Archive for the 'Tips' Category


Wedding Questions your Vendors can Answer

February 6 will mark Minneapolis’s first ever Independent Wedding Fair. I am so excited to be involved in this event – it is bringing together 21 local vendors, who are all hand selected for their creativity, love of weddings, and value. The fair will be low key with lots of actual information and none of the trinkets and sales of more traditional fairs.

But that is where you come in! I am looking for ideas about what you want to know about planning your wedding or what you wish you had known before you got married. Between the panel discussions and Q&A we are already planning to cover a lot of questions like:

  • How to make my photography budget go further?
  • How to get great food?
  • What do I need to think about when I plan my wedding timeline?
  • How do I incorporate my complicated family into the wedding without driving myself crazy?
  • What do ushers do?

What questions do you want answered?

**this post is part of “dollars for comments” drive – Becca Dilley will donate $1 for each comment on her website between January 18, 2010 and February 14, 2010 to Doctors without Borders to support their Haiti relief efforts.


Dollars for Comments – Doctors without Borders

Post Katrina New Orleans

From now through Valentines day, I will be running a  “dollars for comments” drive.

For each comment on my website between now and February 14, 2010, I will donate $1 to Doctors without Borders to support their Haiti relief efforts.


Great ideas from 2009 weddings

I am so lucky to have been able to photograph so many amazing weddings in 2009! People around me often ask if I have any wedding planning advice, having seen so many weddings, and I generally say this: choose the things that are important to you, and put your energy and resources into making those fabulous. Let the rest work itself out.

In 2009, there were a few ideas that were fairly simple to implement, and went a long way to personalize the day!

A live tree for your ceremony

Kate & Bret had the most creative and lovely alternative for an arbor or arch during a wedding ceremony I have seen. They bought a living tree, from a nursery, as a backdrop for a wedding service inside a small Wisconsin chapel. As a side bonus – they planted the tree later at a friend’s house and now have a tangible memory of their wedding ceremony.

Writing your vows inside a book that has meaning to you

Joyce & Dan had a lovely small ceremony at the Como Park conservatory’s sunken garden. Dan had written his vows inside a book Joyce had given them when they started dating. Writing your vows inside a book that has meaning for you is a wonderful way to keep your vows in your life, and on your bookshelf.

Going off color with your wedding gown

I loved these two non-traditional wedding dresses. Katie & Jake had a winter wedding in black and red, and Katie’s red wedding dress reflected their artistic and creative vibe. Melanie & Mark planned their slightly off beat wedding in Mexico and Melanie found a dress that was both elegant and a little Rock and Roll with a wide black lace corset belt.

Using a book as a Guestbook

Melanie & Casey’s wedding at the Cannon River winery and vineyard had many wine related touches, including using a book on the wine regions of the country as their guest book. Guests could sign on their favorite pages, and Melanie & Casey will read the lovely messages every time they pick up their coffee table book.

Getting rid of the flowers

Jolyn & Tim’s Guthrie theater wedding was a wonderful place to showcase Jolynn’s red parasol. She did also have a small bouquet, but for most of the pictures she got rid of the flowers sported her parasol. While parasols are not the most practical item to have in your closet, I love the idea of incorporating it into your house decor or taking it out for a picnic on your anniversary.

Going for the gold with your photo location

For Karen & Jeremy’s wedding at the Como Park railroad museum, carving out time to run to the carousel with their wedding party was a must. Sure, it added 15 minutes onto their photo time, and made their wedding even more memorable.


5 pieces of photo gear under $30 that will change the way you shoot

Yes, I have a lot of professional equipment as a wedding photographer, from cameras and lenses to software and computers, even the shoes I wear when I work are expensive. But I have also made some fabulous smaller investments that have made a huge difference in the way I work.

Here are my top 5 upgrades under $30:

1. rechargeable batteries

A few years ago rechargeable AA batteries would take 2 hours to charge and then loose their juice quickly in a camera flash. The problem is that a flash is a very high power device, so it basically needs the maximum battery power to function properly. While a flashlight could still work on half-drained batteries, a flash will not. Enter the new breed of 15 minute rechargeable batteries. They are made for high drain devices (cameras, flashes, video games, etc), they recharge in 15 minutes, and they are around $28 at target for 4 AA batteries and the charger. Now I just bring several bunches of pre-charged batteries, and if I need to recharge during the reception, I can do that too.

2. A good camera strap

Most cameras come with a branded strap, and it totally works if all you want is something to wrap around your neck when you shoot a few photos. But if you are going to have a camera on you for any period of time, investing $25 in a padded and flexible camera strap is a must. Mine is also easier to remove with quick clasps, and distributes the weight well over my back and shoulders.

3. velcro + foam paper

Most people, when they see me shoot for the first time, ask what the paper thing on my flash is. It is foam craft paper, cut to fit and attached to velcro. It is also the best go-to reflector I have ever used. You can buy many flash modifiers for $40 to $120, but I have never found one as versatile, quiet, and efficient with light as the foam paper.  It allows most light to bounce up off the ceiling, and then also reflects some back at my subject. If bouncing is not an option, I have a larger one that reflects more light forward. If I have a lot of bounce possibilities, I will sometimes put the black one in front of my flash to keep any light from traveling forward, and bounce the light for directionality. Total cost: around $8

4. flickr pro account

A pro account from Flickr costs $24.95 per year and includes unlimited uploads and storage, stats on your account, and the cool little “pro” tag next to your name. Basically, you can use it to store all your photos while you network and look more professional at the same time. Some clients have even found me on flickr through my photostream, and the forums are great.
5. card reader
I am amazed at how many photographers download photos by plugging their camera directly into their computer. Not only is that inefficient (your camera just can’t be as fast as a dedicated USB2 reader), but it also slightly increases your chance of damaging your files and your camera (the longer the read function is happening on your card, the higher the chance for corruption). A card reader can cost as little as $15 or $20, but upgrading to a name brand might be worth your while if you download a lot of cards.

The lasting value of photography

A recent trip to an antique store in Wisconsin got me two things – a 1945 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, and a collection of vintage wedding photos from the 1910’s- 1930’s.

While in some ways both of these things are outdated (double weddings? calling cards?), some elements of them remain totally on point. This quote in the wedding section of Etiquette expresses perfectly how I feel about weddings:

A completely beautiful wedding is not merely a combination of wonderful flowers, beautiful clothes, smoothness of detail, delicious food. These, no matter how pleasing, are external attributes. The spirit, or soul of it, must have something besides,and that “something” is in the behavior and in the expression of the bride and groom.

The vintage wedding photos also have a story that is still relevant: wedding photos last.

Your photos are one of the few tangible remembrances of your wedding, and they are the first heirloom of a new family.


Even your photographer enjoys a good photobooth

I love photobooths. I really do.

Whenever I mention photobooths, I am asked if it is doing my job for me. I think not: a good photobooth is not redundant with a professional photographer. A photographer will be with you all day – finding those little moments of shared emotion and documenting formal groups.

A photobooth is part reception entertainment and part fun guest documentation. Think of the photo booth as an upgrade to “table shots” from a your wedding – you get photos of each guest, but instead of a table number and waterglasses, they are in smaller groups and often (gasp) having fun! Even though any photographer will try to photograph most of the guests, it can be impossible to document everyone – there is usually some group of family friends or coworkers that doesn’t like to dance (where I usually am) and leaves a little early (so I don’t get them on my next time around the room). For those people especially, a photo booth is a fun way to get their photos in your guestbook.

With digital photobooths, like Snapz or the Travling Photo Booth, the machine prints two strips – one for the couple, and one for the guests.

Which is especially good news when one of the groom’s college friends asks if he can join you in the photobooth – of course the answer is yes! And now I have a copy, too!


A few of my new favorite things

I don’t usually post about wedding planning or products, but I know my way around wedding styles and I have been watching the designs from Twigs & Honey for a while. Her blend of whimsical and vintage is really adorable to me, and I am looking for an excuse to wear one of her hair embellishments. She now has a few garter belts that are a real departure from the traditional lace and satin standards.

Photo from Twigs & Honey

Photo from Twigs & Honey