Congrats to Dayna & Don for their great Philly Wedding. Loved how the Eagles theme was merged in, yet totally was not made into being tacky. Stated at the Ukrainian Church, then a quick photo session at the Art Museum for photos behind the museum (a result of the front being closed due to the Democratic National Convention.
So this weekend approaches my first wedding of 2016 at the Merion Tribute House. Looks like a very nice place, online at least. While it can be helpful to shoot at a familiar wedding venue, it’s at times nice to see something unfamiliar, and new. A vast new array of choices and decisions.
I finished my last edit of the season, and they’re all off & in the mail for happy couples to reflect back on their wedding night, and relive their day thanks to the hard work & effort I’ve put in to it. However the thanks really should go out to them & all the couples I’ve had the privelege to work with this past season, as it was a successful one in many ways. That said, I thought it would be good to reflect back on the past wedding year, and point out some of the moments that have stood out for me.
First up, the business has grown. Not in a corporate or staffing way per se, but in getting to do what it is I like to do. Shoot weddings and impress couples with the highlight reels, and full lengths. Whether it’s capturing events and parts of the day they forgot, didn’t see, or just are completely surprised about (Eagles Pep Band comes to mind). Doing it more means experience in getting to do it better. Whether it’s experience and preparedness, additional funding for equipment, learning new tricks, and familiarity with venues and various settings and shooting conditions (outdoor ceremonies, barn weddings, rustic theme, eclectic weddings etc).
Second thoughts coming to mind, my gear is set. I shoot using full HD camera with a backup HD/DSLR style interchangable lens. And with that, the lenses are a full stack. In addition I have a glidecam & slider, and I know how to use them. Making changes to any of these in the past meant having to tweak and rebalance alot, however now my glidecam is fully balanced to the camera for optimum stabilization. Thus getting you the best shots.
Thirdly(?), I got to meet up with and work with some tremendous vendors. Some of whom I truly feel are some of Philadelphias Best Of. Photographers Josh Dehonney & Dawn Snell pretty much bookended my season, as one of my first & last respectively. Also got to work with the perennially awesome Kate Duffy. Also for the first time I worked with Nate Desch, a Reading PA area phtoographer who is vastly experienced and works throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Great photographer, nice guy too. And I got to work with 2 great DJs, Adam Moyer & Cleveland Morris. And had an interesting wedding at the very nice venue La Massaria in Gilbertsville, PA. A nice location with a very nice & accomodating staff. Beautiful scenic location as well.
Other thoughts, I’ve proudly been charitable. As stated in my blog I shot a Quinceanera for a girl in Camden, NJ who was not only a great girl, but came from an amazing family. He quinceanera video was badass, and while they were tremendously grateful, it was great having met them. Some things aren’t fair in our society, and I’ll leave it at that. Had a great stretch of weather, not sure I had any full on downpours, although a September wedding down in South Jersey which hoped to be outdoors had to move it inside with about 15 minutes to go before the ceremony start time. Inside, outside, inside etc… Lovely. Had no weddings this July:( so I don’t recall if the heat was bad although the June/August weddings that I recall didn’t seem all that bad, compared to previous wedding seasons. Having said that, it’s a good time to point out that this is work, and by work I mean labor. Running around, carrying heavy bags & gear, timeframes to rush to meet, catches up to me. In November my back was crushed, just felt nearly gone. I finally had to visit a chiropractor, for the first time in my life (Shout out to East Falls Chiropractic, holllerr!). It helped tremendously, not just in realigning it, but in determining that taking an extra moment to just take a break, stretch, reposition myself before lifting bags, or hoping into my car, or sitting down when I arrive home etc can all be measures to help improve myself and my body. It’s my offseason now, so it’s time for the gym.
That said, 2015 was a really great year. I thoroughly happy with all the couples who chose to have me shoot their wedding video, but also in the end products I was able to create. Many great highlight videos are available to view on my site here, many more to come in 2016!
Light at the end of the tunnel
So congrats to Jennifer & Brian on their Friday wedding day, a beautiful fall wedding beginning at Maternity BVM Church located in Northeast Philly. From there we headed up to Twining Hall in Trevose where their guests danced the night away. Including Brian when his fave song came on, Macklemore’s Thrift Shop.
Having said that, it’s time to go all out, for the finale of Kelly & Brett’s West Chester Wedding. While I’ll still have 3 edits to complete (the forgotten work of a wedding videographer), it’s been a great ride 2015. Ideally I’ll close out the edits for all couples by the end of the calendar year, and have satisfied couples who were glad of their videographer decision. I finally had a year in which I shot many on my own, as opposed to shooting for national wedding vendors & studios. Not that there’s anything wrong with going thru them, I just much prefer to take the time & care to edit and deliver the weddings myself, as I was the one who attended, met the couple, enjoyed the day & remember the overall wedding theme & vibe of the day.
That said, Adios!
Neang & Johnny
When meeting Neang & Johnny & talking to them, I noticed a desire for someone remotely familiar with certain cultural weddings. Being a 2 days event (Friday/Saturday), they are somewhat atypical as compared to most American wedding, and being so, difficult to book. It worked out I had a busy fall, and would mind stretching my 10 hour shift across 2 nights. And I was glad I did. I had mentioned I had shot a korean wedding previously, and in discussing the details of the house ceremony and reception (visiting each table), it turned out there were similarities. Similarities though, not at all the same.
Having said that, I was prepared. Neang did a good job defining what it is she was looking for from video, details of Cambodian weddings, and I was sure of how to cover it. Using a 2 camera shoot in the house ceremony in Pennsauken, NJ. I was able to get good detail and closeup shots, especially of the 3 gowns worn by the lovely bride and her bridesmaids. Beginning with a traditional walk of the groom approaching his brides house with his family and bearing gifts, made for a cool storyline to tell during the edit.
Onto night two, were during the guests entrances the bridal party again went thru a variety of wardrobe changes, greeted guests as they arrived. From there, Johnny and Neang stayed with Cambodian tradition of greeting and thanking guests at each table, and being congratulation by gifts as is custom. A crowded and fun dance floor was a good time and a nice mix of Cambodian (nearly Hawaiian luau sound) music mixed with American music both oldies and current, and Neangs fave, Maroon 5;)
Ambers Quinceanera – Paying It Forward
So it was last weekend, I am proud to say I was the one who shot a remarkable families day. For more on the ins & outs as to how & why, you can read that here. As to Saturday, it was an emotional day, of what was planned, what to expect, and some things which were unexpected.
I had spoken to her Mom Debbie only a few times beforehand. She happened to have her phone stolen just days before the event, although, putting everything into perspective it becomes just a minor inconvenience her. She’s definitely a strong person & has raised a great family which she supports and cares for deeply. As for me, well all I needed was a time & location to arrive at, and I’m good to go.
Beginning at Mora Salon in Cherry Hill, NJ I got to shoot plenty of bridal prep (Quinceanera Prep?) of the 4 of them. From there, I headed directly to the church, Transfiguration Catholic Church in Collingswood NJ. I knew from speaking with Debbie that the Quinceanera was alot more than just a party, and the the church aspect meant so much to her. I’ve shot many, many weddings, and while several do have their touching moments, I can honestly say that watching her at the Blessed Mary was the saddest thing I’ve witnessed while shooting. I made sure to have my camera out of the way as after a grueling 3:15 she stood up, I hurried back down the aisle before she turned around. Kudos to her Mom & Uncle Peter being there to support her throughout.
From there we ventured on to the cemetery, it’s hard to even think what the boy went thru, I can’t even imagine. I made sure to stay out of their way, although they stated they wouldn’t mind, I felt it was their moment to share, I was just capturing it from a distance.
Finally, she had a beautiful egyptian themed reception, and grand entrance being lifted in on a chair, carried over to her throne. This led into Father/Daughter & Mommy/Daughter dances where Mom changed it up after a few minutes into Chubby Checkers “The Twist”, segueing back into nice dance song to end their dance. As is tradition during quinceanera’s, the girl gives 15 candles to important family & friends. Mom led the way, followed by sisters, Aunt Kim, her Dad, friends, softball coaches and finally in a touching moment, her grandmother. From there the party began and dance floor opened up. I used my Sony Z5U’s slow motion feature to run a slow motion video booth, which both kids & adults got a kick out of. Kudos go out to my man TG Gainey for stopping in to 2nd shoot the dances, candles and dance floor footage to help the videos all wrap up.
Below are the videos today, it was difficult to go from the powerful ceremony scene into the reception, so I edited it into 2 videos. Which should be a testament as to how strong & supportive this family is, to stand back up & move onward after going thru something like this.
As Will Smith once said “And this is the Fresh Prince’s new defintion of summer madness” in his famous song Summertime, well for wedding event professionals, that time is upon us. So far, its been great, the humidity kicked in a bit high this past weekend, but having a lovely suburban wedding at the Springfield Country Club with an outdoor ceremony made it enjoyable. Oddly, as with last year the mid-late summer weddings tapered off a bit, yet the fall is picking up like gangbusters. Not sure what to make of it. So here’s to heat, humidity, leaving early to beat the shore traffic over the bridges into New Jersey, and numerous happy couples! 🙂
Pro-Bono – Latin for ‘Work being taken on for no charge, being done for public good’.
It’s not often I would do work pro bono. Typically it’s a field reserved for those in the legal profession, although maybe my years spent as a (boring) deposition videographer rubbed off on me. Regardless I really never have, especially with weddings, or events. Nor would anyone really. They are long days spent mostly on my feet, with alot of run & gun, capturing scenery as best I can with about 1 or 2 minutes of setup time, few chances for retakes, and quickly packing up & catching up to the party as they all move along with ease. Then, after the event ends, one labors upon editing, setting to music, exporting & uploading. Numerous hours spent on that as well, which nobody else sees.
However, a couple of weeks ago a news story posted on Philly.com captured my attention. The story of a girl who went thru something beyond tragic, and had a ‘quincenara’ (Spanish version of Sweet 16) coming up this September. They had a gofundme page, and of course my first instincts were naturally to donate. $5, $10, $20 maybe who knows. Then it hit me that I can give so much more that that in terms of value. While I don’t typically shoot Sweet 16s, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs or Quincenara’s, this one will be an exception. And why not, she deserves it.
So I found the Mother on Facebook, and wrote her, offering my video services pro-bono. Without getting too into the details of the response I was glad that she did chose to accept my services, but I found that she was also flattered to have received such a request. No idea if any other photo or video people offered anything similar, and tbh I don’t care, for I’m happy to be the one to shoot it. If you’re wondering, yes I have already received an inquiry for a wedding on this date, and as a single shooter (I don’t farm out any of my work) I turned it down. Might happen once or twice more as it’s still a busy time, but I can say ‘No regrets’.
Looking forward to it, glad that Philly.com published such an article, to see the gofundme page spread, and volunteers like me offer their services for a good cause. Typically I try to take a bright/optimistic approach when meeting the bride on her big day. Congratulating her, noticing her dress, discussing if she’s excited. Admittedly a 25 or 30 year old handles it differently than a 15 year old teen. Also, there’s going to be some sensitive nature to the event as well. However as with everything, I’ll adapt, and I’ll bring all my kits & toys that put a great video together, and create the best darn quincenara video any girls ever had:)
Wedding Season 2015
Well, time off was nice. Not a huge fan of it, but otoh maybe doing too many weddings per year might burn me out. Anyway, I’m back, and it’s wedding season all over again. I started off with a winter wonderland, on March 6th. The day after a heavy Thursday snowstorm. Beautiful day, great scenery & backdrops, however it does show the risk of winter weddings. As Thursday was a whiteout blizzard, it would have been a challenge to get there, not just for me, the photographer, the DJ, the venue staff (cooks, servers), as well as guests.
That said, I’m looking forward to another year of meeting the bride & grooms, stories of how they met, being entertained by the bridal parties and the informal shots we take together. Parent dances, toasts, cake cutting, dance floors, and whatever else comes my way in shooting wedding videos in the Philadelphia & South Jersey area. Ain’t it fun;)
Its with sadness that I blog about shooting my final wedding of the year. As of now, I’m off until March 6th. While it would be nice to have a short notice wedding pop up in between then, tbh the gap is pretty standard for me, and a nice time to regroup, tidy up my gear and pick up a trick lens or item I’ve been eyeing up, and just enjoy my Saturdays.
However, all that said, its time to look back on 2014. Weddings brought me from the beaches to the barns, from the Top of the Tower at 17th & Market overlooking Downtown Philadelphia to Chocolate Avenue in Hershey PA. I’ve seen the Mummers make a surprise appearance(to the bride & groom, not that a bunch of Mummers just happened to randomly stumble into a wedding reception), I’ve seen grooms receive a surprise gift of an acoustic guitar, and I’ve discovered the sick photographer Josh Dehonney is a big fan of Lil Jons “Turndt Down for What”?!
So in retrospect, I look back, and I love the variety to it. While it’s redundant to some, bridal prep -> Ceremony -> Portraits -> Reception -> Cha Cha Slide… it really isn’t. It’s the brides, their personalities, their bridesmaids (although I saw the same one twice), the bridal party photos, the dance floors, the DJ’s, the surprise Karaoke’s from a bride to a groom, drunk 30 something men somehow capable to perform an N’Sync dancealong?!