Archive » June 28, 2012
Behind the perfect wedding album
By SaraLloyd Truax, Staff Writer
They walk down the aisle clinging to each other, the deed done, their life together begun.
Ahead lays the party so many months in the planning. Instead, she shoos them away from the exiting crowd behind them, the party put briefly on hold. This is their first moment alone together, husband and wife. This is the exhale following the buildup of expectation.
She wants to capture the small and magical interaction. The first kiss meant for them and them alone.
She is Amelia Archer, the photographer – a young local looking to create a name for herself in the field of wedding photography. She uses her instincts and youthful enthusiasm to look for the emotion behind the glitz, to capture the interactions that really count.
She smiles. Archer is both self-taught and working toward her AA in photography at Santa Barbara City College. Wedding photography hadn’t been her plan, far from it, but it has become her passion.
“When I started out I just wanted to do landscapes – and western-themed shots – the essentials for the Valley,” she says. Her first foray into photography came in high school, but it didn’t take long for the extracurricular activity to become the focus of her studies.
Archer came slowly to the idea of adding people into her settings. She began by playing a grownup version of the game of dress up. Doing her friends’ hair and makeup, dressing them in prom clothes, Archer staged them into her all important backgrounds. She discovered she enjoys working with people.
As more friends fell in love with her work, Archer was asked more and more often to do senior portraits, but her real love is weddings. With access to classes at the college limited, Archer began scouring websites for information and examples, reading books and delving into other artists’ work.
“By doing that I figured out what my own style is,” she says. But she also worked to figure out what couples need to look for in a wedding photographer. What better way to know what Archer needs to be able to provide, she asks. Organized by nature, Archer began making lists. Inspired by Martha Stewart Weddings and supplemented by her own experience, this is what Archer suggests you keep in mind when looking for a photographer for your special day.
Start early. Once you have your venue settled, book your photographer. (Ten months to a year in advance is the norm.) Just as weddings tend to be seasonal, so is wedding photography. In any given area, there are only so many professionals. Archer says she already has two weddings booked for next summer. But, before you book the person you are entrusting your special day to, you need to be sure to:
Find a photographer whose style appeals to you. Like any artist, photographers each have their own approach. Look through their portfolio. No matter how great a professional’s reputation is, if you don’t like what was done for other couples, you won’t like what will be done for you.
It is far better to find someone whose style you like than it is to trust they can modify their instincts to take the photos the way you want them to. So, take the time to:
Review a single wedding album, start to finish. Not only will this give you a good idea of what your photos will eventually look like, it will also give you ideas of the shots you want to be sure to have. Think a bit about the end product as well, says Archer – do you want a disk, an album already put together, loose shots?
“I always ask them, what is it you want my pictures to do for you? What moments, emotions do you want me to capture?” Archer keeps a keen eye out for the opportunity to catch the candid moments no one knows to expect. They often end up being the favorites. But, she warns, the only way to be certain to end up with a wedding portfolio which includes everything you want is to:
Provide a written checklist of the moments you want the photographer not to miss. Chances are the photographer has been to more weddings than you have. Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas ahead of time.
Do you want to duplicate a photo from your parents’ album in style and moment? Do you have a tradition unique to your family the photographer needs to know about? Do you have an unusual surprise planned?
“I keep in mind the shots that they aren’t expecting and would want – the things they don’t necessarily see happen,” says Archer, as she relays touching moments she has witnessed between in-laws or siblings as the ceremony unfolds.
The bride and groom aren’t the only important people at the wedding, says Archer. The reactions of people significant to the couple can “happen in a second and mean a lot.” She does her best to look for the opportunity to capture them.
There is much to consider when planning how you want your day remembered, says Archer. This is why she really enjoys meeting with the couples several times. Helping them to talk through what they want helps build a bond and a report.
“Each wedding is different. You can’t completely prepare. You have to be ready for the unexpected,” she says. If you’re not comfortable with the personality of your photographer, Archer warns, it will feel invasive when they snap that watery-eyed last moment hug from daddy just before he gives you away. So:
Do an engagement shoot. It will give the photographer a chance to see how you relate as a couple, you get the chance to see how the photographer works and both sides have a better idea of what the end product is that everyone has in mind.
“It’s really nice to have an engagement shot to send out to families,” says Archer. “It’s sort of a practice run at a time when there is a lot less stress.” One couple she worked with decided to re-enact the proposal for their shot. It got the creative juices flowing for the wedding to come later.
“People think, ‘Oh, you just take pictures,’ but it’s so much more,” says Archer. She loves it. “It’s so exciting to take pictures of someone’s special day.”
Standing in the foyer, momentarily alone, the bride sighs nervously. Everyone else has already made their way down the aisle. She is uneasy, a bit scared, even. Archer smiles, chats amiably with her. Straightening the train, she poses the bride for quick shot or two – a welcome distraction.
The music begins.