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What do Sundays with your in-laws and getting-ready photos have in common? For some folks, the idea of either of those generates the same amount of sweat on the palms. With getting ready photos, there’s sometimes the impression that they’re about staged shots in your undies (I can assure you i’m not really that interested in seeing that either). When you’ve just rolled out of bed with yesterdays ashtray still in the room, and that this is the part of the day when everyone is caught at their worst.

Fortunately, things have changed, and there’s another way you can look at it.

Of all the weddings I’ve photographed the world over, the getting-ready part of the day consistently provides some of the most wonderful moments and as a result, some of the most wonderful images. It’s a unique part of the day where some of the closest are present, the guard is down and a beautiful context is set against the rest of the day.

Here’s 5 reasons why I think that if you don’t want that part of the day covered, you should reconsider.

1. The wind-up

Think of it as a baseball pitch. if you’re camera shy (as I am), think of this as the warm up. Pretty quickly you won’t be noticing the camera there for the rest of the day. Being comfortable in front of a camera is one-part having someone calm and natural taking the photos and one-part exposure-therapy. The more time you are in front of it, the quicker that natural guard drops, all by itself.

2. The Timeline

The rest of the day can be manic, so those moments before the ceremony are unique and calm in contrast to other parts of the day. This can make you feel like your brain has been thrown into a nutri-bullet (don’t dig too deep into visualising that metaphor).

3. The light

It stands to reason that generally, getting-ready happens indoors. Whether the vibe of your day is colourful, moody, or a mix of the two, there’s something magical about the indoors that a skilful photographer will be able to capture. Whether it’s a castle in Italy, or, light in a broom cupboard (this has actually been a backdrop, once).

Make sure this majestic light isn’t being compromised by other light sources: turn off TV’s (unless you really think that midday football and the latest Kardashian scandal in the background will add to your images).

Indoor light is like nothing else: whether it’s a beautiful air-bnb you’ve hired or a cluttered lounge-room, trust in your photographer to be able to see the best in it, and find the magic that’s already there.

That’s what we do.

4. Family feels

Whether it’s family, friends, or your partner that are around, this is one part of the day without the craziness of all the guests and other logistics. It’s a unique little part of the day, full of smaller moments, surprises and connection that are worth having a record of.

This isn’t about the staged shots, the makeup being applied, blah blah. You can have those, of course – we’ll be there for them too and they often make for much more interesting images than you’d imagine. But this is about that normal human dance that happens with you and your nearest, without the charade and ceremony that informs the rest of the day.

This might just be the only time in your life that you’re lucky enough to have an artist document a little bit of your everyday.

5. Someone on your team, from the start

A great photographer is there to serve you and make great images for you, not against you. So It’s worth remembering that even in the most seemingly simple or plain situations, their job is to find magic.

And if you make a space for some prep shots, know that in the right hands, it’s going to be so much less about “prep” shots, and so much more about creating a little record of the everyday.

We don’t need long – just like Sundays with the in-laws. 20 or 30 minutes is often plenty. But if you’re weighing up whether to have more photos of drunken partying at the end of the day versus having someone capturing everyone getting ready, it’s worth considering which one will hit you more in the feels.

Ms Zebra Says: It’s such a special, once in a lifetime day that capturing the important memories will never be a mistake! 

About Briars Atlas: Briars photographs love and ritual from America to Antarctica, and is an advocate of cutting sandwiches into triangles over rectangles. Away from weddings, he experiments with and writes about the future of analogue, and runs workshops on creative-thinking worldwide.

Credits

This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.

Today we’re chatting to Lowina Blackman of Black Avenue Productions, a Melbourne-based wedding photographer who also travels the world to shoot the big days of couples in love. Lowina is passionate about her craft, and believes in building strong connections with her clients to get the best imagery possible. The Black Avenue Productions approach is all about storytelling and emotion, and they’re also available to create special, memory-filled videos too. Over to Lowina to tell us more about her style, experience and why she has the best job EVER.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
Since 2016 as Black Avenue Productions, but a bit longer before that.

How would you describe your photography style?
Our style combines the influence of storytelling documentary with fine art, editorial style photography, artistic tone images and natural approach on the day. I see things like a complete work, where every frame has a purpose and message. It should help our couples to relive the moments and emotions when looking at the photos. It should make our clients discover new things, and as a result, create memories over again. Our passion lies at the heart of storytelling to craft uniquely memorable and compelling narratives filled with life. Therefore, a story is at the very heart of everything we do.

Does your style of photography pair well with a particular style of wedding?
With our authentic, warm moody tone and emotion-filled images, our style of photography works well with beautiful rustic weddings, bohemian weddings, elopements, greenery and floral weddings, gardens weddings, beach weddings and more.

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
Our enthusiastic, positive vibe and passion towards wedding photography is all over our face when you see us working. As a general rule, we have two of us covering a wedding. Not a main shooter and a second shooter, but two very dedicated, very excited, very engaged photographers who will be egging each other on, trying to get the money shot of the day, both looking for the best light, both invested in this day with all our hearts.

How early should a bridal couple book you in?
Generally, we get booked 12-14 months in advance for peak season weddings (September to March), however, we can fit in some short notice weddings if clients send us an email to check availability.

What’s your process of making a connection with your couples?
I ask lots of questions about your love story! As a Money Mindset coach/energy healer by day, I can naturally see the good in each person and make a connection straight away. I believe that we are all connected in the soul level; there is no accident that my clients found us.

On the day, I’ll make you laugh, I’ll listen to your stories and I’ll be there just behind you, capturing those glorious moments when you are enjoying your day.

Do you do engagement sessions?
Yes, and we highly recommending adding this into your package. The engagement session is your biggest opportunity to become comfortable in front of camera, and you’ll get to know your photographers and our style. By the time we arrive at the bridal suite in the morning, we should be best friends already. It’s a huge benefit to the couple to be relaxed. They will know how to pose and how we work.

What are your favourite weddings to shoot?
A wedding by couples that are deeply in love! When my clients are in love, the brides will naturally glow, the grooms are happy, fathers are proud, the bridal party will have fun. When there is a strong love and connection between the bride and groom, it makes our job super easy and fun!

You also specialise in multi-day destination weddings. Where in the world has this taken you?
Internationally, we are so grateful to be able to travel to Europe (Prague, Vienna and Hungary) and Japan (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya and in between). Australia wide, we have been to Falls Creek, Bright, The Grampians, Mornington Peninsula and New South Wales.

Can you share any memorable destination wedding stories?
Yes, of course! Last year in Europe was our first overseas trip. (We originally took one wedding job and ended up with 13 other shoots across the continent! I got a bit excited.)

Back when the couple were still dating, the bride Judit took her now husband Ben to see her family in Hungary and visited the biggest basilica in Europe, they made a pinky pact to get married there one day. It was our honour to witness that ‘one day’!

The reception, oh boy, the Europeans sure know how to party! They prepared cartons and cartons of palinka (strong alcohol), with dinner at 9pm, supper at 12am, and the wedding band kept playing until 4am. They danced all night long! We left at midnight to rest. 6am the next morning, one of the cousins had their engagement session with us. I don’t think they had slept at all!

Black Avenue offers video packages as well as photography. What do you love about cinematography?
Gone is the day where videographers offer three-hour-long wedding videos (the ones your parents played to you when you were four). Our research shows that most couples can’t sit still for an hour to watch their videos. Millennials are after personalised/handcrafted, short and sweet highlights of the day instead. So we offer a few different lengths of videos to suit their needs.

I love how wedding cinematography now is much more enjoyable: it’s entertaining, it’s storytelling, it’s like a mini movie. The quality of visual and audio is much better nowadays. Combining with a wide range of independent artists producing music just for wedding videos, making wedding videos are so memorable now.

What style videos are you known for?
Our style of videography is known for being natural and not forced. Our videographers will not get in the way and work well with the photography team. They know how to capture special moments and raw emotions. We film and capture the day as it naturally unravels and create timeless videos with love.

Top three wedding venues?
Brighton Savoy, Inglewood Estate and All Smiles Sorrento.

Do you work closely with any other vendors?
Oh yes, it’s a must! Over the years we’ve made friends with a bunch of awesome vendors, from dress designers, makeup artists, florist, celebrants, venue managers, stationery designers, wedding planners and DJs, to wedding albums and photo printers. Our couples choose these vendors to be their wedding dream team. We all like to work well with each other to deliver excellent wedding memories for our clients.

We heard that you love to give back and donate a small portion of your profits to charity. What a great idea! What charities do you support?
Over the years we have been supporting the local paramedics, Ambulance Union, Australian Koala Foundation, ANZ Police Science and the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund. We also planted a tree for each of our couples in one year. We wish their love grows as strong and healthy as these trees.

In November 2019, I flew overseas to help build 40+ houses to a poor village in Cambodia – with the global village build team from The Habitat for Humanity Australia, as well as raising funds to improve their water and education systems. The donation page for the Cambodia build trip is still open.

We are so grateful to be able to give, supported by our brides and grooms.

What makes you smile when you’re editing images?
Well, where to start? From seeing a beautiful wedding dress hanging, the mother-daughter moment that’s filled with pure excitement, the bride seeing herself in the mirror for the first time, bridal party having fun with a drink (or two, or a few too many), sister love, a beaming first look, the face of a proud father walking down the aisle, the nervous groom waiting for her bride to come, the crying best friend during speeches, the cute page boys and flowers girls, the drunk uncle who photo bombs the couple, that one funny groomsman who manages to crack jokes at all times, all the old friends reuniting and the party at night. Hmm, I’d have to say, all of them.

If I’m not smiling at the father-daughter dance then I’ll probably be crying!

Why have you got the best job in the world?
I ABSOLUTELY love my job. How amazing it is to celebrate love and to work with happy clients every weekend? We are so grateful to be able to freeze moments in time, to witness a special happy life event first hand, to best use our creativity to tell a story, to make new friends, to connect with lovely people, to eat wedding cake and travel the world. How can it get any better than this?

Thank you Lowina for sharing the Black Avenue Productions story and mantra with us today. Your passion and dedication is such an asset… No wonder you have so many happy clients! To find out more about Black Avenue Productions, head on over to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.


Exchanging excited looks and heartfelt vows, Rebecca and Greg made their love official in an intimate seaside wedding overlooking the picturesque Whale Beach in Sydney.

From getting ready in the morning to cutting the cake at night, these two are always surrounded by their own little family. Of course, that includes two extra scribbly signatures on the official documents. A day filled with cheer, followed by a night full of celebrations (and a wedding dress that has pockets!): a special day that is exactly that.

Lovereel’s videography team was there to capture the little ones blowing bubbles and the grown-ups toasting theirs. To love, to marriage, to forever – and a memory on film to cherish.

Ms Tweed Loves: The kids that steal the show! So adorable and incredibly special for them to be present at their parents wedding.
About Lovereel: With various wedding film options to choose from and all the raw footage at your fingertips, Lovereel offer an affordable yet highly professional wedding videography experience.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Credits

This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.