Rinat Halon

Photography ideas and information you need to give you results you desire.

Posts Tagged 'RH photography Communication'

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“I’m walking in sunshine, woah

I’m walking on sunshine, aooah

I’m walking on sunshine, woooah
And don’t it feel good!!”

(Katrina and the waves, as well as any Bride-To-Be that ever lived)

You just got engaged and you feel like you’re floating on air. Everything is perfect. Life is beautiful. You are lovingly planning your perfect wedding. You know you want tasty food, a great party, and beautiful photos. You’re on Pinterest all day creating your wedding day vision board, adding more and more reference photos of how you envision you will be photographed.

Then the budget reality hits. You realize how much this party is gonna cost you… You and your fiancé start thinking about where you can cut some costs. Venue and food – you know they have to be perfect. Same thing when it comes to your dress (hello?!?!?!?!? You’ve been dreaming about this wedding dress since your Barbie was wearing one).

You and your sweetheart seem to hit a cost cutting wall. But then, as your Facebook friend posts photos from her wedding and you go on bridal blogs and read what other brides are sharing, you know you hit the jackpot of cost cutting:

The Photographer!  You turn to your honey and excitingly announce: “Eureka! We can cut cost with the photographer we hire to photograph our wedding!”

After all, everyone is a photographer nowadays. The market is saturated with photographers, and really anyone can do it. And with that in mind you lower your wedding photography budget to an open bid of whomever offers you the lowest price to shoot you wedding. And you are very happy that you found a way to cut your wedding day cost!

Of course, you just turned your wedding day memories for beheading at the nearest guillotine, where the unmerciful blade chopped off what was to be the only thing left from your magical wedding day – your beautiful photos that is. Because unlike common believe NOT everyone is a photographer. The fact that everyone owns the tool – a camera – does not mean they are qualified to capture your once in a lifetime precious wedding day memories. Think about it this way– anyone can buy a stethoscope on line. Does that make them a doctor you would trust with your medical diagnostics & treatment?

With that in mind, here are my top 5 tips on how to determine what qualifies a camera owner to be your wedding day photographer:

Tip #1 – Is this how the photographer makes a living?   – “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” said Henri Cartier-Bresson, one of the fathers of photography. My question for you is – do you really want your wedding pictures to be within someone’s first 10,000 photographs? There are many photographers who are dipping their toe in the professional photography pool.  They want to make sure the water feels good before they jump in. Of course, sometimes the water is cold…and they decide they don’t want to jump in – and back to their day job they go! If you hired one of them to be your wedding day photographer one of the following may happen to you: A week before your wedding the photographer calls to let you know they cannot make it to your wedding day leaving you shocked and, well, ditched / If they do show up it takes over a year to get you wedding day photos back from them / you get your wedding day photos only to realize many key moments were never captured, and the photos that were captured are just not what you were hoping for.

I tell my students photographing a wedding is like being a war photographer – the difference is the only shots on a wedding day are done using a camera not actual weapons (let’s hope). Just like photographing during a war, you have to be on your toes, alert at all times in order to get THE shot. Because once the moment is over – it is never coming back. And that, my friends, takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. It also takes jumping into the cold dark water of the professional photography pool, cannon ball style, “nothing’s holding me back, I’m all in and can handle anything this wedding throws at me” attitude – which is a badge of honor only experienced professional photographers can proudly wear.

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Tip #2 – How long has the photographer been in business full time?  So let’s talk about the business of professional photography. Just like any other small business owner the professional full time photographer actually WORKS in their business. They have a business license. They have contracts. They have liability insurance. They pay sales tax and income tax on their profits. Many times they have a couple of employees. They are aware of the latest copyright laws and know how to protect you and them from image theft. If you hire a photographer to photograph your wedding day that is not a full time photography business owner you may encounter one of the following: No contract to refer to when the photographer decides to leave your wedding since they feel they got enough shots / When your aunt trips on the photographer’s tripod and breaks her ankle you get the hospital bill/ Yelp and the Better Business Bauru never heard of your photographer, so the bad reviews you post after the wedding day about the photographer walking in on you naked while you were getting ready, demanding to photograph you – are absolutely useless.

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Tip #3 – Are they a member of a professional organization?  Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath, where they vow to be ethical. I wish photographers had the Nie’pce Oath, or the Dagnuerre Oath (both are considered fathers of photography). Well currently there isn’t a professional photographer oat. And the closet thing you can find to such an ethical oath is if a photographer is a member of a professional photography association such as the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Members of these organizations are at the very least passionate about their craft, and most likely are professional photographers, not enthused photography wannabe’s.

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Tip #4 – Do you like the photographer?  One of the first tips I ever got from a professional photographer was to get a personality. No he wasn’t talking to me specifically, but to a room full of photographers, telling us why clients like working with him. “You have to have a good personality” he said, “and if you don’t have one – buy one”. What he said resonated with me, and felt applicable over the years especially when it came to wedding photography. Here is why: On your wedding day the one person you will spend the most time with – is your wedding photographer. That’s right. More than with your bridal party. More than with your parents. More than with your honey. Your wedding photographer will be glued to your hip all day long. What can I say? You better like them!

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Tip #5 – Will their past clients recommend them?  So here is the thing: what you really, truly want to do before you hire your wedding photographer is connect with their previous clients. I mean, the photographer can show you beautiful photos they took, but what you really want to know is what happened behind the lens on their wedding day. Was the photographer on time? Were they pleasant to be around? Were they creative with the wedding photos? Did they deliver everything they promised? And the Million Dollar question (drum roll please)… If they could go back in time – would they hire that photographer again?…

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As you can see, none of the tips is about cost. I will say this – if its sounds too good to be true… you know the rest of this sentence, right?

Choose your wedding day photographer for the 5 reasons above. Then see what they charge for their services. Chances are if they want to photograph your wedding day they will work with your budget (as long as it’s realistic compared to what they ask for). They may help you with a payment plan, or give you the option of purchasing your album after the wedding day instead of upfront. Here is an example of something I offer that surprises my clients:  Gift registration with my studio. That way, their wedding guests can purchase from my studio gift cards that will apply towards any prints, enlargements and albums the couple will want to order.

And if all else fails and you find out that the photographer you had your heart set on is out of your budget – simply look for another photographer. Lucky for you there are many, very talented business owner professional photographers out there. Since they are professionals they charge what they know their talent and services are worth – and these prices vary from professional photographer to professional photographer – one of those could fit in your budget.

Do your research. You will not regret it. Many years from now when your granddaughter climbs up to cuddle in your lap with a treasure she just found – your wedding album – and she turns the pages asking you if it’s really you in these photos, and telling you how beautiful you looked, you will feel the joy. The joy of your memories coming back to life. The joy of being able to share these memories with a mesmerized child you love so dearly. The joy of knowing your beautiful wedding day is treasured forever.

You may not remember you read this article. But in your heart you will thank the universe for making the right decision and choosing a qualified professional to capture your wedding day memories. And these memories lived happily ever after…

 

  • Rinat Halon, previously Walt Disney Imagineers In House Photographer, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized honors degree from The Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising ,where she wrote the thesis “The Influence of photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program” (May 2001). For the past 17 years she has been photographing internationally portraits, weddings and magazine lifestyle & fashion spreads. To see Rinat’s wedding online gallery and contact her to check availability for your wedding day CLICK HERE

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Remember when we were children and wanted to buy something? We had to physically GO TO the store. It seems almost surreal in today’s Amazonic reality, but that was reality not too long ago.

Let’s say you wanted to buy a cool Tshirt. One that all the other cool kids would want. So you went from store to store, WALKING, in search of the perfect Tshirt. You checked out window displays before deciding to go into a store. You walked into all the known chain stores, but couldn’t find what you were looking for. Then you saw a small store across the street, one you never entered before. It had a window display that attracted you to walk over, and you were welcomed by the store owner, asking you what you were looking for. After listening to you carefully he told you he had just the right Tshirt for you. He then proceeded to walk over to a hidden shelf and pull out the most awesomest perfect Tshirt you have ever seen.

What are the chances that you would have gone back to this store? Most likely, you would have made this YOUR store. This was back in the day when small business owner’s visual brand was visible.

Today the small business owner’s brand gets lost in the online shopping world. Window displays were replaced by web sites, and today online is the FIRST PLACE where a potential client meets a small business. IT REPLACED THE STORE FRONT. That is the place where the small business owner can intrigue (creative window display), connect on a personal level (ask what are you looking for?) and create a call to action (“I have the perfect Tshirt for you!”).

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Unfortunately so many small business owners are unaware of their visual branding power. They spend so much money on SEO to bring traffic to their web sites. But once the potential client lands on the web site – those 15 seconds a potential client dedicates to decide if to stay or click away – they have nothing to connect to. Nothing makes them want to stick around. There is nothing there to intrigue them to know more, see more – and ultimately shop. What’s worst is, many times the thoughtless “let me just stick this photo on my web site, it didn’t cost me anything and looks kind of pretty” visual branding can literally turn potential clients away.

It’s because these photos don’t really show who you are.  Nobody really knows what you do, or understand the magnitude of gifts that you offer, the services that you provide, and the miracles that you make happen for your clients every day. But it is easy to fix. Here are my top 5 tips on creating relevant, intriguing, emotionally moving photographs that will help your business succeed:

Tip #1 – Listen to your heart – Paul Tillich said that “the first duty of love is to listen”. If you want to send a clear message to your clients, clarify first with yourself some key facts such as what are you selling? Why are you selling it? Who are you selling it to? Once you are clear about your “business being”, it much easier to figure out photographs that represent it well.

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Tip #2 – Google your business – Now that you understand which photograph you want to represent your business see which image comes up in a relevant Google search. These are the pictures potential clients see first when they Google your business. Are these images you want to be associated with?

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Tip #3 – From scratch or re-birth? From your newly acquired perspective check out the images you currently have on your web site. Do your images do you justice? Decide if you want to keep a few, and just revamp your site with more relevant, intriguing, action creating photographs. Or would you like to drop all the photos on your site and start from scratch? Either way, you should have a solid reason why you are keeping a photograph. Explain to yourself how this photograph is helping promote your business. If you convinced yourself – the photo stays.

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Tip #4 – Which photographs WILL work for your business? Now that you figured out which photographs don’t work for you, it is time to decide on the photographs that will create a call to action for potential customers brought to your site by SEO. Which photographs will make them want to connect with you? In the Personalized Image Bank process I break down the image bank to three defined photographic areas. These three areas together create a complete visual of your business story. They are the professional portrait, the atmosphere shots and the scene captures. The atmosphere shots for example depict the environment you work from, where your business is located. What this does is create a visual connection for the client, so when they walk into your business they feel comfortable, like they were there before. This familiarity raises the trust a new customer feels towards the business, which in turn encourages moving forward to do business together.

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Tip #5 – Be relevant –Today your web site is your store front’s window display. Make sure you stay current by updating your web site every time there is a change in your business. If an employee leaves, or a new employee is hired. If your business moved location, or if you painted your office walls purple. If you started selling a whole new product line – any of these changes need to appear on your web site. And a personal request from me – please ensure your portrait is current. You want clients to recognize you as soon as they walk into your business. If the portrait on your web site does not look like you any longer, it is time to replace it, as this can create trust issues for a customer who may wonder what else you may be hiding…

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  • Rinat Halon, previously Walt Disney Imagineers In House Photographer, started researching the power of a photograph while working on her personalized honors degree from The Ohio State University in Photography & Visual Merchandising ,where she wrote the thesis “The Influence of photographic Images on Brochure Appeal for the Family Financial Management Program” (May 2001). For the past 17 years she has been photographing internationally portraits, weddings and magazine lifestyle. She started working on creating Personalized Image Bank™ for small businesses 6 years ago, creating proof of sustainability for this service. Recently she was accepted into the We Venture entrepreneurship program, where she is working on scaling the PIB service and product. Her goal is to create a new, personalized, affordable, visual branding option for small business owners worldwide. For more about the Personalized Image Bank CLICK HERE. To apply to qualify for the FREE Personal Styling Session for your small business visual branding CLICK HERE.

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When Noel called me for the first time he was very hesitant. First he asked if I do engagement shoots, and I told him I did. “Well”, he said “I want to make sure you are comfortable with photographing us”. I was guessing what he meant, but kept listening quietly. “We are same sex couple” he said “and many times before photographers were not comfortable photographing us”.

I felt so sad to hear that. It took me back to a phone call I received a year ago, from a transsexual who wanted new portraits made for her and her wife. As she explained it “I don’t look like the man in our photos any longer, and I want my wife and I to have new memories”. I was so honored to create these new memories for them!

As a professional photographer I’m aware there may be plenty of situations that could make me uncomfortable to capture. So far in my 17 years career I turned down only one photo shoot because it made me uncomfortable. However, I was uncomfortable because I felt this man may have intended on hurting me. Aside from that, as I told Noel over the phone, I am happy to photograph any kind of love.

We decided to do Noel & Cesar’s engagement photos at one of my favorite locations – Paradise Cove, where they will be getting married next year. We had such a great time capturing their engagement photos. When we walked back to the car, I realized we forgot to photograph the Campaign toast they wanted to capture. It was turning into a good old hot and sticky Florida day, so Noel and Cesar were almost ready to forget about it, but I wouldn’t. So we got the Campaign bottle and glasses out, and walked back to take a few more pictures. When I got the shot of Noel popping the cork off the Campaign bottle, I know we got THE shot, and the photo shoot was a wrap.    

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One of the things I highly recommend for couples who book me to capture their wedding day, is doing an engagement session with me. First off, it gets them comfortable in front of my camera. It also gives me time to find out about what they like and don’t like about themselves in photographs. For example – someone may dislike their smile. Someone else may have a side they consider to be their “good side” and only want that side photographed. . This in turn makes capturing the wedding day photos so much easier, as the couple and I are on the same photographic page – they know where their chin needs to be for a great composition, I know which angle they don’t like to be photographed from. And that means we can get the pictures done so much faster on their wedding day – they actually get to enjoy their cocktail hour!

As my clients indicate on the post wedding feedback form the engagement session is one thing I do that they absolutely love and value, as do I – because it increases the odds of incredible wedding day photos significantly.

So, back to Noel & Cesar’s engagement session, by the end of it session, Noel, Cesar and I were BFF’s.  What can I say? In the words of the wonderful song: “what the world needs now, is love sweet love” –

Noel & Cesar sure bring plenty of that to the world!

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I am fortunate enough that in my 17 year career I got to capture two double weddings so far – What are the odds? Both double weddings were of two sisters getting married. The first double wedding I photographed about 10 years ago was a Scottish one, complete with grooms in kilts and two beautifully red haired sister brides.  

The double wedding I shot this past September was of two sisters again – Galit who married Nick, and Yael who married Riley. It was a lovely backyard wedding, as the double couple tied the knot under a tree canopy in the park across the street from their home.  

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As oppose to the Scottish double wedding I photographed which was an intimate affair, this backyard double wedding had a large bridal party – which meant I needed a second shooter. I was so happy when Chris Gillyard agreed to take up that roll. As I told Galit in our pre-wedding phone consultation, they got lucky as Chris is a great professional photographer with as much experience as me if not more.

Having Chris on board, and Brittney my oh so wonderful assistant on my side– I knew I was surrounded by the best team, and could relax and enjoy capturing this wedding.

Posing them was a hoot, and one of the bridal party photos turned to be one of my favorite of all times. Isn’t it great?

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Galit wanted a photo with her sister at the park, and Chris captured the three of us as I was composing the shot

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The groom’s cake was shaped as a sandwich since both grooms love sandwiches

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This double wedding had double the emotion and double the fun – and we captured it all! Happy Ever After to Galit & Nick, as well as Yael & Riley!

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Here are some more of my favorite photos from the day:

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Congratulations! You did it! You are now Mr.  & Mrs.!!!

The photographer sent you a link to the online gallery for you to choose photos for the album. You use your Smartphone to choose the photos.

A few weeks later the photographer emails you the album layout design for approval. You view your album on your Smartphone again. You email the photographer back that the album is approved. And you cannot wait to see it.

Another couple of weeks go by and you to pick up your album from the photographer. The album is perfect, of course. After all, you approved it. You take the album home and start showing it off.

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Then you realize there is a small stain on your husband’s shirt sleeve. You never saw it until now. Another thing you realize all of a sudden is that on your engagement album you had the photographer write your nickname. On the wedding album you had the photographer write your full name. Now your engagement and wedding albums don’t match.  Oh well, you’re just going to have the photographer fix all this and produce a new album for you. Right?

Wrong.

In this day and age we are so used to the disposable world we live in. We are also used to doing everything fast, on super multi tasking mode. Everything is replaceable, so we don’t pay our full attention to almost anything. Why bother? If it’s not right – we’ll get a replacement.

And yet, the art of creating custom designed albums is still something that takes time and effort.

When I design an album, first I start with retouching all the pictures that go into the album. I hand retouch each single photo, a task that can take me between half an hour to an hour for each image.

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Once retouching is complete, I move on to designing the album, taking into careful consideration the storyline, composition and page layout. This task, depending on the album size, can take between 8-12 hours of work – that is – to design one album. My goal is to create an outstanding art piece that supersedes the previous one I created – every single time.

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When I email the album layout to be approved by the couple, it is their turn to pay full attention to this art piece I am creating for them. Unlike other purchased art, the couple has a say in the creation of this one. They can ask to change a page layout, a background color, or to remove a pole that appears to be “growing” out of uncle Ad’s head.  This is their chance to make sure I did not miss anything that is important to them. Because as with any art work – once this album is printed – it is final.

I ask my couples to take the time, sit in front of the biggest computer screen they have and slowly go over the album details. Make sure they are absolutely happy with it before they turn back to me and approve it.

Because, as the years will go by – this album will stay the reflection of their special day. And the album, as is their love – is not replaceable.

Cover* The photos in this post are some of the album pages I designed for Gabrielle & Bob, who were married at 71 years young at the beautiful Heathrow Country Club. Love these two, Happy Ever After to you love birds!