Photography Tips

How to Light a Rolls Royce

When a couple hires an awesome car like this you have to take a killer photo of them with it.  Using strobes gives you the style of lighting that is perfect for  a situation like this. You can see how I took this photo in the lighting diagram below.  All of my settings are listed in the diagram.  The flashes were triggered with pocketwizards.  Let me know if you have any questions.


"Getting Ready" Location Tips

I love shooting "Getting Ready" photos.  It gives me time to ease in to the day, get to know the bridal party, and knock out some detail shots.  This is the part of the day when it starts to become REAL for the bride and groom.  "Today is the day I am getting married" really hits you when you put on that wedding dress surrounded by your closest friends and family. I wanted to give you some tips to help your photographer get some amazing 'getting ready' photos.

1. The "Getting Ready" Room Matters

Bridal suites at churches and wedding venues can work out well, but about half the time I find myself shooting in the basement and/or a room with only overhead florescent lighting.  This is awful for photography.  I love it when brides get ready at a hotel or even a friend/family member's home.  These places both tend to offer a nice large window which creates beautiful soft light and will make you look amazing in your photos.  It is especially helpful if the window has a white sheer curtain so your photographer can have more control over the light.

2. Straighten Up

Often times I walk into a hotel room that looks like a Tornado came through, eliminated all of your bridesmaids, but left all of their everything else behind.  This 'everything else' will be in the background of your photos.  I straighten up sometimes when I really need to, but don't like to be the creepy photographer moving bags, shoes, and bras out of the way.

3. Use the Window

If you follow tip 1 and 2 you should finish up by asking your stylist to do your hair and make up over by the window.  Sometimes stylist will arrive at 8am to start with bridesmaids and I don't show up until 10:30 or 11.  By the time I arrive the stylists have already set up and it is much more difficult to convince them to move over to the window.  If you do this when they arrive it can guarantee great lighting for your photos.

4. Take Some Portraits

Before you rush out of the room to get things started allow your photographer to take some portraits using that amazing soft light.


The proof is in the photos so here are some examples so you can see for yourself...


My Marketing Plan

  I have not paid for advertising since my first year of business.  I accredit this to 3 things:

1. Being Nice to people.











2. Producing Consistent Work




3. Facebook

Being Nice To People

You learned this in Pre-School.  It is still a good principle today.  There are several weddings I have photographed where people ask me for my business card before they have even seen a single photo.  After giving them my card they talk usually talk about an awful experience they have had with a wedding photographer.  I know that weddings are stressful and sometimes we can just be having an off day or are exhausted towards the end of the 'wedding season' and would rather be laying in bed than shooting in 100 degree weather, but couples are trusting us with the privilege of taking their wedding photos and often times investing a substantial amount of when I feel like this, I choose to suck it up, refocus, and do my job.

I've also learned that it helps me to be totally ready to shoot the wedding the night before.  Batteries Charged.  Memory Cards Cleared.  Clothes Clean and Ironed.  Schedule Printed.  This prevents me from rushing around and having a frantic start to the day.  I also spend the morning praying for the couple.  It puts things in perspective for me and prepares me to show grace to any potentially stressed/crazy family members and guests.

Producing Consistent Work

We are always growing as photographers and artists.  This statement is not aimed at preventing growth in creativity of artistic vision.  Couples hire You.  And they hire You based on the creativity and quality of your work they have seen.  Having a vision for your work and developing a style allows couples to see exactly what they are getting.  I always show couples full weddings, usually in the form of an album, so they can see what a wedding I have photographed looks like from start to finish.  This allows the couple to build confidence in your ability to tell their wedding day story from start to finish.


I know there is a lot of debate about whether or not photographers should give a disc of images to couples due to concerns about quality control and rights as an artist.  I only want to share the reasons why I do it.

People love looking at photos.  You know that even today you probably looked at the photos of a person you barely even know on Facebook or maybe even a complete stranger.  Don't be embarrassed...we all do it.  I want to share an example of what can happen when you give a disc of images to your couple.  Today one of my awesome brides posted her photos:



Cara posted two albums totaling over 370 photos.  She also went through and tagged most of the people in the photos.


Just take a second think about how many people  have had the opportunity to look at these photos today.  First of all this will pop up on most of the walls of Cara's 1,095 Facebook friends. It will also pop up on the walls of the friends of the people who were tagged in the photos.  There are 10 bridesmaids tagged in this photo alone.  It gets kind of awesome when you think about how far this can go.


These three things working together are really powerful for booking weddings.  People can trust you because you shot "So and So's" wedding.  If they still have doubts they can contact that person and ask what they thought of you.  If you were nice and produced the quality of work the couple was expecting they will give you a killer reference.  This makes it so easy for other couples to trust you and have confidence in the work you produce.  It eliminates ambiguity and doubts from the wedding photographer booking equation.

There are several other elements that go into being a great wedding photographer, but I hope this has been encouraging for you.





Window Light

Sometimes I find myself shooting winter weddings when it is below freezing outside and the bride usually doesn't want to spend more than a few minutes (if anytime at all) outside in the cold.  Can't say I blame her.  I have studio lights that I bring for this situation to make an ugly or boring church look more interesting, but the first thing I always look for is a large window.  I love using a large window for lighting.  The light is soft and beautiful, which everyone appreciates when you are taking their portrait.  A good lighting principle to know is:  "The larger the light source the softer the light."  If you can find a large window to use you can create some really beautiful and flattering portraits.  Here are some things to remember about using a window as your main light source:

1. Shadows on the Face

Since you are only using one light source you need to make sure you are positioning your subject to match the look you are going for.  If you have one side of their face against the window and they are looking straight at you, the other side of their face will most likely be dark = Half their face is lit and the other half is dark.  You can move your subject to where the window is more directly in front of them or have them look out the window to create a more balanced lighting situation.

2.  Use the Window for all it has to Offer

Sometimes, you may find yourself with only one location to shoot indoors.  You have to be able to get as much variety out of that one place as possible.  In the photos below you will notice how many different ways you can use a Window as your main light source by moving your subject and moving yourself.  Shoot from far back and then move in for a really tight portrait.  One of my favorite shots is to have a Bride sit by a large window and shoot from above.  You can also play with exposure settings to create a silhouette or blow out the background.

3. Diffuse the Light

If the window you are using has sheer white window curtains you can use it to make the light even softer.

4.  Competing Light Sources

If I can, I will turn off or eliminate any competing light sources so I do not have white balance issues.