Soul Echo Studios is closing its doors

Thank you for stopping by.  I am not taking any new clients at this time.  I will be retiring from photography and my last wedding will be June 2016.  But since you are here, below you will find some vendor recommendations and wedding advice you may find useful.

How to choose the RIGHT photographer

Looking through portfolio after portfolio can be overwhelming and after a while all the pictures start to look the same.  Here are some tips on how to choose.

  • Stop looking at portfolios which are just a collection of the best of and start looking at whole weddings.  Request a complete gallery from the photographer so you can assess ALL of the moments captured (or not captured) and so you can get a better feel at how his or her photography tell the story of the day.  Your wedding is too important to reduce to just the single “wow” portrait.  There are many important story elements that need to be told as well.
  • Get recommendations from other vendors.  A bad photographer can manage to get a good picture for the portfolio every once in a while but they won’t fool other vendors.  Asking other brides is a great idea but most brides haven’t been exposed to more than 1 or 2 photographers on a wedding day.  A wedding planner or venue can really help point you in the right direction.
  • Meet face to face (or video chat) with at least 3 photographers.  You will be spending a good amount of time with your photographer and you need to connect.  If you don’t feel comfortable spending time with this person then they are not the right photographer for you.
  • Experience is well worth it.  No matter how much you plan, your wedding day will be full of time crunches, obstacles, and other unexpected events.  A good photographer knows how to make quick decisions on the spot and guide you.  Experience has informed us on what needs to be done when and when to abort the plan and go to plan B if necessary.  It takes years of experience to make good decisions.

Photography Styles

There are many descriptions and buzz words regarding style and some can be very nuanced but in general, all you should know are 3 basic styles:  fashion, photojournalism and editorial.

  • Fashion – This is for the bride that wants to spend lots of time posing and being directed, wants to look perfect in every shot, is obsessed with her dress and shoes and wants to look like the cover of a magazine.
  • Photojournalism – Focus is on candid moments telling a story.  This has always been my style.  Less direction, less posing, more natural feelings and whatever happens happens.  Less perfection but more authentic, more time being with family and enjoying yourself with loved ones.
  • Editorial – Portraits tend to be staged and some what directed but more fun and airy than a fashion shoot.  Images are pre-planned and sometimes have a theme to them.  Most Pinterest images tend to fall in this category since images give off that “oh that’s such a cute idea” vibe.  Most popular blogs publish these type of images.

Photography Recommendations

Paul Thomas Photo  – epic breathtaking portraiture, priceless emotional moments, and a fun atmosphere on the day of your wedding

Sonju Photography – Fun and laid back.  Emphasis on candid moments.

Fernandez Photography – Elegant posing with attention to detail.

Merari – light and airy.  A mix of photojournalism with fine art.

Wedding Advice From a Retired Pro

After photographing over 300 weddings I have witnessed many amazingly beautiful weddings and I’ve witnessed some real disasters as well.  I hope the following helps you in your planning.

Weddings are Political – Weddings tend to cause arguments between family members that are otherwise not normal.  Pressure to invite guests that you aren’t close to, pressure to have religion that you don’t believe in, compromises to satisfy parent’s wishes are all common to the politics of weddings.  This has to be the wedding that represents who you are.  Make decisions that represent you.  The people that love you should understand and respect your wishes.

Vendors – get like minded vendors.  Once you decide the type of wedding you want and the feel that you want, hire vendors that represent that.  You will find a list of experienced vendors below.

Budget – Going into debt is not the right way to start a marriage.  Statistics show that most marriage problems are due to finances.  Weddings are very expensive events but I’ve seen very simple, small weddings done for under $10,000 that were quite beautiful and I have photographed some weddings with budgets of literally $500,000 that have been a complete disaster.

Prioritize your top 2-3 things that are most important and plan everything else around it.  Most brides value venues, churches and photography as their top 3 but it doesn’t have to be the same for you.  Is a large guest list a priority for you?  If so then that will be the largest portion of your budget right there.  If you are on a tight budget there is a good chance that you may not be able to afford every single thing on your wish list but that’s normal.  Don’t be tempted to do everything on your wish list at budget prices.  Its better to spend well on your priorities and sacrifice some less essential things.  If you only have $4000 for photo and video, it is better for you to spend it all on either photo OR video but don’t split the budget to get a mediocre photographer and mediocre videographer.  Smaller, simple weddings with money spent on the right things are quite beautiful.

Photography is expensive if you want someone who is in demand and has years of experience.  The price you pay is not just for one day of work but includes much pre-planning, editing which can take many days of work, second shooters, insurance, equipment costs and more.  There are a few good photographers starting at around $2500 on the low end and can go upwards of $6000 or even higher.  Most good photographers are priced anywhere in that range, depending on experience, demand and talent.  Some photographers who limit their work to high end clientele charge a higher price to make up for volume that some lower priced photographers have.  Photographers under $2500 are most likely just starting out and don’t have proper experience.  They may be young or have other full time jobs that will distract them from giving proper attention to you.

Pinterest and shot lists – Pinterest has changed the wedding industry more than anything else.  Photographers absolutely hate it and so do most vendors but they won’t tell you.  I can tell you because I am retired.  It is not fair to send your photographer images that another photographer took and ask them to imitate them.  If you like those type of images then make sure to hire a photographer that represents that from the beginning.  Make your Pinterest board prior to hiring a photographer if you like and use that to inform your decision about what style you like.  When you hire a photographer you should do so based on the images that are on THEIR galleries and weddings.

Too often the images from Pinterest and other shot lists are not realistic to do on the wedding day.  The images are often taken at perfect sunset lighting, during styled shoots that have no time constraints and with other factors that are not applicable to every wedding.  These lists also limit the creativity and spirit of the photographer or other vendor you actually hired since they now feel they have to satisfy your list rather than be creative on their own and look for new opportunities.  Who knows, if you allow your photographer freedom and creativity they make create images for you that other brides will be pinning like crazy!

UnPlugged Ceremony – Consider asking your guests to not pull out cell phones during the ceremony.  Cell phones are not designed to take pictures of a moving object (you) walking towards it.  The pictures are not useful to you or to them and they are blocking the view of the groom and the photographer, the two people that need to have the best view of you.  Plus don’t you want your guests to have 30 minutes with their face away from the phone to focus on a real, emotional, loving event happening live?

First Look – Brides that don’t want to do a first look make the decision based on bad logic.  Let me explain.  The thought process is “I want him to see me coming down the aisle”.  Brides typically think that this is more emotional and intimate when in fact the opposite is true.  I have very rarely, maybe less than a handful of times seen a groom cry when a bride is coming down the aisle.  Guys don’t like crying in front of 100 guests so they suck it up and hold stone face.  Also, you are far away.  Its hard to see you well with all those people and cell phones in the way.  On the other hand I would say that many, many grooms cry and show real emotion during first looks when there is no one around to judge except you.  It is much more intimate since its only you and him.  You get the added benefit of doing portraits prior to the ceremony so don’t add stress on the back end of the day.

After hundreds of first looks I have never once had a bride regret it and most if not all say it was the best and most emotional part of their day.

Vendor Recommendations

Choosing the right vendors to work with is probably the single most important decision you can make for your wedding (other than who you are marrying!).  I have personally worked with everyone here many times over the past 11 years and can recommend them to do a great job for you.

WEDDING PLANNERS & COORDINATORS

Alore’ Event Firm

Luxurious Events

Events on a Budget

FLORALS

Alore’ Event Firm

Tropical Elegance

DJ

The Vibe DJs

Ubi’s Music & Lighting

VIDEOGRAPHY

Prime Design Films

Reinheardt Productions