How to Create The Perfect Wedding Day Flat-Lay

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Wedding Day Flat Lays and How To Nail Them

I’ll be the first to tell you, flat lays are my favorite shots to get, yet it’s the most MISSED shot on wedding day. How can this be?

While the rush of wedding day activities are taking place, packing makeup, dresses, heels, and carrying it all over to their hotel room, while also making sure they pack simultaneously for their honeymoon immediately after, let’s just say bride’s forget to bring some of their details. The most notorious piece : invitation suites.

Chances are they spent a good chunk of time, money, and effort into getting customized wedding invitations. Not only are they beautiful, but they showcase their wedding colors, venue, information, menu, names, style and other customized details. Invitation suites really tie together all the other details like rings, heels, garter, fragrance, and florals.

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Let’s Make Sure We Nail This Shot.

The first step to nailing this shot happens a few months before the actual wedding. The biggest issue is that invitation suites are usually the first thing that’s mailed out, maybe your bride didn’t even consider that invitation suits needed to be photographed or that you would need a “fake set”, of invitations with no real names or addresses to help with privacy. Encourage them to keep the extra invitation in a safe place or even better : encourage the bride to have the stationary designer mail it out to you personally, that way it’s not left behind!

Send your brides a reminder a few days before the wedding of what details to have ready and organized, for when you start shooting on wedding day. They probably have a lot going on so it’s easy to miss things! Encourage them to have someone else or a bridesmaid keep track of these items!

Extras and Props.

Have the Stationary Designer include extras, such as ribbon, or a few stamps, or any left over material that could help with styling. Also, asking the florist for a few left over flowers or foliage helps tie everything together! (Photographers make sure to communicate this information to your brides or graciously ask the vendors for them!)

Arranging.

The best way to go about setting up your flat lay is by trial. Consider layering stationary, have the ribbon sweep across the board, add in the rings, the heels, move things around, snap a variety of detail shots. Make it fill up the border of your frame, if it feels too cluttered, simplify. And try it again. Throw in florals, re-arrange the stationary, and so on. Shoot from overhead, stand on a chair, shoot from below, there is no “one way” about going about this. The beauty of flat lays are that, they are completely unique to the couple and their details. Pro Tip: If your camera has live view, switch it on and arrange your flat lay so you can get a better idea of how it’s filling your frame as you go. (I use a 35mm lens to get these shots and I’ll throw it into a higher f stop so you’re able to capture more details.)

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Photographers:

Make sure you’re arriving prepared, often times you won’t have access to extras or even a nice backdrop to do a flat lay, make sure you start carrying with you a “flat lay kit” bag or container. Here’s what to consider bringing:

  • Backdrops, you can make them yourselves, buy them online, or get creative. Basically it can be anything from a sturdy cardboard with painted texture (like the photo above), linens, canvas with stapled fabric, anything that will serve as a better backdrop compared to an ugly hotel carpet. Feel free to experiment with different colored backdrops (marble, white, black, neutrals, etc.)

  • Ribbons and Silk, start collecting neutral colored ribbon, silk looks best and you can find some rather inexpensive ribbon at Michaels, Etsy, and other craft stores! Keep adding colors to your kit as you go. Tip: Buy silk ribbon on a wooden spool, this helps elevate the photo as well.

  • Wax Seal Wand, if your brides invitation suite has wax sealed envelopes make sure to include the wand in the photo.

  • Vintage Stamps

  • Ring Boxes / Glass Boxes / Unique Holding Trays

    Miscellaneous, interesting trinkets, silver serving trays, other pretty items.

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It’s easy to carry all these items in an artist caddy box/storage toolbox, or even a tote bag, once you’re done with getting the detail shots simply store it away in the trunk of your car.

Lastly, don’t neglect the light, find a well lit spot to set up, often times near a window or go outside to a shaded area!

All you Need To Know about Printing your Photos!

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So, You just Received Your Wedding Photos Through an Online Image Gallery, Now What?

If you have recently took Engagement Photos, Wedding Photos, heck- even memories that are piled up on your iPhone, chances are they’re all still floating around the cyber world of technology. Floating around, UNPROTECTED. And let’s be honest— humans and technology don’t always get along. Chances are you’re prone to loose that phone with precious memories, your computer might crash, and your image galleries have long expired. Now what? All of those beautiful memories, literally gone forever because you never printed any of them! How do you make sure your photos are protected as the years go by?

1.) Back Them Up!

First things first, you’re gonna want to make sure you make lot’s of copies, thankfully one of the plus sides to digital images is that you can easily and readily save them to several locations. Buy several USB’S they’re inexpensive and you can even buy in bulk at places like Costco. Make sure to copy/save your image folders onto the USB’s, and store them in various safe kept locations, or as a bonus maybe even store some at Mom’s house! Keep in mind, USB’s can corrupt/ damage over time, this method is only a back up, the final step is of course to print your images.

2.) Clouds/ Online Storage

This is a good option for people who have a ton of photos on their phones or also if you received an online image gallery from me, then they’re probably all saved to your computer, it’s a good idea to look into Cloud Storages/Online Storage systems that are guaranteed backups!

3.) The Only Way To Preserve your Memories : Printing.

Technology as it is ever changing is bound to corrupt/ become damaged / no longer functional (floppy disks? remember them?), the only way to preserve your memories is by making tangible good ol' paper prints. Just like the ones that have been passed down from generation to generation in your family. Make prints and lots of them. My clients all have a print release, which allows them to print their high quality professional images from a printer of their choice! There’s no excuse to loose all your precious memories because they were locked away on a phone or on your crashed computer. Even better, make photo books with your images, they save space, look great, there’s tons of affordable book companies that let you customize layouts and so forth!

Printing Companies:

I have compiled a list of recommended printers for my clients, to ensure they get their photos printed!

Remember, you probably invested a pretty penny on your wedding day photos, your engagement photos, etc make sure you don’t loose them over something like a computer crash or lost phone. This goes for your personal photos as well!! Print. Print. Print!

This is the # 1 Thing you Need to Change about Your Wedding

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The #1 Mistake Made at Weddings

In the days leading up to the wedding day and planning everything from deciding on colors, cake flavors, catering, rentals, who sit’s where, and so on, there’s probably one aspect of your wedding day that you haven’t planned for and that’s having an Unplugged Wedding. You might have heard this term before but it’s really simple and only takes a few seconds to address the issue. Let’s break it down.

So, What is an Unplugged Wedding?

Basically an Unplugged Wedding means that you ask your guests to be truly present in the moment with you two, during your ceremony by turning off their phones and cameras and waiting to take photos once the entire ceremony and congratulation hugs are over.

Why is it So Important?

Most people don’t realize it until it’s too late and they receive their images from their wedding day, only to find that during the ceremony there was a sea of iPhones and YES even iPads blocking all the important shots, (I’ve seen it more often than you think). The first kiss photo? Ruined. The bride walking down the aisle? Ruined. Not only does it ruin photos but it ruins the whole experience!! Imagine your soon to be husband can’t even catch a clear view of his bride as she walks down the aisle because guest are holding their phones recording. Imagine your mom is trying to figure out how to record a video on her phone and get the zoom to work, and she misses you wiping away your tears as your husband declares his vows to you.

In The Moment.

Not only does having an Unplugged Wedding help with distractions but your guests will be free to immerse themselves in the experience that you’ve spent months planning. They will be more likely to listen, remember, and engage in a heart-felt way, with your whole ceremony experience! Repeat after me : There is nothing wrong with asking people to turn their phones off and be present for the most important 15 minutes of your life.

How to Go about It.

There are a few ways to go about this, first you can mention it on your website if you have one, something along the lines of “We invite you to be truly present at our ceremony, and respectfully request that all cameras and phones be turned off.”

Secondly, you can have an Unplugged Wedding sign at the ceremony location (look at Pinterest), or if you have a program you can have it written in there.

The easiest is to simply ask whoever is marrying you to announce to put phones/cameras away, while they are asking everyone to take their seats before the ceremony even begins! Let them know that after the ceremony and celebratory hugs they are free to take as many photos as they’d like.

Sharing Your Images with Your Guest.

Let it be known that you’re more than happy to share your professional images with your guests after the wedding day. I personally send over a few sneak peaks the next day to the bride for her to share on social media. Also, once I deliver the final Image Gallery, they are more than welcome to share the whole gallery with friends and family through a link!

Extras.

Having a Photo Booth or even instant cameras makes for a great way for your guests to have instant memories to take home with them.

Don’t let iPhones and large tablets ruin some of the most special memories of your big day. Everyone is always happy to comply and are able to enjoy your ceremony THAT much better!

First Looks, Are They For You?

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Let’s Break it Down, First Looks on Wedding Day?

Now, this is a common question when wedding planning, to do or not to do a first-look. I’ll be the first to tell you THERE’S NO WRONG ANSWER! It simply comes down to preference. However, I do want to go in depth on why you might consider it, the biggest reason: practicality.

Traditionally, you might’ve heard the stigma around seeing the bride before the ceremony, some still abide by this “rule” and other’s simply are doing things there own way!

Here are Important things to Consider:

You Want a Genuine Reaction from your Partner When you are Walking Down the Aisle :

You might be under the impression that if you do a first look, your soon to be husband might not have the same heartfelt reaction if he hadn’t seen you earlier, this is FALSE. Not only do most couples get an emotional reaction during the first look, but they still have a heart-felt reaction when you’re walking up the aisle, because you’ll be overwhelmed with emotion no matter what. Don’t talk yourself completely out of first looks because of this.

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Nervous? Anxiety? Wedding Day Stress?

Having a First Look for those who are nervous and anxious because of the big day can help ease all those feelings! First Looks are great because you get a chance to spend some quality time together, taking it all in, balancing each other out, connecting, and having some quiet time before the rush of events.

Can’t Ignore Practicality

First looks allows you to be able to get most of your wedding photos done (bridal party, family photos, etc) before the ceremony which will allow you to get to your cocktail party and reception sooner! However, there is also a downfall, often times First Looks happen during the day, so the lighting is not the most ideal, you might still have to take photos after your ceremony!

Seasonal

Depending on what time of the year you’re getting you married, you might actually have to do a First Look! First-look wedding photos are critical if you want portraits taken with natural light, especially if the ceremony is scheduled later in the evening.


So, there are a lot of factors when deciding if they’re right for you and your partner. Personally, I didn’t have a first look during my wedding, I waited until the ceremony, however I was SO stressed and anxious that I didn’t even smile while I was walking down the aisle ( I was already crying) haha and I could barley say my vows in between crying!!! I would definitely go back and do a first look, to help ease the pressure and have a moment with my husband. Like I said, it’s completely preference! Don’t let anyone steer you one way or the other, sit down and talk about what would make it more memorable for the both of you, and do things your way!

What's In my Camera Bag?

What’s In My Camera Bag

One of the most asked questions I get is, “What do you shoot with?” or “what’s your favorite lens?”, and “what do you bring to shoot weddings?”, so I figured I’d lay out my go to items and other gear.

If you’re just starting shooting out, don’t worry about having the latest and most expensive gear. You don’t need amazing gear to start practicing and getting good! Instead focus on creativity, lighting, composition, and technical camera knowledge. You can always upgrade as you go (that’s exactly what I did)!

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I first started on a Nikon D2100 (believe it or not) and it was about $500, which was a lot at the time for a 16 year old on a summer job salary haha! But I was determined and loved photography already.

Then I “upgraded” and switched over to a Canon EOS 80 D, I shot SO so much on this camera and really started fine tuning my style and approach. When I started feeling limited and felt that I had used it to all of it’s capability, I upgraded again!

Waterproof and Sleek!

Waterproof and Sleek!

Here’s What I Have:

2 Canon 5d Mark iii’s

Canon 35mm L

Canon 50L

Sigma 35mm

Sigma 24mm

Yongnuo 568exii Flash (usually only use flash during reception if necessary)

SD and CF card cases

Vinta Type-II Camera Bag

Magmod Sphere

Leather Double Harness Camera Strap (No longer listed on Etsy but definitely recommend India Earl’s Harnesses)

Waterproof Portable Clip Speaker (I play music during all my session!)

Pelican Cases

Extra Gear I Bring on Wedding Days:

Command Hooks ( this helps for when you don’t have a nice place to get the dress shot and gives you more creative flexibility for where you decide to place the dress!)

Cliff Bars+ Water (you’ll find that on wedding days you probably won’t have time go anywhere for food make sure to come prepared)

First Aid Kit

Medicine (Pain pills, medicine etc these have come in super handy, I’ve had whole bridal parties and even the groom relying on me for these haha)

Lint Roller

Stain Wipes

Tissues (this is a big one especially during the ceremony)

Extra Batteries

Bobby Pins + Safety Pins

External Phone Charger

Flat Lay Stationary Items ( during the flat lay photos of the brides details I’ll bring along backdrops, linens, silk ribbon, extra goodies to help style the image.)


SO, as you can see I work with what I have, I definitely have a wish list of fancy lenses that I’d love to have but I’d rather invest that money in education/workshops/ etc. I can always add more to my repertoire if I see I truly need it. Like I said, while nice gear is great, knowing how to use whatever gear you’re working with is what really matters!