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Fix It In Photoshop?

Can you just Photoshop that?

Let’s talk about all the stuff you wonder… but won’t ask.

Too much cleavage, sweaty brows, height differences, a huge pimple on your forehead.. Yeah, it’s the real life stuff that isn’t talked about, so let’s talk about it.

Let’s start with what can be retouched and what is difficult to do in post-production.

If you have something happening with your skin, hair, appearance that you don’t like…  it’s important to let your photographer know. After all, we are literally taking photos of the way you look!

Every photographer cringes at “oh you can fix that in Photoshop!”

Retouching out a pimple in one photo is easy but in a hundred photos?!  For most photographers, that is work that is not included in engagement session fees.

So if you have something going on with your appearance that you are worried about, I would say to reschedule or wait to have your photo shoot.  It’s just easier than trying to deal with it after the fact.

I often have couples say they are worried about looking sweaty, and let’s say it, showing sweat through their shirts.  Pitting out is pretty normal in a photo shoot. Nerves, heat, a lot of energy. If you have a very hot day for your shoot, it’s not a bad idea to bring a backup shirt and powder for touch-ups on *both* your faces.

Photoshopping images is extremely time-consuming and most times much more difficult than people assume.  It is so much easier to pick up the random piece of trash on the street than retouch it out of dozens of photos.

So rather than, “Fix it in Photoshop” we should be thinking how to “Fix it in real life”

Don’t stay quiet and hope it can “be retouched later”, please speak up – often we can come up with a much better solution.

Talk to your photographer about all of your concerns before or during the shoot. This is one of the few times when you need to discuss all these things concerning your appearance.

It’s one of the keys to a great shoot and loving all your photos!

The Grooms Side

The Groom’s Side

Here is a wedding photography secret that could save you a lot of heartache (and family drama) after the wedding.

One comment I have heard many times over the years is that there are fewer photos of the groom’s parents and family compared to the bride’s family.

As you can imagine, this can create some uncomfortable conversations and feelings after the wedding is over.

I want to start off by explaining how this happens and then give you some expert tips on how to nip that situation in the bud with planning and communication that happens prior to your wedding day.

First off, I promise you that it is not a photographer’s secret agenda to not take as many photos of the groom’s family!

The problem is that the bride’s family (moms, sisters, grandma, aunts and even dad) are usually around while the bride is getting ready, but this isn’t necessarily the case for the groom’s family.

Since the bride’s family is physically in the same room with the bride and the photographer, it’s a natural occurrence that they are in many of the photos.

The Mother of the Bride usually has her hair and makeup done with the girls (all the while, the cameras are clicking), she then helps the bride into her dress (another photo-worthy moment), and then lastly poses for casual portraits after the dress is on the bride.

For the Father of the Bride, a FOB first look may be planned out as a special moment to photograph between the bride and her father.

Directly after this, we may move onto the mother and father of the bride portraits. As you can see, the opportunities for photos of the bride’s family are abundant.

On the other hand, the groom will often get ready with just his groomsmen around, and no mom or dad involved.

Often photographers will not even see the Mother of the Groom until the ceremony starts.

Meanwhile, we have been photographing the bride’s mom and other family members for hours.  

As photographers, we shoot what is real life; what is happening at the moment. Unfortunately, we can’t create something that is not there. Therefore, the best way to avoid this lack of photos on the groom’s side is to have a plan in place.

The issue usually lies in a lack of planning and communication with the groom’s family to ensure they make an appearance in the groom’s room while he is getting ready.

Planning for the family to be present results in face time with the camera, so the groom’s family also has special images to look back on from the wedding day.

Here are a few tips to make sure the groom’s parents are in photos before the ceremony:

Look at the bride’s schedule and see who will be with her while the photographer is there.

If you notice that the groom’s side is very uneven in terms of family members, this is your chance to invite his parents to be involved (or at least make an appearance) so there are photos of them getting ready with the groom.

While the scheduling may not work out to be identical to the bride’s, at least plan for the groom’s parents to arrive for some portraits with the groom.

It is ideal if the parents and groom are dressed in their wedding attire, but if that’s not possible, casual portraits are still nice to have.

If family photos are your priority, make sure the VIPs are with the groom for all of the getting ready shots, e.g. dad helping with the tie and cufflinks, or making a toast with all of the groomsmen.  

One last thought is to make sure your photographer captures a stunning portrait of the groom!

On the bride’s side, we will be taking a lot of time to create many options for her bridal portrait.

Trust me when I say that you don’t want to forget about doing the same for the handsome man in your life!

To plan for this, I usually arrange for my second photographer to capture a portrait of the groom looking his best.

I have a portrait of my husband, Phil, on our wedding day and it’s one of my most cherished photos from the day.

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Be Confident in Front of the Camera

Getting comfortable in front of the camera.

As a photographer, it’s my job to help people feel comfortable in front of the camera, in order to create a final product that my clients love. After photographing thousands of people, I’ve learned some highly effective tips and tricks for increasing your confidence in front of the camera. If you take these five secrets and apply them to your upcoming shoot, no doubt you will be more comfortable when a lens is pointed at you.

#1 Your Thoughts are Completely Normal

Right off the bat, it’s important to understand that everyone feels uncomfortable in front of a camera. I’ve been a part of literally thousands of photo shoots in a wide variety of places, and every time I pull my camera out to point it at someone, the same thing happens — they freeze up every single time! This includes models and other professionals that make a living being in front of the camera. Yes, they get nervous too!

I say this because I want you to know that this is completely normal to feel apprehensive being in front of the lens. In fact, it’s so normal that it would actually be odd to me if you didn’t feel somewhat uncomfortable! So now you know you’re not alone in this feeling, my advice is to embrace it. Embrace that you’re not weird, you’re not alone, and you are not bad at this; you are just like everyone else.

Almost every person I photograph is convinced they’re the worst person to step in front of my lens. That’s kind of funny when you think about it, right? That we all assume that we’re the only ones that feel nervous, insecure, and awkward. But, I’m here to tell you that even the people that look beautiful, calm, and collected in front of the camera have a few butterflies. The difference is figuring out how to get them flying in formation.

Even if you stop reading this right now, your only takeaway should be you’re not alone in the way you feel when stepping in front of the camera.

#2 Embrace Your Nervous Energy

Instead of letting your nervous energy work against you, try making it work for you. Let’s take the negative perception of being nervous, and turn it on its head — creating a positive asset you can use to make great photographs.

The first step is realizing that nervous energy is still energy! At a photo shoot, there’s nothing worse than when your subject shows up with low energy. They may be tired, disinterested, or just uncomfortable. Either way,  it doesn’t give us much to work with in terms of creating images that speak volumes.

The best photo shoots, on the other hand, are when someone shows up exuding energy. This instantly brings photos to life. I personally believe it is the secret sauce to why some photos, are so much better than others. In a nutshell, photographers have more to work with your nervous energy than no energy at all.

So now back to those nerves you have during a photo shoot — be grateful for them, use them, and EMBRACE them. Let that nervous energy fuel you and give you the extra pep in your step, the twinkle in your eye, and your real, genuine smile.

Instead of thinking, “I’m so nervous about my shoot!” try thinking, “I have so much energy today!” Although it sounds simple, this one shift in mindset can make a huge difference. Be grateful for the energy, because I promise you, it makes for the best photos.

#3 Practice and Prepare

If you have an occasion coming up where you know you’re going to be photographed a lot, why not prepare by taking some pictures of yourself? Now stick with me, but you’re simply going to break out your cell phone and start taking some selfies of yourself.

The beauty of this is that no one has to see any of them — the pressure is off. When you’re done, you can stick them in a ‘Never Show Anyone’ folder, or just delete them. The practice of taking a photograph of yourself creates awareness of what makes you look good in a photo. This ultimately will increase your level of comfort when being photographed.

If you’re preparing for a monumental photo shoot, such as one for your engagement or wedding, remember back on how much time you’ve spent preparing for other important events such as big meetings, vacations and the like; take some time to prepare and practice to get the results you want.

Here are a few steps to practice:

  • Pull out your phone and try capturing yourself from different angles.  If you’re preparing for an engagement or wedding photo shoot, get your fiancé involved. Most importantly, have fun with it!
  • Go through your images and see if any poses or angles jump out at you — either in a good or bad way. What do you like or not like about them? Taking the time to consider this will increase your self-awareness, and in turn, your confidence.
  • If it’s a video shoot you’re preparing for, repeat the steps above, but try FaceTiming or video calling your friends, your mom, or anybody else you can think of! The purpose is to practice seeing yourself live on video. It’ll get easier every time, I promise!
  • Take your new insights and share them with your photographer. It’s a great way to kick off a shoot. I personally LOVE it when someone brings me information like this, and any photographer worth their salt will feel the same way; because you know what you like best which shows that you’ll be confident in front of the camera.

#4 Treat Yourself

When you feel beautiful and confident it shows — it’s just that simple. So how do you make yourself feel good the day of a photo shoot? By treating yourself the days leading up to it.

Remember how you feel the first time you wear a brand new outfit that you love? Or ladies, how about when you have your hair and makeup up done? To prepare for being in front of the camera, go above and beyond; think about pampering yourself with a manicure, a facial mask, and by whitening your teeth. All these things will make you feel your best, and guess what? This confidence shines through in photographs.

Here are some additional ideas on how to pamper yourself (especially before your wedding!):

  • Take a few days off work. Sleep in (it’s called beauty sleep for a reason you know).
  • The days leading up to your event hit the gym, go to brunch, relax, and immerse yourself in joy and positivity. I’ve found, again and again, that there is a direct correlation between a hectic morning and tense emotions, and a bad photo shoot.
  • Find a hair and makeup artist that you connect with! Professionally done makeup and hair can give you a huge boost in self-esteem boost.

#5 Fake It Until You Make It

You may have heard this elsewhere, but it’s highly applicable here too! When you find yourself feeling nervous in front of the camera — fake it. Overreact like Jim Carrey, smile too big, laugh too hard, move around too much.

Why? Because this ‘faking it’ and overacting can only last for so long. You’ll have created an abundance of energy, but soon that will start to diminish. Then, all of a sudden the smiles are full, and no longer fake, the movements are real, and not forced, and the interactions with your loved ones are genuine.

And here’s the thing: the first photo taken will be deleted. As will the second, third, fourth, etc. Those initial, goofy photos will be gone (unless you inadvertently create some gold!), but the energy they create will be there to stay.

I promise, that if the shoot starts with everything a little amplified and over the top, it’ll quickly settle down and those forced laughs will turn into genuine smiles and emotions.

So there we have it — five tried and tested techniques for taking the awful dread of being in front of the camera and using it to make stunning, emotional, and natural images you’ll cherish for years to come.

What to Wear for your Engagement Shoot

How to chose the best outfit for your engagement photo shoot.

As a photographer I am often asked “What should I wear for my photo shoot”… and its a great question. And sadly, it is also something many get wrong when left to figure it out on their own.

We tend to be quite hard on ourselves when it comes to this, but believe it or not, one of the most important aspects of feeling confident and loving the way you look in photographs actually comes down to choosing the right outfit. Regardless of how talented your photographer may be – it can make or break a photo.

Although there is a lot of information out there on what to wear for a photoshoot, I find that most of it tends to be watered down, and doesn’t actually give a lot of useful information.

So in this post I would like to get to the heart of the matter, and share three of my top secrets for choosing the perfect outfit for your engagement photoshoot.

Rule #1 – Choosing The Right color

Let’s start with figuring out what color palette you should wear.

There are two factors you want to take into account when choosing the color of your outfit.

The first is what looks best on you. You want to pick a color that compliments your hair, skin tone, and eyes. As a rule, when we view an image, we subconsciously align similar colors, which is why wearing a blue blouse or shirt can make your eyes “pop” if you have very blue eyes. Alternatively, if you’re struggling with redness or acne, wearing red or warm colors can make you seem more flushed.

The second most important factor to take into account is how you want to present yourself in the photo. Colors affect us subconsciously, and can create very strong first impressions; dramatically affecting the tone of the image and your presence.

As an example, here are some of the impressions that certain colors can create:

Red – This is the color best associated with passion and drama. It attracts the most attention of all the colors, and is associated with emotions such as love and anger. This color is universally used to signify danger, but can also be associated with virtues such as strength, power, courage, and excitement. This color is very stimulating as a result.

Blue – This color is proven to induce a sense of calm. It conveys tranquility, peace, and serenity, as well as trustworthiness, integrity, responsibility, and loyalty.

Black – The color most associated with formality and sophistication, this is a strong and powerful color. Considered sexy and secretive, this is the color of mystery.

If you’re interested in the meanings of other colors, I highly recommend the following article: https://graf1x.com/color-psychology-emotion-meaning-poster/

Rule #2 – What do you love to show off? What parts of your body do you want to cover up? This is the key to loving how you look in the photos!

Now that we have the right color, the next factor to take into consideration is choosing the perfect shape and style to make you feel amazing.

Before you’ve even stepped into the frame of the camera, it is so important you love the way you look in your chosen outfit. Regardless of how talented your photographer is, no amount of lighting or framing is going to make you feel better about your photos if you don’t like the way your body looks in what you’re wearing.

You need to choose something that accentuates the features you like most about yourself, while concealing areas that might make you feel insecure, or that you simply don’t want showing in the photos.

For some ideas, I highly recommend first looking at your body type. You can use the following article article as a bit of a cheat sheet on what to look for depending on your body type: https://blog.stitchfix.com/fashion-tips/find-fit-for-your-body-type/

Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, while you want to focus on accentuating your favorite features, it is also worth taking into consideration any areas you feel insecure about.

Don’t like your arms? Then wear a cute jacket, long sleeves, or maybe a shawl.

If you show up to the photoshoot wearing a sleeveless top and then tell the photographer that you hate your arms, you will only be limiting the number of posing and candid photo opportunities.

Rule #3 – Always Bring A Second Outfit

My final tip for choosing the perfect outfit for your engagement photoshoot, is to bring a second outfit. This is especially true if you’re a little uncertain about your first choice, or if you’re struggling to choose just one.

If you can, try and get your photographer’s input, as they will more than likely have a pretty clear idea of what will look good on you during the shoot.

Although you can, of course, choose a subtle change in wardrobe for your second outfit, say the addition of a jacket or a shawl, I personally recommend choosing an entirely different outfit – preferably something a bit more dressy. This will create an entirely different look and feel, and you will essentially be getting two photoshoots in one. You’ll also find that wearing a very different second outfit may make you feel different, which can also impact the way you carry yourself. Try to go for something that makes you feel confident as this will have a massive impact on the final product.

If you can, I recommend hiring a pro to help you pick out your outfit – preferably a stylist from your favorite store. Asking them for help can give you additional inspiration – but just don’t let them steer you away from my earlier advice about color and shape! It’s important you go in already knowing what color you want, and to be honest and open about how you feel about your body so that they can help you pick your perfect outfit.

A Few More Tips

So once you’ve picked out your final outfits, here are some important tips to keep in mind for the day of the shoot:

  • When it comes to changing in public, you will normally need to duck into a public restroom, but a car will also work if you’re out in a rural area.
  • While you do need to be able to move around in the outfit you pick out, and you are going to be photographed from all angles, let’s be real – if given the choice, would you rather be comfortable, or would you rather look stunning? These photos are going to last a lifetime, so sacrificing some comfort during the photoshoot might be worth it if it gives you the look you really want.
  • For transporting your wardrobe, I highly recommend a small bag or an overnight travel case with wheels. Keep in mind, you don’t want it to be too big, as you will be carrying this everywhere throughout the shoot.
  • While I have recommended bringing two outfits, I do not under any circumstances recommend bringing more than that. Two outfits is more than enough, and it ensures you won’t spend the entire photoshoot rushing to change into your next set of clothes. Rather, you can focus on your partner and on the amazing day you are both so looking forward to.
  • Finally, and I can’t recommend this enough – make sure you bring a pair of a comfortable shoes to walk in. Then when it’s time for the shoot, slip into your heels. Nothing will destroy the experience of the photoshoot faster than being in pain.

More than anything, make sure to take a deep breath and have fun – this is all about you and your partner, and celebrating your special day.


Unexpected Surprises

Unexpected Surprises

Not every couple exchanges gifts or notes before the ceremony but I have to say… I sure love when they do!  

Carving out these little moments on a wedding day creates memories and yes, great photo opportunities too.  

To have a moment, a note, a little gift (or a big one) is something you will cherish forever.

From a photographers perspective, we love the range of emotions that the gift exchange evokes.

We do not stage this, but it needs to be planned out to an extent.  Here are some ideas on how to add this into your wedding day.

So when is the best time to do this?

A popular time is the wedding morning in getting ready rooms.  This way the gifts stay safe and sound in the hotel/house with no worry of them getting lost or left behind on the busy wedding day.

I suggest brides open their gifts once they are about to walk out the door so they look fabulous in the photos.  Hair, makeup done and dress on. I like to shoot this right after the bridal portraits in a quiet moment.

The other option is to do it at the First Look.  You can each bring your gift or notes and give them to each other in person.  This is nice since you have a moment alone together before joining the wedding party.  It also gives us photographers a wonderful photo opp to shoot the reactions of both of you.

But… then the gifts are with you and have to be taken care of all day.  Just something to consider if you are exchanging something of high value and will worry about it throughout the day.


5 Steps to Organize Family Photos

5 Steps to Organize Family Photos

Ah, yes, the infamous group family photos on your wedding day. If you are currently having flashbacks to Father of The Bride or past experiences you may have had from weddings you were a part of, you know well that organizing both families into one place at one time can be a challenge.

However, after shooting hundreds of weddings I can promise you that these are the most important photos of the day.

You heard me right. After the wedding, the most viewed, printed, requested, and ordered photos are not the amazing candid shots of emotional moments that you’ve likely seen all over my website. They are traditional, posed, family photos, often taking place in a church or at the altar.  

While we all love the emotional fairytale images from the day, the family portraits are essentially why you hire a professional photographer. Our job is to make sure that they go off without a hitch and that all parties are satisfied. So, here you have it — five steps that will get your family photos organized, and ensure that mom, dad, bride, groom, and Aunt Debra all leave your wedding happy.

Step 1: Create a shot list

The first step to organization is creating a family photo wish list. Here is what I suggest for the first pass — focus on your immediate family only. Think about your parents (and stepparents), your siblings (and their spouses). If there are any divorced parent situations that might be uncomfortable, make note of it for your photographer! To help, I have listed examples of how to write out your photo requests that will be easily digestible for your photographer to understand in a glance.

EXPERT TIP: be sure to include names and relations to the bride and groom.

START WITH THE BRIDE’S SIDE ONLY, then repeat for the grooms side.

  • Bride + Groom (Katie, Chad)
  • Bride + Dad (Katie, Dave)
  • Bride + Mom (Katie, Sue)
  • Bride + Parents (Katie, Dave & Sue are married)
  • Bride + Groom + Parents (Katie, Chad, Dave, Sue)
  • Bride + Groom + Parents + Siblings/Spouses (Katie, Chad, Dave, Sue, Kim/John, Tyler)
  • Bride + Groom + Siblings (Katie, Chad, Kim/John, Tyler)
  • Immediate family with all grandparents (Bride, groom, parents, siblings + Grandpa Bill/Verna, Grandma Louise)
  • Bride + Groom + Grandparents Bill/Verna
  • Bride + Groom + Grandma Louise

Now add in anyone that you want to be in the larger family groups (keep in mind that these are optional). The longer your list becomes, the more time and energy will be spent on these photos. I am one of the few photographers that will recommend opting for bigger groups if you have the time. After all, when will you have all these people in one place together again?

For this part, list the names or the number of people in each group so the photographer can call it out when it is their turn.

EXPERT TIP: This can be super chaotic, and know yourself best — only add in all these family members if you feel like you can handle it on your wedding day.  It is YOUR day after all.

  • Brides immediate family (5) + grandparents (3) + Bradley family (5), + Smith family (6)

Repeat the above steps for the groom’s family. I suggest keeping these as two separate lists, rather than trying to combine them from the start.  

Step 2: Organize your list

Start by organizing from the biggest group down to the smallest. It’s easier to peel off members than to add/subtract them multiple times. See if you can start with the biggest family group and then figure out a way to organically remove people from the photos to whittle away at the list.

This will also allow time for the mass amount of people to exit the church before starting the smaller group photos, so it is suddenly calmer and quieter as we work down the photo list. A.k.a. Let’s keep it moving so we can send all your crazy fun cousins onto the reception ASAP!

Step 3: Consider the logistics

Where and when will the photos take place? Have you organized this time with the church? Have you communicated to your family what time they should arrive? Usually, the reason this part of the day can be stressful for the Bride & Groom is when their family doesn’t show up on time, or in the correct place. We are always in a hurry to knock these photos out, either because the church is trying to kick us out, or because we are eager to move onto the photo tour before heading to the reception.

To avoid this stress, I suggest telling your entire family to be there early. Give yourself some padding if you’re not doing family photos directly after the ceremony. The hope here is that you can walk in, and they are all there waiting for you. Tell them, email them, text them — over-communicate with them! Then all we can do is hope for the best. if someone forgot or is late, we move on. After all, you can’t control everything on your wedding day, especially family 🙂

Step 4: Communication

Before the big day, be sure to talk with your family and photographer about any potentially sticky situations. E.g. a family member in a wheelchair, or divorced parents who can’t stand each other. If you have a sticky situation, you most likely know what I am talking about. If you are racking your brain trying to think of something, then you most likely don’t have anything to worry about.

For anyone that might be in a wheelchair, or have difficulty walking up stairs, this is super important to communicate to your photographer so that they can plan accordingly and aren’t faced with this surprise on the day of.

Step 5: Getting the shot

Why do all family photos look so boring and formal? Well, it’s a simple cause and effect — most couples and their families want to rush through this part of the day, so we quickly move through the list without much time to be creative. I can tell you from experience that the more people involved, the more difficult it is to make the photo look aesthetically pleasing.

Here are a few ways to create a nice group shot:

  • Try using steps or chairs to create layers in groups with over 10+ people.
  • Try taking the photos in an outside location (or ask your photographer for advice on a location).
  • Plan ahead with your photographer so they can be creative with these shots.

With a little bit of planning and a healthy dose of creativity, family portraits can be beautiful photographs that live on as treasures for your whole family to keep.

What about your college friends and work colleagues? I suggest saving these for the cocktail hour or reception.  Add in a college flag and have your musicians play the school fight song to really make it a fun moment.

Dogs & Weddings

Should you bring your dog to the wedding?

We love our pups, but should you bring your dog to the wedding? Here are a couple of ways to incorporate the other love of your life into the wedding day.

Have them with you during the getting ready portion of the day.

This gives us the opportunity to have your pup be a part of your wedding day photos but then he can stay safely home/at a hotel.

Assign a dog handler to bring them to a predetermined location for photos.

This person is 100% in charge of the dogs for the day and then can be ready and waiting for you (and me) when we are ready for them. No worries or hassle for you and a sweet moment during the day when you see your dogs.

If you are having an outdoor wedding and it is allowed by the venue, there is nothing cuter than a dog walking down the aisle as a flower girl/ring bearer. Again, the key is to let the dog have its moment… and then have the assigned person be in charge of taking care of the pup so all the focus can be on you.

Add them to your engagement photo shoot!

While we adore our dogs, busy wedding days and pristine white gowns are not always dog-friendly. The good news is that an engagement photo shoot is a perfect place and time to bring them into the wedding plans.⠀


The Wedding Morning

4 Must Have Photo Moments on the Wedding Morning.

The hours leading up to your wedding ceremony are more important to plan out than you think.

Take a second to let that sink in…

The morning of your wedding you’ll undoubtedly wake up full of excitement and nervous energy. Wedding mornings usually unfold one of two ways: (1) you’ll be calm and collected taking in both the fun and emotional moments leading up to stepping into your dress, (2) you’ll be overwhelmed with the chaos of rushing to get ready, often missing out on important events that were on your photo wishlist.

If you know yourself well, you likely can picture which way your wedding morning will trend. The good news is that I’m here to share the four most important parts of a wedding morning to plan out — this will ensure your morning goes off without a hitch, and that no photo opportunity is missed.

Planning out your wedding morning may seem fairly straightforward. However, there is so much that is packed into a short period of time. On top of that, it can be the most emotionally charged part of the day, with all of the pre-wedding excitement exuding from everyone. If you’ve ever hosted a party at your house, you may recall the anxious hours leading up to your guests arriving. Then, once your guests arrive, everything becomes a blur. Now to put your wedding morning in perspective, multiply that feeling times one million.

I don’t say that to worry you or make you nervous, but rather to prep you on what to expect the morning of your wedding. With a little planning and a lot of communication,  the morning of your wedding will be a time you can both be present during and look back on with joy, through photographs.

Have a timeline.

Before we dive into the four moments of your morning to plan, I want to point out that photographing a wedding is quite spontaneous, but the best photos come from a good plan.

Although we like to think so, beautiful portfolio images rarely just happen — they are often planned into your morning timeline allowing your photographer to capture the moments that mean most to you. When a wedding morning goes off without a hitch, I like to think that the “photo magic” is flowing. But truly, I have to give it up to a well-thought-out plan that allowed for a smooth morning.

Ok, and now for the moments that you don’t want to forget to plan out on your wedding morning:

#1 Bride Getting  Ready

I’m always so intrigued to see how brides spend their mornings prepping for the biggest day of their lives. Some bridal rooms you’ll find calm, quiet, and collected, while others you’ll find dancing to Cardi B in a room full of hairspray and laughter.

When I arrive, I start by capturing the details of your dress, the invitations, the rings, your shoes, etc. — I like to approach it as if I was shooting the opening scene for a movie, telling the story of your unique day, one frame at a time. To prepare, here’s my list of 5 Items to Have Ready for Your Photographer. Hint: this is a perfect task to delegate out to a bridesmaid!

Like I mentioned, a little preparation goes a long way. Having these items ready creates a smooth start to the morning, and frees up more time to photograph additional moments while you’re getting ready — after all, every minute counts on your wedding day.  

EXPERT TIP:  Make sure your mom and bridesmaids are dressed before you put on your wedding dress. If you’re curious to learn more, I’ve gone into detail on why this is so important in my post, Why Mom Should be Ready First.

#2 The Reveal.

As you finish putting the final touches on your hair and makeup for the day, you’ll be able to feel the anticipation and excitement growing in the room. Your bridesmaids will be excited, emotional, nervous, and downright happy. Perhaps, you’ll choose to have your Mom help you into your dress while your bridesmaids anxiously await in the next room. There are no words to explain the joy of photographing the bridesmaids when they see their best friend in her wedding dress for the first time. This is when it all begins to feel so real, and I love capturing that moment for you to have.

And now, it’s time to have fun! Have your bridesmaids get their phones out in time for you to reveal your look to your best girls. Be ready for a high-energy, emotionally-charged moment filled with screams, tears, and laughter. This is one photo moment you and your photographer don’t want to miss!

EXPERT TIP: With the help of your bridesmaids (that’s why you have them with you!), make sure the room you’re doing your grand reveal in is photo-worthy. 

#3 Bridal Portraits.

Now that you’re dressed and ready to go after the reveal to your bridesmaids, I love to steal you away for a few quiet minutes before joining back up to start the ceremony. With makeup and hair untouched by the wind or tears of the day, the photographs from this time become timeless portraits — passed down for generations to come. Don’t worry, I’m not talking about cheesy senior portraits, but rather capturing you as your most beautiful, raw, and authentic self.

Whether it’s a soft, sweet, smile, a giant belly laugh, or a silhouette to show off all your hard work in the gym, your personality will shine brightly during this photo opportunity.  

EXPERT TIP:  This is a perfect time to open a gift or card from your groom. This special photo moment naturally ties in with the bridal portrait session. 

#4 In the Groom’s Room.

Meanwhile, in the groom’s room, a second shooter will be documenting the boys’ side of the morning. Some might say it is worlds apart from the bridal room, but trust me, the groom has butterflies too! Picture this: a typical morning in the groom’s room entails grown men YouTubing “How to Tie a Bow Tie”, and partaking in card games. Overall, the mood is very light-hearted, which makes for some truly memorable photos for the groom to have. In between capturing the energy of a room full of men dressed to the nines, we’ll steal the groom away for his very own portrait.

I always say, “Happy brides are beautiful brides.”

My hope for you in detailing out the morning of your wedding is this — to create A Happy Bride. Hands down, the biggest difference I notice when capturing exceptional photography (the photo magic) is when the bride and her squad are relaxed, happy, and enjoying the moment. There’s no better way to feel at ease than having a plan in place, so you can sit back and enjoy the most special day of your life.

Don’t forget Dad

How to incorporate Dad.

Without a doubt, I’m about to let you in on the BEST secret about the morning of your wedding day, that likely no one else has mentioned yet.

I’m sure you’ve been dreaming of the moment your groom sets eyes on you for the first time. Every detail of your outfit has been thought through and planned out from your earrings down to the color of your nails. Your photographer will be zoomed in and ready to capture your groom’s reaction from the moment he turns to set eyes on you. This is such an important moment on your big day, to be documented without fail.

But, that’s not the secret I’m here to let you in on. There is another important man that is often forgotten about on your wedding day — your dad.

Plan it.

It will take a little planning and communication ahead of time, but spending a few minutes on your wedding day to create a first look with your dad is always worth it. After your mom and bridesmaids help you put on your wedding dress, I suggest clearing the room and inviting your father to come see you before anyone else. *Cue goosebumps*

 This not only creates a wonderful memory for you and your dad, but it also gives your photographer and videographer an opportunity to capture the real, emotional moments — the ones that create outstanding photos.

It certainly isn’t exclusive to fathers — you can include your mom or grandparents in this special moment as well. It’s a terrific way to make your family feel included and special on your wedding day, and it lends a great opportunity to capture more photos of your VIPs.

Two Dads?

If you have more than one man in your life, such as a stepfather, you can easily set up this moment twice.  

Yes, twice.  

Schedule the first reveal, enjoy the moment, and get the photos.  

Then once that person leaves, bring in the second person for their reveal.  After all, this is still a “first look” for you and them, and it’s worth the time to create this special moment.

Speaking of time, don’t forget to schedule extra time into your morning timeline if you have more than one person to include in a reveal.


EXPERT TIP: I’ve recently started to suggest that your groom does his version of the reveal with his mom, or other family members that he wants to include. I often see it where the groom’s side of the family misses out on so many wonderful photo moments with the people that mean most to him, resulting in a photo story that feels unbalanced between the bride and groom’s families.

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Ready to answer our couple’s burning questions?

Here are some tips and tricks to film a great video that stops the scroll:


Start with a hook.

You’ve got 3-5 seconds to stop the viewer’s scroll. Be creative… start with a phrase like:

  • Oh hell no, just no…
  • Absolutely not…
  • Yes, yes, yes! You should do this…
  • It depends on one very important thing…


Give a super quick intro.

We’ll put your name and bio in the title and links, so you can say something more general like:

“I’m Robin, a photographer in Chicago and after shooting 500 weddings…”
“I’m not only a wedding planner in Chicago, but a newlywed myself…”


Answer away!

Give them your hot take, and don’t hold anything back.

Examples of what we are looking for:

check out how Sal nailed it in this video and so did Megan in this one and Nichole told it straight (from her car).

Tips for filming

Filming vertically on your phone.

TikTok is vertical for good reason - Gen Z have spoken!

Good audio is more important than good video.

Find a quiet room (that isn’t an echoey bathroom!).

Make sure your face is bright enough.

Standing near a large window or lamp is helpful - You want to be brighter than your background.

Nothing works better than a good story.

If you have any experiences you can share to help answer the question, go for it!

the energy!

Down an espresso, pump yourself up, and let the answers pour out! Our couples want as much honesty as they can get.

Featured Question

Q: Is there really a wedding mark up?

Do you feel like the industry charges more “because it’s a wedding” and they know it’s an emotional purchase?

Do companies think that they can charge more for weddings since the bride and groom may be willing to spend more on their dream wedding?

Hey wedding pros – is this higher price tag justified? Why? Do you charge more for your service if it is a wedding?

This is a taboo topic, whispered but not discussed… until now.

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