Reflections : Family Wedding Portraits


Well, it’s Monday. Wheeee. Or should I write, Wheeee!! Don’t exclamation points change the tone of a post? A period could make it sound sarcastic or matter-of-fact-ish. An exclamation point? I’d say exclamation points show team spirit. They’re like the mascot of a paragraph.

I thought it’d be nice to start this week with a Reflections post. As I’ve said before, Reflections posts are entries dedicated to addressing an issue I faced during a shoot and the decision I made to change the outcome. At my last wedding, I spent a wonderful morning with the bride, Tina, while JD hung out with the groom, Vince. They did their First Look at The Standard Hotel and wedding photos in Downtown Los Angeles. I suggested completing family formal portraits before the ceremony and the couple readily agreed. We decided to meet at the church for these pictures and take things from there.

Sounds straight-forward, right? Not so much. When we arrived at the church, the wedding scheduled before Vince and Tina’s was running late. In a relatively short amount of time, hundreds of guests would pour from the church and disrupt family pictures outside of the church if I posed them outdoors. The areas surrounding the church weren’t exactly picturesque (nothing against the church…I’m speaking from a strictly photographic perspective) and the space I needed for group shots wasn’t available.

Still determined to make things work, I started taking small group photos as we waited for others to arrive.

When I viewed these pictures on my LCD screen on the back of my camera and immediately went into panic mode. Not okay. TOTALLY. NOT. OKAY. I was just picturing an album spread filled with that yellow and red background and then I got a nervous twitch in my left eye. I smiled and politely said I’d wait for the others to arrive before completing the rest of the photos. Then I ran across the street to look for an alternative location.

When I found a spot that worked, I ran back across the street (no one saw me running…Internet, I’m totally CLASSY) and made a tough decision. I asked everyone to move. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable this made me (partly because I didn’t want them to think the church wasn’t working and partly because I didn’t want to bother 25 people), but my request was greeted with total support. I believe the support came from a few things, but mainly: 1. My clients trusted me; 2. They, too, saw the environment and potential obstacles and; 3. I acted in control and made a professional request as kindly as possible. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for my amazing clients.

Because it was an overcast day, the afternoon light was pretty much perfect, so JD was able to shoot from an entirely different angle and diversify the family portrait portfolio…

Vince, Tina, and his ever fab sisters…love these girls!

Because of their trust and support, I believe they’ll have stronger family photos that are simply prettier. I created a win-win for myself and my clients…and this makes me happy.

If you’re ever in a situation when you feel like you need to make a tough decision, trust your gut. As professionals, we’re in charge and we hold the key to narrate our clients’ wedding day in the best possible light. Happy Monday. Wheeee!!

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  1. Kimberly Wallace

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post! The change of scenery made the difference. As you always say, take pictures for them and for you and this worked out for BOTH! May God continue to bless you, your family and your business.

  2. life with kaishon

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I am so glad you moved them. Beautiful. This couple and their family just look like SO much fun! I love exclamation points. I think too much sometimes : ( Whoopsie!

  3. Tamara Watson

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Great post, Jasmine!

  4. Stacey - Total City Girl

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Jasmine – your clients even seemed happier in the new location When you look at their expressions in those first photos with the yellow wall, they didn’t seem very happy. Their faces seemed to light up once you moved them. Great decision!!

  5. kelly marie

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    what a difference….thanks for sharing!!

  6. priscillia "Shoot In Love"

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks for this post jasmine!!!

  7. Natasha

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    You can tell even the expressions in the first few pics in front of the chapel weren’t that great, probably b/c of the fact the location wasn’t available like it was supposed to be, but once you moved to that other location, everyone’s expressions were genuinely happy! Great job, Jasmine!

  8. Whitney

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    love this post – I’ve dealt with this lately and I always think about you talking about acting in control of the situation, even if on the inside you are faaa-reaaakking out. You’re so great – miss you!

  9. Bombchell in Atl

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    The pictures are lovely. that was a bold move, i’ll think about it in the future. or maybe if not too busy scout the location before time.

  10. Erin

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Thank you, Thank you. I often feel like im not in love with a particular location and Im a bit of a spaz sometimes. I too feel like I don’t want to move a large group but you make me feel so much better about it. Your right we as the professionals are in charge and that is something that Iam trying to work on. I love how honest you are, you don’t put on a front and act like being a great photographer is easy. I’m a big fan.:) Thanks

  11. Laura Fiore

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    You sure do know what you’re doing…those family photos are OUTSTANDING!!! notice overuse of exclamation points (I am a team player, afterall!)

  12. Damaris Mia

    April 4th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Awww! Great post! My middle school friend is one of the groom’s sisters 🙂 They all look fabulous!

  13. Lena

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    J* – GREAT CHOICE in your change of scenery! My immediate reaction to the pics with the yellow was a cringe too! lol. It gave the skin tones such a yellow tone and the tree out of their heads… big pet peeve of mine! I love the ones you ended up with as a result of the change! So dreamy!! 🙂 I only hope I can be as classy and quick with my future endeavors!

  14. Vera

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Wow, what a difference! The family actually looks relieved to be in a better spot, too!

  15. Autumn Teesdale

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I was going to say the exact same thing as Natasha! You can totally see a difference in their faces!! Way to Rock Jasmine!

  16. Katy Melling

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Great post Jasmine. I know that awful panic feeling but will always go with my gut instinct from now on 😉

  17. Jayme

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I know what you mean about asking them to move! The very first wedding I shot, the couple wanted family formals in front of a huge wall of windows with blaring sunshine as their backdrop. I asked them if we could step outside for some pictures as well (the grounds were gorge!) but they insisted they wanted the pictures in front of those windows. They wouldn’t even switch sides to where the light was on their faces! Since then, I have learned to be more confident and assertive, thanks to you!

  18. Rachel Leigh Greene

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad you were able to find a good spot for the family pictures. It’s great whenever God blesses us in little ways like that :D. (Oh, and the groom’s mom’s dress is awesome!!)

  19. Carrie K

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Totally feel ‘ya on moving a group of people! But it’s the backdrop that makes all the difference. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who looks at my LCD screen and realizes-TOTALLY.NOT.OK! Then works to change it. Thanks for the honesty and the encouragement to make a professional call with the trust of your clients.

  20. anda

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    !!!!! 😉 btw, great information, as always.

  21. Alec Castaneda

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Awesome!!!! ADAPTABILITY to unforseen circumstances.

  22. Liz Bedwell

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you for sharing the info in this post! 🙂

  23. angel

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    OMG. I looked at that first set of photos and thought NO WAY did she do her photos there! Whew! I got a little skeered there for a sec. 😉 great post!

  24. Columbus GA Wedding Photographer

    April 4th, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’ve had to make this same decision before and afterwards I questioned myself if I did the right thing. Looking back at the photos and how much the bride and groom loved them I can say I felt a lot better.

  25. Rekeisha Dunlap

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Thank you for being an example of how to be flexible. I get so caught up how I look to others that I don’t trust myself. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Andrea Marie

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    This was a great post! Made me feel so much better about situations when I have to do this. Thanks!

  27. Natalie Tuggle

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Way to go! Such a vast improvement.

  28. Anna

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I really like the idea of the reflection post as these are things that you can only solve with experience. Thank you and keep them coming!

  29. Amy

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Thank you Jasmine for sharing this post. You just boosted my confidence in over load for doing this with my clients.

  30. Tanya De Leeuw

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Great advice! Thanks, J*!

  31. Jennifer Jar

    April 4th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Ahhh! Thank you so much for this post! It is really hard sometimes to direct people without letting them know that omg this location is totally not working. Luckily, most clients do trust the photographer’s judgment and will go along with whatever they say!

  32. Jenelle Sewell

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Great post! Always encouraging to both a photographer and a client…well done!

  33. Tammy Stark

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Exclamations are so handy! Remember School House Rock?

    "Interjections (Aw!) show excitement (Darn!) or emotion (Hurray!). They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong."

    Great "Reflections" post.

    Rock on Jasmine!

  34. ErikaM

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    This post is great and the photos are fabulous! I like how you set it up to put us in your shoes and keep us guessing along the way as if we were in the situation as well. 🙂 Very helpful! Thank you!

  35. Kaysha

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for this post, such a big difference in the two locations!!

  36. Salwa

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    What a great post! We should always try to remember that we can control the environment we shoot in to at least some degree, if we’re just willing to ask people to move!

  37. Andrew Lipsett

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Jasmine! Razor wire on the fence next to the church! I feel for you. By moving locations they came out awesome! Your comment about "being in charge" hit home. The first time I felt that was at a wedding I shot in Vegas. I had carefully scouted a bunch of locations the morning of the wedding and my clients had opted for pictures before the ceremony:). The only picture location that they definitely wanted was under the Vegas sign…..all 16 of the wedding party and the parents. We get there and it is packed with people including Elvis officiating a marriage plus another wedding waiting in the wings. This picture wasn’t happening and I was feeling so bad………then it hit me, they have given me control for 3 hours, they trust that I have other great spots picked out, and they understand that there are things that I can’t control. The rest of the day was awesome and weddings from that point on became much less stressful when I realized that the reason I’m there is take control of the photo portion of the day. Thank you for sharing the-behind-the -scenes-details Jasmine!!!!!! Exclamation points make the point! Lol.

  38. Ariana

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Fabuloso mujer fabuloso.. Perfect point!!!

  39. Amanda Samford

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Oi vey, no kidding! Those first photos look TERRIBLE. Good call Jasmine! I love that you had a 2nd person who could get some great angles while the family looked at you.

  40. amanda thiessen

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    loved this! way to think on your toes!

  41. Karisa Joy

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I love your keen eye for detail. I need to develop that more. Sometimes I get so caught up in the moment, I forget. Not cool. Your choice to move them is AWESOME. The photos are like night and day. Thanks for reminding me to look around more.

  42. sherri lynn

    April 4th, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    this was so insightful! i love the background you found across the street. these are some gorgeous people you got to capture!!

  43. rich

    April 4th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    way to take control of the situation! amazing advice!

  44. Sean

    April 4th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thinking on your feet (and staying calm while you do it) has to become second nature if you are to succeed in wedding photography I would think. It seems to be something you do extremely well, Jasmine!

  45. Annetta

    April 4th, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jasmine. The windows of the building even match the colours of the groom’s mom’s dress. I love the architecture of that building. Nice backdrop!

  46. Ashley

    April 4th, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Love the second set of pictures…the background is MUCH better =)

  47. Kristin Nicole

    April 4th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Such a difference….hate that panic moment, but way to make it work.

  48. Nessa K

    April 4th, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I like your Monday enthusiasm and these photos are amazing!

  49. Candace Prokopets

    April 4th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    It’s like that building in the background was made for this wedding. The colors correspond perfectly! Great info!

  50. Antonia

    April 4th, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Good reminders for the "outside the box" thinking are always appreciated :). p.s. It helps if your quick thinking and exploration is happening in a comfy shoes though ;).

  51. Mona Alicia

    April 4th, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Thanks for writing these posts Jasmine, seeing examples of what you work with and how you deal with issues is so inspiring to me!

  52. Chantal Brown Photography

    April 4th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Ohh wow, it’s amazing the change of scenery made a huge difference! Love all the pictures and thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!

  53. Cindy Habel

    April 4th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Wow!! What a difference it made! And what a beautiful background you found. Gorgeous pictures….and family. Extremely helpful information. Thanks heaps!! 🙂

  54. Shane O' Sullivan

    April 5th, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I love this raw insight into your work. Would love to know though, did you actually tell the couple "ok this isn’t really working" or did you just say lets try another angle and location?

  55. Samuel Burns

    April 5th, 2011 at 1:21 am

    The change of scenery was a definite plus! It’s comforting to know that you too have the odd panic situation!

  56. kate callahan

    April 5th, 2011 at 1:52 am

    what a great post!

  57. Tricia

    April 5th, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Thanks so much for this post Jasmine. I am guilty of giving up sometimes when faced with a big group and a not so fabulous location. I think it partially comes from a lack of trust of my gut, but I’m working on it. You’re such an inspiration!

  58. Julie O'Dell

    April 5th, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Nicely done! (note the exclamation point).

  59. Ann Molen

    April 5th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    This was so great to read! You have a knack for solving problems AND giving us a confidence boost!

  60. Renee Lansdowne

    April 5th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    You blow my mind, thank you for your incredible insight and inspiration. BUT on another note, where do you find all the time to be a wife, blog, shoot, conference etc etc!! I feel like I just will never catch up or be ontop of it at the moment!!!

  61. Stacey

    April 5th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Wow Jasmine, what an amazing difference the move made! I must admit I thought you had lost your spark when I saw those first few appear on your blog, but what a fantastic recovery. Your style really shines much better in the second set! LOVE!

  62. Kate Neal

    April 5th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I love this post Jasmine. Very helpful! I also love explanation point usage, as well as smiley faces, ha:o)

  63. natalie

    April 5th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    This is great info…as always!!
    Thank you so much!!!

  64. Barbara

    April 5th, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Very helpful post! Thank you for your tips and tricks 😀

  65. Jonni

    April 6th, 2011 at 12:42 am


    You did such a great job analyzing the situation and taking control. The images look fab! 🙂

  66. kelsey {las vegas wedding photographer}

    April 6th, 2011 at 3:05 am

    So much better with the location change! TFS!

  67. AnneMarie

    April 6th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    The second location is sooo much more classy. You have a great eye! That is what makes your work the best!!!

  68. Embassy Pro Books

    April 6th, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    You’re absolutely right about trusting your gut! It’s up to you to make your client’s day perfect. Sometimes that means things have to change last minute.

  69. Wedding Photographer in Kent

    April 7th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    It’s nice when you can be confident enough with your ability to spot potential issues to make these changes. Great pictures as always!

  70. Diana Lupu

    April 8th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It makes my heart so happy and full to know that you are not afraid to put out your struggles even at this point in your career. I always say, when the challenges stop coming, you’re doing something wrong and have become way too complacent.

  71. Lydia

    April 9th, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    Jasmine, thank you for the boost in courage you’ve given me! I don’t need to be afraid to take control and do what I can to make sure the pictures turn out fabulous!

  72. Alan Woo

    April 11th, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Awesome sharing Jasmine! I understand the feeling and have done it numerous times but it definitely pays off in the end.

  73. vencanice

    April 18th, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Awesome Jasmine. Thanks for sharing!