Tips for the best photo experience

Writing tips for you has been such a great way for me to prepare you for your next portrait / wedding experience!

Not all photographers are the same, not all have the same style, personality, or way of doing things and these tips are where I explain a little of my process, shooting style, and you can get an idea of what the experience will be like.

I love helping clients to feel very comfortable and since many of my clients come from different countries on vacation, it also serves as a way for them to get to know me a little better ;).

I’m doing a master post so that you can view and click through the different tip posts that I’ve written over the years. I hope that they help you!


My editing style

I have been a photographer for about 13 years. When I was first starting out, Photoshop was getting into mainstream photography, along with digital. This meant that people, myself included, were editing photos like it was going out of style.

And then, it went out of style.

Over editing photos is not something I do anymore. I stopped over processing photos about 4 years ago because I just felt like the smoothing of skin and over editing colors and adding filters was just TOO MUCH.

My editing style is pretty close to the original image! This is because it keeps the photo timeless.

My editing style is pretty close to the original image! This is because it keeps the photo timeless.

I also realized that filters are part of trends, and that means that when a trend goes out of style, that editing also goes out of style. And then you’re left with photos that are out of style.

Of course, to each their own. Each photographer has their own particular style and I’m not here to say that it’s wrong or out of date or anything, it just isn’t for me or my clients.

I like to stick to a nice elegant and timeless look with the photos that I create. I feel like editing this way means that your photos will never look dated or out of style.

before-after-wedding-photography-puerto-vallarta-mexico.jpg

What do I do then? I color correct, bump up the warmth, take out blemishes, clean up the skin a bit and brighten and add contrast. It’s very minimal and takes me less time to edit which also means your photos get to you sooner.

Editing this way has revolutionized my time in front of the computer and lets me focus more on the creative part of my photography.

wedding-puerto-vallarta-mexico-destination-wedding.jpg

I love letting my clients see exactly firsthand what they can expect to see when they get their final images. So, I’ve pulled together some before and after photos so you can see exactly how I edit the photos!

What do you think? What kind of look do you like to have for your photos?

What happens now? My process after I photograph your wedding or portrait session

I have been a photographer for quite a long time (10+ years!) and my process and business is always evolving. When I first began, I remember editing photos, one by one, in Adobe Photoshop CS2. My computer would freeze and it used to take forever!

Thankfully, my process is a lot more streamlined and faster. Which means, you get your photos a lot faster and with better quality retouching.

My process

After I photograph your wedding or portrait session, I usually go home and upload the photos either that same night or the next day. Usually, I’ll send a sneak preview or two that same night to my clients edited slightly on my phone ;).

I then choose the best of the best photos in terms of exposure, expression, and important events. I try and put myself in your shoes and carefully choose the ones I believe are the winners. For portraits this can be anywhere from 60-100 photos or more depending on the size of the family. For weddings, it depends on how many hours of coverage that you had and on average, it will be between 400-1000 photos.

All of the blue photos are the chosen ones for final edits.

I know other photographers include many more photos however, I make sure not to overwhelm my clients because it can be a little excessive when you’re seeing 30 photos of the same pose, same light, same everything and you really don’t need to. You need a good solid 5 photos of each pose, if that. So I make sure to choose only the best as final images.

After I choose the photos that I’ll be editing, I then begin the process in Lightroom. If I need extra retouching done, I’ll open the photo in Photoshop. Both programs are really great for editing.

Once your photos are edited, I’ll upload them into your personalized online gallery and send you an invitation to view, share, download, and purchase products like albums and prints.

The whole process for portraits takes about two weeks and for weddings it takes me about 4 weeks (sometimes less if I don’t have other weddings waiting).

Editing / retouching

For my work, I don’t do much to the photos. I make sure to get the photos as close to perfect as I can in-camera so that I can spend more time actually photographing clients rather than sitting at my computer all day.

My editing style is simple: I add a little brightness, warmth, contrast, and take away any weird hair fly-aways, trash in the background, and maybe swap a head or two if I need to.

The photo on the right is the original. The one on the right got a boost in brightness, contrast, shadows, and warmth. Almost no difference.

The photo on the right is the original. The one on the right got a boost in brightness, contrast, shadows, and warmth. Almost no difference.

As for retouching, I will remove a blemish here and there or perhaps the linea nigra on a pregnant belly. Sometimes I’ll take out some sand on the face or weird fly-away hairs. However, I don’t overly retouch a client unless they have asked for it specifically. When I first began, I would smooth out skin, take out anything I considered a blemish, like moles, or even slim arms and waists. I do not do this anymore.

Very minimal editing done to the photo. Some brightness, contrast, warmth, and straightening of the horizon.

Very minimal editing done to the photo. Some brightness, contrast, warmth, and straightening of the horizon.

I don’t retouch like that because it is not a real representation of who you are. It is fake and I want your photos to be as real as they come. I also want you to look at your photos and recognize who you are and know that you are beautiful inside and out.

Because all of my clients are absolutely beautiful and that needs to be reflected in the photos.

I don’t outsource my workflow

I know a lot of photographers out there that outsource their editing and while that is a great option, it’s not something that I personally prefer.

I rather make sure to edit and retouch your photos personally. I want to make sure that they keep their quality and streamline the editing look so that they don’t look different from one photo to the next.

destination-wedding-photographer-puerto-vallarta.jpg

I also photograph one wedding a weekend because I want to make sure to give my clients the best I can and doing two weddings in one weekend is so tiring! I have done it and on special requests or situations I will.

puerto-vallarta-destination-wedding-photographer.jpg

This gives me more time to really focus my attention to each photo that goes into your gallery. To give it real thought and make sure that I pick the very best to deliver to you.

After I receive my photos what then?

When I send the invitation email to your online gallery, you have the option to view, choose favorites, and share your photos online. You also have the option to download high resolution images and print at a location that works best for you.

products-photography-workflow.jpeg

Since I am a destination wedding and destination portrait photographer, I offer an array of products through the gallery that you can purchase and have shipped directly to you anywhere in the world. Choose from albums, photo prints, framed prints, small cards, USB with your photos and wooden box, and much more.

wood-box-jackielamas (2 of 4).jpg

Your photos are safe

I keep client photos for 10 years. Sometimes more! I have them on external hard drives and make sure to backup all of the photos.

I have had couples lose their photos because their laptops broke or got stolen. I’ve had portrait clients forget where they saved them or lost their USB where they had them saved.

This portrait is from more than 7 years ago. Still has my old website watermark on it.

This portrait is from more than 7 years ago. Still has my old website watermark on it.

Because I hold the copyright to your photos, I am able to keep them safe for a long time. Don’t worry, you have full permission to print and save your photos. The copyright also helps me to be able to use the photos on my websites and in the articles that I write. Which basically makes you famous ;).

Easy and simple

One thing I really like about my process is that it is easy and simple. I don’t over do the editing which takes time and can delay getting your photos to you.

bridal-portraits-day-before.jpg

I make simple edits that make your photos pop without losing quality or authenticity. And the online gallery is simple and easy to use as well, which makes it easier on you.

That’s it

And that’s it. That is my process after the weddings or portrait sessions. It’s something that I get asked about often it’s great to let my client’s know what to expect after we have fun at their wedding or portrait session.

 

Feature Article on Digital Photography School

Hey everyone!

I know there's been a little bit of silence over here on the blog since the new year has begun, and I'm hoping to get back into blogging more regularly now that we are done being sick!  Yep, my baby had a really bad ear infection and then he got me sick, and well, it's always a cycle of germs with kids, right? 

In December, I wrote an article for one of the best resources in the photography world: Digital Photography School, or DPS. When I first started learning photoshop, I was a regular at DPS.  We're talking, about 12 or 10 years ago, and I was working with Photoshop CS2! I remember staying up really late, following the tutorial videos in order to learn how to create layers, what the healing brush tool did, and yes, even the simple cropping tool.  I had taken courses in college but they were not as specific to what I wanted to learn.  I didn't want to create a brochure (although, now I could use that knowledge!) but rather how to cross process, use actions, and resize a photo.  DPS was always my handy resource.

Now, they've grown to include so many great articles and tutorials from seasoned and experienced experts from around the globe!  I still go back to the site when I have question or simply want to read how to do something new in photography.   That's the great thing about photography isn't it? The fact that you can always learn something new!

It's with great, great, excitement that I share with you that I was able to write a great and helpful tutorial: 6 Tips for Better Engagement Photos.  It's a great post for photographers of all levels! I'm also so excited that it's already been shared a good 395 times! I'm so happy!

2016-08-04_0003.jpg

I am hoping to write more articles for photographers on DPS as I truly believe in their website and helping other photographers grow, learn, and create community.  

Head on over and check out the article, and many more great tips and tricks!!! 

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! 

Why every bride should consider having a Day After Session | Tips for Brides

It's more often than not, that I have brides who ask if I photograph trash the dress sessions.  I usually try and answer this by offering them a Day After session instead.  I believe every bride, especially brides who decide to have a destination wedding, should considering having a session like this.  So, I'm going to explain why and what the differences are between the two types of sessions.  

What is a Day After session?

A day after session is one of my favorites! They were known as Bridal Portraits and it is a session where you put on your wedding attire, choose a beautiful and breath taking location, and take your time creating some really beautiful photography of you and your hubby.  Usually, I like to do this one or two days after a wedding and choose a lighter, relaxed look - which is especially nice for destination weddings! That way you don't have to really worry about the portraits on the day of the wedding and can enjoy the party.  

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

Sometimes, it just so happens that the time line of the wedding day doesn't fit into the perfect time for portraits.  Like the wedding of Cristy + Eduardo, who's wedding took place in the early afternoon, which was bright and sunny.  Not to mention during that hot and humid weather in Cancun.  The ideal time was 6:30am, when the sun rises behind the beautiful waters.  Which is what we decided to do a couple days following the wedding.  

Why do I love Day After sessions?

I love Day After Sessions because of the more relaxed look of the bride and groom.  We can take our time creating something really unique and all of the emotions from being recently married are still present.  We have giggles, flirtation, deep kisses, and emotional hugs.  We have your beautiful dress and his suit to tie in the session with your wedding.  We can create wall print worthy photographs and so that you can relive all of the emotions of your wedding!   It's a session where you can even go for a different look than on your wedding day - maybe going for hair down and more dramatic makeup.   

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

left, day of wedding. right, day after session.

What is Trash the Dress?

Trash the dress is a session where you put on your wedding dress back on and either alone or with your husband, go out and essentially "trash" your wardrobe.  This could mean rolling around in the water at the beach or a lake, I've even seen people do this in rivers, or throw paint at each other, or perhaps just go out to a field and get dirty in the mud.  

 feel like Trash the Dress sessions are really forced and not all that natural.  Plus, since most of my clients are destination weddings, lugging a wet or dirty dress on the airplane is just a pain in the butt.  

Really, it comes down to having some really beautiful, unique, authentic and real photographs of the two of you and not something forced into a theme or weird shot of you floating in the water (like a dead fish).  I know, I know, there are some really rad photographs taken under water and there are some photographers who really nail it.  For me, it's a matter of preferring the natural and beauty in wedding photos rather than "trashing" them.


What do you think? Would you rather have a Day After Session or a trash the dress?  Let me know in the comments below!

 

What should I wear?! | Tips for Portraits

I am so happy that my clients are as wonderful as they are.  I am also happy that they ask all the right questions when it comes to their portrait session.  Where should we shoot? What time is best? and of course, What should I/we wear?

I've put together some examples and tips to help you answer that question.  Ultimately, it depends a lot on your own personality.  Keep reading and you'll see why :).

1.  LOCATION AND WARDROBE

Now that you've settled on a great location for your session it's time to start searching for the perfect outfit.  There are many different ideas behind wardrobe, many photographers will tell you that you should match the background/location.  Others will give you basic guidelines and tell you what not to wear - large prints, too many busy colors, etc.  But I'm going to make it super easy for you to figure this out.  Here are two important questions to ask before putting it all together:

  • Do you want to be colorful and really stand out from the background?
  • What kind of feeling do you want to have in your portraits?

These two questions will help you determine what to wear depending on the location.  I know it's not a detailed, however, this will help you determine what kind of color scheme you should wear. If you want to stand out from the background, perhaps loud and bright colors are for you. If you want more of a calm feeling, then perhaps some neutrals.  And if you want serious and formal, then add in some grey and black to mix. 

 

2.  SEASON 

Ok, now that you have the location set and the feeling you are going for, it's time to consider another important factor: Season.  During the summer, you want to stay cool.  Especially if you live in an area where temps can reach the triple digits at 8pm.  *Hi California!*  

For example, if you're shooting in the summer try light or bold colors with a little added fun and keep it lively.  If you are having your fall portraits, think boots, scarves, and hats.  This way you don't look out of place with the background during the season you are having your session in.  


3.  PERSONAL STYLE

Your personality is the number one important factor in a portrait session.  I make it a point to capture my client's' personality during the session.  This is great because no one wants stale photos that look like the family before hand.  I try to mix it with a few fun personality photos and a few classic photos.

This is where your personal style comes shining through and sets your photos apart from anyone else.  How you feel comfortable in your favorite outfit is so important and creates fun, natural, and YOU photographs.  Don't wear something that you wouldn't normally wear or something that makes you feel uncomfortable.  It always shows in the photos. 


4.  TYPE OF SESSION

The type of session that you are going to have can determine the wardrobe.  Of course we want your personal style to shine through, however, if you're having a maternity session, maybe we can play with some fabric to create more ethereal and serene photos.  

Family session?  Here we can play with each member's' personal style and add to the overall look of the family! It's especially important to allow kids to shine and have a lot of fun! 

Each session is different and so it's important to discuss this with your photographer and get ideas of how your session can be more fun and really let you shine!

5.  STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR?  BRING YOUR WHOLE CLOSET

I probably say this more often and it is such a huge help.  Usually my clients look at me like, "really Jackie, just whatever I want?"  

Yes!  I'm totally serious when I say to bring all of the outfits you love and feel great in.  Load up your car with your closet.  I say this because it is such a horrible feeling to have wanted to bring an outfit but didn't and now, you wish you had.  So bring it all.  I love being able to sort through the outfits and help my clients choose the best outfits for their session.  It's like being a stylist and knowing what will look best!

That is my job, after all, to make you look your absolute best!


I hope these tips help you at your next portrait session.  Speaking of which, I'm so excited for the fall mini sessions we'll be having in October!  Can't wait to have lots of fun creating unique photos for some awesome people! Yay! 

If you liked these tips and found them useful, please share them with your friends! I'm sure they have the same questions when it comes to their photo sessions :).  

Until next time, Happy Thursday!

 

How much time should we allow for portraits? | Tips for Brides

There are so many resources out on the web today with helpful tips and timelines and checklists.  But no one ever admits that these brides are usually first time brides!  As a bride, it's tough to start the planning process let alone create an entire itinerary for a 16 hour day.  Yes, you read that right, 16 hours!  It's a long day and most people don't realize that it goes in flash and so many beautiful moments happen in the blink of an eye.  


This is probably the most asked question I get during a client meeting.  

The answer: at least two hours.  

Sounds like a big chunk of time out of your day?  Keep reading to see why you need those two hours on your wedding day.

1.  HAVING A BUFFER

During your day anything can happen.  Anything from arriving late to not having your makeup and hair done at the set time.  Or maybe you simply needed to eat breakfast, shifting the timeline back 30 minutes.  In which case, I'm completely all for it.  I rather have a fed bride rather than a hungry bride and 30 minutes less to photographer her.  Anyway, as you can see, there are so many unforeseen things that can happen during the day and having those two hours in reality turns into one and half hours or *gasp* one hour.  

A real story: I once had a bride get to her portraits an hour late.  Rather than sitting around and waiting, I was able to move the itinerary around and photograph the groomsmen first and some family portraits.  This way, I was able to move that hour to after the ceremony and create some great photos for my clients.  If I didn't have a buffer, we may not have gotten so many images from the wedding.  

Having a buffer to allow for amazing photos of you and your hunny is indispensable. As photographers, having that wiggle room helps us to really take our time in framing, posing, and letting us roam the location for great light and unique spots.  If we're running behind, then I need to work quickly on my top 3-5 spots and bang out the photos and create something amazing.  And get you to the church on time!  If we're ahead of time, then I know I can experiment more and create something that's different, unique, and maybe toy around with ideas that otherwise we wouldn't have the chance.  

2.  ALONE TIME

Your day is full to the brim.  Full of wonderful moments, family, friends, and everything inbetween.  What your day doesn't have a lot of is ALONE TIME with your hunny.  Most brides don't realize this until the day of.  Between getting ready with your girls to the infinite line of hugs after the ceremony, your day is filled with people.  And while this is the whole point of a wedding - sharing with friends and family- you have to share the day with your hunny too.  

It doesn't matter if you're doing the portraits before the ceremony or after, having this alone time is so important for the two of you because it'll be the only time you'll have truly alone.  

Seems selfish?  NO WAY!  Having your guests there to celebrate with you is important, however, being able to relish in your love together for a moment, all alone, while taking some crazy beautiful photos sets the day apart.  When you look back on those photos you'll remember being alone.  You'll remember how it felt when that photo was taken, all the excitement and love toward one another.  Photo after photo will make you want to go back to those two hours when you kissed with tender love.  Just the two of you.

3. MORE PHOTOS

Needless to say, having enough time for just the two of not only makes you feel more excited, it also lets the photographer take their time.  I love to take my time creating something unique and timeless for my clients.  To take all the love they have for each other and make it tangible through photos.  Which also allows for more photos of the two of you.  Gone are the days of your grandmother's wedding portrait - standing together holding hands facing the camera and smiling.  

Having this amount of time lets us explore, go places, experiment, and have fun!  And who doesn't want to have fun on their wedding day? 

More time = more photos.  More ways to remember and relive your wedding day over and over again.  


Now, don't worry, I usually take care of the itinerary for my clients since it's probably the last thing they want to worry about.  I make sure that everything runs smoothly and we can get the amazing photographs that my clients want.  Don't let anyone talk you into having less time for your photos.  It's important not only for alone time, but for having a buffer, and creating more great photos of the two of you!  

After all, your flowers won't last and your dress will go into storage.  What is left are your photographs making your wedding unforgettable.

Did you like these tips?  Share them with a friend or comment your tips below in the comments section, I'd love to hear your thoughts!  

Happy Saturday!

 

Must haves on the morning of your wedding

The morning of your wedding can set the tone for the entire day.  I've compiled some tips so that you have a great morning full of laughter and happiness while you get ready to walk down the aisle and say I Do to your soul mate.  

These tips also help your photographer capture the day beautifully with lots of details so that you don't forget how you felt that morning.  That's what is so great about photography, it really does capture the feeling of your day and when you look back, you can relive those feelings again and again! 

1.  GETTING READY ROBE

Having a special robe while you're getting ready makes the day even more special.  A special robe makes the whole experience feel like a spa and creates that spa like atmosphere! And if you can get your bridesmaids to participate with getting ready attire, then it feels like you're all at the spa together enjoying and taking advantage of being pampered.

2.  GET READY IN A HOTEL 

Getting ready in your home can be a more cost effective solution, however, getting ready in a hotel room can take away the stress of having to clean up after and coordinating everyone to get ready in your home.  The photos in a hotel room are also much prettier as they always have great window light and decoration.  They also provide lots of spaces to photograph you, the bride, by herself in beautiful settings without.

3.  HAVE EVERYONE DRESSED BEFORE YOU GET DRESSED

This tip is so important when it comes to your photographs.  Having your bridesmaids and your mom, and who ever is going to get you ready be dressed and ready to go.  Everyone looks beautiful and there is nothing to distract from the moment of getting their friend ready for her big day.  It's special and only happens once, and when everyone is ready the photos are effortless and beautiful.  They also look great inside of your album to help tell the story of your day.

4.  THE NIGHT BEFORE IS IMPORTANT TOO

This is technically the night before but can affect your day in so many ways.  Drink plenty of water so that you are refreshed the morning of your day.   Try to do a relaxing activity and allow all of your thoughts to float away.  Stressing out about any last minute details of your day can really wreck your mood the next day.  

5.  DON'T STRESS 

Don't stress out about anything on your day.  In my experience, something always goes awry on the day of... can be anything from traffic to having less time for your photos.  These things happen and it's better that you don't stress.  Take on the day knowing what is most important: vowing to love your soulmate!  That is the real reason why you are up and getting ready for your day.  When you take on the day without stressing about the day, you will enjoy every moment of it and it'll show in your photographs.

I hope that these tips help you when your big day comes!  Don't forget to have some bubbly as well!