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Monday, October 17th, 2016
The word "posing" strikes fear in many hearts.
Instantly, the words "stiff", "uncomfortable", and "unnatural" come to mind. However, posing need not be the elaborate ordeal that people think it is. Instead, committing a few tips to memory can serve as a low key way to empower yourself to look awesome in all photos - not just those taken at your wedding. And after all, any activity that is cool enough to evolve into an 80s dance style called vogueing can't be all that bad, right?
Before I delve into pointers, I'd like to point out that I approach fashion posing and portrait posing differently. In fashion, the focus is on the clothing, and the models are essentially there to serve it. So that explains the not-so-natural, but elegant contortions that you see models take in fashion spreads.
When shooting portraits, the focus is on the person, and so the posing is softer and more subtle. It serves to flatter the individual, yet remains easy enough to allow them to stay relaxed. Nevertheless, there are still so many pointers that I could give you, but to keep things easy, I'll focus on the ones that make the most difference.
Without further ado, here are high impact, yet easy tips for portrait posing:
1) Posture, posture, posture! Don't slouch - you'll look taller, thinner, and stronger.
2) If you want to look thinner (and not everyone does), turn your body three quarters to the camera while sitting or standing.
3) You may have heard the saying "if it bends, bend it". Well, it's totally true. Angles (bent knees, elbows, wrists, heads) add shape to your figure, and as a bonus, make the entire photo more dynamic. Don't sit or stand in a straight line; break up your shape. Easy fixes: hand in pocket, hand on hip, knee crossed over leg.
4) Lower your chin (especially important if your photographer is shorter than you!). This will define your chin. If you find your chin squishing against your neck, bring it out a little while still keeping it lowered.
5) Smile with your teeth! It defines your chin and helps you look relaxed.
6) Squint/relax your eyes when you smile ("smile with your eyes"). This is the key to making a smile look natural by helping to avoid the deer-in-headlights look.
Can you spot the angles? No straight lines here.
For couples posing:
1) Lean into each other! (Unless your photographer is going for intentionally artsy shots where you're far away from each other.) Common examples: cheek to cheek, kiss on forehead, hand on shoulder, head on shoulder. The more connection points, the better the photograph will look in general and the more natural the posing.
2) Keep in mind that your photographer may ask you to naturally interact with your partner (I call these "staged candids") - in this case:
-Get into the general pose (whether it be sitting down with arms around each other or standing up while holding hands)
-Then solely focus on your partner (talk, whisper, laugh). Now it's all about authentic interaction, so no need to think about the facial posing tips noted above.
Snuggle up! How many points of contact do you see here?
Staged candid using a relaxed sitting pose.
Now you have everything you need to strike a pose!
Tuesday, October 11th, 2016
I can't believe I never announced this piece of press in one of my favorite wedding blogs - A Practical Wedding. This couple found me through the APW vendor guide, and so it's most fitting for them to be in one of their Real Weddings.
In any case, as is the usual case with my blog, better late than never!
Tuesday, October 4th, 2016
What made Rodney and Roslyn's Palo Alto wedding so unique wasn't so much that it was travel themed, it was that Rodney was the one who put it together!
It is usually the bride who reaches out to me to book photography and she who I continue to work with throughout the planning of the wedding. So, it was a refreshing change of pace to see that in this case, the groom masterminded the wedding theme. I didn't know the extent to which he was involved with all the details until I saw him scrambling around the reception room, putting the finishing touches on the decor, most of which was (impressively) DIY!
This couple loves to travel and so it was fitting that their wedding was punctuated by paper airplanes and seating arrangements centered around names of global cities. The wedding colors were lavendar and a punchy deep purple.
Rodney and Roslyn were referred to me by a high school friend of mine, and it's always nice to shoot weddings where there is already a connection. Theirs was an effervescent crowd - one that made my job easier by providing plenty of smiles, laughter, and tears to memorialize.
May they keep traveling and exploring new cultures, ideas, and people to enrich themselves.
Friday, September 16th, 2016
Dana and Marc's Golden Gate Club wedding was both spirited and elegant.
Golden Gate Club is another of the many civic venues in San Francisco available for weddings (outside of the already well-known City Hall). In fact, the Presidio alone has multiple wedding venues!
The wedding colors were a combination that can't go wrong - pink, gold, and cream. The cake topper, which broke the elegance with some whimsy, was one of the coolest I've seen. The ceremony took place in the cute little Presidio Chapel located on a hill overlooking the venue (I definitely got a workout trekking up and down that hill with all my equipment!). Afterwards, guests filed out before the couple and arranged themselves to cheer the couple on with streamers as they descended the church steps. The reception hall's large windows offered sweeping views of the City while guests danced the night away to 80s music, which 80s babies like myself can never get enough! Thankfully, it was a clear day during which the Golden Gate bridge could actually be seen.
Congrats, you two! Here are some excellent San Francisco memories to take back with you to Arizona.
And of course, the reception.
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
I've kicked off a multi-part series on planning a wedding - one that not only has a smooth flowing timeline, but that also feels true to you as a couple. Below is part 1.
Many couples wonder about to envision their wedding. Most reflect on weddings they've attended or have seen in movies and build off that.
Here's the definition of "wedding" from our usually trusty friend Google:
A marriage ceremony, especially considered as including the associated celebrations.
Synonyms: marriage (service/ceremony/rites), nuptials, union, commitment, ceremony
Note the emphasis on the ceremony. as well as "union" and "commitment". That said, we can safely conclude that the heart of the wedding is the ceremony, during which a couple commits themselves to each other. Everything else is icing on the wedding cake, including the ceremony being witnessed by others (elopements, anyone?).
That said, the first thing a couple should think about is the ceremony, and here alone there are a multitude of considerations:
- elopement vs having guests
- religious vs secular
- ethnic vs "western" (or a fusion of the two, or having two separate ceremonies)
- family traditions (e.g. bride wearing her mother's wedding dress or jewelry)
- involvement of others in the ceremony (friends reading poetry or singing, for example)
- if secular, writing vows
Decisions made with respect to the above affect the length of the ceremony, so it makes sense to plan the timeline around this important segment of the day. I've witnessed everything from 10 minute ceremonies to an hour-long Catholic mass, so take as much time as you need for the ceremony that you want to have. Your ceremony will also dictate which venue is most suitable for that part of the day, and possibly the remainder. For example, religious ceremonies typically go hand in hand with temples or churches, though you may choose to break with tradition.
So go forth and think about the heart of it all.
Sunday, August 28th, 2016
I recently teamed up with Borrowed and Blue, a locally-focused online wedding resource, to allow couples to get to know me better through a Q&A:
1. How did you first get into photography?
One of my good high school friends became a full-time wedding photographer. Seeing her make a career out of her art helped to make concrete my own vision.
2. What single photo sums up your aesthetic?
This image was taken right after the ceremony of an intimate, garden elopement. Like this one, many of my photos reflect soft light, pure emotion,and a natural backdrop. In fact, this is the first photo you'll see on my website.
3. As a storyteller, what draws you to a particular subject?
I’m drawn to emotions, beautiful light, and interesting patterns/framing. I try to make sure that all of my photographs contain at least one of these.
4. What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding?
My favorite moments are very ephemeral moments between people, such as stolen looks, kisses, or whispers. These speak volumes, but are hidden in the patchwork of our lives.
5. What makes or breaks a bridal shoot?
If a bride isn’t relaxed, then the photographs won’t resonate no matter how beautiful she looks or her dress is.
6. What are some of the most photogenic spots for engagement shoots?
I no longer shoot engagement sessions, but you can’t go wrong with the Presidio forest or Sutro Baths in San Francisco.
7. Where else do you love to photograph?
I love photographing nature’s beauty - national parks, regional parks, etc. I also like using other art as a backdrop to photograph people, such as murals and large sculptures.
8. What’s your favorite photograph you’ve ever taken?
I have many, of which this is just one. This couple flew from out of state to get married at San Francisco City Hall. What better photo to capture their time in San Francisco than a candid of the two staring out at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge? The photo feels otherworldly and timeless to me.
9. What’s your favorite wedding that you’ve shot?
It’s hard to narrow to one, but in general, I like outdoor weddings surrounded by beautiful gardens and forests. I like gracious couples and families.
10. What’s your favorite out of all the San Francisco wedding venues to shoot at?
I have yet to shoot at all of them, but thus far, I’ve really enjoyed shooting at Hastings House in Half Moon Bay. I love plants & nature, and this venue has that in spades.
11. What is the first thing you ask couples when they approach you?
I like to ask couples how they met and what they like to do together. It’s really about them, and like to get to know them as people before discussing myself or photography.
12. What’s the biggest mistake the couples make when choosing their photographer?
I think the biggest mistake that couples make is initially undervaluing quality photography (of course, there are couples for whom photography isn’t a priority, but it’s important for couples to be sure of which camp they are in), only to later realize that it was important to them. If a couple thinks they value photography, then they should go with a photographer whose work they have zero reservations about and no less.
13. What makes you different from other wedding photographers?
What makes me different is the same thing that make all photographers different from each other. We all offer a different combination of skills/taste/personality, and so match better with certain couples over others.
14. What tips do you have for couples who have never been photographed before?
Outside of portrait sessions, relax and ignore the camera. During portrait sessions, don’t hesitate to ask your photographer for posing/movement directions. If you still feel like your photographer isn’t providing sufficient guidance: interact as you normally would with your partner, relax, and ignore the camera until your photographer instructs otherwise :).
15. What are some of your upcoming projects for the future?
I’d love to donate my photography for a good cause, and am still considering opportunities. In the past, I’ve photographed for small business owners and artists and hope to continue that as well.