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Category Archives: business & life

2014 was a good year!  It started out with a bang with destination weddings in New Orleans and Mexico and brought me and my team (thank you Mandi, Laura, and Jill!) all over Minnesota and New York.  We shot at the most beautiful locations and worked with incredible vendors who helped all of our sweet clients’ wedding day visions come to life.

And, just for fun, a look back at 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2009.

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  • Emilia Jane - What a stunning year! Cheers to you dear.

Just for fun, sometimes I carry my old-school 35mm film camera around in my tote.  This is a random collections of images I captured on that camera in Minneapolis and New York.  A few of the photos including the first and last, were taken from the observation deck of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis.  A former client-turned-friend was visiting from Boston, and she invited me to be a tourist with her for a day.  I couldn’t say no!  We had the observation deck all to ourselves and had fun taking pics and enjoying the views. I wish she lived closer so we could go on random adventures more often!

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Perhaps the most frequently asked question from brides is, “What time should we start pictures?” Or some variation of the same query. I understand the confusion. When I was planning my own wedding, I wondered the same thing. Photos were of utmost importance and I wanted to ensure that we had ample time to capture all of the pinterest-worthy moments I was dreaming of (side note: Pinterest was not yet invented back when I got married!). I work with all of my clients and their planners to create a customized timeline, but perhaps this will serve as a start for planning your day.

First a few ground rules:

1.  I really, really recommend hiring an experienced and professional planner.  They’ll deal with all the logistics on your wedding day, so you (or your families) don’t have to.

2. Plan for delays. Even the best-laid plans will encounter a few hiccups throughout the day. Maybe you’re like me- perfectionist (to a fault!!) and organized down to every last detail, but it’s hard to dictate all the many things beyond your control on your wedding day. Weather. Failed transportation. Ripped dresses.  Forgotten rings.  I’ve seen it all happen, but it doesn’t have to ruin your day. Not in the least!

3. Include transit time. Even if you’re not driving from location to location, organizing a bridal party or families and asking them to walk outside the venue takes time!

4. Plan in advance so you can enjoy your day. But when the day comes, let it all go. Your emotions will come through in your photos, so try not to stress and leave it up to the professionals you hired to make sure the day runs as smoothly as possible.  Your job is to get married and have the time of your life!

So, let’s start from square one.

This time of day is perhaps my favorite. I love the anticipation as the couple preps for one of the biggest days of their lives. It’s so important, I plan to do a separate blog post just for this! If this time is important to you too, it’s crucial to allow adequate time. I recommend 60-90 minutes. My second shooter, assistant, and I always make sure to arrive well before our scheduled start time, and when the start time comes, we’ve already scouted locations, have found the best lighting, and we are ready to shoot. We typically start with detail shots- and it takes time to stage all those shots of your meticulously planned details. We get shots of the dress hanging, the shoes, the veil, the rings, the jewelry, the bouquets, the invitation suite and any other paper goods. We get scene-setting shots of the exterior and the location. We aim to capture details of everything to really set the scene for your day. After and/or while we’re capturing details, my second shooter and I split off- her to capture the groom prepping, while I stay to document the bride. When possible, I recommend that the bridesmaids and mothers dress before you so they’re looking polished and pretty for photos of you getting into your dress.

If we have a few minutes to spare before the first look- I love to capture a few portraits of the bride, freshly made up!

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In planning your timeline, we’ll discuss when we’re going capture the portrait photos. For many couples, we do this before the ceremony.  Often times, it just makes sense logistically.  Some couples want to enjoy their cocktail hour.  Some want to calm pre-ceremony jitters. Whatever the reasoning, if you opt to see each other before the ceremony, we’ll set up a special “first look.”  Prior to your wedding day, we’ll discuss the perfect location and my team will set this up in a way that allows us to capture your emotions and reactions at that exact moment. After clicking away, we can slip away for a few moments, so the two of you can share private time together- perhaps one of the few opportunities on your wedding day.

Laura Ivanova Photography | Laura Ivanova Photography |

This is another favorite time of day for me. Portraits are my favorite, and I aim to keep them lighthearted and fun. I’d rather see you interacting with each other vs forcing posed smiles. But I’ll still guide you every step of the way! An hour is ideal for portraits for the two of you. This allows for time to walk (or drive) to different locations and allows for lots of variety.  Brides, you may find it helpful to have one friend with to help with your dress, carry your lipstick and make sure you’re looking your best.  However, I wouldn’t recommend having too many people around.  It’s typically easier to relax and feel comfortable in front of the camera without a lot of spectators.

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I recommend 30 minutes for each the bridal party and the families. Perhaps more for larger bridal parties (6+ bridesmaids and 6+ groomsmen) or larger families involving step families and lots of different combinations of people. Shot lists can stifle creativity, but for this portion of the day, I always develop a specific list with my clients. I want to ensure we capture all the important people. My assistant helps with organizing and arranging so this portion of the day flows as smoothly as possible. While I capture the portraits, my second shooter watches for fun moments happening off to the side. Again, we try to keep things lighthearted and fun- we don’t want this to be an hour of torture, but rather a way to document all the people you love most in the world! We discuss locations and logistics prior to your wedding day, and have a backup plan in case of inclement weather.  Once we determine a specific start time, if you’re worried about your attendants or families being late, tell them to be at the designated location 15 minutes prior to the actual start time- with bouquets and bouts already pinned.

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The highlight of the day. I recommend finishing photos a minimum of 30 minutes prior to your ceremony start time, so you have time to rest and relax as your guests begin arriving. This is a great time to drink water, have a snack, freshen up your makeup, and just take in the moment. Ceremony length can vary greatly, so be sure to discuss timing with your officiant and/or planner.

After the ceremony, don’t forget to factor in the receiving line, if applicable. Receiving lines seem to be becoming less and less common, but should you (and your parents) opt to have one, plan 20-40 minutes. Whether or not you have a receiving line, remember that it takes time to pack up and depart. Allow at least 10-20 minutes for gathering belongings and boarding transportation, if applicable.

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Remember those two hours of portraits we discussed? For timing/location/logistical purposes, some couples opt to do a portion of their photos after the ceremony (in which case, less time is needed before the ceremony). Some couples don’t want to see each other prior to the ceremony. Some couples want to stop by a special location en route to the reception. There are varying reasons, but post-ceremony is always a fun time to capture photos. The pressure is off and the mood is celebratory.

Logistics of this time of day vary greatly. Some couples host the ceremony and reception in one location. Some involve travel. Between myself and my second shooter, we make sure that we’re covering all your guests at cocktail hour and getting the beautiful detail shots of your reception setup (preferably before the guests arrive).  During this time, we may also ask for your rings or get any details shots we may not have had time for in the morning.  Relax and enjoy a specialty cocktail!

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We make sure to capture all the candid and emotional moments during your reception. Check with your venue coordinator and planner for specific timing. After dinner and dessert, we recommend 30-60 minutes of dance coverage, as we want to be sure to capture the important first dances, and some of your guests dancing as well. Dances typically start about 1.5-2 hours after the first course is served- more if space must be cleared for a dance floor.

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When possible, we love to sneak out with the couple for 10-15 minutes of sunset photos. It’s such a beautiful time of day and we love to utilize the gorgeous lighting.


How does this translate into a timeline? Here’s an example. Email me to discuss your specific wedding day.

12:00 or 12:30 getting ready
1:30 first look and couple photos
2:30 bridal party photos
3:00 family photos
3:30 rest and relax while my team and I prep for the ceremony
4:00 ceremony
4:30 ceremony ends
4:45 transport to reception
5:00 cocktails
6:30 dinner
8:00 first dance
8:30 or 9:00 photography coverage ends

  • Andra - This is wonderful! My clients often ask me advice on this (even though I’m not a photographer!), so it’s awesome that I have something to direction them too :) Thanks for sharing!

It’s funny how an experience that was once terrifying is now liberating.

In 2009, I made an investment in a photography workshop that, truthfully, changed my business.  It altered my vision.  Maybe I already had the spark in me and the workshop ignited it, but it was a really special experience.  I realize this more 5 years later.  The decision to go the workshop was a difficult one.  Of course, I wanted to, but I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. Did I mention the workshop was in Italy?  There were a lot of ways I could’ve spent a few thousand dollars as a relatively new business owner (just two years in at this point).

But, for whatever reason (can’t really recall now), I decided to go.  The workshop was hosted by one of the leaders in the photography industry, Jose Villa.  If you’re a photographer, you’ve definitely seen his work.  If you’re a bride or groom, you’ve probably seen his work and can appreciate the beauty and draw inspiration for your own wedding.  It’s like SMP over on Jose’s blog!  Jose is pretty much like the Justin Timberlake of the photography industry (I really had to sit and think of a superstar that could accurately be paralleled to Jose.  This was the best I could do!  Jose is famous in the industry, but he’s not a passing trend.  His talent is undeniable.  His work is classic and always beautiful, ethereal, and inspirational.)  But, beyond all that, Jose is a really giving person who has probably impacted the lives and businesses of many. He’s humble and a great guy (as I like to imagine JT is!) and I believe he gives his workshops his all.

At the workshop in Italy, Jose surprised the attendees with a day trip to Florence to explore and take photos.  You can read more about that here.  The catch was that we could only bring one camera and one lens.  Though now I always travel utilizing this method (I’m talking strictly personal trips, of course), when Jose first presented this challenge, it was terrifying.  It was the terrifying experience I was referring to in the opening line of this blog post.  I decided to embrace it and bring a film camera that I received at the workshop.  I could’ve brought my fancy new MkII.  At the time, I was shooting ALL digital.  I didn’t have much experience with film and I only had three rolls at my disposal.  But I took a chance.  And fell in love with film.  I think I subconsciously knew before the workshop that I wanted to shoot film (why else would I spend thousands of dollars on a workshop hosted by a film shooter?!), but the workshop sealed the deal for me.  I slowly started introducing film into my work, but after the workshop I saw a drastic change in my digital work too.

Now I shoot primarily film, and I love it because it forces me to slow down and enjoy the process.  I actually enjoy waiting for images to be processed.  It seems simpler.  I’m all about slowing down and simplifying (in all areas of my life and business).  So film seems fitting.  I love the way skin looks on film.  I love the colors.  I love the latitude.  Each artist has their own preferences and film just speaks to me.  Everything looks prettier on film.

This blog post isn’t an endorsement for film.  It’s not an argument for film vs. digital.  It’s not an endorsement for attending Jose’s workshop, or attending workshops in general (though I do endorse attending Jose’s workshop, for the record!).  It’s just about taking a chance, finding your passion.  Having fun and enjoying the process.  I never shared these first film images I took in Florence that day.  These images are captured on a Holga.  The memories from this day are really important to me.  I was with a group of people that I had only known for 3 or 4 days, but together we ventured to Florence. Little did I know that these people would still be very much in my life 5 years later.

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  • Renee Trubai - Gorgeous Laura, the words and the photographs. I remember you telling me about the film camera only trip to Florence when we met. I’m so happy to see how your work has evolved, it’s beautiful.
    I only remember a handful of people that day (I too was star struck!) but you’re one of the ones I remember best x

  • Jody savage - I was so excited to see this post!! You are such an inspiration to me and my photography journey!! I cannot wait for Jose’s
    Workshop and I am so glad I have met you in my own journey!! Thank you
    for posting- lovely work as always! xx

It’s no secret that I love dogs! I love spoiling my little pup and it’s likely no coincidence that many of my clients have special furry family members too! I always smile when I’m planning a session with someone and they ask permission to bring along their dog… OBVIOUSLY, YES!! I’ve had countless cute pups in the studio and along for photo sessions. Clients (without dogs!) have jokingly ask if my contract requires my clients to have dogs.  No, really.  I’ve been asked.  I thought it’d be fun to compile photos of some of the cute pups I’ve been privileged to capture on film over the last year- these are only photos from my most recent archives, and I apologize in advance if I missed someone (it’s not easy task going through hundreds of shoots and weddings!)

PS- I’m trying to come up with a hashtag for all the pup pictures I share on Instagram- specifically of pups that come into my studio. Perhaps something with my name/studio/dogs all rolled into one? Suggestions appreciated!