Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Wedding Photography

Thank you for considering Leah Jean for your wedding photography! In order to give each of our couples the best experience possible, we customize all that we do. Including our pricing. We would love the opportunity to share with you our approach to wedding photography and hear more about your specific wedding day needs and desires.  Please fill out all of the fields below and we will be in touch shortly with a date and time to connect.

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Boston Wedding | the Seaport Hotel

I love my job. I sound like a broken record, I know. But when I look at all of the wonderful weddings I get to be apart of I can’t stop repeating myself.  Can you blame me?  Ina and Leo are examples of what makes my work so special to me. It’s more than photography. It’s about being a part of something so special. It’s about the joy and the love between my clients and their families that I have the privilege of documenting.  If a person has to “focus” for a living, what better things in this world are there to focus on? I can’t think of anything more positive than love; something Ina and Leo are so blessed to have in one another. They are a beautiful couple inside and out. Ina’s smile is as genuine as it is gorgeous and Leo couldn’t be a more patient and kind man. Thank you, both for being such a wonderful clients and for choosing me to be your photographer. I enjoyed every minute with you guys! Thank you to the Sea Port Hotel for being such a fabulous wedding venue.

Boston Wedding at the Seaport HotelBoston Wedding at the Seaport Hotel

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Wedding at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate | Ipswich, MA

Shooting at the Crane Estate is a playground for photographers. Offering the most beautiful scenery in the Northeast, with an elegant English-style mansion dramatically set atop a grassy green hill, gorgeously manicured gardens and miles of barrier beach, I could have stayed and played with these stunning backdrops all day long. Sun, sand, and surf what more could a girl ask for on her wedding day? I think Mariel would say, “nothing!” Her day was a fairytale. She was a breathtakingly beautiful bride on the inside and out and her mother was a hoot, reminding us all where Mariel got her beauty and charm. Mariel’s relationship with both of her parents was special to capture. To me, it adds such authenticity when the bride and groom genuinely value family & friendship rather than going through the formalities just to get the photos. It was obvious that these bonds were real and it was beautiful to see and extremely fun to party with later on at the reception.  Everyone had a blast. Pete and his boys were a riot to watch on the dance floor. As you scroll through this post you can easily imagine the energy that filled the room and fueled this amazing day. Thank you, Mariel and Pete, for making my job easy and for inspiring me all over again. I enjoyed editing your photographs and designing your album so much. I enjoyed my time with you both and wish you all the luck in the world as you grow your lives together.

 

                                                    

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How to Create a Stellar Wedding Day Shot-List

How to Create a Stellar Shot-List

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography| February 8, 2017 | How to Create a Stellar Wedding Day Shot-List

Creating a stellar wedding day shot-list is as easy as it is necessary. This is why professional wedding photographers provide their Brides & Grooms with a Shot-List Template to work from months before their wedding date. It doesn’t matter how many weddings your photographer has shot and how well they “know the routine.” Photographing a wedding without an agreed upon Shot-List is like a contractor building your home without a blueprint. It’s a bad idea…for everyone involved.

At the same time, you want to avoid relying so heavily on your Shot-List that you forget why you hired your photographer in the first place. Your Shot-List is meant to serve as a guide and does not limit creative liberties your photographer will take in between moments.  The best wedding photographers understand the balance between posed and candid photography and they know how to blend in the background while capturing stand-out moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. Moments that aren’t “on the list.” So, don’t stress about missing anything and just enjoy the process.

You will not regret taking the time to accomplish this step in your wedding planning. Creating your Stellar Shot-List offers more than a list of images for your photographer to check off. When done correctly, a Shot-List not only opens the dialogue between you and your photographer but also between you and your fiancé and both sets of parents. It offers the opportunity to express which images are most important to YOU and your family, it offers valuable information to consider while planning your wedding day timeline, it fosters clear communication on your wedding day & reduces unnecessary stress and chaos. Worth it? I’d say, “YES!” So, grab some cozy drinks, snuggle up on the couch with your fiance and your Shot- List Template and let’s get started!

  1. Start by eliminating proposed shot-list ideas that you don’t want or need (perhaps you don’t need ALL of those family permutations)
  2. Add ideas that are important to you (Why not take a picture with your pet?)
  3. Think about your venue and jot down some ideas of where you would like each set of pictures taken
  4. Jot down a list of props or special objects you may want to include in your photos that may need to be gathered or purchased
  5. Call your parents and set up a time to review your Shot-List with them. Allowing mom & dad to offer their input BEFORE your wedding day is another time-saver and stress reducer.
  6. Write out the names and pronunciation of each family member in each particular shot (This is a huge help to your photographer and eliminates chaos during the photo-shoots)
  7. Take this opportunity to jot down any family dynamics that your photographer should be aware of (example: a grandparent who is hearing impaired, family members who don’t get along, strong personalities to watch out for etc)

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more posts by Leah Jean Photography please visit:

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/hybridphotographers/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/rightphotographerforyou/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/first-look/

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Why a First Look & Could it be for You?

First Look

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography | March 15, 2017 | Why a First Look on Your Wedding Day and Could it be for You?

So, you have found your wedding photographer and now you are deciding on how your wedding photography is going to go. Every girl dreams of the magical moment we are about to discuss. We’ve watched it in movies. We’ve read about it in fairy tales. We’ve seen it in photographs. You know the climactic moment I am talking about- when everyone holds their breath in anticipation as the groom sees his bride for the fist time as she walks down the aisle. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful…and it’s traditional. Allow me to make a disclaimer. If you choose not to do a First Look, that is perfectly okay. There are no rules that say you’re a bad bride if you stick with tradition and there is certainly no judgment here. It’s your day, your dream and we are here to help make it all come true the way that you want it. So then why write this post?  Why rock the boat by considering a First Look?

Here’s why. First Looks offer smooth sailing, and I don’t just mean from a logistics perspective. They have the power to set the mood for your entire wedding day. First Looks offer intimacy for the bride & groom to share that special moment together in a safe space where the pressure can deflate and the excitement can grow. Really think about it. Enjoying the few hours before your wedding with each other and your best friends, laughing and taking photos sure beats having your man wait in a little room somewhere left alone with his nerves and racing thoughts until the wedding coordinator gives him his que. And then what? He enters a sanctuary full of people who are staring at his face in anticipation and expectation of his “reaction.” A reaction that he now feels pressure to create.

Leah Jean says it best, “I have shot over one hundred weddings and being in the industry for over 15 years, I have never seen a First Look diminish a groom’s reaction when he locks eyes with his bride as she walks down the aisle. The only thing I’ve seen a First Look diminish is nerves and unnecessary pressure. One thing I’ve learned is that when nerves are gone organic emotions become freely expressed-adding nothing, denying nothing and being fully present in the moment. This is what people want to be a part of. Authenticity. It’s powerful, it’s moving and it’s far from anticlimactic.

So, imagine this with me. Your groom is nervous because all of the sudden everything is becoming very real all at once. Instead of keeping him secluded until the ceremony begins, you agree to meet in a private place. His back is turned. You enter quietly and gently tap his shoulder. He turns to find you standing before him looking as stunning as you ever have. There are no on-lookers. No expectations to meet. No distractions. Just you and him and your photographer who is there capturing the joy and the excitement of these precious moments. AND you don’t have to just stare at each other either. You can embrace. Laugh together. Cry together. And without feeling rushed, move comfortably into your romantic portraits without an audience watching, or anyone punching the clock and rushing you off to the next thing so that your guests don’t get fussy waiting. This is YOUR time to be TOGETHER and ALONE-without a First Look this doesn’t happen on your wedding day. After your romantic portraits, you meet up with your best friends to take more photos and you all have a blast together just before the ceremony begins. Shortly after, you and your groom part ways again. You freshen up your make-up, have some water and prepare to walk the aisle. 

The next thing you know, the processional music begins and it’s time. You are finally living the moment you’ve dreamed about your entire life. As you make your way down the aisle your groom’s smile grows bigger and bigger with each step. Here comes his bride. His best friend. His soul mate. The love of his life and he is about to marry her in just a few more steps. This is what his reaction is about. It’s not about seeing the dress for the first time. It’s not about how perfect your hair and make-up looks. He already knows you’re beautiful. This moment is about so much more than that. And nothing, not even a First Look can take that moment away. I promise.

Before you start feeling like I am beating you on the head with this idea, please remember what I said earlier on in this post. If you opt out of a First Look that is completely okay. I have no agenda in persuading you other than the fact that I want nothing but the BEST for our L.J. Brides. For you, a First Look may not be the best and that is A-Okay. But before you marry that idea take one final look at the benefits of a First Look and then decide. Whichever way you go, we will support you and your day is going to be great!

 

The First Look Experience

  • Couples who opt in for a First Look typically receive 40% MORE portraits together, which is a significant return on your investment.
  • With a First Look, you get to extend your Wedding Day by 3 hours! This is the BEST day of your life. Why rush it? Instead, enjoy every minute relaxing and having fun with your besties as you get ready for the ceremony. Your entire first half of your album will be filled with images from this part of your day.  You will not regret being able to relax and have fun while capturing great images with the most important people in your life.
  • Typically wedding portraits are rushed. But with a First Look that is not the case. In fact, it’s the opposite. You have time to enjoy one another ALONE and your romantic images happen naturally because you are both genuinely in love with each other and relaxed enough to indulge. It’s hard to feel the love when your family and friends are around watching and when you know you’ve got less than an hour to get the shots and get on to the next thing.
  • I know I sound like a broken record but a First Look reduces nerves. In the beginning, many of our Groom’s are not fans of a First Look…until they’ve done it. Then they get it and their tune changes. Most times our guys don’t know how nervous they are going to be because they’ve never attended their own wedding before.
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How to Find the Right Boston Wedding Photographer for You

How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer for You

Boston Wedding Photographer at Leahjeanphoto.com

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography | March 21, 2017 | How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer for You

I hate stereotypes. I always have. People are far too complex to be labeled and split into groups and smart wedding photographers will avoid this at all costs. As much as the wedding industry wants to draw a line between “Budget Brides and “Boutique Brides,” seasoned wedding photographers know that it’s not so simple. Not anymore. According to wedding buzz, Budget Brides have a reputation of being “transactional” by placing their highest priority on lowest price and allowing photography quality and customer experience to take a back seat to their checkbooks. The opposite is true for Boutique Brides who are considered to be “relational” and place highest priority on photography quality and customer experience with little regard to the impact it has on their wallets. The problem with drawing a line between these two “transactional” and “relational” brides is that it leaves little room for the average bride who cares A LOT about ALL of it. Budget. Quality. Experience. And relationship.

As wedding photography has evolved and become more competitive, so have our brides. They are smarter. They have more options. And they know how to negotiate. This is not a bad thing if you are the type of wedding photographer who stands proudly behind your work, offers competitive pricing, high-quality service and remains flexible to customize packages based on the specific needs and desires of their clients. If we are too quick to toss brides into a “budget” or “boutique” box then we are likely going to miss out on opportunities to capture some great weddings. Likewise, brides, if you are too quick to judge a photographer’s value based on pricing alone, you could easily hire the wrong photographer and miss out on an opportunity to work with the right one on your wedding day. That is a costly mistake.

So, where is the balance in it all? How do you navigate through an industry that wants to force you inot a category and market to you there? Most importantly, How do you get in front of leading photographers who won’t write you off because your budget is too small? And how do you avoid booking a photographer whose agenda is to milk you for money just because they think you have it?

  1. Start with an accurate perspective of how much wedding photography costs in your area. We found this study released by The Knot very helpful: The Knot Real Wedding Study. If you are a math person you can crunch some basic numbers pretty quickly and you will notice that Boston brides spend an average of $44,028 on their entire wedding. That is almost 28% higher than the national average. If you increase the national average for wedding photography by that same %28 you will see the average Boston bride spends approximately $3,500 to capture her wedding day.
  2. Know what to look for when selecting your photographer. Keep in mind the 3E’s. Experience, Equipment & Emotion. You want to know that your photographer has lots of experience that comes with a strong portfolio and positive reviews from previous clients. You want to ensure that your photographer is using top of the line equipment and understands photography lighting indoors and outdoors. You also want to make sure that they have everything needed to capture the best images in both environments. Lastly, you want to know that you have an emotional connection with your photographer. Nothing creepy but definitely a connection that allows you to feel relaxed and invites you to have a good time in their company. After all, they will be spending more time with you on your wedding day than anyone. If you do not jive with your photographer’s personality then you will be hard-pressed to create great images when it comes time to stand in front of their camera.
  3. If your photographer does not pass the 3E test this is a red light and you should stop immediately. Take another direction and find a photographer that meets the quality standards you’re looking for. Your wedding is not the time to settle. On the other hand, If your photographer passes the 3E test and their prices are within your budget then awesome and high-fives all around! It’s a green light and you should move on it before another bride passes you and books your date. Good photographers who are reasonably priced book fast. Now, if your potential photographer passes the 3E test but their prices seem higher than you are comfortable with then this is a yellow light and you should proceed with caution. Look closely at the value in what they are offering. Make sure your photographer is listening to your wants and needs and is willing to create a package that works best for you. You want to know that your money is going towards the things that matter most to you. Even if you have an unlimited budget your money could be better spent building a well in Africa than giving it to a sleazy photographer whose agenda is to thin out your wallet because they think you’re a bottomless pit of cash
  4. Do your research and make sure the price being quoted to you is competitive with other photographers who offer similar quality of work. As a rule of thumb, you want to be the cream in the Oreo cookie…right in the middle. You don’t want to be paying the highest and you don’t want to be paying the lowest. And now I want some milk.
  5. Be smart. Listen carefully and be on the lookout for hidden costs that add up along the way. This is uncool and unfortunately, it happens too often in the photography industry. A ‘La Carte pricing is typically more expensive than purchasing a package so make sure you crunch your numbers. Consider the big picture. If you know you want an album and you want to order prints post wedding make sure you understand the price upfront and are not locked into ordering through your photographer’s printer if their prices are ludicrously high. Obviously, a professional printer is going to cost more than your local pharmacy but if you find yourself paying more for product than the cost to shoot your wedding there is a problem. This is how a lot of photographers make their money. They will offer low upfront prices to capture your images and when it comes time to do anything with the photos you are blindsided by the expense and your hands are tied because your contact ensures you have no rights to your images. I will say it again. Uncool.
  6. Be fair. It’s important to understand that higher quality does come with higher prices. Before you “pffff” at the price list, ask questions and give your photographer the opportunity to share why certain things may be more expensive than others. Often times a behind the scenes peek at what it takes to create incredible art puts things into perspective and your blood pressure can come back down. Now, you can intelligently decide if the value is worth it to you.

In summary, find a photographer you can trust who offers amazing work at competitive prices. They may be harder to find but don’t give up and don’t settle. They are out there looking for you too. Best of luck!

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What is a Hybrid Wedding Photographer & Why You Want One

What is a Hybrid Photographer

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography| March 27, 2017 | What is a Hybrid Wedding Photographer and Why You Want One

Have you teetered back and forth between wanting traditional and documentary style wedding photography? It can be a hard call… but doesn’t have to be. All you know is that you definitely don’t want to be the grandchild who leaves a hole on grandma’s wall of formal family wedding photos because no one at your wedding “lined up” and at the same time, you don’t want an album full of different permutations of the same “lined up” photographs that rotate nothing but the people in them. So, what’s a girl to do? The answer is simple. Hire a Hybrid Photographer.

Believe it or not, there is an art to those posed, traditional and more formal wedding portraits that grandma collects on her wall. It’s not as simple as lining everyone up and saying “cheese” at the same time. Although, it sure does seem that way. At the same time, there is an art to capturing candid, more documentary style photographs. At first glance, it would be easy to think that photographing these types of images is idiot proof as well because in essence there is no prep work for spontaneity. Just point and shoot. Right? Except, if that were the case, everyone would be a wedding photographer.

A Hybrid photographer understands the best of both worlds. I love how Leah Jean puts it, “It’s one thing to photograph what something looks like. It’s another thing entirely to photograph what something feels like. But we have to be careful because feelings alone may not be the prettiest to look at. For example, it may be beautiful that the bride is crying but if there is black mascara dripping down her cheeks that are now blotchy and red from tears, then I can confidently say this is not an image she will print and hang over her mantle. Yes, all brides should wear waterproof mascara but you get my point. It’s important to be well-grounded and photograph with a “safety first” mentality. In other words, you better have a few solid ceremony shots before you move in and start focusing on tears.”

When I asked Leah Jean to elaborate on this safety first idea here is what she said, “Take family formals for instance. I capture all family formals in a way that is timeless and clean. I make sure everyone is in the photograph and I pose them pretty straight-forward, smiling and looking at the camera. I give a lot of specific direction. After I know we’ve got the shot and my bases are covered I get to mess it all up and play. This is extremely fun with type-A personalities who want to be told exactly where to place their hands and which direction they should be looking. This time around, I have the pleasure of saying, “Just have fun and see what happens.” More often than not our client’s print a balance of both types of images.

The beauty of shooting this way is that everyone is happy. If you love the photograph of Aunt Sally throwing her head back laughing, awesome!  This may be a great memory to print in black and white. Likewise, if you look at that same photo and hearing Aunt Sally’s laughter sends chills down your back or perhaps you notice a sticky friend in her nose, well then skip it and move on without guilt because you know you have Aunt Sally covered in your family formals.

The same principle applies to the bride’s and groom’s portraits. Safety first to get the shots everyone knows and loves and then have fun playing and capturing shots that are different, daring and full of emotion.

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For related posts visit:

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/wedding-day-shot-list/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/first-look/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/uncategorized/find-right-photographer/

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How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer for You

How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer for You

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography | March 21, 2017 | How to Find the Right Wedding Photographer for You

I hate stereotypes. I always have. In middle school, I thought this was something that would go away when we all grew up and realized that people are far too complex to be labeled and split into groups. But the reality is, it’s gotten worse. The older I get the more I catch myself doing the very thing that I hate.

As I sat down to write this post I was going to write about the two different types of brides that the wedding industry has classified as transactional & relational. My goal was to point out the differences and politely say that if you are a transactional bride looking to pay as little as possible for your wedding photography then you’re on the wrong blog. This would lead one to believe that if you’re a boutique bride willing to pay premium prices then you’re on the right blog. But that is not true either.

As I began writing about both “segments” of people, I realized that it’s not so simple. Yes, it’s true that there is such a thing as a “Budget Bride” and they’ve gotten their name in the wedding photography industry for a reason. These brides tend to fall under the transactional category because it is understood upfront that they are looking for the lowest prices that will get the job done. They want someone to show up with a decent camera, take decent photographs, upload their images and cash their check. To these gals, saving money is their goal and “may the cheapest man win” is their motto.

On the opposite side of the spectrum we have identified, “Boutique Brides,” who tend to be more relational and value customized products, stellar customer service and premium quality. The overall experience with their wedding photographer from start to finish is highly important to them. In fact, one could say that their experience is never really “finished” because the relationship is built to last. Chances are their wedding photographer becomes a friend who is just a phone call away when the need for newborn & family photography arises over the years. Chances are also high that these brides will see their photographer again at future weddings of their friends and family who they referred their photographer to. Their photographer’s personality and all of the small things that happen in between to make their experience special are game changers for these gals and the boutique experience is worth investing their money into no matter the cost.

Sounds simple right? Except it’s not. Especially if you’re a bride reading this post and feeling like you don’t completely “belong” in either one of the stereotypes above. If that is how you feel then that is a good thing and chances are you’re exactly the kind of bride we want reading our blog! And you’re not alone.

There are A LOT of brides out there who are a unique hybrid of the market segments described above. These brides care about quality, relationship AND budget. Despite what some wedding industry guru’s say about target marketing, I don’t believe as wedding photographers we are limited to making a choice between transactional and relational brides. I believe It is possible for these two values to co-exist within our brides and I’d venture to say it’s more common than not. The key is to find each other.

So, where is the balance in it all? How do you navigate through an industry that wants to draw a line between us? Most importantly, How do you get in front of leading photographers who won’t write you off because your budget is too small? And how do you avoid booking a photographer whose agenda is to milk you for money just because they think you have it?

  1. Start with an accurate perspective of how much wedding photography costs in your area. We found this study released by The Knot very helpful: The Knot Real Wedding Study. If you are a math person you can crunch some basic numbers pretty quickly and you will notice that Boston brides spend an average of $44,028 on their entire wedding. That is almost 28% higher than the national average. If you increase the national average for wedding photography by that same %28 you will see the average Boston bride spends approximately $3,500 to capture her wedding day.
  2. Know what to look for when selecting your photographer. Keep in mind the 3E’s. Experience, Equipment & Emotion. You want to know that your photographer has lots of experience that comes with a strong portfolio and positive reviews from previous clients. You want to ensure that your photographer is using top of the line equipment and understands photography lighting indoors and outdoors. You also want to make sure that they have everything needed to capture the best images in both environments. Lastly, you want to know that you have an emotional connection with your photographer. Nothing creepy but definitely a connection that allows you to feel relaxed and invites you to have a good time in their company. After all, they will be spending more time with you on your wedding day than anyone. If you do not jive with your photographer’s personality then you will be hard-pressed to create great images when it comes time to stand in front of their camera.
  3. If your photographer does not pass the 3E test this is a red light and you should stop immediately. Take another direction and find a photographer that meets the quality standards you’re looking for. Your wedding is not the time to settle. On the other hand, If your photographer passes the 3E test and their prices are within your budget then awesome and high-fives all around! It’s a green light and you should move on it before another bride passes you and books your date. Good photographers who are reasonably priced book fast. Now, if your potential photographer passes the 3E test but their prices seem higher than you are comfortable with then this is a yellow light and you should proceed with caution. Look closely at the value in what they are offering. Make sure your photographer is listening to your wants and needs and is willing to create a package that works best for you. You want to know that your money is going towards the things that matter most to you. Even if you have an unlimited budget your money could be better spent building a well in Africa than giving it to a sleazy photographer whose agenda is to thin out your wallet because they think you’re a bottomless pit of cash
  4. Do your research and make sure the price being quoted to you is competitive with other photographers who offer similar quality of work. As a rule of thumb, you want to be the cream in the Oreo cookie…right in the middle. You don’t want to be paying the highest and you don’t want to be paying the lowest. And now I want some milk.
  5. Be smart. Listen carefully and be on the lookout for hidden costs that add up along the way. This is uncool and unfortunately, it happens too often in the photography industry. A ‘La Carte pricing is typically more expensive than purchasing a package so make sure you crunch your numbers. Consider the big picture. If you know you want an album and you want to order prints post wedding make sure you understand the price upfront and are not locked into ordering through your photographer’s printer if their prices are ludicrously high. Obviously, a professional printer is going to cost more than your local pharmacy but if you find yourself paying more for product than the cost to shoot your wedding there is a problem. This is how a lot of photographers make their money. They will offer low upfront prices to capture your images and when it comes time to do anything with the photos you are blindsided by the expense and your hands are tied because your contact ensures you have no rights to your images. I will say it again. Uncool.
  6. Be fair. It’s important to understand that higher quality does come with higher prices. Before you “pffff” at the price list, ask questions and give your photographer the opportunity to share why certain things may be more expensive than others. Often times a behind the scenes peek at what it takes to create incredible art puts things into perspective and your blood pressure can come back down. Now, you can intelligently decide if the value is worth it to you.

In summary, find a photographer you can trust who offers amazing work at competitive prices. They may be harder to find but don’t give up and don’t settle. They are out there looking for you too. Best of luck!

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For more posts by Leah Jean Photography please visit:

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/wedding-day-shot-list/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/first-look/

http://leahjeanphoto.com/bridal-suite/hybridphotographers/

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Why a First Look on Your Wedding Day & Could it be for You?

First Look

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography | March 15, 2017 | Why a First Look on Your Wedding Day and Could it be for You?

So, you have found your wedding photographer and now it is time to start planning how your wedding photography is going to go! Every girl dreams of the magical moment we are about to discuss. We’ve watched it in movies. We’ve read about it in fairy tales. We’ve seen it in photographs. You know the climactic moment I am talking about- when everyone holds their breath in anticipation as the groom sees his bride for the fist time as she walks down the aisle. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful…And it’s traditional. Allow me to make a disclaimer. If you choose not to do a First Look, that is perfectly okay. There are no rules that say you’re a bad bride if you stick with tradition and there is certainly no judgment here. It’s your day, your dream and we are here to help make it all come true the way that you want it. So then why write this post?  Why rock the boat by considering a First Look?

Here’s why. First Looks offer smooth sailing, and I don’t just mean from a logistics perspective. They have the power to set the mood for your entire wedding day. First Looks offer intimacy for the bride & groom to share that special moment together in a safe space where the pressure can deflate and the excitement can grow. Really think about it. Enjoying the few hours before your wedding with each other and your best friends, laughing and taking photos sure beats having your man wait in a little room somewhere left alone with his nerves and racing thoughts until the wedding coordinator gives him his que. And then what? He enters a sanctuary full of people who are staring at his face in anticipation and expectation of his “reaction.” A reaction that he now feels pressure to create.

Boston wedding photographer, Leah Jean says it best, “I have shot over one hundred weddings and being in the industry for over 15 years, I have never seen a First Look diminish a groom’s reaction when he locks eyes with his bride as she walks down the aisle. The only thing I’ve seen a First Look diminish is nerves and unnecessary pressure. One thing I’ve learned is that when nerves are gone organic emotions become freely expressed-adding nothing, denying nothing and being fully present in the moment. This is what people want to be a part of. Authenticity. It’s powerful, it’s moving and it’s far from anticlimactic.

So, imagine this with me. Your groom is nervous because all of the sudden everything is becoming very real all at once. Instead of keeping him secluded until the ceremony begins, you agree to meet in a private place. His back is turned. You enter quietly and gently tap his shoulder. He turns to find you standing before him looking as stunning as you ever have. There are no on-lookers. No expectations to meet. No distractions. Just you and him and your photographer who is there capturing the joy and the excitement of these precious moments. AND you don’t have to just stare at each other either. You can embrace. Laugh together. Cry together. And without feeling rushed, move comfortably into your romantic portraits without an audience watching, or anyone punching the clock and rushing you off to the next thing so that your guests don’t get fussy waiting. This is YOUR time to be TOGETHER and ALONE-without a First Look this doesn’t happen on your wedding day. After your romantic portraits, you meet up with your best friends to take more photos and you all have a blast together just before the ceremony begins. Shortly after, you and your groom part ways again. You freshen up your make-up, have some water and prepare to walk the aisle. 

The next thing you know, the music begins and it’s time. You are finally living the moment you’ve dreamed about your entire life. As you make your way down the aisle your groom’s smile grows bigger and bigger with each step. Here comes his bride. His best friend. His soul mate. The love of his life and he is about to marry her in just a few more steps. This is what his reaction is about. It’s not about seeing the dress for the first time. It’s not about how perfect your hair and make-up looks. He already knows you’re beautiful. This moment is about so much more than that. And nothing, not even a First Look can take that moment away. I promise.

Before you start feeling like I am beating you on the head with this idea, please remember what I said earlier on in this post. If you opt out of a First Look that is completely okay. I have no agenda in persuading you other than the fact that I want nothing but the BEST for our L.J. Brides. For you, a First Look may not be the best and that is A-Okay. But before you marry that idea take one final look at the benefits of a First Look and then decide. Whichever way you go, we will support you and your day is going to be great!

The First Look Experience

  • Couples who opt in for a First Look typically receive 40% MORE portraits together, which is a significant return on your investment.
  • With a First Look, you get to extend your Wedding Day by 3 hours! This is the BEST day of your life. Why rush it? Instead, enjoy every minute relaxing and having fun with your besties as you get ready for the ceremony. Your entire first half of your album will be filled with images from this part of your day.  You will not regret being able to relax and have fun while capturing great images with the most important people in your life.
  • Typically wedding portraits are rushed. But with a First Look that is not the case. In fact, it’s the opposite. You have time to enjoy one another ALONE and your romantic images happen naturally because you are both genuinely in love with each other and relaxed enough to indulge. It’s hard to feel the love when your family and friends are around watching and when you know you’ve got less than an hour to get the shots and get on to the next thing.
  • I know I sound like a broken record but a First Look reduces nerves. In the beginning, many of our Groom’s are not fans of a First Look…until they’ve done it. Then they get it and their tune changes. Most times our guys don’t know how nervous they are going to be because they’ve never attended their own wedding before.

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How to Create a Stellar Wedding Day Shot-List

How to Create a Stellar Shot-List

Posted by Rachael VanWagner- Studio Manager at Leah Jean Photography| February 8, 2017 | How to Creating a Stellar Wedding Day Shot-List

Creating a stellar Shot-List is as easy as it is necessary. This is why professional wedding photographers provide their Brides & Grooms with a Shot-List Template to work from months before their wedding date. It doesn’t matter how many weddings your photographer has shot and how well they “know the routine.” Photographing a wedding without an agreed upon Shot-List is like a contractor building your home without a blueprint. It’s a bad idea…for everyone involved.

At the same time, you want to avoid relying so heavily on your Shot-List that you forget why you hired your photographer in the first place. Your Shot-List is meant to serve as a guide and does not limit creative liberties your photographer will take in between moments.  The best wedding photographers understand the balance between candid and posed photography and they know how to blend in the background while capturing stand-out moments that would otherwise go unnoticed. Moments that aren’t “on the list.” So, don’t stress about missing anything and just enjoy the process.

You will not regret taking the time to accomplish this step in your wedding planning. Creating your Stellar Shot-List offers more than a list of images for your photographer to check off. When done correctly, a Shot-List not only opens the dialogue between you and your photographer but also between you and your fiancé and both sets of parents. It offers the opportunity to express which images are most important to YOU and your family, it offers valuable information to consider while planning your wedding day timeline, it fosters clear communication on your wedding day & reduces unnecessary stress and chaos. Worth it? I’d say, “YES!” So, grab some cozy drinks, snuggle up on the couch with your fiance and your Shot- List Template and let’s get started!

  1. Start by eliminating proposed shot-list ideas that you don’t want or need (perhaps you don’t need ALL of those family permutations)
  2. Add ideas that are important to you (Why not take a picture with your pet?)
  3. Think about your venue and jot down some ideas of where you would like each set of pictures taken
  4. Jot down a list of props or special objects you may want to include in your photos that may need to be gathered or purchased
  5. Call your parents and set up a time to review your Shot-List with them. Allowing mom & dad to offer their input BEFORE your wedding day is another time-saver and stress reducer.
  6. Write out the names and pronunciation of each family member in each particular shot (This is a huge help to your photographer and eliminates chaos during the photo-shoots)
  7. Take this opportunity to jot down any family dynamics that your photographer should be aware of (example: a grandparent who is hearing impaired, family members who don’t get along, strong personalities to watch out for etc)
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