Advice From the Pros: Our Labor of Love

This week’s Advice From the Pros segment features one of the best photography duos on the planet, the fabulous Our Labor of Love.

Whitney and Jesse are two of the coolest people we know, and their amazing photography reflects their fun personalities. So we were very excited to interview them to hear what they had to say about weddings!

EAD: If budget is limited and there was one item that you advise splurging on, what would that be?

OLOL: Well, we will sound biased when we say photography, but from the benefit of our own, firsthand experience, we honestly mean it. When Whitney and I were having our own wedding, we thought, “Oh, we have so many amazing photographer friends that will document it for us that we won’t have to spend money there.” When we say “photographer friends,” we mean a friend who works at the NY Times, a stepmom who shoots for print magazines as well as weddings and a bunch of NY “kids” that graduated from Pratt–a good balance of folks to document everything from the traditional to the SX-70 Polariods. We thought we had it covered, but we were wrong, and it is the biggest (and, really, the only) regret we have. But we were also very picky, and the only photographer we wanted was 3,000 miles away and would have cost us $15,000. So, we have the half full and half empty ways of looking at this experience. On the half-empty side, we realize almost better than anyone that photos are the best way to remember the stuff you don’t want to forget and realized only too late that our friends were there to enjoy the wedding with us and not to work. But, on the half-full side, we understood from hindsight what shots we would have liked to have walked away with, and because we are photographers, we have gained from this experience an appreciation of each wedding as if it were our own, and we make sure to capture all that we missed from ours. (Oh, and we did have the Smilebooth set up which was AMAZING. My family is still ordering prints years later!)

EAD: Tell us a little about the creative process of working with a bride and groom from your perspective.

OLOL: It’s not just about getting the job; it has to be a match. Whitney and I often ask the client what other photographers they have considered just to get a feel for what they like. Sometimes we’ll hear a name of a photographer whose work couldn’t be more different from ours. At that point, it’s important to figure out the common thread between the two. We’ve learned over the years that really it’s no fun shooting a wedding when the client wants us to be something that we aren’t. It takes away our creative freedom. We sure wouldn’t want a client to expect fuzzy edges and selective color and in the end be disappointed because that’s not the kind of thing we do. So, for the couple, it’s very important from the very first meeting that they be frank and honest with their vendors. We believe they should find the work that they like, make a spread of their inspirations, look at wedding blogs and then share these ideas with the people they want to hire. We just met with a client that had made some inspiration boards of a whole bunch of imagery that she liked. We loved this! We are visual people, so this got us on the same page really quickly. We loved her style, we were completely inspired by her ideas, and now we are super excited to be shooting her wedding!

EAD: Which decisions do you advise a bride and groom to make early, and which should they consider closer to the event?

OLOL: The options that book up fast and should be secured early on are location, photography and musical choice (band or DJ). We recommend booking these at least a year prior to your wedding depending on your wedding date. Sometimes people have booked up to 2 years before their wedding, but we don’t think this is necessary. Some florists are able to book a couple events in a single day. Although the dress is often the first thing women think of, we think it’s better to look at different styles of dresses and focus on what you will be most comfortable in, what’s flattering to you, what’s most photogenic ;), the overall look you want to go for (e.g., sexy and sleek, eccentric and big, traditional and ladylike). We’ve shot weddings where the bride apparently did not feel very comfortable in her strapless dress and she spent most of the evening pulling her dress up, which also meant that in most of the candid shots, her hands were holding up her dress. Depending on where you get your, dress it could take anywhere from a day to eight months to have it ready. OLOL books a lot of creative brides who enjoy a little DIY. This time is usually spent on décor, programs, table settings or take-aways. We’ve seen some pretty incredible stuff. One that sticks out in our minds is Ashley and Dusty’s wedding.

{Click Photo to Enlarge!}

EAD: Do you have any inside tips for cost cutting?

OLOL: That is a very personal decision. Looking back and seeing what we’ve seen, I would have traded out my dress (where I spent a good deal) for more of a budget for photography. For example, we shot a wedding where we had a gorgeous bride in a jcrew dress. It was so simple and perfect; she was able to dance and be comfortable, and she wasn’t afraid to get it dirty for the photos (HUGE perk for us!). I think the best-kept secret for wedding dresses are to buy fabulous dresses that aren’t labeled “wedding” dresses. My absolute favorite place to buy something like this is Morgane Le Fay. You can get an amazing dress for $2000 whereas if it were labeled as a “wedding” dress, it would start at $9000.

We often have clients that are on the fence about hiring a videographer. We cut this out of our budget and instead bought a video camera for a younger cousin as a gift and had them carry it around through the night (we used a tripod for the ceremony). It was a very cute perspective from our day. Adults naturally warm up to a young kid with a video camera. We wouldn’t skimp on the music. Get a great band or DJ. This could make or break the night. We went all out on food because we had a destination wedding, and we felt like people came from far away and we should feed them well.

Another cost-cutting tip–DIY. If you have time on your hands and want the job to be perfect, do it yourself. Get some inspiration from Elizabeth Anne, Etsy, Once Wed, Brooklyn Bride, Snippet and Ink, etc…There are a lot of great blogs that can help you figure this stuff out if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

EAD: Are there questions that brides and grooms should be asking you before signing a contract that they generally don’t ask?

OLOL: First, do we get the negatives at some point? Know where you stand with this so you’re not at the mercy of your photographer 30 years down the road to get a 4×6 made.

Second, who exactly will be doing the shooting? If it is a company with associates, make sure you know exactly who is shooting your wedding and that you have seen their work specifically. Don’t just base your decision on what you’ve seen on the company’s website.

Third, do you have back up equipment? The answer should be YES and plenty of it; stuff breaks!

Fourth, we recommend having two shooters on the day of your wedding. There are way too many wonderful moments happening to miss any of them. If the wedding is over 200 people, Whitney and I will bring a third shooter just to capture candids of friends and family.

EAD: You’ve clearly been exposed to a lot of weddings – what details do you tend to remember?

OLOL: The band–people love to dance. They remember breaking a sweat. We think trying to be a little different with the details is a good idea. People go to several weddings a year; set yours apart by the little details. Once again, get blogging for some ideas.

One detail that the guests have remembered from our shoots is the Smilebooth (our rendition of the old school photobooth). We usually hear roars of laughter from the back of the room where the Smilebooth is set up. We usually hear from the bride and groom soon after the wedding that it was the smartest choice they made. It works really well if you are having a very large wedding and want to make sure to get photos of everyone.

EAD: Are there any recent trends that you love? Any that you wish would have never become a trend?

OLOL: We love photobooths in general. Trends that we wish never came? Hold on . . . let us get our iTunes wedding playlist out (a.k.a. songs we would be okay with never hearing again. Ever.)!

EAD: What are your favorite sources of wedding inspiration (other than EAD of course!)?

OLOL: Blogroll – EAD, Once Wed, Snippet and Ink, Brooklyn Bride, Style Me Pretty, Weddingbee, Offbeat Bride, Indie Bride, Southern Weddings

Jesse and Whitney, thank you SO much for stopping by EAD today!  Guys, if you’re not already following OLOL’s blog, which is full of eye candy, subscribe now!