Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Amid all the flowers, food, music and festivities, there are two people at the focal point of a wedding: the wedding couple.

With all the attention heaped upon the bride and groom, a portrait session away from the crowds can help capture private moments between them. It gets the couple away from the pressure that comes with their wedding, and a chance to be alone to reflect on the occasion.

So why not consider at least a brief window of time to go off with the photographer to make some creative portraits in a picturesque environment, whether it be a park, old barn or nearby beach?

To be sure, a creative portrait session is not something that will happen at all weddings . Not all couples need or want one, and many prefer to let the moments captured during the ceremony and reception serve as photos of just the two of them.

And while it may seem like a deviation from truly just sitting back and letting the wedding photojournalist document the day as it unfolds, such portraits are no different than what photojournalists may find themselves doing most days while working for a newspaper, magazine or wire service. And it's hardly the heavily posed photos of traditional wedding photography , but rather a way of putting the bride and groom into an environment and sometimes just letting them be.


Ideally, photographers will want to spend a relaxed period of time with the bride and groom during a portrait session. But with the demands of the wedding planner, caterers and others worked into the schedule, that luxury cannot always be realized. Sometimes a schedule may leave up to an hour for portraits. On other occasions, it may be only five minutes, or perhaps no time at all.

If it is something they choose to do, the couple of honor should make sure there is some window in which they can get away. It'll pay off, as this quiet time will often produce some of the best portrait opportunities.

If the bride and groom choose to have a portrait session, says Miguel Pola, , "I'll suggest that we plan on spending about 20 to 30 minutes after the ceremony with me, away from everyone else."


Opinions vary as to the best time for the bride and the groom to get some isolated quality time with the photographer, although most tend to try to capture a few portraits before the reception, when everyone still looks fresh.

A bride and groom will want to do the portrait session before the entire ceremony. In these cases, Miguel likes to start photographing the bride getting ready, and then observes as she meets the groom for the first time on their day which he considers the "first look".

Others find that taking the bride and groom away between the ceremony and reception leads to a great photo session, since the couple has just exchanged their vows and is experiencing the emotions of being a newly married couple.

A session after the ceremony also works well logistically, as wedding guests are often shuffling from the ceremony location to the reception hall. The travel time also lets the couple head off somewhere with the photographer for a shoot in an attractive environment.

Though it may be impossible to achieve the ideal alone time due to tradition, family responsibilities or scheduling conflicts, the bride and groom should work together with their photographer to find the best period in the day to have minimal disruption and optimal time.


Unless the wedding involves a runway model marrying a seasoned actor, the odds are there will likely be at least one subject— the bride, groom or both— who is unfamiliar with being the focus of a portrait session. "Most people have a preconceived notion of what it's like to get their picture taken," Miguel says. "They almost expect to feel uncomfortable."

One of the best ways for couples to loosen up in front of the camera is by forgetting it's even there. "I talk to the bride and groom and keep them focused on things other than being photographed," says Miguel, who notes that he peppers the couple with questions about how they met, what they do, and where they're off to afterwards to put them at ease.

Another way to get a few creative shots is to pick a day before the wedding for a photo shoot. Herring tends to do this, taking the couple out for two hours to a location of their choice. This strategy helps to build a relationship and lets the couple get comfortable with being in front of the camera. When the bride and groom begin interacting with each other, the camera stops being the focus and the result is great, un-posed images.


  • Set aside a good chunk of time to spend with your photographer.
  • Get away from the guests and family to capture those truly intimate moments between the newly married couple.
  • If someone is camera shy, bring a relative or friend to help them loosen up.
  • Go out for a pre-wedding day shoot with the photographer for a totally relaxed session.

"It helps to calm their fears," Miguel says. "I don't want them being nervous with me on the big day."

If on the day of the wedding either the bride or groom has a hard time acting naturally, Miguel sometimes will pull in someone else—either the best man, maid of honor or another sibling—just to make the mood more informal.


With all the great emotions that pour out when the couple are alone together, the last thing the wedding photographer needs is a portrait session ruined by the couple being distracted by numerous flashes and guests vying for their attention. It can also be overwhelming for the couple to have so many "look here" or "do this" demands tossed at them from a crowd of well wishers.

That's why most suggest keeping the guests away for the private photo session. In fact, Miguel stipulates it in the contract that everyone stay away for the private shoot.

If the families don't understand the snub, just be sure that someone explains that the whole point is to get the best creative portraits of the soon-to-be or newly minted husband and wife—images that will season the collection of other, more unplanned moments to be shared forever among family and friends.


While the wedding ceremony and festivities can often be packaged into a tidy weekend, the engagement period usually lasts several months, and it is comprised of the planning, booking, preparing, tailoring and hiring, all of which lead to the actual marriage.

The extended time period makes it quite a challenge to cover the engagement from beginning to end, as a wedding photojournalist would do with a wedding. So, to capture the couple during their committed but not-yet-married period, it makes a good deal of sense to joint them on a venture to a scenic spot for a portrait session. However, this should not be considered merely a chance to recreate those traditional, cheek-to-cheek shots with a soft focus that find their way into the local weekly newspaper. Portraits can be so much more.

A number of WPJA members have ventured entirely outside the box in composing creative engagement photography . These innovative photographer s catch their couples in highly unusual settings or moments, sometimes even being obscure in the process. The result is stunning and memorable images. The members who create these images are taking the rulebook of traditional engagement portraits and throwing it out the window.

"All the rules go out the window when shooting an engagement session," states Miguel Pola. 

And while these wedding photojournalists will still likely oblige mom and dad's requests for some traditional-style close up engagement portraits, most will also include a number of eye-opening images that flirt with the creative edge.


One approach of portrait sessions involves setting up shots in predetermined environments; another involves locations that are conducive to great spontaneity and creativity. Miguel Pola, an Orange County based wedding photographer , has found that choosing the right backdrop for his engagement sessions is a critical part of the process since, in his view the environment often becomes another character in the photos with the couple.

Miguel finds that there's no shortage of unique and interesting spaces in which he can capture creative portraits, though he does admit to having a slight affinity for taking couples to somewhat distressed areas like abandoned warehouses or unused barns.


There are a number of uncontrollable variables that still will keep the photographer on his or her toes in the quest for great images.

One of those unknowns is the availability and angle of natural light. Miguel uses the ever-changing position of the sun as an asset by getting different shots throughout the day of the engagement portrait session. And he does, in fact, make it a day, usually starting around 3 p.m. and ending sometime around 9 p.m. or later, visiting special client-selected locations.

"I just ask them to go to a couple of spots that are meaningful to them, but from there, I'm just chasing the light," he says.

When the sun starts to set and the shadows get long, all the better. 

Such photos serve another purpose: they give potential clients a chance to envision themselves in creative poses in a way that traditional, close up shots can't because they're focused on the people.

"I push it as far as I can creatively take it. It spurs me creatively to try to come up with something different every time," Miguel says.


A creative portrait session can also develop into a great way to learn about the couple's personality. While you may have some sense of who they are through the initial interview and conversations, here is an opportunity for formalities to fall by the wayside. They'll let their guard down, and you'll observe them simply being together. The photo session is their chance for whatever it is that connects them to shine. And through careful direction, you can help enable that. As a result, that special something that defines their bond will be captured in the photographs.

Discovering what indefinable thing that links two people together does not need to be tricky. It's a matter of observing their personalities. Plan the session around their likes and interests? Ask ahead of time where they enjoy spending time together? What do they do for fun? For romance? Ask yourself what do you see in them that maybe they haven't noticed themselves? The B&G will be delighted when they find out you've picked up on a particular quality they possess but hadn't realized before.

An added benefit to the couple letting loose and having fun during the photo session is that you will get greater insight into what sort of wedding to expect. You will also learn how to best photograph them on the big day.

There's usually a strong understanding between the couple and the wedding photojournalist that while, yes, the portrait session is staged to a degree with the setting or some mild posing, the better, more unique shots come from the unplanned interactions.

"I tell them beforehand that this is going to be a collaborative effort between me and them," Miguel says. "If you can get them to trust you, you can create these authentic photographs with people laughing and being playful." Such emotions just can't be set up.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bridesmaides need attention too!

If you've picked out your beautiful wedding dress, or even if you're not quite done shopping, you've probably already picked out the color for your bridesmaid dresses. But there are always more decisions to be made when planning a beautiful wedding. Later on we'll have some local resources to assist you in finding beautiful bridesmaid dresses for your beautiful wedding. But first, there are some basic questions to ask:

What style will look right on every girl?
It's possible that you won't be able to suit every girl's preference for a bridesmaid dress. Some girls will hate they way they look in green, and others will hate the way a princess waist makes their torso look. When trying to find a style to suit everyone, go with your gut, and keep it simple. If you're going with a strapless look, make sure all of your wedding party feels comfortable with bare arms—otherwise you could suggest that they wear a matching wrap in a pretty fabric on the wedding day. Also, for weddings, temperature is a concern. If you're having an outdoor wedding in the summer heat, why not choose a lighter shade of dress that won't attract so much sun for your girls, or a knee-length skirt rather than a floor-length with several poofy layers underneath. It'll help your bridemaids stay cool and enjoy the day even more. (Keep temperature and wedding location in mind while shopping for your dress, too.)

Will there be a uniform dress, or will every girl standing up with you be able to choose her own style in a certain color? If you have bridesmaids in several different dress sizes and with different proportions, it's possible to let your ladies customize their look and find something they will feel comfortable and beautiful in on your wedding day. Most of the customization will happen in the upper region with variations in the strap choice and bustline. Waistline is also a consideration. For girls with a thicker waist, a dress with a princess waist can look very nice, while ladies with wider hips may look stunning in an A-line dress. Your local bridal shops will be able to give you a better idea of what's available if you stop in or ask for a catalog.

Will your bridesmaids wear different colors, or even go with a more casual look, like a summer sundress? Summery sundresses are becoming more and more popular for a beach wedding. It pays to shop around department stores to save your wedding party some cash and get a unique look that will make everyone happy.

No matter what, the golden rule of choose bridesmaids dresses is that you can't please everyone. Really, if you try to make everyone happy, you may end up sacrificing what you really envision for your wedding day. If you don't care so much about this aspect of the planning, feel free to turn it over to your bridal party, who will most likely be very happy to choose what their group will look like. But if you have something specific in mind, make sure your state that up front with your bridal party. 

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Beautiful

The bride steps into her wedding gown. Her mother and a entourage of bridesmaids assist her with the final touches on her hair and makeup. They primp and preen at her gown, perhaps contributing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Today, the vast majority of brides invite their photographer to document the "getting ready" period, and for good reason.

Getting ready can be a monumental task for the bride and her entourage, and an event in itself. It's a time not only during which the women share their excitement and happiness, but also one in which they can smooth out any bumps in the road that may arise, from mending an ill-fitting wedding gown to soothing an overwhelmed bride. The application of cosmetic agents, hair, skin, nail, and other treatments, final tuning of clothing and accessories; this seemingly endless array of beauty products and treatments makes for a very hectic and intense prep session.

Not until recent years has it become de rigueur for the wedding photographer to be present while the bride gets ready for the ceremony. Yet the outflow of elation, anxiety, nostalgia and hope that accompany these activities create an ideal time for your wedding photojournalist to capture those timeless moments.

Fortunately, Miguel Pola is a veteran in skillfully observing and documenting what exactly happens behind the dressing room doors—from the trials and tribulations, to the triumphs. His experience makes them uncommonly aware of and sensitive towards the rituals and emotions of bridal party preparation, and well-prepared to capture wonderful images without getting in the way.


The time spent getting ready is filled with a wealth of emotions. Precisely what type of emotions, from good to bad to downright ugly, is entirely dependent on the bride. She sets the tone in the room. There are those brides who, as Orange Country Ca, based wedding photographer Miguel Pola says, "are in the zone and it's the perfect moment of their life. They're sitting on a cloud enjoying everything."

The majority of brides are in this "zone." They're in control and having a wonderful time as they prepare for their wedding. The photographer moves about the room capturing the bride talking and laughing with her bridesmaids and close relatives. She's natural and jubilant, and that comes across in the pictures.

On the other hand, there are those brides who are overwhelmed by emotion and close to having a panic attack. Miguel is acquainted with them as well. He recently found himself stepping out of the photographer role, and into that of confidant, as he tried to comfort a nervous bride. "I let her know that I appreciated what she's going through, that it was perfectly natural, and there's nothing strange about it," he says. At the time, only he and the make-up artist were in the room with her. Clearly, he is a special photographer who knows how to respond in an uncomfortable situation.

Miguel also observes that some bridesmaids also play an integral role in keeping everything running smoothly. Therefore, brides may prefer to have the bridesmaids present during the getting ready period. He recalls one wedding in which a trolley was to pick up the bridal party and take them to the ceremony, then on to the reception. The trolley never showed up. Not a problem. The bridesmaids were able to calm the bride down and keep her from becoming disheartened by the absentee trolley. Miguel says, in general, "The three or four of her closest friends are there to take care of the bride and that helps me." The mood in the room stays positive and he's able to get those emblematic photos.


At another wedding Miguel photographed, the bride donned her dress, and many of its buttons promptly popped off. This could potentially be a disastrous situation, since for many, the dress is a focal point of the entire day and especially the getting ready period. As Miguel says, "It's all about the gown…with the bridesmaids attending to her and helping her get the dress ready." In this particular situation they had yet another job, which was to attach the buttons back to the gown. He notes that it turned out to be an easy remedy with the use of inconspicuously placed tape and pins.

Many brides spend months prior to the wedding focused on the solitary goal of losing weight. They want to look their best for their big day, and often that means fitting into a dress that may be smaller than what they typically wear. Of course, their fear is that they won't be able to fit into the gown when the day arrives.

For some, that fear is fully realized. Miguel Pola was a witness to one bride's trying moments as she struggled to get her dress on. 


With so much going on during the getting ready period, many photographers, like Miguel, simply need to be present in order to capture those wonderful timeless expressions. And when the photographer shows up unexpectedly, great pictures can also result. 

The number of people in the getting ready rooms also can have an impact on the dynamics of the moments captured by your wedding photojournalist. "An intimate group of four or five people is ideal,"Miguel suggests. "If there are twenty people, it can get chaotic." Conversely, if there are only a couple of people in the room, the scene could remain relatively uneventful. 

Children and spontaneity often go hand in hand. If a flower girl happens to be in the mix during the getting ready period, you're likely to get some great pictures. 


It's always important for the bride to stay relaxed and at ease during the final moments before she walks down the aisle. A good way to do so is to have people around who make you feel calm. Miguel suggests having helpers to do things you don't necessarily need to do yourself in order to keep from feeling over-scheduled. He says, "It's much more interesting to have that unscheduled time to focus in on what's happening—on those feelings of anticipation, nervousness, ecstasy, panic, etc."

As with much of the day, time is of the essence. Miguel Pola also notes that there should be a "fair amount of time, ideally at least an hour" during this period. Too little time can create a stressed-out mood.

Ultimately, it's about the bride enjoying herself. Miguel notes, "It's important for the brides to let her friends and loved ones take care of her. If she is good humored about whatever comes up, she can get through anything, save the groom running away!"

Indeed. A little perspective can go a long way during the early hours of the big day, as well as help complete the larger story. When the bridal march is blaring through the speakers and the bride is walking down the aisle, the gasps and wide smiles across the room will attest to her beauty. Thanks to the great wedding photojournalist backstage, everyone (including the groom, who may have been far from that scene) can have an idea as to what took place to bring her to that radiant moment.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Destination weddings offer stunning scenery and exotic atmosphere, providing the conditions needed to enhance those fabulous memories. However, since these types of weddings are often at resort locations in foreign countries, they're subject to the unusual and the unexpected, creating logistical and scheduling factors that can affect your entire agenda, including the photography. One of our most traveled award-winners have weighed in with their own experiences and advice for ensuring a smooth and wonderful event.


It's hard to imagine a more picture postcard-perfect wedding location than Haiti. Few islands in the Caribbean rival its beautiful beaches, mountains, rain forests, rich culture…or political upheaval. Even though the present government is stable, two centuries of bloodshed over politics and power should make you cautious about making wedding arrangements there.

No matter what idyllic wedding location you might choose anywhere in the world, popular attitude and local politics can shift. So when you plan your destination wedding, Miguel Pola of Orange County Ca, suggests you scan the news to make sure the country you choose isn't experiencing instability. The last thing you need on your wedding day is to be rescued from a political revolution.

Miguel Pola, says if he is going to photograph a wedding in a country unfamiliar to him, he researches it on the Internet and in travel books. 

Pola Thinks that it's also important to have a contingency plan for any potential disaster. That's especially true if you are planning on getting married during the Atlantic hurricane season (June through November), but it can be a lifesaver when a rainy day washes out your outdoor ceremony.


Miguel Pola caught a cloudy moment at an outdoor beach ceremony cancun.  When he got to the beach for the ceremony, the rain had stopped and the guests closed their umbrellas, except one. 

 "It's hot and it can be humid, in the Caribbean" says miguel. "I strongly suggest that couples wear comfortable clothing. It's also a good idea to give yourself a couple of days to get acclimated to the climate and the area. Get to know the staff at the hotel and make sure they know you. And stay a few extra days so you can really enjoy it."

A couple Miguel photographed on the mayan riviera just south of Cancun definitely got into the island spirit when they kicked off their shoes after the ceremony. "I'm always looking to shoot something different," says miguel about photographing the couple's feet. 

wedding photojounalists are charged with recording the day's events, of course, but they also strive to visually represent a wedding's atmosphere. Pola captured the mood during a reception held at the exclusive resort of La Loma in Cuixmala, Mexico, on the Pacific coast. Originally built as a familial compound by the late British billionaire Sir James Goldsmith and surrounded by the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve, La Loma has a sophisticated elegance in an all-natural environment. "The reception was held on a thatched-roof patio overlooking the ocean," Miguel remembers. His warm, sunset photo beautifully represents the peaceful, private affair.


Even though the couple Pola photographed was married at a resort, they still had to adhere to Mexico's marriage laws. "In Mexico you must have two witnesses, and blood tests for the couple are required," says Elena Lynch, supervisor of destination weddings with The Wedding Experience, a Miami-based wedding consulting company. Laws vary from country to country, she says, so those couples that want destination weddings should know the marriage requirements well in advance to avoid last minute scrambling.

Some countries have laws against using photographers and other professionals who aren't locally based. It's not a problem in Mexico, Lynch notes, and it isn't typically a concern in other Caribbean countries either. However, she advises keeping your hired photographer's presence low-key, a tip Miguel also recommends. "I skirted the issue once in Anguilla," he recalls. "When I arrived on the island and was asked by an official the reason for my visit, he hesitated when I told him I was photographing a wedding. So I hastily added that the bride and groom were friends of mine, which made it OK with him. When I go to Mexico to photograph a wedding, I take only two cameras and try not to appear like anything other than a tourist."


It's helpful if you know a little of the language where you intend to marry, especially in remote locations. Miguel recommends working with an independent consultant rather than a coordinator at the resort where you plan to marry. "For resort wedding coordinators, it's just a job," he says. "You are just wedding number three or four on a single day. But an independent professional wedding coordinator can help create an exclusive, easy-going wedding tailored to you."

Miguel Pola also advocates purchasing traveler's insurance. In fact, Lynch advises couples to invest specifically in wedding insurance, which typically covers such unforeseen events as severe weather, illness or no-show vendors.

"Good insurance is a must because strange things can happen during special events," says Pola. In Mexico his assistant nearly died because of an incorrect diagnosis.  The total bill was $60,000! Medical care can be critical, even in a beautiful, exotic paradise."

Taking these kinds of precautions, whether purchasing wedding insurance, or familiarizing yourself with a country's customs, laws and climate, will increase your chances for a successful, stress-free wedding, no matter where in the world the ceremony takes place.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Five generations of Americans have revisited special moments in their lives by looking through photographs, most especially of their wedding day. But early to mid-20th-century brides and grooms have only memories of their weddings because their photographers simply weren't there.

Early cameras were large and bulky and portable lighting equipment non-existent, tethering photographers -- and bridal portraits -- to studios. All that changed by World War II when the 35mm camera, roll film and on-camera flash hit the scene, transforming first war photography, then photojournalism and eventually wedding photography. After the war, military-trained photographers and amateurs trolled wedding parties snapping candid photos they'd sell to delighted bridal couples. That flushed wedding photographers out of the studio and onto the wedding day scene. But still, wedding pictures were posed and moments like cake slicing carefully staged.

Leafing through glossy magazines in 1940s and '50s, young couples and photographers began to see something new: candid, intimate photographs of celebrity and royal weddings taken by photojournalists. Sure, there were formal poses, but many photos captured the moment, for better or worse. Like the 1943 Life magazine photograph of 54-year-old, serious-faced Charlie Chaplin fumbling with the wedding ring as he tried to place it on the finger of his 18-year-old fourth wife, Oona O'Neill -- an endearing moment frozen in time.

In 1956 Americans were treated to photographs of a happy-yet-tentative Marilyn Monroe laughing while feeding cake to her husband, playwright Arthur Miller, on their wedding day. Also that year magazines worldwide gave the royal treatment to the grand wedding of actress Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier of Monaco, devoting full-page spreads to candid moments, such as a pensive Princess Grace gazing over a balcony before the ceremony and the couple exchanging rings.

It was bound to happen. Invite photojournalists to a wedding and they'll do what they do best: get the story through the most candid, often humorous, touching photo record imaginable. Artful images of unfettered moments have universal appeal, and these early photographs helped spark a new genre of wedding photography. Decades later this documentary approach has evolved to what it is now: a popular option in wedding photography that captures the story behind the ceremony. Today it's available to everyone, not just celebrities, and photographers don't have to be journalists to capture the look.

Miguel Pola primarily photographs weddings and family portraits

For those wedding photographers who are photojournalists, their journalism background often informs choices they make when shooting weddings. 

Capturing ordinary moments on one of the most transforming days in people's lives is what wedding photography.  Miguel Pola's photojournalism background taught him to create images that transcend the specific to become universal, so that anyone looking at his powerful wedding pictures will be moved.

While traditional wedding photography tends to impose order and structure to the day, a photojournalistic style takes advantage of unscripted moments in order to better tell the story. 

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Like many brides and grooms, your wedding could be the first time you'll be hiring a creative professional. You might think the ins and outs of working with a wedding photographer are as simple as writing a check. What could be so difficult, right? But just ask any talented pro, and you'll get a grateful explanation of why it's so important to truly understand their creative process.

How you manage your relationship with a wedding photojournalist can have just as profound an impact on the photographs as the day unfolding before the camera. Luckily, you and your photographer both want the same outcome: amazing photos that capture the feeling of the wedding day.

"One of the best things about being a wedding photojournalist is that....one can capture life as it happens without restraint," Miguel A. Pola says. "At a great wedding everyone wants me there, wants me to capture those fleeting moments, and will appreciate them for years to come." Learn how to be one of those couples.  Award-winning wedding photojournalists offer their best advice on getting the most out of your photographer.


Miguel A. Pola recommends focusing less on the business process and more on the creative one when you're working with a wedding photojournalist. Of course, you'll both sign a contract, and ultimately there will be details relating to the types of packages purchased, the number and format of proofs, schedule, costs, and possibly album design, but that should all be secondary when it comes to selecting and working with your creative professional.

Miguel advises that when it comes to hiring a wedding photojournalist, one should not get bogged down with comparing the details of various packages. "It doesn't matter how many pictures you're going to get if you don't first understand how he or she is going to capture your wedding day," he states. After all, what difference does it make if you're getting 100 proofs or 500, if you don't love the photographs?

Once you've made your decision, remember to take care of all those pesky business details before the wedding day arrives. Your photographer needs to be truly present, prepared to capture your moments, and not preoccupied with tracking the types of photographs he's taking or worrying about collecting payment.


Even the hardest working photographers need to eat. You know that woozy-can't-think-straight-lightheaded feeling you get when you haven't eaten, and you're on your feet all day? One of the last people you want feeling this way at your wedding is the person with the responsibility of capturing your most special moments for posterity.

Of course, you're busy with all of the planning, but remember that your photographer will be with you all day, capturing every graceful move, and unless you think ahead to arrange a hot meal, he or she, or an assistant, may have to physically leave the premises in order to eat. It's just another tiny detail among hundreds, but this one is worth remembering.

Miguel A. Pola  feels so strongly about this point that he designed his contract to clearly state he needs time to eat. "I'm with you all day long," says Miguel. "You might as well give me some food…some good food. Not a croissant sandwich and some chips." (See "How To Starve Your Wedding Photographer: A Field Guide," in the September/October 2006 issue of WedPix.)


This is the biggest pet peeve of wedding photojournalists far and wide: brides, grooms, parents, reception coordinators, bridesmaids, DJs and various other guests who give constant direction about what, when and how to photograph the wedding. "Of course I'm going to photograph the flowers and capture the beautiful sunset," Miguel says. "It's my job."

No photographer likes to be given constant art direction. Remember: you've hired a wedding photojournalist, because they don't style photographs. Not only is it annoying, but perpetual third-party direction also takes away from the creative element of documentary style wedding photography. Directing is the antithesis of the natural, unscripted moment. And, as Miguel adds, the more art direction brides and grooms are giving, the less they are enjoying their wedding—and the fewer natural moments there are to photograph.

When there is too much direction, Miguel admits to missing moments. "I approach each wedding with no pre-conceived ideas. I let the day unfold before my lens and capture what happens. If I am backed into a portrait-a-thon it never fails that I see real images unfolding out of the corner of my eyes and there is nothing I can do about it. The clients hired me for my ability to capture those honest fleeting moments and I am missing them because I am shooting every possible combination of bride, groom and family," he says.


Often times, brides and grooms don't think about coordinating the styles of all of the other creative pros they've hired to cover their wedding. "Make sure all the creative individuals you're employing are on the same page. If you like your photographers because they're behind the scenes, and that's why you hired your photographer, then make sure that approach is also going to work with your videographer," Miguel suggests.

If the videographer has a style that involves a lot of direction (like making you put on your dress five times), that may not create the best situation for a wedding photojournalist who doesn't take any staged shots. The creative pros, says Miguel, don't need to be able to work together, per se, but they should all have a shared understanding of how the day is going to unfold. He suggests asking your vendors direct questions about their process, such as "Are you going to ask me to button up my dress three times?

He also recommends letting all of your other vendors know about your photographer's style. That way, they won't be interrupting or trying to pose shots for her.


"We're not selling a product, we're selling a promise," says Miguel, who considers trust the single most important part of wedding photojournalism. "If you don't trust your wedding photojournalist, then why did you hire them?"

If you're constantly worrying about the photographers—are they getting good shots; taking enough pics; Do I look good?—then you're not living in the present. "When you let that go," says Miguel "the imagery is much more confident, because you're not thinking about it the entire time. You can't worry. If you're being primped and prompted at every turn, you're not going to enjoy your day, and the photos will reflect that."

Miguel says you have to be comfortable enough in front of your photographer to cry, and trust them to document that in a beautiful way. After all, he says, you don't have to look good every second of the day. "You just have to trust that wedding photojournalists are artists and thereby trust their vision of your day," Miguel says.


Trust is also closely related to giving up control. Part of trusting your photographer is being able to hand over the reigns. Accept that you cannot control everything; that's why you hire professionals to carry out a shared creative vision. Realize that when you try to control too much, you're actually hijacking the creative process.

For example, Miguel is not a fan of the list. "The family list is fine," he says. "But not the lists of all the moments: the candles, the garter toss, the bride walking down the aisle." Miguel once received a four-page list, down to the silverware on the table. "It was beyond duty," he says, "And I was just going down, checking off the list."

If you give a wedding photojournalist too long of a to-do list, it distracts them from what you hired them to do in the first place: shoot spontaneous, once-in-a-lifetime moments that can't be predicted, and therefore, could never be included on a list.

"I don't want to think about all these expectations," says Miguel. "I just want to tell the story."