Damion Hamilton: Napa Valley Wedding Photographer bio picture
  • Thanks so much for coming to our page! We hope you have a few laughs, lots of smiles, and maybe even have to do the fast blink to avoid some tears. We feel like the most blessed people on earth to get to do a job we love and work with some of the most awesome people out there. We are so lucky! We are very selective about our clients and take a limited number of events per year so that we can give them the very best service possible. It's important to us that you get the kind of personalized service you deserve. We consider it an honor that someone would choose us to capture their once in a lifetime moments!

Detail of the Day | Damion Hamilton |The Detail Experience

Have you seen firsthand how incredible lighting can transform a room? Yesterday’s Detail of the Day was the exact same room dressed in only black and white.  Here we see a more colorful version for a gala at San Francisco City Hall.  Lighting by Got Light.

Detail of the Day, Damion Hamilton, San Francisco City Hall

 

 

3 Mistakes Most Couples Make with Wedding Photography| Damion Hamilton | 4th Secret Ingredient for Success–Trust

One of the things we love about our job is that almost every single time, we are working with a client who has never been a bride or a groom before! It’s a completely new ball game for them. That is the fun part of our job; answering questions and explaining how things work. A big portion of our job as photographers is education and teaching our clients what to expect from the day and how to handle it.

In contrast to the first-timers, we have seen and photographed hundreds of weddings over the last 12 years.  We’ve walked through many of the things that can go wrong.  We’ve planned many a timeline and have experience with how long things will actually take and how to best handle the day.  All of these experiences have shaped how we can help plan the wedding in a smarter way so that the bride and groom get everything they want in the end!

The shortest amount of time that we have ever had for a couples portraits was SEVEN minutes.  From beginning to end.  SEVEN minutes to capture a lifetime of love and memories.  Do you want to know why we had seven minutes???

They didn’t trust us.

They didn’t trust us when we told them that there was a better way to plan their wedding timeline so that they could have plenty of time for the the most important pictures of the day (bride & groom) AND for hanging out with their friends.  They didn’t trust when we told them that the time given to us for capturing the details of their STUNNING wedding was not sufficient to capture everything in the way they would want want to see it.  Just to give you a little glimpse, they spent $45,000 on the flowers alone and all the time we could squeeze out for one person to capture the decor was 15-20 minutes.  This couple was one of the most beautiful, in love couples we’ve ever seen (and they are awesome!) and their day was spectacular…but oh how sad we were that we didn’t have more of the magic ingredient, time, to truly capture more depth of their love.  That boiled down to trust.

Trust is one of the most important elements in creating successful wedding photography.  As well meaning as they are, many times, the client has not thought through or experienced the wedding in the same way that we have.  There is a pre-concieved idea about how things will be and look and flow, but the reality of it is that weddings operate differently than most people think they do!

Here are three specific areas where we see many misconceptions—and why we ask clients to trust our vision, our experience, and our expertise instead:

1)One picture of a place setting is fine. You don’ t need to take time to photograph the decor.”   Respectfully, you have put time, effort and sleepless nights into planning every detail of your soiree! The wedding day goes by soooo fast, that there are things that you have worked on that you won’t even get to see.  Our job is to tell the story of your event…and that includes the details that you have wrestled and slaved over.  We want to tell the WHOLE story, which means taking time to capture the details.  When you get your wedding pictures back, you will be browsing through and find yourself saying “Oh yeah..I forgot about that!” and you will be happy.  You’ll be able to hand your wedding album to your kids and grandkids one day and THEY will be able to see the story of the whole day for themselves.  One picture of the decor just won’t tell the story.  I’ve seen weddings where the photograph only gets one or two or three pictures…and the clients (and designer) were very sad. Trust us, it’s worth the time.

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2) I only want pictures of us and our parents.”   I understand the good intentions in the statement.  You don’t want to waste time with unnecessary pictures and are trying to limit the photo time so that you can enjoy the party with your friends and family (this is assuming you didn’t see each other beforehand).   I completely understand.  In some cases those few pictures are absolutely plausible. However, I will tell you that in the majority of cases, when I send over the list of possible picture options to you, there will be pictures that you didn’t think of having that you will want.  How often do you get dressed up beautifully with your whole family around? How many more special chances will you have to take a picture with Grandma? And what happens more often than not –this is a special day for other people too.  Your parents will likely want a picture of your immediate family with your new spouse, even if you don’t.  They may even want a picture with THEIR siblings that they don’t get to see very often.  Keep in mind that weddings are very similar to family reunions…you rarely see all of the same people in the same place.  Yes, you can limit the pictures, but please trust me when I tell you that you are most likely going to end up doing more than three pictures.

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Here is Kevin surrounded by his five girl cousins, whom he hasn’t seen together in a very long time!

3) ***  “We don’t want to see each other before the wedding.” *** Please hear me out before you click away! We get it! We really do!  All your life or your groom’s life, you’ve dreamed of that moment where your eyes meet as she’s coming up the aisle towards you and you’re swept away by her beauty.  You think that aisle moment will be less special if you’ve seen each other beforehand. You think that it will take away from the intimacy and beauty of the day.  OR it could be simply that you haven’t seen it done any other way and don’t know about the options.  We have done hundreds of wedding and would you believe me if I told you it makes the day even more special if you see each other beforehand??? I’ll tell you why emotionally and then mathematically for all you who need proof.

Emotionally:

Seeing each other at the aisle: The groom is waiting at the front, the doors swing open and there is the beautiful bride.  The groom gets to see her at the same time as all of the other guests.  Damion is trying to go back and forth between capturing the bride coming down the aisle at a distance and capturing the groom close up. He can’t capture two different directions at the same time, so he is alternating…and has to miss some moments.  The groom’s reaction is beautiful, but still held back because of the other people starting at him waiting for the tear or “the look”.  The bride joins him at the front. He whispers “you look beautiful.” No time for a hug. No time for a kiss. The ceremony moves forward and you must move with it.  He glances sneak peeks at her but has to listen to what the officiant is saying at the same time.  No time to drink her beauty in. You get married (yeah!), you kiss, you move into pictures straight away.  You have a long list of pictures to do with both sides of the family and bridal party because you haven’t been able to do them together prior to the ceremony. You then have about 15-20 minutes for your bride & groom portraits (and the only time you will be alone for the whole day!) You miss your cocktail hour and hanging out with your friends and head straight into dinner.

First Look:  The groom is waiting with his back to you.  Damion & Julie have been communicating by radio, so we bring the bride right to him. It’s just the four of us (Damion, Julie, bride, and groom) in a private location.  There is no one else watching.  When we’re ready and have one camera focused on capturing the groom’s true instant reaction and one focused on the bride, we let you know.  You walk up to the groom and snuggle up to him to let him know you’re there.  He turns and sees you for the first time.  He experiences his true reaction…usually shock and awe.  You embrace, you kiss, you soak each other in and absorb every detail.  You give him a turn in your dress so he can see everything. You show him your shoes. You laugh together and talk about how nervous you are.  Your nerves go away.  We give you a moment to yourselves because we know that the next few minutes will be the only time you will be alone today.  We then take the next 45 minutes to do the most important pictures of the day…the bride and groom.  When you part after that, you know that the very next time you see your beloved at the end of the aisle, you’ll be getting married! You are ready! You get married (yeah!), take a few extended family photos for 15-20 minutes and then…go enjoy your friends at your cocktail hour!

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For those of you who need good solid mathematical proof, I will lay out our “ideal” timeline here so that you can see statistically that planning your day in this way is just smarter!

Seeing each other at the aisle: (squeezing most important pictures of the day into the smallest amount of time)

12:30  Damion & Julie arrive for prep

1:15-2:00 Portraits–Bride, Bride Family, Bridesmaids

2:00-2:45 Portraits-Groom, Groom Family, Groomsmen

2:45 Bride tucked away & guests arrive

3:30 Ceremony

4:00 Ceremony ends

4:00-4:40 Repeat Family Photos with spouse (i.e. we previously did bride’s immediate family, but now we have to do bride’s immediate family + groom), Extended Family  & Entire Bridal Party

4:40-5:00 Bride & Groom Portraits

5:00 Dinner

 

First Look: (most important pictures of the day get largest amount of time)

12:00  Damion & Julie arrive for prep

12:45-1:45 First Look and Bride & Groom Portraits

1:45-2:45 ALL Bridal Party & Family Portraits

2:45 Bride tucked away & guests arrive

3:30 Ceremony

4:00 Ceremony ends

4:00-4:20  Extended Family Portraits

4:20-5:00 Bride & Groom attend cocktail hour and mingle with guests

5:00 Dinner

Joel & Nadine

 

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Caity & Steve
Caity & Steve

All of these misconceptions are easily addressed, it’s just a matter of understanding the world of weddings and trusting the experts that you have chosen to make your day THE BEST DAY POSSIBLE!!  Truthfully, Damion & I did not see each other before we got married, but oh how we wish we had.  We would have done things so differently now.  We have never had a couple regret making the choice to see each other first, though we have had those who didn’t want to do a First Look and later wished they had!

Trust is the 4th secret ingredient of our recipe for success!

If you missed the first 3 installments of this series, here are the links:

Selecting the Right Clients

Your Team

Time

 

 

 

 

 

L e t s   S o c i a l i z e