Text by David Phipps
Photos by Kaitlyn Phipps Photography

From the oldest surviving permanent photograph of an image formed in a camera by the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 or 1827 to today’s coffee-table style albums and scrapbooks or technology-compact flash drives, photos have captured historical feats and special moments for a couple centuries. Weddings and vacations certainly are among the top photo ops, documenting new marriages and family fun across generations.

With its myriad wineries, rural landscapes, rivers, forests, valleys and cool college campuses, the New River Valley continues to be a popular location for hosting wedding ceremonies and receptions. For everyone from people who grew up here or moved here to Radford University and Virginia Tech students who call this place “home” for a while, the NRV presents many beautiful places to celebrate such an important day. In addition, documenting the events has expanded in four currently trending photo occasions.

First-Look: A portrait session that the bride and groom share with their photographer occurs before the ceremony. This is certainly a break from the tradition of a groom seeing his bride for the first time when she walks the aisle, but intimacy is not lost. In fact, a First-Look is designed to allow the couple an intimate, quiet, relaxed time together, something they may not get for the rest of the day. For the people whose palms begin to sweat at the thought of everyone sharing your initial reaction to seeing your soon-to-be spouse for the first time, this is for you. During a First-Look, the groom is strategically positioned in a secluded, unique location at or near the venue. As he stares off into the open air, he waits for his bride to tap him on the shoulder. He turns and is candidly awestruck at the sight of his bride-to-be. Some couples opt to share notes or a prayer during this time.

First-Looks are a great way for couples to begin, then enjoy, the entire wedding day. Not only do First-Looks allow a couple to have a secluded portrait session, but they also help the rest of the day run seamlessly. Instead of rushing to squeeze portraits in between the ceremony and doing family formal pictures and getting to the reception, the most important pictures are already done.

Engagement Photos: There was a time when newly engaged couples simply announced their big news in the newspaper, by word of mouth and via e-mail or Facebook. Then during the wedding planning, they would choose a photographer for the Big Day. Today it is second nature for a newly engaged couple to choose a photographer also for an engagement shoot.

This pre-wedding fun event gives the couple and their photographer an opportunity to get to know each other. The photographer learns their personalities and style, if they are the outdoorsy types or prefer a grand staircase or historical or campus setting. This way, the wedding day isn’t the first time for the photographer to decide how best to capture their unique charisma and dynamics. Everyone can be more comfortable and confident come wedding day. Secondly, engagement prints are popular bridal shower and wedding reception decorations. Following their engagement shoot, a couple can purchase albums, small or large prints and canvases. Everything from hanging their favorite prints in the lobby, to having guests sign their album, engagement photos are an essential part of wedding photography.

Electronic Delivery: Most wedding photographers use online galleries to store and deliver images. The most common system used may be PASS. Once the photographer is finished editing a shoot, s/he uploads the images to an online gallery. A link to the gallery is sent to the client with an explanation of how to access the pictures. The client has the option of keeping it password-protected or making it public. One advantage is the ability to order prints of any size with a simple click. Photos ordered from PASS galleries are of high quality and affordable. Images are stored securely rather than on a CD or USB which can get damaged or misplaced, and couples no longer have to worry about losing wedding photo files when their computer crashes.

Photo booths: These are rentals akin to the photo booth of yore where 4 candid shots were purchased for a quarter. Often found in corner drug stores and malls (and there’s one locally at Macado’s), these are moving into wedding reception halls for everyone to document his or her attendance by photo. Others have a photographer on hand with a board participants can look through with graphics which may surround them like goofy characters, a picket fence or a Star Wars scene. Photo booths can capture much of the fun and excitement of the event, plus give your guests their own little pictures of celebrating your wedding day.

David Phipps is a Radford University graduate student and an RU intern at New River Valley Magazine. He is majoring in English, and his wife is proprietor of Kaitlyn Phipps Photography.