Wedding photos are all about the details. The flowers, the rings, the clothes, the scenery…
Couples want to remember it all, and local photographers try their best to capture the unique aspects that make up each couple’s special day.
It’s exactly those little things that are trending right now, said Julie Napear, a Frederick County photographer who’s been shooting weddings for about 14 years.
“I would say everyone now wants detailed shots,” she said.
These close-up shots of the couple’s rings and the flowers weren’t as popular when she started her business, but now, with the popularity of social media, they have become a must-have for many brides and grooms.
“I would attribute that to Pinterest and Instagram,” Napear said.
It’s not that wedding pictures weren’t as prevalent back then, she said. “There weren’t as many places where wedding pictures were being published.”
But now, she said, people see something they like online, and they want to emulate it.
Other details couples want to capture are the men’s cufflinks, the women’s dresses and various accessories like jewelry, invitations and centerpieces.
When it comes to the little things, couples are also looking to capture the beauty and style of a location.
New Market photographer Caroline Meyers often travels with her clients to locales in Shenandoah National Park and the Northern Shenandoah Valley for portraits with a backdrop of mountains, farms and the Shenandoah River.
“Our area is really rich in lots of locations like that,” she said.
In the national park, in particular, “Everywhere you turn is a ‘wow.’”
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Meyers, who started shooting weddings about nine years ago, notices that couples like a mix of old and new. Traditional shots with the wedding party and both families are big at almost any wedding, but she also likes to capture a couple’s personality through candid shots and make the most of a venue by seeking out backdrops that make a wedding unique.
When couples can be themselves, she said it makes for better photos.
“Take a moment and like being with each other,” she often tells them.
“It’s very fun to see how different various couples in love [act], the personalities that come together,” she said.
The way photos are edited is also part of a new trend, said Napear, who’s noticed certain filters that make pictures look “light and airy” or “desaturated” are becoming more popular than others.
“I personally like to keep a very classic, neutral-looking shot,” she said.
Her goal in shooting a wedding is that years from now when couples look back at their photos, she doesn’t want them to remark on how “2019” the photos look.
Regardless of the shot, though, she said various editing methods in her studio can give couples that filter they’re looking for.
“To me, at least, it’s more important to catch the shot, catch the emotion.”
Napear likes to shoot “first look” photos a couple of hours before the ceremony. It’s a chance to capture the reactions of brides and grooms when they see each other in their wedding clothes while giving the couple more time for photos ahead of the wedding and reception.
It’s also a chance to check off bridal party photos and family photos, so later at the reception, Napear isn’t pulling people away from hors d’ oeuvres.
“I love the first look,” she said. “I did it for my own wedding.”
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Though June is a traditional wedding month, both photographers said spring and fall have become popular seasons for weddings.
Napear’s season cranks up in April and holds steady until early November, with typical drop-offs in mid-summer.
“November’s becoming a bigger time,” said Napear, who planned her own outdoor wedding at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in November 2017. “We have great foliage at the beginning of November.”
Usually, July is an off month for her, with weddings picking up again in August, but she also recalled a year when she was booked every weekend in July.
Meyers sees her busiest months are from April to October, with a drop-off in the heat of summer.
“I know June is a wedding month, but I find that changes from year to year,” Meyers said.
One year back, she shot six weddings in June. Other years, springtime sees an uptick in weddings.
Both agreed winter is atypical for area weddings, but as couples choose to break from the mold, there’s little predictability in the wedding photography business.
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Front Royal photographer Franzi Curry, of Franzi Lee Photography, recently returned from a wedding in Iceland.
Normally she keeps pretty local to Northern Virginia ad the Shenandoah Valley, but when a family friend hired her for their destination wedding, she gladly waived the usual wedding fees for a free week on black sand beaches, where even in midsummer, nighttime temperatures hover around freezing.
“It was a very unique wedding and one that I will never forget,” she said.
Many of the couples she photographs become longtime customers, something she said has become a specialty of hers over the last five years and one of the big trends she’s noticed.
“They want the full experience and not just pretty pictures at the end,” she said. “It’s a longtime relationship that we’re creating.”
As a result, she’s become something of a combination photographer and wedding planner, helping couples set their wedding timeline so they can enjoy the day without stressing over the details.
Her wedding packages often include engagement photos to help her build that trust and easy relationship with her clients.
“I would say that 90 percent of my couples easily do the engagement session,” she said. The remaining 10 percent usually agree after some consideration.
Other trends she’s noticed are that barn weddings are slowly phasing out, and luxurious indoor weddings are phasing in.
Couples want the ballroom, the air conditioning and the amenities, she said.
Even in the spring and fall, “They want to party inside where it’s a little cooler.”
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Hoping to offer couples a little something new for their big day, Napear started the website ElopeNova.com, where couples can hire her to photograph their elopement, something she said has also changed with the times.
“Eloping is not what it used to be,” she said. “Some people don’t want the pressure of a big wedding.”
Elopements these days can save couples a lot of money while allowing them to focus on the features of a wedding that they want to keep: such as the clothes, the location and the photos.
Napear designed these intimate weddings specifically for the couple and up to 20 guests.
Launching the site last winter, she said she’s had a good amount of interest so far, though the site has taken a back seat to her regular wedding photos lately.
“I think it will continue to grow as a trend,” she said.
Julie Napear Photography
Franzi Lee Photography