Regarding Portrait photography in the Fairfax area, we love are generally a family portrait studio, so please read the following post with those thoughts in mind.

Before we get started, I’d like to start off defining the above terms.

Professional photographer: This is someone who is an expert in the field in question. Websters defines it as:   a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional, an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.

Hobbyist: This is someone who enjoys photographing people, places and things, but doesn’t quite have the expertise to be a professional. Websters says a hobby is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation:

Uncle Bob: This is someone who thinks they’re a professional, but in reality, is a hobbyist.

Now, to the good stuff!  Let me first start out by saying that we’re in NO way trying to knock the hobbyist, or even Uncle Bob.  We started out as hobbyists.  You must love what you do, right?  However, once we decided to make the hobby a profession, we got educated. We took classes.  Lots and LOTS of classes.  As a matter of fact, we take classes every year that are specifically for professional wedding and portrait photographers.  It’s from these classes and many other things that we were able to learn the “art” of photographing weddings.  The images we’ve selected will give you a brief overview of some things to think about when hiring a professional photographer.


Take a look at the image below.  This is an image of Ashley and Ryan during  their first dance.  The look on her face really says it all.  Less than a year after this image was taken, Ashley’s husband passed away unexpectedly.  Although we deeply wish that Ryan was still here,  it eases the pain a little to know that Ashley has images such as the ones below; images that truly capture how she felt on her wedding day for her to remember always.

When you hire a professional photographer, that’s one of the things you should definitely see reflected in their work — a true professional knows how to capture the emotion of the moment, so that no matter what happens, you’ll always have those images, and quintessentially, those emotions are kept safe for all time.


The venue and decor are probably two of the most expensive things you will purchase for your wedding day.   Your decor is, most likely, something you would want chronicled in your wedding album.  And on the big day, you’re probably not going to be drooling over the opulent lighting setup or the perfectly sprinkled rose petals that decorate the aisle, it IS something that you’re not going to want to forget.


The image below is from Katherine and YuKwan’s Wedding.  It’s one of my favorites from the day of the wedding.  Now, be warned, because I’m about to geek out.   Notice how the sun doesn’t look like a big blob of glowing whipped cream that’s been plopped down in the middle of the image.  This is a special technique we learned in one of the courses mentioned above.  This requires you to do some special things with your camera to have this cool “star effect” in your images.  Did I mention that this is a technically hard image to do?  This was shot during sunset which means the light is constantly changing.  They’re also backlit, meaning the sun is to their back — so if I didn’t light them correctly, they would be completely silhouetted.  End of geek session.  Thank you for listening!


This is not necessarily to say that every photographer should have a good use of reflection, but it’s just so cool!  Why wouldn’t you want that?!?  This is what we call the infinity reflection.  This is just something that we found very cool at this specific venue.  Does your photographer have a good eye?  Can they take something that seems everyday and turn it into something extraordinary?


Sunset images are some of my favorite to capture.  But like I mentioned before, they’re technically harder to capture.  Ever single second the sun is going down which means your light is always changing.  Ratios are constantly changing so your photographer’s head is constantly calculating their ambient light output versus artificial light.  The correct ratio lets you capture images like the one you see below.


The ring shot.  This is probably the most expected technique of any professional photographer.   Did you know you have to have a special lens to take images like the one seen below?   To get the look below, we had to take a little votive candles and space them the right distance behind the ring.  Too close and it would look like little aliens coming to abduct (little pinpoints of light), too far and they would be pointless.  Your fiance took lots of time and money to pick out that gorgeous rock of yours.  Why not have it documented correctly?


Notice the  next four images.  These are called sequential images.  They tell a story.  I cannot say enough how important this is!!  Your wedding album is what you have after everything is said and done.  You’re most likely not going to wear your dress again, you will have your husband, and you will have your wedding album.  Do you want your album to be like a yearbook?  Or would you rather have your  album designed to tell a story?  Your story.   The ability to design an album is truly an art, and is an expertise that is valuable and is part of the value of your wedding photographer.

Composing the image:

Composition of an image can define your entire photography experience.  Perhaps you would like to look a few pounds lighter?  Maybe you want to look like you have a few more curves?  Standing certain ways and your photographer shooting at certain angles can make you look heavier or thinner, taller or shorter — actually, it can do all of the above and more!  Still, you need to feel comfortable, and that is where interaction with your photographer comes in.  If you are not comfortable, you won’t look comfortable in your photograph. That’s why it is so important to have a connection with your photographer, so you will feel at ease in front of the camera. And if they do have to pose or prompt you for a shot or two, they can make you feel and look your best.


Guess where this image was taken!  Still can’t figure it out?  This was taken in the bathroom of one of our venues.  Can you tell?  No, not really.  Not all cool locations are found because they scream, “take a photo here”. That’s part of the value of a professional photographer, too — can they find cool, creative locations that make you look like a million bucks?


Another technique that can be a very cool way to have your wedding images captured is with motion.  This is an image from Sunee and Spencer’s wedding.  It’s also not the easiest technique to master since humans were designed to move every time their heart beats.

Memories are priceless.  And unlike material things, memories grow more valuable as time goes on.  Please be sure to keep these points in mind when you are in the search for a professional photographer.

What do you want YOUR memories to look like?


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