Passionate Wedding Photographers

As I’m getting older I’m reaching that point in life where all my friends around me are either getting married, popping out babies, or both! Given our relationship and my occupation I’ll often get hit up to shoot either weddings, engagements, maternity, baby, some sort of photography that is traditionally very nice. Though I’m feel very honored to be asked to photograph such an epic memory, I often decline them out of my best intentions. Truthfully and personally I suck as a wedding photographer .

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“But Melly I like your style of shooting!”
Nope, I’m sorry I’d be a disaster to your wedding. If I was a main shooter there is a high chance of me asking the bride to jump over her high priced wedding cake and into her groom’s arms while he’s balancing on a pyramid of his groomsmen and for no reason at all the rings will be frozen in ice while something is on fire.

Shooting a wedding is no joke. I technically can photograph a wedding, but stylistically I’m not good and couldn’t do the justice that your special day deserves. A lot of people get into photography because the wedding industry is a lucrative business. –Personally I say stay away from these guys. Now I’m not saying stay away from wedding photographers who make a living doing wedding photography rather exile the wedding photographers that have zero respect for the craft and look at you as another paycheck instead of a couple that wants to move into the next chapter of their life.

Weddings are also a mixed bag of documenting found moments, grabbing details, and staging both intimate and large group portraits all in one day (sometimes multiple days! …Indian weddings.) Additionally wedding photographers have to deal with whatever lighting is available (which 99% of the time is yucky) and/or work with various more portable lights such as speed lights. And let’s not forget the sheer mountain –no Grand Canyon amount of images they have to go through to edit and retouch in order to visually narrate your once in a lifetime wedding day.

Yes, I tip my hat (well in this case beanie) to a beast mode wedding photographer. Not only does is take a tasteful eye, technical know-how, and years of wedding experience to be a good shooter it also takes a lot of passion. Passion is the key factor that let’s me know that I suck as a wedding photographer. I’ve been blessed to be around wedding photographers who live/breath weddings and have the most caring attitude towards their couples. Photographers with passion are the ones you should be looking for.

I’m done talking, how about I let my friends speak for themselves?

John Yao of SimplyTwo Photography

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ML: Why do you love wedding photography so much?

JY: Weddings are a rush. Think of it as a game-winning half court shot. Few people can do it, and those have will never forget the feeling. I’m given one chance to create visual perfection without knowing exactly what I’m walking into. The people, personalities, lighting, location, and all the random intangibles that can affect a shoot…it’s my job to take these things and whip up some beautiful dessert in delicious photo form. It aint easy…but the satisfaction is better than bacon. Few things rival bacon.

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ML: I know you commit yourself to your couples as early as the beginning stages of planning, why is this so essential for you?

JY: Knowing is the half the battle right? Getting to know my couples early on helps me get a good read on how best to shoot them. Understanding their preferences, what makes them tick, and the types of aesthetic they’re drawn to makes it easy to focus my efforts on shots they’ll absolutely go gaga for versus casting a wide net and hoping they like a few of them. Some of my clients are really into the wide sweeping landscape shots in which they only occupy a tiny part of the frame…more artsy and bordering on the abstract; while others prefer more classically shot portraits – close up to show off every detail of their outfit, makeup, and emotional expression.

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ML: What’s the most challenging part of documenting a wedding?

JY: People….more specifically their randomness. It’s the ultimate challenge to be tasked with creating consistently sexy shots in the wake of ever changing moods, passions, people’s excitability and the trends they’re current into…all of that stuff changes about a million times a day so I pretty much need to be ready to work with anyone at any time.

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ML: If you could name one thing a wedding photographer should have what would it be?

JY: A watch, preferably Swiss. Never be late; just don’t.

Visit SimplyTwo Photography to see John’s work or see recent weddings he’s photographed over at his blog.

 

Brandon Wong Photography

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ML: How did you know that weddings were your calling?

BW: I’ve always been a helpless romantic, which is atypical for a dude. During senior year I stumbled upon a wedding photographer’s website and I fell in love. Ever since them I knew I wanted to travel the world and document couple’s special day.

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ML: What’s the best part of photographing weddings?

BW: Getting to know the couple. As glamorous as it seems to travel to exotic locations, none of that matters unless you feel a personal connection with whomever you’re photographing. Once that bridge has been connected the rest is easy.

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ML: What are some challenges of shooting international weddings?

BW: The stress of traveling can really take a toll on you. I love having a daily routine, and everything is just thrown out the window when you’re spending x amount of hours flying and staying in random hotel rooms. You also have to constantly worry about customs, who may snatch your gear at any time, for almost no reason at all. On the journey home you have to make sure your memory cards are well guarded, and backed up in multiple places. It’s great to stay after the wedding to enjoy the location but at the same time there’s always this sense of danger looming in the back of your mind. Other than that, a beach is a beach and a ballroom is a ballroom. There’s nothing different shooting wise.

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ML: How do you know when you’re done shooting during a wedding?

BW: It always varies. Our standard coverage is eight hours a day, and that covers most of what we need to document. Some cultures, especially Asian ones, have more ceremonies throughout the day so that demands more time. Katrina and I are usually call it a day forty-five minutes after open dancing commences. Dancing after that just gets sloppy.

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ML: If you could name one thing a wedding photographer should have what would it be?

BW: The most important thing a wedding photographer can have is a big heart. If you have that, everything else will fall into place.

Follow these Brandon and Katrina’s beast mode wedding work on their website and blog.

 

Fern Lee Photography

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ML: What’s your favorite moment during a wedding?

FL: Every wedding is different, so that’s a tough question. Sometimes a couple is really playful and will make me crack up while shooting because they’re goofing off so much. Other times I tear up while listening to personal vows that they wrote to each other or a touching speech from a parent. But if I HAD to pick a favorite single moment from any given wedding, I would choose the moment right after the couple is pronounced husband and wife. In that moment I see such genuine happiness, it always makes for a great capture.

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ML: Does jumping back and forth on an airplane for weddings get tiring? How do you have so much energy when it’s game time?

FL: It does get tiring, but I used to drive more often, so flying is a refreshingly quick mode of transportation between LA and the Bay Area. I make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before a wedding (it amazes me how many vendors don’t!!) and if I remember, I’ll bring snacks in my camera bag to help me get through the day. I think the most helpful source of energy for me is having a second shooter and/or assistant with me on the job. They might not necessarily be a literal source of energy, but their company gives me both emotional and physical support when I need it!

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ML: Describe your style of shooting. Are you people-watching and documenting moments as you see them or are you orchestrating as you go?

These days in the wedding industry, I think you have to be able to master both. The two styles of shooting switch back and forth so quickly and seamlessly that you always have to be prepared to either capture a moment or create one. I would describe myself as a pretty shy person, but being a wedding photographer has quickly forced me to be comfortable taking control of large groups and giving instructions to my subjects.

For the most part though, my favorite shots are the ones that are not static. I might tell a couple to hold hands and walk, but the movement involved in my direction gives them the leeway to create a natural and candid shot. I’m orchestrating without fussing over the exact placement of their arms and legs.

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ML: If you could name one thing a wedding photographer should have what would it be?

FL: An upbeat personality. You spend the entire day, beginning and end, with your wedding photographer. It better be someone you like!

Get to know Fern over at her website. She was also the photographer who did my head shots (the ones where you can actually see my face!)

 

Annie Hall Photography

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ML: Out of all the photographic subjects what drew you to weddings?

AH: My favorite kind of photography is where I can observe and shoot without interfering with a scene or moment. Weddings draw me in because I get to document one of the happiest days of a person’s life as they share it with their friends and family, and I can do so without drawing attention to myself because the day is already all about them.

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ML: Unlike traditional wedding photographers you have a specific documentary approach. Can you describe what it’s like anticipating and waiting for the right moment?

AH: There tends to be a natural flow of events that are typical of weddings (getting ready, ceremony, toasts, dances, etc). At every point in time, I’m looking for good light, interesting compositions, and people’s interactions. I’ll observe a group of people through my lens and wait for the right expressions and movement. I get really excited when I’ve captured a moment with the light just right, a strong composition, and storytelling layers throughout the frame. If nothing interesting happens, I’ll just move on. I also have to move on quickly when someone notices me and gives me a thumbs up or something.

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ML: What are some of your favorite moments to capture?

AH: Toasts have always been one of my favorite parts of a wedding. People get incredibly emotional and are overwhelmed by laughter and tears, and nobody is focused on the photographer at this time.

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ML: You have a unique style of alternating between b/w and color photography. What started this style? Can you elaborate on what elements determine whether the photo will be processed as black and white or color?

AH: I’ve always loved how classic and timeless black and white photographs look. There’s a quote by Elliott Erwitt that goes something like- “Color is descriptive; black and white is interpretive.” When I take a photograph, I usually already know whether it’s going to end up in color or black and white. I love black and white images because when color is stripped away, what’s left is the content, the composition, the light, and the heart of the image upfront. When there’s a really emotional and/or decisive moment I’ve captured, I process the photo as black and white so that the color isn’t distracting the viewer from seeing how the light and shapes are working together. Color needs to have a meaningful role in a photograph.

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ML: If you could name one thing a wedding photographer should have what would it be?

AH: I’d like to say passion, but it’s also really important to have good business and marketing sense.

Keep up with Annie over on her website and blog.

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