Las Cruces

WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHY

It has been nearly three years since I shifted my career being an accountant to being a wedding videographer/photographer, making videos for couples wanting to show their kids how they fell in love, what happened at their wedding, and how young and beautiful their love was. I am grateful to be there on such an amazing day when two people devote themselves to each other, committing to be a family together, and carry on the another branch in a family tree just as their ancestors did. I understand the magnitude of the situation as I film that day. I understand who is going to be watching this video, and how important the story of how their family is created is going to be. I know all of us struggle to envision our future selves and how important watching these videos will be with our children. Imagine watching your wedding videos with your daughter when you are helping her plan her wedding. Everyone at weddings seems to be at their best. Everyone there is happy to celebrate two families coming together to start a new one. Which is why wedding videos are so beautiful, they capture friends and family while they are glowing with that joy. Which is why I decided to share some of the videos I have helped couples make this year today with you.

One of my favorite things to do is record live music during a wedding and use it in one of the highlight videos I create for the couple. During the wedding reception, the Bride’s niece stepped onto the dance floor alone with a microphone, and expressed her desire to give the bride and groom a meaningful gift from the heart, something more than just a thing. After dedicating her gift to her aunt, she opened her heart in front of everyone. She sang from a place that gave everyone listening goose bumps, as the DJ played an instrumental version of the song “At Last”. Now this was a great experience for everyone there, but as a videographer, I can tell you right at that moment when she began this amazing gift, I thought “Thank God, Sight and Sound” is the DJ. I knew I was recording their audio and it would sound amazing for their video.  

One of the downsides of planning an outdoor wedding is that you never know exactly what to expect weather-wise. That is a risk, but there is a high reward that comes as well. Can you really beat the atmosphere that the outdoors provides? And from a photographer’s perspective, visually, you can’t beat it. This couple had their ceremony outdoors behind the Farm and Ranch Museum. Full view of the Organ Mountains and all. They spent months in advance preparing their own separate vows, to surprise each other on their wedding day, with their own personal commitment thoroughly outlined composing their promises in exchange for their lives of solitude. You could tell they did not take this marriage lightly, as they spared no expense in detail of their willingness to commit. The time had come, the rings nearby in a trusted pocket, the microphone was passed from the reverend to the bride, and she began to read her carefully written and scrutinized thoughts she had worked so hard on to show her soon to be husband how important he was to her, and what she was willing to sacrifice for him if only to spend the rest of time together. The wind had picked up slightly and the microphone cut out every now and then. Words heard by the groom that weren’t heard by the guests. It was fine, we could fill in the blanks. Their love was still felt. And so it went during his vows to her. The risk of the outdoor wedding found one small way to manifest itself, in the form of a slight technical distraction. That’s alright I had a back-up mic on the groom, “No big deal” I thought. Only they were so close to a running fountain of water, the noise overwhelmed that audio. When I was working on their videos and found that out, I contacted the couple. I visited them at their new home, and we recorded their vows again. This time, there weren’t any blanks to fill in. Their vows became the voice over of one of their highlight videos. Now they can hold each other to their vows at their convenience, making it difficult not to think twice before getting in an argument. But even better, they can inspire their children to find the person that comes along in their lives that holds the same passion towards them.

After a year of planning and working with talented and experienced vendors to ensure that your wedding lines up with your vision of what your wedding day should be, you are set and ready to relax on the day itself, and just enjoy each other in wedding bliss. And that is exactly what this couple did. This was the most elaborately decorated wedding we photographed this year, but you would never know it from looking at the photographs. The day started as any wedding day would have, family and friends getting ready, expressing their love and pride of the bride and groom, everyone smiling so much you knew their faces were hurting before even getting to the Church. The ceremony is beautiful and everything is going great, and then the Priest says out of nowhere “Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans”. And then as if inspired, he repeats it again. Not quite what a newly married couple who just spent the last year planning this marriage wants to hear. But in fact, he was right, especially for that day. At the reception venue, lights were hung, decorations were set, and live musicians where gracing the cocktail hour as a strong wind blew in. One look at the mountains, and you could see half of the sky covered in darkness. Elise and I were about to photograph the wedding cake when the wind nearly blew it over, if not for Elise and the Bride’s uncle literally catching it. In came a nasty windstorm, down went all of the wedding décor. A few decorations smashed by the wind, a few guests wet by rain, and several wedding plans destroyed, changed without notice or aspiration. But it didn’t stop the celebration or the lovebirds’ commitment. The expressions on the faces of attendees was only bleak for a moment, compared to the evening of laughter, reminiscence, and excitement for these two and their journey through life together, through both the good times and the bad. They proved that day, they will uplift each other come what may.

We are so grateful for these couples including us in their wedding, inviting us to be there and witness one of the longest and simultaneously the shortest days of their lives. It is with great gratitude that we continue our photography business thanks to great clients like these. We cherish the time we spend together, and the creativity they inspire. No two wedding stories are alike, and so we tell none of them the same through our photography and videography. That is the true essence of storytelling isn’t it? It isn’t the individual moments, staged for the camera, posed for that particular flash in time. It is the combination of several moments, a beginning, a middle, and an end. We always end stories with a happily ever after, not because that is the end of their story, but that is the beginning of another that they start together.  

Benny and Melanie - Sonoma Ranch Golf Club Elegant Summer Wedding

One late night out dancing, Benny and Melanie were introduced to each other by mutual friends. As they were dancing together, for the first time, Benny playfully told Melanie he was going to marry her. Fast forward from many years of friendship, flirting and lots of nights spent dancing and here we are!

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On a Saturday in late summer, Benny lived up to that promise of many years ago and married that girl he met dancing. 

Melanie and Benny planned their wedding ceremony to take place on the driving range of the Sonoma Ranch Golf Course insuring a beautiful view of the majestic Organ mountains. Their wedding day was warm and sunny with the occasional cloud teasing the guests with a small patch of soothing shade. I know a lot of people get excited about fall and autumn, but I am completely fine with the idea of a year long summer. Summer stay forever. 

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You can't beat that just married smile. Capturing the overjoyed and ecstatic faces of brides and grooms as they exit the ceremony may be one of my favorite moments of the wedding day (shhh, don't worry, I still love you bride and groom styled portraits!). As Benny and Melanie walked away, I stepped behind them and let them pass me which allowed me to document this sweet, quiet, just the two of them, moment. 

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The bridesmaids wore long flowing gowns from Azazie in a muted, dusty rose shade. The groomsmen wore navy suits. I love how navy seems to instantly elevate any color palette without drowning in formality. Melanie and Benny's wedding style could be described as easy summertime glamour. 

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I love this photograph Nate created from an unexpected angle as I was busy photographing the bridesmaids as a group. Melanie's bouquet was designed by the talented team at Barb's Flowerland and featured white calla lilies, soft pink roses, bold merlot roses with blue thistles. The blue thistles add just the right amount of drama to this bouquet to keep things interesting. 

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Melanie's sleek and sophisticated updo was done by tHAIRapy Salon. Doesn't she look stunning?! Such a classic beauty. 

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Obviously I big perk of getting married on a golf course is the sweet ride you'll drive around all day.

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After we jetted around the Sonoma Ranch golf course for bride and groom portraits, dinner was served al fresco in the covered pavilion patio of the clubhouse. Simon and the whole team at Sunset Grill did a wonderful job serving and catering a yummy meal. 

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A family friend made a classic white fondant wedding cake and garnished the tiers with more soft pink roses. 

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Benny told me the only bite he got of the whole cake was the bite Melanie fed him as they cut their wedding cake. He was too busy dancing with his beautiful bride. 

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Thank you New Mexico sunsets! 

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At their wedding rehearsal, the day before I asked Benny and Melanie how they were feeling. They told me they were just ready to be married and enjoy their day with family and friends. I am so glad that is exactly how the day unfolded. They danced and danced and I cannot think of a more poetic way to celebrate how their love story began. 

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The Advice You Will Wish You Heard Before You Chose a Wedding Photographer

Note: We have carried this post forward from our previous blog. Originally published January 15, 2015

After your wedding there are three things you will walk away with; a ring, a spouse, and whatever your photographer provides you with. This being said, don’t skimp on your wedding photography budget and make sure it is a priority. Your wedding planner, the centerpieces, flowers, and food will all only become memories from the biggest party of your life. The photographs created by the photographer you choose will be nothing less than sacred heirlooms. These images are going to be the foundation of your family’s history. These are the photographs you will hang on the walls of your first home, the images your parents will show off of their baby girl, and the photos you will show your children and grandchildren. Here are three things to look for in your quest to find the best wedding photographer for your wedding.


Love their style

Viewing photographer’s wedding portfolios is a lot like trying on wedding dresses. You should be able to envision yourself and your guy in their photographs.
What you see is what you are going to get. When you are looking through a photographer’s portfolio take into consideration that the photographer is showing you these photos on purpose. They are showing you their best work. There are several styles of wedding photography, and every photographer shows more strength in certain styles over others. Know what type of style you prefer. Do you like the more traditional and timeless style that emphasize faces and emotions, or are you really into environmental/landscape pictures that put emphasis on the surroundings? Maybe you favor a more glamorous style with heavy influences from the fashion industry. You can look for strengths in the style you prefer when browsing portfolios and websites and you can discuss your style preferences with the photographer.

Be wary of any photographer trying to sell you on their expertise from a resume level. There is no nationally regulated or standardized professional accreditation for photographers. A photographer can go to school to train their eye for art, but photojournalism is journalism (storytelling), and the most valid way to judge a photographer’s expertise is by looking at their photographs. Review their portfolio and also ask to view a sample of what a full wedding looks like.

At the end of the day you need to follow your gut. If you know you like a photographer’s work and you keep going back to one photographer’s website every time you are in the middle of browsing photography websites, then hire that photographer. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, or you will regret it every time you look at photographs from your wedding.


Love their products

By now in your search you have heard and read from several different sources that you want digital negatives from your wedding day. I am going to call BS on this one. When you show your children pictures from your wedding day, do you honestly think you will be able to hand them over a CD when they are 18? How about 5? “If I gave you a LaserDisc today and told you there was a lot of cool stuff on it, what would you do?” This quote comes from Ethan Miller, the Symantec presidential chair in storage and security at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ethan has several great quotes form a recent article titled “Why your digital photos might die before your grandkids see them”. Ethan gave sound advice that all brides should heed: “Digitally storing photos is no guarantee that your grandchildren or even your children will be able to look at them. It sounds really weird as a computer scientist saying this, but if there are photos you really, really want your grandchildren to see, print them out.” Experienced photographers know this as they have faced struggles with the issue of storing digital negatives personally. The type of photographers that emphasize digital negatives are hobbyists that are more interested in expanding their portfolio than spending the time it takes to create true photographic art for their clients and providing a complete service. Be certain that the photographer you choose stresses the importance of getting products through them because they are offering you museum quality photographic products that will last at least one hundred years.

Get to know the products the photographer provides. If you are looking at purchasing a wedding package with an album, then you need to see that exact album. If a photographer is selling albums they will have a studio sample that you can look through. Touch it, feel it, love it. Know your options and don’t believe that less is more. Follow this same thinking with wall prints. You need to see what you are getting before you can commit. Is it something that can go on your wall or are you going to have to get it framed yourself? Make sure that if you are just getting prints in your package that you are comfortable paying extra to get it framed/wall ready and that you know where and how to put it on your wall.

Resist the urge to print your pictures at a convenience store where the person in charge of calibrating the large format printer (if they even decide to calibrate it) is paid minimum wage and could care less what the color looks like. Your wedding photos deserve better than that. Choose a photographer who has access to print labs with full time professionals that make a living from printing museum grade photographic prints, which you as a consumer do not have access to.


Love their personality

If you want a bubbly go lucky photographer at your wedding, then hire one. Nobody is judging you. Just be sure to hire the personality that you are comfortable sharing the most memorable day of your life with, because they will be there with you all day. Don’t forget the phone calls, emails, engagement session, bridal session, image reveal sessions, and other interactions you will be having with them. This is a person you are going to be spending a lot of time with, you should enjoy having them around. If you overlook or ignore any personality red flags, this will be a painful process. Instead of loving the photographs from your wedding you will be reminded of the horrible photographer you were more than happy to leave in the past. A better practice is to think more long term. When you meet a photographer, instead of considering this person for just this one event in your life, ask yourself if you could see this person being your family’s photographer. First comes your wedding, then comes your first baby’s newborn pictures, yearly family pictures, and eventually senior pictures. Is this photographer a person you can see yourself building a lifetime relationship with? And does the photographer seek out such relationships? You can tell a photographer is interested in creating these relationships when they invest time and energy into you. Beware of the photographer that doesn’t have time to talk to you over the phone for an hour, has no advice for you as a close friend would over your wedding arrangements, and sets no plans for meeting with you after the wedding to go over the photographs they have created. Most importantly, make sure the photographer’s personality will not distract you from living this important moment in your life to its absolute fullest or it will show in your photographs.