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Wedding memories are nice, but it’s the photos that last a lifetime

Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue. The bride’s checklist doesn’t just account for her attire on her special day anymore, it can be applied to the wedding photography too – loosely anyway.

Among the big decisions a couple has to make leading up to their wedding day is choosing a photographer. Once that task is complete, they need to figure out how and where they want their photos taken. It’s a big decision that can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of wedding planning, but as memories of the day get foggy, family and friends look to the photos to refresh their memories.

In the past, wedding photos were dictated by tradition, but as couples become more daring, photographers become more innovative.

“Even if many couples start off as being somewhat indifferent to formal family photos, most all of my couples do eventually decide to do ‘traditional’ photos first, even if it’s in an effort to first make mom and dad happy,” Andy Buscemi of Buscemi Photography said. “Then it’s time to play a bit more and take some risks to see what we can come up with.”

Andrea and Phil DeRousseau of Lackawanna, fulfilled their “something old” by re-creating Andrea’s parents’ wedding portrait they took in Glen Falls in Williamsville nearly 28 years before. The photo of Larry and Patty Catuzza hung in Andrea’s home growing up and the strength of her parents’ marriage inspired her to imitate their photo.

“Not many people can say they have been married for as long as they have,” Andrea said. “They are a huge part of our lives.”

Couples have begun to focus more on what plays an important role in their lives and making a statement with their photos. Wedding photography is no longer about documenting the event alone, it’s about capturing the personalities of the newlyweds too. Heather Bellini of Heather Bellini Photography stresses that the location chosen for the photos can add a lot to the shoot.

“A great location is key in Buffalo,” Bellini said. “Brides and grooms are realizing that the surroundings should say something about them as a couple, not just be a pretty place.”

It’s not just the location that makes a photo unique though. Couples have begun using props in their photos to reveal more of their personalities and interests. Lindsay and Dave Kilijanski of North Tonawanda, cracked open cold Blue Lights with their bridal party. (This is where their “something blue” comes in.)

“The beer entered the pictures because we were all having a great time and everyone is easygoing and just listening to (photographer) Wendy (Mitchell),” Lindsay said.

The couple revisited old hangouts and stopped by the First Niagara Center, the Cobblestone District and Canalside before heading to the Hotel Lafayette.

“After the church, we went to Blasdell Pizza in South Buffalo, first to pick up lunch for the limo and second because it brought back high school memories for some of us. We used to hang out at the one in Blasdell,” Lindsay said.

At the First Niagara Center, Dave and Lindsay had pictures taken in front of the name plate Dave’s brother and sister-in-law bought them for their engagement. “Our last stop before the Lafayette Hotel was Canalside,” Lindsay said. “It’s just a Buffalo staple now and our pictures in front of the water were gorgeous.”

Wendy Mitchell of Wendy Mitchell Photography, who photographed the Kilijanskis’ wedding, said most of her clients strive to be different.

“I think part of it is that people would like to try to have pictures that don’t necessarily look like all of their friends’ pictures,” she said.

The popular wedding photo spots like the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and City Hall offer challenges to photographers, such as pedestrians, bikers and other wedding parties. To go to off-the-beaten-path places, photographers grapple with technical difficulties like lighting, weather, low ceilings or something as simple as fitting a big wedding party in a small space. But Erica Eichelkraut Zilbauer of City Lights Studio said the risk is worth the reward.

“The biggest benefit is having something that feels like it’s just yours and yours alone,” said Eichelkraut Zilbauer. “Even if others will go there, or have been there, it’s not something you’ve seen a thousand times before. This just adds to making the entire day special for them.

To find unique ideas, couples take to social media, scouring Pinterest boards and friends’ Facebook wedding albums. The Internet has inspiration for everything from superhero-themed portraits to elegant outdoor shoots.

Anna Baker of Lackawanna, saw an engagement photo shoot of a couple with their dog and thought she would love to do the same with Lenard, the German Shepherd and Black Lab mix that she and her now-husband Kenny Baker, who goes by “Baker,” adopted about three years ago. Lenard played a special role in Kenny proposing to Anna.

“I was sitting in a chair and Baker got up to go down on one knee, and Lenard just instantly just lays down right where Baker was going to kneel,” Anna said. “Ken was like ‘Move buddy! Move!’ But he wouldn’t, so it was Baker, Lenard and me. I dropped to my knees after and we kissed and Lenard got in on it too.”

Kenny and Anna got Lenard a bowtie with a tag that read “Best Dog” for the big day.

“He is our first pet we’ve had as a couple, and he means soo much to us,” said Anna. “I had to have in included in my big day.”

While social media and friends’ photos are fine sources of inspiration, couples shouldn’t expect an exact replica of that photo for a number of reasons. Buscemi said the photo that is posted on Pinterest is probably the product of a lot of “particulars.”

“Trying to re-create that most often does not work due to missing one or many of the elements that made the original image work to begin with,” Buscemi said.

Not to fear, if a couple has their hearts set on a particular shot, they should bring it up to the photographer, but ultimately they need to trust whom they’ve picked to capture their special day.

“When there’s not total trust with the photographer that often means that the photographer may get a Pinterest list,” Buscemi said. “While most photographers definitely want to understand what a couple wants in terms of style and mood that works with a couple’s personality, working entirely from a shot list can really close off the photographer’s ability to ‘see’ the amazing light coming in from the side window or anticipate the amazing situation about to unfold.”

All the photographers said, above all, the most important part of a photo shoot is for the bride and groom to be comfortable.

“You can take beautiful pictures of anyone anywhere,” Mitchell said. “Their real smiles and real personality comes through when they’re somewhere where they feel they can relax.”