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As photographers, we often run into situations that give us ideas on how to make the whole wedding experience better, both for brides and photographers. I wanted to write about the process of how to make sure that you get exactly the pictures that you desire, and how a little planning and effort can make a difference to your satisfaction level, even after your wedding.

Weddings are a time full of emotion and excitement, so it seems logical that planning will make the situation much better. Especially when the day gets there, and everything seems like a hurricane of activity. We can barely breathe from all the things we must do. Sometimes it seems quite overwhelming and insurmountable. Don’t forget the planning of your pictures or planning for a professional photographer!

Brides often begin with the fantasy of their wedding day. We think about how we will look, what we will wear. Everything is a perfect image of us in our own mental movie; starring us as the princess, and our groom is prince charming. Often we don’t stop to realize that we are real people, and no one is ever absolutely perfect. I think that people fixate on perfection and it is something that is second nature to us OCD type girls, the ones that can spot a flaw in the seam of a wedding gown at 500 yards away! However, it can also be a culprit to undermine your happiness, from the planning of your event to remembering the event several years later.

Today future brides start out by scouring the internet looking at wedding photos, and weaving them into the fantasy they are creating. Brides often begin by using various images of different women’s wedding images as a template of their own wedding. Some of these weddings are very lavish and expensive. Maybe the bride is wearing a $10,000 dress? Maybe the locations are some of the best locations in the United States? We Don’t stop to think, I don’t have a $10,000 dress. I am not having my reception at the Ritz Carlton. Instead we have the fantasy we created, with absolutely no dose of reality. We have set up the perfect situation to be disappointed in the aftermath.

As a photographer, I will have brides that will come to me and present me with images from the internet. Saying to me “I want a picture just like this”. It’s a tough thing, because you know the bride has already been planning on this picture at this point. You also know that she is getting married at a small country church, not the beach in Hawaii as the picture clearly shows with the blue-green ocean in the background. You know that she doesn’t have models as her bridesmaids, and the groom doesn’t have football players as his best men. We try to break the news gently. We point out that we are not the photographer that took those images. That we can try our best to capture something similar to that. That we will try and capture the feeling and emotion of the image that the bride has picked out to be the iconic image of her day. The fact is, often it’s too late. The bride is already seeing her entire day through that one image.

I also make it a point to explain to brides that I have my own style. That I can’t copy someone else’s style or someone else’s work. It’s simply not possible.  Art is a very personal thing.  I could no more paint a painting like Rembrandt, than I could sculpt a statue like Michelangelo.  All artists have their own style.  If you want that photographer that took those images, then go hire them. Yeah I know they cost $10,000.   There is a reason and scheme to things.  I can’t take all these various poses, and make the bride’s images look like the samples that she gathered from all over the web.  It’s just not possible.  If you want your wedding pictures taken in Hawaii, then you had better have your ceremony and reception there.  In the end, I am a photographer that wants to make people happy, so I will often implore brides to look at my website, look at my face book page, and realize that these are the types of images I take.  That I want them to book me because they like the job I do, not because I was available, or because they could afford me.

I cannot stress it enough. Look at a photographer’s work. Get a complete picture of their style. If you are having an outside wedding. Make sure to pay special attention to their outside wedding pictures. If you know your ceremony and reception venues, ask to see samples from those venues or venues of similar nature. This is very important.  A wedding is not a cookie cutter event. You don’t just select the images you want, and have them provided to you on a conveyor belt. Pictures taken at a small church will not even begin to look the same as pictures taken in a huge Catholic Cathedral. Everything about a wedding is individual, and everyone involved in the wedding is an individual.

I think all of my brides are beautiful. I think that all of the images I take on their day reflect their beauty. But I think that sometimes brides lose their sense of reality, and get too tangled up in the fantasy of getting married. I think sometimes that when they see the reality of it, they are hugely dissatisfied and then begin the process of pinning their dissatisfaction on other things and other people.

Photographers are influenced by the time of year the wedding occurs, the amount of light available, the locations, the people, the whole mood of the event, etc. Photographers are limited by the rules of the ceremony location, rules of the reception location, where the wedding takes place, what items are in the background, along with the reality and nature of things. If there are statues around the alter area, they will most likely be in your pictures. If you don’t want the statues in your pictures, be sure to remove them before hand. If there are lights that you don’t have lit, they will not be lit in the photographs.

Look at the area way before the day of your wedding. Make a list of things to do so that the background is exactly like you want it for your wedding photographs.  A photographer has a lot of details they are trying to keep track of, from people being present for posed photographs, to their equipment, to the list of photographs, to clothing malfunctions, makeup malfunctions, etc.  It’s impossible for a photographer to notice every conceivable detail that you may decide way after the wedding that you wanted changed.

We are artists that set out to capture the wedding day with the emotion and emphasis on the bride & groom. We cannot control a lot of things. We cannot control the weather. We cannot control the sun. We cannot control what type of car you sit in, to have pictures of you and your groom driving off. We cannot control your dress that is wrinkled, or the tux that is too big. We cannot control the flowers that have wilted and turned brown. We definitely can’t control how you view yourself. When everything is said and done, it is still you in that wedding dress. Sometimes self image undermines every bit of happiness after the wedding. As some brides look at their pictures and have a stark reality set in, that it is really them in the resulting images, not the fairy-tale that they had created along the way.

Photographers can do many things. Using software and artistry, we can fix glare on skin or glasses, we can edit and fix stray hairs or blemishes on the skin, we can add or remove elements, we can use digital artistry in many fantastic ways to make you and your wedding images look their best. But we can’t change who people are. We can’t replace your maid of honor with Princess Jasmine. We can’t replace your best man with Superman. We see the beauty in reality, and we recognize that the beauty we see isn’t necessarily what you find in fairy-tales.  Beauty exists here in reality, with your grandmother grabbing a handkerchief to whisk away a tear during your toast. Or the beauty of a father walking his daughter down the isle.  There is beauty all around us. Have the courage to see it for what it is, not what you think it should be.

Planning for your wedding photographs should start with a  couple of lists.

  1. A list of things that you need to do to get the ceremony/reception backgrounds looking like you want.  Deciding on placement of things before the big day.
  2. The list of posed images that you want to have taken & the recreations you want to orchestrate for pictures.

During the planning and booking process, pay attention to what things are in the background. Bingo/game boards on the walls, old photographs and images, old decorations from last year, stacks of chairs, stacks of boxes, etc.  All of these things will end up in your photographs.  An example of placement would be the direction you place your alter area  for an outside wedding should take into account the placement of the sun at the time of the scheduled wedding.  You don’t want all your guests looking into the sun trying to squint to see you get married.  Your photographer will also have a difficult time trying to photograph the entire ceremony facing into the sun.  They will have to overcompensate the sun and shadows with lots of flash, and that can be difficult especially for the longer ceremonies.

Your list of pictures you want to have taken will be the important posed images to get.  You know, the ones the family will want.  We call them the alter return photographs because they are taken on the alter, and are the basic stand up in a line sort of pictures.  These are the ones that the family wants to commemorate the day.  So get those down first, and then move on to if you want to have recreated events photographed where the major events are re-staged, or do we want the photographer to take pictures of things as they happen? Or Both? If you want photos of recreated events, write those next. Things like ring exchange, lifting the veil, the kiss, etc.   Don’t forget to write each pose separately, as a separate image.  So that it is clear exactly what images you expect.

Now for those images that you want taken as things happen. Most photographers don’t need those on a list. We know to take pictures of the bride as she comes down the isle, the ring exchange, and vows for example. The key is not making your list so large and overwhelming that we, as photographers, spend all of our attention and time marking off a list, instead of capturing the images we are supposed to be capturing as they happen!

Once you have the lists and you have gone over them with your photographer, and you both have the same list of posed photographs, I want you to make a copy and give it to the person that is helping you organize the wedding images.  Be it a wedding planner, an attendant, or bridesmaid, etc.

A really great tip to forecast how long your pictures are going to take (as you are making out your lists) so that you know if you have enough time to add more or if you need to remove or consolidate some is to use this formula:  5 minutes per pose/image.  So, a picture of the bride & the flower girl = 5 minutes.  A picture of the bride, flower girl, & ring bearer = another 5 minutes. 10 minutes total so far!  A picture of the groom with the best man = 5 minutes, a groom with pictures of the other 3 groomsmen individually = 15 minutes.  We are now at a total of 30 minutes! It’s that easy.  This formula seems to work pretty well.

Some poses may not need all of the 5 minutes scheduled; but then when you are taking several shots of close up and full length, or someone needs to be tracked down, it may take more than the 5 minutes.  In the end it all seems to even out.  If you are really organized and everyone is ready on time, with zero delays, you may over plan on time a bit, but the great thing is that gives you a little extra time for those unplanned poses or maybe just a few minutes rest.

I hope this article has been helpful in how important planning a wedding is, and the different ways to plan.  I also hope that future brides will take away from this post how beautiful they are.  That sometimes we are too harsh on ourselves, and we have unrealistic expectations on ourselves.  It makes us unhappy.  It makes others unhappy too.  Please stop doing that.  Love yourself, and learn to look at yourself and see your own unique beauty.

Now go set out to make your wedding day fun, memorable, and full of excitement and emotion.   The most important thing is that a wedding is fun and heartfelt. All that really matters is that you enjoy your wedding day.  I hope to be there to capture it in all of it’s magnificence and beauty!


Miller’s Merry Manor Sweethearts King & Queen 2013

by Stacy Mize on February 15, 2013

I went to Miller’s Merry Manor King and Queen Party this year.  My dad, George Mize, played music; and we all had a really good time.

I photographed a lot of people this year, and as a gift I will be providing professional proofs of the resulting images to the subjects as well as give Miller’s A CD of the proof images for their files.

The staff at Miller’s did such a nice job with decorations, and snacks.  There was a lot of yummy cake, and a drawing where gifts were given.  I was surprised at the great turnout, with nearly a full house!  We also had an honored guest join us, Rep. Bill Friend.

I really enjoyed this event, and I hope to take part in it again, with even more photographic fun.  I will post the rest of the pictures on my Facebook Page when they are completed.   Here is the Sweetheart King and Queen of 2013, Dolly & Hoot along with a picture of Rep. Bill Friend.








2012 Wedding Colors

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I was looking at the wedding colors for this 2012 season, I really like the wedding dresses with a hint of color, especially the pink.  However; I did realize, orange has been making a huge hit for the last few years now.  The fushia, orange, and yellow combinations we have seen hit big the last few […]

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I was reading this article,  Is the Art of Photography Dying Due to Digitalization?,  and was quite surprised in the information given. Specifically I was surprised to see the quoted definition of art by someone named Tolstoy (Leo Tolstoy), in short being “Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by […]

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New Location!

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I am currently in the process of moving into my new location at 70 N. Broadway.  You may have noticed the new sign.  Things are going slow and steady.  I am really looking forward to settling down in this new location!  I get to be right next to Doris Drapery Boutique.  Which I have known Doris for years.  Such […]

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Jade & Adam – October 8, 2011

October 17, 2011

I photographed Jade & Adam’s wedding Saturday.  What a great time!  A beautiful couple that is so much in love; and incredible family members, it made a good wedding, spectacular. The day started at a church in Wabash named the Grace Fellowship Church.  This is a very nice church, with a wide stage, which is really helpful […]

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