McCall wedding photographer, Brie Thomason, photographed this snowy editorial in the winter in McCall. This shoot was published in Rocky Mountain Bride Magazine.Read More
How can you breeze through the family formal images portion of your wedding day?
I'm back again with another informational post to help everyone who is actively planning their wedding! This week I want to talk about one of the simplest, yet important ways to help ease wedding day stress. Family formal images are some of the most important images from your wedding day! They might not be the images you "ooo" and "awe" about, but you will treasure them in years to come. For instance, the image from my wedding that makes me so grateful for is one of my late grandmother with me and my family. Having her at our wedding was one of the most important things to me, and having that image will always be a treasure.
Family formals have a tendency to cause stress for both the bride and groom and the family. I often describe it as "herding cats". Typically what happens during the wedding day is that family gets the opportunity to see one another for what could be the first time in a long time. Conversation flows, drinks flow, and attention spans are often very short. Couple this with a semi-tight schedule for these particular images, and you can see why the stress adds up. After 50+ weddings, I have learned how to handle this portion of the day quickly and efficiently, which is why I feel obligated to share some helpful advice!
First things first, organization is key. Like most things in life, the more organized you are, the less stress that will follow. When my clients are one month out from the wedding I ask them to make me a list of all the family formal images they want. I have a template that they follow to make it easier on them. Essentially, the template goes a little something like this:
Bride + Mom
Bride + Dad
Bride + Mom + Dad
Bride + Sister
Bride + Mom + Dad + Sister
And so forth....
As you can imagine, the list adds up quickly. I often warn my couples that it takes an average of 2 minutes per image. Sometimes we can cut this down, but it helps to budget for more time rather than not enough.
I have my couples prepare that list ahead of time so that I can print it and bring it with me. I then have my assistant help me by reading off the list and crossing off what images we have done. This helps us to A) get through the list quickly, and B) not forget anyone!
My biggest word of advice that I can offer you is to truly consider what images are most important to you. If you give me a five page list, I can make it happen, but we are going to have to compromise images in some other area. A five page list will take about one hour to complete. I suggest that if you are fine with it, we take some group images during your reception of some family groups that might not be quite as important as your immediate family (cousins, uncles, aunts, etc.) We often have some down time during dancing, and this is a great chance to grab some of those group images!
My second biggest advice that I pass onto my couples is to warn family ahead of time that A) they are in the images, B) where they need to meet, and C) what time we are meeting. I advise my couples to send a group message one day before the wedding with this information. It should look something like this:
"I'm so excited to see you all tomorrow at our wedding! I wanted to give you a heads up that I have included you in our family formal images. We are meeting at the ceremony venue at the front door at 2pm. Please arrive a little early, fully dressed, and ready for pictures at this time. My photographer will be running on a tight schedule to get all our images done before the wedding, so your timely arrival will help us greatly! I can't wait for tomorrow!"
The more specific that you are on time and location will help make things easier on everyone! I have had some groups who have taken to heart all of my advice and the family formals have run quick and smooth and we had extra time to go take more images of just the two of them, which was so exciting!
Lastly, there's one more thing that can help make these images go as smoothly as possible. Family members often like to take their own copies of the group images by using their phones, tablets, or cameras. I absolutely understand why they want to capture these sweet moments and have no problem with it. My only request is this: While I am taking the image, I need everyone's eyes on me and focused so that no one is looking away. Imagine that your aunt is behind me and to the right and your mom thinks she is taking the picture, so she looks over at your aunt, while the rest of you are looking at me. It can create more of a delay and be difficult for me to get everyone's attention on me. I would also hate to deliver you an important group image that has someone looking off into the distance, while everyone else is smiling at the camera. Allow me to take the image with everyone's fully undivided attention and then I will let whomever wants the image to step in my place and take their own. This way everyone gets a great image and we can keep on chugging along! Don't forget to remind family that they can get a professional quality image from you in digital or print format after the wedding day, so they do not need to stress too much about getting one on their phones (picking up what I'm putting down?? ).
I hope that this post sparked some ideas for you! As always, if you have any questions about my process as a wedding photographer, please just email me! If you are a current client of mine, we will be going over this in depth together as your wedding approaches!
Often times when I tell people I shoot film they think that I am referring to video. However, I am actually referring to the act of still image film photography; think rolls of film, developing in dark rooms, prints, etc. The process has changed a little since the 90's when people would drop their film off at the 1 hour processing centers at Walgreens. Now days, there are labs that do developing and then use computerized scanners to scan the developed film and turn it into digital files. I use a lab in Utah called The Find Lab. I absolutely love these guys! They know my work, my style, and my preferences and they always make sure that my film scans (that's what we call the digital files) come back perfect every time.
So now that you know the "what" let's dig into the "why". When I started photography, I surrounded myself with inspiration from several well known photographers. I saw all types of styles- dark and moody, light and airy, flash vs. natural light, studio vs. on location, and many more! Photography is an art, and like all types of art there are rules and those rules are often meant to be broken. Every photographer that picks up a camera seems to follow the same steps. We have to try everything to find our niche and then use all that built up knowledge to develop our own brand. A brand is built of many attributes like our personality, our taste, our draw of inspiration, and ultimately that all creates our style. The goal is to find clients who are drawn to that style, thus creating a successful business.
So how did this all lead to film? I knew what style I was immediately drawn to, and I knew what I wanted my final images to look like. The problem was getting my images to look like those of the photographers I admired so much. I tried every Photoshop trick I possibly could. I spent hundreds of dollars on presets for my editing software that promised me I'd have images that looked like film, but ultimately it never got there. So I took a leap and purchased a 1980's full manual film camera off of Craigslist. I went to Walmart and purchased some film and I just started playing. I took a film course in high school, so I knew the basics of film photography. My images came out horrible. Yep, horrible. However, this didn't stop me one bit! I started doing more research, which lead to classes and classes lead to more studying. Education is such a powerful tool and when I am passionate about something, I love to do as much research as I can. I learned that the film you buy at Walmart is not professional grade film and does not have consistent colors or tones. I also learned that while my camera was really cool and vintage, there are a lot better solutions for cameras available on the market. I also learned that film is a respected art and only photographers who are truly confident in their skills are successful at. Knowing all of this, I took a second stab at it and purchased a Nikon F100 35mm film camera and some Portra 400 (professional grade) film and tried again. I was confident in my skills of knowing how to work a fully manual camera, so my second roll of film turned out much better. In fact, so much better that I kept shooting and that's where my love affair began. I have since purchased a medium format film camera and several lenses. The images in this thread are my medium format film camera.
You might still be wondering, "Still, why? I still don't understand why you would use film when there are so many digital cameras on the market." I want you to read a quote from one of the most famous film photographers, Erich McVey.
Most of us would all agree that when we look at an amazing film image, there's just something special about it. Film possesses an indescribable something that cannot be quantified. You can't always put your finger on it, but you know it when you see it. It's the grain in those black & white images that has so much heart and character. It's the perfect skin tones that seem to make every subject look flawlessly beautiful. It's the focus that seems to be simultaneously sharp and soft in all the right places. It's the otherworldly colors that you can't quite replicate with digital images. I love film. I love it because it helps me capture reality in the most beautiful way possible. It's not a fad. It's not a trend. It is timeless, and will never go out of style. For me, film portrays the most classic, honest, and beautiful depiction of a moment in time.
I want to show you some examples so that you can truly see why I am so drawn to film. The next two images show you a comparison of two images that are very similar, one taken on my film camera and the other taken on digital. In these images, no editing has been done. These are both straight from the camera, or as us photographers call it SOOC (straight out of camera). Digital is on the left and film is on the right.
So now let's talk about my process as a hybrid photographer. I am hybrid because I actually always shoot film & digital at my sessions. Think of it like an insurance. Film is always my first choice, and I almost always prefer my film images over digital. Just look at the images above if you want to see why! However, when I shoot film I cannot look at the back of the camera and see how the image turned out instantaneously while shooting. I have to send the film to Utah and then have them develop, scan, and send it back to see how they turned out. Therefore, I carry both digital and film and capture on both mediums. Film also has its limitations. Without going into too much photography jargon, certain rolls of film can only be photographed in certain lighting situations. I cannot shoot my normal film stock in a dark reception that is only candle lit. In these situations I go fully digital for color and black and white film. Then, once I get the film back from the lab, I pull the images up side-by-side and I match the film as closely as possible to the digital file to provide a seamless final gallery. In the end, I have found this is the best possible way to give gorgeous film images, while not compromising any moments on the wedding day!
In the end, my ultimate goal is to provide beautiful images to my clients. The medium that I use to achieve that is part of who I am and part of the Brie Thomason Photography brand. Those who identify with my brand will appreciate the art of film.
If you have any questions on this please let me know in the comments and I will be in touch! I love to help others understand my art and educating others on film.
Portraits of me by photographed on film by Liza James Photography
You've probably heard me, or another photographer, mention how important that light is for images. George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, once said, "Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography." I have always used this quote as a guide for how I approach wedding photography. It is important for me to be able to know how to create great images regardless if it is sunny, raining, extremely bright, or hardly any light. I have taken courses upon courses just on light so that I know how to handle every possible situation. However, it should be noted that I do favor certain light over other light and that is why I am writing this blog post!Read More
As a Boise wedding photographer I love to give my couples insider information on what creates the best images on their wedding day. This blog specifically focuses on the getting ready images.Read More
As a Boise wedding photographer, I love where I live! However, I also love to travel! This January I got the opportunity to photograph a wedding in Maui for an Idaho couple who wanted a destination wedding. I can't wait to share images from that wedding soon! Destination weddings might just be my new favorite thing ever! We all got to escape this never-ending Idaho winter for a week and get some sun in Maui.Read More