Portraits of Bride and Groom: Ideal Situations
So what we're going to cover today we're gonna start off talking about portrait of the bride and groom. Then after we take a quick break after that, our next segment will be photographing family formals and formal images of the bridal party. You know everyone's favorite part of the day when you have to align people up and get them to look at you. Then we're going to talk about the difficulties that you can encounter when it comes to shooting receptions, of which there can be many low ceilings, small rooms, dark rooms, crowded rooms, bad timelines, everything that can happen to derail a reception. We're going to talk about it and then the last segment, which is my absolute favorite. We're going to talk about business and marketing disasters and how to survive them. And one thing we said over and over yesterday was, It's not if something bad is going to happen to you. It is when something bad is going to happen to you and maybe your your first year in business, and everything has been go...
ing great so far, and all your clients are happy, and you've never hit a situation that you can't you know, do a beautiful job in, but somewhere somewhere along the line, despite managing expectations, despite doing the best that you can to make sure that everyone is happy something's going to go wrong. Maybe it's an issue with a contract. Maybe it's an issue post wedding. Maybe you show up to a getting ready and the room is dark and impossible. Things will start happening, and hopefully at the end of these two days you will learn how to handle those things technically. But also handle those things emotionally and with a measure of grace. Because, as I mentioned yesterday, one of the worst things that you can do when you're frustrated or flustered or you encounter a difficult situation is to show it on your face. We've talked about my face and how it cannot control itself, and the last thing I want to do is for my clients to see me looking frustrated or the absolute worst, my clients to see me looking dissatisfied, and we did talk yesterday about Listen, I'm not here complaining about weddings, and I'm not here disparaging my job or saying that clients who have weddings in difficult locations are in some way lesser than clients who have fancy weddings. That's not where we're going with this at all. This is not meant with any disrespect. Yes, there's a little poking fun, but if you don't laugh at your situation, sometimes you're going to cry. But this is with the utmost respect of all of my clients and a very deep seated desire to make sure that everyone has not only a good experience with me, but ends up loving their pictures later and loves everything from how I treated them, to how I made them feel, to how I handled adversity on the wedding day and then their final images. And there are a lot of times post wedding, that clients will email me or call me and we'll say, Hey, listen like, Wow, I know our timeline ran really far behind, or I know we had a lot of traffic and didn't have as much time for portrait says we would have liked. And I know my family was nuts, and I know that the situation was super stressful. You and your assistant being so calm and helpful really made the day easier, and that's what I'm aiming for. I don't want them to go home and be like, Wow, things were really stressful And it, you know, it really frazzled our photographer. You've just got to be calm and and graceful and gracious. And for that I realized that the degree that I actually have in theater that I thought was totally useless is actually excellent, because it really helps me sort of rise up and step out of myself a little bit and steak home, even when inside, I might be dying or screaming or running in circles. So, um, but it's interesting. We were talking about people writing in There are horror stories, and I had a really great chat yesterday with the freakishly genius Julia Kelleher, who just finished her her boot camp here. And not only is she brilliant, everyone should learn from her. We were sitting around. We met each other 48 hours ago. And as you do with somebody else in your industry, as you sit around, you start talking. You start telling horror stories. You know, I go to WPP I every single year, and when we all go out to dinner, we tell our horror stories and are anecdotes from the year and it ends up being this sort of think tank of like minded professionals of on having this problem and, well, this thing happened and, oh, let's now chat about Oh, that happens to me, too. And this is what I do, too, to sort of avoid it. So it's really nice in your life tohave photographer friends like good friends so that when things do get November ish, as they are at this time of year, you know, we always just my friends and I joke that at this time of year, the weather changes, the light changes, daylight savings time ruins everything, and you're at not only the very end of wedding season, but you're in the bulk of your work. So not only are you shooting a lot of weddings, you're doing a lot of post work as well, and we call it having The October's are now having the Novembers on, and it gets really stressful, and it can also be very lonely. So having someone, I'm very lucky. I married another photographer, so he gets it like 100% gets it. But it's nice to balance these stories off of other people, so don't feel like you have to. If you're having trouble or stresses or things that are happening this year, that might have never happened before. Get some friends in the industry, even if it's a group of people you have coffee with or you get together once a month and it really helps to event with someone who gets it. And then you get it out and you feel fresh and you can keep on going. So that's a little bit of advice. We'll talk a little bit more about that in the business and marketing, because that also sort of pertains to how you live your life. But we're gonna start off today with Portrait's of the Bride and Groom, which is one of my favorite least favorite parts of the day. There are a lot of winning photographers who really love the portrait of the bride and groom part of the day. They want, like, an hour, two hours to three hours with the bride and groom to go around the city and make these really fashion based images and and that's a big part of what they do is wedding photographers, and that's not a big part of what I dio. I am very much a documentary photographer. I'm very much about capturing the day as it happens, so if a client wants to do two or three hours of portrait's, we're going to do it. But that's not the norm. So one of the questions that I get a lot is how do you get enough time with your clients? Like, how do you get them to give you two hours out of the day for Portrait's? My answer for that is I don't because I don't want to ours out of the day for portrait. I want about 30 to 45 minutes now if they want to go to multiple different locations. Obviously we need more time. But my ideal is a good 30 to 45 minutes with the bridegroom together, because my goal is to document how they are together and how they interact with each other instead of going from monument to monument or landmark to landmark and doing pictures in front of them. So with that, said, supporters of the bride and groom are very tough. If any part of the day is going to suffer from a timeline that runs behind or it is something beyond your control. It's going to be the time that you get with the bride and groom, Am I right? My least favorite thing. I mean, I realized I say my least favorite things like 32 times a day, but I really hate first looks. I really hate, um, I have to be completely honest. I don't like the trend. I think the little weird. And I think that it has kind of gotten turned into something that it didn't used to be. You know, a first look used to be. Let's get the bridegroom together before the ceremony so that we can do some portrait and let's do it in a way that feels good to them. They get to see each other without a bunch of people around, and it's just a nice way for them to connect for the first time on the wedding day. But now it has sort of turned into this kind of convoluted, faux emotional staged opportunity for pictures and neither the bride nor groom. A lot of times know how to act, so the bride will tell me I can't wait to do a first look. I can't wait to see what his face looks like on I want to say, Well, maybe his face is going to be amazing. Maybe he's going to look terrified, and that's not a reflection on your relationship. But maybe he doesn't know what to do. Maybe he's feels awkward. Maybe this is strange, and there are videographers now who like to stop the first looks. Have you guys ever seen this? Somebody just roll their eyes at me. So that was good where the bride will be coming. And then the videographer will be like Okay, stop. Okay, now walk towards me. And I'm just like, well, any chance of any emotional reaction to this? We just killed it, and it's sort of being kind of pushed into this Pinteresque hole of I want to walk up to my groom and I want him to cry. And then I'm going to cry, and it's going to be the most amazing emotional pictures. Yes, sometimes it absolutely is. Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it's awkward, people feeling awkward, and it's as it is, but I don't want that to be a disappointing part of the day for anyone But the other reason why first looks are not my favorite thing are if the timeline runs late, as the timeline will, you were going to lose if these things happen later. So let's say we have a ceremony at five Oclock and the bridegroom want to see each other for the first time in three, and you show up to document her getting ready process at one. And then at 2 30 she's still in the makeup chair, and then it three. She starts to get dressed and you're tryingto rush things along and nothing is happening. And then 3 15 She's still lacing up the back or address and then 3 30 Okay, we're ready to go, and then you have to get the groom and move him, and then you have to get the bride, move her, and then it's 3 45 and we talked yesterday about how time just gets away from you. It just does. It's gone. Then it's 3 45 and I was supposed tohave an hour with the bride and groom, and now I have 15 minutes. Then I deliver the images after the wedding and the clients were like, well, where, where the rest of the portrait's We had an hour and I have to explain. No, you didn't. You had 15 minutes and it's just awkward and I don't want them to be upset. But I also don't wanna be the crazy person that's trying to push them to get out the door. Earlier, I would rather have 20 minutes during cocktail hour to take pictures of the bride and groom, because I know that's going to happen. The ceremony will end. Cocktail hour is always an hour. I will know that I have that finite amount of time and they know how much time we have. So first looks really make me sweat because nine times out of 10 they run late and I don't There's nothing that I could do to keep that on schedule. If that makes sense, so I'm not a first look paid er completely. When they do happen and they happen on time and everything is great, it's a wonderful thing. But when you're thinking in terms of a survival kit, knowing that doing pictures before the ceremony will likely result in things running a little late for that part of the day, you have to be ready to move quickly to do things really fast to keep calm if your clients get stressed out. So that's another note about portrait of the bride and groom. But let's delve right on in here. If any part of the day is going to suffer, it's going to be this one. It will be derailed by first looks that run late. It will get derailed by family formals that run late. So if you're doing your pictures post ceremony and you've got this great list of, like family formals that you're going to dio and then a true story wedding that happened not too long ago, the ceremony was supposed to be from 1 to 2. The ceremony was from 1 to 2, but the brightest 15 minutes late. So it was 1 15 2 to 15. Then they decided snap decision to do a receiving line and being done at 2 15 meant that we were really done it to 45 because they had to do a receiving line that got everybody out of the church. Then I had to round everybody up cause he did a receiving line. They all left and around everybody up and get them back inside. And now it's three o'clock. So I Things have run late the hour that I was supposed to have for family formals. Now I have, like, three minutes. So doing things post ceremony. While they do sometimes make them easier, they don't always make them easier because things will happen beyond your control. And what am I going to do? Grab the bride and groom and say, I know you want to do this receiving line, but you can't I can't do that to them. This is important to them. These air, their family and friends. They love them. They want to see them or family formals that run late. You have a list of 10 groupings to dio you do those 10 groupings, and then Mom steps up and is like, What? Can we get a picture with the bride and the me and her grandmother? And I'm like, Well, sure it's not on our list. Let's totally do it Anyhow. Let's get that done. We do it, it's great. And then Dad is like, Well, what about me and my son and his grandfather? And I'm like, Oh, my Gosh, now it's now we're taking requests, right? And you have to balance the I love my clients and I want them to be happy. And I want to accommodate their requests with every single time I take a request that's like, literally sand in the hourglass, you know? And I'm losing time with the bride and groom. So it's, you know, was talking yesterday about how I love shooting details because it's just it on me. And when you enter in other people into the equation, you have to be really careful how you handle the other people and how much you push them on. I don't like to push people at all. You cannot let it frustrate you in stop. You can let it frustrate you in your heart. You can like, be crazy and running around in your head. But you can't let it visibly frustrate you in front of your clients. Yes, ma'am, I have a question actually was asked earlier in the class, but it's on what you're just talking about. Um, and the question is about personal photo shoots at someone's wedding. So it happened. Teoh this person twice that moment when a cousin or bride or some relatives ask you to take their picture. Took. It's okay to take like 1 to 2, but when they're looking at like, can you keep going 50 images like turning it into a little photo shoot again? Find a disrespectful for the bride and groom to waste your time with relatives. But how do you How do you navigate that conversation? It's that thing where you want to make people happy, but you can't let like the inmates run the asylum right. Otherwise you're gonna get nothing done so and it happens a lot. I'll finish up family formals, and then the bride's sister will come to me and be like You take a picture of me and my husband and our kids and I'm like, Oh, God, it's the bride Sister like I kind of need to do this. But if I do it, then the bride's brother is gonna be like, what about me and my wife and my kids? And then it's gonna go through cousins and we're gonna be there for another 20 minutes. So I always say, You know what I like? I mentioned yesterday say something good, Say no and then say something else. Good. So make your no sandwich and go from there also. You know what? I would really love to take these pictures for you, which I would that's actually true. But right now I'm so sorry. I've got to get out of here. We've got to get some pictures off the bride and groom together. No, Find me at the reception. I would love to grab that picture for you at the reception. I want to do it. I can't do it. I'll do it for you later, okay? No. Yea. And you know what I mean? Like it's you. I have to tell them. No, but I have to tell them I can't do it right now. I wish I could. I would love to. I will absolutely do it for you later. If you come grab me the end and it's it's tough because sometimes the bride will be like No, it's OK. We've got a few minutes. Can you do it now? And I want to say you don't know what you're asking like now it just opens the floodgates. Because if I take a picture of your sister, then I got to do your brother thing. I gotta do your cousin that I've got to do. Your aunt, your cousins. And it's I do want to do those things for those people. I can't do it right now. I just told him to get me during the reception, and a lot of times they do. Sometimes they forget, but I never promised. You know what? I'll find you during the reception and get that for you. I can't remember that. I'm remembering a 1,000, other things. I will forget that. So I put it on them. Come find me later, and I would be glad to do that for you. And it's true. I actually would be glad to do that for them. Yes. So you have to manage expectations. That is first and foremost with every part of your business, from business to timelines to everything. You have to manage client expectations. You have to set clear timelines and pad them for things like traffic things running late, etcetera. I should a lot of weddings in Manhattan. I shoot a lot of weddings in Brooklyn. I'll get timelines from clients that will say Okay, we want to go to Brooklyn Bridge park from like 3 to 4. And then we need to be at our venue on the Upper West Side by 4 30 And my response is I understand that. But unless where I am legend and we are Will Smith driving the car in the middle of abandoned Manhattan, we're never going to be able to kit from Brooklyn Bridge Park to Central Park in anything less than an hour. It's just gonna take an hour on. I highly suggest you make it an hour and 15 minutes, just in case anything happens. And if I hadn't looked at the timeline and said, Okay, I know that you cannot get from point A to point B In this amount of time, I would have been setting myself up to fail. So, for example, if I want 30 minutes with the bride and groom, I ask for an hour because I know that if things run late and they get to me half an hour late, I'm still getting the time that I need. And it's a difficult one because you'll get timelines from your clients and you'll look at it and you'll say, I know this isn't going to work. But you don't want to tell the clients that because you don't wanna upset them. And you think in your head Well, you know, maybe if we hurry, I can maybe make this work. Don't put yourself in that position. You need to be set up to succeed at all points in time. Not because you're a demanding photographer diva, but because you actually care about your clients and you want things to run smoothly. So don't be afraid to look at the timeline, help them with the timeline and pad it like crazy. What's the worst that can happen? We add an extra bit of time. We instead of it, taking an hour and 15 minutes. We get from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the Upper East Side in 45 minutes. Well, there's 30 magic minutes that I can walk them across the street into Central Park and take a few more pictures. You will only serve to win if you pad your timeline. See, for example, if you know you need 30 minutes for family for most tell them you need an hour. Why do we need that extra 30 minutes? Well, everyone's gonna exit the church somebody is not gonna come back in. They're gonna go out, they're gonna forget, or they're gonna talk to a relative that they haven't seen in a long time. And you're gonna start putting the picture together and the bride's gonna say, Where's my brother? And then her sister is gonna be like, I'll go get him And you're like, No, no, no, no, no. Because when she goes out, she's never coming back. So I got to get the brother. We've got to get the brother back in. Then we're calling for the groomsmen, and someone's going to the bathroom. Are someone's on their phone and they're not paying attention. Life happens, and you just need to pad for it. When things start to run late, you have to communicate that to clients. And I mean, it could be a simple a saying, Hey, guys were running a little bit behind, you know, the brightest still in hair and makeup at 2 30 you know, she needed to be out of hair and makeup, too, because she needed to get dressed. Three. And you can see time starting toe run behind. You got to get out to this whole first look thing I'll say, You know high. I know you're still in hair and makeup. I just wanted to let you know we're running just a few minutes behind. Just bear that in mind as we keep moving forward. I have communicated to her we're running late a little bit later. Hey, I I know that you are doing whatever thing you shouldn't be doing right now, but we're running a little bit late. Is there any way that we could hurry up and get moving? It's like trying to get your two year old child to do something. And but you have to do it in a very interesting balance of respect and urgency at the same time, guys were running a little bit late. If you know, if we don't get you dressed in the next 10 minutes, we're gonna be a little bit late to the first. Look that way I'm gently pushing them, Paul, doing it from a place of genuine concern. Instead of saying you're supposed to get dressed in 10 minutes, why are you still getting your hair and makeup done? Which is what I was kind of saying in my head. But you want to say? Guys, listen. Come on, Come on, come on, come on, come on. Come on. Because then later, if they come back and they're like, we were supposed to have an hour for pictures of the two of us, why did we only have 20 minutes? I can say, Listen, I completely understand, You know, I know. Timelines run far behind. I did try to let you know we were running a little bit late. I understand there were circumstances beyond our control. And I'm not saying that you should do these things to do damage control later, but it's helpful to communicate to the client. We are running a little bit late because they don't know. It's a very emotional, very exciting day for them. They don't think anything of You know what? I'm gonna take 10 minutes and write the groom a letter, or I'm gonna take 15 minutes and go down to the ballroom and see how the flowers are coming along. And you have to say, you know, I know you really want to go down to the ballroom, but now is probably not the best time, cause we really do need to get you dressed because we're running a little bit late. That's also helpful. When you've got a coordinator, that's really great. And they can sort of move things along a little bit. But a lot of times, even if there is a coordinator, you have to be the one to communicate these things who? Don't be afraid to tell your clients. Hey, guys, we're running a little bit late. It cannot come as a surprise to them when their coverage is affected by the timing. You have to be communicating these things along the way, even if before the wedding you say we've got this timeline, I'm gonna let you know if things start running a little bit late because I know you want to stick to the timeline and it's all under the premise of serving the client, right? I'm going to tell you you're running late. Not because I'm demanding not because I want my time for pictures, but because I know the portrait time is important to you. So I'm going to give you these, like 30 minute warnings, 20 minute warnings as a courtesy to you. It helps me, but I'm helping you as well. I remain frustrated by this thing every year, no matter what I dio, I've been doing this for 15 years. I do all of these things. I manage expectations. I work on them with their timelines. IPad, the timelines. I know they're gonna run late. And yet I am somehow still surprised when they dio and I do get frustrated. There has not yet reached a point where I do not get frustrated. And I'm not frustrated to be very, very, very clear. I'm not frustrated for myself. I'm frustrated for them because I know that they're portrait Time is being affected, and I know it's important to them and there's nothing I can do about it. When you get frustrated, your clients can see it. If you think they can't, you are lying to yourself what I want more than anything in the entire world. It's time with clients so that I could make awesome pictures of them being awesome. These are the nicest people you will ever meet in your entire life. He cried like a baby when he saw her for the first time, I cried like a baby. I am a super easy cry. It is kind of actually ridiculous. There are multiple times on a wedding day. Will people will be like, Oh, how do you know the bride and groom? And I'm like I met him an hour ago. I don't know them at all. Um but I want time with them for this. This is important. And you know, when I would not get reactions like that when they're stressed when they're frustrated, when I've made them frustrated. This first look was a couple of minutes light. Not much, a couple minutes, But if I had been on them the entire time, guys were running late. Guys, we have got to get going. We have got to get going. By the time I got them together, they would have been flustered and frustrated. Maybe a little bit irritated with me. And that's not a good place to be in. I want them to hurry up because I want this light. This was an excellent wedding, really Super cool people. They had this amazing beach ceremony. The light was coming down at exactly the right angle. After the ceremony, we had talked about wanting to go out on the beach for more portrait because it was totally gonna be at the perfect time of day, and they didnt impromptu receiving line. And I was immediately split in half with my emotional reaction to that part of me was like ripping my hair out and screaming because I'm literally standing there watching the sun go down and there's nothing I can do about it. The rest of me was super excited because they did this incredibly emotional receiving line, and it was really nice to see their friends love them and their family loves them. And all these people who came from a long way or are standing in this line so overjoyed to give them a hug. Then I mean, I literally go through this, like shame, spiral of emotions when I start to get frustrated because I'm like, Well, I'm frustrated. Well, how dare I be frustrated? This isn't about me like this is about them. If this is what they want to do with their time, then it's wonderful. But But we want to go on the beach. But it's not about you like it just did the voices in my head never stop talking. But I was patient with, um I shot the receiving line when it was getting towards the end. The last couple of people, I could tell that they were going to stand there and talk to them for a long time. So I just went over to the bride and kind of touched her on the back. And I was like, Hey, I know you really wants in Sunset Pictures. I don't want to take you away from your receiving line, But if we don't go now, we're gonna lose the sun. Would that be OK? I don't want to take you away from what you're doing. Positive thing. I love you. If you don't get out on the beach right now, we're going to lose it. That's me saying, this is what I want you to dio. But we'll do whatever you want to do. You know I don't want to rush you. Nice. Let's go. Nice. So again, I'm trying to sandwich what I really wanted to do, which was like clutch her by the arm and dragged her onto the beach screaming. Can't you see how beautiful this is? Right? Because I know these pictures were important to them. We got the light. We got it done. But I did have to step in and say, you know, hey, if if you do want these beach pictures, we do actually have to go now and that's OK. Like you don't have to feel like you can't convey what you need to your clients. You know, we all want to be outside at this time of day. Look how happy they are. He has got her, but, like, straight up in his hands, they're the nicest people. They were so happy. But expectations were managed. We were able to get outside during good light. They would never have been this free and happy and joyful with each other if I had drugged them into the street screaming, Look at the light. We have to be outside right now, so you have to manage expectations. But you have to stand up for yourself in a way that is coming from a very obvious place of caring. Do you know what I mean?