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Friday, October 10, 2014

Mythbusters: Why couples should take formal wedding photos before the ceremony

We sometimes get asked to shoot the formal wedding photos after the ceremony, instead of before.  Typically, the bride doesn't want the groom to see her before the ceremony. All kinds of options have been proposed from taking all the formals that don't have the bride and groom together ahead of the ceremony to taking all of the formals after. People are probably telling brides that it's bad luck for the couple to see each other before the ceremony...or that they don't want to spoil the moment grooms first see them.  This article is intended to challenge some myths and make the case for taking formal photographs BEFORE the ceremony.

Myth #1: The bride and groom shouldn't see each other before the ceremony...
Facts:  If a couple wants to bet that seeing each other beforehand tarnishes their luck, then perhaps this is the end of the article for those folks.  We don't have data to back this up, but we believe that seeing each other before the ceremony hasn't actually caused couples bad luck.  In reality, special, intimate moments together right before the ceremony have a calming effect - a couple can focus on each other right before everything goes "public".  Overcoming anxiety together is a solid start to a lifetime together.

Myth #2: Seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle will "spoil" that moment...
Facts:  We get that there is only one "first impression".  But, there are multiple, intense, emotional moments throughout a wedding - some planned, and some not planned.  We've found that the groom seeing his bride as she appears at the end of the aisle to begin her walk is wrapped with emotion that is unique to that moment.  Nothing seems to diminish the way a groom feels and how that shows on his face when he sees his bride standing there looking at him.  That will happen whether he sees her ahead of the ceremony or not.

Myth #3:  Guests won't mind waiting after the ceremony for pictures to be taken...
Facts:  Guests mind.  The ceremony is over and now folks can gather, eat, visit, and relax...but they'll have to do it without the happy couple for over an hour as formal photos are taken.  Our experience suggests that guests get restless and sometimes opt not to attend anything following the ceremony when they have to wait for the bride and groom. The anxiety grows in the wedding party as they are kept from further celebration at the reception. Brides are often anxious to get to the guests, so there's pressure to rush the photography and the emotions are evident on the faces of those in the pictures.  Frustrations rise, which is in stark contrast to what the event should be all about.

Myth #4:  Pictures don't take that long...
Facts:  Formal pictures take time, especially if there are numerous combinations of images desired.  Unless the formal photographs aren't important to a couple, it will take time to get folks together, arrange them formally, shoot several images of each "setting", etc.  We tend to block out at least two hours for formal photos, and then work hard to get it all done in 90 minutes.  That leaves a half hour for some "down" time right before the ceremony.  It's true that we can take some before the ceremony, some after the ceremony, and some at the reception following.  By the third time folks are being gathered for "another photo session", the photographers aren't being embraced with open arms, which affects the quality of the images.

Making the case for formal photographs BEFORE the ceremony...

We understand the intimacy and emotional nature of the first time a groom sees his bride in her dress (and when the bride sees her groom in his formal wear) for the first time on their wedding day.  Many couples don't realize, however, that there are several "first times" at a wedding.  We've found that by adding a "first look" to the set of images we capture, we create another first-time moment for the bride and groom.

The "first look" images are captured as soon as the the bride and groom are dressed.  We create special time for just the couple to spend together ahead of all the hustle and bustle of the wedding - we isolate the couple from everyone else to make the experience just about them.  We don't let the groom see his bride until everything is ready.  When the time is right, we present the bride to the groom and let him have his first look.  We capture images of this "first time" he sees her and of many more moments that occur after that.

Couples discover the "first look" doesn't diminish the first time the groom sees his bride at the end of the aisle looking back at him.  If you want to add more first-time moments to your special day with a "first look", and want to keep your guests happy and engaged, have your formal wedding photos taken before the ceremony...we predict you won't regret it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our new site is up and running...check it out

Our new site on SmugMug is now up and running.  We continue to work out some wrinkles, but the experience for visitors should be better.  SmugMug made more of the site options configurable, so there's more to figure out as we manage the site.  One of the features we used to have was a "visitor view" button that would allow us to see what visitors see without us having to log out of the site.  In the "owner view" we can see things that visitors won't, so it can be tough to determine if a certain configuration change has the intended affect for visitors.

We hope everyone enjoys the new look and feel.  Please share your reactions as you visit our site:

Monday, July 15, 2013

For all you wonderful, engaged couples out there...

This is a real-life story for all you wonderful, engaged couples out there, or if you know of someone who is getting married soon.

Just wanted to let you know what happened this weekend while we traveled home from Oregon.  We stopped at a park to take photos of the Tillamook Lighthouse.  There was a wedding going on.  It was a beautiful location overlooking the Oregon coast, and about 80 degrees out.  They stood on the bluff, out in the open, surrounded by their friends and loved ones standing in the open sun.  We're not sure how long the ceremony had gone on, but it lasted about 15 minutes after we arrived at the park.

When the ceremony ended, people had a short hike down a trail to the covered area that was the reception location.  Two women in front of us, one elderly said she was unable to make it down the hill and headed for the parking lot.  They were all very hot.  The bride and groom stayed up top with the wedding party to take their formal shots.

We hiked down past the area and went and took photos of the lighthouse and birds.  When we came back up, the bridal party was coming down the hill laughing and running.  OK, I admit it...when Eric mentioned "where was the photographer?" to me, I shouted it out to the wedding party.  It would have been a great shot.  They pointed back up the hill, where he was still taking formals of the wedding couple.  They said they were hungry and tired of standing up there taking photos in the sun.  I told them it was a great shot of them coming down the pathway.  They saw our cameras and told us to take one.  We had long lenses on and weren't set up for it, (and it wasn't our shoot) but one of them had a nice we used theirs.

We sent them a few feet back up the hill and staggered them so we could see them all and asked them walk back down the path.  They laughed, threw up the bouquets, jumped in the air, and had a great time coming down the hill for us.  They shook our hands as they went by, and thanked us.

It is a common complaint when formals are taken between the wedding and the reception, that people are waiting around for the bride and groom, when everyone is ready to party, and not take more formals.  First look photos are a great way for a private viewing between a bride and groom before the wedding so you can take the formals in a more relaxed way before the wedding.  This is also a good case for why we, at Brighter Images Photography, have two or more people at your wedding photographing important moments.

We love to do weddings.  Check out our site at for examples of our wedding work plus other photos and information.

Have a great and safe summer!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How to protect those precious images

Oh No...All My Pictures are Gone!
"Oh no" she exclaims..."no way."  What could be happening I wonder from the other room?  This was not her normal outcry when she encounters technical problems.  As I enter the room, I notice an air of panic.  What could have happened that would be so bad?  

"All my pictures are gone," she says.  "I was just trying to delete this one image and now they're all gone!"

Not wanting to believe it, I switched into technical support mode and started working on her computer.  I was horrified to find that she was right...all the images were gone.  We had around 170,000 images we had created covering some of the most important events in our lives.  They were all gone.  WOW!

The happy ending is that we were able to recover all of them (we believe).  It wasn't easy and we should have been better protected by planning for this type of event.  So, I'm sharing our experience in hopes that it will help others not lose precious images.

The digital age has completely transformed photography.  We used to store negatives in a safe place in case something happened to our prints.  Negatives today are digital images/files on our computers and other devices.  Because of that, they are at extreme risk of being lost or destroyed.

There are a number of things you can do to ensure your images are safe and they come in only a few flavors:

  • Create backups of the images using one or more strategies and keep them backed up
  • Keep the backups in a different location than where your computer is located
  • Obtain file recovery software so images can be salvaged if inadvertently deleted

Create Backups
It is extremely dangerous to keep all of your digital images on one hard drive. Hard drives are one of the most common points of failure in a computer (and is the reason for the heightened interest in external hard drives).  What makes things worse is that hard drives have gotten much bigger (hold more data) and have become less expensive.  Modern computers are enticing people to keep all of their documents, music, movies, pictures, and other media on one machine by including huge hard drives...what if it fails?  What if something unforeseen happens (fire, flood, burglary, etc)?

The prevention step you can take right away is to create backups of your images.  You don't need sophisticated equipment to do this.  Most computers come with at least a CD burner but some also burn DVDs.  CDs hold about 700 megabytes of data whereas DVDs can store 4 gigabytes routinely (some can hold more but that requires a special drive and special, dual-layer disks).  The idea is that you periodically copy your images to CDs/DVDs so they aren't all in one place.

Another interesting technique is to obtain a number of image cards for your camera (SD, xD, Compact Flash, etc.) and rotate them as you use them.  They can be numbered so you can keep track of which one is next.  The key to this method is not to remove the images from the image card when they are copied to the computer.  This method keeps a copy of the images on the card and on the computer for a period of time.  The more cards you use the longer you will have a backup.  Eventually, the card will be reused but you will have a backup until then...just in case something happens.  This method is not a long-term strategy but can be used with other methods to help reduce risk.

A small investment (around $100 - $150) can set you up with a remote hard drive that may be as big if not bigger than the drive in your computer.  You can simply plug it in and you're set.  Transferring images is as simple as copying files from one folder to another.  In some cases, the drives come with backup software that make this even easier.  

My favorite choice here is an HP SimpleSave external hard drive.  All I had to do was plug it in, tell it what type of files I want backed up (Images, of course), and it does the rest.  It automatically backs up files when my computer is on but not being used so I don't have to think about it.

If you want to be more sophisticated, you can set up a home network with one computer dedicated to storing images (file server).  This would create a common repository for everyone to store their images.  Then, various backup strategies on the one computer can be used to ensure those images are safe. 

Keep them Offsite
Backing up images seems logical...but why go to the trouble of keeping the backups offsite?  Offsite storage is another layer of risk reduction as it reduces the likelihood of everything being lost due to a single event.  For example, if something caused your home computer to be destroyed or if it was stolen, having backups offsite helps ensure you will have the most important images.  Use a safety deposit box, relative's house, your business/workplace, or a neighbor's house to keep the backups.  If this isn't practical, a fire safe may be an alternative, but is not always effective and they are expensive.

Another strategy is to use remote storage. This a quick and easy method where images are stored at some location over the Internet (Picasaweb, ShutterFly, Flickr, etc.).  Your images are uploaded to these "sites" where they are stored on their equipment.  If you have access to the Internet, you can obtain your images making recovery easy.  Some of the latest anti-virus software is now building remote storage into their offerings.  Norton, for example, offers 2 gigabytes of offsite storage.  You can buy more if needed.  The downside to this approach is a dependency on the Internet and the solution provider.  If the Internet wasn't available for the provider ceases operations (or is down), you can't backup or retrieve your images.

My Images were Deleted...Now what do I do?
This is the predicament I found myself in and was what prompted this blog post.  One of the most important tools in your computer toolbox (I discovered) is a file recovery utility.

Despite what it says "deleted" files on computers aren't really deleted (usually).  Instead, an entry in the index that points to where the parts of the file are on the disk is deleted.  The file itself is intact until another file (or part of a file) is written over the top of it.  In the case of the "Recycle Bin" on Windows computers, the files are actually moved to a temporary location where they will eventually be "deleted".  

Once files are "deleted" file recovery tools work by looking for the actual files on the disk.  They create their own index, making it possible to "undelete" the files.

The most important thing you can do when this situation occurs is to STOP SAVING FILES TO YOUR COMPUTER.  Because the computer thinks the space where your deleted image is located is "free" space, it will replace it with something else. Not saving anything on your computer will increase the likelihood that images can be recovered.

The other thing to avoid is to obtain this software when the problem occurs.  Too often, people download and install the software from the Internet when they discover they've deleted files they didn't intend to.  If the most important thing to do is to stop saving things to your computer, then why would you go to the Internet (temporary files are created when you do this) and download a software application (it has to stored somewhere on your computer...probably right over the top of the images you want to recover).  Plan ahead and do it before you need to.

I found Power Data Recovery Free Edition to be very effective at recovering a variety of files.  I like it because it retains the original folder structure when it recovers files.

It all comes down to Common Sense
Digital images are precious moments in time that can't be replaced (we can't turn back time).  Once we've captured them, a little common sense will ensure that we will have them for generations.  Prevention is the key - avoiding situations that will put your precious moments at risk will make it more likely that your images will be available for generations.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Holiday Family Photos

It's a month of holiday celebrations and we are happy to help you document your special moments with your family.  This week we are doing several family photo shoots, so keep an eye on the family page of or website.  Happy Holidays Everyone!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Babies are a coming!

We had lots of fun shooting the second set of Tim and Shannon's pregnancy photos today. Their dog peanut got into the fun again too! Their are three mommies whose pregnancies we will be shooting in the upcoming weeks as well as several pets and families.  Even a white haired old guy with a red suit!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kenmore Camera Photo Expo

Had a wonderful time at the Kenmore Camera Photo Expo today with Norm a great photographer and friend. There was lots of new information, saw many reps from the past and had fun buying some new lighting gear. We are very motivated to do the several scheduled upcoming shoots! Check back in the next few weeks to see the new photos!