Viewing entries tagged
Tips

Comment

How to totally nail your engagement photos without feeling awkward

Carly Romeo and Co - Engagement Session Tips.jpg

We’ve been adding TONS of new couples to the Carly Romeo & Co family, and many of y’all are now preparing for your engagement sessions! These tips should help you better understand what to expect and how to get the most out of our time together.

PREP

  • Don’t start hungry. Our engagement sessions usually last 1.5-2 hours, so make sure you eat beforehand or bring snacks if you’re a snacky type.

  • But you can start with a drink. Having a beer, glass of wine, cocktail or any other type of “herbal refreshment” before we start is helpful if you’re looking to quell any jitters!

  • Plan what you will wear. We’re often asked what a couple should wear for a photo session, and we love to respond with the not-super-helpful "whatever makes you feel fab!" but that is really the most important part. You don't have to worry about "matching" each other, color-wise, but instead try to plan outfits that are comparably fancy (or not-fancy). For example, if one of you is wearing a cocktail dress, the other should avoid a beachy maxi dress. Or if one person is wearing cargo shorts and a polo shirt, the other should go for something more casual than a suit and tie. Other general tips: opt for solid colors whenever possible (except black, white and green if we’re shooting in nature), avoid logos and items with words on them, and wear comfortable shoes (if you prefer heels, bring a second pair of more comfy shoes for walking). Bonus points: wear something with MOVEMENT!

Carly Romeo and Co - Los Angeles Engagement Session.jpg
  • Fuck the “shoulds." Overwhelmed with the amount of "should"s involved in this process? Guess what: fuck 'em. Are you dying to wear androgynous clothes but think you "should" be more femme/masculine? Fuck it. Do you hate getting bug bites but feel like you "should" do your photos in an epic meadow of wildflowers? Fuck it. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, there are countless poses and themes to emulate; we're not copying those. Instead, we'll go someplace you like (Art museum? Farm? Cafe? Mountaintop?), and do something you like (Look at art? Milk cows? Drink coffee? Fireside sing-a-long?) and we’ll take photos. There's usually some off-roading, some go-stand-over-there-no-wait-over-there-ing, and we'll probably play some silly games. The goal of the session is to capture your relationship in a series of photographs, so the only thing you should be worried about is being yourselves, in love -- not trying to recreate something from the internet or doing what you feel obligated to do.

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To Horse

DURING THE SHOOT

  • Focus on each other. Our engagement/couples' sessions are designed to feel more like a fun date (with me as a professional third wheel) than a cheesy posing experience. We will help you forget about the camera and enjoy one another by asking you to talk to each other, tell stories about your relationship, and laugh together.

  • Get snuggly. In most cases, there’s a good amount of squeezing/snuggling/smooching/hand-holding/etc, but I promise if you go with the flow and focus on each other, it won't be as awkward as it sounds. Remember: a (consensual) butt grab is always appropriate, especially if you don’t know what else to do with your hands.

  • Go with the flow. The more flexible you are, the better your photos will be! Some of our favorite engagement session photos came from spur-of-the-moment ideas, like ducking into an abandoned building during a rainstorm or standing on a pile of trash where the light is juuuust right. The more you trust us to do our thing, the more creativity flows.

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To Woods Kiss

OTHER TIPS

  • The best time to start our shoot is two hours before sunset. Because most wedding happen on Saturdays, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to do our shoot on a weekend, so keep that in mind when planning!

  • Whenever possible, choose outdoor shooting locations (or indoor locations with lots of windows). Natural light helps make your photos look dreamy and, well, natural.

  • PRINT YOUR PHOTOS!!! Use them for Save The Dates, give them as gifts to your family, put them around your home or office. Don’t let them just live on social media where you’ll only get to enjoy them every once in a while.


Finally, here’s our biggest tip for engagement sessions AND for life in general:

Don’t worry about doing it "right,"
just focus on loving each other.

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To

Comment

Comment

Five Steps for Making a Photo Book so Your Photos Can Live Somewhere Other Than Facebook

It’s holiday time so of course we’re ready to talk about our number one most favorite holiday gift of all time: Photo Books!

A few years ago, we announced that every single one of our couples would be receiving a custom-made, heirloom photo book as part of our Signature Package. EVERY COUPLE. The reasons are simple and plentiful: a photo book will outlast whatever current technology we have; a photo book can’t get corrupted files (unless a child or clumsy adult spills on them); the experience of going through a photo book with someone you love is worlds better than scrolling through images on your laptop; your photos are art and art deserves to be printed and exist beyond the internet. I don’t think we need to go on (but we could).

So if we’ve convinced you that your photos need to live in a book, but you’re a little bit overwhelmed, DON’T WORRY! We’re here to help. Here are our favorite tips for turning your photos from files to heirlooms:

1. Select your favorite photos, and keep variety in mind.

Most wedding galleries we deliver contain more than 400 images, and you’re just not going to be able to fit all of them into a single photo book unless it’s HUGE (see below for size tips). To get started, go through and select your absolute favorite images. Keep in mind that you should select at least a couple that don’t include people (i.e. scene-setting photos of the venue or space where your wedding took place), and for photos of people, select a good mix of formal portraits (especially meaningful family formals) and candid shots.

Yen, Scott, and their families

Yen, Scott, and their families

2. Size matters.

Our standard photo album for 2019 is a 10”x10” album with ten spreads. Since a “spread” is two pages lying open, a ten spread album will have twenty pages. This size is large enough for approximately 50 images. A 30-page album would feature approximately 100 images, and a 40-page album would hold feature approximately 150 images, and so on. We have found that fifty images per 10 pages is a good guideline. Also, remember that square-format albums, when lying open flat, will be rectangles; horizontal rectangular albums, when lying open flat, will be super wide rectangles.

Nicko and Sara’s wedding photo book was square, so when it is opened and lying flat, this spread is like a frame from a wide-screen movie!

Nicko and Sara’s wedding photo book was square, so when it is opened and lying flat, this spread is like a frame from a wide-screen movie!

3. Tell the story.

We provide our clients with wedding galleries that are broken out into chapters, because that helps to tell the story of the day. For our albums, we like to ease our couples into the narrative by doing one spread (i.e. two pages lying open are considered one “spread”) of location-based wide shots and/or details. Then, introduce the important people from the wedding day; move through the day as it progressed and try not to skip around too much. Also keep in mind that it adds to the consistency of the story to keep color images together and black and white images together on their own spreads.

Scene-setting spread from Catie & Erin’s wedding photo book

Scene-setting spread from Catie & Erin’s wedding photo book

4. Explore different layouts and embrace open spaces.

There are countless ways to lay your photos out for the photo book, and this is where a lot of people get stuck. If you’re opting to DIY, you can design your own layouts when ordering through Artifact Uprising. Aim to keep the layouts varied yet balanced — and embrace empty space when needed. Too many solo images or similar collages on one side of the spreads, page after page, will feel repetitive. If you’d rather not DIY and want us to do this part, we can help you.

A lot of space on the right side of this spread in Katie and Keith’s photo book helps their portrait stand out.

A lot of space on the right side of this spread in Katie and Keith’s photo book helps their portrait stand out.

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Album Redtree

5. Invest in the highest quality photo book you can.

We know that there can be a lot of sticker shock when it comes to purchasing a photo book. In fact, when we were getting married we even rolled our eyes over how much photographers have to charge for quality pieces. However, an heirloom-quality photo book is an investment that should last generations. We order our books from a lab that works only with professional photographers, and the reasons we work with them are:

  • Handmade construction (yes, made by hand)

  • True layflat binding

  • Thick, sturdy pages

  • Lustre finish on the pages (prevents fingerprints), and

  • Accurate color tone.

    Here are some examples, below! If you’d rather DYI, we recommend Artifact Uprising.

Is this whole process feeling like too much for you right now?

If you order a photo book from us, we handle everything from photo selection to sequencing to individual spread layouts. After you order, Fin creates a first draft which you review together and make tweaks as needed. Once you’re happy with the design, we send in the order and deliver your heirloom book to your door. EASY!

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Album Redtree

Comment

Comment

Why we didn't hire a wedding photographer

In early 2012, I was navigating the world of wedding planning as a feminist, and it was really hard. In fact, I felt like my options in terms of “weddings” were so limited (and so counter to my feminist values) that I didn’t even want to call our celebration a “wedding” — we called it a Love Party. Some of the true elements of a wedding were still there: sharing a meal with our community from near and far, toasting to each other and to happiness and love in general, dressing up in fancy outfits, dancing our asses of all night. We hired a band and a vegetarian caterer and rented a cool old bank to have the party in, but one thing that we couldn’t find was a wedding photographer that fit our values and would capture our day in the way I had wanted.

It feels like sacrilege to admit that.

It’s not because we didn’t value photography or want the time with our friends and family documented! We were able to convince my dear friend and former Plan 9 Records co-worker PJ, to shoot a few rolls of film and a handful of digitals. (Thank you again, PJ.) But PJ isn’t a wedding photographer; he’s a band/musician/live performance photographer. He’s also the only photographer I could find, after a looooong search, who I knew would keep us comfortable in front of the camera.

Every wedding photographer I found in Richmond in 2012 (a time when googling “Feminist Wedding Photographer” yielded literally zero results—which was eerie) had websites talking only to brides about “the details you’ve spent years dreaming of,” finally finding “Prince Charming,” gushing over “the perfect diamond ring,” and how thrilled I must be to finally become “a Mrs.” Everyone was “so honored” to be considered to shoot the “best day of our lives.” And for some reason, SO MANY of them LOVED Starbucks and mentioned it constantly (still true).

There were photographers promising to pray for us before starting to shoot on our wedding day (pass). There were photographers with only white people on their websites. I did not find ANY Virginia photographers with same-sex couples on their site (in fact, when I started my company in 2014 I was told by a lesbian couple that mine was the only site they could find with same-sex people on it and that was TWO YEARS LATER). Our wedding photographer search was a deep, dark dive into the super white, super hetero, super fairy-tale-schtick Weddingland and we were not about it.

So we celebrated without a professional wedding photographer. We had a beautiful time, we drank boozy milkshakes and enjoyed our friends playing live music and there were decorations made by our dearest friends, and our favors were MASON JARS (because even feminists can be #basic y’all, it was 2012.) My mom made my dress and my dad made my cake and we ate the best vegetarian wedding food ever by Everyday Gourmet. Everyone cried.

We cherish the photos we have, but they aren’t Wedding Photos. I’ve made peace with that (and am eternally grateful to PJ for documenting it at all). But I wish I had had a better option.

So I started my business to be the photographer that I couldn’t find back then.

If you’re searching through what feels like endless websites full of gauzy tulle and people waxing poetic about how idyllic weddings are and that doesn’t fit you — we’re here. We’re realists. We love love, of course. But when we say that, we mean we love people and we love partnerships. We love supporting folks who intentionally navigate (and even disrupt) spaces that aren’t For Them.

Comment

Comment

Three Ways To Not Force Your Wedding Party to Dress Like Creepy Identical Quintuplets

Are you stoked about having your nearest and dearest stand next to you on your wedding day, but the matchy-matchy debutante army of identically-dressed friends isn’t your jam? Do you feel kind of weird telling grown people what they should wear? Are you not into the idea of your best pals to have to buy something they will never wear again just because You Said So? And are you annoyed that brides are “supposed” to have only women in their wedding party, and grooms are “supposed” to only have men?

Well guess what! We have some ideas for you.

1. Instead of the same color, go with a color “family”

This is probably the least “fuck you tradition” way to give your wedding party some autonomy around what they wear: give them a family of colors to choose their outfits from.

Wedding party unique color ideas

For folks who are wearing suits, that might be “gray suit,” for folks who are wearing dresses that might be “gray” or “violet to eggplant” or even an actual color palette (we all know Pinterest is lousy with color pallettes). Unless you have a massive wedding party that would make it really obvious if someone strayed too far from the color range, take a deep breath and let your friends do their thing. Micromanaging this process kiiiinda defeats the idea of letting each person pick what color is best for them.

Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Purple Color Palette.JPG
Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Blue Floral Color Palette.JPG

Encouraging your friends to play with textures or patterns within your color scheme is an extra bonus that we’re sure they will appreciate! Last month, we shot a wedding where the bridesmaid theme was “blue florals” and it was AWESOME. You can get a similar effect with suits that have different patterns!

gray suit mismatched wedding party

Bonus points: If you want to go super old-school, ask your bridesmaids to wear white! Some sources say that originally the bride and all the bridesmaids wore exactly the same dress and veiled their faces heavily, for the purpose of confusing jealous suitors and evil spirits. You can probably skip the identical dresses thing, but everyone wearing white a pretty badass way to give the middle finger to tradition!

Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Bridesmaids in White.JPG

2. Don’t be afraid to mix modern and traditional wear.

These days, weddings are usually a beautiful mix of traditions: some old, some more modern, and some completely unique to you and your boo. There’s no reason that can’t extend to your wedding party. If some folks prefer more traditional outfits and some prefer more modern outfits, let them do them! Your wedding is about blending families (and in some cases, cultures) anyway.

Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Traditional Indian Wedding Saris.JPG

3. Forced single-gender wedding parties are sooooooo over.

If all your besties happen to be one gender, we support you. HOWEVER if you have a sibling or dear friend who isn’t the “right” gender for your wedding party, FUCK. THAT. If they want to stand with you, let them be there. They are wayyyy more important than the gender dichotomy BS that weddings looooove to stir up. This is especially true for men who have close friends who are women, but all the groom-related “shoulds” make it hard to step even slightly outside the masculine ideal of dudes-only friendships. Here are two of our favorite examples of grooms who push back against THAT weirdness:

Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Gender Neutral Wedding Party.JPG
Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Gender Neutral Wedding Party.JPG

And one bride who did it, just for good measure:

Carly Romeo and Co - Wedding Party Unique Ideas - Gender Neutral Wedding Party.JPG

Remember: your community is your community. Your wedding is about celebrating your relationship with the people you love, not forcing the people you love to do whatever you say. In the end, you won’t even remember if everyone’s hair is perfect or they’re dressed “right,” but rather how much joy you felt celebrating with them near you.

Comment

5 Comments

Why you need a feminist wedding photographer

I've tried several times to articulate (for myself, and for others) what it means to be a feminist wedding photographer, but this time I think I've really got it down! It's hard to write about feminism and other political things without implying that people who see things otherwise are Doing it Wrong, but I believe that people doing what they actively want--and not mindlessly doing what is expected of them--is the real important thing.

Being a feminist involved in the wedding industry, and in photography specifically, can be overwhelming. There are a lot of gender-related expectations tied up in American wedding culture, and I learned this firsthand last year as my partner and I planned a wedding-esque celebration of our love. While researching photographers to capture the event, I was inundated with language focusing almost exclusively on The Bride (™) and what The Bride (™) wants/needs/should look like in order to properly execute The Best Day of Her Life (™). I found this on photographer websites, in promotional material, on Pinterest, on Etsy, and many other online and offline spaces.

However, through feminism my relationship has grown to value equity and mutual respect, so I didn't feel like the celebration was meant to celebrate ME, but rather our partnership. Thanks to feminism, I define my life by more than my marital/relationship status, so I kinda find the thought that the best day of my entire life took place when I was just 26 years old a little bit depressing. So after twisting the arm of a photographer friend who usually shoots hardcore punk shows, I vowed (har har) to be the photographer that I would have wanted at my own love party: a feminist photographer.

Some might think that viewing weddings through a feminist lens (har har again) makes for a narrower view, but I disagree. Feminist wedding photography actually creates more dimension because it's about documenting love and relationships and happiness beyond the traditional [heterosexist] narrative of Boy-Meets-Girl, Boy Proposes, etc. Being a feminist wedding photographer means celebrating the individuals and their partnership as unique and wonderful things. It means:

Richmond Virginia Wedding Photographer
richmond va wedding photographer

- Appreciating and highlighting the ways my clients decide to embrace or shirk tradition/capitalism and taking the pictures that are important to them (from their grandparents doing the Cupid Shuffle down to macro images of rings on foliage) because they are meaningful (and let's face it, pretty) -- not because that's what Weddings Have To Be Like.

- Capturing the physical beauty of the day but focusing less on what your hair looks like (though I'm sure it looks amazing) and more on the emotional beauty: how much you laughed listening to your college roommate talk about what a slob you were, your new spouse's face watching you dance with your parent, the pure joy and warmth of your arms around each other after a first look.

- Thinking outside the box in terms of posing and composition; recognizing that everyone is on a spectrum of masculinity and femininity and not boxing folks into traditional gender roles.

- Mindfully not taking part in the stress and pressure generated by the Wedding Industry during the planning stages and acting as a wedding doula day-of by being supportive, positive, and drama-free.

So if you know someone in your life who's planning to get hitched (legally or not), spread the word! Feminist wedding photographers are the way to go. You can get more info about my work specifically by emailing me: carly {at} carlyromeo {dot} com or using this handy contact form.

DISCLAIMER: The post assumes that you are in the position of hiring a wedding photographer in the first place. Engaged folks or other soon-to-be committed couples who aren't planning on hiring a professional photographer for whatever reason (budget, politics, disinterest, etc): more power to you!

*I originally published this when my business was a tiny baby business, back in 2014.

5 Comments

1 Comment

Three Things To Do Before Your Engagement/Couples' Shoot

Photo by  Wojtek  of Voytek London Wedding Photography

Photo by Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to present at SNAP Photo Festival as part of the Catalyst team and while teaching about how to break out of traditional gender roles when working with couples was AWESOME, I was blown away by how much I learned from the other teachers and my fellow photographers. (Thanks Wojtek of Voytek London Wedding Photography for the photo of my class! I'm hiding on the far left)

Post-SNAP, one of the things I'm really inspired to push myself further on is engagement/couples' sessions. As someone who hates being photographed myself, I'm excited to start fine-tuning my process in order to create the MOST fun experience -- and the MOST beautiful, true-to-who-you-are photos.

SO as a starting point, I'm sharing my three best engagement/couples' session prep tips. I'm planning to share this article with my future couples so they know what to expect and how to get the most out of our time together, but hopefully it can be helpful to others as well!

THREE TIPS FOR RAD ENGAGEMENT/COUPLES' PHOTOS

1. Plan what you will wear. I'm often asked what a couple should wear for a photo session, and I love to respond with the not-super-helpful "whatever makes you feel fab!" but that is really the most important part. You don't have to worry about "matching" each other, color-wise, but instead try to plan outfits that are comparably fancy (or not-fancy). For example, if one of you is wearing a cocktail dress, the other should avoid a beachy maxi dress. Or if one person is wearing cargo shorts and a polo shirt, the other should go for something more casual than a suit and tie. Other general tips: opt for solid colors whenever possible, avoid logos and items with words on them, and wear comfortable shoes. Bonus points: wear something with MOVEMENT!

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To

2. Fuck expectations. Overwhelmed with the amount of "should"s involved in this process? Guess what: fuck 'em. Are you dying to wear androgynous clothes but think you "should" be more femme/masculine? Fuck it. Do you hate getting bug bites but feel like you "should" do your photos in an epic meadow of wildflowers? Fuck it. In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, there are countless poses and themes to emulate; we're not copying those. Instead, we'll go someplace you like (Art museum? Farm? Cafe? Mountaintop?), and do something you like (Look at art? Milk cows? Drink coffee? Fireside sing-a-long?) and I'll take photos. There's usually some off-roading, some go-stand-over-there-no-wait-over-there-ing, and we'll probably play some silly games. The goal of the session is to capture your relationship in a series of photographs, so the only thing you should be worried about is being yourselves, in love -- not trying to recreate something from the internet or doing what you feel obligated to do.

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To Horse

3. Mentally prepare to get be in front of a camera (and ignore it). My engagement/couples' sessions are designed to feel more like a fun date (albeit with a third wheel) than a cheesy posing experience, so my priority is to help you forget about the camera and enjoy one another. In most cases, that means you'll be squeezing/snuggling/smooching/hand-holding/etc quite a bit, but I promise if you go with the flow and focus on each other, it won't be as awkward as it sounds. Remember: a (consensual) butt grab is always appropriate. If you're extra nervous and are a person who enjoys adult refreshments, it can help to partake--in moderation!--beforehand. If you're more of a meditation person, that also works. 

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To Woods Kiss

That's it! I'll help you find a good spot, advise on the best time of day, and bring my camera. If you're wearing something that gives you some swagger, not worrying about doing it "right," and focusing on loving each other, you're golden. 

Feminist Wedding Photography Carly Romeo Photography Richmond VA Engagement Couple Shoot Advice Comfortable Planning How To LGBTQ Sunset Hold Hands

1 Comment