Welcome Wedding Couples! - Valerie Hawkins

Welcome to the VHP Wedding family!    I'm so very delighted to be chosen as your wedding photographer.  As you and your fiance begin planning the various aspects of your wedding, I wanted to provide you with some helpful tips.  My job isn't just to give you with beautiful images of your day.  I want to photograph your day as unobtrusively as possible to capture all of those emotional moments while still offering guidance at times to utilize posing, lighting and landscape to take great portraits.  There's a few things that we can do to help make your day awesome!

1.  Plan for photos.

Even the best organized and well planned event can overlook or misunderstand how long it takes a photographer to get those amazing images.  Pre-planning is crucial!  I also like to have a timeline so that I understand where you need to be and when on wedding day.  Unless you have a personal assistant for the day, I've found that it really helps if I keep everyone on task photography wise that day.  At least until you walk into the reception.  Then it's the DJ's gig, and I'm going into full documentary mode.   

A good rule of thumb is to allow 90 minutes from the time the ceremony ends until we depart for the reception in order to photograph the Family Portraits, Wedding Party and Couple Shots.  Remember that transporting large wedding parties takes longer than you might think.  If you don't want to be away from your guests that long, we can talk about how you can get to the reception faster by having a small family photo shot list and having a First Look to take wedding party shots before the ceremony.

2.   Let's cyber-stalk each other.

Except not creepy like.  It might sound strange, but connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest helps me get a better sense for your style, personality and wedding ideas.  And sometimes it lands me a great new recipe (Bonus!)

While I cannot recreate every cute Pinterest pose on wedding day (my shooting process is a bit more organic),  it's always nice to have inspiration.

Pinterest         Instagram             Facebook          Facebook (personal page)

3.  Call me, maybe.

I like to think that I have good taste (although my teenager would heartily disagree), and I've been to a few weddings.  If you have questions about etiquette, color schemes or even just have an idea you want to bounce off me, please call or email.  Wanna do something outrageous for wedding photos and not sure if taking an elephant ride with your groom is cool?  (It is, it totally is and it would make my shutter-clicking heart so very happy!)  

And if perhaps you wish to indulge my bucket list of cool wedding shots, here goes:

   Bride & Groom jumping in a fountain

   Fireworks - full fledged kaboom fireworks

   Horse drawn sleigh ride in snow

   Standing in a waterfall

   In a canoe 

   Crowd surfing during the reception

   Walking across hot coals

   Playing/singing a song at the reception (any bride drummers?)

*just a few to begin with and yes, it's in full wedding attire!


4.  Unplugged Ceremony

It's very frustrating to couples when they get their photos back and their ceremony shots are filled with guests holding phones and cameras to their faces rather than showing guests smiling and enjoying the moment.  Sadly, some folks even lean or step out into the aisle which just ruins my chance to photograph a perfect moment.  Consider asking your pastor to announce that you wish for all guests to silence their devices and put away their cameras so that they can experience the ceremony and allow your photographer to work unimpeded.  Add that they'll have an opportunity to get a photo of you and the groom at the reception or from your professional wedding gallery.

And then watch me do my thing.

5.  Consider Lighting

Lighting, whether natural or artificial, can enhance the mood of your event.  But sometimes lighting that enhances the experience may not make for a great photo.  My photography is generally a natural and authentic representation of the day.  If your DJ has purple and green lasers and disco lights on during your first dance, that's what you'll see in your photos.  If you don't want color washing during your favorite moments, like the dances, consider asking the DJ to turn the colored lighting off for it.    

Ceremonies, especially those in a church, can have dim lighting.  As many pastors and venues prohibit using flash photography and to remain as unobtrusive as possible, I don't use flash during the ceremony portion of the day.  While my pro body cameras can handle low light (ISO 12,800... thank you Nikon!), a very dark church may cause the photos to be grainy.  I also recommend that you avoid getting married right in front of a window as the amount of light flooding in behind you as you stand at the altar will cause very hazy photographs. Draping it with fabric will knock down some of that strong back lighting.                          

6.  Pamper Yourself

There's a few things that you can do to get camera-ready for your big day.

Hydrate: 10 days prior to the wedding begin drinking half your body weight in water each day.  It  helps with digestion, eases bloating and makes your skin look great.

Massage:  A deep back massage during the final week can help ease your stress!

Sleep:  Seems silly to mention it, but getting 8-9 hours of sleep in the week before the wedding is so important.

Airbrush Make-Up:  It's seriously amazing and makes your skin look radiant.  A good make-up artist is worth their weight in gold.  I love the gals with Pinned Up, Ltd.  They always do a phenomenal job and the make-up lasts the whole day

Waterproof Mascara & False Eyelashes:  Love those bridal close-up shots in my portfolio?  Beautiful, defined lashes make your eyes pop.

Wax:  Clean up those brows and unwanted hair before the wedding, but make sure you give your skin time to calm down.  Dark hair on forearms and armpits can be challenging and expensive to remove in images later, so don't forget those!

7.  Ignore me, mostly

The majority of what I'm shooting is documentary.  I'm a people watcher.  I tend to notice body language, facial expressions and the dynamic between people and I try to capture that in stills.  There will definitely be times when I ask you to look at me while I shoot, but mostly I want to capture authentic moments.  So ignore me.  Especially if my eyes leak.  I'm not admitting that it happens, but if it should, it's probably just dust and not because I'm a sap.  But if I were a sap, it's only because having a job where I get to be a part of love and joy is pretty damn awesome.

Bride Deanna looks radiant with hair and make-up by Megan Gough of Pinned Up, Ltd.

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