Expert Advice from a Photographer

Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2009

Tips from Donna Newman, wedding photographer

Known for: artistic and photojournalistic images that evoke a cinematic feel

Where to find her: Donna Newman Photography, 407 Lincoln Road, Suite 8i, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Top Tip
A good schedule is absolutely crucial. The worst scenario is for the couple to experience confusion or chaos on their big day. If possible, hire your photographer to work at the rehearsal dinner the night before. That way, she knows exactly who the players are, and there's more time to get a rundown of who everyone is.

What type of bride is your dream client?
The best bride to work with is confident, knows what she wants, and doesn't want to be told what to do. She makes a great client because all you have to do is follow her around throughout the day. Since she trusts her instincts, she doesn't get wrapped up in the details and lets me do my part. I tend to attract brides who value art and photography.

How many pictures should you expect your photographer to take?
When a photographer is working hard and grabbing all of the small moments as well as the big ones, you'll end up with a few thousand images. If I was told I'd see 300 proofs, I'd be worried.

What makes a photo frame-worthy?
It's about finding the beautiful, intimate scenes. When I feel something looking through the lens -- the image is one I feel with my heart, not see with my eye -- I know I've captured the emotion. You can see that kind of joy in every first dance, one of my favorite moments. I love to come in tight so you can see the expressions on their faces -- their noses are almost touching, and their eyes are nearly shut. That's more powerful than a full-length shot.

How do you like to compose your albums?
After the wedding, I assemble proof books and ask the couple to flag shots that hit them emotionally. But I also look for beautiful transition shots that help to move the story along and connect the plot. Transition and flow is what creates a cinematic feel. I also meet with the clients to help put the puzzle together.

Are Miami weddings different from those held in other cities?
The couples are typically having a destination event and tend to be very laid-back. I find that everyone is more relaxed down here for a wedding. It's as if everyone is on vacation.

Any downsides to beach weddings?
The biggest challenge, aside from maneuvering in heels on the sand, is weather. If you're out in direct sunlight, it can be harsh in pictures. I always suggest having a shaded area for the bride and groom to stand under; this gives a beautiful look to the photos.

How can a bride save on her photo budget?
She shouldn't do it! You're better off skimping on other areas. This is one thing that will showcase your wedding day for the rest of your life. Of course, I'm biased, but it's wiser to have a shorter wedding and a better photographer.

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