R5 Westchester Wedding Guide From the Pros for 2012: Local Wedding Vendors Share Trends and Favorites for Wedding Photography, Portraits, Popular Poses, Photography Styles, First Look Pictures, Engagement Sessions, and Wedding Videos

From engagement sessions to photo booths to day-after, pressure’s-off shoots, local couples want lots of professional photos (but hold the hard-copy albums, please).

ON THE RISE Pop in, close the curtain, and say “Cheese!” Photo booths are so popular now they’ve grown beyond the confines of traditional booths. “We have a fabulous set-up with an un-manned camera on a tripod, a backdrop, props, wardrobe, and a cordless trigger,” says Dan Fried of H&H Photographers in Irvington. “You should see the outrageous images the guests create!”

“I’m also seeing Polaroid cameras and scrapbooks for guests to include a note,” says Chris Ware of Chris Ware Photography in White Plains. Adds Kerri Hamm of KLH Photography in Mohegan Lake: “This lets guests bring some of the wedding memories home.”

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ON THE DECLINE Splurging on a fantastic photo session is in. But spending just as much, if not more, on the album to go with it is out. “With the digital technology available, clients really want the high-resolution original images and enjoy making products and prints themselves,” Hamm says. (For DIYers and those who still want to go traditional, flush-mount albums remain the local favorite.)

There also seems to be a local distaste for overly processed images, spot-color, and lots of special effects. “They’re cheesy and not authentic to the day they were taken,” says Ricky Restiano of Park Place Photographers in Bronxville. Adds Eve Prime of Poppy Studio in Irvington: “I think most people agree that it looks dated and gimmicky.”

“When you look at a photo,” says Jenni Ashton of Ulysses Photography in Middletown, New York, “your thoughts should go right back to the moment it was taken and to wonderful memories, rather than being distracted by gimmicky effects.”

FROM THE PLANNERS “Photo booths have become a huge hit at weddings because they create a fun alternative for those guests who do not enjoy dancing,” says David Bowen of Bowen & Company. “We prefer the old-fashioned photo booth as opposed to the photographer printing images, though.”


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THE LOOK Just as no two couples are alike, no two couples are looking for the exact style of wedding photos. Westchester brides and grooms want to try a little of everything. “Couples are really open to us trying different looks with their images,” says Dan Fried of H&H Photographers in Irvington. “Not only black-and-white and sepia, but ‘hipstomatic,’ retro, painted, de-saturated, oversaturated, and everything in-between are where it’s at. Smartphone camera apps are leading the charge in letting us as photographers experiment with cool ideas.”

“Some want vivid digital photos, and some want vintage-looking photos,” says Jacob Bergmeier of Jacob Bergmeier Photography in Somers. “Neither is wrong, but you also don’t want to be caught choosing a style that isn’t timeless.”

“The way I shoot is to pack a tremendous amount of energy into the wedding day and not pigeonhole the bride into the photographer’s style, but rather choose from a wide assortment,” says Joseph Pregiato of Arbor & Ivy Photography in Eastchester. “Many of the aforementioned looks can be done post-production. But a photo is only as good as the original image.”

MOST REQUESTED POSE “Jumping photos are always popular.”
—Kerri Hamm, KLH Photography

“I’ve gotten lots of requests for the groom dipping the bride—though not all grooms can do this well.”
—Jennifer Morais
Jennifer Morais Photography

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“The Reservoir Dogs groomsmen photo—it’s a classic.”
—Jenni Ashton, Ulysses Photography

FIRST LOOK Westchester couples are not a superstitious lot. It seems that most are going for a “First Look” photo, in which the photographer captures the moment the bride and groom see each other for the first time—before the ceremony. Most couples are choosing this over the tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding, then rushing to take all portraits between the ceremony and reception. “It allows for a much more relaxed day and it also allows them to enjoy the cocktail hour,” Bergmeier says. “That, in turn, allows them to spend more time dancing at their reception and less time thanking guests for coming.”

“At pre-wedding meetings, we always try to emphasize the importance of a pre-ceremony ‘first look’ experience,” says Julia Juliati of Juliati Photography & Film in White Plains. “These five to ten minutes are their own time: no interruptions, no other people around, no stopping, no posing—only us photographing quietly from the distance. The importance of this ritual is that it is the only time—besides the first dance—during the wedding day that the bride and groom can really take time to enjoy each other.”

“I explain how this moment makes for great photographs, as it captures them just enveloped in each other with no one else around,” says Jennifer Morais of Jennifer Morais Photography. “They manage to even tune me out. And the walk down the aisle is still just as breathtaking after the ‘first look’ is done.”

MOST MEMORABLE “We had a request for an on-horseback trash-the-dress shoot. One of our employees also rides regularly, so this was one we were excited about.”
—Dan Fried, H&H Photographers

“Shooting a wedding in Atlantic City with the wedding party gambling at the casino tables.”
— Joseph Pregiato, Arbor & Ivy Photography

“We were asked to shoot in an active fire station on a fire truck.”
— Ricky Restiano, Park Place Photographers

“A bride and groom of mine did their e-session with motorcycles. Way too fun for words!”     
— Jennifer Morais
Jennifer Morais Photography

“I had a couple contact me to do pre-wedding photographs for their wedding website. They wanted Kenneth Capello-style fashion portraits of each member of their bridal party, including the ring bearer. We shot in a studio setting with each member wearing jeans and sporting tattoos, sunglasses, and leather jackets.”
— Kerri Hamm, KLH Photography

VIDEO STARS Our photographers anecdotally report that 50 percent to 70 percent of couples also opt for professional videography (with the rest leaving it up to ambitious family members and digital cameras). But forget the snoozy, shoot-every-moment videos. “A big trend is to have a ten-minute re-cap chapter,” Pregiato of Arbor & Ivy Photography says. “The newlyweds can feel more comfortable asking guests, ‘Hey, do you want to see our wedding video?’”

“Another big trend is shooting in high-definition,” he continues. “I am sure that a few years from now, the ordinary videos will look very dated.”

EXTRA SESSIONS Engagement sessions, boudoir sessions, trash-the-dress sessions, after-party photos, and next-day recreations—couples’ wedding-related photos are no longer limited to the day of the affair.

Overwhelmingly, engagement sessions are the most popular—and recommended by photographers. “The couple needs to get to know the photographer and be comfortable,” Morais says. “Then there’s no stiffness the day of.”

“It’s definitely something that has picked up in popularity,” Restiano of Park Place Photographers says. “Our engagement sessions are geared more like a fashion shoot. We don’t do many straight-on looking at the camera images.”

“More and more couples are doing themed shoots,” Somers’s Bergmeier says. “It shows creativity and makes the day unique for both the couple and the photographer.”

After the engagement photos, more and more couples are scheduling their photographs for photo shoots that capture what happens when the wedding ends. “’After-wedding’ shoots with the gown and tux are becoming more popular,” Hamm says. “Some of these shoots are meant to be trash-the-dress, but others just a re-enactment.” Adds Ashton: “They don’t require actually trashing the dress. It can be just a fun session, free of the constraints of the wedding day, where you can create amazing art.”

Braver brides are taking part in boudoir sessions. “Bridal boudoir photos concentrate on the bridal theme: the bride is in white lingerie plus veil, shoes, and flowers—everything but the dress—photographed in a very playful, sensual, romantic manner,” Julati says. “The night before the wedding, or the day of, the bride makes a gift of her sexy and fabulous portraits in a custom-designed book to her husband-to-be. Boudoir photography is not just a gift to a loved one, but ultimately a gift of self-esteem, a memoir for future reflection, a true celebration of self.”

(Of course, this doesn’t have to be limited to newlyweds: “I shoot a lot of boudoir,” Morais says, adding, “not so much for brides, though.”)

ADVICE FROM PHOTOGRAPHERS “See each other prior to the ceremony. Create a period of time shortly before the ceremony where you and your fiancé can basically do nothing but spend a little quality time together in those few remaining moments before you become husband and wife. That time is incredible and will turn into much more than great photography.”
—Dan Fried, H&H Photographers

“Make sure that the hair and makeup appointments are finished on time. If the bride puts on her gown forty-five minutes late, those forty-five minutes come out of photos.”
— Joseph Pregiato
Arbor & Ivy Photography

“To capture creative imagery, pre-visualization is so important. Think of ideas of what you want to capture before the wedding day, so on-the-spot you will have material to work with. But balance those ideas with being open to what is in the moment.”
— Kerri Hamm, KLH Photography

“Work with your photographer to get the timing right before the day of the wedding. A little bit of planning goes a long way.”
— Ricky Restiano, Park Place Photographers

“I would recommend to the couple that if they are going to have their photographer come to their house or hotel before the wedding, de-clutter the space of unnecessary things.”  
— Jacob Bergmeier
Jacob Bergmeier Photography

“I feel that doing all the portraits and bridal party photos at the beginning with a ‘first look’ makes the day go much smoother and results in better photos.”
— Chris Ware, Chris Ware Photography

SAVE One easy way to save money on photography is to cut down on the number of hours you book the photographer for (and trust your guests with fancy cameras to pick up the slack). “If, for budget reasons, you feel the need to reduce the number of hours of photography coverage, be sure to trim hours from the end of the reception, rather than from the beginning of the day,” says Prime of Poppy Studio. “The images from the earlier part of the day are often the most meaningful and beautiful.”

“Know what is most important to you photographically and zero in on a photographer who can provide that for you,” Hamm says. “If you are good at photo editing and printing, get the high-res files and don’t get all the extras. If you want the photo books and the prints, try to save a little on your wedding package.”

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