Why I Hired a Wedding Photographer for Only 2 Hours

Jun 13

My name is Ling, and I’m the photographer/owner here of Trailing Twine Photography. This is the story of how I planned my own wedding and its photography, which was tricky! Story is, we had two wedding events. My special man and I wanted to get married out in Oregon, because that is where we lived and we wanted his best friend to marry us. But a lot of my family are in Connecticut and Massachusetts, which is where we were moving to. So I planned two wedding events, and really had to crunch down on the budget for wedding expenses. I had to really think about what was most important to me, which was photos of Neil and I in our young age (!) all dressed up in our wedding garb. I know I’d kick myself later on if I didn’t have any nice prints or images for our grandchildren to see. Plus, I’m a wedding photographer, so I better have amazing photos, right?
We picked the wedding date, but as we were making decisions on the timing of the ceremony/reception, etc., I realized that our wedding was not going to have the normal flow of events (i.e. ceremony, photos, reception). I did not have enough funds to book a photographer for 8 hours. Instead, I thought outside the box. Since we were moving and leaving our beloved Oregon, we thought about what place in Oregon would we want to spend our wedding night at? What kind of place would we want to spend our last few days at before traveling across USA? What would be most meaningful?

Knowing who I wanted to photograph us was a start. Tara Francis is a wedding photographer who is now out of Bend, Oregon, who I worked for as a second photographer when I first started doing wedding photography (see Blog Post on Wilmes Hops Farm Wedding here). I think Tara has more skill in posing and lighting than me, her work is lovely! I love her gentle but fun approach to posing couples. Plus, she also attended that amazing Erich McVey wedding photography workshop that I was dying to go to. I knew that if I booked Tara, it would be booking for the experience we would be having with her. When I saw her blog post on the photo session at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne, Oregon, I knew I wanted her to photograph us. But WHERE? was the question. Aldersgate, our ceremony location, was nice but it would have been crazy for Tara to drive 5 hours roundtrip to photograph us at our wedding ceremony in Salem. Too much driving!

However, the dry beautiful high desert landscape of Smith Rock is beautiful.  I think Smith Rock State Park is a prime location in Terrebonne, Oregon for wedding couple photos. The red rocky cliffs, meandering Crooked River, and wide open country of sagebrush and juniper, is a sight that most of us New Englanders never get to experience. If you’re from Connecticut like me, Smith Rock would be just hypnotizing!

photos by the cliffs!  photos by the cliffs! I can still imagine the smell of high desert sagebrush... I can still imagine the smell of high desert sagebrush…

Neil and I, during our separate single lives, have both spent time out on rangelands, the great outdoors in the dry, sagebrush steppe. (Also, Neil used to joke that he was “wandering the desert” before he loved me). And as a farm chick who also studied rangeland ecology in college, I’ve always longed to be out on grasslands and sagebrush landscape. The whispering grass, strong sage scent, and the sight, reminds me of my summer working on a Wyoming cattle ranch, camping with friends, and driving through sagebrush with a four-wheeler. We also wanted to spend our wedding night at Five Pines Lodge in Sisters, Oregon, which is situated in this type of pretty country.

you can't see in this photo, but there were brave rock-climbers having a blast here too! you can’t see in this photo, but there were brave rock-climbers having a blast here too!

It was tricky trying to plan our ceremony and reception time, and timing for our photo session. The most amazing time to have photography done is either after sunrise, or an hour-ish before sunset. Sunset was at 7:30 PM. In order to have photos at Smith Rock before dark (and to honeymoon at Five Pines Lodge) we’d have to drive 2 1/2 hours away, and leave our ceremony site by 1:30 PM. So it was a time crunch! I’d rather have had a huge party, longer reception, with a DJ, and I wish I would have spent more time with my friends before saying good-bye for life! But time and money did not allow us to plan a longer wedding celebration there in Oregon. So I had to live with that, a 3 hour wedding! (Disclaimer: I do not recommend people to have a 3 hour wedding. If you’re planning on doing dancing, cake cutting, and all the works, there won’t be enough time to squeeze everything in. Plus it is nice to sit down and hang out with friends and family who traveled from afar, to connect and laugh with no time pressure. So don’t do a 3 hour wedding like me!!!!!)

So I had my sister, who is an award-winning artist in the print-making and paper-making world, photograph me getting ready, the main parts of the ceremony, our taco booth lunch, and photos with friends. Then Neil and I finally took off at 1:30PM to drive to Terrebone, OR to meet Tara Francis.

golden hour photos. One nice thing about doing field photos in Oregon is that there are hardly any ticks... golden hour photos. One nice thing about doing field photos in Oregon is that there are hardly any ticks…

I loved this photo session. I am so glad that we did our photography after the ceremony and party was over. We didn’t have any wedding planning things to stress over, and it was a huge sense of relief for it to be all over (the Oregon wedding anyways)! I felt like we could relax more. I do believe this shows in photos, because when you’re relaxed, your muscles are not tensed up. Tara and I, as wedding photographers, like to create images with a soft, romantic and peaceful mood. I knew what kind of image Tara would be thinking of especially when she called a pose a “soft moment.”

Photo by the crooked river at Smith Rock state park in Terrebonne, oregon.  Photo by the crooked river at Smith Rock state park in Terrebonne, oregon. my favorite photo! I got these printed as small wallets to send to our guests.  my favorite photo! I got these printed as small wallets to send to our guests.

Well somebody packed away my wedding bouquet somewhere, so I was trying not be irritated that we didn’t have that! I typically like to have the flower bouquet in bridal portraits, but I learned from our session with Tara that IT’S OKAY! Me myself, I can’t image posing without a bouquet in hand. But Tara was discerning in how she would have our hands placed, and posing with just plain old us.

we're cute, aren't we?! we’re cute, aren’t we?!

One of things that I love about Tara is that she does really well in communicating what picture she has in her head that she wants to create. Being photographed, in front of the camera, is very interesting, and at first I felt so awkward! I feel that a great photographer, like Tara, takes advantage of time, and instead of reaching the moment where the couple may say “now what do you want us to do”, Tara moves ahead to making reality her next vision of the next image by providing the next directions. Sometimes it’s funny when we kind of goof in the process, or think that the pose feels weird or awkward. But sometimes, that makes for a great image!

romantic wedding pose at Smith Rock State Park romantic wedding pose at Smith Rock State Park

By being a subject, I realized the importance of the photographer communicating excitement during the moment he/she creates the image they were thinking of, or even better! Not only did she tell us, but you could see Tara’s eyes immediately light up and a sudden smile, which made us feel more comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

My lovely friend Christina gave us this fabulous wooden sign, “I have found the one whom my soul loves.” (Song of Songs 3:4). When she saw this at a vintage shop in Eugene, Oregon, it made her think of us! So we used this as some kind of prop for our photo session with Tara, since my bouquet was missing!

pose with rustic sign of song of songs 3:4 pose with rustic sign of song of songs 3:4

One advantage of having your wedding photography done in the evening, is that the lighting is often times better. The sun is lower in the sky, and depending on how cloudy it is or not, the sun can cast a warm glow. When the sky is high up in the sky, such as around noon time, the light is very bright, making dark shadows under the eyes. During early morning or evening, the transition from light to shadow is soft and more gradual, instead of drastic and quick.

“The golden hour” of photography provides for stunning images. If you pay for photography, plan for the best!

This photo session felt almost like a photography workshop to me. But most importantly, when I see these images, I think back to our experience with eachother in front of Tara’s camera lens. She helped create moments, literally, that we really cherish. It was our first quality time together as an official married couple. What a way to kick off our lives together! Neil and I appreciated this “date” to be photographed in an area that we love. Two days later, we packed our U-Haul and headed east across country to Connecticut. This photography session was a unique time of our lives, that we will never really experience ever again.

I would love to chat with you more about our wedding! You can Friend Request me on Facebook, or email me at ling@trailingtwine.com. To learn more about this Bend, Oregon photographer Tara Francis and her work, visit http://www.tarafrancisphotography.com. Thank you for stopping by!

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