Thursday, March 20, 2008

Engagement Sessions 80's Style

On with the Ziser Way Back Machine - this week it's portraits - engagement portraits. Free engagement portraits for my clients were a way for me to practice my technique. I had free models - my brides and grooms - and even sold a picture or two. Hit the play button to see the images. Clicking on them will take you to Picasa where you can view each one at your leisure.

Here is the point - I gave it away for free to practice. What better way to improve your photography!! I had at my availability willing subjects who are excited with your photography and willing to give you their time to help you get better at what you do. The couple didn't know that was what they were doing, they just thought it was a free session of photography before their wedding. It was a match made in heaven. I leaned how to see the light - well, almost as your see in these images - but I was getting closer. These images were made as part of one of those sessions. I've included a few images from another session as well so you could get the feel for the style of my imagery at the time. Also notice the few wedding images in the mix. Read on to see how they figured in the collection.

Wait, it gets better!! Just as many photographers do today, I needed a way to get the word out about David A. Ziser Photography in those early years. So I made these portraits of the couple, added copies of their "growing up" photos to the grouping, sequenced everything into a nice order, dropped them into my Kodak Carousel slide trays, added current trendy music and presented a slide show of the images at the wedding reception. We called it our "Reflections" show. It was a very successful way to build my business as the slide show presentation was presented to hundreds of guests.

Wait, it still gets better!! Around 1983, Polaroid came out with it's instant slide film - that's right, slide film that processed in a few minutes. During the course of the wedding, I would shoot about 20 images throughout the wedding day taking images starting at the bride's home and finishing up with one or two Polaroid images at the reception. We would process those images at the reception, mount them into slide mounts, and drop them into the slide trays. The A/V program tape included cues for the added images, so the show included titling, the "growing up" images, my engagement portrait session, and some actual images from the wedding day.

We would set up the two projectors at the wedding reception, hook up the sound system. And at the appropriate time, I would give the bride and groom the best seat in the house, usually centered together on the dance floor, with their moms and dads. I would then, with the couples permission in advance, get a live mic from the band or DJ, and make an announcement introducing myself, mentioning the the wonderful occasion, and then how the bride and groom would like to thank everyone for being there celebrating their wonderful day with this short little presentation. On that note, I would hit "Play" on the tape player and start the show. Needless to say it was extremely well received everybody loved it. Tears of love and joy would be shed by friends and families!! The bookings started picking up.

David Jay mentioned doing slide shows at weddings as a marketing tool in his Professional Photographers of Ohio presentation a few weeks ago - he's right, it works. And, it's a lot easier to do today than it was in 1983. The wedding reception slide show worked great in escalating my business in 1983. This same idea is working even today and will give yours a great boost too if you want to make the effort. Hey remember, it's easy being the best - just work a lot harder than the next guy or girl. Hope you enjoyed the Way Back Machine today. Next week - a Bar Mitzvah I photographed in 1983 and the wedding of that same young man I photographed just last year - I think you will enjoy it.


  1. I love them! Especially the double exposure silhouette with the (Cokin?) sun-flare. I’m sure the couples loved them too.


    P.S. The final sentences of the post are too small to read on the Blogger page. They display correctly in the Google Reader.

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