Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a Wedding Photographer? We asked Mel Mahonen with Mahonen Photography to give us some juicy details about being in the business!
Q: In the day or two before a wedding , what do you do to get prepared?
A: "I usually double check all of the information that I've received from the bride and groom at this time and start charging batteries! We have a lot of batteries..."
Q: It's the day of! When does your day typically start?
A: "This really depends on the wedding. Most of the time the ceremony is in the late afternoon/evening and we will start in the late morning/early afternoon with getting ready photos. We've found over the years that we just get in the way if we get there way too early, but if we come as the bride is putting her finishing touches on, its perfect timing for me to capture details, getting ready photos and the bride getting into her dress. Ari hangs out with the groomsmen at this time photographing their prep. On the other hand, we have had a few early morning ceremonies where we were completely done by 3 pm!"
Q: Do you Always have two shooters? Why is that helpful?
A: "YES! Ari and I are really more of a team than "lead" and "2nd". On my end, it makes the day much easier to split the weight of all of our gear between the two of us! He can also be setting up light stands and capturing candid moments of cocktail hour while I'm shooting the details. For the clients, they get two perspectives of their day, we always try to be in a different spot from each other (unless Ari is assisting me with something) capturing different moments! With two of us, the groomsmen really get the adequate coverage that they deserve for their getting ready photos as well."
Q: What equipment do you bring for each shoot?
A: "Uffda, let's get technical! We each carry a canon 5D MKIII and share a set of lenses that include; 17-40mm, 24-105mm, 70-200mm, 85mm, 100mm macro. For lighting we tote along 6 flashes, 4 light stands, 2 flash snoots, and 2 small soft boxes, a light reflector, and a diffuser. One time we even brought a thermos of boiling water when it was -10 and we wanted to create a cook effect in the background." (see photo)
Sidebar: WOW! That's A LOT of STUFF!
Q: What are the 3-5 items that you always carry with you/have to have while shooting a wedding?
1. "A pharmacy of tylenol, ibuprofen, ranitidine, zofran, and band-aids. We usually only have to tap into the tylenol, but just in case something hits us, we want to be prepared!
2. Granola bars!
3. A change of shoes!"
Q: What are your favorite wedding poses to photograph?
A: "I love to find what feels natural for each couple and let them enjoy each other. A lot of our couples say that the bride and groom portrait portion of their wedding day felt like a break where they just got to enjoy each other. I just love to capture the connection that they share with each other!"
Q: What is your photography style?
A: "We're kind of a blend of lifestyle, photojournalism, and traditional. We like our photos to look natural and to capture who you are and the story of your day.
Along with our aesthetic style, clients that we've worked with in the past tell us that they love our working style. We like to bring the calm to the wedding day and keep things relaxed!"
Q: Is it important to have a timeline and to be organized on who is being photographed at what time? Why?
A: "YES! Things just go more smoothly when everyone knows what's going on and where. Share your timeline with everyone involved with your wedding day so that they know when and where they need to be ready and what you want them to do."
Q: Favorite season to shoot a wedding?
A: "They all have their own beauty but, from a practical standpoint, fall is probably the easiest season to work a wedding. Beautiful colors everywhere, not too hot, not too cold, etc."
Q: Do you have any funny "behind the scenes" moments you could share?
A: "Mostly me tripping over things and Ari laughing at me..."
Q: How did you get started as a wedding photographer?
A: "I took a few photography courses while I was in college to learn the basics, while Ari scoured the internet for every scrap of information that led him to be self taught. By the time we met, we both had a love of photography, but it wasn't the main thing in our lives yet. When my son was born I naturally picked up my camera more and more, I became the "mom with camera". But it soon turned into much more than that as I educated myself further and people began to pay me for portraits. I put it out there with some friends and family that I was interested in branching out into weddings. Friends put my name out there and people came to me. Ari was a easy choice to bring along as my 2nd as he was a camera junkie too. Over the years we've become more like a team and developed the style and way of working together that we use today."
Q: What's your favorite part about your job?
A: "There are so many things! I love the flexibility that working for myself brings to my weekdays. I also really love getting to meet and work with all of the people that we've had the opportunity to photograph over the years. New friendships have been forged with people we never would have met before. People we haven't talked to in years come to us when they get engaged or start a family. People that we used to vaguely know through other people have now become great friends after photographing their weddings. It's amazing!"
Q: Favorite wedding venue so far?
A: "I love a lot of venues, one of the great parts of this job is that we get to go to all different kinds of places. Farm venues like Furber Farms, Legacy Hills, Somerset Farm, family hobby farms and backyard weddings. I also loved working at the Radisson Blu and The St. Paul Hotel. But, I do have a wish-list of venues that I would LOVE to work at; Hutton House, Round Barn, Gale Woods Farm, The Machine Shop, The Lumber Exchange... You know, all those drool worthy locales."
If you are looking for a Wedding Photographer, make sure to check out Mahonen Photography!
One of the most exciting parts after getting engaged is the hunt for the perfect wedding venue! But, It can also be very overwhelming. We've come up with some tips and questions to ask the venues to help your search go a lot smoother.
1. Get Organized
Before you go out and start touring every venue within a 25 mile radius, you should already be able to answer a few questions. First of all, figure out what you like! Do some research online and see what your options are. Or, maybe you already know that your heart belongs to that restored barn look and you would never be caught dead getting married in a museum. Seriously...things to consider!
Next, you should have a rough estimate of a guest list. This is a working list and can change over time, but if you know beforehand that you already need space for 200 people, cross off those smaller venues that only hold 100. Some of those places may be perfect on paper, but if you're not willing to shrink your guest list, then you shouldn't waste any time on it. Move on!
What else? Budget! So many people are wishy washy about their budget and believe it's highly classified. Of course, there is no need to broadcast it to every person you pass by on the streets, but it's imperative that you have a good estimate and are vocal and honest about it to the venues AND your Wedding Planner. It's part of your Wedding Planners' job to make sure you stay within budget. If you don't have a Planner, then you really need to pay attention and don't keep it as an afterthought. If your budget is $15,000 and your guest list estimate is 200 people, you shouldn't sign a contract for a venue that is $8,000. It's not going to work unless you plan on starving your guests (Ok, I'm exaggerating here, but for real, don't do it).
Lastly, have an idea of WHEN you want to get married! Do you have a specific date that you HAVE to have or are you super flexible? Remember that if you want to get married on the anniversary that you and your Hubby-To-Be had your first date 5 years ago, your pool of available venues has already drastically shrunk.
Once you figure all this out, it's time to start the tours!
2. Be Prepared - Have Questions Ready!
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and just want to see all these beautiful places. But, having questions off the bat will save you time (and maybe even money!) down the road. Here are a few to get you started.
Availability & Details
I hope these questions send you off on a good start. Remember, if you've hired a Planner, they can accompany you to these venue tours and make sure the questions are being asked. If you go alone, bring a notebook and pencil! You will get so much information it will be hard to keep it straight later.