Jim Strathearn Photography
- Delta, PA 17314
- (717) 495-6381
"Wedding consultations - a different approach..."
Choosing wedding vendors has got to be a stressful thing. You get one shot to choose the right vendors and in most cases, you do not know if you made the correct choice until your wedding day. How stressful is that! We have decided to try to help you with this... Starting today, we are offering no-obligation Engagement Photo Sessions. This is how it works:
Schedule a wedding consult with us so we can sit down, introduce ourselves and show you some sample prints and albums. If you like what you see, let us schedule a no-obligation Engagement Photo Session. This is a no-contract session where you can decide if you like working with us, and to see how your prints will come out. If you are satisfied, we can move ahead and make the necessary arrangements to photograph your wedding. If you are not satisfied, you get to keep all your images and prints, and we'll wish you the best of luck. It's just that simple; try before you buy. We'll think you'll be more then satisfied...
We are hoping that this will, in some small way, help alleviate some of the stress involved in making your wedding day vendor choices.
"Engagement and other pre-bridal sessions"
Engagement and other pre-bridal sessions are an excellent means for you to get to know your photographer, and for the photographer to get to know you. The relationship you develop with your photographer is extremely important; you need to ensure your phonographer is familiar enough with you and your fiancé that he/she can anticipate when and where those special photos are going to be on your wedding day. Also, it is a great opportunity to ensure you can work well together. If you and your photographer cannot mesh well for a pre-bridal session, chances are the wedding will be more of the same and that's the last thing both you and your photographer need. You want great photos and your photographer wants to deliver great photos. If your photographer is not a good fit you need to find out early enough to make a change.
That's the bad news. The good news is that most of the time you will find that you do mesh well with your photographer and the pre-bridal sessions just build on that good relationship. This helps you to work together like a team to make wonderful wedding photographs on your wedding day. Once you develop the trust that your photographer is not going to steer you wrong, you will find that the wedding photos will flow all that much easier. During pre-bridal sessions we take the opportunity to further explain to the couple how things are going to go on their wedding day. I think this goes a long way in building confidence between us and the couple.
Some photographers offer engagement and other pre-bridal session as package options, some include them in some packages. Whatever the arrangement, consider scheduling a pre-bridal session so that you can get to know your photographer better. It is time very well spent...
"Tis the season for outdoor weddings..."
Outdoor weddings pose different challenges both for photographers and all other vendors, the B&G, the guests, etc. The weather affects us all... But when it all comes together, outdoor weddings can be beautiful. If I had a preference, I'd like to see a late afternoon ceremony so the sun is not too high. Not only does a low sun make for better photographs, but it is not as hot as the midday sun so your guests and wedding party are more comfortable. If there is water nearby where the formals will be taken, a lower sun will help with nice reflections as well.
A lower sun also acts more like portrait lighting where it comes from the side and not the top, which makes for more natural photographs. Although a lower sun may still be bright, it it softer then midday sun and helps the photographer hold highlights and details. And of course, shade always helps.
What do we do we neither shade or the direction of the sun is an option for us? We do the best we can. In this photo, we only had a narrow area of beach that was free of people, and of course, the ocean is where it is, as was the sun.
We bring iced water, crackers and towels with us when we photograph all weddings. The water and towels are especially helpful when it is hot out. The crackers help fend off hunger while waiting to finish the formals and get to the reception. Ceremonies should be planned so that they are not during the hottest part of the day. All of the wedding party and especially the children in the wedding party could become uncomfortable and restless, neither of which is good for the overall feel of the event and the photos. If you must plan your wedding for high noon, consider the potential temperature when choosing attire for the wedding party. And although we do bring water, we only bring enough for the wedding party. You should plan on having water available for the guests as well if you are expecting the day to be hot and the ceremony to last more then a half hour or so. If the ceremony location is flexible, try setting it up in the shade or under cover. If not, visit the ceremony location in advance at the same hour as you are planning on having your ceremony so you can see how the sun will be so you can better plan your attire, etc.
A good photographer will expect the worst and hope for the best. If the ceremony is during the harshest hours of the sun, we'll deal with it. But if timing is an option, plan for the best...
And speaking of planning, always have a rain plan figured out in advance. Nothing wards off rain better then carrying an umbrella, and a lack of a rain plan for your ceremony is an opportunity for disaster. No one wants inclement weather, but it happens. Plan for it...
I got to play with some new toys recently. Not my new toys, but someone else's new toys... It is so nice to be able to try things without having to incurring any expenses. We tried some gels in the hair light and a beauty dish light modifier. The gels were fun and the beauty dish added some interesting catch lights. I have seen beauty dishes used at outdoor events where cars were being photographed but had never had the opportunity to try one. It seemed to work well. We currently use umbrellas at our weddings and frankly, because of their portability I cannot see making any changes there. But for outdoor portraits where time is not an issue, beauty dishes may just be one more item to consider. Anyway, we tried out these things in the studio and they certainly looked like they could be fun. The catch-lights are perfectly round and the gel worked surprisingly well on her dark hair. I can see where a gel may make for some interesting wedding formals...
We also got to put our new lens to the wedding test recently and it worked out quite well. We used it at an outdoor wedding on the beach and it rendered colors perfectly while being sharp and crisp. We were on a crowded beach and wanted the water behind us, which put the sun directly ion the happy couple. This was the best angle, although the sun was pretty harsh. All in all I think the lens worked well. (As did the dynamic range of the Fuji camera...)
I guess what I said previously about gear (gear matters) may be pretty much right on track! :-)
"The economy and your wedding..."
I attended an event recently where I overheard someone talking about the things brides and grooms are doing to save money on their weddings. I was surprised to hear that not using a wedding photographer was one of those things. (And not using a florist was another surprise to me...) I supposed that since everyone and his brother seems to have a decent digital camera nowadays, that could make sense. But does it really? What happens if Uncle Bob's camera fails, or if Aunt Sue's camera runs out of batteries? Will they know where to position themselves during the ceremony? Will they have enough memory cards with them to last until the last dance? Do they even know they need to be there until the last dance? Will they color correct your images and assign them the correct printer profile for your lab? Or will you just leave the color corrections up to the folks down at the one-hour photo booth? Listen - it makes sense to have friends and relatives take photos at your wedding. Even two pros cannot be everywhere at every minute. But think about it; what's left after your wedding day? Of course there is your spouse... But the bride's wedding gown gets cleaned and stored, the groom's tux goes back to the rental shop, the flowers wilt and die (or possibly get preserved and put away), the food and cake - well - you know where they go..., the toaster ovens go on the kitchen counter, etc. What's left are the memories; precious memories. 25 years from now when you are celebrating your silver anniversary, you want to take out your wedding album and relive your wedding all over again. You do not want to be trying to figure out "who that is" because the photos are dark and fuzzy. You want to smile and cry with joy.
For what it's worth, here's what I think:
Choose ALL of your vendors wisely; stay within your budget for all of them. If you want to have your reception at the best place in town but it's not in your budget, consider having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday when rates are discounted. You may even want to forgo the extra crab cake, etc. in order to keep your dream reception venue within your budget. Same with flowers; stay within your budget. Do all the bridesmaids really need a $100.00 bouquet? We recently did a wedding where the bridesmaids each held a single dark red rose. It was elegant... And when choosing a photographer, stay within your budget. If you want the best studio in town to photograph your wedding but their top of the line package is not in your budget, then choose one of their lower prices packages. The quality of the photos does not diminish with lower priced packages, just the coverage time and number of photos, prints, albums, etc. You may also be able to negotiate with your photographer to include some things while forgoing others. We happen to do that and it works out well for all parties.
Bottom line - don't skimp on memories...
"So - how cold was it???"
We photographed our first wedding of the year yesterday, 1/17/09. When I headed out to photograph the bride getting her hair done, it was -2 degrees F. For us living in southeast Pennsylvania, that's cold! And even though this was an indoor wedding, the bride and groom did have some photographs they wanted taken outdoors. As it turns out we took the photos of the groom and groomsmen outdoors but skipped the bride photos at her request. Not knowing how things would turn out when we were getting ready for the wedding, we had to prepare for taking all of those outdoor photos. Basically this meant having a plan to let one camera recover from the condensation of coming back into the heat from the extreme cold while still being able to take photographs... This is where having good backup cameras and lenses come in. We setup one camera to take the outdoor shots and left the other indoors. And we also made sure we took enough extra photos indoors to make up for the ones we skipped. I think we ended up just fine and that the bride will be happy with the photos we did get.
And just because a wedding is in June doesn't mean that weather will not be a factor. We photographed a wedding last June on one of the hottest days of the year in a fully packed church that was not air-conditioned. The equipment did just fine, but we had to dress accordingly and not succumb to the heat as we were moving around during the ceremony. How hot was it? We went through nearly all the towels we brought for wiping perspiration off of the bridal party's faces...
The key is just be prepared for as much as you can. This is true for both the photographer and other vendors, as well as the bride and groom! After all, we are just not going to let a little thing like weather spoil your special day... ;-)
Anticipating some severe weather, which never really materialized, I decided to spend the weekend catching up on assembling a few wedding albums. I had three to do and was able to complete one. One of the others is waiting for some back-ordered mats and the last one is waiting for some clarification from the client. One thing I can tell you for certain, is that it is a joy to re-live these weddings again as we're assembling the albums. We are so fortunate to be able to share in some of the happiest times in people's lives! Of course, seeing the images we took in print also has profound affect on me. For the most part, I get to relive the event and remember all the anticipation, joy and fun of the day. Other images make me think of ways to improve them, etc. But most of all, it's a happy time for me, and will hopefully be a happy time for the couple when they see their wedding album. We have upgraded our equipment to make the transition from wildlife photography to wedding and portrait photography and looking at the prints just confirms we make a good choice...
One of the albums I put together this weekend was for a couple that went to dancing school before their wedding, and it paid off very well for them. They also had their bridal party dance to "Thriller" and actually mimic-ed the video of that song! It was stellar... Sometimes in the every day hustle and bustle of life we tend to forget these little happy moments. Putting these albums together gives us one more opportunity to relive them. And it's worth every minute...
I'm ordering software for "coffee table" style wedding albums tomorrow and should have a studio sample shortly. With digital, the possibilities are endless...
"“You must have a nice camera!”"
That phrase seems to ignite a spark among photographers. Some get rather annoyed that the person looking at a photo would attribute the excellence of it to a camera and not to the photographer. Personally, I see it as a combination of both. I do not think that great gear will make a poor photographer great. But I do think that great gear makes a good photographer better. I do not think that one must have the latest, greatest stuff available. Digital cameras today are like personal computers a decade ago; every six months brings along a newer, faster model. I do think that some improvements are certainly worth upgrading for but others - well - are just eye candy. I am a long time Nikon shooter who now uses my Nikon lenses on Fuji cameras. I chose Fuji cameras for their vibrant colors and great skin tones. They also have good low noise characteristics. The images from these cameras make fine enlargements and I can see them being the workhorses of my bag for quite some time. Sure, there are a few things on the newer Nikon’s I’d love to have on these cameras, but for the time being I think we’re in good shape.
Then, there is the auxiliary equipment. We use rechargeable AA batteries that cost $4.00 each. Yes, they are better then the $1.00 batteries… They last longer in the equipment and are capable of being recharged far more times then the cheaper batteries. And we have lots of these batteries. We carry eight Fuji Batteries for the two S5 camera bodies and three batteries for the Nikon backup camera. Know why? Because in the heat of the moment, gear matters… We also carry extra lenses, and bring most of our studio lighting equipment along to weddings and location sessions as well. We use the studio lighting for the formals. Could we use speed-lights in a pinch? Sure; and they would do an acceptable job. But I like the flexibility the studio lights bring with them. Two big lights light up a fair amount of space… We carry our own power supply for the big lights. This eliminates us having to waste time hunting for outlets and running long extension cords, etc.
In summary, I do not think that choosing a wedding (or any pro) photographers simply by the gear they have is the best way to do it. Look at their sample portfolios and albums. If you like what you see, choose them. (And then you can ask them what kind of gear they use!) And don’t forget to ask them how much backup gear they carry…