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Quickie Question: Photo Opt Out?

When you’re getting married, there’s a long list of shots your photographer expects to take. Bride alone, groom alone, bride with her family, groom with his family, the cake, the happy couple with each family, the happy couple alone, the getaway car, the first dance, the bridesmaids, the groomsmen… yeah, it’s a very long list these days.

And then there’s the stuff like this. Okay, I get the sentimental delight of a picture of the mother of the bride putting the final fluff on the veil or the maid of honor giving a final adjustment to the train right before the bride leaves the proverbial if not actual arms of her family to become one with her new spouse. But does anyone really need to immortalize the awkward shimmy that got her into her pouffy petticoats? Is it really necessary to have photographic evidence of what the bride looks like in curlers and the vestiges of the masque she wore to bed to tighten her skin for her big day on camera? How many brides find themselves in need of tranquilizers because they invited a photographer to snap lots of pictures just when they’re at their least put together and most nervous?

Or how about the now ubiquitous shots of the wedding party’s feet? I know how this one got started. Some couple out there wore really spectacular footwear and the picture of their shoes got passed around, and a trend was born. I get that. And if you’re wearing really neat shoes or have a truly fabulous mendhi (henna tattoo), I can certainly see wanting photographic evidence. But those shoes up there? Was there any need to immortalize those? They’re pretty darn off the rack.

Those are my personal least favorite ‘must have’ shots. What about you? What would you least want someone taking pictures of on your wedding day? Would the traditional family shots devolve into potential violence? Do you detest the rings on the Bible throwing the heart-shaped shadow? What do you not want photographed on your wedding day?

Never Too Late for Wedding Photos?


Sometimes things don’t work out like you hoped… and then you have to decide whether to make what you really wanted happen anyway.

For Liu Fu, the dream in question was to have a beautiful wedding album filled with glamorous shots. It wasn’t in the cards when she married her late husband, Feng. The couple had little money, so they had a very small wedding. There was no funding for the sort of wedding album the bride had in mind.

In fact, there is not a single photograph of Liu’s wedding day.

The couple were happy and had four children together before Feng’s death some thirty years ago.

Now, at the age of seventy-six, Liu has the money to have the wedding album of her dreams, so she hired a photographer and a team of make up artists and wardrobe experts to create the photo session she wishes she had had all those years ago. Since the groom could not be a physical part of the proceedings, Liu dressed in men’s clothing for some of the shots so that he could be there in spirit.

Liu appears in the photos in both traditional Chinese dress and western dress for her album. Some of the photos show her as a Chinese empress, some as emperor, some in modern western bridal white, and some in 1920′s Shanghai male gangster threads.

Is this something I would do? No. I’m one of those people who thinks the moment is there and either you capture it then or you don’t. Time is ephemeral. It cannot be recreated, and I wouldn’t want to try.

But while there are plenty of people laughing at Liu, or vilifying her choice, I am not among them. She simply did something that mattered to her on a very personal level. It doesn’t hurt anyone. It makes her happy. It’s something she hopes her children will treasure to remind them of both her and their father when she’s gone.

Is it a foolish gesture? Perhaps. But I don’t think that really matters. I think it matters that she’s happy with her decision, that it reminds her of her late husband she loved so much, and that her lack of fear of the ridicule this engenders is an excellent example to her children and – I assume – grandchildren of how to be truly individual.

Rock on with your bad self, Liu Fu!

LOVE/HATE: Morning After Photo Sessions


It’s the morning after your wedding. You’ve spent the last few weeks (possibly months) having your entire world turned upside down with parties and racing from appointment to appointment and ever-present cameras documenting your transition from singleton to married bliss. You’ve finally had a few precious hours alone to enjoy one another’s company and nurse your first married hangover… when there comes a knock on the door of the honeymoon suite and you let the photographer in to do the professional shots of your post-nuptial (post coital?) bliss.

Yes, this is apparently something people are now doing. In fact, Refinery 29 has an entire gallery of images couples have had taken the morning after the wedding. The illustration above comes from that gallery. Okay, it’s only four images, but that still counts as a slideshow, and they all appear to come from different shoots.

You know, there was a time when a couple got one photograph of their wedding process. It was a single formal portrait of the happy couple looking stern in their wedding finery. By the time I was old enough to even notice the whole getting married thing, everyone expected to have an album of wedding day photos taken at the Big Event proper. Photos of the bride getting dressed and made up were fairly common well before I tied the knot, and that was where I drew the line. I needed ten minutes to myself that morning and that was the only chance I had to get them.

Frankly I cannot imagine inviting a photographer to come by the next morning, run me through hair, makeup and wardrobe, and then give me directions on how to look rumpled and sated for the cameras.

So yeah, I’m going with HATE on this one. In fact, I’m going with hate with the power of twelve massive supernovas here. That’s how much I HATE this.

Besides, are you really ever going to want anyone who isn’t you to see this? And if so, why? And even if you must do this, why not give yourself a little breather between the wedding and the next TMI photo shoot?

Or am I just a backwards old fart with no clue how special this can be?

LOVE/HATE: Amazing Feets


(Illustration via Intimate Weddings, where you can see some fabulous pictures of a gorgeous wedding)

Every couple of years there’s a new ‘must have’ picture that those in the know have to have or risk being outed as unfashionable. There was the jumping photo a few years back, which has only just really begun to peter out, now replaced with the obligatory photo of the bride and groom’s (or entire bridal party’s) feet.

My guess is that this trend started with a couple who had on some really incredible footwear on. Their photographer wanted a shot – or perhaps the happy couple wanted to have the pic – and it looked kind of awesome. BOOM! Next thing you know everyone has to have the same shot, whether they’re wearing anything interesting on their feet or not.

See the couple above? They do have nice shoes on… but nothing so extraordinary that I see a reason to go that far out of the way to enshrine them. In a wedding that includes tricorn hats, full Victorian men’s formalwear, and an officiant wearing a huge, feathered headpiece, these shoes just aren’t that big a deal to me.

Is it a well-composed shot? Yes, it is. Are the bride’s shoes pretty? Yes, they are. Are they hidden by her gown? Not really. They’re nicely visible in a shot of the bride walking up the aisle.

My take on the obligatory shoe shot? Unless you’ve got something pretty darn extraordinary on your tootsies, I kind of HATE them.

But that’s me. What do you think?

This Is Why You Ask For Examples and Recommendations


This is an image from the wedding album of Thomas and Anneka Geary. No, it was not taken by a drunken wedding guest. It was taken by professionals.

The Gearys engaged the photographic team of Ian McCloskey and Nikki Carter to photograph their wedding at a price of seven hundred fifty pounds sterling.

Lest you think that first photo is a complete fluke, here’s another example of McCloskey and Carter’s Work:
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How To Be Part of Your Own Party


(Illustration via Delightfully Engaged)
If you listen to conventional wisdom, you’ll learn that you won’t remember a single moment of your wedding. It will all be a blur. And that is true for some brides. I’ve known several of them myself. I’ve known women who spent the entire day in a fog, or in tears, or stressing out over minute details nobody else noticed who missed their entire weddings.

Me? I wasn’t like that. I’ve known a lot of other brides who were more like me. They spent their wedding days really at their weddings and remember them clearly years later.

You may simply be the sort of person who gets caught up in emotions and forgets the details. It happens. But if your fog or forgetfulness springs from another source, there are ways to get more in touch with the moment and truly enjoy yourself at your wedding.
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Picture Perfect Wedding

When wedding photographer Jerry Tomko survived stomach cancer in 2007 thanks to the excellent care he received at Thomas Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, he wanted to give back to those who had saved his life. And so it was that he asked the center to find a cancer patient or survivor who needed some nice wedding pictures.

For quite a while, the center didn’t have any ideas who Tomko could help. Then along came social worker and mother of four Melinda Muniz.
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