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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The practice of not allowing the groom to see the bride dates back to the times of arranged marriages. The father of the bride was reportedly afraid that the groom might back out if he didn’t like the looks of his intended so they postponed the “unveiling” until the ceremony. Nowadays, you know each other, and you know what to expect when you see each other at the ceremony. Letting go of that old superstition and deciding to meet early has so many advantages that more and more couples are deciding to have a “first look” meeting.

If you opt to meet before the ceremony, you can truly make the most of your day. We schedule the “first look” to take place as soon as the bride and groom are dressed. You can see each other while you’re still fresh and excited; you aren’t tired from doing group formals, and you aren’t nervous about the ceremony. It’s a special, shared moment that you have to talk, hug, pray, and just enjoy being together. Then the two of you can spend 20-30 minutes “alone” together getting great couple portraits.

For your special “first look” meeting, you can even decide to put him at the end of the aisle and walk down to him. However, most couples choose to have his back turned until you’re ready to jump into his arms. That way you can still have the precious moment during the ceremony when he sees you walking toward him.

Some of my most emotional vow exchanges have been with couples who saw each other before the ceremony. They were more relaxed and able to focus on the words that they were exchanging rather than the butterflies in their stomach. They really felt like they were doing something together and felt connected in a way that you might not feel if you’ve spent the day apart.

If you meet at the altar, you have lots of eyes on you and can’t really enjoy the moment. So many other things are going through your head, and the excitement of the moment gets pent up until the end of the ceremony. When you finally do get a minute to talk to each other, it’s usually something really profound like, “Hey, we did it!” After the ceremony, you’re rushed and stressed to get the group pictures out of the way. Then at the reception, you’ll have the dance and cake cutting, but most of the time will be spent socializing with other people. Even if you can retouch your makeup and find your bouquet and veil to sneak off and do more photos together, you’ll be tired and feel rushed to get back to your guests.

Some brides are stuck thinking that it is more romantic for him to see you for the first time as you are coming down the aisle. It is romantic, and if that’s the way that you want it to go then do it your way. You can always focus on being with family and friends at the wedding and then schedule a newlywed session later to have more photos taken together. However, sharing that private time together and then enjoying the rest of the wedding without the extra stress is romantic too. The important thing is that the two of you discuss the alternatives and decide what is important to you. Do what you want. Then you’ll be happy, and the guests will be happy (even if they have to stand around and wait for a while at the reception) because you’re happy.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
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There are a few key reasons why I prefer digital photography over film:

1. The pictures can be viewed immediately. This is my favorite thing about digital cameras. I know instantly if I've captured the best photo possible and can make corrections if needed.

2. Memory cards hold more pictures than film. I can wait until a lull in the activities to backup the files rather than having to constantly switch out film.

3. Images are less likely to be lost. Backups of the files can be made during the event and immediately afterward.

4. ISO can be changed quickly and easily. Traditional photographers need to use multiple cameras with different ISO rated films or switch out the film when going from one lighting situation to another.

5. There are no restrictions on how many pictures I can take. Traditional photographers must pay for the film used and are weary of wasting film. I have no such worry.

6. Creativity and experimentation. I'm free to try anything that comes into my head because I can delete the picture or change settings and try again.

7. More editing options. Traditional photographers are limited by having to use either color film or black and white. I can use one digital file to produce color, black and white, sepia or selective color prints. This gives you more variety and choices.

8. Image enhancement such as removing blemishes, stray hairs, and spots on clothing are also quicker and easier with digital editing.

9. No scanner needed. No need to spend hours scanning in your proofs before you can share them online.

10. It's easy to make prints and enlargements. You don't have to wait on a photographer to send you reprints. With digital files, multiple copies can be printed cheaply and easily so that anyone who wants a copy can have one. Spreading copies around the family also makes you less likely to lose all of your precious pictures in the event of disaster.

11. Avoid film processing. Film processing uses toxic chemicals that can damage the environment and adds a third person who may damage or lose the negatives.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007
After you've spent countless hours and dollars planning the picture-perfect wedding, you want a photographer who can deliver the perfect pictures. Wedding photos should capture each precious moment and event of the whirlwind day in a beautiful, creative way. After the vows, the dancing, and the cake have all passed by in a blur, you want to be left with photographs that will remind you of the joy, surprise, and love of the day - a beautiful collection of images to be cherished for years to come.

In the field of wedding photography, there are many skilled photographers to choose from, and the decision can seem overwhelming. First and foremost, keep in mind that the pictures are the whole reason that you are hiring someone. You must like the photographs and be comfortable with the person's photographic style and vision. By now you have probably seen lots of wedding images and have an idea of what you want so search for photographers with a style that suits your needs.

Weddings are major events with large price tags, but keep in mind that one year after the wedding you will be left with a ring on your finger and your wedding album to remind you of this wonderful event. Most photographers can offer similar albums, prints, or cards. What you are really paying for are the photographer's vision, creativity, and the images that they can create. Regardless of the price or what's included, no package is a good deal unless the images are great. Prioritize your spending so that you can get a nice album and the best photographer that you can afford.

Once you've narrowed your potential photographer list down, meet with them. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with them. After all, you will be spending most of your wedding day with this person and should not book them if you can't be yourself. No photographer is right for every couple.

Finally, it only takes one person to book your date and leave you without your first choice. Once you have found the photographer that's right for you, sign a contract and secure your date as soon as possible.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In an effort to simplify my main site, I left off some of the information that was on the old site. Instead, I'm going to post it here in the blog. Hopefully this will be a useful resource for everyone so please excuse the info dump. I promise I"ll post more fun stuff later.

First up is the FAQ for wedding clients. These are some of the most commonly asked questions I get as well as some of the most common questions you will see on the "questions to ask your wedding photographer" lists.

What’s your primary style? Posed, formal, relaxed, photojournalistic, candid, traditional?
While there are still some old-school wedding photographers who pose every photo that they take, most of the newer wedding photographers like myself use some form of photojournalistic photography. A strict photojournalist or documentary photographer tries to show the day exactly as it happens. They try not to affect or change the situation at all.

Personally, I prefer to show reality in a more romanticized way. Even if you get married on a dark, rainy day in a small, dreary room, you will remember the beauty and love of the event. That is what I want the photos to show. I want to take the best photos that I can even if that means that I need to ask someone to move into the light, remove distracting elements from the background, or even ask someone to pose. For the majority of the wedding day, I will just take photos of things as they happen. I do, however, know how important it is to get some good formal portraits of the couple, bride, and family so I usually spend 20-30 minutes taking relaxed, formal photos.

Do you shoot in color or black and white or both?
All images are captured in color but can be changed to black and white. Unless specified otherwise, clients receive a mixture of color and black and white photos.

What kind of input can we have on the direction of the shots? Can we give you a shot list to work from?
Prior to the wedding day, I work with couples to come up with a short list of formal group photos that they would like, but I will mainly be concentrating on the actual events and special moments of the day so that I can document these moments as they unfold. General instructions, such as whether you would like lots of guest photos or would prefer that I concentrate mainly on the couple, are helpful, but extensive photo lists are not conducive to my style of storytelling photography.

How many other events will you also photograph that day?
I do not photograph more than one event per day. Normally, I will only photograph one per weekend unless the second wedding is short and/or I will have a second shooter along to help.

Can we buy the negatives from you?
I do offer the high-resolution, corrected files on DVD along with the rights to reproduce the photos for personal use, and most of my clients do opt to purchase them. I do not sell unedited, raw files as I consider them unfinished work.

Why should I hire a professional photographer?
Choosing a wedding photographer is one of the first and most important planning decisions that you will make. The photographer is the one vendor with the most lasting effect on your wedding memories. With so much on the line and no second chances, it is important that you have a photographer who is experienced, skilled, efficient, and reliable. Professional photographers earn their living by producing quality photographs every time. If you don't get the results that you want, how much are you really saving by not hiring a professional?

Why is wedding photography expensive?
Considering that you are hiring a skilled professional to deliver 40-50 hours of work along with personalized, quality service and products, most photographers' rates are actually very reasonable. Most photographers remain in the business because they truly have a passion for what they are doing, not because they are making a lot of money.

Which photography format do you use?
I shoot all digital.

Will my photos be available online?
Each wedding includes online proofing and ordering in a private gallery. When you share the gallery with friends and family, they can order prints directly through me.

How can I reserve my wedding date?
To maintain a high level of attention and quality, I photograph a select number of weddings and events per year. All dates are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. No date is saved until I receive a signed contract and 25% retainer. The balance is due no less than 30 days before the event date.

Can I have bridal portraits?
I love bridal sessions. Rather than traditional, studio portraits, I offer fun, creative sessions on location. The images resemble fashion or bridal magazine shots more than typical pose-and-smile pictures. I suggest scheduling your session after the wedding so that there is less worry about damaging the dress and the groom can be included.

Will I receive an album and prints?
Rather than choose your wedding album or the size and number of prints for you, you design your own package and include prints, files, or an album of your choice.

Are you available to travel?
I am available to travel worldwide and often shoot weddings outside of Knoxville. Chattanooga, Nashville, Birmingham, Huntsville, and the Smoky Mountains are common locations for me. I also offer special rates for destination weddings.

When will I receive my pictures?

Proofs are usually available for viewing online within 3-4 weeks, but capturing great images is only the first step. My photography takes those pictures a step further and employs artistic enhancement techniques to create your distinct image collection. Each print or file ordered will be edited, sized, and sharpened individually. Because editing the photos can be a labor-intensive process, print and DVD orders generally require 4-5 weeks to process.

Can we meet you before the wedding?
Absolutely. At a pre-wedding consultation, we can go over the wedding schedule and discuss your expectations and vision for your wedding day.

What about an engagement session?
Booking an engagement session is a great way for a couple to become familiar with my shooting style. Especially with grooms who become nervous in front of the camera, an engagement session can make the wedding day more comfortable and enjoyable. The sessions, which typically last 1-2 hours, are done at a location of your choice.

What is a "boudoir session"?
Boudoir sessions are an intimate, personal opportunity to create artistic portraits utilizing your wedding lingerie, veil, garter, or other outfits. Your photos are kept confidential and are only shown to you. As a wedding or honeymoon gift, brides may choose to surprise their new husbands with a small coffee table book or prints from the session.

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On Location, Paris, France

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mondays aren't usually very exciting so I thought I'd dig up some photos to share. These were taken a few years ago on a trip to Paris. If you've never been, you owe it to yourself to find a way. There's so much to do and see. It's definitely one of my favorite places on Earth.

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris

Monday in Paris


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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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