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First Look: From the Perspective of a Top Wedding Photographer

Posted on October 11, 2016

Wow. One simple word but what makes it special is the meaning behind it. There will only be one time when the groom and bride will see each other all dressed up in their wedding attire for the first time. The way the groom lights up when he sees his future wife in her wedding dress will be unforgettable. The smile the bride wears knowing that in a few minutes the man of her dreams will officially be her husband will be timeless. Its an intimate private time for the couple by themselves before going out to celebrate their love in front of all their family and friends.

A first look is a moment usually arranged by the couples wedding photographer wherein he is staging the first time the bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony.

Your weddng photographer should be an expert at arrangng the perfect first look location that is not only beautiful but also private. Most of the time, the wedding couple wants the first look moment to happen in a secluded location away from distractions and other people. However, this is not always the case. I have also set up the first look in locations where parents and the bridal party can watch as well. Its very important for your photographer to check with the bride and groom to make sure its ok for others to watch.

Once the bride and groom have been brought to the first look location and the groom knows the bride is ready and waiting, he can tell the groom to turn and see the bride. Its also at this moment that your photographer should turn off the need to jump in and pose the bridal couple. The few seconds when the groom actually sees his bride is the same time when your photographer should back off and photograph this moment as a wedding photojournalist . This means no interference and no posing. Your wedding photographer should let the moment happen and simply capture whatever happens. Too often the photographer is too quick to jump in and and pose the couple. Interfering during this time is a huge mistake because it disrupts an intimate moment between the bride and groom and eliminates the opportunity for the photographer to capture the true emotion of the first look.

While a first look is not a requirement for the weddings we photograph, we highly recommend it to couples as there are many advantages in doing a first look.

The wedding day is huge big event for every couple. It is quite normal that they will feel a bit jittery. The first look can help to ease the wedding day jitters of the couple. Some brides are uneasy about the groom seeing her in front of all the guests. A first look will give the couple time to savor this moment privately. This a special moment between the couple that they dont want anyone else see.

In addition to executing a first look between the bride and groom, your photographer can also organize a first look between the bride and her father. The moment when a brides father sees his daughter in a wedding dress for the first time is very emotional. This special moment should be photographed in such a way as to capture the feeling of both the bride and her father.

(Below) - The emotional first look between the bride and her father.

A couple can also personalize their first look. Aside from capturing the priceless moment of the groom seeing the bride for the first time, the photographer can also capture some fun and creative photos such as the couple holding hands while hiding behind a wall or door as if drumming up the excitement more. Another good idea is to capture the brides face as she stands behind the groom or her shooting the groom from behind before the groom faces her bride for the first time. Some couples exchange gifts or read their letters to each other. The possibilities for getting creative photos are endless.

A first look gives the families an opportunity to have their portraits taken before the ceremony. Getting the family portraits earlier in the day will make the timeline of your wedding day more streamlined and as soon as the wedding ceremony concludes, everyone can go and enjoy the cocktail hour without having to worry about taking any more formal photos. Doing this will alleviate any rushing in getting all the bride and groom and family photos done. Also, if your ceremony is at late afternoon, doing a first look will also allow photos to be taken while there is still natural light which is a great advatnage as well.

What if you dont want a first look? We assure couples that not doing a first look is ok and we will work with the couple to orgranize an advantageous timeline according to their wishes. We always discuss the benefits of doing a first look, but are happy to arrange the day whatever way the couple prefers.

If there is no first look, then coverage usually begins with photographing the bride and her bridal party along with her family. The groom is somewhere else so that he doesnt see the bride. Afterwards, the bride will have time to relax while we will photograph the groom and his groomsmen and his family.

(Below) - The bride walking down the stairs toward the groom is a dramatic way of revealing the bride to the groom.

After the wedding the ceremony, the couple, the bridal party and family members will do the group photos during the cocktail hour. Its much easier to get away with not doing a first look if there is a good amount of time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. For example, if the ceremony is over at 2PM but the reception doesnt start until 5PM, you will have enough time to finish all the group shots. This is often the case with a church wedding, but not necessarily if the wedding is at a hotel or other similar venue.

(Below) - This phone booth provided a fun way for the bride and groom the share the first look.

(Below) - The grandmother seeing the bride for the first time.

We hope this article has been somewhat helpful in explaining the benefits of doing a first look, however, we undertand that every couple is different and our ultimate goal is to be able to produce the best possible photos for our clients  no matter how they would like to arrange their wedding day. We have years of expertise at working with all kinds of schedules and requests, so couples should always feel free to have a discussion with us about exactly how youd like your wedding day coverage to unfold.

(Below) - Before the groom actually saw his bride we had her do a little posing from behind frosted glass.

(Below) - This album page is dedicated to the first look between father and daughter.

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Fun for all – the fabulous Photo Wall

Posted on March 19, 2013

Why not make your wedding the talk of the town? Adding our photo wall to your wedding reception is a great way to get your guests involved with an interactive, fun element that they can all enjoy. We provide some costume elements for guests to use while posing in front of the photo wall. Items such as silly hats, colorful feather boas, glasses and all kinds of wigs make for some totally fun and wacky photos.

You literally never know what to expect when guests pose in front of the wall – and that’s part of the fun for sure! The real fun is when we process the pictures and then, if you wish, post them on Facebook for you to share with your friends and guests from the wedding. At the wedding itself, the photo wall is pretty much self- sufficient. Guests put on whatever costume elements they want, and then strike a pose in front of the wall. One guest must push the fire button that activates the countdown to the camera firing. Once the camera flashes, the photo has been taken.

We have a really classy looking background that works for any wedding theme or event. These photos are great to print later and send to guests who posed at the wedding. They will be delighted and definitely get a chuckle when they see the pics! If you want more instantaneous pictures, we do offer printing on the spot at the wedding. The photos are great quality and can be printed as 4x6 or 5x7 photographs and even customized and placed into custom folders as wedding favors. Either the photos can be imprinted in photoshop or the folders can be ordered with your names and wedding date imprinted on them. This is a totally unique and fun wedding favor – not the usual stuff that is given away at weddings as favors. Guests will leave with an amusing memento of their time at your wedding.

The photo wall literally can transform into any theme you wish – we can use other costume props that you supply plus add some more of our own. It is such a great way of having an interactive element at your wedding – guests who don’t even know each other will group together to take a funny picture in front of the photo wall. As a South Florida wedding photographer, I see all kinds of gimmicks at weddings. This is much more than just that. The high quality photos that are produced here are usable by the bride and groom, can be easily shared online or printed as gifts for guests. It is a practical and fun addition to any wedding reception or party alike.

We have some great promotions in terms of adding the photo wall to your wedding, so please feel free to give us a call and ask any questions you may have. We look forward to incorporating our photo wall into many clients’ upcoming wedding packages and witnessing the enjoyment they and their guests will have from its presence.

Jeff Kolodny Photography, Inc.

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Fabulous Oceanfront Venues for an Unforgettable South Florida Wedding

Posted on March 11, 2013

(Below) Wedding party in action. This beach action shot was taken on the beach at The Palms Hotel, Miami. The open beach is a great place for this type of wedding photograph because there are fewer distractions in both the foreground and background. However, the sky and sand make for a beautiful wedding scenic.

Everyone knows that the great state of Florida has hundreds of miles of pristine beaches, perfect for that destination wedding. Not only that, but what some do not realize is that the various parts of the state have beaches that are very, very different in appearance and atmosphere. Whether you are looking to have a destination wedding on the West Coast or East Coast areas of Florida there are a great number of incredible oceanfront venues to choose from that will allow you to plan a wedding with stunning views and beaches for your out of town guests to enjoy as well.

The photo below, shows the amazing view looking down Fort Lauderdale beach. Taken from the roof top courtyard at the Pelican Beach Resort. Looking down at the coastline always makes a great destination wedding picture.

Florida also offers a host of barrier islands or keys that offer some terrific venue options as well. All these beautiful locations are perfect for creating amazing photographs. On the West Coast, there is Marco Island home of the magnificent Marco Island Marriott. A large resort hotel, the Marco Island Marriott has something for everyone and is a desirable location for destination weddings as well as a choice of locals as well. The Marco Island Marriott offers a wide, white sand beach and calm gulf waters both of which are quite a contrast to the beaches on the island of Palm Beach on the opposite coast. The waters on the East Coast in general are more lively, with many sightings of cruise ships in the distance and a popular spot with tourists all up and down the coast from Jacksonville down to Miami.

(Above) Another photograph with the bride & groom kissing in the ocean. The Pelican Beach Resort makes for a fabulous background.

Some other great spots for destination beachfront wedding venues would be the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami that is actually on the island of Key Biscayne. While somewhat isolated from the heart of Miami, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne offers a spectacular and quiet beach along with superb grounds and an all around ultra classy atmosphere. Located on the mainland on Miami Beach there are a host of wonderful venues to choose from as well. As a South Florida wedding photographers, I often work at these venues and enjoy all that they have to offer as far as amazing scenery for picture taking as well as some interesting architectural features each venue has to offer.

Miami Beach weddings can be affairs to remember for sure. Some great oceanfront venues to be sure to check out are The Palms Hotel & Spa, The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, The Fountainbleau, The Loews Hotel, W Hotel-South Beach and The National Hotel. Up the coast a bit, another great area for South Florida beachfront weddings is the area between Hallandale Beach and Fort Lauderdale. This highly popular strip of South Florida real estate is home to a huge number of high end oceanfront venues such as the Westin Diplomat Hotel, The Harbor Beach Marriott, The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach, The B Ocean Hotel, and the The Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale just to name a few. When you drive up just a little further, there is the Delray Beach Marriott and the Seagate right in the heart of Delray Beach where there are many great restaurants and shops to explore. Once you venture just a bit north, you’ve got several magnificent venues for a truly spectacular Palm Beach wedding. They are The Breakers, The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach and The Four Seasons Palm Beach. The Breakers, of course is a large and opulent hotel on a gorgeous strip of Palm Beach.

(Above) Many South Florida venues offer ballrooms with views of the ocean & beach. When choosing one of these ballrooms the fantastic view also doubles as the room decor . It may take less flowers and room decor to create a beautiful wedding reception when the room itself offers such a wonderful view.

(Above) Often an attractive couple mixed with a palm tree and a great sky is all it takes to make a stand-out photograph. This couple decided on an early morning wedding which provided great soft lighting for the photo above. This shot was taken along a peaceful stretch of beach in Fort Lauderdale.

There is simply no place like it anywhere. The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach and the Four Seasons Palm Beach are also beautiful and extremely classy venues offering the best beach views and the 5 star service their guests expect.

Whether you are looking for a more quiet laid back atmosphere for your wedding and the soft sands of the West Coast or the lively atmosphere of the East Coast and whether a destination wedding or not, you can plan a fabulous South Florida wedding at a beachfront venue that suits your taste and budget. As a South Florida wedding photographer, I assist couples quite frequently when they are looking for the perfect South Florida wedding venue.

(above) This couple had their destination wedding at the Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach. Since the weather in South Florida is always wonderful a beach engagement shoot is always a grate idea. Visiting South Florida to plan your destination wedding is a great reason to get away from the cold weather of the northeast and enjoy a warmer climate.

Jeff Kolodny Photography, Inc. (561) 965-9582

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Check out this slideshow of my photography.

Posted on December 10, 2012

whitewed from Jeff Kolodny on Vimeo.

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Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa Weddings

Posted on May 1, 2012

As a South Florida wedding photographer, working at the historic Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa is always a treat. I say historic, as there has been a Diplomat Hotel of sorts on this property since 1958 – many luminaries used to grace its rooms and still do today. Stars from Liza Minnelli to Bob Hope have performed here over the years and presidents have made appearances as well. It is a one of a kind South Florida location that not only holds appeal to celebrities, but also to many couples both near and far – to host their South Florida weddings – in many cases they are actually South Florida destination weddings.

I remember clearly the day in 1998 when the original Diplomat Hotel was imploded – it was quite a scene. Remembering what the original building was like beforehand just created anxiousness waiting to see what unbelievable structure would be built to replace this historic South Florida landmark hotel.

The new result was more than amazing. The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa is an ultra modern sleek oceanfront property with every amenity a guest would want. For Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa weddings, there are two incredibly high-end choice locations to choose from – the hotel or the country club. For this article, we will focus on weddings at the Diplomat Hotel location. The recent wedding of Coty and Ron is a perfect example of just how incredible a South Florida wedding can be at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa. Perfectly coordinated by Joni Scalzo of Your Special Day by Joni, this wedding captures the essence of a location truly magnificent to its area – a one of a kind spot for a South Florida weddings for sure. Joni tirelessly worked with this busy bride and groom to insure that every detail of their wedding was perfect and that they had no worries leading up to or on the wedding day. As a side note, Ron is the captain of an incredible yacht and Coty works with him – that is how they met. They travel the world in style all while working – they have amazingly interesting careers and being out of town so much meant that Joni was a key factor in managing all of the elements of their fabulous South Florida wedding.

Both the inside and the outside surrounding grounds of the hotel provide unlimited opportunities that as a South Florida wedding photographer, I can never pass up! I love the modern architecture, the incredible pool area, the ocean view and the truly unique feel the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa provides. Coty and Ron were great to work with and we enjoyed every moment we had to shoot around this modern, yet historic property. Although the Diplomat has been completely rebuilt and is in essence, a pretty new structure, I cannot help but think back to its rich history as I photograph South Florida weddings there. The place remains an extremely high-end venue for discerning brides and grooms who desire an unusually sleek and luxurious South Florida wedding. There is no question – a Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa wedding is a one of a kind opportunity that many brides and grooms see right away when they visit this location. Busy creating weddings for local couples as well as couples planning destination weddings, Joni Scalzo of Your Special Day by Joni is someone brides and grooms should consider speaking to when planning their weddings – at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa or elsewhere.

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