Archive for the ‘Details & Other’ Category

Jon and Patel ~ The Wedding

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

I first met this beautiful couple at their venue walkthrough a few weeks before their wedding. I felt IMMEDIATELY at ease with them (and their amazing coordinator, Rebecca of the Woodland Hills Country Club). Their wedding day was no different. From their first look to their last dance at the reception; I felt as if I had known them forever. (And check out the incredible grooms’ cake that Patel surprised Jon with-that’s love).

Ceremony and Reception: Woodland Hills Country Club
Photographer: Karen Leah Photography
Shoes: Luichiny

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Cell-phone-ography

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Alright, I know I’ll be aging myself with this post but here goes:

When I started as a professional photographer 13 years ago I never thought I’d be where I am today-a successful business specializing in weddings and families?!? I wanted to be a photojournalist (in the true sense of the word, not in that way people try and rename candids) working for a media outlet.

Then, a photographer in the same department in which I was working (for a newspaper at the time) invited me to shoot a wedding with him. I was hooked instantly. It was the best of everything: I got to make people feel beautiful, capture moments and emotions as they were happening; moments so real and raw that they almost brought you into the photo, and use natural light and stunning details to my advantage.

Now, were all the details stunning? No. Were all the couples nice to work with? Most, but not all. Were all the lighting situations ideal? Not even close. (Dark church at night, anyone? Yeah…). Did I agree with everything a couple wanted? Nope. But as a wedding photographer, it’s not my job to judge the couple, the details, the location, the timeline…my job; the one where I am entrusted to capture one of the most important days of a persons life, is to treat that wedding like it’s the most important one in the world. Because, to the couple that trusted me to photograph them, it is. I truly believe that; and in what I do.

I generally keep any complaints I have to myself-they’re not necessary to share and I’ve been doing this for so long, that it’s rare I can’t find a work around.

Except this one. After 13 years I need to get this one out there:

Tell your guests to put their camera phones down. (And the tablets as well, please).

This is going to sound harsh, but think about it: what are they (or you) going to do with those photos? After the excitement of sharing them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram fades, what are you left with? Photos in poor light, harsh flash, blurry, unflattering (because don’t we all love those posted online?), and most importantly, probably not accessible to you. How many times have we seen people take photos of us, asked for those photos, and never see them again? All. The. Time. You want them for prints or an album? Eh, even if they’re sent to you, will they be a good enough quality to print or put in a photo book?

Here’s what you will get from call-phone-ography:

- Guests who hang waaaaaaay out in the aisle, blocking the photographer that you paid THOUSANDS of dollars for from getting a clear shot of you meeting your spouse to be. Very recently, I actually had a brides face blocked entirely in one of my photos of her coming down the aisle by an IPad. :-(

- The tops of heads or backs of your guests in your professional photos as they suddenly decide to stand up to take a priceless cell phone photo during important moments of your ceremony.

- That grand entrance you practiced? Not so much. This actually happened: One of my favorite brides designed a really creative grand entrance. We’re talking about lighting, personalized dances, smoke machines…and it looked great. Too bad it was ruined by someone who had to take a cell phone photo-he stood up, blocked me for an instant, and blocked their initial path making the whole thing just awkward for them.

Professional photographers will do our best to work around these people, we will…but we can’t combat all of them.

I came across this wonderful video on the Knot which is a perfect demonstration of what can happen as a result of cell-phone-ography.

There are plenty of ways to get around this: have your officiant make an announcement during the ceremony for guests to please put their phones down, or, provide good quality disposable cameras for guests (or some reason people are less aggressive with these) and set up a free Flickr account for guests to view these photos. Only you know what will work best for your friends and family, but this trend of cell-phone-ography has got to stop somewhere. How many more once-in-a-lifetime moments will be ruined by someone who had to get just that perfect instagram photo?

Marina Del Rey Wedding Photographer

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A recent comment from a bride reminded me that once again, we fell a bit behind on our blogging (but, check out and LIKE our Facebook page for the most recent events, weddings, and portraits) so I wanted to start up again with one of my favorite weddings of the year so far. For various reasons, I do have to leave out the details about this wedding, but the bride was nice enough to allow us to share some of our favorite images from the day:

Northridge Wedding Photographer ~ How to select a videographer

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

One of the biggest questions that I get is, “do you have a videographer that you can recommend?”

I’ll usually send you a few names of people I like, but my favorite videographer to work with is Jeremy of On Bended Knee Films. He and I have been working together for ages!

I asked him to write a guest post on how to select a wedding videographer and he was nice enough to agree. BTW: just a small disclaimer-Jeremy and I do refer potential clients to each other, but we never give or receive anything for it. We just work well together and are super confident in each others work.

This is a great read-well worth the time and even taught me a few things I didn’t know!

CHOOSING A VIDEOGRAPHER
by: Jeremy Dayton/ On Bended Knee Films

So, you’ve decided to hire a videographer. Congratulations!

Wedding videography is an affordable and extremely rewarding option.

Since you’re already on board with hiring a videographer for your big day, now the question becomes, what do you look for? How do you find a videographer that best fits you?

Well, we’ll get into that. But first, let’s try a little exercise:

I want you to think of your favorite movie of all time. Now, think of the scene that stands out most from that movie? Think of the scene that gives you goosebumps. That line that makes you shiver.

Are you there yet?

Whether it’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet on the Titanic, John Cusack with a boombox over his head, or Julia Roberts with Richard Gere, there was a feeling. The feeling you get from any of those movies is the feeling that the ideal wedding video will elicit, only it will be tenfold in emotional impact because it’s personal.

So what it really boils down to is style.

There are a few styles of wedding videos. There is the cinematic style and the documentary style. Now there are different levels of cinematic video production, so we’ll break it down into three levels: Upper, Middle, and Standard.

1. Upper level packages are for those with an extensive budget allotted for videography. This entails steadicams, jibs and cranes. It’s a full on production and can look like a film set. DSLR cameras are often used for these shoot, to provide a stunning, film like look. Think Big Screen in 3D. Think $8,000 plus.

2. The middle level brings with it a level of sophistication as well. A tool commonly used for shoots of this nature, are called sliders. Sliders provide a short dolly track for video cameras, to reveal elements of your wedding day in a very stylistic and cinematic way. DSLR Cameras are used at this tier as well. Think Big Screen. Think $2,500 plus.

3. Standard cinematic packages use elements from the two above, but without the equipment. Most of the camera movement is by hand. Think television. Think $1,500 plus.

Why did I explain these differences?

Because the first thing you need to do is decide WHAT YOU WANT in your wedding video. As a professional videographer, I get asked all the time what I offer. While I offer a wide array of packages, and cover each tier of packages, the most important question to me is, “What do YOU want?”

With your wedding dress, I venture to say you searched and searched until you found one that suited you. One that you know you’d look great in. With your venue, you chose one that best fit your needs and desires. Your video is no different. The first thing you should always do is ask your friends for suggestions. Watch their videos. See what you like. Referrals in the wedding business are probably more prevalent than any other profession.

After you’ve asked your friends, ask the vendors that you’ve already hired. Some coordinators have a preferred list, as do venues. Photographers, especially, usually have at least one or two that they prefer to work with, if given the chance. The one thing I suggest to ask any vendor you ask for a referral is: how many times have you worked together? I prefer it when a referral is strictly a friendly suggestion.

If you haven’t found someone that you’re happy with via referrals, the first thing you need to do is search different videography websites and watch some sample videos. Figure out what types of video you enjoy watching the most. What videos elicit certain emotions from you? When you find a video you like, inquire with that company.

Make sure that the videos you are watching are actual client videos, and not a special demo reel made up just for the website. (Many videographers will have an account with Vimeo or Youtube, where they hold an extensive library of videos, usually connected to their website). If it’s not easy to find, ask them for a link.

After you’ve found companies whose style seems to mesh with yours, set up an appointment. A personal relationship with your vendors, especially ones who will play such a direct role in your entire day, such as your photographer and videographer, is extremely important. A good photographer/videographer will make you feel at ease. When you meet with any potential videographer, if you already liked their style, and you get along with them, all that’s left is price.

Prices can vary dramatically depending on what you are looking for and where you’re trying to find it.

When I was starting out, there were so many little things that I didn’t realize the importance of. I was still able to deliver great wedding videos, and I built my business off of the referrals from those weddings; but over time, you learn where to be, what to anticipate, and how to act and those things only come with experience.

To get a quality wedding video, with a cinematic montage and a custom made DVD, you’re probably going to spend a minimum of $1,500-$2,000 but rates will vary between vendors.

Spending more money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better product either. There are a few secrets you should know when asking about price with your videographer:

1. The high end production companies: Their prices are inflated to account for heavy overhead.

2. The production companies that pop up first in search engines: First, they pay good money to get to the top of Google and Yahoo, so they want to recoup that money. They do so in their prices. Secondly, these places sometimes sub contract work to less experienced videographers. You may still get a great deal from these companies, but make sure to request a primary shooter when booking with these places. They often make their money through pure volume of sales, so while they offer competitive prices, they also don’t spend as much time on each video, or the editing is passed off to someone else.

3. Smaller “in house” production companies, usually offer the best deals. Their package prices reflect the time and effort put into your video, and nothing else. No advertising or overhead to inflate the prices. With that said, a point can be made that there is less reliability with these options, since they usually don’t have the online credibility afforded the bigger places. For those issues, you can always look to bridal websites like theknot.com, weddingwire.com, and projectwedding.com. You’ll find hundreds of brides more than willing to offer up reviews of their vendors. Most of these sites have a review section as well, so you can just type in the name of your vendor, and see what’s been said from his/her previous clients. Either way, that brings us back to the steps previously mentioned.

Watch the videos.

Meet the videographer.

Go with your gut. This is YOUR big day.

And more importantly, all the sights and sounds that you’ve worked tirelessly to gather together for this perfect day will be professionally captured by the videographer you carefully selected. You’ll be able to vividly remember every last detail as you sit down later to relive the day that changed your life forever.

Here are some questions to ask your potential videographer:

1) Will YOU be the videographer, or someone on your staff?
-If not you, who will it be? When will I meet them?

2) What type of equipment do you use? Microphones?
-How do you record sound?
-Will you/they bring backup equipment?

3) What type of lighting will/can you use? (Good to know if your location
will need additional light).

Good luck in your videographer hunting, and congratulations on your engagement!