Welcome to the Studio Uma blog

I'm a creative and modern wedding photographer in Austin, Texas. At Studio Uma, we work like crazy for our brides and grooms to produce gorgeous works of art that stir the soul. We do magic things with light and color. We love modern Indian wedding photography! For more info, email us at uma@umasanghvi.com.

Archive for 'That’s Good Advice'

May 8, 2014

Style icon Audrey Hepburn once said: “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. And I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.”


Style icon Audrey Hepburn once said: “I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. And I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls.”

Engagement picture tips by Austin Indian wedding photographer

I adore the last line! As a long time professional photographer, I’ve learned that it pretty much sums up everything you need to know about looking good on camera. But perhaps you’re searching for more concrete advice on what to wear for your engagement session. Unless you have a lot of experience in front of the camera, you may be wondering: what colors should I wear? Do I need to get my hair done? If only you had a personal stylist finding the best looks for you! Not to worry. Looking flawless and photogenic is easy if you follow these simple guidelines.


Tip number one – color is gorgeous on camera.

If your outfit features mainly neutrals or softer shades – which is totally fine – think about adding a color somewhere in your accessories. Shoes, nail color, scarf etc. Or a bright lip color. A pop of bright color is fabulous.

Engagement session pictures from top Austin wedding photographer

High fashion engagement pictures by contemporary Austin wedding photographer



Cameras get fooled by lots of white. But don’t let this get you down – there are exceptions to this rule. For example if you have a gorgeous white dress that fits you perfectly, ignore this rule. Fit is more important than anything!

Creative engagement photos by best Austin wedding photographer



Your hands will be in many of your photos. Holding hands, showing off your ring, running your fingers through your fiancés hair… these are all likely scenarios during your photo shoot. And depending on your shoes (are you wearing strappy sandals or a peep toe heel?) you may want a pedicure too.

Austin engagement photos by creative Austin wedding photojournalist



You don’t want to look like twins!

Contemporary engagement pictures with dog by editorial style Austin wedding photographer

High fashion engagement photography by best Austin Indian wedding photographer



I suggest grabbing your iPhone, snapping some full-length selfies in the mirror, to see how a camera “interprets” your outfits. That will give you a rough idea of how an outfit is going to play on camera. Then email your pics to your fashionista sister (or cousin or BFF) and ask for their advice. A photography tip: take your test shots in natural light (stand facing a big window, or go outside).

Photojournalistic engagement photos by modern Houston Indian wedding photography



Get a professional to do your hair and/or makeup. If for no other reason than it will make you feel more put together and relaxed in front of the camera. Also, it is the perfect opportunity to try out a new look or a new stylist for your wedding, sangeet, reception etc. Think of it as a trial run before the Main Event.

Contemporary engagement photos by editorial style Austin wedding photographer

High fashion engagement photography by best Austin Indian wedding photographer



If you need some help identifying your best features (or just narrowing them down!) ask your fiancé. This is a prime opportunity to hear them talk about your sexy legs or gorgeous eyes or luscious hair.

Creative engagement photo tips by best contemporary Austin Indian wedding photographer

Cinematic engagement photos by best Austin wedding photographer



At the end of the day – don’t get overwhelmed with rules.  Take the tips that work for you – and throw out the rest. If there’s any secret to dressing well, it is to wear what makes you feel really good.


Indian engagement photos by top Austin Indian wedding photographer


When you are relaxed and enjoying yourself, it shows in your eyes and through your body language. And the camera picks up on those cues. Remember, your engagement session is all about capturing the special bond between you and your fiance. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re wearing pink or yellow or red or even zebra stripes – remember to enjoy the experience, and you’ll look gorgeous!

* * * * *

Uma Sanghvi was just named one of the “Top 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography” by Rangefinder Magazine. She is based in beautiful Austin, Texas, and specializes in modern Indian wedding photography.

Uma can be reached at uma@umasanghvi.com and through the Studio Uma website.
Thank you to South Asian Bride Magazine for publishing this article!


Modern Indian engagement photos by creative Austin wedding photographer
September 4, 2013

Today I’m thrilled to bring you advice from Austin’s leading wardrobe stylist, Cristina Facundo. Are you wondering what to wear to a professional photo shoot? Perhaps you’re getting ready for an engagement session with your wedding photographer. Unless you have a lot of experience in front of the camera, you may be wondering: what colors should I wear? Do I need to get my hair done? If only you had a personal stylist finding the best “looks” for you. No fear. Cristina is happy to share her insider fashion styling tips with us!

Today I’m thrilled to bring you advice from Austin’s leading wardrobe stylist, Cristina Facundo. Are you wondering what to wear to a professional photo shoot? Perhaps you’re getting ready for an engagement photo session with your wedding photographer. Unless you have a lot of experience in front of the camera, you may be wondering: what colors should I wear? Do I need to get my hair done? If only you had a personal stylist finding the best “looks” for you. No fear. Cristina is happy to share her insider fashion styling tips with us!
Cristina is the lead wardrobe stylist for Austin Monthly Magazine, and styles for runway shows, live TV and commercials, among other markets. She worked as a wardrobe assistant at New York Fashion Week for designers Oscar De La Renta, Zac Posen and Vera Wang, to name just a few. She’s pretty much a rock star!


I collaborated with Cristina on a bridal inspiration photo shoot earlier this year and got to see her in action. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that Cristina is sharing her expert advice.
Be yourself!
At the end of the day, you want to look and feel like yourself. This will show in the photos. When I have to take photos for anything, I always think to myself, look like you but a polished version. This leads us to rule 2 and 3
Give yourself a good polishing!
As I mentioned above, look like yourself but a polished version. If you are a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, that’s great! But pick a dark slimming jean, add an ankle boot and throw on a statement necklace. If you have a more classic style, have fun with it! Take a note from J. Crew and style a printed collared shirt under a solid dress. Engagement photos should never be stuffy but rather playful!
Pamper yourself.
Spend the time pampering yourself before the shoot. A manicure and pedicure is a quick way to make yourself feel put together. I typically curl my own hair but I like to spend the money on makeup. Do your research and ask other friends for recommendations who have recently married.
All rules apply for your groom.
If they have scruff, let them have scruff. Just clean it up! Men won’t suggest it, but I’ve never had a boyfriend who didn’t like a pedicure.
Pay attention to your surroundings.
If you’re shooting outside or on grass, stay away from green or colors that will blend in to the background. Otherwise, no color is off limits!
Be prepared!
Have these five wardrobe emergency essentials on hand. Static remover, double sided tape, clamp (give yourself a waist by clamping some material of your outfit in the back), compact mirror (make up on teeth happens to all of us), and tissues in case you get a little shiny.


* * *


Thanks to Cristina Facundo for the helpful tips! You can find out more about Cristina on her website.

Here she is behind the scenes on our “Modern + Minimalist” wedding inspiration photo shoot:



To see the GORGEOUS modern wedding dresses she found for this shoot –  check out these links:

+ Camille Styles – The Modern Minimalist

+ Style Me Pretty – Modern Austin Wedding Inspiration from Studio Uma

* * *

If you’d like to find out more about Studio Uma, please click here to visit our wedding photography portfolio website. We are based in beautiful Austin, Texas and specialize in editorial, modern and creative wedding photography.

Visit Studio Uma on Facebook. We’re always up to something.



August 6, 2013

So you’re looking for a photographer for your traditional Indian/Hindu/Muslim/South Asian/etc wedding. Where to start? There are so many options to choose from. How do you interview a wedding photographer? What’s important to know? Considering that 85% of brides and grooms have never had to hire a photographer before, this search can be challenging. Here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction.


So you’re looking for a photographer for a traditional Indian wedding. Where to start? There are so many options to choose from. How do you interview a wedding photographer? What’s important to know? Considering that 85% of brides and grooms have never had to hire a photographer before, this search can be challenging. Here are a few tips to get you pointed in the right direction.


There’s already plenty of good advice about how to choose the right wedding photographer for you. In fact, I thought this topic was SO crucial that I dedicated an entire page of my wedding photography portfolio website to this question.

But how does the advice differ if you’re planning an Indian wedding? After all, Indian weddings are unique. Instead of a white dress and a first kiss and bouquets, we’re talking gold and red and mandaps and mehndi. South Asian weddings are bigger (more guests on average), longer and look entirely different than other weddings. It’s a whole different ball game.

Here are seven questions to ask before hiring a photographer for your Indian wedding:


This is a good opportunity to get past portfolios and rhetoric (which can be misleading) and really understand:

  • How many pictures will I be getting?
  • What is the caliber of these photos?
  • Do I like the style of this photographers images?

Speaking of style. All the jargon around style can get pretty confusing. Do you like cinematic wedding pictures? Are you looking for a photojournalist? And what’s the deal with nebulous terms like editorial and modern? Here’s the chance to get past verbiage and just look at real wedding photography coverage. Make sure this person can take the kind of pictures YOU want.


Last year, I got a call from a bride looking for a photographer with a “creative, photojournalistic feel.” Her very first question for me: would you mind sharing an entire wedding you shot? She wanted to see all of the proofs from a single wedding shoot, not just my 30 all-time “greatest hits.” I was impressed.

She explained that she was looking for far more candid shots than posed ones, and looking at proofs had been quite illuminating. Her exact words were:

“We saw some nice portfolios, but we’re not shopping for a portfolio – we’re shopping for an entire wedding album.” I wanted to high-five her.


What should you be looking for once you have an entire wedding gallery in front of you? Prospective clients are often concerned with technical issues. For example, one bride wanted to see a wedding I had photographed with an outdoor reception – because she is having an outdoor reception, and she was concerned about lighting and flash photography.

Another bride was concerned about balancing skin tones between her and her fiance. She told me that her fair skin was too washed out in pictures and he appeared normal, or else she looked fine and he appeared too dark. So she wanted to see a wedding of mine where the bride and groom also had a contrast in dark/light skin tone.

Those are definitely important concerns. But technical challenges like lighting and exposing for contrasting skin tones is pretty basic stuff. Any professional photographer will be able to handle challenges like that.

What you really need to be looking for, however, is what photojournalists call a “decisive moment”. This is a term coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the father of photojournalism. It’s a moment, caught in time. A candid – unposed – image that captures something fleeting.




For a photojournalist, decisive moments are the holy grail. Because for one, this is an extremely difficult skill to master. It takes many years of practice to hone. And secondly, unposed moments tell the true story of a person. They capture authentic emotion. You can imagine how this skill comes into play in a wedding, which is a long series of once-in-a-lifetime moments. The thrill is to capture them in photographs that will serve as pieces of art for years to come.


Perhaps you’ve heard of Indian Standard Time? Then I don’t need to explain this one…

I suggest asking your photographer about what happens if your sangeet/mehndi/reception/etc. goes later than expected. Will they be available to stay an extra hour or two? What will it cost you? Are you going to want both photographers to stay or just one?


Having a wedding planner is going to help you a lot with staying on your timeline. But if you don’t have a planner (or even if you do), being prepared for this scenario is a good idea.


Who do you think is even more thrilled than you are about your upcoming wedding? YOUR PARENTS.

Giving your South Asian parents a duplicate of your wedding album is the best birthday/holiday gift idea ever (other than finally getting married that is!) You already know how excited they are going to be to show off your recent wedding to all of their friends. So here’s your chance to give them visual bragging rights.


An artfully designed and printed album filled with professional photos of you will give them YEARS worth dinner party fodder.


By the way, grandparents love these books too.

Ask your photographer about options for printing duplicate albums. Your own album is probably a flush mount, but flush mount wedding albums can get pretty pricey, so ask to see some options for duplicates. Look for a book with high quality printing at a lower price point. And check out your styling options – like what cover upgrades are offered.



Speaking of parents and grandparents, how easy or hard will it be to get your entire collection of wedding pictures distributed to everyone who wants them?

Thanks to cloud storage, the days burning DVDs are over.

Be sure that your photographer is giving you an online gallery. That way, you and your grandparents in India can download your photos. Instantly. No waiting on DVDs. No hassling with software.


Also find out if your gallery is mobile-friendly, so you can view your wedding photos on a phone or tablet. That way, your wedding pictures are always with you. Life is pretty sweet when you can order professional prints from your phone and have them sent right to your door!

Imagine how your parents will adore this. Your mom and her iPad mini can be standing in line at the store, showing off your wedding photos to the person in line behind her!


Bottom line, once you have a collection of professional, gorgeous wedding photographs – make super easy for everyone to see them. And share them. And print them. Make SURE you’re getting an online gallery. That way you and your family can view and share the photos from anywhere. Plus, your photos are stored safely in the cloud. So you don’t have to worry about the DVD getting lost or scratched.

Don’t you love technology?   


Having a second photographer documenting everything that goes down on your wedding day is a smart idea. After all, you’re only going to have one first dance, and you’re only going to cut your wedding cake once. Having two unique perspectives on these once-in-a-lifetime moments is an opportunity to get two entirely different angles from the same beautiful moment. It’s also insurance in case something unexpected happens to one of the two photographers (like being blocked by a guest who pops up to get their own shot at the last second, or combating a flash from a guest photographer).

With the bride getting ready in one location, and the groom getting ready at a different location, having two photographers becomes a necessity. I find that the behind-the-scenes moments that happen at the start of the wedding day make for some of the very best moments. So that second photographer must be good enough to stand completely on their own and make creative images by themselves.


Photo by Cooper Neill for Studio Uma

As it turns out, second photographers are even more important at Indian weddings. Why? In addition to the “getting ready” photos, it’s likely that the second shooter will be on their own for an entire ceremony. For example, in a recent traditional Hindu wedding I photographed, the Sehra Bandhi ceremony with the groom and his family was taking place at one hotel while I was photographing the girls getting ready at a different hotel twenty miles away. Out of necessity I had to leave this part of the day to the talents and experience of my second photographer.


Photo by Meg Vogel for Studio Uma

In a few weeks we’ll be photographing a Muslim wedding where with two different mehndi ceremonies happening at the same time – one for the bride, and one for the groom. So you see how important it is to ask about the credentials of your second photographer? If you can look at examples of  their work, that would be best. Having not just one but TWO awesome photographers at your Indian wedding isn’t simply a luxury – it is a necessity.


If you are planning on entertaining over than 400 wedding guests, consider asking for a third photographer. You may or may not need this – but definitely ask your photographer for their advice; they’ll be able to help you make a decision.


It depends on what kind of photographs you want. If you’re more interested in focusing on you, your fiance and your immediate families, then two photographers is probably fine. But if you (or your parents) want all of your 400+ wedding guests to be photographed at some point, think about adding one more shooter to the team. That will free up the other two shooters to make creative, beautiful and one-of-a-kind photographs of you and your love.

And last but not least….


This one sounds like a no-brainer. But why? The answer may surprise you.

You may think that a photographer might miss out on capturing the major moments of your wedding ceremony if they’re not familiar with a particular set of rituals.


I tend to disagree. I think any talented photographer can document any kind of wedding and come away with amazing photographs.  Even if they’ve never seen that particular set of ceremonies before. Being a good photographer means capturing fleeting moments, and being ready for anything. It’s just part of the skill set. I won’t deny – having lots of experience helps – but it’s not as critical as you may think.

So why even ask this question? It’s because of all the other things you learn with experience. The intangibles. Like how to hustle for three days straight and still be the same calm, focused (sane) photographer by night three! Photographers used to one-day weddings are going to be facing an entirely new challenge.

And consider all the time your wedding photographer will spend with your immediate family. She is going to be there for some of the most intimate moments of the day, when you’re getting dressed and when your grandmother comes by to give you a teary hug. And then your photographer will be stepping into the spotlight to play “director” during the family photo session. “Wedding photographer” is a role that requires balancing sensitivity with assertiveness.

This person is going to be interacting a lot with your family and friends; their presence is widely felt. There are differences between each generation of an Indian family. For example, you may be looking for a more modern and creative kind of photographer. But your parents want lots of traditional (posed) family group photos.


It is wonderful having someone around who is at ease with all of these cultural and generational differences – and who understands what everyone needs. I think that is just as important as taking beautiful photographs.

* * *

At the end of the day, the best advice is simple advice.

When we are faced with making decisions, the voice of the heart is a true guide — Annie B. Bond

So whatever you do, follow your instincts. Your instincts are smarter than you know. All you have to do is listen to them.

Happy wedding-planning!

If you’d like to find out more about Studio Uma, please click here to visit our wedding photography portfolio website. We are based in gorgeous Austin, Texas and specialize in unique, modern and creative Indian wedding photography.

And visit Studio Uma on Facebook. We’re always up to something.


March 20, 2013

If you’re a bride-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?

filed under: That's Good Advice



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.


One //



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!


Two //

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.

Three //

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?

Four //

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.

Five //

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.


For more information on Studio Uma, click here to visit our main website. To see the latest, check us out on Facebook. We’re always up to something.


February 26, 2013

Last weekend I had the pleasure of working on a wedding with Barbara Hearne at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Austin. Barbara has over 20 years of wedding experience and accumulated wisdom, and I’m happy to say she’s sharing some of it with us here today.

filed under: That's Good Advice

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of working on a wedding with Barbara Hearne at the beautiful Hyatt Regency Austin. The photos in this post are from that gorgeous multicultural wedding that featured two ceremonies and a reception on the top floor of the Hyatt. Isn’t the view (above) breath-taking?

Barbara has over 20 years of wedding experience and accumulated wisdom, and I’m happy to say she’s sharing some of it with us here today.

* * * * * *

~ The top 5 mistakes brides make when planning their Austin wedding ~

ONE   >> Not hiring a planner before they book their venue. One of the biggest advantages to hiring an experienced planner is we know which Austin venues will work best for your vision, guest count, budget and guests satisfaction. We know the venues so well, we can offer suggestions on seating and setup that you may not have considered. We also know the restrictions they may have or challenges with their location. When planning from out of town it is imperative to be as efficient as possible on your one or two day of site tours.


TWO   >> Not having a great rain plan. When we tour venues, I review what the rain plan will be so that the week of the wedding the emotional stress does not take over. We also have a cost estimate of what the rain plan will cost, how the floral will change and all the other logistics.


THREE   >> Not looking into the city calendar before they secure their wedding date to see if it is a UT football weekend, Film Festival, ACL, SXSW, Biker Rally or the new big event Formula One. All of those events will greatly affect hotel guest room availability, parking and overall vibe in the city that weekend.


FOUR   >> Not working with a wedding planner’s preferred vendor list. I cannot tell you how many couples and their parents have regretted saving money on a “bargain” photographer, DJ, photo booth, limousine company, strings group and countless other vendors only to have the vendor either not show up, arrive very unprofessionally dressed, late, drunk or with inadequate equipment. We do not forget the photographer that drinks throughout the reception, the pop up photo booth that keeps falling over, the no show limo and DJ who doesn’t stay at his table. Saving a little money does not give you the quality of service that my preferred vendors deliver time and time again.


FIVE   >> Not hiring a planner at all. We understand you want to plan your wedding and between you and your mom, it should be easy. Keeping in mind all the above mentioned areas, let’s talk about the wedding weekend.  Will you have a friend or family member on site checking in all your vendors while you are having your hair and makeup done? Do you trust that they will oversee and fix any problems that may pop up because they have do 25 weddings a year? Do you want the vendors who are lost or late calling you on your cell phone? Are you going to hand out the bouquets and pin all the flowers? If you aren’t at a church with a church coordinator, who will line up and cue the bridal party for the ceremony entrance, fix your train and cue you to enter? All your friends and family should enjoy your wedding not work that day to make sure it is a wonderful day.

  • Wedding coordinator: Barbara’s Brides
  • Photography: Studio Uma
  • Flowers: Bouquets of Austin
  • Videography: Crescent Video
  • Ceremony and Reception Music: Stafford Jones
  • Officiant: Judge Jon Wisser
  • Linens: Yara with Unique Designs
  • Venue: Hyatt Regency Austin

* * * * * *

Thanks Barbara! You know, there’s a reason that both brides and Austin wedding vendors refer to Barbara’s Brides as one of Austin’s best wedding coordinating companies. Barbara Hearne offers Austin couples over 20 years of wedding experience, and she is the only Austin wedding coordinator to receive “The Best of The Knot” six years in a row. Awards aside, I can say from my own personal experience that she is one of the best wedding planners I’ve worked with.

For more information on Barbara, please visit her website here.

Please click here to visit main Studio Uma website. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook. We’re always up to something.

February 20, 2013

If I told you there was a hidden gem of a wedding venue tucked neatly into downtown Austin, that features gorgeous 1874 European architecture, an intimate courtyard perfect for ceremonies and free parking to boot.. would you even believe me?

filed under: That's Good Advice

If I told you there was a hidden gem of a wedding venue tucked neatly into downtown Austin, that features gorgeous 1874 European architecture, an intimate courtyard perfect for ceremonies and free parking to boot.. would you even believe me?

I photographed my first wedding at Chateau Bellevue in November. May I just say: wow. Of all the weddings I’ve photographed in Texas, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, California and certainly Austin – I can’t think of a wedding venue that’s similar. This is not a “cookie cutter” venue. Chateau Bellevue is a memorable place to get married — but it’s also photographers dream! I’ve illustrated this blog post with photographs I took at Chateau Bellevue to show you just how photogenic it is.

Today I’m delighted to share with you the sage advice of Stacy Harrell, who is the Sales and Event Manager at Chateau Bellevue. She’s a wedding pro who has worked with literally hundreds of Austin brides and grooms and has learned a thing or two about decision-making along the way.

I asked Stacy if she would share her best “insider” tips on what kinds of questions are absolutely essential to ask before booking your Austin wedding venue. If taking some of the stress out of your decision-making process sounds good (yes please!) check out her advice below. Its packed with nuggets of wisdom, and even some money-saving ideas.



It’s true what they say: once you decide on a venue everything else falls naturally into place. But first you have to find your venue! Here’s what to look for when choosing the right Austin wedding venue:


ONE  >>  Do you want a downtown location, a lake view, a hotel ballroom or a barn/country kind of venue? Are you going for a rustic feel, vintage or something grand and elegant?

In Austin the options for wedding venues are so vast (and can be overwhelming). While some brides have an idea of where they want to get married, there are many that don’t know where to begin. For those brides, I suggest asking yourself these basic questions:

  • Will the majority of your guests be from out of town? If so, you may want to consider a downtown location where guests can choose hotels within walking distances and can explore the city on their down time.
  • Would you need to provide transportation for guests if you chose a venue further out and if so, is it worth the extra cost?
  • If the ceremony is taking place at a church, how far realistically do you want the reception to be?
  • Are you looking for a place that can accommodate ceremony and reception?
  • Do you want indoor/outdoor, indoor only or outdoor only space?

The answers to these basic questions can narrow your search down dramatically!


TWO  >>  What all does the venue include in their package?

After years of working with newly engaged couples in Austin, I’ve seen that one of the biggest things brides don’t realize until they’re knee deep into the wedding planning process, is exactly how much work planning a wedding really is! Seriously, why give yourself more work by picking a venue that requires you to bring everything in? Simply put, the less vendors you have to work with, the less stressful (and possibly less expensive) your life will be.

I would recommend finding a venue that includes at minimum your tables, chairs and linens. That alone can save you an average of $1,500. A venue with onsite catering is a great advantage. Just like catering companies, venues will give you a complimentary tasting. Venues with onsite catering will also have the resources to take care of the staffing for the evening, another major thing you can take off that to-do list.

Additionally, one of the biggest things to look out for is the number of hours given — and whether set up and clean up is included in that package. There is nothing worse than having to ask your friends and family to stay behind and sweep the floor or help put out chairs for the ceremony. After all, they are there to celebrate your big day and not work it.


THREE  >>  What is the venue’s parking situation and rain plan?

Venues are notorious for hidden costs. If a venue is mostly outdoors, then chances are your rain plan is an expensive tent — which can add on $2000 or more to your budget. In Austin, with our rollercoaster weather, you can never predict what Mother Nature is going to do. So having a Plan B is so important.

What about parking? This is mostly an issue if you go with a downtown Austin location. Many venues require valet parking, which of course is an additional cost. And many venues require you to pay for their parking lots.


FOUR  >>  Are you allowed to bring in your own alcohol?

It’s true that many venues take care of the alcohol for you. But they can charge $25 and up per person, even if not everyone drinks! At a wedding of 100 guests that can add $2500 on to your final bill. The worst part is you don’t get to take home the leftover alcohol you paid for.

Then there are some venues that charge you based on the drinks your guests order throughout the evening. Therefore, there is no way to know what your final bill will be until after the wedding. At $6/beer and $10/mixed drink, you can see how quickly that can add up. Why not save that money or put it to another good use and pick a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol? You can control what your guests drink, so they don’t make the habit of indulging in an expensive scotch all night long.

Here’s a tip: If you’ve booked a venue that allows you to bring in your own alcohol, consider Spec’s. At Chateau Bellevue weddings I’ve seen that Spec’s makes things pretty easy. It’s about $40 for delivery and you can return leftover/unopened bottles.


FIVE  >>  Are you comparing apples to apples?

What makes the venue search so hard is that every venue is so different. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, I suggest that the very first thing you do (even before you start looking) is come up with your wedding budget and estimated guest count. From there, you can hit the internet and search for Austin wedding venues that fit your budget and accommodate your guest count – and that you also find appealing. Some great resources are WeddingWire, The Knot and Austin Wedding Guide. Narrow down your list to venues that fit your budget and then schedule showings from that list.

Come armed with the questions above and then do the math! One place might be less expensive on food but require you to pay for parking along with your tables and chairs. Another venue could be more expensive on food but includes your tables and chairs. Yet, both come out to the same total cost.

After you’ve done the math, I suggest narrowing down the list to your favorite two venues. And when you get to that point its all about listing the pros and cons of each!

Ultimately, I believe finding the right venue is a lot like finding the perfect wedding dress. You get that “feeling” and you just know this is where you are meant to get married!


Thank you Stacy! For more information on Chateau Bellevue, please visit their blog or website.

For more information on Studio Uma, please visit our main website or find us on Facebook. We’re always up to something.


October 2, 2012

Today I’m thrilled to bring you the brilliant advice of Liz Teich – a top stylist in New York City. She also happens to be the elegant-fashionista-bride from this Newlywed Session… which is one of my favorite photo shoots. Ever.


Today I’m thrilled to bring you the brilliant advice of Liz Teich – a top stylist in New York City. She also happens to be the elegant-fashionista-bride from this Newlywed Session —  which is one of my favorite photo shoots. Ever.

Liz’s job is to make sure people look good for the camera. Her impressive client list includes Macys, Maybelline and Boston Weddings Magazine. And because she’s a recent bride (and fashion blogger), Liz knows what its like to be in front of the camera too. It’s no surprise that she was a natural at our photo shoot!

I was impressed by how she moved and posed. Not that I expect any of my clients to know these things – after all it is the photographers job to direct the shoot and make beautiful photographs. But sometimes brides ask me for advice beforehand. So I asked Liz for some simple modeling tips for brides and grooms-to-be. Whether you’re getting ready for an engagement session or your wedding portraits, this advice will give you that extra edge in front of the camera. Take it away Liz….

Modeling tips for brides


I’m a fashion stylist with a background in fashion as well as art direction. I’ve had many years of experience on photo shoots, so I know what looks good in front of a camera (which is the goal of my job). I’m always behind the scenes, but last summer when I got married, I was the one in front of the camera. My knowledge from my career helped me greatly in figuring out what works – and does not work – in front of the lens.

What have you learned? What tips do you have for brides who are preparing for photos shoots?

1. Be Natural

be natural


The biggest thing is that your typical person – someone who isn’t that familiar with modeling – freezes up when they get in front of the camera. My husband Josh for example, he’s not familiar with photo shoots.  We actually got photographed a few years ago by Travel and Leisure Magazine at a café, and he just looked at me like what do I do??

He didn’t really know how to act in front of a camera, and it looked unnatural until I told him to pretend we’re in a real moment, without the camera. I think the biggest thing to remember is to not be pose-y and just be natural in front of a camera. I think that’s when the best pictures come.


2. Make each other laugh

Make each other laugh


Being as that I’m not a model, I always have a tough time when I try to smile.  I think if you can smile in a natural way, it looks so much better. Even if you make the other person laugh  – you’ll both just get into these moments, and that’s where good pictures come from. When Josh would make a joke, or I would make a joke, that would make us more natural instead of just “Ok-here-I-am-awkwardly-smiling”.

It shines through in a picture that you’re happy and excited. Same thing when you’re nervous. So find a way to enjoy the moment.

Sometimes we just made the acknowledgement that its kind of awkward taking pictures in our wedding clothes while a bunch of people are staring at us. Just laugh at the moment and enjoy it!


3. Move and play

Bride creating movement in her wedding dress

Use props for wedding photos


A lot of people stand stiff and straight and don’t move. I think if you play around with props, and create movement in your dress, that’s really great. You become more alive in the photos. When I work with models, they don’t really know what to do unless they have a prop, or another person to interact with or something to do, usually with the wardrobe. Otherwise they can look just as awkward as we can.


4. Find someone who puts you at ease

Intimate moment between bride and groom


I’ve noticed that the photographer can make all the difference. If you don’t have a photographer who makes you feel comfortable, that could make or break the photo shoot. I’ve been on a lot of fashion shoots where the photographer just clicks the camera, doesn’t say anything, and the model doesn’t quite know what to do with themselves. It really helps to have a photographer who not only makes you feel comfortable, but who also gives really good direction and actively guides you.


5. Listen to your mother

A bride with good posture


Stand up straight! When you stand up straight, it automatically makes you look thinner and more put together. Nobody looks good slouching. Literally if there’s one thing you should remember, it is to stand up straight.

The other thing is that a lot of brides I know will wear flats or flip-flops under their dress because they don’t think anyone else will see it. But I think wearing a little heel automatically lifts your whole body and gives you better posture. On my photo shoots, when I style models, even if we crop out the feet in the photo — I still put heels on the model. It doesn’t matter how tall they are. If I give them a little heel, it just automatically makes their posture better.


Thank you Liz! These are tips are simple and powerful. Put them into practice for some gorgeous wedding photographs!

To see more pictures from my Newlywed photo shoot with Liz and Josh, please click here.

For style tips from Liz, please visit her blog Dear Andi // Diary of a Fashion Stylist.

For more information about Studio Uma, please visit our portfolio site or connect with us on Facebook.