about….rolling beautiful green hills with a gentle creek running through….with the slope of the land breezes are a wonderful natural cooling system!
Robert and Linda the owners are subtly on-site to attend to anything without being in the middle of the bustle of a wedding.
James, Holly and their precious daughter along with family and friends were here to celebrate a day that is truly like no other!
Payne Meadows does weddings the way we think they should be done…and in doing so proves a few points we have believed and promoted for many years, namely that a couples attitude and outlook greatly affect the success of their day….and…it isn’t the size of the wedding, it’s the size of the hearts in the wedding!
If you’re looking for an intimate rustic barn locale with terrific people and a welcoming atmosphere, please check out Payne Meadows Weddings in North Carolina…tell them John & Tamera sent you…you will be glad you did!
In Previous post we have discussed some of the various components that make up Wedding Photography and Telling the Story. You can check those out HERE.
Of those main components the connection, in our opinion, most critical in telling the story in wedding photography.
Here is where we digress a bit, but hang with us. I promise to show you how it is relevant to wedding photography and telling the story.
When digital came along it did many things for photography; the ability to shoot in varying light conditions with a single camera body, to utilize both color RAW files as well as beautiful black & white.
It also did some likely unintended damage to professional photography. Suddenly with a digital capture the belief started that anyone who could own and point a camera could be a professional photographer (after all, how hard could it be, right?!) That battle, so to speak, is still being fought today for clients who have yet to be educated on the difference between professional prints and a flash drive of digital images.
For the professional photography industry this is, as I stated, a battle still being fought to show the difference a professional photographer makes.
But some wounds are of our own making.
With the advent of digital combined with the lack of many photographers pursuing continuing education, one situation I would use as an example is we see time and time again photographers checking out the back of the camera more than they interface with their clients….
Let me ask you, the reader this, how much of a connection do you feel with someone who clicks a shutter then gazes at the back of the camera. I am not talking about evaluation of light, your settings etc, but of the need to continue and to hold the all-important connection you have hopefully built with your clients.
What we are really speaking of is the complete skill-set of the professional photographer combining technical mastery with an understanding of light, the ability to connect with their clients to shoot those all important images that are positioned between the skin and the soul…to shoot their essence. This is what is critical to wedding photography and telling the story.
Finding a professional photographer in the sea of so any out there is difficult for the clients. A terrific place to start is HERE!
What I hope to convey here is that the cameras are but a tool, and to continue to work on ourselves in this profession and that connecting with the client in wedding photography to tell the story is a huge key to success.
Wedding Photography . Telling The Story with CONNECTION.
Last week we discussed the importance of wedding photography telling the story. We specifically discussed getting to know the client and that out of that grows empathy which can tell you what to shoot and what will make that job unique for that particular client.
This week we would like to discuss the connection in wedding photography. To give the closest parallel I can think of , I would suggest the relationship building that happens in a good portrait session. Platon Studios does this about as well as it can be done . When viewing any of his incredible images, you will usually note that incredible essence of the subject via the eyes. This is no accident as Platon spends time speaking to his clients and in fact, as he himself detailed in a Netflix Special , he spends more time speaking to the client than he does shooting, but that time allows him to create and make that connection, and that connection , as he defines it, if he is lucky allows other viewers to feel something…. You can see his work HERE:
I believe the same things are true for wedding photography. While it is very unlikely we will get to spend more time with our clients than the shooting time, given that our weddings are 12 hours or so a day, it IS important to create that connection. What you want is for the client to let you in, to give you their essence and in doing so, allowing you to tell their unique wedding photography story. This is wedding photography telling the story This is what becomes the family heirloom, irreplaceable and deserving of PRINT, not just digital. We will discuss that in a future blog…As well as the impact of digital on the all important client connection.
Thrill your clients by giving them wedding photography that tells a story.
With all the competition in wedding photography these days, what can you do as a wedding photographer to make sure your clients hire you? What do clients always love? Their unique story. Story Telling with their wedding photography makes their photography uniquely their own.
There are many ingredients to successfully telling the story with wedding photography. Over the next few weeks this blog will list and categorize what for us are the most critical. Today we are going to concentrate on telling the story in wedding photography with communication.
Telling the story in wedding photography is for us the single most critical component of successfully shooting a wedding day.
All successful documentary wedding photography begins with communication.
Meetings and communication with the client are critical. Face to face meetings, phone calls, even brief exchanges over social media help to create a relationship for both client and photographer to know one another.
Out of the familiarity grows knowledge.
Out of the knowledge grows awareness.
Out of the awareness grows empathy.
To better relay this I am going to tell you a story about clients we had and how communication created and paved the way for a successful shoot.
This particular couple were a bit older on the scale of average age of our wedding clients. Repeated meetings uncovered the fact the bride to be was coming from a place where marriage was thought to be something that would never, ever happen. It was obvious this was a highly emotional place they were coming from with that belief. Speaking to them frequently uncovered there great love for family and the wish for a ceremony and reception that all could enjoy , but that did not cause anyone any difficulty to participate in.
This meant we had to be aware of allowing the clients to enjoy a laid back reception but to not lose photographic opportunities that may be thought of us “too much trouble”
While the client desired their church wedding , it quickly became obvious the church was a critical part of their wedding day. This meant an approach to church shooting that was respectful of their rules but allowed us to show the spiritual nature of a religious ceremony.
Clients tastes will vary. If they, or you are not sure of styles and where and how you are shooting, there does exits resources to show them a variety of styles.
You can check out one such resource with the Professional Photographers of America. You can see it HERE.
Telling the story with wedding photography requires communication, a connection and empathy. This particular image almost did not happen. The bride was kind of not wanting to go to the trouble of an official exist. Family, and us, intervened and we ended up with a shot that was a favorite for both us and the client.
In closing I’ll remind everyone that the heart is an important piece of your wedding photography equipment. Carry it with you always and keep it open….you and your clients will be glad you did!
The Most Important Pieces of Equipment in Wedding Photography.
It isn’t about the equipment, the latest camera, the latest lens, the greatest pixel count or the best ISO performance. It’s about how you connect with your clients and create a relationship that allows one-of-a-kind images for that particular client. That is the most important piece of equipment in wedding photography.
As wedding photographers we love and appreciate gear. As one grows in this industry we are often in pursuit of the latest camera, the latest lens, the latest and greatest lighting accessory. I am certainly guilty of this. But I want to challenge you with a question. Does the latest gear always mean a difference for your clients? There ARE times when the jump in resolution or a cleaner and higher, more usable ISO will make a difference…but are those the most critical things that support your clients? I would offer that it is REALLY about the people, about the relationship, about the empathy you can bring to your work and ultimately what translates into their wedding images.
Before starting I would suggest it is always fruitful if your searching for a wedding photographer to begin with an official and reputable organization such as the Professional Photographers of America.
So How do we go about using these, our most indispensable tools?
Your Heart. The people and the relationship. Getting to know your clients and getting to know the little physical interactions between them. You get a chance to know their families and their back story of where they came from, how they met, what is important to them, what they believe , how they feel. Shooting their wedding photography then takes on new and deeper layers. You shoot wedding photography then, with your heart on the shutter.
Your eyes are one of the most important pieces of your wedding photography skill set. Yes, obviously you need them to see, but what and how are you seeing for your clients? I like to anticipate moments that I believe will be momentous , find a unique perspective if I can, and work to have great timing. Move around and look from other directions to see all the stories, little and big that make up a complete wedding story.
Your Imagination in your wedding photography skill set. Never be afraid to try different angles. Never be afraid to try and shoot how something feels as opposed to only how it looks. You will learn to trust that instinct.
Add True Wedding Photojournalism Skills to tell a complete and unique story.
As photographers we pursue the technical. We love the equipment to the manual modes to the lighting. These pursuits push us and makes us better photographers and that is undeniably true. This allows us to make images that stand apart from the crowd and even allows us to enter into competitions improving our overall skill set and gain recognition among our peers. After the many years and the many weddings we have photographed, I would say invariably what couples tend to treasure the most are images that are uniquely theirs. Wedding images that tell a story, their story! This is often referred to as Wedding Photojournalism.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing images for competition or images that require a high degree of technical expertise. These are part of a photographers complete skill set and should be brought to every wedding.
I believe clients value and have a higher degree of attachment and intimacy with images that are unique to them….because those images always have a story behind them and it is ALWAYS their story…
In the images above we had a wedding where the journey to the actual event had been storied and deeply valued. Hence emotions were high as were the celebrations….The image in the upper left was shot while they were inside the car capturing the reflection of the couple in the mirror from outside the vehicle. The facial expressions in the 1st dance tell the story and the last image, what ended up being one of the final dances of the evening was full of emotion and movement, which I love and so did our couple…
In the image collage above you will see an image of the shoes and dress that were found in the hallway where someone had dropped a few rose petals….a quick rearrange and we had the shot. The image of the practice dancing in the getting ready room is full of spontaneity and joy. The last image in this collage is one taken bounced from a mirror while the bride was deep in prayer just before the wedding.
For this collection of wedding photography we have a shot from and through some greenery from an outside service. The image beautifully depicts the joy of the bride as she watches her father give her away. The next image shows a terrific example of how you can get real emotion and reaction from the couples formals.
This image stands alone as one of our favorites. The grandmother had been ill but at the wedding her full spirit was on display. The bride has told us many times that this particular image means so much to them as they had not seen her grandmother like this in many years and could now always remember this moment…If you ever needed a reminder why our jobs are so important read this again…
The joy of celebration was all over this wedding and with a couple who loves classic black & white photography. This is a great example of how weddings do not have to be huge or over the top to be beautiful. It is the size of the hearts in the weddings, not the size of the wedding that counts.
Sometimes all it takes is a single image to convey a beautiful moment. Another of our favorite images. This was shot on a 70-200 at around 3.5 then textured in Photoshop to relay how it felt, not just how it looked.
This was not a overly large wedding and the 1st look was fantastic as you can see here. One of the formals was shot with us guiding and asking how the couple felt as opposed to how they looked and it ended up being very classic and timeless.
The first look for Dad was a tearjerker for everyone around and the full tight hugs show the enormity of the moment. One of the last dances of the evening had the couple surrounded with perhaps the best dancing by any wedding party ever in terms of emotion and staying power…
The getting ready image on the left was taken totally unnoticed by the bride yet purposely done to show her natural beauty and was a favorite of her husbands at our unveiling. It was a lasting testament to someone so humble on just how incredibly beautiful she is inside and out. The exit was picture perfect (pun intended!) and shows their individual personalities, relatively quiet reserved beauty and somewhat extreme spirited extrovert
This collage shows both great celebration and impromptu group posing and gathering that were instant classics…
For this Florida Beach Wedding we wanted to highlight lighter colors and a sense of beach air….the getting ready mirror bounce was totally non-staged and most of us would be smiling at our reflection if we looked that good. The balance of the images were from the couple after ceremony beach setting but shows wonderful interaction between the couple as they played in the sunset..the final star-kissed moment was nothing more than lining up the setting sun with a kiss.
One of my all time favorite images. During the ceremony I noticed the little girl kept peering around and between the bride and groom to see what was going on. On one of those times I caught her, curls, inquisitive expression and all for a timeless image of one of wedding photography’s little, small and beautiful back stories.
The getting ready often offers excellent opportunities especially with the girls, but the guys have their moments too as this image of father and son and the humor of tying the tie was priceless.
The last image shows the bride and groom reaction to their friends, who were NOT singers, belting out a version of ” Islands in The Sun” where some were holding their ears and others were holding their stomachs from the guffaws and laughter.
In closing, what I hope we have stressed here is to pursue technical excellence and bring it to your clients through wedding photojournalism. Speaking for ourselves, we have a long way to go to be where we want to be as photographers. What I do hope we stressed is to get to know your clients. Love them. Know their story. Then write that story with light to the best of your ability.
While it may be true that there is no such thing as a perfect image, there ARE perfect stories.
Keep shooting and may all your shooting be happy…practice to develop great timing and press “heart” on the shutter…
Why 2nd Marriage (or any other number) Wedding Photography Matters!
In our career after shooting hundreds of weddings obviously every potential client who came through our door was not getting married for the very first time, some were on their 2nd marriage and were still considering wedding photography.
Some were on their 2nd (or more) wedding
Some were renewing their vows
What we have heard a good deal of from this particular type of client is: “well, it’s not our first rodeo” or ” we have both been through this before” as if somehow finding the love of your life, later in life makes it mean less from a wedding photography standpoint.
People who hold to that belief are rarely ever our clients.
The wedding photography ALWAYS matters…let me repeat that, THE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY ALWAYS MATTERS.
A celebration of love is not limited to two people who have never been married before and the term “newlywed” is not applicable to people only in the spring of their life.
The things for your photographer to consider are similar to documenting any other wedding.
What does the potential client see in your style of images that they like?
What would they prefer to see less of, or not at all photographically speaking. Would they prefer a concentration on just documenting the day rather than being put in some locations and guided on their posing?
Are their children or grandchildren who may be important to be included in the wedding photography?
Consider hours of coverage. Some 2nd marriage celebrations are shorter than a full scale 1st wedding. There are exceptions of course but working 10-12 hours that day versus 4 to 6 can change what gets covered and included.
Lastly, will you be shooting and covering the ceremony in a church, venue or other location? This may require a different approach than a 1st wedding at a church with getting ready coverage and all the bells and whistles versus a 2nd wedding at a courthouse with a mass ceremony for many couples at once…
In the end what truly counts is documenting the couples day, telling a story and showing true emotion…and that never gets old whether its wedding 1 or wedding 100! We hope you will celebrate your love, no matter where you are in life, with wedding photography that becomes an heirloom.
If you are searching for a wedding photographer, you’ve likely been considering the print vs digital dilemma.
As photography moved out of the analog print age and into the digital age, it brought with it many advances. Namely immediate feedback and the ability to more readily share images and in a much more rapid manner. Combined with social media, friends and family can see images now quicker and on a much wider scale than ever previously.
For the Wedding photographer, this also meant as digital evolved a much wider gamut of capabilities by our cameras to function at light levels previously unheard of. For photographers (like us) who bridge the ages and have shot film and transitioned to digital, the perspective is unique.
Is there any downside to digital? We would argue that digital has been misinterpreted as a “final” product and that the best analogy is to view digital as a kind of proof or negative that is more easily accessed, able to be immediately shared and with the ability to be carried around in your pocket on your smartphone or other digital device.
In a nutshell, what studies have shown is that the feedback and retention are greater with a print than with digital.
Does that mean digital has no value or is ignored? For us the answer is absolutely not. We respond by educating our potential clients as to why print matters. No package is offered without an album.
Our Studio refuses to shoot and deliver only digital images.
Digital, in our opinion, was never meant to be forever.
For us, the best way to serve our clients is to provide BOTH. As we mentioned every package we offer includes an album. While that album is a base model, it DOES allow clients to have a true heirloom family item. Often this is the first artwork of its kind after the marriage. Approximately 72% of our clients upgrade their album in either pages included, cover, style, size, or all of them !
Our clients come into the studio and are met with images and custom DVD shows being streamed to our 4K monitor.
But it is understood that we are ultimately selling is artwork and that means albums, wall hangings etc..
Seeing those products , touching them, feeling them is a different experience than just having the images stream across a screen.
What we want each client to have as a goal, is to imagine the story they want their albums to tell ten years from now.
What to talk to your Photographer about with Church Wedding Photography (or any wedding!)
In this day and age, with so many new and beautiful outdoor wedding venues, whether we are here in Blue Ridge Georgia or in the Marietta, the question gets asked of us as the wedding photographers, am I going to get beautiful church wedding photography if the ceremony is in the church.
Our answer is a resounding YES!
While outdoor venues are becoming plentiful, there are some things to think about..does the venue have a back up plan in the event of inclement weather? Is the venue and terrain easily accessible for all your guest , regardless of age and condition? Is the location logistically fit for attendance of your planned wedding party and guest?
With that in mind, and with some the sanctity of the ceremony as a factor, many are turning to the more traditional Church Wedding, but when doing so the question we get asked a great deal is will my wedding photography still be beautiful if the ceremony is in the church. Many church’s are a bit more centrally located for ease of access. This is one of the finest we have worked with and you can find them here:
We still love church weddings. It is important to note that most church’s do have guidelines and rules for the photography specifically during the ceremony. This may include shooting only from the upper level gallery or from the last pews. The rules may also state no flash photography during the ceremony. What we recommend is to meet with the officiant prior to the ceremony and go over what is allowed, and what is not.
The photographer, in the long run, needs to adhere to the rules and guidelines the church sets while still obtaining the photography the client wants. Be sure to your photographer is comfortable with challenging light settings and possible distance shooting.
Having your after ceremony celebration can really change the texture and climate of your wedding, giving you the best of both worlds. One of the best we have worked at is the Marlow House, you can find them HERE:
One thing we always recommend to our bride and grooms is to consider a pre or post shoot. You see it does not matter whether your wedding photography is taking place at or in a church or at a venue, your are very likely to have very limited time after the ceremony to shoot in. Barring seeing each other before the ceremony, it leaves all the couple images together and with family as part of the after ceremony images, and the time frame for that is usually less than one hour, and often half that at best.
With a pre or post shoot, the stress of the day is taken away, and you have just your time together to just play. This makes for a far deeper image base for the couples images.
What do you get when you take two gorgeous people, add in one of the world’s best wedding party, a family with tight bonds that adores you, add in the best of friends and people who love to dance and celebrate?
You get a true to life love story…a story of faith, hope and love.
You get a Tate House Wedding.
You get North Georgia Wedding Photography
The background is the inimitable historic Tate House Mansion. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and make plans. This is one of the preeminent venues in North Georgia, especially for a wedding. They continue to innovate, plan, build, add and not stand still…
That is evident by Leah’s getting ready in the new bride’s house that is just done so perfectly….every detail thought out…every fine touch added, all by folks who do it the best.
Michael and Leah have roots in North Georgia. Parts of their story developed here so being in North Georgia for a wedding was a given. It’s also why , if your thinking of north Georgia for a wedding and as a backdrop for your north Georgia wedding photography, you can see what Leah envisioned brought to reality here.
From 1st looks at a beautiful lookout point dodging raindrops, to cool surprises and one of the best wedding parties we have had the good fortune to work with.
Our goal is twofold…we hope the feelings jump off this page about Michael and Leah’s love story…and we hope you see the love we feel for them from behind the lens…and the families we so quickly fell in love with.
We hope you enjoy our take on A Tate House Wedding and North Georgia Wedding Photography.