June 6, 2018

It’s Wedding Season! Top Tips from a Polaroid Wedding Photographer

Article submitted to the Polaroid Originals Magazine by Maree Hamilton.

It’s safe to say that photographer Alisha Siegel is at home behind the lens. Whether it’s her favorite Rolleiflex camera or a DSLR, she has a knack for capturing people in their most expressive and tender moments. This talent, honed through years of training, becomes especially important in her current line of work: wedding photography. Siegel travels internationally to shoot engagement and wedding sessions, everywhere from Cuba to Chicago, and sat down with us to talk Polaroid wedding ideas and why analog film still makes a big mark.

How did you get started as a professional wedding photographer, and how long have you been doing it?

I don’t think there was ever an official “start date” but when I had a corporate job in my New York City years, I always kept is as a serious passion on the side. Eventually, people started noticing my blog posts and Instagram page, and my confidence slowly started to build. Then, in 2014, I got laid off from my job and instead of looking for a new one I just decided to go for photography full time. I haven’t looked back since! It was a slow grind in the beginning, but I think I was able to live off of photo full time by the beginning of 2016. Glad my waitress and babysitting days are behind me…

What’s one of your favorite weddings you’ve ever shot, and why was it so special?

There are too many to count, but I think my favorite was a wedding I did in Chicago at Antique Taco. The couple was so insanely cool and laid back and had such a unique wedding day. It was when I realized I can attract the type of couples I want by the vibe I give off. Shortly after this wedding, I ended up moving to Chicago and have become very very close friends with the couple. So I think that makes it extra special for me.

How long have you been shooting with instant film and cameras?

Well, I was trained on film cameras so shooting with instant film just feels so natural to me. I got my first instant camera about 3 years ago, and I pretty much take it everywhere I go.

What do you like most about incorporating analog film into wedding and engagement shoots?

I love that couples have something other then just digital files to look back on. Something about analog film makes it look timeless and adds this unique point of view when they look back on the images. It’s been amazing to see these photos up on their fridges, in their bedrooms, around their houses, like a permanent reminder of what a special day it was. I worry that not all my couples print their digital files, but with analog film, I know it’s making a mark.

What are some unique wedding reception ideas you have for couples who want to use instant film and cameras after the ceremony?

Well first I tell them, “DO IT!” And then the important thing is to just have enough around and visible to guests so that they interact with the cameras. You have to make it an activity for people. It’s a fun wedding party idea especially at cocktail hour when the light is usually in its prime, and people are just standing around drinking or eating. It adds this whole other special element to it.

How have you seen couples and wedding guests react to having Polaroid cameras and film at their events?

First, I always have an older gentleman say “Polaroid! Is that making a comeback?! I haven’t seen one of those in years!” I also watch people gravitate towards the camera immediately once they see other people using it. It’s definitely a domino effect type of thing where once everyone sees how awesome the images come out, they all want to get their hands on it.

What are some shooting tips you have for getting better Polaroid photos at a wedding, or at the reception?

Definitely have the film out and unpacked and ready to go. That way people can continue to use the cameras to their full advantage. Also I’d say to keep the flash on and don’t have your subjects too far away or too close up. Once you get the right depth of field, the photos start to become magical. A lot of people start shaking them right after they come out, so you have to remind them that Outkast was wrong with his song and you shouldn’t shake them like a Polaroid picture. Best thing to do is stick it in your suit pocket or bag to keep it unexposed while the photo is developing.

When you talk to the couples you work with about using instant film, what kind of creative wedding ideas do you give them?

I always say it’s such a great alternative vantage point. I mean, no one made up rules saying you can only have one lead photographer shooting digital at your wedding. If you’re looking for something different, something fun, and something your guests can be a part of, then instant film is the perfect avenue to go down. And you can go beyond Polaroid photo booths, which can be restricted to only using one corner of the space, and organically incorporate it into your day in this fun way.

Check out more of Alisha’s wedding adventures on her blog, or follow her on Instagram.

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