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Things I learned as a bride: The photography

June 27, 2011

A few months ago, on a sunny spring day in April, I got married. But before we go any further, I want to be clear that this post features photos OF me (and Bobby). Ken Kienow took all of them. So if you’re stopping by for the first time and just want to check out my work, skip this post. But if you’re interested in reading a bit about what it was like for the wedding photographer to be the bride and if you’d like to see some of our own wedding photos, then kick back and carry on.

Being on the other side of the wedding industry was many things. It was fun, frustrating, emotional, expensive, intense. Since I already eat, sleep, and breathe weddings, I was prepared for a lot of the wedding planning process.

But even with my prior knowledge of weddings, planning and experiencing one for myself has made me grow as a person and as a wedding photographer. So instead of just a regular old blog post about our wedding – a post driven by only our photos – I think it might be more useful to talk a little about the things I learned about wedding photography when I was a bride.

“Who took your photos?”

It’s the first thing everyone asks. Initially it was an overwhelming process. I love different photographers for different reasons. There’s a lot of talent in the wedding photography industry. In fact, there’s so much talent and diversity that I don’t envy anyone out there trying to figure it out, because wedding photographers are inherently difficult to compare. Styles and tones are different, personalities are different, and pricing structures are just a nightmare to compare in any meaningful way.

I was already really familiar with Ken Kienow’s work, I just hadn’t visited his website in quite some time. I think it’s important for people to be able to articulate why they are making such an important investment, and it really only took about 10 minutes of perusing his recent work to come up with a pretty detailed list of reasons to hire him.

His candid, documentary shots are compelling. The detail shots are creative. His portfolio is full of warmth and joy and comfortable-looking strangers. I feel like I know his clients from his photos. He also post-processes his photos in a way that is both artistic and unobtrusive. Post-processing is a very personal thing to photographers, and I wanted photos that had a finished, polished, artistic look without overtaking the actual moments captured.

There were even more reasons why we loved Ken’s general aesthetic, but you get the gist. It was (understandably) the biggest decision we made about our wedding day, and we spent months discussing what was important to us and what wasn’t. Everyone’s list is different, but it’s important to recognize what matters to you when it comes to the big decisions on your wedding day.

Engagement session

Bobby and I went on a cross-country road trip in February, and one of the highlights of our trip was visiting Ken in San Luis Obispo, California to shoot our engagement photos. I learned firsthand that engagement sessions are AWESOME and ESSENTIAL.

Bobby is pretty comfortable in front of the camera already (go figure), but initially it felt foreign and awkward for me. At first, I was just hyperaware of everything and thinking too much. I wondered what lenses Ken was using and what he could see through the viewfinder, how he was framing his compositions, what his histogram looked like, if my hair looked okay with all the wind. Thankfully, I got less cerebral the more we shot and I was able to turn my brain off and just have fun. It was like a little test drive being in front of another camera. The engagement session allowed me time to work through those “I wonder if I look awful in these photos” insecurities and see that I did not, in fact, look awful.

“I bet it was hard to trust someone else for your photography!”

On the wedding day, I never thought about backlighting, apertures, lens compression, or uncle bobs. We trusted Ken. We had a lot of really, really amazing wedding vendors (and very kind, helpful, wonderful friends and family) and we trusted ALL of them and they all helped make our wedding a fun, unique, and classy event. I’ll share more details about these great vendors in another post.

Here are some other things I learned about wedding photography as a bride:

That’s all for this first installment of “Things I learned as a bride”. Hopefully it can help other brides out there and maybe even give photographers something to think about. It’s cheesy, but it really was the best day of my life, and experiencing it has given me a whole new perspective as a wedding photographer. I want to make another post in a week or two featuring detailed information about all the vendors and etsy shops that made the day so perfect.

For now, though — it’s back to the grind as we finish one of the busiest months of the year! I can’t wait to share some full sets of photos from all the great weddings and engagement shoots we’ve been working on over the last month.

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