Tag Archives: Photography

What to do with your wedding photos after the wedding

Jane, of A La Carte Albums, is a rockstar, and has gone and written this ridiculously useful post full of SOLID GOLD information for me. Everything you need to know, and all your options for keeping photos including very frugal ones. She knows her stuff. Thank you, Jane!

First up, managing your digital files. Digital files get corrupted, which sucks. Here’s what you need to do:

Get all your digital files in one place. Consider renaming, or adding to the metadata if you have a tool that will do that, the names of the people in the picture, so you remember 20 years from now. Then copy them to a second place – in the cloud is nice (dropbox is free for 2 GB, and google drive, too.) Or maybe a flickr account. Also, burn a CD. Burn a new CD every anniversary (with or without new additions), and look at them before you burn to see if anything got corrupted and needs to be restored from elsewhere. Print the important ones at least as 4x6s, and distribute prints widely to people that will actually keep them.

For the physical album, your concern is getting things in an archival format, so that the pictures won’t deteriorate over time.

Old-school paper albums with photo corners are a great combination of awesome and affordable. And I love that they are really archival, which is important for that heirloom, grandkids looking at it and making fun of your hairstyle aspect. I remember sitting in *my* Grandmother’s living room, looking at a big book with black paper pages and black and white photos held in with photo corners! Definitely a “not broke, don’t fix it” solution.

As to *which*, there are lots and lots of good options, both online and readily available in crafty stores, but I have a particular fondness for screw-post types like Kolo and others make, because you can add and subtract pages. This is good because a) you don’t have to design your layout to a page count; wiggle room makes things a lot easier and b) you can add stuff later, like honeymoon or kid pictures, or subtract the pictures of your cousin’s then-boyfriend-now-ex who everyone now hates.

If you fall in love with handmade Italian leather albums with gold leaf details, this stops being a frugal option, but the pretty (while truly awesome if you are into that) is not more archival; all as long as the paper is sturdy and acid-free, you’re pretty much good to go even if it wasn’t designed to be a photo album; Watercolor artist books made for sketching/on-the spot painting are also nice, and can be found very inexpensively at the art supply store. If the cover is ugly or plain, paint/collage over it.

If you don’t like the look of photo corners, check out “glue dots” and “adhesive sleeves” – basically, go hit up your local scrapbooker for knowledge on how to get your pictures to stay on with the look you want. Removable is better than totally glued down/collaged, in my opinion, in case you ever need to make copies or have something restored.

Leather that was actually made from a cow that you can get on an 8×10 or above book for less than $30ish is not good leather. Possibly not even good pleather, so if you are someone who actually notices the PVC fumes in bad pleather or is going to be really sad when the spine shows wear really quickly, don’t get cheap leather/pleather. Bookcloth/fabric/paper can be really lovely and quality while still being affordable. (This is more important to keep in mind when buying online; in person, your fingers and nose should tell you all you need to know.)

The Design-and-Print Album option 1: Blurb is still my favorite of the paper/pressbook places, because I think their design software is pretty easy to use and the quality is solid for the price.  Also, get on their mailing list a while before you want to order your book, because they hand out coupon codes like candy.

I would not even hazard a guess on how these will look in 75 years; I just don’t know, but I don’t trust regular paper the way I do photo (silver halide) prints or good giclee prints, which have actually been tested for archival-ness.  There is a lot of competition in this market, but it is not always obvious who is quality-for-a-good-price and who is cheap-because-cheaply-made. Pay attention to details like paper weight and sewn bindings (usually good) versus glued (more variable depending on the skill of the person making it and the glue used.)  Design software that warns you when you are trying to make a low-resolution image print too large is a useful thing to look for when choosing.

Design-and-Print Album option 2: Adorama Pix has added books that use actual photographic pages, basically flush albums; I haven’t held them in my hands yet, or tried their design software, but have been hearing good things and I know they are solid as a print lab; they are more expensive than paper, of course, but you’ve got more assurance of longevity.

Get an archival box, like one of these, and fill it with 4×6 prints, and keep it where you will open it up and look at it occasionally. If you use the option that many labs have of printing the pictures with a quarter inch white border, it’s easier to look through them without worrying about fingerprints.

Books designed to be designer/architect’s presentation books are often very good looking, and can be (but aren’t necessarily, read the info carefully) archival and are look really cool in a very modern way, if traditional isn’t your style. You would be making bigger prints to fill these, which edges up the price. Prat and Pina Zingaro make lovely sleek options.

The make frames, sometimes sold as for children’s artwork, that are designed to be easy to switch pictures in and out of. Get one or two for your wall/coffeetable, and commit to changing the picture in it every month; you get to revisit the wedding memories in an album-like way, without sitting down and looking through a book. A mat between the photo and the frame both makes it look more elegant, and protects the photo from becoming stuck to the glass from time or humidity changes.

See? Solid freakin gold. 


Wedding makeup for a hot, humid, outside wedding

I am writing this on the day that is ONE MONTH away from my wedding. I freaked out a little when I went to google calendar the other day and noticed that my wedding day is now visible in the little calendar grid on the left. And then I wrote a list of everything wedding related I still have to do, and there were thirty things. One a day. Except that’s still not going to be enough, because really I want to be finished like at least week before. Anyway, I have now managed to cross off the line that said “figure out makeup”, so that helps.

Turns out it wasn’t as straightforward as one might think. To begin with, I’m doing it myself. Because money. Also because the physical experience of someone else putting eyeliner and eyeshadow on me makes me really on edge, and because the two or three times professional makeup artists have done my makeup, they turned me into a clown each time. Not everyone is best flattered by a solid ring of black liner, you know? Personally I look like my eyes have been punched back into my skull. A clown with their eyes punched in, that’s me.

So anyway, I have a few variables to contend with for wedding makeup.
1.Equator levels of sunshine.
2. Extremely high humidity.
3. Flash photography.

Because of 1, I normally go around with sunscreen on, which because of 2, triggers an immediate melting of  my face, which does not bode well for 3. Also not boding well for 3, is titanium oxide based sunscreen, which I choose because I also am dealing with 4, sensitive, rosasea*-ry skin.

There is a bit of a conundrum here. If you’re getting married out in the sunshine, especially if you have sensitive skin, you have to choose between protecting your face with sunscreen, or having photos where your face looks white. I think as long as there are no flashes, you won’t get the white ghost effect, so it really depends on what time of day the wedding happens, and whether or not flash photography is going to need to happen. Ours will be starting late afternoon, and definitely proceeding through many a dark hour, so I’ve decided to just go without sunscreen.

Then there’s the oiliness issue. Left to its own devices, my skin will go out of control, so I’m taking every step possible to minimise oiliness. This boils down to using a shine stopper underneath my makeup, and using a matte foundation in the form of a powder. If my nose gets too shiny, I can just pile some more of that stuff on.

It’s also recommended to go sheer with makeup if you’re getting photographed in the sunshine. Plus it just feels better in the skin. So ultimately, what is needed is a sheer, matte foundation that’s good on oily skin, has good staying power, and isn’t mineral based. Thanks to beautypedia, I compiled a shortlist:

Frugallywed’s recommended foundation options for a hot, humid summer wedding:
Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup
Make Up Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation
Maybelline New York Dream Smooth Mousse Foundation
Nars Sheer Matte Foundation
Sephora Mattifying Compact Foundation
Body Shop All in one Face Base
Clinique Perfectly Real Compact Makeup
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
Make Up For Ever Due Mat Powder Foundation

Oh and by the way, you don’t need a primer. Primer does nothing. Here is Paula Begoun, she of evidence based skin care, which you may recall is a vision of Utopia, on the subject. Some choice excerpts: “Most primers are a blend of water and silicones and essentially function as lightweight moisturizers that make skin feel silky” and “As long as your skin-care routine is leaving your face smooth and free from the buildup of dead skin cells and excess oil, you’re not going to see much (if any) benefit from using a primer.” —> so just use your normal moisturiser, if you need it. 

BONUS: There is no sponsored content in this post, yay!

For lips, I used beautypedia again to search for sheer lipstick with good ratings, made a shortlist of options, and checked out colour swatches online, because I have very specific ideas about what kind of colour I want. Then I went to MAC and Chanel and tried a few, and ended up with Chanel Boy. Iz pretty. I’m gonna use that puppy for my cheek colour too.

Ok now eyes. Obviously a waterproof mascara is needed, and I already owned Maybelline Define-a-lash, so, done. There are heaps of good waterproof mascaras around. For eyeliner that stands up to a long, teary day, Paula Begoun says gel eyeliners are the way to go. I didn’t want black or sparkles, which are apparently the only options where I live if you look in a pharmacy, so I went with Bobbi Brown in Granite Ink.

And finally, concealer, the makeup product I am more intimate with than any other. Oh concealer, how I adore you. Thank you for stopping people from telling me I look tired. I’m not tired ok, this is how my face is! I have the kind of under eye dark circles that are caused by the physiological structure of my face. I won the lottery on that one! Basically, the lack of volume under my eyes means the muscle, along with its inherent vascular system, is visible through my skin. Actually when I am super tired and things get puffy, the dark circles improve. I think a lot about some day getting restylane injections under my eyes, but until then, nothing but heavy camouflage is going to cut it. I use a corrector followed by a concealer, both from Bobbi Brown. All the other ones I’ve tried are wimps.

Oh yeah and eyeshadow. I haven’t got my eyeshadow yet. It is now item number 31 in my to do list.

*Speaking of rosacea, an interesting paper was recently published about it. Turns out, rosacea may be caused by mite feaces in your poresWhaat? And hell yeah, I’ll link to the original paper, by Jarmuda et al (2012). If you don’t have rosacea, don’t get too smug, because those mites are in your skin too. It’s good times, being a human. This has been a public service science announcement.

How to pay for everything else that isn’t the wedding

As much as I love discussions about wedding budgets, and I think there’s not nearly enough of that going on, I also think they’re a bit misleading. In the bigger financial picture, there is so much more to getting married than putting on a wedding.

Things that are not in my official wedding budget, but are marriage related include:
Rings. And I didn’t even have an engagement ring, which let’s face it, is common practice and tends to be costly. We are having wedding rings though, and those things are important to me and something we intend to wear forever. So it’s not a trivial cost.
Honeymoon. Hello. WHY does no one talk  about how they financed the honeymoon.
A physical photo album. Turns out, digital files get corrupted. I’ve got my eye on A La Carte Albums*.
Makeup, shoes, jewellery or any other thing that will get re-used but still has to be bought for the wedding.
A thousand incidental costs that will occur close to the wedding. Stuff like picking people up from the airport, making sure we have enough sheets, pillows etc. for everyone who’s staying over, taking visitors out on site seeing excursions. Giving them lots of cups of tea.

In addition, many like to indulge in such pleasures as
A rehearsal dinner, which is evidently A Thing in the States, but happily is yet to become A Thing in other places, as far as I can tell (long may this last!).
An engagement party.
An engagement
‘sesh’ oh god that term is like nails on chalkboards. Please just say session. While we’re at it, please tell me that I am not the only one who finds the term ‘adorbz’ to be kind of, irritz. It’s just really annoyz.  It makes me want to have a stomping sesh.  
Honeymoon attire. 

And probably a bunch of things I couldn’t even think of. Oh yeah, and I also just remembered that some time next year, M and I will be having a second wedding reception in our hometown, Auckland, for all the peeps there that couldn’t make it.

So that’s all quite a lot. And if you are following the guidelines of basic personal finance advice, you should be doing all of this without a) going into debt, or b), sacrificing your long term savings.

Back when I wrote the How to Decide on Your Wedding Budget series, I talked about the fact that typically you might have 10-20% of your annual post-tax income to spend on stuff that isn’t bills and other day to day expenses. So I reckoned 10-20% was a reasonable wedding cost, and chose 10% as the benchmark to use as a way of erring on the cautious side. But now I realise that it wasn’t cautious at all: you’re probably going to need the entire other 10% to fund all this other stuff. And this is assuming you don’t have even more financial demands the year leading up to your wedding – student loans, an emergency, a friend’s wedding in Bali to attend. A period of unemployment. Gah!

There’s really no way around it. The year before your marriage is going to be expensive. Your options are going to be to keep the actual wedding costs at 10% or less of your income, and watch what you’re doing with the engagement, honeymoon plans, and rings whilst hoping to have no emergencies, to keep the total under 20%, OR since a lot of people are already under a lot of financial pressure and don’t have that money to spare, do without all those extras. Though you probably still want rings. In light of my revelation the other week that plenty of people can’t really manage even just the wedding without family help, all of this is pretty bleak.

Ultimate moral of this story: I wish the majority of wedding blogs were about small budget weddings.  Sigh, what’s new.

*This company will edit your wedding photos and compile them into an album.  I really dig this because it meshes perfectly with the idea that your wedding photos are going to be taken by lots of people (ie, a few by professionals plus lots by multiple guests). A La Carte Albums will put them into a coherent narrative. Such a great option for those of us who can’t afford/refuse to buy the big packages from photographers.

$5500 Wedding budget: Photography (What to do when you have $850 or less for photos)

Enough already with the tales of my own wedding, let’s get back to general wedding theorising. I think it’s more fun. Onward with my favourite wedding topic: figuring out what a average wedding would be like if people only had weddings they could afford.

If your wedding budget is $5500, you have about $850 to spend on photography. But $5500 is just the estimate for the (New Zealand) median, which means half of all people would be working with less than that. If your wedding budget was $2500, you’d have about $380 to spend on photography.

A freaking joke, right? Check this out: the price quote for A Practical “fighting the system yet sponsored by Proctor and Gamble” Wedding’s* most recent photography advertorial. The starting rate given is $2950 for 8 hours of photography. Which translates to a total wedding budget of about 19k. Which to comfortably afford means an annual post-tax income of $190k. (APW is always looking out for the little guy!)

It all seems pretty hopeless, especially when you read blog after blog talking about how photography is the most important thing. Skimp on everything else, but for the love of cake, splurge on the photography! But I offer you salvation:

1. Stellar photos aren’t actually that important. Seriously, how often are you really going to look at these photos in the future? Daily at first, then once a year? After the first decade will you stop looking at them once a year? And will your affection for them really be dependent on the quality of the photos, or will it be dependent on the happiness of your memories from that day? Do you have any old, crappy quality pictures, from say your childhood, that you love and treasure?

2. Covering every minute of the day isn’t that important. The photographers’ unaffordable ‘basic package’ starting prices have a bad habit of including 6 or 8 hours of coverage.

I submit to you that you do not need that much time. I submit to you that endless pictures of the wedding party in different poses are redundant, not to mention a waste of everyone’s time especially if it happens during the reception, by Jove. Also, who gives a crap about immortalising the moment the bride applied her eyeliner. I submit to you that there is such a thing as enough photography, and it involves a full length shot of the couple, a face shot of the couple, some family group shots, and a picture of each partner with their wedding party. The stuff after that is gravy.

3. A lot of your guests have cameras. Just because there is no professional present, doesn’t mean moments aren’t being captured. In fact, your guests might be so busy acting like a crowd of paparazzi that you’ll need to actually tell them to stop it. You know how when you have a night out with your friends, a few photos always end up getting taken?  And, you know how you never find yourself wishing, Oh, If only there had been a professional photojournalist with us to take photos of us all at Beerfest? (Bad example?)My point is, there WILL be photos of your wedding day, and they will be good enough.

So here’s what I reckon people should do: hire a professional for the length of time your budget allows for, and get your portraits taken during that time. Get the group shots that are necessary, and then spend the rest of the time you have on couple portraits, and then some photojournalism of the ceremony and  the beginning of the reception if time allows. At the reception let your guests do what people do anyway at parties, which is take photos. Ask everyone to upload their pics to a photo sharing site somewhere, or to just send them to you. Choose your favourites to collect into your own album.

The thing about all those unaffordable photography packages is that if you break it down to an hourly rate, it suddenly becomes an option to get them for an hour or two. For the photographer listed above at 8 hours for $2950, that works out at arout $370 per hour. Not that that’s what that person would charge, but it illustrates the range you’re working with. Even on a legitimately low budget, you could still have someone relatively high end do your portraits for an hour before the ceremony.

I recommend figuring out the hourly rates of various photographers, finding ones you like, and then approaching them with your numbers and asking what they can for you. The Wedding Photojournalist Association is a good place to start – it’s international, and list prices (sometimes by the hour!) of photographers with links to their websites.

That is what I did. I found a handful of photographers that charge around $200 per hour, told them I have $450 to work with, and said, What have you got? The one I chose in the end offered me 2.5 hours photography with the ferry transport to the resort included. He’s offering me something less than his normal hourly rate because, get this, the fact that my wedding is so low budget and quirky (read: short casual dress) makes it valuable to him as a photographer! It’s a sweet sweet feeling when the industry works in your favour.

*I did manage to stay off APW for quite some time after I wrote this post, and it was awesome. And then I started hate-reading it.

Podcast: Me talking wedding budgets with Rogue Bride and Hindsight Bride

I’m not saying this is exactly what went down, but when I remember recording this podcast with Rogue Bride and Christie from Hindsight Bride, these are the words I recall being said:

Christie: Lindsay writes an angry, righteous blog…
Me: What? No, I’m a nice person, I swear!

Me: Wedding budget calculator. Income. Wedding budget calculator. Percentage. Calculator.
Them: You’re a massive nerd.

Them: Wait, is it REE-dill, or rye-DELL?
Me: What the hell are you guys talking about.

All of us: Sha-vari chairs? Key-uh-vari? What is that anyway, frikkin Italian or something?

Christie: Rainbows and sausages.

Rogue: I’m going to punch myself in the face.

Them:*giving me compliments*
Me: You guys are the nicest people ever!
Them: What? No, we’re badass, we swear!

Shorter version:
Them: It’s nice that you’re badass.
Me: It’s badass that you’re nice.
(Thank you Robyn Sherbotsky and Ted Mosby.)

According to Rogue and Christie, my South African – Kiwi mongrel of an accent sounds sexy to the American ear. I’m not sure I believe them. Certainly I don’t think either saffas or kiwis enjoy my deviations from their norms much. So it’s possible they were just being super nice to me again. They’re tricksy like that. They keep saying nice things to you and offering to do nice things for you, and then also doing them, and then the next thing you know, you really really like them and start to feel like doing nice things back. It’s how they suck you in. They’re selfish like that.

You can listen to the podcast and assess my accent for yourself here.

What should the point of wedding photography be?

I want to have a conversation about wedding photography. Not about the price (there’s no argument; it’s expensive), but the role photography should play in a wedding, and what roles different styles of photography play. And figuring out what I want for myself.

I think about wedding photography as coming in 3 broad flavours, with some fuzzy boundaries between them:
1. Portraiture
2. Photojournalism
3. Editorial

Now, hyper editorial stuff bugs me. This is the one where the couple are essentially acting out parts in a make-believe story. It’s like fake photojournalism. “Oh, we’re just wandering down this lonely dirt road dressed in a suit and satin gown. I guess our car must have broken down 2km back that way. But it’s ok, because clearly we’re about to have some sort of very romantic adventure.” Or, “My friends and I hang out draped across trees/playground equipment in various poses like this all the time.” (Haha, these are fun. I should stop now though*).

I think it comes from trying to emulate magazines. In order to artfully showcase fashion, and make it more compelling, magazines often weave a fantasy story around a photoshoot. It’s a story we pretend is true but is not. They do so in the absence of a real story happening. That’s cool, nothing wrong with telling stories as an artform. But when you get married, there is a real story happening. But now we have people pretending to be in magazines, which are pretending to be real.

So my ideals were very ‘all photojournalism, all the time’ until I came across a comment on East Side Bride one time (I searched but I can’t find it anymore. I think it was years ago anyway) where a wedding photographer pointed out that portraits do in fact serve a purpose. It would be nice, one day when our wedding is in the past, to look back at clear pictures of who we were on that day. Particularly I’d love great face shots, to record exactly what our faces were like on the day we got married. Actually I kind of already wish I had some great face shots of momentous occasions in my past – like, this is how I was on day I immigrated to New Zealand, or, this is how my mother and I looked on the day I moved out of her place and started living independently.

I do think the portrait sessions easily get overblown though – what is the real purpose of having a picture with each possible combination of relatives? And, for the love of Dog, let’s not waste hours of precious reception time not attending your own celebration, and effectively snubbing your guests. I think a portrait session before the ceremony is a good way to do it.

So I thought I had this all figured out until  listened to Hindsight Bride’s podcast interview with wedding photographer Laura Murray, who talked about giving editorial direction, like telling people move into a space with better light. And now I’m thinking maybe some editorialising is a good thing, provided it is only minorly disruptive.

I’d love to know how wedding photographers feel about these issues. What is the most valuable style of photography? And, given that the full photography package is unaffordable, what should someone do when they only have $700 to spend on photography? Is it better to use it on some great photojournalism, or on some great portraits? Which photos should be done with a photography rock star, and which photos can be pulled off ok by relative amateurs? So many questions!

* “Maybe we should have stayed with the car, because now we appear to be lost next to this abandoned train track we came across”
“In the manner of a Victorian explorer through Africa, we always have porters bring comically heavy and inappropriate furniture when we venture off the beaten track”

Can we rid ourselves of our photography addiction?

Wedding photography is like the black sheep of DIY wedding blogs. There’s a lot to fight when it comes to wanting to be able to afford your wedding, starting with getting past the idea that rich-people parties are the only ones good enough. Once through to the other side though, there’s a growing tide of people campaigning for weddings that aren’t a recipe for financial insanity, and they even make an affordable wedding look charming and covetable.

For each expensive and/or crazy wedding thing, there is someone out there telling you that you can do without it, and your wedding will still be fabulous.

A crazy expensive white ball gown -> someone will tell you short dresses kick ass

Paying a crapload for a fancy-ass venue -> you can find people who say its awesome to just get married at your house

Custom-designed stationary suite -> Miss Manners says it’s cool to just straight-up handwrite your invitations

Elaborate centrepieces -> plain ol’ jars are downright fashionable now

Ridiculous wedding cake -> I will personally explain why that’s bullshit

And so on for virtually every wedding thing you can think of. Except for photography. Because even in the world of “DIY weddings, hear us roar!!” you won’t find anybody saying it’s badass when an amateur takes your photos.

At A Practical Wedding, which serves as a bastion of wedding sanity, expensive photography gets promoted like it’s their job. Which it kind of is, because the sponsors are what bring in the money. There was one time, now lost in the mists of history (2009 people!), where cheap photography was discussed, but barely a peep since then.

Et tu, APW?

And then DIY wedding queen, Hindsight Bride, was so disappointed with her cheap photographers that a year later they literally did a re-shoot of the wedding.

And let’s not pretend I don’t have Moment Junkie linked on my sidebar.

So amazing wedding photography is something EVERYONE has drunk the Wedding Koolaid on (thanks, Rogue, for that term). Why is it that this is the one thing that will not yield? Why is there no website saying “these wedding photos are amateur and awesome”?

I guess it’s because photos (and videos) are the one major artefact of the wedding, the one thing that can be kept to preserve and show a little of what it was like to be there that day.

I certainly get why people see it as non-negotiable to have really good (expensive) photography, and I covet it myself. But can we afford it? This trusty wedding calculator is a fun way to gauge what a reasonable expense for each item within a given budget is. We see that a $10k wedding has room for about $980 worth of photography. Or maybe stripping out a lot of the sillier stuff, you could have $1467 on photography. And let’s not forget, to comfortably afford a $10k wedding, you’re looking at having an annual income as a couple of about $100k, as I explain here, and saving for a year.

But it seems like great photography starts at about $2k (from what I can tell reading other blogs. I haven’t researched photographers in Auckland). This translates to an overall wedding budget of about $15k (with a lot of extras removed), which means you’re ultimately looking at an annual income of $150k. I feel pretty sure this is way above median for marrying age couples*. In other words: only rich people can afford it.

So we have a conundrum. Does anybody know a source of Wedding Koolaid that extols cheap photography?

*Incidentally, I would love to know that statistic.