The Real Secret to Taking Spectacular Photos

I just got this a little while ago, in large part to having read Tom Ang’s enlightening “how to win photo competitions” post – and also because I just got an email More »

An Insight Into Light Graffiti

  What the Heck is Light Graffiti Light graffiti, also known as light painting, is a photographic technique which creates dramatic images using long exposures and various light sources as a drawing More »

Tilt Shift Photoshop Tutorial: How to Make Fake Miniature Scenes

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How to Take HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photos

In the first part we covered what an HRD photo is, now we’ll go into a basic tutorial about how to create your own HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo. Please keep in More »


Finding your wedding photographer – The PhotoBooth

This is part 4 in our “Finding your wedding photographer” series

The newest fad in wedding photography is the PhotoBooth. It’s a great way to entertain your guests while ensuring you get a picture of each and every one of them. Consider the PhotoBooth as an amusing activity for cocktail hour while you’re off having your professional photos taken or as an alternative to the traditional guestbook. These photos also make great additions to thank you notes.

While at a bridal show, my mom and I got to try out one of these PhotoBooths and take the pictures home. It was great fun and it led me to dig deeper into this new fad, let me share what I found in the fourth part of this seven part series.

Why are they so popular
Visual Photo Guide spoke with two recent brides to find out what they think of the new PhotoBooth trend. Jen got married September 2011 and even though she had a small wedding of only 50 guests, she chose to hire a PhotoBooth for her special day.

“We loved having a PhotoBooth at our wedding and I think our guests really enjoyed it, too,” said Jenn. “We picked [Photobooth Vancouver] because we had tried them out at a couple of other events and we liked how they came out.”

“We got to pick what background we wanted and we designed the logo that went at the bottom of the pictures. It can be pricey so we only had ours going for 2 hrs but that was more than enough time for everyone to use it that wanted to. Afterwards they sent us a high res disk with all the pictures on it.”

Jen and Heather in the PhotoBooth at Jen's weddingphoto by Photobooth Vancouver

Jen and Heather in the PhotoBooth at Jen’s wedding
photo by Photobooth Vancouver

The choice to pass
Heather was a guest at Jenn’s wedding (pictured above), and also a bride later in the autumn of 2011. “We had a lot of fun at our friends’ weddings who had the photobooth however we decided in the end that it wasn’t an expense we wanted,” Heather told  Visual Photo Guide. “We didn’t want to do something everyone else did. And in the end we were happy with our choice because the PhotoBooth became the focus of the bride and groom. They spent most of their time there… They had to be in everyone’s pictures and didn’t spend time on the dance floor or being as social.”
Even though Heather decided against the PhotoBooth, she enjoyed the feature at other weddings and saw the positives of including it in their special days. “Everyone had fun and a picture with the bride and groom.”

What you get
My local photo booth rental starts between $300 and $700 for the basic packages. This includes booth setup and takedown, 2 hours of service, unlimited PhotoBooth usage, personalize designs, Message, or Logos on every photo strip, and an experienced and friendly on-site attendant. In some cases it also includes a scrapbook, USB or DVD of the photos, an online password protected photo gallery, as well as complimentary prop kit rental with things like hats, crazy glasses, chains, scarfs, et cetera.

These aren’t always like the PhotoBoothes in the mall. Often times, your photographer will set up a backdrop and a camera onsite. In this case there is a lot more legroom and the pictures are much better quality. Your photographer might offer a PhotoBooth or have contacts in the area. Ask her if she can suggest a package that will suit your budget and needs.

Part Five:  finding your wedding photographer – does friendship and photography mix

[Image credit: Photobooth Vancouver with permission from “Jen” and “Heather” ]


Finding your wedding photographer – Creative ways to make the budget work

This is part 3 in our “Finding your wedding photographer” series

You’ve got the date. You’ve got the ring. You’ve met with a number of photographers and you’ve discovered that it costs a lot of money to hire a photographer. At least this is what happened to us.

My research has shown that the base price of photographer in off season is $1, 300, but most photographers’ base packages start in the range between $1, 800 and $3, 800. If that works with your budget, then great. However, if you can’t allot that kind of money for your pictures, don’t fret. You can still have great pictures on a budget. In the third installment of  this series, we will give you some hints on how to achieve it.

Be upfront
The best thing to do it to talk to your photographer and let them know your budget. While at a wedding show this weekend, I met with several photographers who had tables there. I let them know that my budget was tight and, although some wished me well but offered no discount, many of them were happy to help me find a way to make their service work within it.


Cut out the extras
A lot of packages include elements that not every bride and groom need. Can you do without engagement photos or photos of you getting ready? Can you get your pictures done in three hours instead of five? Can you cut down on using the photographer’s time by having all the pictures taken near by and in one location? Sometimes having your wedding on a day other than Saturday or out of season will help cut down the cost as well. Once you’ve considered what you need, ask your photographer if they will reduce their fee. As I’ve said,some photographers won’t, however a good photographer will work with you to provide you a custom package that suits your needs and your budget.

Get creative
If the reduced fee is still outside your budget, consider looking elsewhere for your photographer. Check if there is a photo club in your area, sometimes they are connected with universities and community centers. A quick search on Facebook, Flickr, or in Google will help you discover local photo clubs in your area. Check out their pictures, and if you like what you see contact the group organizers. Members are often talented and have good equipment but because this is a hobby, they don’t charge professional prices. Be sure to spell out your needs, including what you’re looking for in a photographer, your wedding date, and budget.

The organizers can give you names and contacts of members who are interested. Be sure to meet with them in the same way you would a professional photographer. You still want your photographer to share your vision for your pictures.

Have the photographer you want
We may be biased, but we think that the most important choice you can make for your wedding (other than who you marry) is the photographer you hire. Your budget shouldn’t stand between you and beautiful pictures. Make sure you leave enough room in your budget to have the perfect photographer – do without the ice sculpture or the fifth tier on your wedding cake and make your photo budget stretch. You will not be sorry you did.

Part Four:  Finding your wedding photographer – The PhotoBooth

[Image credits: thelifeisaphotokevin dooley]

wedding photographer article 2

Finding your perfect wedding photographer – Playing the field: dating photographers

The most important thing you can do when picking a photographer is meeting with as many as you can, taking a look at their portfolio, and asking them what they can do for you. Your photographer should match your style and preferences. The only way to do this is to meet with several photographers and ask them questions.

In the first part of this series we talked about how to meet photographers, now in this second installment, let’s talk about what to do once you’ve acquired a few phone numbers.

What’s that got to do with dating?
When I first told this theory to my fiancé, he couldn’t understand what dating had to do with finding a photographer. The same rules apply to finding your soul-mate as to finding your wedding photographer.  Go out of coffee (often the photographer will treat), meet them at your venue and talk about shots, or go to their studio; whatever works best for you. The important thing is to meet with them and finding out if they match what you need.

Ask a lot of questions
Explain what makes your wedding special and the unique obstacles whether they be time restraints or an unphotogenic member of the bridal party. The men in my family don’t smile and my fiancé fits right in with them. My one photographer I spoke to said this wouldn’t be an issue. She said she could still take beautiful pictures and that she is use to dealing all sorts of bashfulness.

Be sure to ask her ideas for unique posed photos which will compliment your theme or your personality. My fiancé and I are fond of odd angles and less traditional shots.  One photographer I spoke to took the time to walk around my venue with me, looking interesting backdrops for our pictures.

Finally, ask the photographer what she can do for you and why you should choose her. The answers to this question were the most useful in my notes. Photographers told me through their answers where their passions and priorities lay. One photographer informed me that my pictures would be insured with her company;  guaranteeing a re-shoot should anything be lost.


Look at pictures
While you’re looking at their portfolio talk about what you like and what you don’t like. Don’t worry about being polite, if you think that a picture would be better in black and white, say so. Mention if you like detail shots or not. The more your photographer knows you the better your pictures will turn out.

Never commit on a first date
I loved the first photographer I met with, but I resisted the urge to sign papers then and there even before speaking with my fiancé. I still may go with her services, but I’m glad I have taken the time to think.

Photographers understand that you’ll what to check out their competition. Meet with several photographers. Compare not only prices and packages, but also personalities. It is important to find a photographer that fits into your budget but also shares your vision.

You also want someone who returns your emails; who knows your name, and who not only wants your business but your pictures to be exactly what you want them to be. When you find this photographer, don’t let her get away.

You’ll just know
A good photographer can adjust to your style, but it’s best if their style suits you. Just as you knew that your fiancé was the right person for you, you will know your photographer. Something will click, but it is still best to ask a lot of questions and find out as much as you can about your photographer.

Part 3 – Finding your wedding photographer Creative ways to make the budget work

 [Image credits: wickendenvonderauvisuals]

wedding photographer article 1

Finding your wedding photographer – Find Mr (or Miss) Right Photographer

You’re getting married. Congratulations. Now that you have found that one person that makes your life complete, you have to find that one person who can capture it all on film.

I am also getting married, and it wasn’t long after we became engaged that my fiancé and I knew that finding a photographer was one of the most crucial things on our to-do list. I’m a regular contributor to Visual Photo Guide and so I thought I’d share our journey to find our dream photographer with you. Join me on this seven part series as I investigate photographers and find the perfect one to capture my day.

Finding the right photographer can be as difficult a task as meeting the love of your life. There are so many styles and prices, and the wrong photographer could make your beautiful wedding look like a bad date. The right dress, the right venue, and the right décor could look all wrong unless the photographer you choose shares your vision. And once the dress is packed away, and the decorations are taken down, all you will have left of your wedding will be those pictures. They have to be a perfect as your fiancé. So, how do you meet the right photographer?


Shop around

It almost goes without saying, but we wouldn’t be doing our do diligence if we didn’t advise you to take the time and check out many photographers in your area. Begin  by talking to friends, join chat rooms, and do Google searches for local photographers. This is an important choice and even if the first photographer you see is the one you go with, we still recommend making sure that you’ve searched out all your options.

Have them call you

While searching out photographers is something we highly recommend, it can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Anything you can do to make your job simpler and take the stress out of wedding planning is vital in order to have a happy engagement.

Sites like turns the tables. Instead of soliciting photographers for their attention, we let them barter for your business. All you do in put in a request for the sort of service you are looking for (in this case a wedding photographer) and your location. Once you’ve put in a few easy details, like your email and what you’re after, you simply wait. The photographers will come to you. When my fiancé and I tried it, we had half a dozen bids from photographers in our area. They told us what service they could provide and their pricing breakdown. They also sent us links to galleries on their websites for us to look flip through.

Then, once you have your emails from these photographers you can pick the ones that sound the best to you to contact with questions and for an interview. It’s a great time saver.

Go to the hot spots

Wedding shows are a great place to meet your photographer. These are the single bars of the wedding service industry, and tons of fun. Take your bridesmaids, mother, or make it a date for you and your fiancé. Go and taste cake, get trial make-up and hair done, try catered food, enter contests, and meet photographers.

This will have the same pleasant effect of photographers vying for your attention. Take the opportunity to meet with the photographers, view their displays, and have a brief conversation to see if they fit into your budget and style. Be sure to enter their contests or find out about the special offers they have for the event. Unless you know straight away that it isn’t a good fit, then give them your information, take theirs, and continue enjoying the show.

After attending a wedding show last Saturday, I received another half dozen phone calls and emails from vendors who wanted to meet with me.  A good way to weed out the photographers that are not a good fit is to see if they contact you after you spoke to them in the weeks after the event. There were a few photographers who said they’d contact me and never did. That’s not someone I want to do business with. Also check out their websites and it would not be a bad idea to email or leave comments for those photographers that got you the most excited.

Part Two:  Finding your perfect wedding photographer – Playing the field: dating photographers

[Image credits: dr_trdanxoneil]


5 Essential Tips for Getting Your Head Around Framing

When we talk about framing our photos the first thing that may come to mind is how the image will be displayed – but there is another type of framing that you can focus on when taking your shots that can be equally as effective at doing the same job!

Understanding how to successfully frame your image will result in a much more focused shot that naturally draws your eye to the main point of interest.

The world is literally full of objects that make for perfect natural frames. Your mission if you choose to accept it: hunt down these frames and create the most mind blowing images known to man.

Understand Your Focal Point

Being clear on your subject and the story you are telling is the first rule when it comes to framing. Once you know what you are trying to achieve you can focus on leading the viewer’s eye towards the main focal point. Frame the image appropriately, and you will not only draw the eye into the picture, you will also help to keep it there for longer.

Fill Your Frame

One of the most common mistakes of newbie photographers is not filling the frame with their subject or the major elements of the image. The viewer shouldn’t have to squint to make out the subject – it should be obvious! Yes background and negative space can work wonders for some images, but you are much more likely to achieve that wow factor if your shots are filled with interest.

Give the Image Context

Framing can add context to an image. Utilizing natural frames such as windows, brides, an overhanging tree, or even another person, gives the viewer a glimpse into the history and culture of your location and environment. Whether you want to share the local architecture through the use of an archway or convey a sense of the great outdoors with foliage in the foreground, bringing context to your shots will make them far more visually appealing.

Keep it Simple

Sometimes simplicity is the best route to take. Remove anything within the frame that doesn’t help you to tell your story – if it doesn’t support your subject, get rid of it. Trying to include too much within your image can end up spoiling it, as a cluttered image causes the eye to dart around attempting to identify the key focal point. Less really is more!

Don’t Amputate

Last but by no means least, never amputate your subject. This has got to be one of the worst crimes of photography. Always be aware of the edges of your frame, and only ever cut off part of your subject if it is intentional. Missing body parts not only ruin the overall composition of an image, they also make the image appear incomplete. If you decide to make a crop, make sure we know that you meant to!


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