Our Wedding Day Arrival Policy | Transcription

Our wedding day arrival policy, now, this slide includes kind of our checklist and our guides to help us be sure that we can execute on the day of the wedding. This is what’s crucial for consistency. Now, we have a rule that we arrive 60 to 90 minutes early before our actual contract time, and the whole reason for this is that we want to do certain things, like pre-location scout. We want to make sure that certain areas of our venue, or areas that we’re going to shoot are not having construction, they’re not closed, and we want to scope out best locations. One of the most common things that happens during this same day location scouting is, despite being to a location, let’s say 50 times… For example, I shoot at the Huntington Beach Hyatt constantly, or at the St. Regis, or at the Ritz Laguna Niguel, whatever, all these locations that we’re at constantly shooting, frequently they will have locations that are closed. It could be closed to several reasons. There might another event there. There might be construction going on there.

What ends up happening is that, if we go out on the day of the shoot, and we don’t scout these locations, even though we’ve been there, we might end taking the client over to that location to do a first look or to do a couple session, or whatever it is that we’re doing, and we end up finding out during our wedding day that that area’s closed, that it’s not accessible. Then, we’re struggling to find a new spot, and then meanwhile, we’re burning up precious time. We want to discover those locations, and if they’re closed, want to know that prior to the day actually starting. It helps us to plan alternate locations when needed.

I have a great example of this. We recently did a gigantic South Asian wedding at St. Regis, and the clients wanted this beautiful, kind of natural, light and airy look to their images, with vegetation and so forth behind them. Thinking of St. Regis, there was only one spot that it really had that in spades, but the problem was, we had already shot the client there at a pre-wedding event. We didn’t want to duplicate the same spot. We ended up doing our location scouting. The client said they didn’t like that garden area there. They said they didn’t like the park next to it. They wanted to stay on the premises, and so forth. We ended up finding this little strip of trees, just right next to the parking lot next to this clubhouse, and we ended up doing our entire shoot there, because it had exactly what we needed. Now, we are literally standing next to the parking lot. There’s cars three feet away from us, but the scene looked amazing. We wouldn’t have never planned a shoot there had we actually not done the same day location scouting that kind of led us to find that spot, and led us to realize, “Hey, this works perfectly for the type of images that we want to create for our client.” It helps us to plan these alternate locations and plan what we want to do.

We can also decide primary, secondary, and tertiary locations. What that means is, basically, we can decide on these locations based on what is number one, where we want to shoot first, and then if we don’t have an opportunity to shoot there, maybe because it’s too far, it doesn’t fit the timeline, where we can shoot second that might be closer, and where we can shoot third. We can kind of have an idea of all these different places where we can pull off shots depending on where we might be, and how much time we might have, as well as the time of day, which we’ll discuss in just a second.

The next thing is arriving early and scouting helps us to get into that creative mindset. Again, we are trying to visualize the day. We want to get into the zone. We want to see and find new angles. We want to pre-vision our shots and what we’re going to do with the couple. We want to think of the mood board, and kind of think of how each of these locations are going to help us to capture the mood and the emotion that they have on the mood board. Maybe based on the mood board, we might use a certain location and use natural light, allowing that bright light to kind of come in and blow out areas of the frame to have a really bright and airy look. It’s gonna chompletely… Did I say chompletely? I think I did say chompletely, but that’s OK. That’s a new word for me. What that means is completely change, or in other words, it’s gonna chompletely modify your day. That wouldn’t make sense actually.

The other thing that I like to do is, in addition to thinking of the mood board, I like to start my wedding days kind of out slow and kind of ramp up and work into the day. I don’t like arriving at the wedding going, “Oh my gosh, I gotta get up to the room in 15 minutes. We gotta start.” I want to have time to kind of ease into it, to get into that zone, so that when I go up to bride prep, I have a great idea of what I want to do, how I want to execute to cover this vision.

Next, this pre-location scouting, arriving early, allows me to go around, again, using my phone, I’m going to bust out Sun Seeker. Let me get my phone. Here it is. I’m going to use Sun Seeker, or Sun Surveyor, and we’re going to go to these different locations, and as we’re scouting, I’m again watching and tracking the sun’s location based on each one of those scenes. Why do we do that? Well, because remember the primary, secondary, and tertiary locations? What I like to do is plan out my favorite location based on ideal times during the day. We actually have a case study that we’re going to be discussing in just a moment where, based on what the bride and what the bride’s mother wants and envisions for their shoot, we actually selected certain areas of St. Regis, where we were shooting, because the light was ideal in those areas and the background fit during the time that we were shooting.

If it’s one o’clock, you know that this area is perfect to shoot at, because it has great shade. If it’s three o’clock, you know that this area’s great because you’re under trees and it has beautiful directional light. You know that if it’s sunset, you have this open look at where the sun is going to be, so you can shoot those beautiful, golden hour type images. That’s the purpose, so that you can utilize all of these locations to their fullest, based on your timing during the day.

Number four, arriving early helps us to impress and exceed expectations. Does your bride, does the coordinator, do those people expect you to be there 90 minutes or two hours early, or whenever it is that you’re arriving to these scenes? Most likely not. They probably don’t, and that’s why as soon as I arrive, I’ll text my bride and say “Hey, I know we’re an hour and a half out before we start, but I’m here. We’re just doing some location scouting. Please let me know if you need anything.” I’ll also text the coordinator the same thing. Don’t you think it puts the bride, and the groom, and the coordinator, and everybody else at ease when they realize that we’re there early and that we’re all good to go? Don’t you think it makes them think that we treat them like they are our one and only clients, like they are the only thing that matters to us, like we’re there to do a job and to do it incredibly well? This is part of exceeding our expectations, or their expectations of us. Yes, that’s what I’m trying to say.

All right, next we use this time to help elevate the team’s imagery. During our team planning meeting, everything that I discover from traveling from location to location, using my Sun Seeker, using all those things to kind of track and follow and take notes and do all that on my day, I’m going to convey all of that to my second and my third shooter. We’re going to talk about locations. We’re going to talk about timings of the day. We’re going to discuss second and third angle opportunities, like during a ceremony. For example, we had one ceremony with Stephanie and Rich where we’re shooting the ceremony and I go, “You know what, it’d be so awesome if, during that recessional, they come to the end of the aisle, I take a shot from down low, because I’m shooting them coming down the recessional, and I go, ‘Hey guys, everybody in the group, look up to camera number two,’ and camera number two is placed up on the stairs with our second shooter shooting there, and I say, ‘All right, now look up to three,’ and number three is up super high, shooting down on that entire ceremony scene.” We ended up getting these really cool images, and that was all done with that pre-shoot scouting, because we thought “Hey, this would look really great to have. This is something the clients would want. Let’s do it and let’s execute.”

We can come up with these ideas on what scenes and what angles, and I can basically help to direct my second and third shooters to help me execute our vision for our clients’ product.


The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


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