Wedding "Cue's" that work best?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jmichaelc, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. I would like input from you kind folks as to what, you've found,
    works best in regards to Cue's at specific for the
    formals? In the past, i've used the typical 1,2,3 smile - shoot.
    However, a freind of mine who shoots weddings really doesn't say
    anything at all....he just askes the party if they are ready, raises
    his camera and shoots at his choosing. After viewing his photo's i'm
    beginning to think his clients have a more natural apperance to them.
    What do you guys think? Kindest Regards, Jammey Church
  2. Wedding photographers, besides being “artisans”, must also be businesslike. At formals/altar returns after the setup is complete, they need to know "you" are ready.
    I use a similar technique to the one you outlined:
    I say:
    "Look here ("Here" being a small penlight held directly over my head) (makes them lift their chins) folks" and shoot with a remote release. I tell them "two more like that" and shoot the next two as quickly as the flashes will permit (usually within four to six seconds for both).
    Shots #2 & #3 are usually the best of the series.
    And if in your shots the subjects have been "stiff", perhaps you too need to begin to shoot more than once because subjects are usually relaxed for shots #2 & #3 (& #4 if you need it).
    Remember film is cheap and sensors more so.
    No way I shoot one shot of a setup hoping for the best. You will get blinkers, nods, yawners the whole gamut of expressions that can screw your setup.
  3. HOW TO MAKE THEM SMILE by ...Timber...

    I design every hand placement, foot placement, etc. I don't try to make them raise their
    heads because this makes them look like a hip-hopper: the "It's all about me" type look:
    egotistical. Rather, they lower their chins and this opens their eyes, automatically. Do it
    to yourself, and you will see that lowering your chin naturally opens your eyes.

    I do not count or tell intellectual jokes. I do not make crude jokes, or seldom make
    someone the
    butt of a joke. These are unreliable and fall flat on some ears. Therefore, I use no cues.

    What I do is become the subject.

    After I have set them up in a very perfectiionistic, formal way, I 'break the rules' for a
    moment and dance salsa for them. I dance salsa for about 15 seconds as though I am
    temporarily obsessed with a sound in my head. I am like the guy on the street who is
    into a Walkman and not aware of anyone else in the world. I dance as I am setting up my
    camera, and focusing the lens. And this does it: they smile
    with an interest in their eyes that I could not duplicate with counting numbers. So, I have
    reversed who is "on the spot". It is me. And they have lost all self consciousness.

    My back up entertainment is to use a guest. If he is a very poor entertainer, they smile at
    the poor entertainment. If the entertainment is good, they smile as well. But whatever it
    is, it must be for a very short length of time, and I may only work about 2 times
    maximum per guest. I make exchange one guest for another to keep it going.

    If they are bored with my antics, I ask them to be my entertainment. I ask them to "shake
    it out" and I give them an example of what this is. The blood movement in their veins due
    to their movement will naturally relax them and make them smile. But it only lasts a few

    Because they are possibly thinking about the reception/party coming up, we are warming
    up, you see. But I always put the "discipline" on them in the perfectionistic way they must
    stand for me. They know I am a perfectionist. Therefore, they get 2-3 seconds to "shake
    it out" before they snap back to my pre-set tableu.

    I have been photographing weddings since 1973. Long ago, I learned that verbal jokes
    were risky and unreliable. I knew that "counting" was of little value. Eventually, I observed
    that only truly entertaining them worked.

    Because I am a ballroom dancer who does about 15 different dances: west coast swing,
    salsa, foxtrot, cha-cha, etc. I can provide them with a few latin moves for entertainment
    that make them think this "white boy" is truly enjoying himself, and thinking about the
    party to come. And for many, they have never seen anyone dance latin Mambo type
    dances with the full Cuban hip motion in person. And they certainly don't expect it from
    the 'white' photographer, and even less in church. And it works anywhere, indoors or out,

    I remember a poor wedding photographer in San Francisco who was trying to make his full
    Bridal party smile in a park. His jokes were falling flat. We talked, he had photographed
    1,400 weddings in his life he said. I had seen him before, so i believed him. While he
    was failing in his joke telling, I stood in back of him and started salsa dancing. The group
    lit up (they were all Chinese) and smiled and roared. I honestly think this photographer
    did not take the shot because he was so puzzled as to how that all happened. I think he
    lost control for a moment. Rather than
    to work with me, he tried to make a joke at my expense, something about me dancing, but
    that joke fell flat. The only thing that worked was my entertainment. And this works every
    time, whether they understand English or not! And this is an important feature in San

    So, rather than make them the subject, I make them the audience, and I became their
    subject. To make people laugh and smile, I unexpectedly reverse the tables.
  4. "...Do it to yourself, and you will see that lowering your chin naturally opens your eyes."

    Timber, doesn't lowering the Mom's chin often turn her chin/neck into a pack of hot dogs?
  5. Marc,

    You've taken it too far in distance. Generally, people need to have their chin lowered
    about 1 inch from 'normal'. And where it really is necessary is when they are standing on
    stairs; they would be then higher than the photographer. You would be looking under
    their chins for this reason. And then there is the additional
    matter that the camera may be on a tripod and the view is therefore even lower for this
    reason in addition. Thusly, to 'correct' for these 'unnatural' heights and 'views' I have
    them lower their chin until I have 'perfection'. There is a look of sincerity that I produce
    through the subject.

    Sure, if you simply take your picture from your own eyes at standing height you won't
    usually have too much trouble in this regard: The subject's face/chin will look 'normal'.
    And these rules
    don't seem to apply. You need to clarify where the camera is in relation to their height.
    Of course, a wide angle lens only accentuates this problem due to possible additional

    As for 'double chin' problems: I can place these people on the lower stairs or in a chair.
    It looks very nice to have older people sitting while the younger group crowds around

    My subjects seem to have complete faith in my instructions. I am their only 'mirror'. I am
    highly perfectionistic in my direction of them. I seem to lose the ability to speak in words
    frequently, too, while I am in this mode. Therefore, using words to 'cue' them or 'joke'
    them is difficult for me while I am in my 'visual' mode.


    Also remember that when you use intellectualisms, people sometimes go 'blank' as they
    use their memories or imaginations to interpet or to refer to what you said. [By the way,
    this is how attorney's know you are
    lying: when you lie, you "go into your imagination" while you speak, and your eyes sort of
    stare into space while you are talking.] Therefore, I want
    them to do other than 'interpret' my humour.
  6. Jammey -- This is a tough one because where one photographer can get away with joking another personality might evoke groans or blank stares. Using 1, 2,3 or "say cheese - or any other say _____" I believe often makes for stiff - forced looks. <p>I say, be true to your personality. <p>Me - I'm a ham and I can always get away with it... I tell them "touching, hugging and kissing is allowed" and I tell the guys in the wedding party they are not allowed to do the "cup your crotch" stance. I demonstrate the pose for them...100% of the time they laugh. If you are enough of a people person - you can use your instincts on how far you can go. I tell the family how beautiful they look and show that I'm excited about the shot. I also joke and is all group appropriate and most jokes have to do with the circumstances at the time. Sometimes I tell them as I'm backing up that it is their job to make sure I don't fall into the lake - or off the cliff or whatever ;-) I promise you that at the end of the day - people come up to me and/or to my assistants and say they had a great time. <p>Again - that's me... I'm just one of those people that can get away with it. <p>You have to know your personality and find ways that seem to work for you. Genuine and warm with lots of feedback or jokes - or dancing - though that's a new one on me and I doubt I could carry that one off at all ;-) <p>I never arrange them in a straight line. I do ask the younger men to stoop down in front - and the kids with them. I'll jokingly tell them if they can't see me - I can't see them.. I'll direct where to stand and demonstrate the flattering stance - even showing them the stiff military stance I may be seeing - giving them the example of what looks better. Sometimes I ask the guys to give me the GQ look with one bent leg and a hand in a pocket. Sometimes the guys get really into that during wedding party shots and start haming it up. <p>Feedback...Lots of positive feedback as long as it sounds genuine. Oh - and as someone above mentioned - Shoot a good number of frames - the larger the group - the more frames you shoot. Just my opinions... You'll figure out your comfort level as times goes on.
  7. Timber – you literally had me laughing so hard I about fell out of my chair! So, yes, I’d say that your philosophy on cue’s would certainly work; I was certainly entertained just reading! That’s too funny. However, this Tennessee boy trying to dance in front of an audience would turn from humor to disgust, I’m afraid, so that’s out for me. I do believe in what you say about making yourself the “subject”. I could easily see how this would take the tension off of the party being shot. Thank you so much for your insight.
    Mary – As always, thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and after reading many of your postings, I find that we seemingly have similar personalities - my observation. I have just begun this past year and, like you say, I’m trying to break away from the tradition and find my personality. I shot one this Easter weekend, a very nice couple, but their family members were so up tight. It’s funny how your instincts just kick in when you need them…..i couldn’t believe this was the same family that I had met that day……..the photo’s looks as if they had a blast. As mentioned, and I agree, I think you have to be spontaneously genuine in your humor…..i’m so translucent so no preconceived jokes would work. The first couple of weddings that I shot I did the 1,2,3 thing. I was not satisfied. My last couple, I have been very observant to see what kind of “Mood” their in before hand and if they are up-tight. I’ve found that the littlest of things will bring about a genuine smile….and most of the time, and I have to agree with Timber here, it involved making myself the subject in various ways.
    Thanks again for your valuable time and input – it amazes me how much free service many of you offer to people. It certainly is appreciated. That does it, I’m sending in my membership fee that I’ve been meaning to do now for the past 6 months! Kindest Regards, Jammey Church.
  8. Whenever I take group photos of my friends (granted, I don't do wedding photography), I make them count backwards from 5 to 1, but I take the picture when they get to 3 - usually they have a more natural smile when they are saying the 'th' part of '3'. I'm not sure why it works, but it does!

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