Photographing Your First Wedding – Tips For Successful Wedding Photography

The doorbell rings, with anticipation you rush over and swing the door open, standing in front of you is a courier, hands outstretched clasping that sexy new DSLR you’ve been waiting rather impatiently for. You scribble a poor excuse for your signature and with a big grin run inside and rip open the package as your best friend watches on, “OOOH” you hear her say, “You know how my weddings coming up, well I don’t have a photographer yet” your heart sinks as you hear such words, in one moment your excitement has diminished, now replaced by the shear terror of the thought of photographing a wedding. Unable to say no a sheepish “yes” leaves your mouth, straight away you know you are in over your head. Your friend thanks you with a big hug and promises there will be no pressure, no pressure you think as you pull a small clump of hair from your head! No sooner has your friend walked out the door and you head to your internet machine in search of tips, It is here we meet.

Lets face it, even the most well planned weddings can be hectic at times, schedules just never seem to run on time, the bride invariably spends too much time getting her makeup done, no one can find the rings or there is a traffic jam on the way to the ceremony. Unfortunately, regardless of why things don’t go to plan or run on time one of the first sacrifices to be made is time allocated to the photographer. It is for this reason that being able to work quickly and efficiently is of utmost importance.

When the heat is on (cue music) the last thing you should be worrying about is the basic technicalities of photography and using your camera. Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are fundamentals you must understand and know how to implement long before you arrive on the wedding day wondering what the hell you’re going to do! To Pfaff about changing settings is to waste time, and will lead to missed opportunities to capture once in a lifetime moments. If the fundamentals of aperture, shutter speed and ISO sound Yiddish to you then hit up Mr. Google and get your learn on!

You now understand the basic principles of photography, or at least I hope you do, what now becomes important is to learn how to implement such principles using your personal equipment. We all hate manuals but make friends with them if you have to. With manual and camera in hand hit the street and start taking photographs in a multitude of lighting conditions. Start heading out and about shooting in a variety of lighting conditions so you can really get a feel for how your camera behaves in such conditions and how you may need to use aperture, shutter speed and ISO to obtain appropriate exposures. In doing so you will quickly start to gain a feel for how your camera behaves under such conditions whilst also becoming quick and efficient at obtaining your desired results. Make sure you shoot in a range of conditions such as strong back lighting, indoors at night, practice focusing on moving subjects and force yourself to work in less than optimal conditions. Keep doing so until you become familiar enough with your camera to be able to pick it up and know how to use the settings to quickly and accurately capture a well exposed photograph.

Hopefully your finger will be hurting from all that button pushing and you will feel comfortable and confident in your ability to grab your camera and obtain some reasonable exposures without the need to look at dials and mess about? Good. But I apologize, because it’s now time to throw a spanner in the works, yep, posing. Lets hope you aren’t a poser doing laps of the block in your red Mercedes, music so loud that it hurts the ears of people three cars away… if so good luck to you, best you go do another lap and impress some more chicks, because what we are talking about is posing your subjects, which can be a very daunting ask when put on the spot. Now we all have personal taste and style, just as the way one photographer sees and composes an image differs from the next so does posing style. What is key is to know that there isn’t a series of a,b,c rules that will work for all photographers nor all clients, thus it becomes important to develop your own style and working methods. Browse through photographs you enjoy and start paying attention to how people are posed, if you pay attention to what appeals to you, you will start to notice a trend, a style that connects with you personally.

Ok, it may have taken some time however you have begun to notice a style that jumps out to you, a style that you feel you would like to employ and impart your personal vision upon. Now we can jump into dissecting these images and poses. Pay close and deliberate attention to the work, what do you enjoy about it? how are the subjects positioned relative to the light? relative to each other? relative to their environment? how is the subjects weight distributed, are they supporting themselves mainly upon their back leg? Where are their hands sitting? Are their hands clenched, perhaps in their pockets? Think about what instructions or techniques the photographer may have used to elicit such poses, given the same circumstances how would you go about obtaining such a pose? Carefully consider what steps you may take and what instructions you could provide to achieve such a pose. By taking the time to really dissect individual elements of an image you will ultimately be in a much better position (pun intended) to develop your own posing techniques and unique style.

We have now reached the point whereby you can pick up a camera and feel comfortable operating it in a variety of conditions, you have spent a lot of time looking at photographs and made effort to really understand what appeals to you within photographs. As such you feel like you may even be able to pose people in a manner you find pleasing. In fact you have practiced this with your friends and begun to develop and understanding for what kind of language you can use to instruct people efficiently. That’s all fantastic, you are really starting to feel ready for photographing your first wedding, but we are not there yet. I’m assuming we are all humans here, one unfortunate part of being so is that when faced with pressure our minds like to present as black voids, “I’m outta here” Mr Brain yells as he jumps upon his brain mobile and drives off into the sunset. It is at this point you will be happy you prepared a shot list. What is a shot list I hear you ask. Essentially it is a list of images that you feel are important to capture, we can however take this beyond a simple list of essential photographs and develop it into a list of creative ideas that you wish to try. If you are the sort who embraces technology then you can make a list of images on your phone which you can scroll through during some quite moments, then when faced with an opportunity to grab some shots you will have ideas fresh in your mind.

Be a scout! Call your best mate, using threats and/or bribes encourage them to take a drive with you to the location of the wedding, this of course should be done before the big day! Remember to take your camera along and head there at the time of day the wedding will take place so you can get an idea what light may be doing. Use your friend as a stand in bride and groom and take the opportunity to find some shots you may wish to capture on the day, this will not only provide you with valuable practice but also ease any nerves you may have on the big day, knowing that when all else fails you already have some ideas.

Last but certainly not least familiarize yourself with the timing of the wedding day. Ask your bride and groom for an order of events and make a point of reading over it. Being in the right place at the right time is key to capturing the action of a wedding. Armed with knowledge of the days events you will be in a much better position to anticipate where you will need to be, thus maximizing valuable shooting time.

Photographing a wedding can be really stressful, chaotic even. Yet with the right preparation you can help the day run as smoothly as possible. It is up to you to put the time and effort into obtaining the knowledge you need.

Photography – Local Photographers are Better Suited to Document Disasters Like the Gulf Oil Spill

No photographer ever hopes to photograph a disaster of the magnitude of the recent BP oil spill near the Gulf Coast. While disasters like these are by no means desirable, these kinds of situations do present unique opportunities for local photojournalists.

Local journalists and photographers have an advantage over national journalists and photographers in situations like these. They know the area and possibly even the people involved. They have a unique local perspective to offer. In fact in the case of the BP oil spill, it was a local newspaper, the Courier in Housma, Louisiana, that was granted permission to accompany the fisherman to get their stories. So while all of the big papers were of course covering the disaster, it was a small local publication that was able to get the first real inside look.

At the same time this professional “opportunity” also complicates the workload of local photojournalist and journalists. They still must cover their local beats, while making an effort to address the colossal story at hand. In the case of The Courier, it actually spent the first week relying on AP photos like many pother publications. It wasn’t until later that they had the opportunity to photograph it first hand.

While Louisiana photographers are struggling to capture every end of the story, photographers in neighboring states are waiting for the story to come to them. It’s not until the oil washes up on their shores, that they will find themselves in the same situation as the Louisiana photographers. Until then, these photographers will wait, while those those at The Courier and other Louisiana publication continue to offer a fist hand look as this astronomical disaster.

Prepare for Disaster – Backup Your Files

In 1951, I was 8 years old and at home recovering from the measles. I heard what sounded like someone knocking at the door so I called my mother and when she opened the door our yard was full of black smoke. The sound I heard were the flames crackling on our roof which was fully ablaze. We got out of the house with nothing more than the clothes we were wearing, feeling our way through the smoke to a neighbor’s house. My mom ran back to get our dog who was tied to a clothes line in the back yard and asked the neighbor to call our doctor to make sure I wasn’t still contagious. When she got the doctor on the line she excitedly exclaimed, “Their house is on fire and Mrs. Anderson wants to know if it’s OK for Jimmy to go outside.” I laughed so hard tears wear rolling down my cheeks. I told my mom about the call when she returned and she laughed too and we shared a long hug. In that moment of panic and fear I first discovered the amazing ability of laughter to relieve stress.

We were living in a rented farmhouse in a rural area of southern Indiana and even though the fire department had already been called by the time they arrived the house was completely in flames and nothing could be salvaged by the firemen as it burned to the ground. My father raced home from work the moment he heard what was happening and was relieved to find us both safe, but then the sense of loss settled in and we realized we would have to start over again from scratch. My brother who was married at the time came to help my dad go through the ashes as soon as it was safe to see if anything could be salvaged. A photo appeared on the front page of the Evansville Courier of my brother in the middle of the ruins holding a porcelain piggy bank that had been on top of the refrigerator which was now an unrecognizable pile of misshaped metal. It was the only thing anyone could find.

Over the next weeks and months I saw first hand the kindness and generosity of people when someone they know needs help. My father worked at the Chrysler plant in Evansville and was an officer in the local UAW union, so most of the workers there knew him and they took up collections of money, food and clothing. We received so much clothing and used furniture that my parents took what we could use and donated the rest to a local charity. The small country church we belonged to also had a gathering to present us with even more things that we needed. I remember they gave me a baseball, glove and bat. They also gave me a Bible which I still have and cherish.

For years after that we would look for a photo or memento and then remember it was lost in the fire. Even though it has been over sixty years since then, I still miss those irreplaceable photos of my grandparents and parents when they were young.

In this digital age in which we live my photos and important documents are all saved on my computer and I’m sure most of yours are too. No insurance can protect them from loss when our computer crashes, but we can avoid losing them by simply backing up our files safely. I use a backup service that is very inexpensive, but protects my files with military grade encryption so that only I can retrieve them whenever I want and from any devise I choose. I now have complete confidence that I will not experience that horrible sense of loss again.

Shipping Guidelines: How to Send Small Gifts in the Mail

Gifts are important gestures of appreciation and well wishes and at times when you cannot be physically present to bring the gift or if you have attended an event and opted to ship the gift at a later date, there are many shipping or courier companies that can deliver the gift for you. These companies can ship locally, regionally or internationally depending on their capacity and service permits.

When sending gifts, most people like to ship smaller items primarily because shipping rates go higher as the volume, weight and size of the package increase. For small gift items, you can send special and unique items that can be found only in your local area. There are many items that you can ship in the mail, such as photo frames or small kitchen items. Things that come pre-boxed are usually easiest to ship as you usually only need to wrap the item in paper before sending it out as long as the box is sturdy.

Almost any small gift item can be shipped through mail. However, the difference lies in how you package the item because shipping companies have many guidelines depending not only on the size but on the type of gift you will be shipping.

Shipping companies have different guidelines when it comes to packaging but most major packaging guidelines are the same. When a courier company says that you should pack properly, what they mean is you should start with the choosing the proper materials.

Some companies have their own shipping labels that you should use. You should use sturdy boxes and seal them with packing tape. Packing tape is durable and is recommended over other types of tapes because regular household or office tapes can become loose when exposed to too much moisture or heat.

Small breakable materials such as vases can be shipped as well as long as they are double boxed. If there is an empty air space, you must fill this space tightly with packing kernels or crushed styrofoam. For items that have a tendency to spill or leak, including all liquids, gels or even items that have a small quantity of liquid in them, you should have them sealed in a leak proof container.

Remember that all these guidelines are there to protect your gift and the items being shipped by other customers. By following all these guidelines properly, you can be sure that your gift will arrive safely.

The same guidelines apply for large items that you want to ship. For other guidelines and reminders, you should check with the shipping or courier company. The last thing you will want is to find out that your package didn’t arrive or was damaged in delivery. To ease the burden on everyone and especially the person who should be receiving your gift, follow the guidelines whether shipping big or small items. No matter what the size, your shipping carrier can deliver these items for you as long as you follow their shipping guidelines and take the time and effort needed to package your item safely.