Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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10 Tips for Culling and Processing Images with Lighroom


adobe lightroom digital editing software

Working as a professional wedding photographer is very demanding.

Not only a wedding day can last up to 12-14 hours and requires lots of energy and stamina but post-processing the images can take as much as four times the time if takes to capture the images.

It is not unusual a wedding photographer to capture up to 2,000 to 4,000 images on a wedding day.  All the images then have to be downloaded, cataloged into Lightroom or other image editing software, culled and edited.

The culling part is the one which I found to be about 25% of the time required and the one which wedding photographers dread the most. Over the years I perfected the ways to make this process easier and speedier by using few simple techniques.

In this article, I would like to share some of these techniques and methodology.  The tips are generic and not only wedding photography related. I also use them for my portraiture, landscape and wildlife photography images. The techniques are also strictly Lightroom related although there are many more time saving ideas one can use.

I hope to cover these into some of my next blog articles. So let’s start reviewing the top 10 tips for culling and processing images in Lightroom.

 

1. Establish Rating Methodology

This is the most important time saver you can apply to your post-processing workflow as a wedding photographer.

Having a structured and consistent way to sort through the images and organize them quickly would save you lots of time and efforts. The idea is to cull and rank images only once and then work with the different buckets of images you already ranked. Doing multiple passes through the images is a time drain and can quickly increase your work backlog.

So come up with a ranking on your won, or use the one below and while culling the images in Lightroom. The ranking includes assigning number of stars ( from 1 to 5) and then grouping and editing images based on their rating.

Assigning a rating is as easy as pressing the number corresponding to the number of starts you want to assign to an image. Them use the library filter (Ctrl + L) to filter only the images you need to work on next. Here is a ranking which has been working for me:

0 (no stars): throw away image

1 (one star): keep for later use

2 (two stars): deliver to client as part of the final package

3 (three stars): deliver to client and also use for video slideshow and blog (Example: http://www.trifonanguelov.com/Featured-Clients/Weddings)

4 (four stars): use for personal use (tutorials, composites, etc)

5 (five stars): deliver to client and perfect the editing for adding to portfolio

You can also mark the image as reject by pressing “X” button at any time while in Library mode. Then use “Ctrl + Backspace” to delete all rejected images in bulk

Related: How to Clean up Lightroom Catalog

 

2. Compare Picks

When trying to decide between multiple similar images and pick one final, it is very helpful to see them side by side. The “Shift + N” shortcut allows you to do that.

Here is how to use it:

  • Select all images in Library mode (click on the first image, hold “Shift” and click on the last image if in sequence. If not, hold down “Ctrl” and click on any images you want to add to the selection)
  • Press “Shift +N” and you will you will open Lightroom secondary display with the selected images
  • Scroll and pick the best one, rate it and mark for deletion the rest

The key is to let go off your desire of keep every image just because you might like it or need it later. If you don’t like it in the first place and you already have the best image identified, forget about the rest. Pick the best and move on. Your time is valuable and there is a 99% chance you will never have the time to go back and look at this “may be” images.

 

3. Make use of Keywords

Lightroom allows you to add keywords to images so you can later search for them easily.

For example, if you are writing a blog about wedding at Corinthian Grand Hall in San Jose, add “corinthian”, “san jose” and “wedding” into the images. You can later pull all related images and easily pick the images for your blog. Or to send to a potential bride as an example for a wedding you photographed there.

And here is an easy way to find out which images not yet have keywords. In Library mode, open the “Collections” drop-down menu and click on “Without Keywords” menu option. You will load all images without keyword. Go through them and add keywords.

Lightroom Tags

 

4. Backup your RAW Files

This one doesn’t actually speed up your post-processing but it is a good practice to follow.

During import, you have an option to copy the RAW files to secondary hard drive for backup purposes. I use a portable WD Elements external hard drive to copy all my RAW files during download. If anything happens to my DNG files or computer storage arrays, there is always a RAW file copy to start all over. As a wedding photographer, you cannot afford to lose any RAW file for your clients.

And with storage cost so low nowadays, the effort to have a backup compared to the time and cost it might take to recover failed disk, is well worth your time.

 

5. Convert to DNG format

DNG is a digital file format by Adobe which reduces the size of the camera manufacturer’s RAW files and saves you space. The savings come from reducing the metadata stored with the raw images, metadata which most photographers never need or use. The savings add up and you can use your disk arrays to store more images.

To select DNG as file format, press “Shift + Ctrl + I” to open the Import screen and click on the “Copy as DNG” link on the top of the screen. Lightroom would copy the camera manufacturer’s RAW files into your hard drives first, then would convert them to DNG once the copy is over. The good thing is that while the RAW file to DNG conversion is happening

 

Lightroom import

 

6. Learn Lightroom Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are great time saver for busy wedding photographers. You can save lots of time by memorizing the most frequently used shortcuts for your post-processing workflow.  There are so many Lightroom keyboard shortcuts, but here are few which I use frequently and help me speed up my processing time:

For rating images use: 1-5 buttons to assign stars to your images

For importing images use: Shift + Ctrl + I

For marking image for deletion and moving to the next image: Shift + X

For deleting all images marked for deletion: Backspace

For removing all flags from an image: Shift +U

For turning library filters on and off: Ctrl +L

For displaying image in full screen mode: F

For creating virtual copy of an image: Ctrl + ‘

 

7. Clean Up the Clutter

Modern DSLR cameras capture digital images in high resolution and file sizes for RAW files can exceed 20 MB each. Overtime this adds up to lots of storage required to store the digital images.

It is not only a good practice but also a cost saving to delete all the images you don’t need or already delivered to your clients and backed up. Here are few simple steps to help you get rid of unwanted images in Lightroom:

Ctrl +L (enable filters)

Go to Library -> Rating and select “None” and “Only”

Select all images (click on the first one), hold Shift and click on the last image

Right Click and remove from Disk images

Remove all images marked for deletion:

Lightroom Files deletion

Press: Ctrl + Backspace . Choose “Delete from Disk”.

If you choose “Remove” Lightroom would only remove the image metadata from its catalog but would leave the digital file on disk. Overtime this would cause orphant files and disk space waste.

Related: How to Audit and Remove Orphan Digital Files

 

8. Create Smaller Catalogs

Larger Lightroom catalogs tend to slow down the startup time and also pose a greater risk when becoming corrupted. A good rule on thumb is to split your catalogs into smaller catalogs and don’t end up with one huge catalog. Some photographers create catalog for each new client, but frankly this might be way too much overhead. 

A better approach might be not to let your catalog grow with more than 12,000 files. As you deliver the images to your clients, backup the RAW files as catalog or simply export the final images you already delivered on DVD or cloud storage and keep the RAW files you plan to later add to your portfolio. This way you can always create another DVD or USB flash drive for your clients and also have the highest quality digital image to create portfolio images.

 

Conclusion:

Wedding photography business it time intensive and laborious process. Optimizing your digital editing workflow and using time savings strategies would help you spend more time capturing amazing images and less time processing them. 

It doesn’t take much to do that and with employing the techniques listed above you can be more efficient and reduce the time required for editing of your wedding images.

I hope you found this article useful. If so, feel free to share with anyone who is planning to get into the wedding photography or would be interested. The wedding photographer’s community would be stronger and more successful if everyone helps the others to become better photographers.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author and review his portfolio on his website. For complete list of services and to book your wedding, visit his Wedding Packages page.

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How To Start Your Own Wedding Photography Blog


Blogging Made Easy

Blogging Made Easy

Nowadays, many photographers apart from sharing their photos on their websites, social media and online portfolios, at some point decide to start and publish their own blogs. The reason is that although a picture is worth a thousand words, there is nothing more useful for SEO (search engine optimization) than a well written and compelling text.

The search engines as Google, Bing and Yahoo, are constantly crawling and indexing the web for new and fresh content. The more popular the new content is, the higher is ranked in the search results compared to the already existing and indexed content. It’s a constant and never ending competition to stay relevant and rank higher.

And here where a wedding or portrait photography blog can help. So how one starts about setting and maintaining their own photography blog?

As everyone else, I also have started and maintaining my own blog in addition to my Wedding Photography Website and Portfolio. Here are top 8 tips that can help you start your own photography blog.

1. Have a Purpose:

Giving your potential readers a purpose to spend time reading your blog is a must. Without any appealing content or anything that can benefit your readers, your blog will wilt quickly. You would also have to decide on how you are going to engage and grow your users. Are you going to share your images and invite feedback? Or you are going to describe and share your photography techniques and skills? Or share information on particular photography equipment (camera body, lenses, flashes, etc)?

Whatever the purpose of your blog is going to be, be consistent.

2. Target Your Audience:

This is the most important decision you need to make and it is the one that I see many bloggers fail to establish. Decide who is your reader: potential clients, fellow photographers, everyone else, your family and friends?

If you are writing to acquire new clients, then you might want to display your work, post promotions and events they can take advantage of. Posting complicated information about photography jargon (link) or techniques would not appeal to your clients. Neither, discussions about your pricing strategy or articles about how to increase your profit as a photographer.

Writing for fellow photographers would require you to get specific into the technical information, post information that they cannot easily find somewhere else (why otherwise they will come and read your blog, anyway?). And for family and friends, anything they can relate to would be a good start.

Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

3. Pick Blogging Platform:

Blogging is not necessarily a new way to reach a vast audience. And as such there are so many blogging platforms to pick from: WordPress, Blogger, Thumbr, etc . Each blogging software would have their templates, look and feel which you might or might not like, so take your time. Take them for a test drive before you commit to adding content. Once you start blogging, it is usually very hard to move to another platform.

Although all blogging platforms serve the same purpose: to enable you to communicate your ideas and content to everyone, not all are created equal. Look for blogging platform which is SEO optimized or can be SEO optimized. You need to make it easy for Google, Bing and Yahoo to index and display a link to your blog in their search engines. After all, if no one finds and reads your blog, what is the whole purpose of it. Plenty of templates (both free and paid) is also good to have. And lastly, look for modern features as social networking integration, Google Analytics integration, video (YouTube, Vimeo) support, etc.

4. Focus Your Energy:

Many successful blogs that have loyal and sizable user base, are indeed addressing a very specific topic or area of interest. For example, it would be hard for you to come up with unique and interesting content for the entire photography field, but what about destination wedding photography tips for Bora Bora? How many other destination wedding photographers would be blogging about Bora Bora compared to wedding photography in general.

Being unique and focusing your energy would not only draw a loyal and dedicated readers, but would also enable you to write “deeper” and more insightful content. Your readers would come back if they find the content they like and need. Trying to be the “jack of all trades” would not get you far.

5. Be Productive:

After you selected your blogging platform, don’t just stop there. There are many useful and free tools to help you be more productive in publishing your blogs. The most important thing to do after you write your blog article is to proofread it for grammar and spelling errors. There are few great online tools to help you:

If you prefer to have a real person do the proof reading, one option is to head to Fiverr. For $10 or less, there is an army of freelancers who do great job on polishing and getting your article ready for publishing.

And if you care about higher search ranking for your blog, consider writing at least 650 characters blogs. To help you measure this, here is a free online tool for you: Word Counter

Romantic Bridal Portrait from Memorial Church Wedding in Stanford, CA

Romantic Bridal Portrait from Memorial Church Wedding in Stanford, CA

6. Make It Engaging:

One way to keep your readers engaged on your site is to add images to your blogs. This makes your blog easier to read as the reader’s eyes are”resting” on the images instead of getting tired of scrolling through the lines of text. The images also add context to your content and are more likely to invoke reaction by your readers, and therefore make them remember your blog or topic.

You can take and share your own images (why not show the World what amazing photographer you are) for your blog. This is not only adding context to your blog, but would also keep you motivated to go out and capture the images for your next blog article.  Lastly you will have the platform to display and share your images with your readers.

If you don’t have the time to capture and process your own images, there is a plethora of royalty free images online. Here is one library in case you need it: Free Digital Photos

7. Be Consistent:

Many photographers start their own blogs only to give up on the idea within 5-6 months. Actually, stale blog can do more harm than benefit. Visitors and past readers would wonder if you no longer dedicate time and energy to photography. Have you not be keeping with your craft and don’t have anything new to share?

So, if you are serious about starting a blog, then create a blogging schedule and stick with it. Posting regularly not only would keep your readers engaged, but would also help your SEO. Google and the rest of the search engines love fresh content worth adding to their indexes. It is better to post short articles (350 words) frequently (once or twice per week) rather than once a month or week with 600 words or more (guilty on this one).

8. Make It Interesting and Unique:

When it comes to blogs, less is more. Quality wins over quality.

Instead of churning mediocre blog articles four or five times per week, opt for once or twice per week, quality and informative content. You can lose readers if you keep spamming them with low quality, “me too” rehashed content. No body has the time to read the same ideas in different words.

So keep it interesting and original. Come up with topics that others care about and are looking to learn more about it.

Christian Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

Christian Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

9. Let Others Know:

Lastly, once you have a blog and started to blog regularly, the last step is to let others know about it.

Get the word out. Share it with your friends, post links to your blog online on Twitter, Facebook, forums. What good is a blog if no one knows about it and reads it. And if you know your readers are not online at 10pm, don’t post at that time. You can always save your finished blog and post it when your readers are online and can see it.

Conclusion:

Blogging is a great way for every photographer to share its vision, images and knowledge with others. It is a way to let others know more about you and your passion, something that your images cannot always do. Having a blog would not only make you more visible online, but could also benefit your photography business.

Brides and grooms are looking for wedding photographers online, so giving them a reason to find you and read your useful content, is yet another way to grow your business. I hope these tips would help you to start your own blog. Would love to hear your feedback and comments in the section below.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days.

To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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Instagram – Ditching The Square Only Format


Instagram Logo

Instagram Logo

Ask any photographer or simply anyone who has used Instagram, about the what defines the popular mobile photo sharing app, and the answer without a doubt would be: the square photo format. In the very early days when Instagram started, one can share only square format pictures.

It was a blessing and a curse. Blessing, because it was unique. It also required the photographer to compose and be cognizant of how the image would be cropped into a square before posting it. It was a fresh stream of creativity, which I frankly liked very much.

And it was a curse, because images taken with a DSLR or not composed with square format in mind, would had to be cropped which sometimes didn’t give the best results. Later apps resolved this by wrapping either landscape or portrait images into a square (although the images were smaller in order to fit the format).

This was until today. Instagram announced on their blog that landscape and portrait images would be supported natively. No more cropping or wrapping. Instagram would post the images and would adjust the post to display the entire image without cropping.

More into the original post.

So, I can only see how Instagram adoption and use would increase because of this new feature. There is no doubt, that Instagram’s new owner: Facebook is looking for ways to grow the user base and user engagement in order to be able to monetize it later. Good thing or bad thing? Share your comments or feedback below.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days.

To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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My New Wedding Photography Account on Instagram


Instagram Logo

Instagram Logo

I finally did it. After few years of posting photos on my personal Instagram account, I have now created new wedding and portrait related photography account.

Follow me and you will not miss a single photo I will share from my recent weddings, engagement and portrait sessions: Trifon Anguelov Photography on Instagram

I have to admit that this was a big chance for me. I truly believe in the 100% smartphone images being posted on Instagram. And have been following this religiously (still will follow) in my personal Instagram account.

Being constrained by the square photo format and the smartphone lens, forces one to think differently and get creative. What is possible with a DSLR camera and wide variety of lenses with various apertures and field of views, it not available on a smartphone. And I liked it. I think it has helped me to become a better photographer.

Related: 9 Tips For Becoming a Successful Photographer

So what made me start posting DSLR images on Instagram in my wedding photography account? Well, few reasons:

  • the increasing adoption of Instagram and the reach which it provides
  • the decreasing reach of Facebook, especially for business pages and the news feed changes Facebook has been making lately
  • the simplicity of posting and sharing images on Instagram

No question everyone gets tired of even the most loved and used technology after a while, and after being on Facebook for a while I believe this is now the case. Especially, after all the videos of cats or ripped off from YouTube video shares started. But let’s not get grumpy and gloomy. It is simply time to try something new.

The most compelling reason to decrease presence on Facebook and shift more attention to Instagram, has been the changes in the way how Facebook now controls (or shall I say restricts) how the news feeds are distributed and seen by friends. True, Facebook developers made sure that spam if filtered, but soon enough the reach was curtailed (in the name of “user experience , aka: How To Make More Money For Shareholders and advertising profit), which means all the images and posts which previously were getting lots of views now are diminished to few views per day (if one is lucky and times the posts correctly).

If you have missed this and the uproar from fellow photographers on how Facebook news feed algorithm change has affected their business, feel free to read this recent FStoppers Story.

So. The decision has been made. I will be spending more time on Instagram, sharing my photos and work, so be sure to follow me. I will still be on Facebook as my workflow is optimized to share images on multiple social networks, so nothing to worry. If you like Facebook and you already follow Trifon Anguelov Photography on Facebook, you will still get updates on my latest projects.

Conclusion:

For a photographer, there is never enough exposure or limited number of platforms to share its work. And nothing is written in stone or confined into a walled garden. As world around us evolves, so we too.

I am planning to share some tips on how to setup, use and utilize Instagram for Photographers, so subscribe to my blog and follow for updates. I am sure my learnings and failures would help you in one way or another.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days.

To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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9 Tips For Becoming a Successful Photographer


Wedding decorations at backyard DIY wedding in Livermore, CA

Wedding decorations at backyard DIY wedding in Livermore, CA

Becoming a successful photographer is not easy. It is a long journey and never ending preparation to meet opportunities.

In my mind, being a successful photographer requires three major qualities:

   – ability to master the business side of photography profession: marketing, sales, general administration

   – ability to master the photography craft: gear, light, composition, post-processing

   – mental ability to handle the stress and maintain a positive attitude while dealing with clients

All three qualities are broad topics to cover in a single blog, so I will only focus on the third one: the mental ability to handle stress and maintain a positive attitude while dealing with clients. I am planning to cover the other two major qualities into separate blog articles.

So why is important for a photographer to maintain a positive attitude and be prepared mentally? Because this is the “glue” which binds the technical aspect (gear, light, post-processing) and the business aspect. It can make or break a business as neither one of the three qualities can be a winning one by itself.

So now that we know the “What” and “Why”, let’s explore the “How’. Here are 9 tips on how to prepare mentally for being a successful photographer:

1. Be Humble:

The truth is that photographers are not born overnight. It requires lots of efforts and dedication to become good at photographing subjects or objects. Which means that when you first start, you will be nowhere near where the rest of the photographers you admire or strive to be like are.

You will also make lots of mistakes and fail many times while learning. What is important is to accept that you will fail to be correct or do things as you planned to, and accept that you will have to work harder to get better. The worst disservice you can do for yourself is to believe that you can become very successful photographer overnight, that you will make no mistakes and that everything will happen to you from the very first try.

Being humble, admitting that you would need to get better over time and learning from your mistakes will take help you maintain a positive attitude when everything seems not to be going your way.

Related: Top 10 Mistakes Every Photographer Should Avoid

2. Don’t Get Defensive:

Getting defensive at the first sign or criticism or failure will destroy you mentally. Instead of seeing each obstacle or critical comment, as a “plot” to destroy your business or threat everyone else as they are trying to steal or harm your business, see it as an opportunity to improve your business and grow like a photographer.

For example: when someone at a wedding takes photos of the same poses you worked so hard to direct and setup, and then posts them before you on social media, instead of attacking this person and trying to remove the images, post your better and amazing images so others can see how much better photographer you are. Let you craft speak for itself instead of wasting energy to correct every single wrong that would happen to you.

Another example: Instead of trying to go after the bride and wave your photography contract in retaliation, after she asked someone to edit your images and ordered a big canvas from the edited pictures, analyze why it this happening.

Were your images not up to par with her expectations so additional editing was required or was something which the bride asked you to do and you didn’t deliver on it? Why there is a disconnect between your service and her expectations? What you can do next time to prevent this type of situation?

It is easy to get defensive and miss the opportunity to learn from the situation and improve your skills and business.

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

 

3. Be Prepared For The Unexpected:

There are two types of photographers. Those who hate to plan and use their imagination and skills to get the best of the light conditions and setup they have. And others who plan and research everything to the smallest detail before even go out and try to take a picture.

If you are the second type, then you need to accept that your plan would not always work. For many reasons, but the important part is not to try to desperately follow the plan even when is obvious that it was a bad plan in the first place. Instead, try to access and use the current light and set up to make the best out of it. Forget about your preconceived ideas.

Adjust and you will be amazed how differently your images would be when you allow yourself to see the moments, instead of planning them ahead. Life happens as they say.

4. Accept That You Will Be Rejected Sometimes:

No one books every single client they pitch an offer to. The same as not everyone who walks into a department store, always buys something from there.

Photography is a subjective and discretionary service. Different clients would have different tastes and would respond differently to different photography styles. Expecting that every client would book you and becoming dissatisfied when it doesn’t happen, it will destroy your self confidence as a photographer and long term prospects of becoming successful.

The best you can do, is to reach out to the client who didn’t book you and try to find out if there was anything you could have done to win the business. Or find out what the photographer who won the business did differently. May be there is something you shall consider.

Related: The Single Worst Mistake a Photographer Can Make

5. Stick With Your Business Plan:

Low paying jobs just take your focus away from becoming successful. You need to build and grow “YOUR” business not someone else business. Don’t chase any client at any price just to get some income while undermining your long term success. It will derail you from your path to becoming a successful plus would confuse your clients with pricing all over the place.

Why the friends of the clients you gave a big discount to, cannot get the same price? And did you put half efforts into their session for half the price you charged them? I know it is tempting to do post-processing or second shoot for other photographers, and that the extra money can help to get through a slow season. But if the time you are going to spend on it is giving you such a low rate of return compared to promoting your business and getting clients, why do it in the first place?

You would be better off to get one client on your own, instead of spending long hours post-processing images. And while second shooting is good to add experience and portfolio images in the very beginning of your career, later when your hourly rate increases, you would need to do lots of second shooter jobs to make up for your pay rate.

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

 

6. Seek and Learn from Constructive Criticism:

The biggest mistake many photographers make when participating in discussions is to take the feedback for their images or craft, personally.

There is a grain of truth in every feedback, so learn how to find it, understand it and tweak your workflow or techniques. When listening to a feedback different that yours, you are gaining insights into how others perceive your images, workflow, business practices. It is true that people can be very opinionated online and you have to put efforts to filter the gold nuggets from the chunks of coal you would get, but don’t blank reject anything which is not praising you and feeding your ego.

Your friends will tell you what you want to hear because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They would like even the most awful images you post because they want to remain your friends. Your clients on the other side are not your friends, although some would later follow you on social media and befriend you. You will be operating a business and in business the one who delivers the best value to its clients becomes successful.

Feel free to follow Trifon Anguelov Photography on Social Media.

So don’t be afraid to seek feedback from different sources and not from your friends or immediate family only. This will help you to realize how to improve and growth. Otherwise, you would be risking to live and feel secure in the friendship’s bubble the friendship and would make you less inclined to look into improvements.

So try to see both sides of the equation. Unless you consider yourself the master of the photography craft already and don’t want to improve at all.

7. Experiment:

We all learn by practicing and by learning from our mistakes. It’s like first learning how to walk or ride a bicycle. One needs to try and learn on its own how to get good at something. There will be many trials and failed attempts before we can master something.

Our brains are designed to store successful patterns only after we experienced the failed ones. So, when on location working with a client, try to first nail down the “must have” shots. Then do a few experiments with a new technique or composition. Have at least one of two new poses or techniques try on each session.

Don’t count them as must have but as a learning opportunity. After you master it, add to the workflow. Then continue… Look for fresh ideas. Try a different technique or perspectives.

Related: So You Bouth a Brand New DSLR and Lenses And Now What?

8. Review Your Work Regularly and Keep Your Blunders:

Keep the bad shots you took and think about why they happened. This is a valuable tool to grow as a photographer. If you don’t do it, you will repeat them again.

You need to learn to avoid them and fix your techniques By keeping your blunders around is also useful to see how you are progressing and growing as a photographer. Over time you should see your images becoming better and better. Look for the errors you did in the past and are they still present in your latest images. Analyze why an image doesn’t look “right” and what is causing it.

How you can make it look better next time? You need to have something to compare to in order to get better. I understand that you might be itching to destroy these “bad” images forever, but keeping and using them to grade your progress would be worth the effort.

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

Elegant Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford University

 

9. Be Part Of The Community:

Participating in different online and in person communities would help you learn and grow faster. The multiplication effect of utilizing everyone else knowledge to grow, is going to allow you to compound your gains and excel faster in the photography business.

Also by simply being on the receiving end and not contributing back with knowledge and experience is not the way how communities thrive and grow. As you learn and receive knowledge from others, so the others and less advanced can learn and grow from your knowledge and insights.

It is easy to ask for help and advice but not taking the time to share and help others grow. But if everyone does that, who is going to bring the latest ideas and information? Sharing and participating by contributing is how the entire photography community can grow and stay healthy.

Conclusion:

There are many successful photographers who worked hard and persistently to master their craft. There are also many who struggle to sustain and grow their businesses. The difference between both is the way how they approach and the decisions they make every single day.

It is important to understand what makes a business a success and how to not only sustain it but also grow it. I hope these 9 tips were helpful to give you some ideas to try on your own.

If you find it useful and interesting, please feel free to share with your friends or fellow photographers by using the share buttons below. We all can and will become better photographers by learning and sharing knowledge with others. If you have any comments, suggestions or feedback, drop me a line in the Comments section.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days. To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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Pakistani (Islamic) Wedding at Santa Clara, CA


What a wedding Daniah and Ali’s Pakistani had few weeks ago in Santa Clara, CA. Both were simply amazing in the pre-wedding session as well during the ceremony and reception. Their wedding story and highlights are also posted on my website: Pakistani (Islamic) Wedding at Santa Clara, CA

It was a pleasure to be around these two so much in love souls. Congratulations on their marriage and I wish them many happy years together! Like a wedding photographer, I cannot be happier and honored to be their photographer. Love is awesome!

Here is a slideshow highlight from their wedding day:

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days.

To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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8 Tips for Photographing Wedding Formals


Bridal Formal Portrait at Rengstorff House, Mountain View, CA

Formal Wedding Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park, mountain View, CA

Anyone who has been on a wedding knows that right after the wedding ceremony, it is time for the wedding formals (or group pictures). And guess what: this is not what everyone is looking for. Including many wedding photographers who actually dread the formals. The reason: Posing and getting everyone ready for these photos is not an easy task.

I have already written a full tutorial on How To Photograph Wedding Formals which I hope contains many of the preparation steps a wedding photographer can consider. This guide has some additional tips and gotchas on how to make the process of taking group pictures easier and less stressful.

These are by no means all the points that a wedding photographer should consider but in my view and the most important and useful I have found to work for me. Feel free to share your comments or feedback in the Comments section below.

So here are 8 tips to help a wedding photographer take the formal photos in less time and with better success.

1. Let Your Clients Pick and Confirm the Shots List:

Many wedding photographers have a list of shots they must take during the formals. In many cases the bride has her own list as well (more on: How To Deal With Bride’s List of Wedding Images). So which one to use?
I have found that letting the bride and groom decide on the images is a great idea. First, they best know the group images they would like to have in their album. And second, letting them pick the group images instead of taking a “cookie cutter” approach is simply a matter of listening to client’s needs. No matter if there are just few or lots more formal images to take. After all, it is their own wedding and they are paying for it.

2. Control Your Own Fate:

Another good idea for the wedding formals is to find and pick the location for the wedding formals instead of relaying on the bride or groom to pick one for you. First, you as a wedding photographer would have more experience and knowledge on which location (background, light, composition) works best. So go ahead and put this knowledge to use rather than having to explain to your clients why the location they picked doesn’t work. It might sound to the couple like you are making an excuses not to shoot at their location.
Second, wedding photographers are paid to guide the clients on what’s best for their pictures. So take charge and be in control. You would have much better light and photos when selecting the formal’s location by yourself.
Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

3. Eliminate Eye Blinks:

When photographing large groups of people, the inevitable happens: Someone would always have their eyes closed or look on the side (away from looking into the camera). Well this makes the whole group photo not as good as when everyone’s eyes are properly aligned towards the direction intended.
So what most wedding photographers do in this case is: taking multiple shots from the same pose.Well, while this is good approach and works, there is a drawback. All these extra images need to be downloaded, reviewed and culled latter which means extra post-processing time. Taking multiple images also drains power from the flashes or strobes batteries (if such are used for the formals), not to mention space on the memory cards and wear the camera shutter.
So what to so? The solution is simple. Get everyone to close their eyes and open them on a count of three. Then take the shot just after counting to three. You will never get closed eyes that way and can quickly go through the group photos in less time and with less effort.

4. Use The Allocated Time Wisely:

One approach many wedding photographers take is to work through a list and sequence of formal shots. This is the most common way because it is easy for the wedding photographer to keep track of the shots that needs and were taken. It’s a shots sequence to works through.
For example many start with bride, groom and both sides of the parents. Then with one side of the parents. Then bring bridesmaids with the bride. Than bridesmaids with the groom, etc. While doing so, they expect the people required for the shot to be available and if not, they wait for them to come over. Well this approach means valuable time is wasted. Waiting on people to show up is the most challenging but if someone is not there.
More efficient approach is to look around and shoot the formal photos with whoever is available. This way no time is wasted to wait for people to show up and while they are coming up to the formal location, photos are still taken. Of course, this requires the wedding photographer to keep track of the shots taken and make sure he or she doesn’t miss any.
One last thing to help you use your time wisely: If you have an assistant, use it to bring guests to the formals. Enlisting random people who have other things to do can slow you down. I you don’t have an assistant, ask in advance for one uncle or aunt from each side of the family to help find and arrange people.
Groom and Groomsmen on Catholic Wedding Ceremony in St. Cecilia Church in San Francisco, CA

Groom and Groomsmen on Catholic Wedding Ceremony in St. Cecilia Church in San Francisco, CA

5. Tripod To The Rescue:

I know. Tripods are just another think to remember to bring, to set up and getting ready to use things but it is very helpful to have one for the formals. Why?
Few reasons:
  • A tripod really helps keep people out of your space.
  • In low light conditions (churches, pass sunset, shady areas) it would allow you to use slower shutter speed with the larger apertures required for the formals (f/5.6 -f/ 8)
 So, if you still don’t have one, consider buying a good quality and solid one. There are so many carbon fiber tripods which might cost you money but would make your formal pictures so much sharper.

6. Stool or Step Ladder:

For working with large groups (30 or more people), what is going to happen is that you will have to arrange them into rows in order to be able to capture them all. The most correct way to arrange such large groups is to put the tallest people in the group in the further away from the camera rows while the not so tall in the front.
However, even with this approach and when there is no way to put each row on a different level (stairs for example), the people in the back rows would always be blocked by the one on the front. One way to deal with this is to bring and use small stool or step-ladder. Bringing your camera and point of view higher would allow you to capture everyone’s face not matter in which rows they are positioned.

7. Use Ultra Wide Lenses:

On a full frame sensor camera And yes, having ultra-wide lenses. For Canon shooter this would mean 16-35mm f/2.8 or 17-40mm f/4 or 14mm f/1.4 . Frame wider and plan to crop later instead of trying to compose very tight in the camera.
The reason is that first you would need to straighten and align the final images so some cropping would be required just to get the image aligned. If you compose too tight, you would have to crop someone’s feet.
Plus on an ultra wide angles there is a distortion at the edges which means, any person who is on the very left of right ride of the frames would have his face and body bloated out and distorted. If you crop wider the last person’s distortion would be less and you can then crop out the excessive space around and have less distortion. Believe me, this makes perfect sense once you known it, but not that obvious at first.

8. Get Your Equipment Ready:

If you would need an artificial lighting as strobes or flashes with diffuser, it is a great idea to get these ready before the formals. Setting up the light stand, mounting the flashes or strobes, putting the diffuser and triggers (testing the triggering is highly recommended) would save you time when the group is ready for pictures. Not to mention that you would look like a pro having everything ready. no body likes to wait for the photographer to tinker with their gear and check things.
Bride & Groom Formal Wedding Photo at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in San Francisco, CA

Bride & Groom Formal Wedding Photo at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in San Francisco, CA

Conclusion:

Group pictures (formals) are required on all weddings nowadays. Preparation is required in order to make the posing and picture-taking process easy and less stressful. The simple tips outlined above and the preparation tutorial are just two of the resources to help the wedding photographers. I hope these are helpful and you found them informative.

Feel free to share with fellow wedding photographers or anyone who can benefit from it. We all can be better photographers and make our clients happier, if we all are better prepared. If you have any other experiences or tips, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author and review his portfolio on his website. For complete list of services and to book your wedding, visit his Wedding Packages page.