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Celebrating 15 years and counting, it’s hard to believe that Jose Villa began his journey in wedding photography at the young age of 19. From falling in love with photography in high school, to studying at the now-closed Brooks Institute of Photography. Today, Jose, along with his husband Joel, editor Patrick, and sister Nancy, operates a studio that feels more like a family, bringing a unique warmth to every wedding they capture.

We spoke to Jose Villa about how to make wedding photographs stand out, and he shared tips on helping brides to feel comfortable with the photographer, to capture their big day naturally and beautifully.

How do you approach new clients and get to know them?

I believe the role of a wedding photographer extends far beyond just clicking pictures; it’s about building connections. You can’t simply arrive at a wedding and introduce yourself as the photographer. I prefer to refer to myself as an “art director”, emphasizing the importance of getting to know my clients intimately even before the big day.

From the color scheme to bridesmaids’ attire, the professionals responsible for styling, hair, and makeup to even the reception chair choices, I tend to delve into every detail, creating a bond that transforms a professional relationship into a friendship. As part of this process, couples frequently seek my advice, and I find this interaction is crucial and leads to an engagement session.

Engagement sessions serve multiple purposes: they allow me to meet the couple, capture beautiful images outside of their wedding attire, and enable them to witness my approach behind the camera. Importantly, I intentionally shoot solo, without an assistant, to eliminate any sense of a production or unnecessary crowd, ensuring they feel at ease and can be themselves, letting their guards down.

Despite the initial discomfort that comes with the intimate nature of what we do – capturing moments like embraces and kisses – meeting the couple beforehand creates a unique connection. This personal touch adds a distinctive feeling to the images, making them more powerful than those of photographers who merely show up and declare, “Hi, I’m your photographer.”

Tips for Brides to Bridge the Gap Between Photographer and Client

My advice for brides, even those who may not be working directly with me, is that it is beneficial to actively involve your photographer in the wedding planning process. Share essential details with them, such as showing them your wedding dress in advance, mentioning your plans to wear a veil, and informing them about any dress changes. Additionally, provide insights into your bridesmaids’ details, like their number (whether there are 17 of them) and the color they’ll be wearing, perhaps pink or any other chosen hue. This helps your photographer understand the overall picture and to set the stage for stunning visual storytelling. This tip is not only for brides but extends to photographers and their clients, fostering an environment of openness and collaboration.

Film Photographer to Capture a Timeless Wedding

In a world dominated by digital technology, I am an advocate for film wedding photography. I exclusively use film in my photography because it provides a distinct ambiance that digital fails to deliver for me. Film brings about a sense of nostalgia, classicism, and organic beauty that I find irreplaceable. These are sentiments echoed not only by myself but also by my clients and potential clients. Frequently, individuals reach out to me, expressing difficulty in pinpointing what sets my images apart. They use terms like “organic,” “classic,” and even “histologic.” There’s an ineffable quality that film imparts, creating a unique aesthetic that seems challenging to replicate through digital means. I believe this uniqueness is essential for evoking a genuine emotional response when viewing the photograph. The unique atmosphere captured by film allows me to create images that stand the test of time.

The Secrets Behind Creating Photographs That Tell a Compelling Visual Story

Several elements contribute to what makes a good photograph. Lighting, composition, color, style, and the overall styling of individuals or groups, including the bride and groom, all play crucial roles. Anticipating moments is a key aspect, where the photographer is prepared to capture the essence of what unfolds. This readiness stems from experience, having documented numerous weddings and gaining an understanding of the flow of events.

The magic lies in those moments of anticipation, where the photographer skillfully combines directing and capturing candid emotions. The ability to foresee and be ready for these unique instances, which can never be replicated, adds an irreplaceable dimension to the photograph. A successful image is thus born from a harmonious blend of directing the scene, seizing candid emotions, making thoughtful lens choices, and mastering composition.

What Makes a Good Wedding Photographer?

In the world of wedding photography, the key lies in how we communicate with the couple, especially during various shoots, whether it’s capturing the bride alone, the bride and groom together, or even family portraits. However, at a wedding, everything unfolds rapidly – it’s a dynamic and fast-paced event, a living, breathing phenomenon. We must seamlessly navigate through the day, working with the hustle and bustle.
Despite the need to move swiftly, there’s an art to it – a delicate balance. While it may seem like a rush, as a photographer, you mustn’t convey a sense of urgency. It’s essential not to show that you’re feeling rushed or that you’re hastening the scenario. The intricacies of the day are all captured in the photographs, and maintaining composure is vital to ensuring that the visual narrative reflects the beauty and significance of each moment.

How to Look Your Best in Wedding Photos

The key to looking good in photos often lies in the art of directing and posing. This is precisely why engagement sessions prove invaluable – they serve as a warm-up, helping individuals become more comfortable in front of the camera.

One effective technique I frequently recommend to couples, especially brides, is to adopt a particular stance. Bend one knee and place one foot forward and slightly back, distributing your weight onto the back leg. This simple adjustment creates a pleasing shape, adding a touch of elegance. I seldom capture individuals straight on, as it can sometimes give the illusion of a wider appearance. Instead, I prefer to angle them toward the camera, accentuating their form.

The specific pose may vary depending on the type of gown being worn. For instance, with a voluminous ball gown, certain nuances might not be as noticeable. However, even with this directive, the result is a relaxed pose, shoulders gently pushed back, creating a natural flow as one shoulder moves forward and the other slightly back. Fine-tuning the position of the chin is another detail I attend to, ensuring it complements the individual’s overall look.

Lighting plays a crucial role in this process. My primary goal is to position subjects, whether they be brides, grooms, or others, in soft, beautiful light. This not only promotes a consistent skin tone but also highlights their unique features. Harsh lighting or shadows can sometimes accentuate blemishes, scars, or perceived imperfections, such as a larger nose.

It’s not uncommon for individuals to express concerns about specific features, like disliking their forehead. Addressing such insecurities is part of my role, and I strive to create an environment where clients feel understood and comfortable. Ultimately, achieving a flattering look in photos involves a delicate interplay of posing techniques, lighting considerations, and a keen awareness of each individual’s unique qualities.

If you have any questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out.
You can connect with us at hello@thestylishbride.com