Barnet Workshops » Sharing Experience, Information, Inspiration

First Looks… Why… Where and How…

Bride: “We love our wedding venue, John and I chose it because photography is very important to us and there are so many great spots there for incredible photos… Our ceremony will be right at sunset… We are having a very traditional wedding, so John and I won’t be seeing each other before the ceremony”

Photographer: “I understand that… If your ceremony is at sunset, and right after that we’re photographing your families and the wedding party, it will be dark when we get to the photos of you and John alone… Those, in my opinion, are some of the most important images of the day… How do you suggest we do that?”

Bride: “I don’t know… I’ll leave that up to you… You’re the expert… We love the photos on your website and blog! That’s what we want…”

Ever have this conversation with a Client? We have… It’s very difficult to “sell” a couple (more often than not, the bride and her mother), on the benefits of having a First Look, as opposed to the “traditional” approach, without sounding like we’re trying to impose our way on them, especially if this is a first time meeting and we’ve not booked the wedding. As we all know, having the couple take photos before the wedding has many advantages, for everyone, and no downside. In fact, there are venues and / or ceremony times that make it a must to do B&G photos before the wedding if we are to deliver a complete product that takes full advantage of the venue.

At our wedding workshops we spend time providing our students with “ammunition” to fight this battle and to usually win it. The best way to get our couples to see the light is communication and showing them a few  “first looks” among the images you show during your first meeting with them.

Another argument for the first look, when it’s done right, is to let our couples know that we still will photograph them individually and with their immediate families before the ceremony, and, BIG AND, that if we do a first look, we’ll have plenty of time to make it private and romantic, without families and friends around.  We let them know that it’s not about the photos,  it’s about them. We’re happy to do it which ever way they choose, and either way, we’ll have awesome photos of the two of them together, however, BIG HOWEVER, doing their photos before the ceremony will give us more time to do them in a relaxed fashion. There won’t be guests interrupting the process, will afford us better light, the make up will be fresher… And so on…

As wedding photographers, I consider ourselves commissioned artists, we’re there to serve our clients, and to make them look great. Many of the decisions that affect our final product are out of our hands, from time of year, to time of day, to orientation of the ceremony site. But I think that a very important part of the service we provide, is to give our Clients the benefit of our experience as experts in our field. With a little CYA built in just in case. I’ve noticed that the more professional and full service you’re perceived to be, the more your Clients will listen to your advice, and decide to do as you suggest. They seem to value your judgement more, and they want to get their money’s worth…

So… If you think you can do a better job and deliver a better product by doing B&G photos before the ceremony, let your Clients know that a First Look would be a good idea. Just don’t use a “my way or the highway” tone, and, have the right narrative and images to present your ideas respectfully… You’ll be surprised how far that will get you with your Clients!!!

 This couple’s wedding was at Rancho Las Lomas, one of our favorite wedding venues, and where a First Look is a great idea if one is to take full advantage of this amazing property. 

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This is the Pasadena City Hall where we met our Clients and their wedding party. After the First Look, we did all the group photos there. Then to the Church, followed by the reception.

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Inside the London Hotel in West Los Angeles, sometimes it’s hard to find a good area inside a busy hotel, but it can be done.

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Rancho Las Lomas again. The Orange Grove. In some locations it’s better to have the bride stationary if walking would get the dress dirty. 

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A light challenging and crowded area between Shutters and Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. The wedding was at both hotels.

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The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda. Many cultures, like South Asian do a First Look… Sweet!!!

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The Pacific Club in Newport Beach, this is the terrace area. Great light and a very animated couple. Couldn’t go wrong!

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These next two are at the Langham Hotel (formerly the Ritz Carlton) in Pasadena. This is the beautiful wooden bridge in this timeless property.

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The St. Regis in Monarch Beach. This is the majestic staircase and inlaid floor rotunda area. You couldn’t ask for a better First Look location!

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The main court yard area of the Ritz Carlton in Dana Point. We love the Ritz and the staff there is awesome! This is a great area when it is available.

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This is the St Regis again. Same area as before, except that this couple did not see each other before the wedding. This is the Bride’s father seeing his daughter in her wedding gown for the first time.

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