Small logo

Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In an effort to help my clients have the best wedding day (and best wedding photographs) possible, I am doing a series of blog posts that contain various tips. If you're the sort that likes to read everything you can about weddings then this is for you. If not then you can skip this and wait for the next photo post. This section applies to the planning stages of the wedding. Feel free to add your own tips in the comments section.

·         Please be conservative when scheduling wedding day activities, and assign a bridesmaid or planner with helping you to run on schedule if needed. I will help clients come up with a tentative timeline in advance. However,  wedding days rarely go as planned.  I am there to document the day as it occurs and am not a stickler for schedules and time tables.


·         Plan to be early. Add some cushion to the time-table “just in case”. Tell the family and wedding party to be at the church at least thirty minutes before they really have to be there, but let them know that the timeline is tentative so they won’t be upset if they have to wait. Having extra time is never a problem.


·        The middle of the afternoon is the absolute worst time for outdoor photographs. Outdoor ceremonies or formal photos should be scheduled with 3 hours of sunrise or sunset.


·         Sunset ceremonies may sound good, but don’t count on them going as planned. Variations in weather and cloud cover could leave you in the dark. It is far better to plan the ceremony 2-3 hours before sunset when there is plenty of time to do the formals in daylight. Then, if there is a nice sunset, the couple can sneak off for a few romantic shots together.


·         Schedule your hair and make-up appointment early in the day and pick a salon that is close by or have them come to you. Plan 1.5-2 hours for your hair and 30-60 minutes for makeup plus any travel time. Travel to the salon in your own car so that you do not have to wait on other friends/family to be ready.


·         Complete the wedding worksheet so that we know in advance which formals should be taken. Plan enough time into the wedding day schedule for the formal portraits that you want. Allow approximately 4 minutes PER formal photo. I will be taking several shots of each pose to ensure a good result.


·         I strongly recommend setting aside 20-30 minutes for portraits of the couple alone. This day is about the two of you, but you will not get those dreamy, romantic shots of just the two of you if you don’t plan it into the schedule. If your timetable will not allow this, seriously consider doing a couple/bridal session at a later date.


·         Arrange flower deliveries to be at least 30 minutes before the photographer’s arrival.


·        While videographers and photographers are both there to capture the day and help you have a wonderful wedding, our individual styles may be in conflict. I prefer to be as unobtrusive as possible and will often shoot from a distance. If your videographer has more of a “breaking news” shooting style in which he circles the couple and likes to get up close and personal, he will often block my shot or be in the background and will have a negative impact on the photographs overall.

·         In the event that you would like to feature some of the photographs from a bridal or engagement session at your wedding, the session must take place no less 6 weeks before the wedding (earlier if you want a photo guestbook). Prints must be ordered no less than 3 weeks before the wedding.


·         Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do all of the planning that you can before your wedding day. Then assign someone else to be the “go to” person in case of problems on the big day and instruct them not to worry you unless absolutely necessary. No, that spot on your dress and the fact that your veil is not perfectly straight will not show in the photos so don’t worry about it.


Small logo

Farragut, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
One problem that I run into over and over again is a misunderstanding of print crop ratios. Last year, I tried to explain this confusing issue in a blog post, and today I want to offer an example. For illustration, I'm using a photo of the lovely Jessica that I just happen to be working on.

All of the files from my camera and, therefore, the photos in the galleries are in a 4x6 ratio. This is obviously a rectangle, but many of the American print sizes are much more square. For example, an 8x10" print is a 4x5 ratio. When someone orders an 8x10 from the gallery, I must crop off part of the image in order to make it fit that size. This doesn't always present a problem, but sometimes it can. In the example below, the first photo is the original 4x6 ratio.

Print Crop Part 2

This second photo is a 4x5 ratio. Compared to the image above, you can see that I have had to crop off most of the bouquet, but this is what must be done to make it fit onto an 8x10 print.

Print Crop Part 2

What if you wanted to keep the bouquet in the shot? Well, you have a few choices.

First you could just order a print size that stays in the 4x6 ratio such as an 8x12 or 16x24. These irregular sizes would require custom framing OR a less expensive option is to have a custom mat cut. For instance you could use the 8x12 with a mat to fit a 11x14 frame.

The easiest option is to do a digital mat. I can keep the entire image and have a black or white border printed around it so that it will fit on a standard size print. For the example below, I used a black border to make the image fit on an 8x10 piece of paper.

Print Crop Part 2

The digital border works well with normal photos. However, if you are ordering a canvas and don't want to lose any of the image then you would want to order a size in the 4x6 ratio. Canvases don't need framing anyway so it isn't a big deal to have an irregular size.

If I get an order for a print that will be affected by a crop, then I will sometimes send an email and ask if the customer prefers to have the photo cropped or to have the border added. Most people prefer the border. In my professional judgment, if the photo is going to be ruined by the crop and result in the loss of important elements such as people or body parts then I will just go ahead and add the border. Although many photos like the one above wouldn't warrant an automatic email or border, they just don't look as good cropped. Just keep this in mind when deciding what size prints to order.
Small logo

Concord, Knoxville, TN

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Categories: ,
I always try to schedule outdoor portrait sessions or wedding photos within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because afternoon sun is just not fun. If you luck out and have clouds then it can be great, but on sunny days it is better to just wait until the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. The light gets warmer (more golden), and you don't get the horrible shadows and squinting that you have in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, wedding schedules aren't always as flexible as we'd like so you have to learn to work with the sun.

On one recent sunny (and ridiculously hot) day, I shot some photos at the park with sisters S&L. We got some keepers, but I also took the opportunity to snap a few shots that show exactly why afternoon sun is not ideal for outdoor photos.

This shot of the ducklings is a good example of one of the problems we face on sunny days. Even when you can find shade, it is often broken up with patches of bright sunlight. While our eyes are able to accurately view a scene like this, the camera can't expose for both the dark shadows and bright highlights. I actually combined two different exposures to get this one that isn't completely over or under exposed.
Fun in the Sun... or not

You can do some cool shots with full sun, but it is really the worst lighting in my opinion for formal portraits. The three shots below are straight from the camera. The first shot is in full sun. If you don't have any shade and have to shoot in these conditions then you would need to use flash to fill in the shadows on the face. Unfortunately, she was wearing white which, as you can see, is way overexposed in the sunlight. Trying to get an even exposure is tricky enough without having to worry about bright white clothing.

The second shot is of her standing in the uneven shade of a tree (notice one patch of sunlight hit her shoulder). I exposed for her which resulted in a blown-out background. She obviously looks the best in this photo, but you lose the beautiful scenery.

I took the third shot exposing for the background, but this obviously leaves our subject in the dark shade. To fix this, I would need to light her with flash or reflector. That scenario would give the most even lighting, and the white shirt wouldn't be as much of a problem.

Fun in the Sun... or not

Flash can help a lot with photos in the sun, but it will have to work very hard and can overheat on a day that's already super hot. To avoid some of those problems on this day, I just tried to shoot with both the girls and the background in the shade. I also used a reflector to help light some of the shadows. We ended up with some nice shots, but if you want to really take advantage of your surroundings and get some great wide shots then it's best to just schedule your outdoor photos for the morning or evening.

Fun in the Sun... or not

Fun in the Sun... or not

L wore a little brown dress that belonged to her grandmother when she was a little girl. I photographed S wearing it when she was 7 as well.

Fun in the Sun... or not

Small logo

Fountain City, Knoxville, TN

Tuesday, April 1, 2008
As mineral makeups become more popular, I find myself spending more and more time touching up skin in photographs. While mineral makeup has many qualities that may make it great for day-to-day wear, some of its ingredients will cause problems in photos. Specifically, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide do not photograph well. These two ingredients are excellent non-chemical sunscreens because they reflect and scatter light. However, their reflective characteristic can leave your skin looking very shimmery and almost shiny in photographs, especially when flash is used. True, some girls want to look glowy, dewy, and luminescent on their wedding day. However, in my opinion, the extra sheen that you get from mineral makeup is just distracting and will make you look like you were sweaty in many of the photographs.

I know that some girls have used mineral makeup on their wedding days and will say that their photos turned out beautiful. Different skin, humidity, lighting etc may affect the outcome, and the shine will not always be obvious. Sometimes only your photographer really knows how your skin looked in the untouched photos. My advice is to avoid the possibility and just avoid these ingredients when you will be in front of the camera.
Small logo

Home, Knoxville, TN

Saturday, February 2, 2008
Categories: ,

I just wanted to remind everyone that I have posted a whole list of ways to prepare for an upcoming portrait session on the blog in the "tips for clients" category. I will be adding to this category periodically, but here are a few more portrait session tips for now.

How to prepare for your photo session...

Practice smiling and posing in front of a mirror. Seriously! If you know how it feels to give a natural, relaxed smile versus a posed, cheesy smile then you're more likely to do it in front of the camera.

Look through magazines for posing ideas. Pay attention to how models pose and practice a posing on your own. Try to memorize a few poses that look good in the mirror.

This is not the time to try out new beauty routines or hair colors/styles. Get a slight trim, touch up your roots, or get a deep conditioning treatment if needed.

Do not wax or shave less than 3 days before your session.

Get a manicure (and pedicure if necessary), but keep your nails natural and inconspicuous.

Stay hydrated, avoid salty foods and alcohol, and get plenty of sleep in the days before the session.

Avoid extra sun in the week before your session. If you already have tan lines then plan outfits accordingly.

Link to blog post

To copy the link to this individual blog post, right-click the link and choose "Copy Shortcut" (IE) or "Copy Link Location" (Firefox).

Thanks For Commenting!

We have received your comment. It will be displayed when it has been approved by Nancy. We unfortunately have to filter comments because of spammers.

Captcha Verification Failed

The reCaptcha verification failed. Please use the  I'm not a robot  to prove that you are a real human.

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.
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007