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Nelson Photography Studio
J M (Mike) Nelson

Wedding Reception Photography

Wedding Reception Portraiture (WRP). About twenty years ago, I provided this service as a wedding present to a friend. Their response led me to include it in my wedding photography package. It soon became the most appreciated and enduring component. I now do it exclusively as a supplement to conventional wedding photography.

What is WRP? Succinctly, it consists of portraits taken at the wedding reception. I set up lights and camera in a designated area of the reception facility where individuals, families, and small groups can come for a professionally composed and lighted photograph.

How is WRP unconventional? Formal wedding photographs are usually limited to a few friends and family members. Reception candids and "snapshots," though fun to take an view, lack uniformity, are often poorly lighted, and are rarely well-composed. WRP's are professionally lighted, carefully composed, and make gifts suitable for framing. They can also show creativity and spontaneity often available but rarely fully captured with informal "snapshots."

Why is WRP practical? How often do you find so many friends and relatives all dressed up and in such a good mood? How often does such an occasion provide opportunity for professional quality photography? Where else could you get a quality portrait taken so conveniently or quickly, usually in less than five minutes.

How is WRP valuable? You will have a digital file of each photograph, to use and share at your discretion. You can include professional quality portraits of family and friends in your "thank you" notes, and the cost will be only a fraction of the cost of a comparable portrait at even a discount store, where you must schedule ahead, convince everyone to dress up, pay by the picture and even then you do not own the digital file.

How do I make WRP happen? Similar to your formal wedding pictures, it takes a bit of planning. You need to: 1) reserve some space at your reception for portraiture, 2) find at least one volunteer assistant from each side of your new family, and 3) announce the availability of "free" portraits.

Reserve Some Space. You will need an area approximately 10ft x 12ft in or adjacent to your reception and dance area, preferably along a wall or in a corner. You may decorate this area at your discretion, and it would be good to have two or three chairs and/or a small bench to help with the posing of groups. There should also be an electrical outlet reasonably convenient to the area.

Designate Helpers. Your photographer will not know your family and friends, and you won't likely know all your new family members. Therefore, a friendly and enthusiastic person from each "side" of your family will be helpful in identifying family units and encouraging people to take a minute or two to be photographed. You might also want to designate a third assistant to help with your friends.

Announce and Encourage. During the evening, be sure to indicate to your guests that a picture area is available and that you expect them to use it. Make sure that they know that they are doing it for you, not simply for the photographer. Though some might be reluctant, with the encouragement of your assistants and with the enthusiasm of the initial subjects, the procedure soon becomes an accepted part of the festivities. In addition, few seem to suspect that they are actually getting such a quality portrait or that they might receive one as a gift.

How much does WRP cost? There is a $200 setup fee payable in advance. There is a $1 charge per digital file, payable on delivery after we preview the results and you select the photos that you want to keep. Your photos will be delivered on CD-ROM disks. You will be provided two copies of your photo files on separate disks. After delivery, and unless I have appropriate, written permission to keep and use the images, I will erase my files so that you will have complete and total control of the pictures that I take at your wedding reception, and you may reproduce the images in any form you wish and for any legal purpose. Sale of these images or use of these images by a third party for any commercial purpose requires permission from the photographer.

Examples. Since I must get permission from each person in each photograph in order legally to show them to others, a process that is both impractical and inappropriate at someone's wedding reception, I do not have examples of this product. However, the quality will be comparable to the photographs shown elsewhere on my web sites and for which I have written permission to use. Samples of my photographic work can be seen at the following sites. Note that these links will take you outside this web site.
Beth Molberg, jazz vocalist and vibist based in Minneapolis, MN.
Photography section of J M Nelson's academic web site.

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