Every artist has influences. For as long as I can remember, Sal Cincotta has been my greatest influence. He's an incredible visionary, artist, businessperson, and as I learned in person, a really fun guy. I recently spent a week with Sal and a small group of wedding photographers from around the country. We dissected the art of wedding photography, shot creatives on location, photographed an amazing church reception and altar portraits, and dove headfirst into best practices for running a wedding photography business.

Make no mistake, this workshop was not because I do not know what I'm doing. I feel that you can never stop learning and improving, no matter what your craft. Would you go to a doctor that said, "I stopped studying medicine after I finished school?" No way. This workshop was about taking my photography and my business to the next level. I'm confident, this experience absolutely launched my artistry and my business years ahead. 

Three things I learned and want to share: 

Portraits. They deserve to be epic. I loath average photography. That is not what I aspire for, nor is it what Sal is known for. Wait, who ever became successful or highly sought after for "average" anything? I love dramatic, fashion-based posing and Sal hammered that style home. Here is one of the "creatives" portraits I shot while I was in St Louis. Oh, and it was 105* heat index during this part of the day. Yikes. We will make images like this on your wedding day. 

THIS is what couples deserve to have in their albums and on the walls of their home. This is the art of wedding photography. 

THIS is what couples deserve to have in their albums and on the walls of their home. This is the art of wedding photography. 

 

Systems. Every wedding is unique, absolutely. At the same time, 80% of all weddings are exactly the same. We covered strategies for delivering the greatest possible experience, service, and imagery for every single wedding client. This is an advantage to my clients, because I am not someone constantly wondering what shots to get and from where, or what equipment is needed for each setting. It's all a system that I carry in my head and can adapt to any situation. Once of the aspects of "systems" that we covered was exactly how to photograph each part of the day -- the shots that tell the best possible story.  

For example, every album needs an "establishing scene" shot. Before we photographed a ceremony in the church, we dashed outside to find the "establishing scene" shot of the church. This is what I finished with:

The "Establishing Scene" shot is key to telling the story. The eye always enters a photograph from the top left and works its way through an image and exits through the bottom right. What does this image do for the eye? It gives eye-candy with a star-burst-ish high noon sun (all done in-camera, by the way - no photoshop), then looks over the church, and then makes it's way down to the doors before finishing the photograph. Perfect for the turning to the next page in the album with details of the inside of the church! That is story telling with photography. 

The "Establishing Scene" shot is key to telling the story. The eye always enters a photograph from the top left and works its way through an image and exits through the bottom right. What does this image do for the eye? It gives eye-candy with a star-burst-ish high noon sun (all done in-camera, by the way - no photoshop), then looks over the church, and then makes it's way down to the doors before finishing the photograph. Perfect for the turning to the next page in the album with details of the inside of the church! That is story telling with photography. 

We also covered a system for documenting the first look and all the private, happy emotions that come with it! And for those who adhere to tradition, we covered a great strategy for photographing the first look from the altar, as well. 

Fun. Who doesn't enjoy a good laugh? Weddings are a time of celebration! Forget the stresses and mini-emergencies for a moment. Sal highlighted how much fun couples can have with their photographer during their engagement photography and their wedding day. I'm all for providing an amazing experience for my couples and their family and friends!

And of course, we had fun spending a week with Sal. Here's me and Sal, and me and Sal and fellowing wedding photographers.

Sal's studio in O'Fallon, Illinois is incredible. While the photography studio and sales room are on the first floor, he's rehabbed the building and now houses several of his other companies in the floors above (a couture dress rental service, an editing company, a graphic design team, and more). The man is an inspirational entrepreneur. 

Sal's studio in O'Fallon, Illinois is incredible. While the photography studio and sales room are on the first floor, he's rehabbed the building and now houses several of his other companies in the floors above (a couture dress rental service, an editing company, a graphic design team, and more). The man is an inspirational entrepreneur. 

It was an incredible, life-altering week with Sal and a team of fellow wedding photographers from around the country!