Rainbow Sparks

At a recent wedding the bride commented to me that she had seen tons of sparkler wedding photos and she wanted something a little different. I don’t blame her! Every bride wants to make sure that her wedding is a little different from every other bride’s wedding. So I had to do some thinking and we decided that steel wool photography would work, but I figured we’d throw a little different spin on it with rainbow steel wool photography!

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I’d tell you how we did this rainbow steel wool photo but I have to keep some secrets!! Let’s just say it’s a lot of heat, a lot of spinning and a little magic!

What do you think of rainbow steel wool photography?

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Black and White Wedding

I love black and white. No, let me clarify – I love high contrast black and white! Something about black and white brings a new dimension to photos, at least for me. While there is usually gorgeous colors at weddings, sometimes I like to go a little black and white, like I did at this recent wedding.

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This little ring bearer and flower girl were walking down the aisle at the grassy outdoor wedding and unfortunately behind them were some pretty unattractive vehicles. Now there was absolutely NO way I was going to stop the ceremony to ask if they could move the cars for one photo! And while I could have taken an hour to get the vehicles out of the photo I knew that the little tufts of hair from the little girl would make the photo look a little off, so I decided to try black and white first to see if it helped and, it does! In color you immediately look at the vehicles because the little girl and boy and in black and white. When I equalize the black and white throughout the whole photo your eye goes where it should, to the adorable munchkins!

Black and white can also add age to a photo as well.

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We actually found this dresser in the barn – seriously! We spotted it a few days before when we were scouting locations and since it was a Vermont wedding we knew that we just had to use a barn – imagine our surprise when we found this gorgeous dresser! Both the bride and I had the same time, to do a reflection shot, and it came out gorgeous! I found, though, that it looked a little more “aged” when I turned it black and white, and while I kept a color version for the client as well, I had to show you this one!

Black and white, of course, works great for silhouette shots as well!

IMG_5823bwI’ve been having a lot of fun learning how to do better and better silhouette shots and I’m in love with this one, mainly because of the fact that while they’re silhouetted, you can still see glimpses of their faces and little details in the flounce of the dress.

Black and white is definitely fun for me, but I always keep the color version of every photo as well, as you never know if a Vermont wedding client will want to have the photo in black and white or in color!

Steel Wool Wedding Photography

Okay so I’ve shown some “sparky” photos before and had a lot of people asking how we did it – the secret is steel wool! Steel wool photography has been around for awhile, and there are a lot of fun things you can do with it, but I’ve been having fun using it during weddings!

This particular wedding wasn’t too far from home so I set it up so that my husband would arrive at the end of the reception in order to do these shots. I have done this before with complete strangers, teaching them how to spin the wool, but it was nice to be able to have him there to do it as he’s done it many times before, even in the middle of Willoughby Lake freezing is legs off! (He puts up with a LOT LOL)

Anyway, my fabulous assistant Erica did me a huge favor by getting a quick little video of what it looks like behind the scenes when we do a shot like this! You’ll hear me yelling, “go go go go go!” and that’s because Scott tends to slow down when he’s spinning, when I often need him to go faster!

Hope you enjoy!

Finished Photo!

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Getting Amazing Wedding Photos or How Not to Go Crazy While Still Getting Shots You’ll Love

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I know – in today’s DIY world, where we try to make everything look gorgeous using only items found in a dumpster, .10 cents worth of string, and some glitter glue that’s an odd thing to say, but it’s true. Why do I hate Pinterest? Because it gives my brides an unrealistic expectation of what they should expect from their wedding photos.

Before you start saying that the only reason I can’t get those special shots is because I’m a horrible photographer, allow me to explain.

Bride A contacts me and is very excited about her wedding. She has a special board on Pinterest and would like to know if I’d like to see it. “Absolutely,” I reply, “send me the link!” I peruse all her photos and contact her back. “Those look great – I think I have a definite idea of the style of photos you’re looking for and we should be able to make that happen!.”

“No,” Bride A responds, “you don’t understand. I don’t want that style of photos, I want that photo, and that one, and that one, and that one – I want photos that are identical to those.”

Potential problem #1: Included in those “must-have” photo is a jumping shot. I line up the bridesmaids and groomsmen and get everything ready when three of the five bridesmaids absolutely refuse to jump. Their refusal irritates the bride which, in turn, makes the bridesmaids grumpy which makes the mood of the wedding start to plummet rapidly.

Potential problem #2: The bride wants 30 different setups – but the bridesmaids are tired and their feet hurt and the groomsmen just want to get to the beer.

And the list of potential problems with this type of situation can go on and on and on. Now I’m not saying that it’s not possible to get amazing wedding photos – it absolutely is! There are, however, a few tips that you should definitely keep in mind both when you’re hiring a photographer, and when you’re thinking about your special day.

If you can work with your photographer you can get fantastic wedding photos that you will love!

If you can work with your photographer you can get fantastic wedding photos that you will love!

Tip #1: Make a List, Don’t Download It

I always request that my brides send me a list of formal wedding photos that they would like that include family members – including the family member’s name. It would like, for example, something like this:

Bride & Mom (Penny)
Bride & Grandmother (Janice) & Mom (Penny)

This list allows me to make sure that I’m getting all of those important family formal photos without having to stress the bride out on her wedding day. Unfortunately far too often brides do not make their own list but rather go online to one of the zillion wedding websites there is and download one of those “must-have” wedding shot lists. DO NOT DO THAT. It makes sense for the photographer to have a list of the family formal shots you want, it does not make sense to dictate your photographer’s every single shot, and that all comes down to trusting your photographer…

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Beautiful family photos aren’t always ones where everyone looks directly at the photographer!

Tip #2: Hire the Right Photographer

Today almost everyone has a DSLR camera, and when you couple that with websites like Pinterest and the millions of tutorials online, it’s no wonder that so many beginner photographers are advertising their photographic services so cheaply on Craigslist. I always have, and always will, supported anyone who has a passion for photography, but it’s vital to remember that you only get one shot to get your wedding photos. You can’t thoroughly clean the dress, have your hair and makeup redone for the whole wedding party, and re-rent all of the tuxes, ect, easily. And even if you did, the true emotion of the day would be absent from the makeup photos. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you hire the right photographer from the get-go.

The “right” photographer doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive, or the most popular in your area – it means the photographer who consistently produces the wedding photos that you love. It’s a photographer that you can work with and that you can trust to get the photos that you want to have on your special day. That’s why wedding experts always recommend having a sit-down (or, at the very least, a long phone conversation) with your wedding photographer. If you hire a wedding photographer that you can trust you’ll find that a huge amount of the stress you have regarding your wedding photos disappears.

Also: don’t set your ideas in stone. Having a great idea is perfect – being married to it isn’t. Weddings are long, hectic, emotion-filled days and if you have your ideas set in stone you will not only stress out yourself and your photographer, you may miss out on a perfect shot that you didn’t even know existed!

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I didn’t even know about this bench until we were doing formal shots – my assistant caught it first! We ushered the bride and groom to the spot and took what has become one of my favorite “formal” shots yet.

Tip #3: Have Realistic Expectations

You want your wedding day to be absolutely amazing and perfect – but let’s face it: it’s inevitable that something will go wrong. I’ve shot dozens of weddings and not one of them has gone off absolutely perfectly. Usually the thing that goes wrong is something small – and if it’s just something little that goes wrong you have nothing to worry about! But sometimes those little hitches cause a photographer to have to miss a photo that their bride wanted.

Recently I shot a wedding for a couple who had a young child. The young child was stressing out simply because they weren’t sure what was going on. When you add on the fact that the hairdresser didn’t show, the babysitters weren’t there yet, and the young child was starting to bawl and fight about getting into their wedding attire, you have one stressed out bride. The bride had really wanted a shot of her young child looking at her wedding dress (she’d seen it on Pinterest). The bridesmaids immediately realized that the bride’s sanity was much more important than that shot, rounded up someone to watch the little one, and got the child out of the house so that they could calm the bride down and focus on getting her ready for her wedding.

So we missed out on one potentially cute shot. But we gained the sanity of the bride as well as true, happy smiles during the ceremony and after. If the little one had stayed and we had fought for the shot it’s very likely that the faces during the wedding would have been strained smiles, not lovey-dovey smiles. So strive for amazing, but have realistic expectations and make sure that you focus on what is truly important on your wedding day: celebrating the day in the way that you have always dreamed!

This shot wasn't set up in any way (aside from me telling the kiddos to go look at the fish in the water) but because I was ready to go, it came out too cute!!

This shot wasn’t set up in any way (aside from me telling the kiddos to go look at the fish in the water) but because I was ready to go, it came out too cute!!

Tip #4: The Best Moments Aren’t Set Up

There are definitely some formal shots that can be a blast to set up, but from my experience the best, most loved photos are the ones that aren’t set up! Candid shots at weddings tend to be some of the most treasured, which is why it’s important to get a photographer who not only knows how to set up the formal shots that you like, but one who also knows how to capture those sweet candid moments that will remain treasured photos for forever as well.

Completely not set up but how freaking cute is this shot?!

Completely not set up but how freaking cute is this shot?!

Tip #5: Even Mistakes are Memories

I recently shot a small wedding during which it seemed like everything was going wrong. The original minister was not going to be able to do the ceremony, the church was locked when the wedding party got there – you name it, it went wrong. The bride was definitely stressing about it, but I told her to stop and breathe.

“These are the things that you’ll always remember,” I said, “little things like this ensures that you will never forget your wedding day!”

She smiled at that but it was during the ceremony when I knew that she truly got the message. The minister asked for the rings and she burst out laughing. The wedding rings were downstairs where the bride had gotten ready!

“Well,” she said, “there’s another memory!” Everyone laughed, we quickly retrieved the rings, and the rest of the wedding went beautifully.

Learn to embrace the mistakes that happen during your wedding day. The most important thing to remember is that you are getting married to the person who is your other half, and as long as you hire a wedding photographer who is able to go with the flow, and who may even take shots of the mess ups to preserve the memories, things will be great!

The bride and groom's daughter decided that she needed to be the center of attention during the ceremony!!

The bride and groom’s daughter decided that she needed to be the center of attention during the ceremony!!

Perfection is Not Perfect

The big problem I see today is that wedding websites, and sites like Pinterest, put SO much stress on a bride to make sure that her wedding is perfect. She has unrealistic expectations and high hopes that no amateur photographer can even hope to match. She then gets extremely upset when things don’t go perfect. Say it with me: perfection is not perfect! Don’t look at those “picture perfect” weddings and stress yourself out trying to make sure that your wedding is as perfect. Those “perfect” wedding photos you see? Chances are huge that events leading up to the photo, and even during the photo, definitely were not perfect. Don’t assume that just because you see a perfect moment snapped in time that everything went smoothly – it likely didn’t.

I hate seeing brides so stressed! EVERY BRIDE IS GORGEOUS! EVERY GROOM IS HANDSOME! EVERY WEDDING IS PERFECT, even if it’s not that story-book wedding that you always assumed it would be. One person’s perfect is very different from another person’s perfect, so make sure, on your wedding day, that you focus on making sure that your wedding celebrates what is important to you: friends, family, and, of course, love!

When Selective Color Works and When It Doesn’t

Selective color is something that so many people get excited about. I think it’s because it’s something that they don’t know how to do themselves, but I could be wrong. I get clients all the time who request selective color, and I have to tell you that inwardly: I wince.

It’s not because I detest selective color – I don’t! I think that there are some very great reasons to use selective coloring, just as there are some horrid times to use it. Let’s give you an example of what I mean.

So here’s a selective color photo. This is something that I have seen TONS of times from all sorts of photographers.

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Some photographers, for some reason, tend to make the bride’s flowers color and make everything else black and white. Yes, the flowers are gorgeous, but you’ve got three even more gorgeous smiling faces there – where does your eye immediately go? To the flowers, of course! Why would you want to focus on the flowers when you could see the smiling faces instead?

So in that option the selective color doesn’t work. Let’s see a photo where it does…

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Vintage and Fun!

I think this is the summer of Vintage as I have been privileged to see more vintage cars and things at weddings lately than I have ever before!! I ran a wedding last weekend and there was a very, very sweet car involved…

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Of course the ladies were also very sweet! But it always makes me happy to see people using things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for weddings. For instance this couple also had access to a covered bridge (it belonged to the bride’s family) and we decided to have a little fun with it…

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Of course we also got photos of them without the car!

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I know any Vermont wedding photographer would be ecstatic to be able to photograph such fun people and such unique cars!!

A Photo Booth For Your Vermont Wedding?

When you heard the words “photo booth” you like think of one of these things:

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Yup, that’s a classic photo booth. While there are some companies in Vermont who offer this classic type of booth, such as THIS ONE and THIS ONE, the price to rent them can be a bit steep. I have been to a wedding with one of these booths and they’re definitely fun, but if you’re on a budget it may not be financially possible to rent this type of booth.

At Randi Lee Photography, we offer a slightly different type of photo booth…

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