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Taking your engagement photos. This is the funnest part of the whole wedding process.  For me, it felt like a break from all the chaos of my planning and a chance to have some fun (and also posing) with my future spouse.  You can add the engagement shoot as part of your photography package.  That benefit can either be discounted, included, or even free.  Also, it would have the same feel as your wedding pictures because the same photographer will be taking the them. Sure, we have plenty of pictures with our partner, but it’s the artistic playfulness of the photographer which makes it a beautiful keepsake.

The traditional way of thinking about engagement pictures is: it’s all just posed.  All mostly serious and doesn’t show personality.  Yes, of course you still want those soft and romantic poses for your formal printed material, like your program or the displayed picture during your reception.

So, when the time comes to decide where you want to take your pictures, keep in mind the scenery around the environment and also what time of day you want the pictures taken.  **Remember, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

  • I can only speak for California because we have the ocean, desert, forest, and mountains…so we can literally pick any scenery.  But think about nature, like the beach or a place where you go hiking. Nature is great and can be very romantic, especially during sunrise or sunset.
  • If those locations are not available near you, think about the park.  There’s grass, trees, and maybe a fountain or statue feature.  Even the jungle gym area, with the swings and see-saw, will give you playful and fun pictures. If this suits your personalities, this location is a gem.
  • Think about an art museum or a local visual monument.  There are many interesting features that are visually appealing.  You can climb statues or act like you’re part of the scene.  For example, the library in Cerritos, CA has statues of big books that you can pose with.  This would be a great location of you love to read or for the physical and visual aspect of it.
  • Have your engagement shoot during a dinner date.  It can be fun feeding each other with finger foods and having pictures of that.  It can also be romantic with the dark ambience with candle lighting or twinkle lights.
  • Go to a festival or carnival. You have many opportunities for different styles and many candid moments if you like spontaneity.  You also have interaction with many people.
  • Take your engagement pictures while cooking a meal, like breakfast.  This can be creative in your own element, your home.  Take action in daily activities. It’s fun to be domesticated with your partner.
  • Go to a winery. It’s a beautiful scenery and you can get plenty of romantic pictures.
  • On a boat or on a bridge.  The thinking is how the picture would relate with water or if you as a couple have a connection with water.  The reflection can add to photography tricks.
  • Take pictures with your pets.  They are part of your family and why not include them in your pictures?  Chances are, they might not be able to be at your wedding, so this is one way of keeping them in the process.

Whatever you choose, make it personal, fun and stress free.

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These are some questions for the bride or couple to think about before looking for a photographer:

1. How much is your budget? What is your low and high end….think about a range.

2. Think about what you need in your package.

  • For a budget conscious bride, maybe you can ask or see of they offer an all-digital package.  You can have all your pictures still and have them developed on your own and have your own album made at a later date (when you have funds).
  • If you’re looking for that all around package, consider how many prints, the sizes of them and the album.
  • For all your packages, think about how much hours you need them. (2 hrs: ceremony& first part of reception or 10 hours: which is a whole day event)  The average is 8 hours.

3. Chemistry? Do you click with your future photog? This is important because they are going to take pictures of the most intimate moment of your life.  Plus, you want them to take flattering pictures of you.

4. Know what style you want?  Traditional, journalistic, documentary, or candid?  Do you want them to take posed shots or take shots, blended in the background.  I believe the style now is a combination of journalistic and candid. Photographer are now becoming for artistic with scenery and lighting.

5. Think about if you want all digital photography. Most photographers are now all digital because it’s cheaper and faster to produce images.  However, there are still some old-school photographers that uses 35 mm and film negatives.  These have to be developed, which could be a more costly process.  The benefits to using film is the photographs come out richer and creamier…..but can only be seen with an artistic eye.  When I asked a photographer about the difference, he said it was very minimal and you can achieve the same effects when you use digital enhancement.

6. Decide whether you want only one or if you need two photographers.  Of course, having 2 photographers will cost a little more.  Average is $300-$400 extra.  Also for each photographer you have, you have to provide their meals during the reception.

7. If you are having your wedding on a weekday (Monday-Friday), and Sunday, ask for a price break.  You have better chances of getting better pricing because it’s not busy during that time.  Also another reason for you to get better pricing would be for weddings end of October-April because those are the wedding low season.  Peak season is May until early October.

8. Make a list of every photo combination you want taken, so you would be able to give this to your photographer. (ie. the married couple and parents of both sides, etc)

You should consider having a checklist when you interview your wedding photographer.

  • Your checklist is based on your own preference and discretion. Just make on up.
  • Ask them what is their photo style?
  • What little extras can they do for you?  Throw in a documentary dvd (pictures to music)? Free engagement shoot ($250 & up value)? Additional printed pictures? What promotions do they have?  If you met them at a bridal show, then what specials do they have?
  • Does your photographer use Photoshop?  Sometimes you want your pictures digitally enhanced.  Sometimes they also work with the color hue and other effects.
  • If you would like videography, does your photographer have one he works with? Or can they refer one to you?

Even if your photographer has done weddings before, you still have to check if they know what they’re doing.

  • In my own experience, I have seen photographers that have taken beautiful photos, but their direction was all off, so they weren’t organized in getting important pictures, (ie. bride & father; bride & siblings, etc).  I have also heard of seasoned photographers who know what pictures they need to get and have a precise plan they go by.  **My opinion, for larger weddings, maybe you can ask your coordinator or a friend to keep track of the photographer so they don’t miss out on anything.
  • Make sure of your details.  For example, if you have your wedding at a different site from the reception, make sure your photographer know the landscape of both places.  Also make sure they know the directions.  It would be real bad if the photographers were to learn the landscape on the day of your wedding as this would also disrupt your time-line.
  • Your wedding photographer should help you figure out your time-line.  A knowledgable photographer should know how to work with time and put the sunrise/sunset into consideration.  They should also converse and work with the videographer.

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The popular trend with current photography packages is to get all your photographs on a CD.  It could range from hundreds to thousands of images. Your photographer may or may not color correct your images, with photoshop, but again it depends with your contract.  Of course, it would be best to ask your photographer if they could sign a release on all the photographs so you can reproduce the pictures on your own.  With this being said, and I know that a lot of couples are trying to cut corners with expenses, like myself, their packages may not include a photo album.

This is the situation that I’m facing, although I would very much like to have an album.  My photographer says that it’s going to cost me about $800-$900, of which I don’t have at the moment.  I opted just to get the CD of images and get an album done on my own.  During my research I came across two types of albums that peaked my interest: the photobook and the flush mount album.  To understand the differences, the photobook is more like a coffeebook, which has thinner pages, a hard cover, and costs very inexpensive. I’m planning to get a few for my family as gifts.  The flush mount albums are more elegant and more for keepsakes.  They are beautuful, more handicrafted, and costly as well.  This I will keep for my own.

Here are a few website that do photobooks and some to flush mount as well:

Here are a few websites that do flush mount albums.  Since most other companies only deal with photograhers directly, I found these companies that also deal with brides:

I don’t work with any of these companies.  I was just doing research for my own album and came across these companies.  I have yet to try them out and when I do try one or a few, I will update with future comments.

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