On vintage portaits and wedding photography

With my dad and my sister both professional photographers, I have a deep appreciation for the way pictures can bring a story to life.

W- and I are getting married on August 21. We’ve been thinking about whether we want to do the full-blown wedding photography package or go with something simpler.

I don’t particularly feel the urge to have every little detail of our small ceremony memorialized. Pictures would be a nice way to share the spirit of the celebrations with friends who couldn’t make it, but then again, we’ll probably have plenty of snapshots from both our camera-happy families. Given a choice between budgeting for fancy photographs (which can go well into thousands of dollars) or, say, helping my family come and experience Toronto, I’d pick snapshots + experiences.

I do want to have some formal pictures, though. I’ve always liked the look—no, more than that, the story—of vintage photographs in family albums. Pictures of parents and grandparents when they were young and just starting out.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

Photo uploaded in 2007 by dlisbonaCreative Commons Attribution Licence 2.0

Photo uploaded in 2008 by Spiterman – Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic Licence

And just imagine, now, people can actually smile instead of holding a stiff expression for minutes!

I’m happy to skip all the other typical wedding pictures – the rings casting heart-shaped shadows on a book, the bridal party getting their hair done, the bouquet, and so on. I just want a few good portraits of us and of our combined families. Given that people managed to take these great photos back when they didn’t have speedlights or Photoshop, it should be so much easier now.

But I’m having a hard time looking for a photographer who’s okay with large groups and simple set-ups, who knows a lot about working with light, and who’ll do just a few set-ups instead of a full wedding package.

It would be nice to have a picture with everyone. If we have to, we’ll fiddle with the self-timer or remote. There’s gotta be some way to do this. We’d be happy to pay someone a reasonable amount to get great pictures with less stress. So, know anyone who can make ~25 people in Toronto look timelessly good?

  • The nearest person I know of who might be able to help you would be “Papa Bert” Dimson who lives in the Bay Area, California. Within Canada, I don’t know of any at the moment.

    If you plan to do it on your own, one other way is have the whole thing controlled via computer. What my friend, Jo Avila, did once is to connect his camera via (a very long) USB cable to computer and have his computer “pull the trigger” at regular intervals. I’m thinking with a little hacking, you can set up your computer to connect to your camera and voice activate the whole process. :D

  • Besides Bert Dimson, other people I know of who can do this sort of schtick would be Albert Yan, Kyo Suayan, Horace Posadas and Franz Dimson. All filipinos but all in Bay area California.

  • Paul

    Check with the local arts college. One of the reasons people pay for a wedding photographer, is their experience in knowing what shots are timeless and they don’t get flustered and forget. An advanced photography student would have the technical skills, but you may want to meet with them in advance and develop a list of what shots you want.

    I’m surprised you can’t find a professional willing to do just a small subset. When I got married we could go for the full gamut or just different packages. We decided on the formal family shots and then a package of informal shots from the reception.

  • I can probably negotiate that, but it requires picking up the phone. <laugh> Which I suppose I’m going to have to do sometime…

    A student or starting photographer might be fine. We’re okay with giving a lot of art direction and doing the photo-retouching. =) I’ll even put together comps.