What to expect from your portrait photographer

There are so many wonderful and great photographers out in the world now. It’s amazing to see so much being created on a daily basis, especially through Instagram. Lots of inspiring work and even more self expression than ever before.

It’s important to note what separates a professional portrait photographer from someone who isn’t. There is a lot of great stuff out there and equally great people, but it’s a good idea to really know what they are best photographing.

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There are photographers who specialize in only newborn and maternity. Others who specialize in only weddings and engagements. And others who only do commercial work.

Then there are photographers like me who do both weddings and portraits and will also take on a special project, only if it truly aligns with my style and business goals.

So what can you expect from a professional photographer?

This is not an all encompassing list because each photographer does business differently and has different ways of doing things, however, I’m sure most would agree that they are basic expectations a professional photographer should meet.

  • They can match their experience with their passion. You want someone who has taken at least 100 high quality portraits because that experience will guarantee you have a great session as well.

  • Website or portfolio of some kind. Let’s include social media in this because sometimes that works best as a portfolio rather than an official website. However, a website will tell you much more about a photographer than social media.

  • They offer options and can answer all of your questions, no matter the question. They are the professional, not you so your questions must be answered with kindness and expertise.

  • They send out official contracts with terms and make sure to let you know of any policies they or their studio has.

  • They can clearly outline the experience they will give you and how you portrait session will be like. You can only expect this from a photographer that knows what they are doing and has enough experience to guide you through the process.

  • They know lighting and can suggest the best times for your session. If they are a studio photographer, they’ll know what lighting is best in order to create the best portrait for you.

  • They will be a little higher priced than the Craigslist photographer, Facebook photographer, or the photographer just starting out. This is because of their years of experience and many, many, years perfecting their craft.

Each photographer is different and has a different business, however, it’s important to know what to expect from a professional because they can make all the difference between having photos you absolutely love rather than absolutely cringe looking at.

When you’re looking for someone to photograph you, if they don’t check most of these off, then I would suggest moving along. If you really love their photos, then ask them directly and go with your gut feeling.

Have you had any great photographers take your portraits? Let me know in the comments below!

Ideal Wedding Day Photography Time Line

Hey brides!  After choosing your photographer, you will most likely work alongside them to create the best timeline for photos on your big day.  This is really important because it will help the photographer to get an idea of where to be, what time the major events are happening through out the day, and carve out the best time for the portraits of you and your love!  It also helps us photographers with knowing where the light will be and how we have to adjust in case we need to take photos in bright noon sunlight or during sunset at the beach.  

I'm going to outline some of the more important photography moments that should be worked into your timeline.  However, take note that it all depends on how long you contracted your photographer for, where you are getting married, and other factors. 

Getting Ready 

Ah, the getting ready shots!  These are my favorite to start the day with.  If they can be worked in, I highly recommend it!  If you're pressed for time, shave off an hour of the reception coverage for these, trust me, you will not regret it!  It's a quiet time when you and your girls or perhaps just you are getting ready and can really soak in the day.  At this time, I usually take advantage of photographing the dress, shoes, jewelry,  and any other important detail the bride has chosen for her day.

I also love to get candid shots of the bride with her family and friends and allow things to flow and just happen.  Sometimes we get the best emotional photos out of these moments.  

This time also allows me to get photos of just the bride alone right after she's done getting ready.  It's such a special time to just breath and take a look in the mirror  and get excited! I love being with brides during this time.

Oh, sometimes we get shots of the grooms getting ready too ;)

Bride & Groom Portraits / First Look

I love to do have the bride and groom do a first look after the Getting Ready shots.  It makes for a more impactful surprise and during this time there are guests around which makes it truly special for the couple.  They are alone, together, for the first time the entire day.  After the portraits, the couple is surrounded by people the rest of the day.  So, I love it when we carve out enough time to take the portraits.  If your timeline allows you to do this before your ceremony, I recommend it! You'll also look fresh and excited.  

However, sometimes the bride and groom opt to see each other after the wedding ceremony, which is totally ok too! Just make sure you have enough time and a location away from your guests and bridal party so that you can have that time alone!

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Ceremony

This one is obvious! You must and should have at least 15 - 20 minutes buffer before your ceremony to relax, touch up make up, and allow your photographer to get the ceremony location with out anyone in it.  

All of the decor has to be photographed because it was chosen by you! And that makes it extra special.

Bridal Party / Family Formals

These are great to get done right after the ceremony when everyone is present and no one has disappeared to the cocktail hour yet. Also, I like to do these at the same time or one right before the other.  The reason being is because most of the time, the bridal party is made up of family! So rather than have two separate times, we do it all together.  You might not like the idea of having family wait for formals or vice versa, but it takes all about 30 minutes to get these out of the way.  

These are also when I take a more formal approach to the photos and allow different combinations to occur.  It all depends on how big or small your bridal party and families are!  

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Sunset Photos / Cocktail Hour

These can be done at the same time or scheduled so that you can enjoy the cocktail hour and then slip away for a bit for beautiful sunset photos.  These photos really offer beautiful golden light during one of the most sought after times for photography! 

If your photographer has an assistant photographer, they usually will have them taking candid photos of the cocktail hour and your guests.  This way you don't miss out on capturing some great moments of your guests :).

Party / Reception

This part of the day is usually more relaxed for us photographers.  I like to make sure I get to the reception venue a little early to get all the details of the decor, just like the ceremony.  Depending on how many hours you have your photographer for, make sure they get your grand entrance, if nothing else.  

I don't really have a set a timeline as most of the major events are announced by the DJ.  I do try and work with the DJ so that we're on the same page and he knows who I am and we'll check in with each other during the reception so we're both ready and don't miss anything important.  

The main events during the reception include: Grand Entrance, First Dance, Mother / Son and Father / Daughter dances, cake cutting, toasts, garter and bouquet toss, and lots of dancing!

Grand Exit

If you have a Grand Exit in mind make sure you speak to your photographer about the time and if you have anything special planned!  We'll need to be set up and ready to go before you actually exit and make sure we're in a good position so that people don't crowd us or we don't miss where you're going to be walking through.  And if there are sparklers, we love sparklers, we'll need to set up for that too! 

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Should you do a first look on your wedding day?

You might have seen it over and over again as you started planning your wedding on Pinterest or on the blogs of other photographers, planners, and coordinators.  Are you wondering what a First Look actually is? 

What is a First Look?

First Looks are not new, I'm sure they've been around for a long time but really come to become the new tradition about 7 years ago.  Since then they have taken lots of different forms but to put it simply, it's when the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony.  

Why do a First Look?

There are many reasons that a First Look might come into play during your wedding day.  In my experience, it usually happens for one of two reasons:

  1. To take advantage of the light.  For example, if your getting married in the fall and your ceremony is at 4pm, that doesn't leave much time for portraits of the two of you.  It cuts into time with family, perhaps a cocktail hour, or another event during your day.  To take advantage of the light, we'll schedule the portrait session before the ceremony when light is abundant.  This way we ensure that you have great photos of the two of you with lots of time. 
  2. Another reason couples opt for a First Look instead of staying with the traditional see-you-after-the-ceremony, is to have a moment alone together.  Usually, after the ceremony, there really isn't much time spent as a couple, alone, together.   Having a couple of hours just the two of you really makes the day even more special.  

How does it work?

The great thing about the First Look is that when you see each other, right after you ease right into the portrait session.  It is a seamless transition that allows for many more photos during your day and also allows the photographer to get those must have shots as well as experiment a little bit without eating time from major events on the day of.  I'm sure that was a run on sentence but you get the idea.  

This is especially important if light is an issue during your day.  After all, your photographs are all that you'll have left and you want to make sure you have the most beautiful photographs of you and your hubby!

But it'll take away the surprise!

FALSE! There is nothing wrong with keeping it traditional, I have many couples who opt for traditional all the time and everything works out perfectly.  However, thinking that seeing each other before the wedding takes away from walking down the aisle, IT DOESN'T at all!

I have had grooms who are beyond nervous and quite frankly need more than a shot or two before the wedding, and after the First Look have expressed to me that it was the best decision because it made them even MORE excited to see their bride walk down the aisle.  

My husband and I also opted for a first look and we got some of our favorite images from it! It was a nice time to see each other and be alone for a bit before seeing our friends and family for the rest of the day.  It definitely calmed my nerves! 

Whether you opt to go the traditional route or do a First Look, just know that you have options.  Make sure you talk with your photographer to see which suits your day the best.  

Must Have Photos On Your Wedding Day | Tips for Brides

There are lots of resources out there and I know it can get a little overwhelming, especially in the planning stages.  So, I've come to help take a little bit of the stress off your shoulders, Brides.  

Every wedding is unique and with that, each event is different in terms of timeline, number of guests, and what gets photographed and what doesn't.  A seasoned photographer will have a mental checklist of all the details they should be capturing through out the day and will aim to get them all.  Sometimes, brides have very specific photographs in mind and most often than not, forget to communicate that with their photographers.  Resulting in missed shots that the bride would have loved.  

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

For example, at my last wedding, if the bride hadn't told me about her something blue, I would have missed it completely - even though I carried those shoes throughout the whole suite for 30 minutes and never noticed! I'm glad she said something and I was able to get that shot.  From now on though, I will be looking at the souls of all future brides' shoes just in case ;).

It's an honest mistake and no one is to blame, however, it can totally be avoided!  In order to make sure to get the photos you truly want, I've created this checklist for you to fill out and hand over to your photographer the next time you meet.  

In my personal experience, I don't mind getting these back from brides at all because it's so important!  Sure, 99% of the items on the list I already photograph and make sure it gets into the gallery.  However, there is that 1% that might slip through or that one shot that is most important.  

Wedding Day Photo Checklist 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW AND DOWNLOAD.

EXPECTATION VS. REALISTIC

You've handed over the checklist and now you are expecting all of those photos to be included. Let's be realistic, your photographer will have 99% of that checklist already in their heads as they are photographing your wedding, however, some of those shots are just a no go on the actual day of your wedding.  It could be a lighting issue, a location issue, maybe that person didn't show up on time.  There are countless reasons, so it's good to always stay a little flexible.

Being able to stay realistic about the photos on the checklist on your wedding day will not only relieve a bit of the stress off you, but will allow your photographer to make changes or improvise and make the best possible photographs with what is happening the day of.  

And sometimes, being a little flexible gives you even better photos than you imagined! Your photographer is experienced and will know how to handle the situations  as they present themselves during an event.  We have pretty much seen it all when it comes to this kind of stuff! 

So there you have it!  A little handy checklist to help  you get the photos you really want on your wedding day.  Just remember to stay flexible and enjoy your day! 


What do you think about this blog post? Was it useful to you? If it was, make sure you share with other future brides and comment below or hit the like button! 

How to hire the right wedding photographer

Hiring a wedding photographer doesn't have to be stressful, as long as you make sure to do it with enough time.  From varying styles to dates available all of this is important when you begin your search.  This post is here to help you take all the guess work out of the process and really get the photographer and photographs that you are going to love for years and years!

1.  What is your personal style?

The first step before you even start searching for a photographer is to look at your own style.  Are you draw to fashion and like the glitz and glamour? Striking colors and lots of contrast? Or are you more of an ethereal, I like soft tones and brightness?  It could be that you like a particular decade like pin-up or vintage styled clothing.  What your style is, that is what you'll be drawn to in your photographs.  

I've often heard of clashing styles because the bride hired a photographer whose style is completely the opposite.  So make sure you check with your personal style first before looking for a photographer, it'll make you happy later when you see the photos!

2.  Tools to narrow down search - avoid Google!

Google is so vast and never ending that a quick search can quickly overwhelm and might even stress you out.  Unless it's something really specific like "Wedding photographer in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico" I don't suggest using Google at all.

Instead use tools like The Knot or Wedding Wire and if you're in Mexico, Bodas.  These resources have a list of vendors that have been reviewed and can attest that you'll find someone that will be perfect for your wedding day.  You can view their portfolios, check out their websites, and contact them directly.  You might have to create an account, but it's something that can be deleted later.

3.  Photographer's Style

Every photographer has a style.  Especially if they've been photographing for a long time.  Some photographers have more than one lead photographer and can provide you with options in style.  

It is very important to note that a photographer's style is like their signature, and it's very difficult for a photographer to change styles for a particular event.  For example, I shoot primarily classic, romantic, and traditional photos, I won't do vintage style photographs.  It's hard for me to change my style since I've worked for 10 years photographing a certain way.  Same goes for other photographers.

Sometimes you'll have photographers that can do classic, traditional with a mixture of photojournalism (like me) or perhaps more fashion style with lights and mix in a little romance.  Make sure you look through their website/portfolio and you can even ask to see a full event gallery (I always send links to full events!) so you can see from start to finish the real work that is handed over to brides and grooms.  

Just to add, Pinterest is a fascinating tool to help organize and plan your wedding, however, don't go to a photographer asking them to shoot exactly like the ones you pin, unless you're hiring the photographer who made the photo.  This cramps our style and makes it difficult for you to be happy with the photos later on.  

4.  What to consider when meeting with the photographer.

There are various lists of what you should ask your photographer, and I'm here to tell you to stay away from them.  Ask what you really want to know and not what you think you should know.  

For example, don't ask about equipment if you know nothing about photography equipment.  Instead, ask if the photos will be able to be printed x size and if there are albums available.  Don't ask for the copyright if you don't know about copyright laws.  Instead, ask about receiving the images and how the photographer goes about it.  

The list goes on and on but you get the idea.  Ask what you REALLY want to know and what you really want from the photographer.  Write the questions down before hand and if any come up during the meeting, then ask away.

During the meeting, make sure you feel out the photographer's personality.  This person will be helping you and guiding you from the book date until well after the wedding.  You want to know that you can get along with this person and have great communication with them.  You might even become friends after! Happens all the time :).

5.  How soon should we hire our photographer?

The whirlwind of getting engaged is such a special time so you should definitely enjoy it! Take at least a couple of weeks to enjoy the flutter of being engaged before you start the planning process.  I know that this helped me and my husband and allowed us to just soak it all in before making any decisions on style, theme, colors, etc.

That being said, hiring your photographer along with booking your venue and church, should be one of the first things to get crossed off your list!  Why? Because wedding dates book fast and some photographers allow for up to one year in advanced to reserve the dates.  

I recommend that you book your photographer 9 months to a year in advanced to avoid issues with booked dates.  If the person you really, really wanted has your date booked, consider moving it.  Your photos are the only thing that you will have after your wedding, don't skimp on the chance to have the ones you're going love!

6. Other important things to consider:

  • Contracts: Ask to see a copy of the contract and make sure you read it fully.
  • Payment schedule and if the photographer offers payment plans (I do and my clients find it a huge stress reducer)
  • Additional fees: Like travel fees, extra coverage, hourly fees, session fees, etc.
  • Ask to see products like albums, prints, and their price lists so you can get an idea.
  • Ask yourself: Are you dealing with a professional or a hobbyist? This has nothing to do with equipment, it's all about experience!

Am I missing anything? I hope you find these helpful as you start your search for the right photographer! If you need any additional advice, comment below and ask me! I'd love to help you in any way possible so you have the best photographs of your wedding day.  

Beach Wedding Inspiration

Since I've been closer to the beach, I have realized that Beach Destination Weddings are just beyond amazing!  It's a perfect option for the bride who wants to have a breathtaking ocean background, mini vacation, and your most important guests share their day with you.  I wrote a whole post on why you should have a destination wedding, you can read it HERE

I want to share with you guys the beautiful decor that each bride pours their heart into to create the wedding of their dreams.  Each of the inspiration boards are from REAL BEACH WEDDINGS!  Each unique, each different and all amazing!  Make sure you pin these images!

Jessica + Jordan Puerto Vallarta

Colors: Teal, cream, bright and soft pings, and orange.  Adding some glam with the brides sparkly shoes and votive candle centerpieces.  Florals were those beautiful lilies in bright tropical colors as well as white.  

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Everything mixed well together to create a beautiful tropical ambiance to the wedding.  Can't get over the bride's maids mix-matched dresses in different pink hues!

Anais + Mario Mazatlan Beach Wedding

This couple wanted more of an elegant and timeless feel to their wedding with a beach ceremony and beautiful closed reception hall for their party.  It was not with out beautiful details to keep it tied to the beach theme!  Those tiffany blue bride's maid dresses are to die for! Tying it with white florals for the bouquet and boutonnieres make it look effortlessly elegant!  

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We continue to see the trend of using glass votive candle centerpieces with roses and lilies to create that glamour during the reception.  Paired with sliver charger plates and tiffany blue linens.  Love!

Gabriela + Fernando Puerto Vallarta Beach Wedding

Can you mix blush pink, grey, and mint for your wedding? You can bet on it! These colors made for a beautiful blend of feminine and masculine with the mint and grey while keeping it flirty with the blush pink.  Ah! I can't get over how it just works so well together!

And let's get some of those beautiful votive candle centerpieces and plush pink tipped roses to light up the night while we're at it.

Cristy + Eduardo Cancun Beach Wedding

This couple kept things light and airy during their wedding! Makes perfect sense since the background of their wedding provided a lot of decor with an intimate chapel ceremony and beachfront reception.  Cristy opted to mix-match her bridal party dresses ranging from soft mint to rich teal hues and her bride's men? They wore matching colored ties.  Definite win!

Add the sand colored centerpieces and white bouquet, this wedding made a statement to not overpower the beach in the background and keeping it classy and playful at the same time.


I hope these inspiration collages help you to get more ideas for your own destination beach wedding!  Make sure you pin them so you can reference back to them when you start planning your big day.  And don't forget, we would love to document your wedding as well! ;).  

Oh, and if you're looking for beautiful wedding invites, make sure you check out Paperless Post - they were an inspiration for this post and have great wedding invites for your event!  Check out their website HERE.

Engagement Season is here!

Good morning!

Engagement season is here!  This is one of my favorite times of the whole year because it's when the bling starts to make it's appearance on social media!  From around Halloween all the way to Valentines day, couples are getting engaged all over the world!

To you I say, CONGRATS!!! Being engaged is such a wonderful time for a couple because of the excitement and emotions that go into being more than just a boy/girlfriend.  The whole idea of creating a home and a life together is pretty darn exciting!

Then... the pressure kicks in.  Wedding date, wedding planning, the children talk with people everywhere, and so on!  I get it, I was there!  And I'm here for you :).  I'm going to share some links with you that will hopefully take a little bit of that pressure off your shoulders.  

Rock your engagement session
http://www.jackielamas.com/blog/201585-tips-to-rock-your-engagement-session

Real Wedding Inspiration P. 1
http://www.jackielamas.com/blog/20157real-wedding-inspiration

Real Wedding Inspiration P. 2
http://www.jackielamas.com/blog/20159/real-wedding-inspiration

Should you plan for a destination wedding?
http://www.jackielamas.com/blog/201512/why-its-a-good-idea-to-have-a-destination-wedding

Why do you need to invest in quality photography for your wedding?
http://www.jackielamas.com/blog/20159/investinphotography

Kate Moss’ wedding - For inspiration
https://jackielamas.com/blog/2011/08/holy-mario-testino-kate-moss.html

Martha Stewart Weddings Blog, seriously this lady thinks of it all!
http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/382131/wedding-planning

and, if it weren’t enough that her blog is magic, here is a PDF of her workbook for all of your wedding planning needs!
http://images.marthastewart.com/images/content/web/pdfs/pdf3/wedding_workbook.pdf

If you have any additional tips or links that would help, share them in the comments below! We gotta help our newly engaged couples really be excited, not stressed :).  I'll be doing another post soon on the Do's and Don'ts for your wedding day.  Gonna be loaded with a ton of info, so stay posted!

Below are recent engagement sessions I've photographed... click on the photo to view more from each session :). 

Quality Photography is an Investment | Tips for Brides

Many brides don't know how much a quality photographer actually costs until they begin the planning process.  They also don't know that wedding photography is an investment.  As far as pricing goes, most quality photographers range between $3000 - $7000.  Of course there are photographers who are worth investing much more and there are those who will offer for less.  

Pricing is not the be all end all when it comes to quality photography.  As an investment, there are many other factors to consider when looking for your wedding photographer like experience, style, passion, client base, What they are like? Do you get along with them? 

Here I have outlined a few reasons as to why hiring that really great photographer you loved, but is just a tad bit over your budget, is totally worth investing in. 


1. NO DO OVERS

Your wedding is one day.  One.  You don't get do-overs.  You won't have a chance to hire another photographer because the one you spent little on didn't know what they were doing or didn't know how to anticipate moments. Your day will be over in the blink of an eye and soon it'll be two days as husband and wife.  A quality photographer will make sure that they've made quality photos so that you can relive your day again and again.  

2.  LONG TERM INVESTMENT 

Ever cringe at that photo that your cousin posted when you were two naked in the sink? Photos last forever.  They last years, decades, and even after we're gone, they are the only memory of our legacy.  Your wedding is the first event of your legacy.  Invest in quality photography so that you don't have to cringe or hide the photographs later but rather be in awe of them and remember those one of kind moments.  

Don't you want your children to see and feel what your wedding day was like? How the love just pours from the album of your beautiful day?  I know I do.

3.  QUALITY 

Investing in a qualified professional wedding photographer who takes quality photographs will ensure that you get only the best out there.  You won't have to worry about enlarging a photo and having it be pixelated.  You know that the photos in your album will be of the highest quality. 

It is more than just a "good camera." A quality photographer will make sure that your day is stress free, will help with the schedule of events, will go above and beyond for you on your day.  Why? Because they love their jobs.  Because they have experience.  Because they know how to anticipate moments.  Experienced photographers know their equipment and know how to make your day as beautiful as you remember it.  

Not having to worry about your photos and knowing that your investment in a qualified and quality photographer is going to take the best photos ever is worth more than gold.  You as the bride already have enough to worry about. 

4.  INVESTMENT PROTECTION

When you invest in something, you want to know that it's going to be protected.  A quality photographer will do just that.  They will have your event backed up, they will know how to care for your images and even give you options for creating one of kind products so that you can relive your day over and over again.  You can safely say that your investment in quality photography is protected.  Can you say that about any other purchase for your wedding?

Ensuring that your photographs are safe and will be of the best quality can only come from a quality photographer.  Get the 5 Star Photographer and get 5 Star treatment.  

5. TRUST IN YOUR INVESTMENT

Not all photographers are created equal.  It is nice to see that more and more people are becoming passionate with photography and allowing their creativity to flow.  That being said, it is important to find a quality photographer who will take your ONE DAY and treat it as if it were their own day.  Not all photographers are passionate about their work.  Not all photographers have the same level of experience, style, or even pricing.  We are all different and it is important to trust in your investment.   Not all photographers will know how to work a wedding and vibe with you and your family.  

Make sure that when you do invest in a quality photographer that you trust said photographer with your legacy.  Like I mentioned before, there are no do-overs.  Take the time to seek a great photographer who will make sure that your day is remembered forever just the way you want. 


What are you thoughts? Do you think photography is an investment?  

Let me know what you think about this post in the comments below! I'd love to hear your thoughts!