If we've ever met for a wedding photography consultation I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, but doing engagement photos is critical to the success of your wedding pictures — even more so if you're hesitant to be the center of attention. Great couples' photos are all about being unafraid to be yourselves in front of the camera and engagement photos provide an easy trial run for taking center stage on your wedding day.
Jon and Lorelei had their hearts set on snow for their engagement photo session. The couple now enjoys balmy winters while Jon is in graduate school in North Carolina, but when returning to their home state of Minnesota, Jon and Lorelei loved the romantic ideal of a dusting of snowflakes. As luck would have it, their wish came true.
By Emily Zimmer | Anthologie
Even before Candi met Dave, his voice gave her a sense of peace.
In the fall of 2011, Candi and Dave started communicating through the online dating site, OKCupid. Candi, a project manager, had been on the website for a year and had gone on some less-than-stellar dates. When she stumbled upon Dave’s profile, she was hopeful because his pictures suggested he shared her sense of adventure.
“I was about to throw in the towel,” Candi said. "I had gone on a bunch of bad dates and I thought: 'okay, I'll give one more profile a try' ... and then I saw Dave's profile."
Some of Dave’s profile pictures showed Dave, a pilot, on a camping trip up North with some friends. A lover of travel and all things outdoors, after seeing his captivating photos, Candi thought she had a good feeling about Dave, so she messaged him.
Dave said he felt the same thing when he saw Candi’s profile. One of her profile pictures was from a trip to Seattle and she was enjoying a beer. Dave thought that they may have a love of travel in common and the fact that she was having a beer was a bonus.
Due to both Dave and Candi’s hectic schedules keeping them from meeting up, they agreed to exchange phone numbers. The first voicemail came in from Dave, who was passing through Atlanta between flights.
“After hearing the destinations planned for Dave’s work day, I remember feeling a sense of relief and immediate trust,” Candi said.
On Oct. 30, 2011, Candi and Dave had their first “real date." They met at Zantigo Mexican Restaurant in Bloomington. Over lunch, Candi and Dave started to get to know one another.
“We ended up sitting there for four hours talking,” Dave recalled.
They talked about travel, work, families, and their mutual love for the outdoors. Their chemistry was strong and they enjoyed each other’s company for the afternoon.
“Now when we go back on occasion we sit in our same booth, if it’s not taken, and stare people down if it is,” Candi quipped
While they met online, Candi and Dave discovered that they lived only a mile and a half from one another.
“We had been in the same proximity for eight years or so … and we probably would have never crossed paths otherwise,” said Dave.
For their second date, Candi and Dave went for a run in their neighborhood. Candi said living near one another made it easy to keep meeting. Considering they are both busy professionals that part came as a surprise. Candi said they simply enjoyed doing things together and made it a priority to do so.
“It was so easy,” said Candi of making time for one another.
The December after they met, Candi and Dave went on a winter camping trip to Wild River State Park. It was an opportunity to spend quality time together. Although they had been dating only a few weeks, Candi said it felt natural. That first trip would lead to many others.
Travel is an integral part of their relationship. Both travel for work and enjoy seeing new places. If they have a fault when it comes to travel, Candi said it’s trying to pack in too much.
“We just want to see everything we can,” said Candi.
Traveling together had provided the couple a tight bond. They share stories from cities all over the United States, including Denver, Chicago, and more. In fact, the centerpieces at their wedding represent each of the cities the couple has traveled to together.
“We just work well together when we travel,” Candi said.
Candi said Dave also provides a level head on their travels, which comes in handy, especially when things don’t go as planned. Such as when Candi’s car overheated on the side of I-29 outside of Sioux Falls.
“Dave’s the calm in my storm,” she said.
On the other side, Dave said Candi challenges him to be more adventurous and outgoing.
“She’s fun to be with and always opens my eyes to new things,” Dave said.
You're engaged. You're on an emotional high from the excitement of what's to come. You've just shared the blissful news with all of your friends and social media connections when it hits you: there's a lot of work to do!
Finding the perfect match of venue and vendors for your wedding day is daunting for sure. If you dare ask for advice from your Facebook friends you're certain to be bombarded with personal anecdotes of who's the best (they can't all be right, right?). And when it comes to photography nowadays it seems everyone and their mother is a wedding photographer. I'm not being cynical, just honest. And another truth is there's a lot of talented, professional wedding photographers out there. But, there's also a lot of poor, inexperienced ones, too. So, how can you tell the difference? Unfortunately there's no licensing or master test photographers need to pass to declare themselves "pro" photographers, but you make an educated choice if you simply ask potential photographers these questions below.
1. What type of equipment do they have? It may sound sort of invasive but any wedding photographer worth their salt shouldn't bristle when asked what's in their camera bag. Professional photographers should have at least two camera bodies (you know the nice ones with interchangeable lenses) and a variety of lenses and flashes. Why is this important? For one thing, image quality does sometimes come down to optics. I'll be the first to say the most essential piece of equipment is the photographer's mind and creativity. I think I can do a pretty decent job with an iPhone when it comes to composition of a photograph. That being said, I would never pass on such a photo for commissioned work. If you want quality photographs you can display in your home your wedding photographer better have top-notch camera gear.
2. Do they have back-up camera equipment? On top of everything outlined above back-up cameras and lenses are a must because (gasp!) equipment fails. It's sort of a dirty little secret among wedding photographers that technology isn't perfect, especially when it comes to digital photography. Our pro cameras run on computer software and it's easy for something to go haywire. Lenses stop focusing, flashes get dropped. Plus, there's the never-ending array of technical glitches we've never seen before that usually pop up at the most critical moments of the day. Scared yet? You should be. If your wedding photographer doesn't carry back-up equipment they might be running off to a camera store while they should instead be capturing that precious moment as your mother fastens a set of pearls around your neck that has been worn by every bride in your family for five generations.
3. How experienced are they — really? It can be easy to get up in the energy of someone who's super excited about every detail of your wedding day, but how far will that passion take you when the scenario outlined above comes to fruition? I've been doing photography as my full-time occupation for more than 10 years and I can tell you equipment failures do happen, and probably much more often than you can imagine. It's the photographer's job to make things run as smoothly as possible so that you're none the wiser. When your centerpieces haven't arrived on time and your brother forgot to pick up uncle Bill for the ceremony do you really need to worry about the error code your wedding photographer just received on his viewfinder? I don't think so. A true pro will simply start using her back-up camera and figure out what the heck went wrong while commuting from the church to the reception site. Yes, this really happens.
4. What does a real wedding look like? Many wedding photographers can fool you with an impressive portfolio. Most decent photographers can look spectacular when they're showing you the best 12 images they've ever made. What's worse, many photographers, especially the up-and-comers, set up or even PAY to have style shoots. What's that you say? They recruit make-up artists, hairstylists, décor divas, florists, tailors, you name it to set up a faux wedding simply for beautiful pictures to put in their portfolio. So, when you see a gorgeously adorned rustic table replete with gold-leaf place settings nestled under a willow tree chances are it's not a real wedding. Who seats a full guest list of 8, am I right? Pictures like these are fine and they can show the photographer's artistic talents. However, it's not a real wedding. You should ask to see examples of what the photographer's full day of photography looks like. You might discover she's really great at those table-setting photos, but terrible when it comes to posing the photos of you with your family. Figure out what's most important to you and find the photographer who fits those needs.
5. Are they insured? Professional photographers treat their work as a business, and protect it as such. Don't be afraid to ask potential wedding photographers if they carry equipment and liability insurance. If your photographer is caught up in the moment, backs up into a lighting truss and sends it tumbling down on the children carousing around on the dance floor you don't want to be held accountable, do you?
6. Who owns the pictures after the wedding? This is a big one, and often controversial. Pro photographers know that the pictures made from your wedding day are in fact their own intellectual property. Ask your photographer if your wedding photography package includes the rights to print photos on your own. You may be able to negotiate printing photos on your own at a certain size, but in the end the photographer technically owns the images. A photographer who hands off the pictures to you — no questions asked — is most likely a weekend warrior, or a full-timer soon to go out of business. Photography is an art and what you're paying for is the skill of the artist, the years of experience that went into creating the wedding day photos of your dreams, not the actual time it took to press the shutter release on the camera.
7. What does their dream wedding day look like? That's right, the photographer. It sounds like sort of a funny question, but this is a quick and easy way to determine if you and a potential photographer are on the same page. You may realize you have a completely different vision and expectation for what the experience and finished product may look like. It may be that the photographer doesn't really like to do candid photos, or they want to do everything outdoors because they're not really comfortable using artificial lighting in a church. Conversely, you may discover they put a huge emphasis on family groupings and that's the most important to you, too.
Do you have great or insightful questions you've asked a wedding photographer? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks for viewing!
Miguel stays the course and lands the love of his life — Stacy
By Emily Zimmer | Photos by Dan Iverson | Anthologie
Location: The Gardens of Castle Rock
Miguel and Stacy met in the fall of 2006 at Winona State University. Miguel was doing homework in his dorm room when Stacy came bursting in. Stacy said friends had suggested she meet Miguel so she decided to drop in.
“I was being a good college student and studying,” Miguel said. “Stacy came back from a party and burst in my room and started bothering me.”
At Winona, Stacy worked as a resident advisor and Miguel has friends who were also RAs. Sharing a group of friends, Miguel and Stacy started to see each other often. Overtime the two found that they shared a similar sense of humor.
Over the next three years, their friendship grew and the two started spending more time together, just the two of them.
Early on, Miguel said he was interested in being more than friends but Stacy didn’t want a boyfriend.
“I was the girl who never wanted to get married,” Stacy said.
Every now and again, Miguel would suggest they start dating but Stacy kept declining.
“It was a cat-and-mouse game. I was very hard to get,” Stacy explained.
Then one night, while out at for drinks, Stacy and Miguel kissed. While talking about the night makes them both blush, that kiss would lead to the start of their romance.
The kiss occurred shortly before summer break. That summer Stacy moved back to the Twin Cities to do her student teaching and Miguel traveled to visit her.
“When he came to visit, I realized he really did like me,” Stacy said.
After the kiss and his visit, Miguel said he felt like his persistence was paying off.
So one more time, Miguel asked Stacy if she wanted to start dating. This time Stacy said “maybe.”
For Miguel that maybe was as good as a yes.
“Her maybe was an ‘OK, I’m in,’” said Miguel.
After that the two became inseparable.
“We travel well together,” Stacy said.
Specifically, Miguel and Stacy enjoy taking road trips together.
“I used to hate road trips but with Miguel it’s different. I really love taking road trips with him,” said Stacy.
They like seeing the sites, listening to music and having the chance to enjoy each other’s company, Stacy said.
Not all their travels have gone smoothly, though. A few years back, the couple took a trip to the Grand Canyon over a long holiday weekend. Specifically, the couple wanted to drive Route 66.
“It’s so iconic, we just felt like we had to see it,” said Stacy.
Not sure how far they would get, the couple decided to wing it instead of making hotel reservations. That turned out to be a bad decision.
Finding a room in Flagstaff, Ariz., the town nearest the Grand Canyon, proved to be difficult and very expensive. The couple ended up paying more than $300 for a trashy room.
“We just both sat and cried and then we got a pizza and laughed about it,” Miguel said.
While the experience was stressful, Miguel said the trip proved to be a good bonding moment for he and Stacy. Specifically, he said being able to find humor in less-than-desirable situations is what makes them work as a couple.
A life-changing trip
For the couple’s four-year anniversary, Miguel surprised Stacy with a trip to Chicago. Little did Stacy know, Miguel had also asked for her parents’ blessing to propose.
“Miguel asked for my dad’s blessing. That was a big deal for my mom and dad,” said Stacy.
On the plane ride to Chicago, Stacy said Miguel seemed out of sorts but she didn’t give it much thought because they had experienced some bad flights recently. The first night in Chicago, Stacy and Miguel did some sightseeing and called it an early night.
The next morning, Miguel gave Stacy a gift. It was a small picture book with photographs of the two throughout their relationship and little written messages.
After Stacy finished reading the book, Miguel asked her to go back to each page and read the first letter. When put together the letters spelled out ‘Marry Me.’
Miguel then got down on one knee and formally proposed. Obviously, Stacy said “yes” and the couple called their families to announce the good news.
The book itself has become a treasure for the couple. The idea for the picture book organically came to Miguel. He had been researching ways to propose and didn’t see anything he thought was fitting. Then one day, the idea to do the picture book just came to him. Down the road, Stacy said it’s something they will show to their kids.