When To Send Out Christmas Cards?

Now before you ridicule me for bringing up a Christmas topic over a month before Halloween, hear me out.

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When Should You Mail Out Your Christmas Cards?

Let's say you want to send out Christmas cards this year to show off a new addition to your family. You want your friends and family to have enough time to enjoy your awesome Christmas card before the holiday frenzy begins. Should be simple, right?

2-3 weeks before Christmas should give you enough time so that they are not too early or too late. Be sure to finalize your mailing list to avoid any confusion when stuffing envelopes.

When Should You Order Your Christmas Cards?

Now that you know you want to mail out your Christmas Cards in the first week of December, how soon in advance should you order them - assuming you are using an online printing service for convenience.

If you want to avoid rush shipping costs and potential delays, give yourself 2-4 weeks to order your Christmas cards. Remember we are living in Hawaiʻi (if you are reading this from the Aloha State) so shipping costs will be a little higher and time-frames will be a little longer. To be safe let's plan to order our Christmas cards in the first week of November. 

What About That Family Photo?

You could thumb through your phone's photo gallery for the one photo where everyone is in it, the kids are all smiling, and your arm is not blocking half of the foreground. I have done this before and I swear finding Waldo was so much easier.

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What about getting that family photo taken professionally

Find that perfect spot with everyone dressed appropriately and voila - a beautiful photo you can be proud to share with your family. But how soon should you schedule your next family photoshoot now that we know we want to have the finished photo ready to print by the first week of November. Photographs are usually ready for you within the week of your photoshoot session. You will want to give yourself time to choose the best photo and prep your Christmas card design. So it looks like October is the best month to schedule your next family photo session.

Now talking about family Christmas photos in September and October doesn't seem to weird. Wow that crept up on us rather quickly.

To Summarize

Send out your Christmas cards in the first week of December - 2-3 weeks before Christmas

Order your Christmas cards in the first week of November - 2-4 weeks before you want to mail them

Schedule your Family Christmas photo session in the month of October

If you follow the tips above, you can reduce some of the stress that comes along with sending your Christmas cards and move on to your next holiday season project with ease. So let's schedule your next family photo session. You can find more details on our family portrait offerings, here or if you are ready to go, book your next session with us now.

Happy Holidays (that did seem a bit weird to type in September)

Photographers, Can You have Too Many?

When meeting with couples, I am often asked if it is necessary to include a "second shooter" or additional cameramen. I understand their motives when asking this question - the cost of a wedding is getting more and more expensive these days. So I wanted to explore the benefits to having a second photographer and any upsides to maybe skipping on one.

"I'm getting ready at two locations"

You will want to get pictures of everyone getting ready, and one photographer can only be in one location at a time. Odds are you are going to miss something. With two photographers, you can ensure that a camera is there to capture all the details.

"We are expecting over 200 guests"

Well in this case wouldn't an extra photographer help you capture all of your guests. Actually, when was the last time you looked through wedding photos from a friend's wedding and saw a picture of every guest in attendance.

"We are not going to see each other until I am walking down the aisle at our wedding ceremony"

The first time you see each other on your wedding day is an important moment. You'll want to have photos of your walking down the aisle, the look of anticipation on your face, the joy in your eyes. You may also want to have photos of your fiance as you are walking down the aisle, his reaction and all the emotions on his face. In every moment of your wedding day, many things are happening simultaneously and you will not want to miss any of it.

There are many occasions when a second shooter will be very important. But if budget is the primary reason you are looking to cut out the second shooter, then maybe consider reassessing your wedding photography needs. Some brides have opted to "hack" their wedding day by combining key moments so that they get away with one photographer. Other brides have planned their entire wedding reception around the fact that they are paying for only 6 hours of photography coverage.

In our opinion, a second photographer is very important. If budget is an issue, then there are other ways that we can work within your budget and timeline of your dream wedding to ensure that we capture every moment. 

Choosing the Right Photographer, part 3

RIGHTS and PRINTING 

Most wedding photography contracts will stipulate who owns the rights to the photographs. In most cases, the wedding photographer owns the full rights to all of the photographs and will be able to produce any prints and albums you want. This means that any images you also share digitally fall under this policy. In some cases you will only be able to share watermarked images or with proper credits. You will need to negotiate a release of rights for your photographs if you will want to print them on your own or through another source. 

PRODUCTION

After your wedding date, you will want to see the photographs immediately. Bear in mind that it usually takes a month to get all of your proofs back. There are a lot of images and most wedding photographers will spend up to 40 hours a wedding editing, color correcting and making any necessary adjustments. Depending on how busy your photographer is, this process might take longer than others.

Be sure to discuss with your wedding photographer how you will receive your photographs after the wedding. How many images should you expect? Will they be edited proofs? Will you be able to share them through social media? Who will retain the rights to the photographs? How long will it take for prints and albums to be made? Figuring out these details before the wedding will allow your wedding photographer to work smoothly and efficiently, and in the end will get you your beloved wedding photographs sooner. 

Choosing the Right Photographer, part 2

REVIEW THEIR WORK

You may have heard it before, and there is truth to this piece of advice, ask to see a full wedding album.

Your decision to hire your wedding photographer should not be based upon a couple photographs that you fell in love with. Photographers will always put their best foot forward and with good reason. However, you don't want to hire a wedding photographer based on a select few shots, you want a wedding photographer that is well-rounded. And a full wedding album will give you that perspective.

It will also help to see photographs from weddings at similar locations to your wedding venue. This will give you better insight as to the wedding photographers abilities in specific conditions. If you are having an outdoor wedding, take a look at photographs where the photographer utilized natural lighting. If you are saying "I do" in a large chapel, take a look at some indoor wedding shots, maybe some with up-lighting. This will help you to see how your wedding photographer will be able to work with you and your unique wedding.

COMPARE SERVICES

Many photographers will offer set packages for you to choose from. This may be helpful if you have no idea what you might want from your wedding photographer. If you do know what you want, and may be very specific in your needs for your wedding photography, it may be beneficial to find a wedding photographer who will be able to cater to your needs. 

Generally, wedding photography works on a standard of coverage hours. You will want to ensure that your photographer is available for your wedding during the times that you want them. Most weddings are covered from the getting ready stages, through the ceremony and even into the reception. Ask questions about what your wedding photographer offers as this will help you decide on what you want for your wedding.

You may even want to consider additional photoshoots before your actual wedding date. Engagement shoots are very popular for multiple reasons. Aside from the obvious reason of having photos of yourself while being engaged, it offers a great opportunity to get used to your photographer. Most people are camera-shy. It is a natural tendency when asked to pose in front of a camera. An engagement shoot allows you to get used to posing with your partner in front of a camera. Think of it as a practice run - because when the big day comes, there are no re-shoots. You will want to be sure you are comfortable with a photographer and vice versa. 

Choosing the Right Photographer, part 1

With the "wedding season" approaching rapidly, I am reminded of the joys and stress of wedding planning. Although my role was more of a support person and ideas generator, I am very aware of everything that went into planning our wedding about 4 years ago.

Unlike other vendors you would decide upon for your wedding, photography and videography aren't tangible purchases - at first. A lot of what you get from a wedding photographer and videographer is obtained after the fact. With that being said, there are a number of other characteristics that you might consider when deliberating over your right wedding photographer

I've narrowed it down in this three-part blog, and have laid it out in detail, all from my personal experience. Hopefully this can help to remove the shroud of uncertainty in choosing a wedding photographer, and at least make this step in wedding planning a lot easier.

PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLE

A lot of photographers these days will define themselves as their style of photography. This can help you because a lot can be said about a photographer by the style in which they choose. I found this fun infographic, courtesy of Simply Bridal, defining wedding photography style into three categories: photojournalism, classic and artistic. Through the humorous approach, there is some truth to these photo style definitions. 

PHOTOJOURNALISM

This style can be likened to a documentary. Photographs are taken in the moment, rarely is any photo staged. The photographs are taken in a way that will retell the story. Key characteristics of a photojournalistic approach is that moments are often spontaneous and candid. Photographs might include scenes of your wedding venue with guests at the bar, family members dancing at the reception, conversations at during dinner and laughing. 

CLASSIC

Think traditional, posed portraiture. Although you might be thinking of your parents wedding album or even your high school prom portraits, there is still a lot of room for creativity through this style. Photographs of this nature are generally posed in traditional settings, while other photographers will take creative liberties to find dramatic scenes staging beautiful bride and groom photographs.

ARTISTIC

While most of the typical shots are still covered through this style of photography, the creativity is noticed by the approach and angle at which the shot was taken. Rather than a head-on shot of the couple at the altar, you might have an over-the-shoulder shot from the groomsman's perspective. This style is marked by an out-of-the-box thinking, with dramatic angles and unconventional framing to create the photograph.

Understanding these styles will help you to discover what you want in a wedding photographer. Although many photographers will blend styles and utilize multiple styles during a wedding, you will want to do your homework. Often times a photographer will default to what they are best at, and you will want to find a photographer that can focus on what you want out of your wedding photography.

RESEARCH

As with any business today, there are numerous resources available for customer/client reviews. When I'm travelling and I need to find a great place to eat, I will usually default to what I know or look into social media platforms with customer reviews and ratings (ie. Yelp, Foursquare). Almost every time I am pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the reviews and walk away feeling like a winner.

The same thing goes for wedding photography. Do your homework. Photographers are often listed on numerous sites, where customers have the ability to leave a review for them. Read the reviews. 

Visit their website. Often times the design and style of a website will clue you in to their artistic style. Check out their weddings that they've shot. Photographers will always put their best foot forward, so take a look at their style, this can give you a better picture if they will be the best fit for you and your wedding.

MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Choosing a wedding photographer should not be done based on the images alone. Your wedding photographer will be alongside you throughout one of the biggest days of your life, so you will want to meet them in person.

Key things to bring to a meeting with a potential wedding photographer include - wedding date, venue location and details, wedding style and potential style you desire from your photos. Ask questions, and get to know your wedding photographer. Are they confident enough to present their suggestions clearly? A professional photographer needs to be bold enough to get the right shot while remaining tactful without overtaking the moment. You need to be comfortable with your photographer as they will be shadowing you throughout the day. The more comfortable you are with them, the better your photographs will turn out after your wedding. 

How to Build the Perfect Photo Album

Don't let your photos sit on a hard drive or buried somewhere on your desktop. Spend a little time planning to create your next family heirloom. Photo albums can be a very daunting task. But with the right help and a little bit of planning, you will have a beautiful album that tells a wonderful story.

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Where do I start?

You may be tempted to start shuffling through your proofs or scrolling through your image gallery. Take your time looking through your photos. It can be overwhelming, but it should also be an enjoyable time.

As you are looking through your photos, take note of the ones that immediately stand out to you. Trust your instinct. Just pick your favorites. Don't worry about categorizing them or dividing up which ones will end up on which page. Just remember that you will eventually have about 50-60 photos in your finished album.

What type of photo album should I get?

With the many options on the market, your first task will be to decide upon the style of photo album. Traditional matted albums are usually bound like a book. The photos are matted on each page with the edges of the photos hidden by the mattes - similar to a framed photo. These traditional albums can have various styles of covers including leather, canvas, or other natural materials. These are very durable and usually last a very long time.

Custom-bound albums are another option for displaying your photos. Often very expensive, these albums have photos mounted directly onto the pages. Due to the nature of their construction, these albums are often delicate and require a slipcase or protective sleeves.

Finally the increasingly popular option prints and feels much like a coffee-table book. Endlessly customizable, these photo albums are printed on a press with the photos printed on the pages like a magazine. The quality of your photos are completely dependent on the quality of the paper of choice.

How do I design my photo album?

Once you have picked out your favorite photos and decided upon the style of photo album, the next step is to organize the photos. Your photo album should read like a book. Each photo should be able to tell a story. Make sure that every important detail is included in your photo selection. Organizing the photos onto each page is important. Remember to balance the style of photographs.

Once you have a good idea of which photos you want to have on each page, step back and look at each page as a part of the whole photo album. Look at the way each photo on the page leads into the next. Spending time to create these meaningful layouts will add a lot of depth to the photo album.

In the day-and-age of DIY projects and Pinterest tutorials, don't feel like you need to go at this alone. Work with your photographer to produce your photo album. You don't want to make simple mistake of printing pixelated images or skewed layouts. The photo album should be something that you are proud to showoff. Remember you are creating your family heirloom to last for generations to come.