Should You Do an Engagement Session- Southern Oregon Wedding Photographer
DSC_3786.jpg

Many couples wonder if having an engagement session with their wedding photographer is really necessary, especially if they have already had some photos shot by a friend or if the wedding is coming up shortly after they booked their photographer. Today I want to talk about why it is in fact really important and will actually make your wedding day a smoother, more relaxed day.

Your wedding day is a super exciting day, filled with joy and excitement, however, it can also be a day of stress and busyness ( is that even a word?) . Any good wedding photographer’s goal is to make this day as easy as possible so that you as a couple can enjoy the day and relax. The more qualified vendors you hire, the more the details will be off your plate and in the hands of experienced professionals. What does this have to do with an engagement session you might ask? Everything!

Engagement sessions have many purposes and I want to highlight a few wonderful benefits of what can be a really fun time with your photographer.

1. Comfort

DSC_4477.jpg

On your wedding day you will be spending a lot of time with your photographer, and I mean a lot! From getting ready all the way to the reception, your photographer will be with you for most of the day!  A huge benefit of an engagement session is that you are meeting, getting comfortable with, and building a friendship with your photographer ahead of time. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into an engagement session with a couple that has a good bit of apprehension on their side about taking photos, only to leave laughing and completely at ease. When this happens, it gets carried over to the wedding day. You now know your photographer a little bit and have established comfort. As a photographer I love showing up to the wedding day already feeling I know the bride and groom well and that’s good news for everyone!

2. Posing

DSC_3186.jpg

Each photographer and couple approach posing differently. As a wedding professionals, it’s our job to learn how to pose and encourage natural interactions with each couple. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes a challenge depending on the ease that each person feels in front of the camera. During an engagement session some of this can be figured out and by wedding time you both feel comfortable settling into posing or candid moments because you’ve done it already!

3. Wedding Decor

DSC_2332.jpg

Most every wedding where I’ve shot an engagement session prior has the images from the session displayed at the wedding. You can use your engagement session images for save the dates, invitations, or wedding decor ( most commonly a guest book or canvas to sign). This is a great way to show the fun and joy of your relationship and you can even display them alongside other snapshots you’ve taken throughout the course of your relationship together!

4. Because it’s SO fun!

DSC_2591.jpg

Last but NOT least, engagement sessions are fun! Creativity can abound here and that brings so much joy. If your wedding is at an upscale venue try an engagement session at the coast or up in the mountains. If your wedding will be in the woods, why not do your engagement session somewhere with dynamic structures or an old building. So much planning and detail goes into wedding planning. let your engagement session just be fun. Laugh, make jokes, enjoy each other and just let that glow go straight on in to your wedding day.

I hope these four reasons why engagement sessions are so important before your wedding day were helpful to you! Even if your camera shy, all the more reason to warm your way into photos by doing an engagement session before your big day.

Congratulations, and I wish each and every couple a joy filled wedding and a beautiful love story as you start your journey together. 

xoxo

Rachel 

Editing Tutorial for Photographers - Southern Oregon Wedding Photographer

I had so much fun putting together this before and after editing video for you guys! As I mention in the video, I love editing videos and poured over them when I first started with photography . While I ultimately had to tweak and figure out my own editing style, watching videos like this really helped me on my journey. I love giving back and offering education to other photographers so I am more than happy to put this out there for anyone who would benefit from it.

Enjoy!

.

.

.

.

Before and After:

DSC_5591.jpg
DSC_5591-2.jpg
A+B- San Diego Engagement Photographer

This gorgeous La Jolla engagement session has definitely been one of my all time favorites! This sweet couple was SO easy to photograph and it was my greatest joy to photograph them.

I am so looking forward to their wedding in January! Congratulations you two!

Beautiful Summer Session in the Park - Balboa Park Engagement Photographer
DSC_5591.jpg

This Balboa Park engagement session was a true delight. When I was first contacted by Nicolle, I felt like we instantly connected. Her sweet spirit and attention to detail was evident even in our first emails and when it was decided we would work together I was SO excited! 

Their session at Balboa Park was lovely and we had such a good time walking around the park and than finally ending up in the rose and cactus gardens! The night was cloudy at first but as the evening went on we got a beautiful sky as the sun set. It was effortless to get these two laughing and having fun and the very first images I snapped at the water fountain made it look like we had bee shooting all evening. Its was so much fun to watch their love for each other unfold and to capture their sweet personalities together. 

I am so looking forward to their wonderful fall wedding coming up and I can’t wait to spend more time with these two soon!

Congratulations you two, wishing you a lifetime of joy as you begin this new part of your journey together!

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer- Southern Oregon Wedding Photographer
DSC_1078-Edit.jpg

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Choosing your wedding photographer can be a somewhat challenging process and one that brings about a lot of questions. When all is said and done and your wedding is over, pictures are some of the most important heirlooms you have to treasure and pass down. In the current market it can be very overwhelming to see all the wedding photographers and you may wonder just how to go about choosing one. Let’s look at a few simple things that can help you narrow it down to the right choice.

Body of Work:

Obviously, one of the first things you need to consider when your looking is the portfolio and actual photographic work that a photographer produces. As you start to look online or through recommendations spend a lot of time pouring over websites, Instagram and other social media. Does the work speak to you when you see it? Can you picture yourself in the images? Do you notice consistency in editing and quality of work? Does it seem like there is a wide range of uses of light?

In an industry flooded with many photographers it’s important to look for a few things in a photographers work.

- Use of light ( low light, ability to use light to tell a story, use of off camera and on camera flash, consistent light in tough situations)

- Consistency of work throughout portfolio

- Ability to tell a story within the images

- Ability to capture “in between” moments and real emotion

These are just some of many things to look at as you look at someone’s body of work. Ask questions and ask some more and make sure your wedding photographer has a good understanding of how to make an image.

DSC_0601.jpg

Experience:

It can’t be said enough that your wedding is one of the most important days in your life. When I first started shooting weddings I refused to do them on my own so I would only second shoot for other photographers. Why? Because I knew that you only have one shot to capture these moments and to miss out or make a careless mistake is something to take very seriously. The more I shot in the industry the more confidence I got, but the attitude of the importance of what I am doing has never left. When you are looking at a photographer make sure to look into their experience and expertise. Ask about education, amount of weddings they have shot and how comfortable they are in their knowledge of things such as: posing family groupings and organizing them, couples posing, difficult lighting situations, owning back up gear, replacements in case of sickness of the photographer on the wedding day, business insurance, etc. 

Someone with enough experience will be able to answer those questions with confidence and can put your mind at ease that they know what they are doing.

Personality:

After all is said and done and you have looked at the portfolio and asked questions about experience, it’s important to feel like you fit with the person you will spend so much time with at your wedding. Each person is a unique individual and will connect with certain personalities. It can be a good idea to start with a phone chat or Skype session and than meet in person if possible. No matter how good someones work is, if you don’t enjoy being around them, you probably want to continue to look elsewhere. Make sure that they mesh well with you as a couple and be sure they are professional yet kind and will be a calm presence for you on your day. Your wedding photographer will quite literally be by your side for most of the day and through very intimate and emotionally charged moments, be sure they will help you and not hinder you on the day of.

Budget:

Last but not least, the subject of budget. It’s important to get lots of informations on your photographers pricing, not just a static number but also what’s included and compare that to others that you are considering. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention again, photography has become a highly saturated market with the invention of the digital camera, making it much easier to break into this business. Do not settle for a low price photographer and not take in to consideration all the things mentioned above. Consider your budget for wedding photography to be of high importance on your list and recognize those that are practically giving it away likely are not in the place to even shoot your wedding. Ask many questions about the process of pricing, deposits, payment plans, what exactly you receive and so forth. Your budget is your decision and a good wedding photographer will guide you through that process and make it as painless as possible.

DSC_0951.jpg

I hope these tips and tricks will help you on your journey to find a wedding photographer. Whomever you are considering, do it with patience and don’t rush the process, the right fit will find you. Wherever you are, I wish you happiness on your journey to documenting your most special day, and a lifetime of joy together.

xoxo

Rachel 

Magical Castle Wedding in Southern California- San Diego Wedding Photographer
DSC_0434.jpg

Who:Daniel and Joy

Where: The Westgate Plaza. St. Michaels Church, Mt. Woodson Castle

When:August 20th 2018

What: getting ready, church wedding, cocktail hour and reception

This gorgeous wedding day was truly magical from start to finish! The day was an absolutely perfect San Diego day! It started out cloudy as I arrived at the ornate Westgate Place hotel in downtown San Diego! What a perfect place to get ready. The atmosphere was so calm and the bride radiant. I enjoyed capturing both Joy and than Daniel as they prepared for their day. We than headed over to St. Michael’s Church, a stunning place for an afternoon wedding! The rest of the party took place at Mt. Woodson Castle in Ramona, California. It was my first time shooing at Mt. Woodson and I was instantly in love. The entire place is a photographers paradise and we had so much fun during couples photos incorporating their venue and capturing their obvious connection. The reception was full of sweet moments and I welcomed every minute of it.

Some definitely highlights: Joy’s dress was handmade by her sister and it was the most exquisite dress. The bride played piano beautifully and serenaded us all in the lobby at the Westgate. The groom was a wonderful singer and sang to his new bride during their reception! The first dance was to “a tale as old as time” which was absolutely perfect for this wedding day.

Thank you Joy and Daniel for choosing me to capture your day, what a privilege!

Thank you to all the fabulous vendors!

Gown: Tanada Couture

Makeup and Hair: Natural Beauty Bar

Church: St Michael’s Church

Venue: Mt. Woodson Castle

Videographer: Current Films

Bakery: Flour Power

Florals: Organic Flora

Catering: Personal Touch Dining

Dreamy Coronado Beach Engagement Session- San Diego Wedding Photographer
DSC_3321.jpg

What: Sunny Engagement Session on the beach in Southern California

Where: Windandsea Beach in La Jolla, CA

Who: Daniel and Joy

I was connected with Joy and Daniel a few months before their wedding day and I was SO excited when it worked out for me to shoot their wedding. After chatting a bit on the phone I was really looking forward to their engagement session. We chose to go to a grove of eucalyptus trees tucked into La Jolla near the ocean. From the start I was just in heaven capturing their genuine connection. Afterwards we headed down to do the majority of our session at my favorite beach spot, Windandsea. The waves are so smooth their and the rocks add so much texture and beauty to the images.

As we talked and got to know each other even more I was captured by these two and their down to earth personalities that made shooting them so easy. What a prefect beach engagement session!

Congratulations you two!

Should We Do a First Look?
DSC_8459.jpg

One of the many questions I get asked from brides and grooms is, “should we do a first look?” Some couples already know what a first look is and they just can’t decide if its right for them. Others have heard of it but don’t even know how it would effect their wedding day, pictures and the moments they want captured.

Lets dive in to a first look and answer all the questions you might have so that you can make a decision thats right for you, so first….

  1. What EVEN IS a first look?

Before we start on the benefits and drawbacks of doing one, we need to know what it is! Traditionally, the couple would not see each other before the wedding, the first time would be walking down the aisle and all the formal pictures would be taken afterwards. I am not a historian and I have no idea who came up with the idea of doing it differently but behold we now have a new common trend. The first look is the concept of setting up a private or mostly private time that the couple will see each other BEFORE the ceremony. After getting ready and usually set up by the photographer or coordinator, the bride walks out toward the groom and they share a private moment. After that there is time to do couples portraits, bridal party portraits and sometimes even the family portraits all before the ceremony even takes place.

first look
_DSC5318.jpg

2. What are the benefits of doing a first look?

Let me just say right off the bat that I am not a proponent one way or the other for first looks at weddings. I can see how they are right for one couple and not for another, but there is no denying some benefits that it can have on your wedding day.

- Removes nerves and gives you a quiet space to see each other without everyone watching.

- Creates an opportunity to recite private vows to one another if doing that in front of a crowd is uncomfortable for you.

- Possibly gives you more time to do portraits if you have a later ceremony or packed after ceremony schedule.

- Gives you time to enjoy your cocktail hour and spend more time with guests.

As you can see there are many benefits for some couples to doing a first look! However, just like each individual wedding is unique so is each individual couple and some may feel like the negatives outweigh the positives…

3. So… what are the drawbacks of a first look?

I am the first to admit that I am a huge sucker for seeing the faces of the bride and groom as they see each other as she walks down the aisle. I won’t lie and say I haven’t shed my share of awkward wedding photographer tears as I see the look of wonder on the grooms face for the first time. On top of that I am a bit of a traditional gal and I just love the emotion of not doing a first look. I will say that the reasons for doing a first look are more practical and the reasons for not are more emotional, but on a wedding day emotion reigns supreme so either is a valid choice! So what are some benefits of keeping it old school and not doing one?

- Can add emotion that wouldn’t be quite as strong to walking down the aisle for some couples.

- Can give you a more intimate portrait time with all the stress from the ceremony being over.

- Keeps with tradition which may be important to some couples.

DSC_0366.jpg
DSC_0360.jpg

4. Is there such thing as a partial first look?

A good alternative if you don’t know what to choose is to do a partial first look. This can be done in many ways! For some that means a first look with dad, for others that means praying or talking beforehand while being next to each other but not actually seeing each other, or it could be as simple as chatting on the phone beforehand. If time is your concern than choosing to do all family formals beforehand besides the ones that include both the bride and the groom can be helpful as well!

DSC_4282.jpg
DSC_5309.jpg

5. What shouldn’t influence our decision?

I love the idea of thinking of others, in fact I think that should be a hallmark of the life we live BUT I don’t think choosing a first look should be based on how it effects friends and family. I often hear from the couple that they don’t like their guests to have to wait but I would argue that nobody minds. Your wedding day should be about you, that may sound selfish but it isn’t. Marriage is a big deal and your wedding day is the beginning of that. Whatever you decide about a first look should be primarily about what is most beneficial to you as a couple. I have had many couples that had beautiful first looks and would have been stressed out to do it any other way, but I have had others that wanted to keep seeing each other as a surprise and a first look would have ruined that.

6. Who can help us make the decision?

Your wedding coordinator and wedding photographer should both be able to help you think about pros and cons and help you decide what you would like to do. Neither decision is wrong and talking through it with someone who has experience can help take the stress out of the choice! Either way your wedding will be a day to celebrate the start of the two of you so make that the focus!

DSC_1143.jpg
Gorgeous Laguna Mountains Engagement Session- San Diego Wedding Photographer
DSC_9657.jpg

What: Engagement session at Mt. Laguna

Who:Katherine and Jesse

When: Sunday, September 30th

Ive known Katherine for many years. I think the first time I met her it was about 6 years ago. She was barely a teenager and from the minute I met her I loved her.

I’m a mom of four kids and for those of you that have kids you know that there us a special joy in knowing someone that loves your kids and treats them like humans. Katherine is such a person. For a time she would come to my house while I homeschooled my older kids and she would watch my littles. She has always shown such love for my oldest daughter and even as she grew older when most teenagers would have thought it wasn’t cool to hang with little kids, she continued to be the same. Fast forward to now. Katherine is a gorgeous, kind, fun, and fabulous young woman. I knew the guy who would snag her would have to be pretty great,

The day of this gorgeous engagement session was cloudy and I was a tad disappointed to have no sun at all, normally I love a cloudy session but Jesse was really hoping for the sun and I do like me some sunlight filtering through pine trees!

From the start I knew Jesse was a winner. Funny and gentle and extremely mature, I was impressed from the get go. We talked about how we wished the sun would come out and as we traipsed through the mountains we started to see evidence of the clouds pouring down rays of light. By the time we were finished we had gorgeous sunlight and this couple was so easy to capture. You can’t fake that stuff guys! It was really me just sitting back and documenting what came so easily to them.

Congratulations sweet Katherine and Jesse. May your marriage be filled with the same joy and laughter that you brought to our session and may you cherish each other in the same way even after one hundred years.

xoxoxo

Cloudy Summer Wedding- San Diego Wedding Photographer
DSC_1711.jpg

Who: Jim and Dana

Where: Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

What: Getting ready, First Look, Portraits, Cermemony, and a reception all at a gorgeous downtown venue facing the beautiful San Diego skyline and bay.

When: July 27th, 2018

I was contacted by Dana and Jim months before their wedding and I was SO excited when they chose me to capture their wedding day. The first time I met them was the day of their wedding, a gorgeous, partly cloudy day. Dana was the picture of peace and calm when I first walked into the getting ready room. I knew at that moment the day was going to be wonderful! The first look was sweet and simple and the following ceremony was filled with sweet words and some tears.

During our portrait time it was clear to me that their was a sweet connection and affection between these two! It was so easy for me to capture this in each of their images.

Once the reception began their was so much fun to be had. One thing that stood out to me from the moment the reception began was that Dana and Jim were together the entire night, they spent time dancing, greeting guests and just enjoying their moment. Dana surprised her guests by putting on a tradition Korean wedding dress complete with head dressing!

Dana and Jim, I pray you have a beautiful marriage full or laughter, forgiveness, and joy! A huge congratulations to you both and THANK YOU for allowing me to be apart of your most special day!

Carlsbad Crossings Wedding- San Diego Wedding Photographer
DSC_6096-Edit.jpg

Who: Natalie and Bryce

What: Getting Ready, First Look, Formal Portraits, Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Golden Hour Portraits, Reception

Where: The Crossings at Carlsbad

When: July 7th, 2018

I first met Bryce and Natalie at their engagement session at Wind and Sea Beach in La Jolla, Ca. When they showed up Bryce was pretty sick but they had driven down from another state and decided to go along with the session. This is when I knew that this couple was fabulous. despite being sick Bryce was a blast. The laughter and silliness at this session was such a treat.

Fast forward to their wedding day, and I was SO excited. The day began with a relaxing getting ready session filled with sweet moments from the bridesmaids and my second shooter hung with the guys! The first look was definitely one for the ages! Bryce and Natalie opted to do traditional vows during their ceremony and chose to do private, personal vows during the first look. Its moments like these when I just can’t believe I get to be a witness to these kinds of amazing moments. After some portraits the ceremony began which was filled with laughter and stories about this sweet couple. Its such a joy to get a peek into peoples love stories and hear from loved ones how they first connected.

Its a wedding photographers dream when you get to do not one but two portrait sessions! The Crossings at Carlsbad does not disappoint when it comes to beautiful sunset locations. I love this time after the wedding when all the stress is gone and we can all just relax into what just happened. So much joy!

To end the night I got to capture such a fun reception! I don’t think I have ever seen such a lively group of dancing, laughing and fun!

Bryce and Natalie, what a true joy that I got to capture your day! THANK YOU for allowing me to be there and for letting me step into your story for this fabulous day. I wish you the most beautiful marriage filled with joy and silliness. Congratulations!