Choosing engagement session locations

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Greg and Melissa's engagement session

Greg and Melissa’s engagement session

Written by Chuck Jackson

Engagement session locations can be wide ranging. When considering an appropriate location to do the Bride & Groom’s engagement session, I always use their personality and “likes” or preferences as my guiding factor. The location and theme (if any) must say something about who the couple is, what they are all about, and/or what makes their relationship special.

I ask them to reflect on a special place in their relationship, their favorite place to spend time together, or a place that epitomizes the kinds of activities they enjoy doing. This not only empowers the happy couple, but helps ensure that they will be motivated and excited about their engagement session. When direction is needed on my part, I offer couples a variety of choices and let them decide.

Ultimately it is all about the Bride & Groom so their input is critical in deciding the location for their engagement session.

Ashley & Andrew's engagement session

Ashley & Andrew’s engagement session

Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactivephotographytampa.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!

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Awesome wedding lenses!

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Laura & Brian at sunset

Laura & Brian at sunset

Written by Chuck Jackson

As a wedding photographer, some of the most important, if not THE most important, tools of the trade are our lenses. Given the fact that we often shoot in low light situations, fast lenses (defined as f/2.8 or faster) are a definite must have for any wedding photographer’s toolbox. Furthermore, the depth of field control provided with these fast lenses makes for even lovelier shots!

For me, I have 3 favorite lenses (in no particular order): I love my Nikkor 85mm/1.8, my Sigma 50-150mm/2.8 OC EX HSM, and my Nikkor 35mm/1.8. Since I shoot weddings with two camera bodies at all times, I almost always have my 50-150mm/2.8 on one body (because of the extreme versatility of this lens’s focal length) and something else on the other body (usually the 35mm/1.8 or the 85mm/1.8, depending upon the situation.

Note: My 4th favorite lens would be the 18-55mm/VR lens for wider angle use, however, my style favors tighter composition in many cases so this is normally not one of my initial choices.

Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactivephotographytampa.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!

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Lastings & Depree’s first dance

Whatcha, whatcha, whatcha Want?

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Bridal Party

Bridal Party

Written by Chuck Jackson

 

Brides: Figuring out exactly what you want for your wedding day can be a daunting task. Everything from the dress, catering choices, florals, location, wedding party participants, guest list, color scheme, theme (if any), music and DJ, photography, videography, etc. – it can get extremely challenging to manage all of these things. This is why a good/experienced wedding planner is your BEST WEDDING BUDDY!

Bridal Session

Bridal Session

Look, we are all operating on a budget of some sort (the size of the budget may very greatly but this is all relative). But wedding planning is way too complicated and way too emotionally draining a process to try and handle all by yourself (speaking mainly to the brides on this one). You have enough to worry about and having a professional on your team will make a world of difference. Quite frankly, you cannot afford NOT to have a wedding planner.

Make SURE you factor the cost of a good wedding planner into any wedding budget – this should be one of the very first items you check off your list because they can help you with just about everything else as soon as they are brought onto the team. Figuring out “whatcha want” becomes exponentially easier when you have the assistance of someone with plenty of experience guiding brides through the process. That alone is worth the piece of mind it provides during one of the most stressful times of your life – planning your wedding.

Bridal preparation

Bridal preparation

Why is whether or not you hire a wedding planner so important to a wedding photographer, you ask? Simply put, I have witnessed both well planned and poorly planned weddings and the poorly planned weddings directly and negatively impact me, the photographer’s, ability to do our job (and the DJ’s, and the caterers, etc.). When weddings are poorly planned, the timing is horrendous – when the timing is horrendous, photographers cannot take the time needed to do our jobs correctly/adequately. And when we cannot do our jobs correctly, that may reflect negatively on both the quality and quantity of the pictures.

Bridal Preparation

Bridal Preparation

So please, please, let ME help YOU make a good decision about this – hire an experienced wedding planner so they can make EVERY aspect of your wedding (including wedding photography) flow smoother and better. And this will make wedding photographers, like me, VERY happy and, in turn, YOU will be much less stressed and ultimately happier with your wedding day experience. Your husband will thank you, your bridesmaids will thank you, your family will thank you, your guests will thank you, and your vendors will thank you for providing a “Bridezilla Free Zone” on your wedding day.

The logic is simple: weddings and their planning are stressful; wedding planners help relieve the stress; when the Bride is less stressed, everything and everyone else is less stressed; less stress means everyone is happier; therefore, hire a wedding planner! Okay, not quite Aristotelian logic but you get the point.

Wedding planner = Happier Wedding Day

Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactivephotography.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!

 

Why should your photographer take your wedding seriously?

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Written by Chuck Jackson

While we would like to think every wedding photographer takes their weddings seriously, sadly, this is not the case. Many times, weddings are nothing more than another job in the minds of some. This is a mistake to be avoided when selecting your wedding photographer. “How do you do this,” you ask? It starts when you begin talking about your wedding with the photographer…

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One of the first questions I ask the bride and groom is to describe their wedding vision to me. Everyone envisions their special day quite differently and this comes out clearly as they begin to express the details of the day. Everything from the theme, the colors, the look & feel, the style, etc. can differ, and differ significantly, from wedding to wedding. Your wedding is uniquely yours!

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Why do I take being a wedding photographer so seriously and enjoy it so much? Simply put, I consider myself to be a visual family historian. Capturing the joining of two families and their histories together is an important day in both family lineages that will continue on for generations. Additionally, when meeting with clients, I believe it should be made clear to the bride and groom that their wedding is NOT just another job, but a part of their heritage. As your wedding photographer, we are capturing precious moments in your family history that will be passed down from generation to generation. This is what we like most about our job and why we SHOULD take it seriously.

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Interestingly enough, some photographers approach weddings as just another job, just another paycheck, just another high-stress”bridezilla” experience. You want a wedding photographer that approaches YOUR wedding day as the keeper of some of your family’s most cherished records – your wedding pictures and memories. Not only should good wedding photographers chronicle your wedding day from start to finish, they should do so meticulously, capturing as many moments and memories as possible. Photographic images represent the thoughts and emotions associated with specific moments in time and, in that sense, a picture is truly worth a 1000 words.

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The joining of families through marriage is an age-old tradition. It has been a pillar of every society and culture since we’ve recorded history. Wedding records often provide key insights into family histories and genealogies, and even that of entire communities, when other records were unavailable.

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This is the legacy of the wedding photographer – WE are the keepers of some of the most important records you will pass on to your children and your children’s children.

Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactivephotography.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!

3 Quick Tips for Photographing Sunsets for Engagement Sessions

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Written by Chuck Jackson

While there are other tips (and photographers write somewhat comprehensive articles on this subject), here are a few things to try the next time you want to nail that perfect sunset picture! Sunset pictures are particularly beautiful client pleasers during weddings and/or engagement sessions (as in the example above).

1) Underexpose: Typically, I underexpose sunset pix by 2/3 to a full stop (or more ) if sunset is farther than 10-15 minutes away. Bracketing your shots at 1/3 stop intervals is always a safe bet!

2) Timing: The best, most colorful/vibrant sunset pix are usually just as the sun is about to touch the horizon or for a few minutes following the actual “setting” of the sun (the window of about 10-15 minutes before and after sunset).

3) Sunglasses: This is a personal decision but after doing this a while you realize that looking into the direction of the sun (Note: You should never look directly at the sun!), setting or not, can actually wreak havoc on your vision (momentarily – I am sure staring at the sun with unprotected eyes can have long-term permanent effects, as well, if one is careless…). So to mitigate that, I wear shades when looking through the viewfinder – this helps (again, never looking directly at the sun)!

Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactivephotography.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!

Benefits of off-camera flash for wedding photography

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Written by Chuck Jackson

Last year, I changed my approach to photographing wedding receptions. Previously, I confined myself to using my studio strobes to the posed formals – now, I’ve expanded the role of strobes in my wedding photography! An example of how I captured the Bride and Groom having their first dance using an off-camera strobe at their wedding reception is above.

Instead of just relying on ambient light and on or off camera flash, I started using studio strobes in addition to those techniques. I have been very pleased with the results! I find myself now shooting dimly lit reception halls at ISO 100 which is really cool (in comparison to the 640, 800, 1000, 1250, or 1600 with or without a single camera mounted flash)! Furthermore, I’ve also used these flash units during the actual CEREMONY of the wedding, as well (See example below where two off-camera strobes were used during the wedding ceremony).

Since I use two camera bodies for weddings, I go back and forth between my standard on camera flash (when used) to allow me the flexibility of maneuvering around and capturing the wedding from various perspectives on one camera body and then using my Radio Popper controlled strobes (allowing me to trigger the strobes without line-of-sight from across the room) with my other camera body to ensure I have all the bases covered.  Doing this also allows for an increased level of flexibility and significantly diverse and beautiful looking imagery to make your Bride and Groom very happy!

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Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Check out http://www.photoactiveweddingphotography.com to see hundreds of wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well!