Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GUEST REVIEW: Weddings: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Suzy Clement (Reviewed by Kaethe Richter)

About Kaethe Richter

Kaethe Richter of K. Mari Photography
Kaethe Richter

I’d like to introduce my readers to Kaethe Richter (K. Mari Photography) a wedding photographer based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kaethe was both an assistant and model in my popular Photographing People at Night in New York City article. She’s a bright woman and an awesome wedding photographer, so I sent her my copy of this book and asked if she could review it on my behalf (since I don’t shoot weddings). She did a fantastic job, so I hope you enjoy her review.  - Ron


Weddings are tough gig and as Suzy Clement points out, “not for the faint of heart”. Most growth and learning as a photographer takes place through experience. Experience, in this case, is shooting lots (and I mean LOTS) of weddings. As tradition has it, the course of most wedding days seem similar—but as LIFE tends to have it, lighting conditions, people, and the environments of these weddings are not. One weekend you are shooting in a beautiful open field and perfectly overcast sky, while the next you are faced with a dark window-less and aisle-less church. Weddings: From Snapshots to Great Shots is a great book that teaches start-up wedding photographers how to deal with and prepare for the many challenges of photographing a bride’s special day.

Chapter By Chapter

Here’s my thoughts on each chapter of this book:

1. Equipment

Although every chapter is geared toward both professionals and amateurs, this one specifically separates the different needs that come with increased experience. She overviews the pros and cons of full-frame vs. cropped sensors, and also which lenses are absolutely necessarily vs. beneficial to have as a wedding photographer. She does a exceptional job pointing out things an amateur might overlook on their first wedding day (i.e. backup batteries for flash, benefits of renting equipment, and proper carrying cases for equipment).

2. Shooting Basics

Most photographers who have worked in the industry can probably skip or skim this chapter. She overviews real basics like composition, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and the different modes on cameras (aperture priority, manual, auto, etc.). The most useful part of this chapter for a professional are the pictures she’s provided in correlation to the lens and exposure choices. She exemplified how different settings and lenses can help a photographer create a story and describe the feeling of the day, rather than just using a hard flash on subjects to get the picture.

3. Prepping for the Shoot

If you are a seasoned professional, and you only read one chapter in this book, read this one. It’s one of the most overlooked parts of the wedding photography process that can help prevent a whole lot of frustration on the wedding day! Suzy encourages photographers to scout the location ahead of time. This is key. As I said earlier, your conditions are constantly changing with every wedding. Going ahead of time will allow you to not only find great locations to do different portraits (alleviating stress when stuff gets hectic!), but it also gives you time to rent/borrow equipment you may need to make the location work.

Another great point she makes is how important it is to understand your couple’s wants and needs. Similar to how locations can vary, so can your clients! Some of my brides in the past told me they could care less if they had formal portraits, while many of my brides said it was the ONLY thing that mattered to them.

Chapters 4 - 8

4. Getting Ready

5. The Ceremony

6. Post-Ceremony Portraits

7. Cocktails, Dinner, and Décor

8. Reception and Dancing

In chapters 4-8, Suzy walks you through the different parts of a wedding day, and certain aspects of each you should prepare for. This is a great opportunity for amateurs to prepare for the different elements that come into play at different parts of the day.

Being on your “a-game” for 6-12 hours is tiring. It’s easy to overlook certain important jobs as the wedding photographer (i.e. details in the reception hall, table shots of the guests, etc), especially when stuff gets hectic and when the people you are working with get tired. These 5 chapters are a good reminder of the things you really shouldn’t forget to capture, even in the midst of exhaustion and chaos.

9. Organizing and Presenting your Work

The biggest misconception of wedding photography is that once the big day is over your job is done. Clement perfectly both describes and PREPARES amateurs for the hard work ahead after the wedding. She offers advice on efficient ways to backup, cull and edit your bundle of . Unlike most wedding photography books I’ve read, she offers up-to-date online options for sharing, printing, and creating final albums for clientele.


For a start-up wedding photographer this book is an absolute must read. What I’m saying is: two years ago, it would’ve saved me a lot of unfortunate moments at weddings had I read this ahead of time. It does a great job preparing you for the unpredictable nature of weddings. Seasoned professional probably don’t need to read this, but it’s always nice hearing a fresh perspective (and see pretty pictures).


The publisher has provided ronmartblog.com with a complementary review copy of this book. Ron sent it to Kaethe for review due to her interest in the subject of wedding photography. Kaethe was not compensated in any way beyond getting a book to read for sharing her thoughts.

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