Where to Buy a Camera

Now that you’ve decided to buy a camera and the camera you want, the question becomes “Where do I buy the camera?” Not only do the options abound, so do the opportunities for the unethical to take advantage of you. I buy most of my gear through B&H Camera in New York City. Over the twenty years I’ve been using them I’ve not had a single unresolved problem. There was a time when UPS messed up a delivery, B&H fixed things up. B&H provides good service, reasonable prices and knowledgeable salespeople.

Now I will be the first to admit there are lower prices on the web. I’ve seen used, gray market gear and con artists on E-bay. There are plenty of web sites which will offer prices which are too good to be true…. And they are. A check of resellerratings.com will show hundreds of complaints when the price is unbelievably low. Years ago, I actually had to sue one of those places to get my money back. After that experience, I decided to stick with the tried and true, reputable B&H.

More Megapixels?

Hard to believe summer vacation will soon be upon us. With vacations planned, many people dig out their cameras only to discover a new one is needed. If you haven’t bought a camera in years, you’ll discover much has changed. Film cameras are a thing of the past. OK so perhaps you did buy a digital camera years ago. Even so, cameras are much smarter than they were.

The biggest myth about digital cameras is more megapixels are better. Sure they are if you are the salesman getting a commission on the sale. More pixels cost more. Before you head off to the camera store, stop to think about how you use the photos you take. Do you make prints or just keep them on your computer? How big a print do you make?

Let me stop for a moment and mention that just as cameras have been getting better over the years, so have the photo printers. As an experiment with my professional lab, we printed a three megapixel file as a 20×30 print. We also printed the same photo as a six and twelve megapixel file. A host of experts at the lab could find only minor differences at that size and only by looking closely. However, a 20×30 print is supposed to be viewed from about ten feet away. At that distance, our experts could not see a difference!

All of this means is that a three megapixel camera is sufficient for you, the average consumer. A camera with three megapixels is not going to provide you with any better results than a more expensive camera. A bigger concern for your camera is the lens and sensor used to capture the image. Personally, I would rather have higher quality optics/sensor than more megapixels.

Scheduling Your Wedding Day — Part 2

The ceremony is over, you’re married, the photos have been taken and now you are on your way to the reception. The time line planning is not over yet! There are still several events to schedule. More so than anything else, a wedding is judged based on the reception. The timing of your evening plays a large part on the flow of the wedding. The basic rule is “You don’t want to move (herd) people too much. The flow should be from cocktail hour to dinner seating to dancing. In addition, you don’t want to interrupt their dinner.

The major events at a reception are: Cocktail Hour, Introductions, Toasts, Dinner, Cutting the Cake, Serving Desert, 1st Dances(B/G, B/Dad, G/Mom, Bridal Party), Garter/Bouquet toss and the Get Away. You may decide to forgo somethings like the garter toss and add other events like a dollar dance. To determine your schedule for the evening, you will need to consult with your Master of Ceremonies (DJ/Band Leader) and the reception hall. If you are planning to serve your wedding cake as desert, your reception hall will need time to cut the cake. Therefore, I recommend cutting the cake right after you are introduced. I’ve seen couples cut the cake between the soup/salad or main course. Personally, I don’t like leaving the cake out too long as you never know who might accidentally bump into it.

Most couples schedule their first dance as desert is being served. As soon as the first dances have been completed, the dance floor is opened to all the guests and the party really begins. If you do decide on a dollar dance or garter/bouquet toss, you’ll want to plan on those a bit later in the evening. Finally, you should be mindful of when your photographer is scheduled to leave. As I typically book for the event and not by the hour, I’m there until all the events have been completed. However, there are those photographers who do book by the hour. They will leave at the scheduled time. If you want something photographed, you should make sure your photographer has not left yet. With proper planning, speaking to you venue and master of ceremonies, you will have a fun filled evening to remember for years to come.

Wedding Day Time Line

I’m often asked about a wedding day time line. A cramped schedule can leave the bride, groom, bridal party and guests feeling rushed and stressed. Some of the stress can be caused by the unexpected occurring. On a wedding day, even the simplest of tasks can take longer than anticipated! There are many factors which determine your time line. They are driving times/distances, photographer, length of wedding ceremony and preparation time.

The two biggest mistakes brides make when planning their wedding day are not providing enough time for hair and makeup and not allowing their photographer enough time to capture all the family group photos they want. These mistakes are easy to avoid. First, about a month before your wedding, have a hair and make-up practice session. Not only will you know how much time it takes, but you will also assure yourself you’ll like the hairstyle you selected (I’ve seen brides run behind schedule because they redid their hair several times).

Once you know how much time your hair and makeup will take, the best advice I can give any bride, is to speak with your photographer. Your photographer will know how much time they’ll need for all of the photos you’ve planned to take. Some photographers spend an hour taking fashion photos of the bride and then take all the family photos. Other photographers take a more hands-off approach.

As you plan your special day, please understand you have two fixed times for the ceremony and the reception. Many times ceremony sites have several weddings scheduled in a single day. Reception sites have planned your dinner for a specific time. If you are late, then your dinner will be cold. Furthermore, some multi-room venues have a couple of room waiters and then share dinner servers between the rooms. If you are late, you and your guest will have to wait until the shared servers are free to serve your room. When I work with my clients to build a schedule, I start with the two fixed times and build around them.

9:30 Hair/Make-up
11:30 Photographer arrives for getting ready photos
12:30 Bride Ready for photos
12:30 Bride/Bridesmaids/Bride Family photos.
1:30 Photographer Leave Bride’s Getting Ready location for the Ceremony Venue (assumes 15 minute drive)
2:00 Photos of Groom/Groomsmen/Grooms family at venue
2:45 Photographer prepares for wedding ceremony
3:00 Ceremony
3:30 Ceremony Ends
3:45 Formal Photos in Church (assumes Bride and Groom do not have a private first look)
4:30 Formal Photos End
5:00 Park/Outdoor Photos of Bridal Party and Couple(Park is on the way to the Reception Venue)
6:00 Cocktail Hour Starts
6:45 Dinner is seated
7:00 Introductions/Toasts
7:30 Dinner is served

This timeline is meant to provide you with a general idea of how your special day might be scheduled. Your timeline will need to be adjusted based on your particular circumstances. Please remember that everything takes longer than you think on your wedding day. With a properly scheduled wedding day, you’ll have a wedding day you can enjoy and look back upon with fond memories.

How Photography is Becoming Green

When I think of where photography was ten years ago, I realize I’ve become greener without even realizing it. Ten years ago, photography was very much chemical and paper based. Starting with film and ending with the finished print, there were a lot of resources expended to create the final wedding album. Film was manufactured and shipped to the store and then to the photographer. The photographer disposed of the packaging and used the film. The film was then developed using loads of toxic chemicals (By the way, did you know that Cyanide was originally used in photography to create Cyan, hence the name Cyanide?). Prints were made using more chemicals and paper so the clients could see what the photo looked like. In the end, final prints were made using more paper and chemicals.

Today’s digital photographer uses so much less. From the time the photo is taken until the final print is delivered reusable resources are utilized. Compact flash cards which store the photos are used hundreds of times. Photos are edited and process on the computer, all without printing a single image. There are no chemicals required to develop the image. Today, very few photographers provide paper proofs, thus saving more trees. Only the final prints and wedding albums are typically printed. Today photography is friendlier to the environment than it was ten years ago.

Old Scam, New Twist — Identity Theft

The con artists are at it again. They’ve find a new approach to an old scam. Previously they pretended to be getting married, book wedding vendors via e-mail, sent them a check or money order for more money than was originally owed to the vendor. The vendor was asked to forward the funds to another “vendor” who was an accomplice. By the time the bank notified the original vendor the check/money order was a forgery, the funds were long gone and the vendor had to make good. One of the red flags vendors used was the wedding information provided to verify the wedding was really taking place.

Now you may wonder what is the new twist and how can that hurt me, the bride? The con artists are searching the web for a couple’s wedding website. Most brides are happy to share all the details of their wedding with their friends. What you don’t realize is you are really sharing the information with the world. A world with con artists looking for just that information. While they are not stealing your SSN or bank account, the con artist is stealing your wedding information and attempting to use it to defraud wedding vendors in your area.

Most wedding vendors are aware of this fraud and ignore the inquiries which have red flags or they check with the venue to make sure the couple really exists. For in the past one red flag was a fictitious name or venue. There are constantly new vendors entering the field. Vendors who may not be lucky enough to know about how the fraud attempt works. Every once in a while, I’ll hear about a new photographer who has lost thousands of dollars to a scammer. Now that the scammers are using real couples’ identities the scammers have eliminated a couple of red flags. More vendors may actually book the event and be scammed. The scammed vendors will be attempting to collect the bad debt from the brides they THINK defrauded them. They could file bad check charges and sue them for the amount of the bad check.

Can you imagine if the vendor is contacted by a scammer using your name AND you at the same time. You meet with the vendor and book them. Meanwhile, the scammer sends them a fraudulent check, which you could end up having to make good. No matter what publishing too much information on your wedding blog/website, Facebook or Twitter can lead to problems you don’t need when planning your wedding.

My Apologies

As you may recall, I’ve had several technical problems with the blog. But I think we’ve finally got them resolved. Blogger has changed the way they do some things which should fix the problem. Unfortunately, about 18 months of posts have been lost. I’m not sure if I am going to be able to recover them or not. I’m not even sure if it is worth the effort. The important thing is the blog is back.