If you’re a bride or groom-to-be, chances are you’ve been getting lots of advice from friends, family, strangers, your manicurist, Martha Stewart. What’s the #1 tip brides get?
“Enjoy your wedding! The day flies by so quickly!”
And this is so true. Here is an event you spend months planning, and it is over in a few hours. So HOW exactly do you maximize that small window of time?
One answer: instead of spending time with your photographer on your wedding day, choose to do an After Session with your photographer at a later date. That way, you can take the time you would have used to shoot your bride/groom portraits, and spend it with your wedding guests instead. You know, the ones who have traveled from far and wide to see you?
QUESTION: What is an After Session anyway?
ANSWER: It’s a photo shoot designed to capture stunning portraits of a bride and groom, decked out in wedding fineries. We’re not talking about the kiss-hug-kiss-now-stand-in-front-of-the-fountain kind of portraits. Cheese be GONE. I mean modern, uber-stylish, editorial style portraits (i.e. the kind you’d see in a high end fashion magazine).
It is not done on the wedding day, rather at a later date. Usually in the week or two following the wedding.
I like the term “cinematic” to describe the pictures that come from an After Session. My mission is to capture the powerful feeling between these two people – the feeling of being in love.
How can you capture a feeling with a camera? This is what I spend my days thinking about, lovelies. Interestingly, my research shows it has to do with the law of relativity, the second law of thermodynamics and that whole matter/anti-matter thingy. But I don’t want to bore you with that nerdy stuff! Instead, take a look at the photographs in this blog post, they are all taken from After Sessions. Hopefully this will give you an idea of what we’re talking about.
By the way, you may have heard the term “Day-After Session” or “Trash the Dress”. I’ll be honest, I really dislike the term TTD. It has such a negative connotation. And moreover it’s misleading – the shoot isn’t about destroying anything. A more appropriate name would be “Honor the Dress”. But that’s kind of lame.
Still not convinced you want to spend two extra hours in your wedding dress? Fair enough. Let’s just walk through the 5 W’s of an After Session:
WHO: You, me, your beloved
WHAT: Two hours of fun, relaxed pictures
WHERE: Anywhere beautiful or meaningful to you
WHEN: During Golden Hour
WHY: there are 78 reasons why. Because I love you (and because you have things to do) I’m only going to tell you five.
Photogenic location = better pictures.
On your wedding day, you are pretty much restricted to your venue(s) to take your portraits. Your venue is probably quite nice – after all, you wouldn’t be getting married there if it wasn’t.
But is it the best place for a photo shoot? Is there enough visual variety? What is the quality of light? Are there clean, photogenic backgrounds? Is there a place where three people can retreat to do a photo shoot (away from your guests) that will produce cinematic portraits? These are some of the questions your photographer stays up all night thinking about.
During an After Session though, you’re not restricted to any one location. You can go anywhere. Your favorite Austin landmark, your favorite spot on Lady Bird Lake, that dive bar where you two met during SXSW.
CASE STUDY: Brooklyn newlyweds Liz and Josh (below) really wanted to incorporate the Brooklyn Bridge into their wedding pictures something, but their venue wasn’t very close to it and thus there was no time to get the photos they wanted.
So a month later, I took this gorgeous pair back out on the town for what ended up ending up being one of my very favorite shoots of all time. I was able to make their Brooklyn Bridge wishes comes true, and Liz got one more chance to take her GORGEOUS and sexy dress out for one more moment in the sun. I also scored a second location for the shoot — the UNBELIEVABLY beautiful The Palace at 5 Beekman. One of the most surprising (and hidden) historic buildings in Manhattan.
C’est tres romantique, non? Sorry just looking at these photos makes me want to speak French.
CASE STUDY: Naveed and Tazin (below) got married in Columbus, Ohio, where their families lived.
But their hearts belonged to Cincinnati, the city where they had met. That’s where they had gone to school, fell in love, and (here’s the kicker) – the city they were about to leave for new jobs on the east coast. Tazin and Naveed were more than a little bit nostalgic about leaving Cincinnati.
When they contacted me, they had seen the After Session I did with Liz and Josh in front of the Brooklyn Bridge. Tazin and Naveed they knew they wanted to do a memorable photo shoot at the Roebling Bridge in Cincinnati (which coincidentally is the predecessor to the Brooklyn Bridge). Just after their wedding, we did a wonderful After Session together at Ault Park and the Roebling Bridge. There was none of the wedding day stress or time constraints to deal with, they were both so relaxed and could just focus on each other.
I loved every minute of it. Judging from their photographs, I think they did too.
CASE STUDY: Austin bride and groom Greer and Jeff (below) got married in Las Vegas.
This dapper duo bought a package deal from their venue that came with a photographer. While their Vegas photographer gave them a couple of pictures they liked, Greer and Jeff wanted to do a full photo shoot when they came home to Austin. I found this amazing 1954 mint green Buick Skylark for their shoot (thank you Terry!) Isn’t it the perfect prop? Sigh. I wish I had that car for every photo shoot.
CASE STUDY: Austin couple Yana and Jerry (below) did something glamorous for their After Session: they rented this classic Rolls Royce, and took me to some of their favorite Austin wineries. The light was pretty and they were relaxed.
(TIP: wine is a good way to placate a groom who is less than enthused about taking pictures!)
BOTTOM LINE: Location, location, location. As they say, it’s everything!
More time = better pictures.
On your wedding day, at most you’ll have an hour to spend taking portraits. Does that sound like a lot of time? Well sometimes it is enough. But more often than not, that one hour shrinks (and shrinks) due to logistics. Walking around in a wedding dress and heels takes time, driving to the gorgeous park down the road takes time. And if you’re running behind schedule that day (it happens to the best), guess where you’re going to make up that time? That’s right.
Suddenly, your bride/groom portraits get squished from 60 to 20 minutes. There’s no time to go to the gorgeous park down the road. Just barely enough time for some quickie shots out back behind the hotel/church before the ceremony starts. And those stunning, epic photographs of the two of you had asked your photographer for? No time.
I see this happen all too often. In an After Session, there’s no time crunch. No stress to get to the church on time. Plenty of time.
Why should time matter though? Don’t photographers these days have magic cameras? Isn’t the technology just so great that time isn’t even an issue? Ha. I wish.
Photographers take hundreds of pictures, in order to produce just one or two gems. With so many variables at play – the light, the pose, facial expressions of not one but TWO people, the camera angle, the camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO etc), which lens is being used (wide angle, telephoto etc) – a photographer needs that time to experiment with different combinations. Trying to figure out the puzzle: what are the best combinations of pose/angle/lensing/settings etc. for THIS particular couple, in THIS particular setting?
When the planets align (i.e. the light is good, the pose is beautiful, the facial expressions of not one but two people look good, the angle is great) that’s when you get that heart-breakingly beautiful photograph. The one that will go on your wall, or the front of your wedding album.
BOTTOM LINE: Give your photographer the gift of time, and they will give you stunning, epic portraits.
Not ready to say goodbye?
Your wedding is over in the blink of any eye. But how much time did you spend looking for just the right dress? Hours? Days? How many dresses did you try on? Did you bring in other people to weigh in on the matter? Did you spend time getting it fitted perfectly to your body? What a lot of work – and love – went into this one thing.
If you’re like most brides, you did or will spend a significant amount of thought, time and/or money on The Dress.
And The Shoes. And The Jewelry.
So how much fun would it be to take your perfectly-you dress out for a spin one last time? Before it winds up at the back of a dark closet or eBay. Give it one more chance to shine before you part ways. After all – you spent so much time finding just the right one.
BOTTOM LINE: Wouldn’t it be nice to get a little more use out of your gorgeous dress that you worked so hard to find?
Why should time of day matter?
Look through a National Geographic Magazine, and you might notice that 75% of the photographs are taken at Golden Hour. What is that anyways? This is a term photographers use to describe that time of day when the late afternoon sun is just about ready to set. It’s also called Magic Hour by cinematographers.
Something magic happens at that time – the color of the light changes. It literally becomes more golden, and it bathes the world in the most luscious light.
Yep that’s right. I said luscious light. Photographers are passionate about light, what can I say!
Nine times out of ten, given the choice I would schedule a photo shoot of any kind for Golden Hour, regardless if its a fashion shoot, or an engagement session, or a bridal session or an After session. It makes that much of a difference.
I calculate Golden Hour by finding the time the sun sets on the day of the shoot, and subtracting 1 hour. If the sun sets at 8:30pm, The best light will be from 7:30-8:30pm. I will schedule that After session for 6:30-8:30pm.
Some locations may be at their most photogenic at dusk, and others may be best at night. It is great to have to freedom to schedule a photo shoot at any time of day!
On your wedding day, you may be tied up during Golden Hour. If not – and you can take portraits at that time – that is awesome!!! Your photographer will love you SO much. Your pictures will be even more magical than they would have been.
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re not able to schedule your bride/groom portraits for Golden Hour, that’s OK. Not a lot of couples can swing that. But if you are doing an After Session, you’ll be able to schedule the shoot during that luscious late afternoon light. And be prepared to get some jaw dropping photographs.
How do make more time to be with your loved ones?
You know those dear friends and family who came from near and far to kiss you and hug you and tell embarrassing stories about you from junior high? Well those folks – they really want to talk to you. You are the star of this show, baby. When you disappear for a chunk of time during cocktail hour, you deprive them of your lovely presence.
If you plan to have an After Session on the other hand, you get More. More quality time with your besties. More catch-up time with your sibs. More time for you to sit and have a quiet moment with your grandmother before the party really gets going. More time to drink that basil-lavender-whatever cocktail you spent time dreaming up.
BOTTOM LINE: What’s the #1 piece of advice brides always get?
“Enjoy your wedding! The day flies by so quickly!”
Great advice. And choosing an After Session means your guests get to see more of you and you get to see more of them, because you’re not off galavanting with your photographer. Save your bride/groom portraits for another day, and you’ll have more time to savor the moment. If we’ve learned anything from all that advice, it’s that the day flies by so quickly.
*** If you’re not able to do an After Session – do not fret. You can use the all the same principles to get modern, creative, stylish and editorial-style wedding portraits ON your wedding day. Ask your photographer what they need — it will probably be lots of time, a beautiful location, and golden hour light, if you can swing it. Even if you can’t, two outta three ain’t bad. And its your photographers job to make beautiful pictures — no matter what.
QUESTION: What’s better than digging your toes into warm sand, margarita in hand?
ANSWER: Not a lot.
But for me, a passionate photographer with a thing for editorial-style portraits, when a client tells me “we want an After Session!” I get about as buzzy as if I was sipping a fruity umbrella drink on a tropical beach.
Yes, really. And now you know why. When I get to work with a couple on an After Session, there’s no stress on them. They are relaxed, confident, rested, fully present for me and at their best. It shines through in their pictures. It’s a completely different state of mind than on the wedding day. No worries. No timeline. No rushing. They can relax and enjoy being with each other in a beautiful place.
How can you capture a feeling with a camera? I think this is it folks. You put two completely in-love people together in a gorgeous place, with nowhere to rush off to, at the perfect time of day. And it’s funny how magical pictures just…. happen.
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