Category Archives: For Photographers

Kristin loves educating fellow photographers. If you have specific photography related questions, please reach out!

3 More Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

I’m sure you’ve seen your share of Top 1 Billion Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer.  You know the ones. Question #1 What gear do you use?  Question #29 How many photos will be in black and white vs color?  Question #154 What do you love about weddings?  Question #782 Will we be best friends forever?  I love reading these.  Some are so obvious.  Some, maybe not.  But many of those questions mean nothing to you when it comes to finding a photographer that you can rely on.  There are quite a few really important questions to ask your photographer.  Here are just 3 of the big questions that I’m never asked.  Maybe they aren’t important to you but I’ll explain why they should be.

 

IMGL1863Tell me about Backups. Do you have backups for your backups?

Obviously, your photographer should have a back up camera.  In the event that their camera is dropped, dumped in a fountain, or just simply fails, they should be able to reach for their backup to finish out the day.  Aside from that, did you know that your entire wedding collection could be lost from a memory card failure!  Not trying to scare you, but guys, this is a real thing.  Your photographer should be able to handle that situation.  Whether it be that they shoot the entire wedding on multiple smaller memory cards, or their camera allows them to write each image to multiple cards.  Check with them to see how they can ease your mind about this situation. They should also be explaining how they protect your images after the wedding with backups.  I could go on and on about image backups.  Ask me what I do about someone stealing my gear bag before I get the images imported!

 

CK8A4350Can we go over the timeline?

Will your photographer know where you will be throughout the day? Will they let you know in advance when the groom and guys need to be ready for photos? Will they have the chance to explain to you that noon is the worst time to schedule your outdoor formals? What if the timeline starts to fall apart? Is your photographer experienced enough to handle that situation? If there’s been enough communication about the timeline, they will know if things can be adjusted. Going over a timeline in advance will give everyone peace of mind on your wedding day.  

 

CK8A4971How do you handle reception lighting?

Receptions are one of the top areas where your photographer’s experience and ability will make or break your gallery. Up lighting, twinkle lights, and candles are sometimes the only source of light during a reception. Camera’s these days are seriously amazing but even with the highest light sensitivity, photos can end up grainy, blurry, or can be left with an odd color tones.  Sure, they captured the moments, but it can be hard to look at images that just aren’t sharp and well lit.  

If they say they use flash, is it off camera?  Do they plan to “bounce” their flash.  Note: This just isn’t an option in some venues with too tall or too dark ceilings.  Will they just use on camera flash or will they have multiple flashes set up? Either way, they need experience in low light situations and should be prepared with multiple options to cover your venue’s lighting. If you have any concerns on their response to this question, ask if you can see a sample of their typical reception lighting. 

 

What other questions do you really want to know from your photographer? What did you wish you knew before your wedding?  I would love to hear!

Renting Photography Gear

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Its no secret that the cost of photography can seem insane when you really look at the gear and maintenance involved. It’s hard to keep up with the growing demand for hobbyist and pros alike. Whether it’s lack of money or not knowing where to spend the money you do have, it can feel overwhelming.

Purchasing any gear is a big investment and it’s hard to know if it’s worth it. I’ve heard so many photographers ask the questions “What’s your go-to lens?” or “I need a new lens, what should it be!?”  My first response is always “Well, it depends.” I know no one wants to hear that. They just need a pro to tell them “what’s in their bag” so they can go out and buy the exact same thing. That should make them equally successful…right?? Really, you need to ask yourself a few questions before jumping into this big purchase. What do you currently have? What type of photography are your interested in? What is it about your current equipment is making you feel limited? If you don’t have all the answers…or even if you do, try renting.

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Renting allows you the opportunity to really try that new lens or camera on for size. Does it make magic like everyone tells you it will? By renting, you can decide if the 35mm Sigma Art can really stand up against the pricier Canon 35mm. You can decide if the revised ISO range and AF system on the 5D Mark IV are worth the extra $1k! I rent every piece of equipment before purchasing. It’s the only way to know for sure what works for me and what doesn’t.

If you’re just starting out, you should definitely look into renting!  Let’s say you have a shoot coming up that will require a pro camera body, fast glass, or additional flashes. You can rent what is needed to get you through the shoot and not feel limited. After I managed to purchase (and finally pay off) my first pro camera body, I just didn’t feel comfortable relying on my starter camera as a back up incase things went wrong.  I decided to rent a nice reliable body and, even though I didn’t get it out of the case, it gave me peace of mind to have that back up with me.

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There are other great options when renting that I hadn’t really noticed until recently!  In May, while trying out a new lens, I added a lens calibrator to my cart. I followed a few online tutorials and was able to calibrate all of my lenses before the start of the wedding season! Many renters also offer extra camera batteries, battery grips, and remote shutter triggers!  If you are looking for a reliable rental company, Lens Pro To Go is my favorite. These guys are so helpful and will call you after your first order to make sure you are getting everything you need.  If you're worried that some lenses may not work for some camera bodies, they'll walk you through it! They also have a Rental Reward Program where every rental contributes towards a gear credit!  I now have over $100 in rental rewards to use next time!  Who knows what I’ll be trying out next!

Fitting Photography Into Your Timeline

I get it.  You want to make a timeline that works for all of your vendors, the venue, and of course your guests.  If you have a great wedding planner or coordinator, you have nothing to worry about!  They'll walk you through that whole process.  They know weddings and they know what it takes to make your day perfect!  However, if you don’t have a planner and the job falls solely on you, you may start to feel a little lost.  My number one piece of advice is to check with your photographer!  Here are a few reasons why…

CK8A9644Coverage Time.

Your photographer may be there for 4 hours or maybe up to 12.  You know what’s in your contract.  We need to make sure that whats most important for you can be documented in that window of tme.  Do you want to have lots of getting ready candid moments?  Are you planning a sparkler exit late into the night?  Or do you really have your heart set on both. Having this in mind will help you to determine how you day should flow and if you need to plan for extra hours with your photographer.

CK8A9292How Long it Takes.

This is your first wedding and you're probably guessing how long to plan for portions of the day.  When it comes to Timelines, guessing gets you no where. Here are a few examples:

  • Bride getting into her gown

    • You’d think this isn't something to allot much time for, right?  Well it depends on a few things.  Is it a lace-up, button-up, or zip-up gown?  Will a veil need to be added after?  Do we need to wait until mom is dressed and ready before you can begin the process?
  • The dreaded receiving line

    • I know, I know.  They can be great and you really want to show love to your guests.  But, did you know that a receiving line can take up to 20 minutes for just 100 guests?! That can really cut into your family formals!
  • Family formals

    • This is also dependent on some things.  The size of your family. The variation and number of individual portriats needed. What about extended family? Will your great aunt and uncle need to be included? Do they know to wait there for their turn before heading out to the reception?
  • Traveling between locations

    • Will you need to travel to alternate locations for wedding party photos? Could there be traffic? What transportation will you use?  How long does it take to get there and back? You’ll want to know all of this so you don’t end up late to your own reception!
  • Dinner, cake cuttings, money dance, sparkler exits, etc

    •   These can all end up taking longer than you are expecting.  I recommend mapping out this portion of your timeline with your DJ or Band.  They'll have great advice for you on how the reception timeline will likely look like.

CK8A2669The Best Light.

Sun-light at various times in the day is another key part to photography.  I know we don’t have control of when the ceremony starts but when I’m planning portraits, I know that noon is the worst time to go out for photos.  When the mid-day sun is right over your head, you can expect dark shadows to show in your eyes, greenish color casts on your face, and don't forget squinting. It’s just all around a bad time to shoot! Talk to your photographer about what can be done.  Off camera flash can be used, or maybe photos should be moved inside for a more even light.  Either way, if you have your heart set on those warm glowy outdoor photos with amazing natural light, you’ll need to plan your timeline so that you are outside a little closer to sunset.  We call it golden hour, you may call it magic.

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In the end, before you make any major plans, just check with the pros.  We want everything to run smoothly and we REALLY want you have the photos that you and your family will love.  So, reach to your photographer.  We’re happy to help!

Oh, and if you’re thinking this could all be easier with a planner... you’re right.  I know some really amazing ladies that you'll be happy to have on your side!  Shoot me a message and I’ll send you their info!

What is AI-Servo and when should you use it (AF-C on Nikon)

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AI Servo (or AF-C on Nikon) is basically the continuous auto-focus mode for your camera.  Meaning, in this mode, when you hold down your focus button (whether it be back button or shutter button) your camera is constantly looking for a change in the subject where your focal point is landing, and it's updating your focal plane as the change is happening!  So if you have your focal point directly on a subject, hold down your focus button, and your subject takes a step forward, your camera makes the adjustment for you.   

The alternative to this continuous auto-focus mode is, duh, the single focus mode (know as One-Shot on Canon and AF-S on Nikon).  This is pretty self explanatory.  When you hold down your focus button, your camera will only focus once.  If your subject takes a step back in this mode after you've pressed your focus button, your subject will likely be out of focus.  You’ll need to do the work of refocusing yourself by letting off of the button and pressing again.

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How can you use this information in real life shooting?

You'll want to understand these modes to determine the best use for them.  When your subject is moving quickly, your focal plane will need to continuous-ly update to keep up.  Al-Servo (AF-S) is going to give you the sharpest images in this instance.  For example, when my bride and groom are walking toward me during the processional and recessional, I always make sure to shoot in Al-Servo!  

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In this instance, with them moving toward me or away from me, they will be going outside of the original focal plane (or the area that I want to keep in focus!).  But no worries, because Al- Servo mode will keep my camera quickly updating to the new focal plane.  Using this mode, I should manage to keep my subject in focus!

 

So, Why can’t you just keep your camera in Al-Servo all the time?

It sounds like it could be helpful because most of what we shoot moves right?  Yes and no.  Movement is okay as long as the area that I want in focus never leave my focal plane.  If I have a wide enough focal plane, a little movement (especially side to side) is no problem.  Now, let's say you want to follow the rule of thirds and you need to focus and recompose your image.  You simply can not us AI-Servo's when you are trying to focus and recompose.  Let's take the photo below as an example.  If in AI-Servo mode, the moment I recomposed so that my focal point was now touching the water, I would have lost the focus from my couple and they would have been a blur while the water would have been sharp.  This is because the camera was set into a mode where it is constantly updating the focus.

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Another example of when you can’t use AI-Servo…bubbles!  If anything could get in the way of my focal point, my camera could automatically update to a new focal plane in AI-Servo mode!  In the example below, I need my camera to focus on the couple and not the bubbles.  This can get tricky if the couple is also walking towards me, so in this instance, its best to keep a wider depth of field (larger f-stop) and keep my camera in One-Shot mode.  I can continue resetting my focus manually and as quickly as possible depending on how fast they are moving towards me!  It's my job to ask them to walk very slowly and stop in the middle for a smile and a kiss!

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Finally, I won’t get into pros and cons of Back Button Focus, but I will just say that if you are using Back Button Focus, you should always keep your camera in Al-Servo mode.  Basically just remember that when focus and recomposing, you MUST focus once and the let off of the back button before recomposing.  If you don't let off of that focus button, your camera will automatically decide on a new area to focus!

I hope this helps those of you who've been wondering about these modes.  Happy shooting!

Jacob & Maria – Rich Farms

Jacob & Maria celebrated with a large group of close family and friends at the beautiful Rich Farms.  The barn, the gazebo, the florals (by Rooted by Design), the food, the fun! Everything was perfect.  Even if it did start raining just in time for the ceremony.  No problem for this group! They were all so welcoming that we really felt like a part of the family!

I know there are a ton of photos here but I just love them all!  Thanks again Jacob & Maria for including us on your special day.

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My Experience – Cliff Mautner’s Lighting & Skillset Bootcamp

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I finally managed to attend one of Cliff Mautner’s Lighting & Skillset Bootcamps.  It was such wonderful experience.  Pushing yourself and furthering your education in whatever field interests you is beneficial in many ways.  I’m so thankful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and made this trip to New Jersey.  I’m also thankful for my best friend Laurel for going on this adventure with me.  We learned a lot about each other and really supported each other the whole way. Also, my amazing husband for taking time off of work so that I could make it happen!  Finding great support is so important!

 

KHP for cliff 9 I’ve been a fan of Cliff’s work for quite a while.  It stands out from the others in more ways than one.  The raw emotion he manages to capture on a wedding day is amazing in itself but the way he sees light is really mind blowing.  He described it so beautifully, “Shadow is my canvas.  Light is my paint”.

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I knew going into this that this wasn’t just a workshop or relaxing retreat.  Bootcamp is in the name!  But wow!  We were all pushed to work hard!  I was surprised at how much I learned from both the speaking portion and the hand-ons stuff!  Cliff doesn’t go for styled shoots.  We did have some seriously amazing models but these photos weren’t just for us to take beautiful photos.  He wanted us to push ourself to shoot in a way we hadn’t before.  Philadelphia has so many amazing backdrops for photos and still Cliff took us to spots that we wouldn’t have tried to use.  On a typical wedding day, we often don’t get to shoot in the perfect sun set.  But Cliff showed us how to make that harsh lighting work.  He also took us to dark cave like area under city hall.  Definitely not something I ever would have went for before this bootcamp!  Check out some of these amazing images!  Keep in mind, this was all made with natural light streaming in to “paint” our subjects.

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After booking my spot in this bootcamp, I worried a bit. I feared that I wouldn’t be good enough.  I especially felt uneasy knowing people were traveling from all over the world!  I immediately thought I got in over my head and wouldn’t fit it.  My fears were cast aside when Cliff first said hello.  He really is such a good guy.  He made us all feel welcome and genuinely wanted to know us... and more importantly wanted to help us succeed.  He’s also really funny which made the 12 hour "work" days fly by!  

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The same can be said for all of the other attendees.  The people I met I now consider friends.  We laughed together and cried together.  We are continuing to stay in touch and I’m so thankful to have a connection with all of them. Cliff's assistant Heather was also wonderful to work with.  She took such great care of us and ensured we were all comfortable and had amazing food. She really took care of us and then some!  She allowed us all into her office to watch her editing workflow!

I took away so much from this bootcamp.  I really can’t believe it was even an option for me... and that I waited so long to go for it!  If you are looking for your next opportunity to improve your photography, click here and book now.  You’ll be so glad that you did.

Thanks again Cliff!

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Dustin & Gina’s Summer Wedding – Hawk’s Nest West Virginia

Dustin and Gina ....and really everyone there on this day mean so much to me.  They are made up of amazing friends and awesome family!  It was such an honor to be there to capture the memories for this great couple.  To say I'm happy for them is an understatement.  Love you guys!!

Hawk's Nest Lodge and Park was the perfect spot for the celebration.  Take a look at some of my favorite images.  SO much love and fun.  And wasn't Gina gorgeous!?

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Chris & Amanda’s WV Wedding – Adventures On The Gorge

Chris and Amanda had their destination wedding in the heart of West Virginia at Adventure On The Gorge!  If you've not yet been there, let me tell you... It's such an amazing resort with tons fun and so many gorgeous photo ops!  It's almost as beautiful as the love between Chris and Amanda.  The two planned a touching ceremony followed by a sweet celebration with their closest family and friends.  Take a look at some of my favorite images from the day!

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Thank you so much Chris and Amanda for letting me be a part of your special day!  Here's to many more amazing Adventures!!

Derek and Kelly’s Lakeview Wedding – Morgantown WV Wedding

Derek and Kelly's wedding day will surely bring back loads of happy memories for the couple and all of their guest.  It was such a fun day without any stress, thanks to the amazing team at Lakeview and their other fabulous vendors!

After saying I-Do at Wesley United Methodist Church, everyone traveled back to the resort where the fun continued with touching toasts, fabulous dinner, and one insane conga line! Check out some of my favorites from the day!

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Thanks so much Derek and Kelly for letting us be a part of your amazing day!  And Thank you Jenn Luczko Photography for all of you help!  You should definitely see a lot of your work in here!