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How to Plan your Engagement Session

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How to Plan your Engagement Session

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One of our favorite things, besides weddings, is getting to know our couples better during their engagement sessions. Madison and all of Southern Wisconsin offer a wide variety of locations and activities that make for amazing engagement photographs. Here are a few tips to getting not only amazing, unique images but also having a great time.

  1. Do what you love together. More than anything else, this tip is key to getting a set of photographs that only you could star in. Our approach begins with a discussion about the things you love to do as a couple. Maybe you love hiking in the woods, so we go to your favorite hiking spot. Or you love trains, so we visit a train museum. Or maybe you walk your dogs together every day and want us to document that. You might love grabbing a beer or glass of wine at a local haunt or shooting pool downtown. The options are truly endless. Its not so important that you're sitting in the perfect location as it is that you are doing what you love, together. It shows. 
  2. Embrace the season. Whether it's spring, summer, winter, or fall, Madison offers myriad views and settings regardless of the time of year. Spring presents nice weather and blooming flowers as well as more than a small chance of rain. Summer can be hot, but later in the evening it often cools down nicely. Autumn brings the beautiful colors of fall, and sometimes a little cool weather. And winter can offer a snowscape that's magical. As long as you love it, we can bring the season to life in your images. 
  3. Weather create opportunities. Last year, weather turned out to be one of the stars of our engagement sessions. We powered through all day showers at one session, getting a bit wet as we walked the couple's dogs, but were rewarded with the most stunning sunset of the entire season. That's not unusual--the best sunsets always occur after rain. And this winter, we worked with one couple who really wanted to make their photographs while it snowed. It takes a bit more flexibility and cooperation, but the results were worth it. 
  4. Your wardrobe should reflect your style but not overwhelm you. You want your personalities to shine in engagement photographs, but wild colors, logos, and patterns will distract from the beautiful love you share. Dark colors keep the attention on your faces as well. 
  5. Have fun! The advantage of documentary-style engagement sessions is that you get to do something you love doing and we simply capture it. That's why identifying something you love doing is more important than anything else in your planning of the session. There's always time for more traditional images as we find great light and settings wherever we are. 

Whatever you do, talk with your photographer to make sure your images are not only beautiful, but also unique to you. Are you looking for a photographer for your wedding and engagement session? We'd love to talk! Email or call us today!

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What Moments Mean, in a Client's Words

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What Moments Mean, in a Client's Words

When we photograph a wedding, whether it is in Madison,  Milwaukee, or a destination across the country, we have a very specific audience in mind: our couple, their families, and their friends. When they view their wedding images, they're not just admiring a photograph as they might in a gallery or art museum. They're interacting with an image we captured, their memories of that day,  and their knowledge of the people involved. It's why we prefer to capture moments as they occur, rather than recreating them later; nobody wants their wedding memories to be cluttered up with that time their photographers spent posing them!  

This picture captures the our moment of seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day; happily in love...
— Alex & Jenna

That's quite a different story than going to an art gallery or museum and admiring a beautiful photograph or painting. What we capture for our clients is intensely personal, and doing it well only enhances their memory of the special day. So we remain vigilant all day, camera at the ready, to capture whatever happens at your Madison wedding. 

We asked a few of our recent clients to pick just one photograph from their wedding gallery and explain why they loved it. Alex and Jenna picked this one, from their first look:

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And here's what they said about it: "This picture is particularly special to us because it captures a moment that we spent all day (and an entire year, really) waiting for. We had decided to wedding dress shop separately so our dress/hair/makeup would all be a surprise on our wedding day. We planned to do a first look, so we spent the day getting ready separately. As the day passed, the nerves built and we both anxiously awaited the first moment we were going to see each other on our wedding day. When we turned around at the first look, all of our nerves disappeared and we were instantly filled with such love and pure happiness. This picture captures the our moment of seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day; happily in love, laughing, and thinking 'omg we're about to get married!'"

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Your wedding isn't a photoshoot!

That's right, I'm a wedding photographer who believes your wedding isn't supposed to be about endless hours posing for the camera. Sometimes, do I wish it was? Of course. I would love to have the time to carefully set up lights, wait for the right moment, and get you and your partner to pose perfectly on the steps of a grand castle. Every now and then, I even get to make that photograph.

But your wedding, whether in Jupiter or Miami or somewhere in-between, is just that: Yours! It's an important day not because I'm there taking photographs, but because you're there with your partner, your friends, and your family to celebrate a momentous occasion. And we're hired to help you have an amazing time. 

 At Steve Daubs Studios, our first goal is to make you happy. We do that in a variety of ways, the most important of which is capturing the day beautifully and smoothly. But we also have super glue on hand, which came in handy the day the father of the bride's rental shoe separated from its sole. We have Advil and Band-Aids and wardrobe tape. We bring a needle and thread, which was pretty helpful in sewing in a bridesmaid whose zipper ripped minutes before the ceremony. 

I have shown more than a few groomsmen how to tie their ties or put on their cufflinks, or what those little tuxedo studs were for. We don't mind; in fact, we think great customer service is integral to our business. 

We still hustle around the venue capturing moments as they happen and we make sure to efficiently capture those still very important portraits that document who was there and what they were like. We also work hard in scheduling your day to make sure our couples also get some amazing, cool, and unusual creative portraits. We just don't take all day to do it, and even those moments we do our best to bring the fun and passion of the wedding itself to your mood and your images. 

In the image above, we took about 15 minutes at the end of the reception to capture some dramatic images of our couple on a pier across the street from the the wedding at the Holy Trinity Episcipal Church in West Palm Beach. It was just a few minutes for a dozen beautiful sunset and dusk images that our bride and groom can be proud to hang on their wall. The rest of the day? The spent it enjoying each other, their families, and their friends. And we captured that, too!



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The Power of Truly Candid Photography

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The Power of Truly Candid Photography

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A South Florida wedding, or any wedding for that matter, contains a kind of compressed reality for the bride, groom, family, and friends. Everything is heightened—the joy, the pain, the laughter, the passionin a way that rarely occurs in your normal life. As a long-time documentary photographer, I have always loved capturing real people doing real things, and the platform of a wedding day couldn't be more perfect for this. 

Dozens, if not hundreds, of times on your wedding day, moments will happen that you want to remember forever. Sometimes it's a simple as a mother's hand on her son's shoulder or a look between the bride and groom just after they walk down the aisle. Our approach to your wedding photography is centered on these moments because they represent honestly and clearly what your wedding was like. It allows you to view a photograph and remember that exact moment, that feeling you had, in a way that a photograph of your flowers or place settings never can. 

But it isn't an easy task. It means hanging out, vigilant for the unexpected occurrence with a camera always at the ready for whatever happens. But this skill, developed as a news photographer and honed by a decade of long-form documentary work, is why I photograph anything. Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famous French photographer, famously called this "the decisive moment."   

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.
— Henri Cartier-Bresson

We structure our work day around finding these slices in time which, while they may look ordinary to a neutral observer, represent something near and dear to our clients. It is not just the photographic element which inspires us, but the human element as well. 

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Wedding Photography Tip of the Day: Getting Ready

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Wedding Photography Tip of the Day: Getting Ready

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Your wedding day in South Florida is filled with anticipation, excitement, stress, and, often, a hectic pace. No where is this more apparent than during the time when the bride and groom and wedding party are getting ready.

It's one of our favorite parts of the day because you can see the transformation from single to married beginning, not in just the dress and styling, but in the faces of my clients. To make sure you get the best images of this part of the day, two things will make a huge difference:

  • Make sure you have all the important details for your day ready for us when we arrive: dress, shoes, rings, bridal bouquet, veil, keepsakes, and anything else you want documented. We start with this and then move on to getting ready photos. 
  • Getting ready photos are amazing because it shows the bride and groom’s anticipation, the camaraderie of your closest friends and family. But having ten girls getting ready in a single room often means there are piles of clothes everywhere, empty cups and bottles scattered around the room, and piles of makeup on every flat surface in the room. Do your best to tidy up, putting away as much as possible before we arrive so the images aren’t cluttered with too much stuff. 

These two tips not only make for a more efficient wedding day, but they also make for more beautiful photographs of this important ritual. When it comes time to find  your wedding photographer, we'd love to sit down with you and talk about how Steve Daubs Studios can help you make your wedding day great and your memories crystal clear. Call us at 561-445-5483, or email us at info@stevedaubs.com

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Choosing Your South Florida Wedding Photographer: Style

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Choosing Your South Florida Wedding Photographer: Style

One of the first questions I ask a potential client is this: What kind of photos do you want? It always causes the couple to pause, look at me indecisively, and then throw out a few words they've heard tossed around on the wedding blogs like "fun," "candid," or airy. Every once in a while, I meet a couple who has put together dozens if not hundreds of images of weddings that they love. 

It's no surprise that couples aren't really sure what they want in a photographer. Not only might this be one of the few times they hire a professional photographer, but also people don't know the vocabulary necessary to communicate what they really like. Let's start with style, as it is in some ways the easiest to define. 

Wedding photography mostly falls into a few categories:

  • Traditional: This approach focuses on beautiful posed portraits, and it was the primary kind of wedding photography before the digital age. Most traditionally styled photographers are looking for great portraits first, and the candid images are less of a focus. Great wall prints are a typical deliverable. 
  • Photojournalistic or documentary: This approach treats the wedding as a story to be covered, focusing on candid moments as they occur during the day. Photographers in this style tend to look for storylines of the day, reinforcing them in multiple images, and usually showcasing a collection of images that tell the story in your album. 
  • Contemporary: Inspired by fashion editorials on the pages of glossy magazines, the contemporary (or editorial or fashion) style generally relies heavy on the artistic vision of the photographer to produce visually interesting images. The poses and settings are often quite unusual to mimic the look of a fashion shoot. Many who photograph in this style also spend a fair amount of time arranging and photographing the details of the day.

Very few working wedding photographers today are only one of these things. Rather, they take their cues from a variety of places and blend it together to create their own, personal style. But as you think about your wedding, an understanding of different photographic approaches will help you to make a better choice when hiring your wedding photographer. If portraits are very important, you might lean toward a photographer with a more traditional style and should expect to spend a larger part of the day doing these portraits. Conversely, a photojournalist might spend less than an hour of the day doing portraits, instead concentrating on what's happening organically among the couple, their wedding party, and their family and friends. A contemporary or lifestyle photographer will spend more time constructing a vision of your day, meticulously arranging your details and portraits to suit a more editorial vision. 

Steve Daubs Studios is firmly in the documentary or photojournalistic camp, as Steve started his career in journalism and has spent many years as a documentary photographer across the United States and abroad.  But we see storytelling photography as something which blends traditional portraiture, documentation of details, and true candid moments, so we photograph what we see in the approach which suits the story best. We love the story aspect of your day and make sure our images reflect your style and approach to the wedding. To book your South Florida wedding, just give us a call at 561-445-5483 and we'd be happy to meet with you! Or fill out our contact form and we'll respond quickly. 

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Why Photo Albums are so Important

When we restructured our core wedding packages last year, I decided to include an album and a print in every one. People may think it's just another way for a greedy photographer to squeeze a few more dollars out of a client, but what we've done by including and discounting an album and a print is create an incentive for all of our clients to have a real keepsake of their day. 

The reason is simple: We want your children and their children to be able to look back on this day and understand, just a little, who you were at this important juncture in your lives. A few weeks ago, I attended Imaging USA, the annual conference and trade show of the Professional Photographers of America. It was a great conference, with more than 11,000 photographers in attendance and lectures by many of the biggest names in the industry. 

One of them, the fabulous Tampa wedding photographer Booray Perry, said that there's only one thing couples purchase for their wedding that will increase in value over time: The Album. If you purchase an album for, say $1,000, and I came back to you in 10 years offering to buy it back, what would you be willing to accept? Certainly a lot more than the purchase price. Maybe there would be no price, he argued. And I think he's right. 

We store thousands and thousands of memories in our digital files, sitting on our phones or computers or somewhere in the cloud, and it creates two problems. The first, pointed out in a great article in Petapixel recently, has to do with data rot. Files get lost, corrupted, or obsolete. the second, which Booray mentioned, is about volume. Those thousands and thousands of photos over time become an impenetrable pile of digital noise that we forget about and don't have the time to sort through. So while they may not be lost, they also can't be found!

My parents have a single photograph of their wedding day, a studio portrait of them smiling at the camera. I sometimes look at that image and try to imagine who my parents were back then, but with only a single image, it is difficult to understand their hopes, their fears, or their emotions. What I wouldn't give to see their album. 

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From Documentary You to Steve Daubs Studios

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From Documentary You to Steve Daubs Studios

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First, off, Happy Thanksgiving! While it is a day to enjoy turkey and all that, it is mostly about being thankful for family and friends. Olga and I have had a truly wonderful year thanks in large part to the amazing couples who have entrusted us with their wedding photography. And we are preparing for an even more spectacular 2015, beginning with an announcement: Documentary You and Steve Daubs Photography are combining into a new, all-inclusive brand: Steve Daubs Studios.

I have been a photographer for a long time, first as a journalist, then as a documentary fine art photographer, and then I added commercial, architectural and portrait photography. When Olga and I decided to venture into weddings a few years ago, we thought it would be best to keep my old work separate from this new work, so we made a new brand that was separate from the old one (Steve Daubs Photography). 

It made sense at the time; the audience of our previous business was mostly artists and photo editors while the new business was aimed squarely at future brides and grooms. But now, it's clear to me that the trajectory of my education and experience as a photographer and storyteller has led me to weddings. They are the perfect blend of story, character, and visual joy. 

For us, the privilege and challenge of photographing weddings exceeds any of the other work we do. So while I will continue to work on my own personal documentary projects (you can see some of them in the "other portfolios" section of this website, the business is focused on satisfying the needs of my wedding and portrait clients. 

I can assure my past and current clients that the new name and website will do nothing to change our relationship, our commitments, or our responsibilities. We are extremely excited about bringing a new energy into this business, and we hope you share it with us!

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