Tag Archives: Photograph

Wedding Music – More First Dance Songs

13 Aug

I enjoy writing these music posts… as a photographer’s assistant for Roberto Farren Photography, I’m often involved in logistics, people, and details.  However it’s the speeches and the music that are often what really sets the tone for the celebration, makes people slow down, and more often than not, tear up. Here are a few more of my ever-growing list of top first dance songs:

  • For once in my life, Stevie Wonder – There are easily a dozen Stevie Wonder songs that could have made this list, but this one is my fave, partly because it was my sister’s first dance song, but also because it’s happy, it’s fun, and it’s easy to dance to. This song reminds me of someone that feels like they absolutely won first prize when they met their partner, and is totally unashamed of shouting it out.
  • She’s got a way, Billy Joel – Every once in a while, you get a couple that decides that one will choose the first dance song and surprise the other. If it’s a bride being surprised, this is a classic. From Billy Joel’s first album, ‘She’s got a way’ is a less peppy but very honest and loving song, and it’s a wonderful dedication to your partner as a first dance.
  • Make you feel my love, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Adele, Garth Brooks, Shawn Colvin, Neil Diamond, etc – A song that works for any couple, regardless of what type of music you like! Not everyone is a fan of Bob Dylan’s singing voice, but it is undeniable that he is one of the best songwriters ever, and gosh, does he nail it with this song. This song isn’t about standing on the roof shouting, it’s about sitting together, holding hands, and looking into each other’s eyes. The lyrics reflect traditional wedding vows, and detail all the ways you would be there for each other as you enter your marriage.  And if you aren’t a fan of the gravelly rasp in Dylan’s later tunes, you’ve got a whole host of alternatives to check out!

And now that those three are up, three more have popped into my head… more to come!

Thanks for reading,


Don’t forget to ‘Like’ Roberto Farren Photography on Facebook.


Engagement photos: Do I need them?

26 Jun


Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography

…Just kidding.  But the rest of this post is going to be a longer version of ‘yes’.  Getting engagement photos, in addition to giving you and your spouse-to-be the opportunity to have some really wonderful portraits of the two of you in normal clothes, is important for a number of reasons.

Roberto Farren Photography

A shot from Nicole and Shane’s relaxed engagement shoot in Boston’s Public Gardens.

  • It’s your wedding photography test drive.  There are plenty of posts and lists of things you should run through when deciding on your wedding photographer.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here, but once you DO decide on a photographer, take advantage of the opportunity to get out there and work together.  See how the shots come out… if they’re exactly what you dreamed they’d be, awesome.  If they’re close, but maybe a little different than what you were hoping for, give honest feedback.  If they’re way off the mark, cut and run.  You don’t want the added stress during your wedding that your big day might not be captured in the way you imagined.  Your wedding is a massive investment of time, money and effort on your part, make sure you’re getting what you want.
  • I can’t stress this enough, but use the opportunity to establish a rapport.  Your wedding is probably (definitely) going to be on a tight schedule, and you’ll be nervous, excited, (insert 100 other emotions here) and probably surrounded by about a hundred people who want your attention.  Get used to communicating with your photographer, and let them get used to working with you.  There’s a lot more to amazing wedding photography than an expensive camera and a pretty backdrop.  Banter, posing, and keeping the couple happy are hugely important to making you feel relaxed and beautiful in front of the camera (and if I do say so myself, these are some of Roberto Farren’s strengths).
  • Learn how to werk.  Unless you’re a model, you probably don’t know how to pose, and it’s totally not as easy as it looks.  Working as a photographer’s assistant, I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard Roberto tell his couples “feels weird, looks great” to reassure them while posing for their engagement or wedding photography.  For example, while the ladies out there might know some basics (weight on your back leg, etc), did you know that tipping your chin up and leaning forward towards the camera may make you feel like this llama, but it reduces any potential for double chins, elongates your neck, and makes you look a scientifically proven 62% hotter*?
Roberto Farren Photography

A sweet moment during Sara and Brian’s engagement session in the North End of Boston.

These are a few key reasons why you should definitely, definitely invest in those engagement photos.  Apart from being a great learning experience for you and your betrothed, it’s always awesome to have some wonderful photographs of the one that you love during one of the most exciting times in your relationship.

Thanks for reading,


Roberto Farren Photography

* = not actually backed up by data or science

Shot lists and the Art of Squirrel Wrangling

19 Jun
Roberto Farren Photography

The complete bridal party at Cassandra and Sean’s recent wedding in Boston.

Oh, the shot list.  As a wedding photographer’s assistant, the shot list can be either my best friend or my worthy adversary.  This list of all the portraits and photos that the newly married couple want with specific groups and sub-groups of family and friends is often… how can I put this… logistically challenging.

Imagine trying to organize 45 excitable squirrels for their Squirrel family portrait.  Then add an open bar…or acorns, maybe acorns work better with this metaphor… and now you’re getting closer.

Before each wedding, I usually spend 30-45 minutes with the photographer carefully reorganizing the list of family portraits in order to move as seamlessly from one shot to the next.  A well-organized and well-executed shot list is my white whale, something I am always striving to reach, but rarely manage without tired feet and surprisingly ink-smudged hands.  We always get there in the end, but not without sacrificing a few sailors.

As it usually overlaps with cocktail hour, this is where I get my cardio workout in, as I’m shuttling continuously between the bar and the couple.  There is a lot of this: “Brother Squirrel, you are on deck, Brother Squirrel’s girlfriend, you are on double deck.  Then you are both stepping back out for a moment, but please don’t go too far, and we are going to add Parents of the Groom Squirrel… Does anyone know if Uncle Squirrel has headed back to the bar?”

And a lot of this: “Pardon me, Hi Uncle Squirrel… I’m assisting the photographer today.  The Bride and Groom have requested that you join them for a few family portraits… May I show you the way?  Yes, I’ll wait while you get a refill…”

It is always important to get the wedding shot list to your photographer in advance, and if possible, talk through the list together.  While your original list might be hundreds of photographs long, be realistic about time and about what shots are truly important to capture for you and your new spouse.

For example: A photograph with your aging grandmother, who helped to raise you and encouraged you throughout your education and career = KEEPER.  Photographs with each of your 27 third cousins (twice removed) who you met once in 1987 at a barbecue = Maybe worth considering as a group shot?

Some additional tips on creating the shot list for your wedding:
– Remember, YOU want to join the cocktail hour as well.  Plan accordingly, and think about shooting some of your family/friend photographs before the ceremony, after the meal, etc. Make sure you communicate this to your wedding photographer in advance.
– If you have the option, plan ahead and arrange for a waiter to bring a couple of beverages and a small selection of whatever yummy treats are being passed around for the newly-wedded couple.  Hungry people are not typically happy people.  Keep yourself happy, and it will shine through in your wedding photos.
– Give people a heads up if they’ll be involved in the group wedding photographs.  It allows them to reapply lipstick if needed, and also makes them easier to find for the photographer’s assistant.
– Ask a friend or relative to help point out relevant folks to the photographer’s assistant.  The assistant should always do the chasing, organizing, and arranging for portraits, but it expedites the process if they know who to chase, organize, arrange.
– Allot AT LEAST 5 minutes per shot.  That sounds like an abundance of minutes for a quick snap… but when you factor in rounding up everyone (including the cousin who has disappeared to the restroom, the father of the bride who has gone to the bar to entertain a work friend, and the aunt who has wandered away to take in the lovely view) you’d be surprised how quickly those 5 minutes will slip by.  Plus, let’s be honest… weddings are usually running a little bit late… Allotting a bit of extra time here will allow you to complete the required photographs, and might even let you catch up to your original schedule!
– Any uncomfortable family situations?  Hey, it happens.  If possible, give the photographer a subtle heads up in advance.  This day is about you, and you should surround yourself with people that you love.  Every so often, however, there might be a little bit of awkwardness to navigate.  Reduce your own stress by allowing the wedding photographer to subtly keep exes and tiffs away from each other and you whenever possible!

– The shot list should also include any must-have photos for your wedding day that are outside the obvious pictures that your photographer will be looking for.  Some of my favorite examples for the team at Roberto Farren Photography have covered some amazing moments, including a saber arch presented by the US Marine Corps brothers of the bride, a surprise serenade from the bride to her new husband, a wedding portrait at the historic bridge where the groom proposed, detail shots of the chuppah that was made from one of the groom’s grandmother’s only retained possessions when she fled Poland during World War II, and portraits of the newlyweds with their rascally (but much beloved) dogs.  (Sorry, it turns out I’ve got lots of favorites…)

Roberto Farren Photography

The bride’s US Marine Corps brothers & friends salute the newlyweds with a Saber Arch.

FINALLY: Don’t forget about the 2 most important people of the day!  Don’t overdo the group shots and lose out on shots of the newlyweds.  Be sure to arrange times for some portraits of the bride and groom, whether it is as a Sneak Peek, directly after the ceremony, or while your guests are enjoying the wedding meal.  In addition to these being some of the most important photographs of the day, it also gives you a few minutes of down time to connect in what is always a crazy, busy and wonderfully hectic day.

In the end, approach your shot list with the same mindset that you should approach anything in your wedding.  Ask for what you want, be honest and upfront about what is a “must-have”, but be realistic about what is doable given the time, the setting, and the squirrels involved.

Thanks for reading,


Welcome to ‘Assisting Bob’ – Roberto Farren Photography

17 Jun

My work life, while enjoyable and fulfilling to me, is not particularly exciting (at least on paper).  I have an educational/administrative role at a hospital whose clinicians and researchers are compassionate, dedicated, and at times, revolutionary.  I work Monday through Friday, 9:00-5:00 at a job I enjoy, but one that has nothing to do with weddings, photography, or charming Englishmen.

But on the weekends, I get to dabble in all three, as I assist my husband, Roberto Farren of Roberto Farren Photography as he photographs weddings throughout Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.

Roberto Farren Photography

The wind lent a hand for this stunning shot at Chris and Sara’s recent Boston wedding.

I’ve got little skill with the camera, but what I CAN do is organize humans.  In addition to superior upper body strength (stop laughing, I’m actually quite strong) and the ability to turn into a walking coat-rack when the bridesmaids get chilly, my role as the photographer’s assistant largely revolves around human wrangling.  I count down the minutes and seconds until aisle-time to allow for Roberto to have as many photographs as possible with the Bride before she becomes a “Mrs”.  I politely extract the best man from the bar when he is needed for photos.  I chase down cuff links for the groom so he has no chance of accidentally peeping his bride-to-be before the sneak peak.  I’ve also been known to bustle when the mother of the bride’s fingers are shaking too much to find the always-tiny buttons (“Hi, it’s nice to meet you, I’m Erin, and I’m assisting Roberto today… I’ll just be climbing under your dress for a moment….”).  I am the keeper of the shot list, the finder of elusive great aunts, and the soother of cranky babies.

I’ve made that sound a lot more important than it is, but I do love assisting.  I get to work with my husband, and watch him capture wonderful wedding photographs, which is a delight in itself.  As a wedding photographer, he sees things in ways that sometimes don’t even make sense to me.  His artistic eye is so unique that whether he is photographing families, landscapes, or wedding portraits, I am often overwhelmed by the difference between what I’m seeing with my own eyes, and what he can capture through his lens.

Roberto Farren Photography

Assisting during landscape photography usually involves patience, comfortable shoes, and insect repellent, but it’s worth it!

Most of the day, I won’t be directly needed, as Roberto gets into the zone and will only need me for the odd lens change or lighting assist.  This means that I get to spend a good deal of the wedding day people watching, and taking in the traditions, details, and happiness of the day.  I’ve cried happy tears at every single wedding that I’ve assisted (my record is six times in one wedding) and I am always struck at how lucky we are that, despite the stress and planning that is involved in many weddings, we get to work in an industry that celebrates love, happiness, and people that literally can’t live without each other.

This blog is going to touch a bit on wedding photography, but mostly I’ll be writing about the things that make me tear up, the wonderful diversity of wedding traditions we observe, and the moments that take my breath away at weddings.

Happy reading!


Roberto Farren Photography