First Look Demo
Now first looks didn't used to be a thing when I first started shooting weddings at the you know also ancient thirteen years ago there weren't many people doing this sort of first look in fact the first time that I actually ever heard of one was when I heard cliff mountain or speak for the very first time way back when and he was talking about how he would have his clients see each other for the first time before the ceremony to do some of their portrait and I thought wow that's you know that's a pretty revolutionary idea I never heard of anybody doing that before but I was living in florida I was largely shooting beach weddings I wasn't doing a whole lot of jewish weddings where the signing of the co two been necessitated that they see each other before the ceremony so as I kind of moved on in my career and as the years sort of went on more and more people were asking to see each other before the ceremony so that they could take their portrait so that they could take their family port...
rait said that they could go to cocktail hour and for all of the reasons why we still do them today they became really popular about three or four years ago and now it's becoming more and more commonplace thing and it's something that I have to talk about with almost every single one of my clients that said, I don't like first looks, I'm really, truly not a fan of them. When we got married last year, even though our ceremony was at seven o'clock at night, even though I knew that after the ceremony, we would have absolutely no time whatsoever to do any portrait's whatsoever, because we were that type of obnoxious client that didn't want to see each other beforehand that also wanted to go to our whole cocktail hour, right? We actually did a day after session so that we could shoot in the light, but that isn't an option with every single client that you're going to do. I don't like first looks for the majority of reasons that are listed here on the right. Now that said, whether I do or do not like first looks means absolutely nothing to my clients. My opinion is my opinion, it is not my job to force the way I see the day or to force my opinion on top of my class, since I've actually had perspective clients come to me and say, you know, we met with other photographers, we really don't want to see each other before the ceremony, but they told us that our portrait's wouldn't be any good if we didn't do that, and I wish photographers would stop doing that. I wish that photographers would stop telling clients that their way is the only way that it could be done because a wedding congee approached in a million different ways and for me the way that I'm going to cover the wedding is the way of my client wants me to cover the wedding once I've managed their expectations once we have an open dialogue and we're talking about how the timing of the day is going to go, I don't want you to think that by me saying that I'm going to do what my clients want me to dio means that I'm going to let them railroad me into a timeline that doesn't work or have me do something for them that I know is going to be kind of photographically maybe not the best, but if my client doesn't want to see their future spouse before the wedding day, I'm not going to make them do it I'm not even going to advise that they do it, but if they do we're going to do it that way as well whether I like it or whether I don't it doesn't matter this is business it's not about me pushing my ideals on them however with that said I really do think that it is my job as their photographer to educate them I think that it's up to me to tell them the pros of seeing each other before the ceremony and to also tell them the cons of seeing each other before the ceremony and I've listed them out here. If you guys see each other before your ceremony, if we do your portrait ce before the actual ceremony service, first of all, we'll have more time for portrait. We won't be constrained in that brief period of time between shooting the family formals and the end of cocktail hour, which usually ends up on lee being five or ten minutes, we can have more time, we can go to different locations, we can shoot for a cz long as you want the sky's really the limit because we can start the timeline as early as you want. We can do three hours of portrait's four hours of portrait's if that's what you're looking for, it gives us more freedom, there's less stress on the clients for clients that get maybe a little bit nervous, it's a nice time for them to see each other before the ceremony so that they can kind of get their emotions out and get their nerves out. It also means that we're not rushed during that hour on their side as well. They don't feel the pressure, too. Stop feeling all emotional after their ceremony and immediately start lining up for family formals were not doing it that way they don't have to rush through the family formals we don't have to worry about family members that might have left going to caught tell our we can't find them they went to the bathroom and then when I finally do get the bridegroom together, we're not frantically rushing through it no matter how calm I am or how calm they are, you are still pushing it to try to get a lot done in a little amount of time if you're doing it during cocktail hour, they actually get to go to their cocktail hour on my side of things. I get time to document the cocktail hour and shoot the reception room without rushing, and the bride and the groom actually get to go to their own cocktail hour and mingle with their guests, which is something that's really important to a lot of clients. The family formals are almost always calmer nobody's rushing around nobody's you know, nobody forgot that we were doing family formals and went to cocktail hour. Everyone is bright, they're fresh, they're newly dressed, their makeup and hair are newly done they haven't sweated during the outdoor ceremony, they're not rushing to get off one place or another it's usually a calmer process if we do them before the ceremony the bridegroom get more time alone. They have more time, just the two of them, which is always really nice. And then, as I mentioned before, we have the ability to change locations we can get in a car and go somewhere we can have their transportation take us to a different place. We have a lot more in terms of options. Now that said, for every pro there is a matching kahn and I really do think that it is simply my job to provide the pros and the cons and then let the client decide I'm educating them. But then the decision is their own. So if there's a con, if anything runs late, you lose and you're going to see that in the video of blair and jeremy's wedding things were running late. We had some problems with the weather. The portrait session that we had planned tow last a lot longer lasted about five minutes, so his hair runs late if make up runs late if it takes too long to get the bride in her dress. If the transportation is late arriving, you were going to be the one that suffers always. If you do a first look before the ceremony, family is also almost always late. If you do the family formals after the ceremony at least you have the benefit of the funnel they come down the aisle ah coordinator pushes them into one holding pin you've got them all they're they're your captives and you can photograph them knowing that everybody is all in one spot if you tell your family our ceremonies at five o'clock but we need you to gather at three o'clock for formals some of them are going to come at two forty five some are going to be there at three some of them are going to be there at three fifteen and some of them are going to be running so late that they're not going to show up at all we'll have to see them at the ceremony what I do to try to combat that is I definitely do try to pad the timeline so if I want to start a three I'm going to tell the clients that I want to start it to forty five and then I'm going to advise them to tell their family members to be there at two thirty so that when everybody is inevitably late in trickles in between two forty five and three were really starting at the time that I want to start at but again seeing back to number one if anything runs late we lose I've had family formals that were supposed to take place before the ceremony get pushed after the ceremony all of them because so many people were late and the schedule ran behind and this isn't things happen in my own reading I ran twenty minutes behind it I have no idea how that happens clients will tell you I'm never late I'm always on time and I'm not late I'm always on time and somehow I meant to leave it like five thirty but it was like five fifty and I was still wandering around the room time kind of telescopes on a wedding day and the most punctual and the most observant of clients they do lose track of time and there are many moving parts to pull together so having them tell you don't worry we're always on time ah lot of times that isn't the case for something kind of stressful and emotional like a wedding day the other thing that you have to consider and this is not something that you can decide for them this is something that they have to decide for themselves if they see each other before the ceremony is the time that they see each other when she's coming down the aisle still meaningful. I've had clients who've seen each other before the ceremony who still bold like children when they saw each other coming down the aisle but that is an emotional decision that your clients have to make for themselves and you just simply need to tell them hey guys, just consider well, this still be special for you, and I will act accordingly. Whatever you guys decide if we don't do their portrait ce before the ceremony, we have to rush during cocktail hour to document the cocktail hour, photograph the reception room, photograph the family formals and still have time to shoot the bride and groom together that's a lot to accomplish in an hour if they want to do it this way, sometimes I will suggest that they have a ninety minute cocktail hour instead of a sixty minute cocktail hour, but that isn't always your call. You don't always get to change their cocktail hour to ninety minutes and ninety minutes of a cocktail hour is a very, very, very long time you're not gonna have much time to shoot the room, I might have thirty seconds to two minutes if I have any time at all and again, maybe that's not important to the clients, but I do need to put that out. There is something they need to consider, and then we're limited with our location choices, we have to stick near the ceremony or stick near the reception. We can't go far afield and go anywhere else at all talking about the gear that I bring to a first look is exactly the same as the gear that I'm going to bring to a portrait session. I want to reiterate these points again. Yes, I have my d for yes, I have my seventy two two hundred millimeter. That is my go to linds for a first look and a portrait session. My assistant does follow me around with the d three us and the twenty four to seventy just in case I want that camera with that focal length, but for the most part, I'm shooting ninety to one hundred percent of it with that defore with that seventy two, two hundred millimeter and again first looks are not my favorites. That doesn't matter at all. My job is to educate the clients and then it is up to them if they want to do a first look, I am going to support them one hundred percent and photograph that the absolute best of my ability, because that is my job and I respect their decision, but if they decide they don't want to be a first look, do a first look and it makes cocktail hour crazy, and it makes things completely nuts for an hour. I will also respect that decision. It's their wedding it's, not my wedding it's, not a photo shoot that I'm, you know, designing teo, expand my own artistic abilities, it's up to my clients, so blair and jeremy chose to do a first look on their wedding day the original reason why they chose the first look was because we wanted to go to washington square park and photographs and some beautiful images for them with the trees and the light and the beauty that is that area of philadelphia because it really is truly extraordinary however, with the rain with the wind with the difficulties that the weather brought to the day we chose head house square instead we transported over to the location with the bride ah lot of times we will drive ourselves especially if we're going from the first look over to the ceremony or the reception but in this instance we were transported out there and then we were transported back to the hotel so that the bride and groom could ride with their bridal party over to the ceremony that allowed us to pick up our car at the hotel and take ourselves over. So without further ado, here is the first look of blair and jeremy's wedding day which led into our very abbreviated portrait session on the day and enjoy and I'll see you again in a second after photographing the details in blair getting ready, it was time to head out for blair and jeremy to see each other for the first time however we were running about about thirty minutes behind luckily we had patted the schedule enough that the delay wasn't going to make any difference at all it's about right about thirty two fine but that's okay so we're basically just gonna have to go see each other for the first one is always late the rain that had been coming and going all day long seemed like it was here to stay fortunately we had already discussed the rain plan beforehand and were able to quickly nick's our idea of going to the park and head out to see each other for the first time at head house square instead you follow her with the back of her dress and he's going to it's not even rain it's just missed exactly I don't want to get in your hair I want that either luckily we had coordinated with the bus driver to meet us at the front door with an umbrella so that blair didn't have to walk in the rain in her dress with her hair and makeup all right let's get to it lindsay's pointed down I'm going into traffic because I'm ingenious it's really cold and wet our jobs or some glamorous so when we get there you go into stella and I told him I was like go have a slice of pizza and don't so we're going to take you and we're gonna put you undercover and then we'll have him come see you and then we'll do some pictures over there I don't think you guys and then we'll go get your people and go get you married so just bring her over here your garters falling out do you want a hand yeah I'm going to get all up in this so sorry about that I get it okay tell me when it's like they're okay and if it does you doing the garter toss later okay let's see if it does fall off we eventually just ditch it none of that and I can't control it but I really wish other people would just go away but I am so happy right now due to the narrow area we shot and it was impossible to have the video crew in there documenting the actual first look even my assistant had to step out of the space to give us room the nature of public spaces means I can't ask bystanders to move or get out of my way in fact around the country many public spaces have placed restrictions on photography partially for this reason so I work around what I can and accept the rest while you try your best angle you in the clients to avoid seeing people in the backgrounds of these images sometimes it's just not possible but it's also the beauty of lind's compression that the subjects become more prominent in the background less distracting and this is rough backgrounds and guys turn a little bit keep turning like blair come towards me a little there you go and then just keep snuggling honor there we go it'll do this is literally the best I can do right now. Way. Got to get out of here in a minute. All right. And just walk this way nice and slow. So dark, good. And then just stop and snuggle right there in the metal. After a while, the number of people walking in the background made this angle much more def tickle toe work with so I decided to move to another space under the covered area. You know, this is actually looking really good. And then all you do you do right there is just hold on to each other and smile at me like that. Keep doing that. Even though we only had a quick fifteen minutes to photograph blair and jeremy together, I was thrilled with what we were able to accomplish. Now it was time to pack up, get into the car and head over for the ceremony and reception. So we pre program in the destinations for we're going. So this is the hotel that we were just at and then that's, where we're going to the venue. Sandra, did you program it in from the timeline? Good six miles. She had a start nice and early, which was awesome, but at the same time here and makeup ran a little bit late. As they always do. And it's again, it's not that big of a deal, but what ends up happening is if she's supposed to leave it to a clock and we don't leave until two forty and then we have to leave from here. The hotel at, like, three ten it's already three thirty again running really late. Um, but this is why you tried to impress upon your clients that even twenty minutes of running late, even thirty minutes of running late, everything just completely falls apart from there. So luckily, you know, it didn't it didn't go that badly with this, you know, we were never gonna have all that much time with them in the first place, but clients don't think about things like when you guys were gonna see each other for the first time and it's gonna be somewhere other than in your hotel room, you can't get dress two three o'clock and see him for the first time in three or five, you're dressed in three, so you're really gonna get dressed, probably somewhere around about three thirty and then you have to mobilize and then you have to put your shoes on, and then you have to go downstairs and then you have to walk where you're seeing each other for the first time. Which always takes time. So even if they had seen each other for the first time in the park, that would have been fifteen minutes of walking down the street and getting into the park. So I was really supposed to have about forty five minutes with them. And in reality, I ended up with about fifteen there's. Really? Only so much you can do with fifteen minutes. So you just have to brief people that if things are gonna run late, it's gonna take a long time to do something. Here are the parts of your day that will suffer. Luckily, they're really good in front of the camera. They're really nice to each other. Um, the groom is really, really wonderful to photograph. A lot of guys are really stiff and he's not he's, just great. So their inner personal kind of dynamic together made this a whole lot easier than it could have been. It could have been a bunch of people who are really stiff in front of the camera and awkward, and I had to pose everything. But I knew from their engagement session that I could just let them be together and they would be just fine and that they were and it wass and it was fine, and so we're about half an hour behind just is what it is. Thank you so much for still being here with us. I hope you enjoyed the video that you just saw and got a little bit of a peek into a first look, an abbreviated portrait session that was a little chaotic and a little different than usual because of circumstances way beyond our control. So wanted to step back and kind of recap what happened there in that first look and portrait session, and then talk beyond that toe. Other first looks and other portrait sessions that have taken place at weddings that I photographed. The first thing I want to address is do you alert them that we're late? We were running about thirty minutes behind, so as I've talked about before, if you have a planner, it's the planner's job to push the clients it's, not your job, so if we're running late, I'm going to take my concerns to the planner and have my planner too, taking to the client if there is no plan or there, then yes, I'll tell the client that we're running late and I'll do the best I can to motivate her and to get her dressed and to get her moving, but at the end of the day, I can on leigh push so hard before I really start to turn off the client to me. And I don't want to do that to them, so I will alert them with that they're late. I will impress upon them the importance that we kind of get a move on, but there's only so much that I can do to get them going. Um and it's not our fault. It's it's not my fault that things ran behind. It wasn't anything that I did it wasn't me working too slow are taking too much time on something. It was just simply that the schedule ran behind and sometimes the schedules run behind and sometimes they run behind for reasons that make sense, sometimes they just run behind, and you just have to learn to rule with it and to not take it personally and to not get upset about it and most importantly, to not get visibly upset about it in front of your clients. Well, I ever brave the rain, so you noticed that it was raining for the first look and we did have to go out in the rain what I ever do a first look in the rain under umbrellas? Sure, I totally would. Most clients don't want to do something like that, though, and for a first look it's probably something that I would continue to discourage. Because if you are holding an umbrella and you're trying to hold your dress and you're trying to move in the rain, it just seems like a recipe for disaster or at the very least, I'm very awkward looking photograph so I will do portrait sessions in the rain. I will take them out for their portrait session if they want to do that for a first look, I would much rather try to find something indoors or something covered, so we don't have the logistics of moving the dress and not getting her too wet and keeping an umbrella over her while still being able to photograph everything that I need to photograph and focus on the emotion. How can you be emotional about seeing your husband for the very first time when you're holding your dress in one hand and you got an umbrella and the rain's coming in sideways? It's just a bit of a recipe for disaster why did I run ahead of her? When we left the hotel and I ran ahead, I kind of like booked it across the street. I went over to where the car was waiting for us because I was waiting to see if there were any pictures to be made of her walking across the street on walking towards the car. That's really the only reason why I didn't follow her or help with the dress or anything like that? I was still continuing to look for a photographic opportunity. Do I complain in front of the clients? Never, never. Sometimes I'll commiserates if someone's complaining about something or voicing their displeasure or talking about something that's bar like bothering them. Sure, I'll commiserated with them, I am not going to complain about somebody's day in front of them and the complaints that I had nothing to do with the client it's the weather and it's things running late and you know, it's the fact that it's wet and it's the fact that I feel badly for them, that we don't get to go to the park, those air, my complaints, I don't have any complaints about the client, and even if I did, I would never voice it in front of them ever I'm very, very, very careful with the way that I act on the wedding day, the way that I appear in front of a client and I don't want to do anything that can ever be misinterpreted as unprofessional. Why did I reiterate the plans? Why did I talk about the plans kind of again and again and again? Emotions were running a little high. There were a lot of voices in that room. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, there was hair, there was makeup, there was her mother, there was me, my assistant, all the bridesmaids and a little kid that's a lot to take in. We had talked about the rain plan before the day off, but I wanted to simply reiterate what we were going to dio before we were going to do it so that she was continually comfortable that we were in charge and we knew what we were doing, and we had a plan. I wish people would go away, and then the follow up question, do you ever ask people to move? No, I can't I'm shooting in a public location if I'm shooting in a park, if I'm shooting on a street, I can't go in the background and ask people to stay out of the way sometimes if I'm indoors, if I'm in a hotel, if we're shooting down the hallway or in a ballroom or something like that, we can close the doors and I'll put my assistant outside the doors try to keep people from coming in, but on a public street, I have absolutely no authority to try to keep people out of my way. So the only thing that I can do is find a location that will allow me to minimize the distractions of people in the background and then do the best I can with my lin selection and my angle of shooting the scene to try to minimize the distractions of those people, the backgrounds, not dark enough. That was another problem that I was kind of struggling with a little bit because we were underneath kind of that parched area in head house square, and there was the background kind of behind it. There was no place for me to put my assistant with a flash I had. Blair is close to the edge, as I possibly could tow work with that light that was coming through. But if I put sandra on the other side of those columns toe light her up, sandra would have been in the rain, and we don't really like to get our gear in the rain if I put them in the middle of that arch. I I don't know, it would've just looked a little flashy and that's, not necessarily something that I want I'm trying to stays true to the scene. Trying to make it look like what it was like to be there, and if I had added flash into that instance, not only would it have been intrusive into the moment that it was about to happen, but it would have not been true to what it looked like to be there. I was a little tripped up by the fact that the light on her face was a little darker and the background was also really light, so I was a little frustrated as I was trying to adjust my exposure so that that wasn't a problem and how do I work so quickly? I mean, a lot of people say that I work really fast in times like this when things were tough and I feel like we're running a little bit late or behind or things aren't going exactly the way I want them to. I actually feel like I'm working through quicksand or walking through water, I feel like I'm moving incredibly, incredibly slowly, this is another one of those things where experience is what makes it happen. How do I work so quickly? It's? Because they've been doing it for a long time and it's because I do it over and over and over again and because every time I do what I'm trying to improve upon the time that I did it before, so I work quickly because I've been practicing and again, this isn't there is no fast track, there is no way to suddenly just be really fast it photography overnight it's something that you will have to continually work at it, but if you take the time and you put in the effort, you will get faster and you will definitely get better. And again, why didn't I use flash? I didn't use flash for the reasons that I listed before I didn't want to put sandra in the rain with the flash. I didn't want to disrupt the moment that was about to happen, and I didn't I wanted to look like anything other than what it wass so I decided to compensate with my exposure instead instead of lighting up the scene. So what do you do? The first look is such uninterested variable part of the day there are so many things that can trip it up or make it more difficult or make it more frustrating. What do you do if, for example, you're super late? If we're running way far behind? What what do you do if that happens? Well, you just do it if you're running super late, which is kind of what we were doing on this day, we put the first look together, we let it happen, we do the portrait says quickly as we can, and then we move on the worst thing that can trip you up if you're running super late is to be visibly frustrated in front of your clients or to be frustrated with yourself. It's okay to take a breath it's okay to take an extra second it's okay to get your thoughts together but you need to move quickly and move methodically and not let the fact that you're running super late get you down. What do you do if it's super super sunny? Now we know that I love the sun. This is not a secret I love working with beautiful son, harsh sun, direct sun, bright sun I love it all but for a first look it's, not necessarily my favorite, especially if it's one o'clock in the afternoon, two o'clock in the am afternoon, even three o'clock in the afternoon in the summer because when I'm working with the sun and the sun is incredibly bright, I need to make sure that I can control the way my subjects are moving for a first look, when someone is facing this way and then someone is walking up and then this person turns around and then they both turned to each other, I lose control over the light at a very bright time of day and I could be setting myself up for kind of a lighting disaster. So I'm definitely trying to avoid that if it is incredibly, sonny, this is the one time of day that I'm going to look for some open shade. I know that sounds crazy, but if I can't control the way my clients are moving and acting and what they're doing in relation to how the sun is falling, then I could be setting myself up for a lighting scenario that isn't going to play out the way that I wanted to, so I will look for some open shade. I will look for a bit of directional light, but I'm not going to be crazy and put them, you know, outside in the bright sun at one if I can avoid it for this type of situation, what do you do if it's dark and cloudy, then it's dark and cloudy? It just is when I go outside, I'm looking for something for the first look, I'm looking for something clean I'm looking for something with minimal distractions, and I'm looking for something that will be visually interesting when shot with a seventy, two hundred that, you know still translates whether it's sunny or whether it's cloudy outside. I'm looking for a visually interesting background somewhere with minimal distractions, same kind of principle, what do you do if you're stuck inside? I keep looking for something interesting ah, hallway an empty ballroom I have used the hotel room in a pinch I'll just look for anywhere where I have enough room to have him walk to her. I will look for a place next to a window I will look for a place where I can use the existing light in the space but if I really super duper half too if I am in a dark ballroom if there is no other choice I will pop a little flash on the scene and the reason why I will papa flash instead of use a video light on the scene is because the flash will allow me to freeze the movement in a way that the video light well, not simple is that what do you do if there's no emotion that's like that's like the literal worst right when the groom stands there and he looks terrified and the bride walks up and she's so afraid of crying that her face is totally stony and then she touches him and he looks terrified and then they just sort of looked at each other and then they hug and then they look at you. Well, that's, what happened? I mean it's I I hate to sound cold I hate to sound unfeeling, but if there's no emotion or if they're very stiff during the first look that's just what it isthe I'm not going to ask them to re do it I'm not going to try to elicit a response out of them this is simply how they are it's my job to document it it's not my job to change it into something else. So if there's no emotion there's there's no emotion it just simply is what it isthe and then my personal favorite which is what do you do if the videographers ruin it and most of the videographers that I work with our kind they are respectful they take the first look very seriously they treated with reverence in exactly the same way I d'oh but I have been horrified at several weddings where midway through the bride walking to the groom, the videographers tell them to stop or stop and do it again or she's two inches from them and they say okay, now stop and just hold for just a second it breaks my heart because it takes a moment that is authentic and turns it into something that staged but if that happens I just keep on shooting. I'm not shooting the videographers and this scene I'm shooting the bride and groom, so I'm still looking for the emotion and still looking for the moment whether or not you have somebody out there snapping and snapping away and stopping and starting, I'm still going to shoot it as I normally would