Gerard Tomko: Fine Art Wedding Photography

I get to experience a lot of wedding photographers, but rarely do I meet one as humble, funny and talented as Jerry Tomko. After 25+ years in this business, very little blows me away anymore. His work does.

To hear Jerry tell it, “I just do what I do.”  Um,did I say humble? Heck, he won’t even post his many award winning images on his website!  Uh, no my friend, what you do is fine art photography meets fashion photography like I haven’t seen before.

Take a look for yourself. All of the images are linked to the original post on Jerry’s blog. Check it out and send him some Dish love.


This is from the wedding that Jerry shot for the VH-1 reality series, “My Big Friggin’ Wedding!”

This is also from Alyssa & Tyler’s VH1 wedding. I love what this image says about the couple.

This is perhaps my favorite wedding image of all time. It just screams, “Anna Karenina”The size limitations of this blog don’t do it justice. Click the image to see it on Jerry’s blog.

Jerry isn’t for the couple that just want a record of their wedding. His is the bride that sees the art in the finest photography and understand that to capture it on this one day, that is all that matters. You can view Jerry’s website at Gerard


Meet the Creatives: The Story Keeper

René Dille is one of those rare photographers whose style is so unique and amazing that hers easily stands out from the crowd. Her images are light and border on ethereal. It doesn’t matter if she is captuing a wedding or yesterday’s lunch, her style is unmistakable.  That talent  is what makes her images more art then mere photographic records. If you are in Orange County, CA, you can’t find a better  person to capture your day and keep your story. {psst…I bet she travels}

Well you know me, I just had to know more. Read below to see what René can tell you about finding and getting your own unique style for your wedding images.

The Story Keeper
Anaheim Hills, CA

Me: Rene, your style is fresh and light.  I read that you make a conscience effort with this.  How would you describe what sets your images apart?

Well, I think it takes a few things working in harmony to create a “look” that the viewer associates with the artist.  It’s how we look at things.  How we see them.  And what we want to communicate to the viewer.  Unlike writers, we have to use a visual cue to tell you what we are seeing; to make you feel it too.  Unlike a videographer, that visual cue must be a single image.  Because of the limitations of our media, that one image has to be powerful.  I think of it a little like haiku.

Since I shoot primarily weddings, my style is light.  I use a light hand when I shoot images, and when I process them.  Weddings are fun.  They are well-rehearsed, yet spontaneous.  The lightness of the day is infectious.  My goal when I process the images is to convey that lightness.

Me: As you view other portfolios do you find it true that the better photographers have developed a style all there own or are you unique in this?

I think the “better photographers” know who they are.  They have healthy egos.  They have figured out how to tell you what they saw in, not only in the way they capture a moment, but prepare that moment for it to be viewed.  Some use bright colors and saturation.  Some use contrast and shadows.  They all tell you a story.  Their work often tells you as much about them as their subjects.
There has been a lot of talk in the photographic industry about the liquidation of style; of photographers copying off each other’s papers.  But I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate; at least not to other artists.  So much of what we put into our work is uniquely our own, that it’s nearly impossible to truly copy.  The really good photographers out there don’t try to make their images look a certain way.  They can’t help but make them look a certain way.  It’s their signature.

Me:Could you give my readers some tips on how to figure out what style appeals most to them and how to convey that to their photographer?

I would tell your readers the same thing I tell brides every day.  I don’t have to tell you what to look for.  You have eyes.  You know what you like.  It doesn’t matter who took it.  It doesn’t matter how well-known the photographer is.  It doesn’t matter whom they’ve photographed.  All that matters is how you feel when you look at their images.

When you look at a single image of theirs, do you understand what the photographer was feeling?  Do you know how the subject was feeling?  Moreover, if you look at an entire album created by that photographer, what do you feel about the wedding?  Are you looking at pretty pictures?  Or do you feel like you were there?  Can you smell the flowers?  Taste the cake?  Feel the sun?  Hear the music?  If you can answer “yes” to just one of these, the artist has done their job.  If you can answer “yes” to all of these, then this is the photographer for you.

To better understand more about a creative, it helps to know how they got where they are and a bit of their philosophy.

I’ve been photographing weddings in Anaheim Hills with my husband Jay since 1987.  We started out shooting medium format film cameras.  It was a completely different world then.  Because we were unable to see what we were creating while we were creating it, the learning curve was sharp.  You had to know what light would do, and what film wouldn’t.  You had to know what would add and what would subtract light; and more importantly, why to do it.

It was also very expensive to press the shutter release; at least a couple bucks for each click.  Because of that, photographers had to learn to wait.  We couldn’t just shoot.  We had to wait for the moment to completely unfold.  Too quick and you missed it.  Too late and you missed it.  Sometimes I think it was the very best way to learn photography, and more importantly to learn wedding photography.  Because we learned to shoot “blind,” we aren’t encumbered today by the same rituals that newer photographers deal with………….specifically, the need to flip their camera over to see the exposure they just shot.  So often THE shot is the one right after the one you just took.  Look at the back, and you miss the “real” shot.

We went digital about seven years ago.  It was tough to change tracks, but it opened up a whole new world to me.  It opened up endless possibilities to further perfect the story I wanted to tell.  Post processing gave me that freedom.  No longer shackled to the retouching artists at the lab, I could interpret the images I had captured in the way I meant for them to be seen.

And yes, I went through the same missteps I think most of us did during that transition.  We all felt the need to kick up the contrast to unimaginable levels.  The saturation slider in Photoshop was at once my best friend and worst enemy.  We did some pretty odd blurry things to our pictures in the name of art.  By, like most pros who have been around for a long time, I finally settled into my style about five years ago.

Now I think of post-processing and retouching much like I think of makeup……………if you’re good, you almost can’t see it.  I think a heavy hand is your worst enemy.  I still want it to look like you………just better.  I still want the story told, I just want the viewer to see it a little more clearly.

Custom Invitations by My Personal Artist

Meet the Creatives
So many of the people I know in the wedding industry are here because it is the outlet for their creativity. I thought it would be fun to start showcasing some of this amazing talent that surrounds us.

Michelle Miller Mospens

If you are a lover of beautiful watercolor art you are going to love the personalized invitations from Michelle’s company My Personal Artist.
It is a known fact that I am both an art lover and a paper fanatic, for me, that all comes together in Michelle’s incredible work.  Michelle hand paints these beautiful invitation with either her designs or ones she has created just for you. I can’t think of a more beautiful way to invite your guests than by sending them a piece of custom created art.
Even if you are a DIY bride, you can order Michelle’s beautiful work as the base to print your own invitations on.
You can check it all out here at Michelle’s site  My Personal ArtistMyPersonalArtistPhoto

1.Where do you find your inspiration, I mean besides client requests?
My eyes. No matter what I see (a dress, a plant, a color, etc.) I create an invitation motif in my mind immediately. It never leaves me. I’ve been designing invitations and stationery for 11 years it is second nature to me.

2. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love making my clients happy with my artwork and designs. Many clients are deeply connected with the theme of my artwork.

3. I ran a recent discussion about what wedding professionals wish brides know about what they did. In that vein, what one misconception would you clear up if you could?
I would say KEEP IT SIMPLE. Most questions I have they look too deeply into it. I guess they think it is more difficult than it actually is. For instance, “do-it-yourself invitations you print at home”. Super easy and saves money. Most brides I talk to don’t realize you simply pop my “art print” cards in your printer and print your wording directly on them. Super simple.

4. Yes I really do love your art. Do you have a fine art collection? If so, where can we see it/love/ buy it??
Thank you for your kind words. I’ve been asked that question more than I can count the past 11 years. As of today ONLY ONE couple in Texas owns 1 of my paintings. I recently bought several large canvases and paints. I’m ready. Where to sell? I’m thinking I do have reserved to showcase my paintings in the future! Time will tell!
Keep us posted Michelle. I would love some of your work for my walls!

How to Choose a Photographer(s)

One of my favorite photography teams is Gray Photography.

Zach & Jody Gray

Zach & Jody Gray

Jody and Zach Gray not only have amazing talent behind the lens but are just a lot of fun to be around. If you want to help insure that you have fun and laugh through your wedding day take these tips from Jody to heart.

How to Choose a Photographer(s)

by Jody Gray

Have you ever been a part of a wedding and you’ve seen this guy as the photographer?

What Not to Hire!

What Not to Hire!

First few thoughts that come to mind:
No Fun
These photos are going to stink
This is going to be the worst and longest day of my life

Quite a few years back, I (Jody) remember being in a wedding where everyone was on edge and tense all because of one person who was making the day quite unbearable… I’m sure you can guess the role the person had at this wedding – The Photographer!

Sometimes a bride underestimates the importance of having her wedding photographer be one who she “clicks” with (pun fully intended). A wedding is the one of the most special and personal days of your life, and the last person a bride wants capturing her day is Mr. Crabby-Photographer-I-Yell-At-Everyone-All-Day.

Let us, as photographers give you one word of advice – Make sure you click with your photographers!!

Yes, it is VERY important that you like their shooting style, and that they can actually shoot a wedding, but please do not forget about liking them as a person! Your photographer (or photographers in our case 🙂 )will be with you at the most intimate and emotional times of your wedding day, and the last thing a bride wants to feel is uncomfortable because her creepy photographer is well, creepy, and mean as well.

Let your wedding be fun and a joy, and by choosing a photographer who you click with, you’ll feel as if you have your friends right along with you capturing your day, and the images will be all the much better!
Questions to Ask Yourself to Find the Photographer(s) to ‘Click’ With

1. Do they have a creep factor?
2. Is this someone I can see myself hanging out with and sharing my wedding day with?
3. Have they shown an interest in me as a person and not just asked questions about our budget?

Ask for a few bride/coordinator references to get the real down-low of how the photographer was their wedding day

*Please keep in mind that we are not saying you have to find a photographer who has to be Best Friend Potential… simply someone you feel comfortable with!

Brides are really fortunate these days to have a many wedding photographers available for them to choose from. As a bride, don’t be afraid to have high expectations and to really go after what you are wanting. Let the picking process begin!

Love Your Photographer

Love Your Photographer

Be sure to check out Zach and Jody’s website and for more tips on your wedding read thier blog. Here at the Dish we just love Jody’s sense of humor so hopefully she will keep guest blogging.

Choosing Your Wedding Album Pictures

Guest blogger Kathy Ziegler is back with more of her wonderful insight on photography for your wedding.

I’m always asked by my brides how to choose the images for their album. My suggestion is to make it about the story of your wedding day, make sure there are lots of pix of you & your new husband, not a collection of face forward family pictures; you can always put those in frames around the house. The way to do that is to choose the more candid, camera unaware pictures & use transitional images as you move from one part of your wedding day to another. We’ll help you get some of those more candid looks, even as we do posed pictures, no worries. And you know that’s your Mom, even if it’s the side of her face!

Set the scene with some getting ready images &/or your venue’s details, use images of you & your wedding party or parents walking places or getting in & out of cars or limos. Use the images that cause you to feel great emotion either because they are of the special people in your life giving you a hug or, it’s the most beautiful or fun picture you’ve ever had of yourself, or maybe it’s gorgeous lighting that draws you in. Be sure to include the pretty details you worked so hard on & make your last image have impact or the ahhhh factor.

This is why it’s important to avoid looking the camera but play to it as well; it makes for great, unobtrusive storytelling pictures to use. Read the last article about “Getting that Photojournalistic Look”. Your photographer is always willing to let you know the stunners you should probably not forget to include, take their advice for the best results.

Kathy Ziegler has been a successful wedding photographer for 12 happy years in San Diego. She recently moved East to enjoy the beauty of Mt Juliet Tennessee with her loveable husband of 19 years & her 2 dogs & 2 horses. Her work is fresh, fun, classy & timeless.

Getting that Photojournalistic Look

Kathy is the first in my run of guest bloggers. I thought you might like to hear the musings of some of my wedding industry friends.

It seems that every bride wants that photojournalistic look for her wedding day images. Who wouldn’t, they tell the story so eloquently & evoke so much more emotion than “camera aware” images. One thing I do to try to help my brides accomplish that is to send them these “last minute pointers”, since most aren’t models.

Photojournalistic shot of Smiling Bride

Photojournalistic shot of Smiling Bride

Avoid looking directly at the camera whenever you feel it on you. If we want some of you looking into the camera we will ask for that too. Be playful & show lots of emotion & these pictures will sing. You may feel silly but that will just make you laugh & those pictures will be great too.

EXPRESSION IS EVERYTHING IN PICTURES!! Laugh, cry, look into each others eyes & touch each other to show your connections to the people you love. Especially during those candid times where you may be walking with family, or your wedding party, or putting on your dress – look happy even if you may be more nervous than you ever dreamed possible.

When you come down the aisle, coming & going, look at your family & friends or each other, not your photographer! During your ceremony, look at each other with that love or nervous laughter you feel. When you make your entrance into your reception, show your joy by holding your arms up together in celebration or look at your friends or each other.

Bottom line…….have fun & celebrate your love!!!!

Beautiful Bride in Quiet Moment

Beautiful Bride in Quiet Moment

Kathy Ziegler has been a successful wedding photographer for 12 happy years in San Diego. She recently moved East to enjoy the beauty of Mt Juliet Tennessee with her loveable husband of 19 years & her 2 dogs & 2 horses. Her work is fresh, fun, classy & timeless.

She is also pretty darn modest, she didn’t even mention that little “Best of The Knot” badge on her website when she sent her bio. Gotta love her! You can find out more about Kathy and view her portfolio on her website.

Captured Emotion at a Wedding Toast

Captured Emotion at a Wedding Toast

Wedding Shadowbox

I was cruising through my blogroll this morning and stumbled on an interesting post by Mrs. Bell Pepper over at Wedding Bee. If you are not familiar, Wedding Bee is a great blog written by a large variety of brides to be and recent brides. The Bee’s take you through every gory little detail of their planning and post wedding tasks. It can be a bit of a task to keep up with because there are SO many posts but I always find something interesting and a lot of good DIY ideas.

Today I found a post about Wedding Shadowboxes. It is a great idea to preserve the memorabilia of your wedding. I spent some time searching for some other examples and came to a conclusion. If you want a brilliant shadowbox you have to plan in advance.

The more I looked the more boring shadowboxes I found. What is great about the one Mrs. Bell Pepper did is the scope of objects she included.

If you like the idea of preserving and showing off the memories of all the hard work you have put in on planning your wedding you should start from the very beginning.

Keep a box and a note pad with your wedding planning stuff. Toss into the box any bits and bobs that you think might provoke memories. Not just the pretty things either. How about that hole punch that nearly drove you to insanity at 4 in the morning as you tried to finish your escort cards? This is as much about memories as it is about pretty.

Use the pad to write down things you want to remember to set aside from the day itself. For instance you may want someone to get a great shot of the signature cocktail you created or a label from the wine you chose, maybe the cork from the bottle of champagne you toasted with. It’s the little things that will bring back memories in years to come.

Have fun creating an heirloom that you can enjoy for all the years to come.

Notes From Lunch

I had lunch today with a photographer friend David Wright and Renee Maddison producer of Weddings The Bridal Show. They gave me some interesting 411 on a couple of things.

We got to talking about if couples should see each other before the ceremony. We all know that tradition says you should wait for the ceremony, but is that the answer for today’s couples? David was telling me that one of his recent grooms thanked him for encouraging them to meet before the actual ceremony for pictures. The groom was afraid that if he had waited for the moment his bride walked down the aisle he would have gotten too emotional in front of all the guests. As it was, they had a calm, private very personal moment that they will always remember. Renee said the same thing happened to her at her wedding last year. She and her sweetie Doug were cool as cucumbers at the ceremony. What a great idea.
The other thing David said is that doing the pictures before the ceremony gives your photographer the time needed to really be creative. If you wait until after everyone is rushing to get to the reception before the guests get restless. Rather than being creative it turns from a beautiful portrait to a mere photographic record. David also clued me in that a good photographer only need 45 minutes to be fabulous. A really good one can make magic in as little as 20.

Renee has some exciting things in store for the July 30th show at the Nashville Convention Center. Lots of tie-ins to her Dream Wedding theme. It sound like this show will be even more information packed then usual. She has some wonderful seminars planned on the main stage, including one by yours truly on putting together a storyboard for your wedding.The full schedule will be in the upcoming wedding section in the Nashville Scene. I can’t wait.

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