The Paper Swan Photography Blog


Nicole + Victor’s NYC wedding story (plus a shoutout from Animoto Pro!)

I got a fabulous surprise when I logged into Twitter this morning…Animoto Pro picked my video for Nicole and Victor’s wedding as their Pro Video of the day!

They are a beautiful couple, and their wedding day was fun, stylish, classy, and Manhattan all the way!

Tip: Play it fullscreen for the best view! Also, note that it includes music. :)


Color Block: Make mine red!

Classic. Passionate.  Sexy.

There is no color that elicits more of an innate reaction in us than red. Depending on your cultural background, it may mean love, honor, purity, sex, or celebration. It is the color of roses, strawberries, rich wines, that elusive perfect lipstick, and those killer heels. (And Cornell…go Big Red!! :D )

Red adds richness to the wedding palette

For all its power, it is remarkably tough to go wrong with red. It is so classic, providing a sophisticated accent to the white and black of conventional wedding garb that is both fiery and refined.

Red is both sophisticated and sexy in the wedding context

In a nutshell, if you’re stuck in trying to decide on your wedding accent color, red is a stylish, timeless choice.

So what’s your favorite red?


Budget Tip: Post-holiday flowers and crafts

If you’re looking for creative ways to save money on your wedding, chances are you’ve considered taking on some do-it-yourself (or, hopefully, do-it-with-friends) projects like favors, centerpieces, or decor.

Want to stretch your dollars even further?  Think about the colors and theme for your wedding, and plan on swooping in on the craft and party supply stores immediately after the appropriate holiday when you can find discounts of 50-75%, or more, on silk flowers, ribbon, tulle, and other seasonal crafty supplies.

  • Christmas yields not only poinsettias and evergreens, but also a plethora of rich red and white roses and sparkly adornments.
  • New Year’s provides cocktail-themed trinkets like miniature martini and champagne glasses
  • Valentine’s Day supplies another cascade of red, white, and pink flowers, not to mention heart motifs galore.
  • Pounce on Easter clearance sales for pastels and springtime flora
  • Hit up post-Halloween and Thanksgiving specials for autumn leaves and gold, orange, or brown color schemes

Michael’s and AC Moore both give generous discounts in their post-holiday clearance sales. Get creative to find your target holidays..just remember, these sales tend to be brief, and the good stuff sells out fast, so plan ahead!!


Wedding Photo Tip #1: Schedule time for portraits + groups

Rachel + David wedding portrait in Rockport, MassachusettsOne of the most important things you can do to get better portraits and group pictures is to block out specific, significant chunks of time.

From a distance–eg, 3 months before the big day–the scheduling for your wedding day looks easy-peasy.  After all, the ceremony is only an hour, maybe two, and you can occupy your guests with cocktails and hors d’ouerves until you’re ready to start the reception, which is only a few minutes away from the ceremony. Aside from a few things like cutting the cake, speeches and first dances, the reception will mostly be socializing and dancing…We’ll just slip out at some point and do some portraits out front, right?

The wedding day reality

The reality of the wedding day is that there is never enough time. The morning is filled with last minute details and visits from those closest to you, maybe some final reviews of the vows, and of course the process of getting dressed up (though this is generally a bigger factor for us ladies). Once you hit the ceremony, there is a steady stream of friends and family–some of whom you may not have seen in years–hoping to get a couple of minutes with you.

Any free time you may have pictured yourself having to relax or reflect quickly goes out the window.

This is why it is critical to chunk out the time for your portraits and key groups, and incorporate those chunks into the official schedule for the day.  During these times, only the people involved in the pictures should be present, along with a member or two from the wedding party to assist and help you to relax as needed.

What to do, what to do?

Our recommendation is to allow 2 hours for portraits, ideally prior to the ceremony when it’s easiest to get some quiet time. This gives you a chance to recover from any chaos during the morning, reconnect with each other, and relax a bit to get more natural, romantic, and joyful portraits. By accounting for travel time, you also expand your options for locations, allowing for more unique photographs with personal meaning.

For groups, we suggest 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how many shots you are looking for, whether the rest of your guests will be present during the shooting, and how many people need to be gathered and organized for the pictures.

By planning ahead, incorporating your key shoots into the schedule, and allowing generous blocks of time, you can reduce your wedding day worries and enhance the beauty, joy, and personal meaning of your photographs.