We were married in May, 2012, but we first worked with Van 14 months earlier, when she took our engagement photos. We loved working with her for our engagement session, which lasted 2 hours. Van was amazingly helpful given that it was our first "photo shoot." She was directive at times, helping us get into positions or try things out that we may not have done, but she never ever pushed us into doing something we didn't want to do, and she was always up for trying something we thought of. She was positive, energetic, and kind, and she somehow helped us feel comfortable being "cuddly" in front of the camera. Not only did we enjoy working with her, but we loved the photos she took, and so we decided to book her for our wedding, including a bridal session (2 hours), rehearsal dinner (1 hour), and the whole wedding day (11 hours).
During the months leading up to this weekend, she was communicative via email and was encouraging and totally open to incorporating our ideas and suggestions into her plans for the events. We were very organized with our timeline and the photographs that we were hoping to get, but instead of voicing concern, she was always appreciative of our ideas. She also asked specific questions, trying to figure out how we could make everything work with the photography given our ideas, her ideas, and her expertise with photographing these types of events.
During the weekend events, she was early for every event and she even stayed later than she needed to for the bridal shoot & the rehearsal dinner. We were running behind for the bridal shoot & on the wedding day at the very beginning, but she did not add to the stress of the weekend, instead staying positive and making it clear that she was here for us and that she would make everything work no matter what. In all honesty, the hair & makeup artists for the bride & her mother & sister showed up 70 minutes late on the wedding day, so that Van didn't have very much to do when she first arrived. Instead of hanging around and asking questions, she went to work after checking in with me, taking my dress, my bouquet, shoes, and all of the other details into another room and taking the artsy photos I was hoping for. It was so nice not to have to worry about what she was doing while we were already worried about the timing with the hair & makeup artists, as we knew that Van was taking great photos and would let us know if she had questions. As for her demeanor when taking photographs during the events, to be quite honest, we didn't even realize she was at the rehearsal dinner till one of the guests we were speaking with asked if that was our photographer, as she was taking photos from outside the tent. She knew that we were really busy speaking with family and friends, and so she just jumped right in and started taking pictures. It was exactly what we needed! Also, we did not want a photographer to be "in the way" during the events, but we never had to tell Van this - she was directive when she needed to be (posing everyone for the big group shot with 100 people was no big deal for her! plus, she was so great at helping us figure out how to pose, how to make certain photos work, etc.), but during the toasts, first dances, and on the dance floor during the reception, we barely noticed her. She does such an amazing job of being in the right place at the right time, but not getting in the way and making the guests feel weird about photographs. And last but not least, she was not fazed at all with incorporating our suggestions, such as the bride asking for more goofy shots in the bridal shoot and the bride & groom having some fun during their quick photo shoot between the ceremony & reception.
As for the photographs, we are just so pleased with the outcome. She does such an amazing job of capturing emotion, the feel of the events, the overall scene, etc. She also figures out which photos are best in color and which should be in black & white, sepia, etc. And if we wanted a photo in a different setting, we just asked her and she sent it to us without any hesitation.
Our only drawback was that we did not initially receive the "full resolution" images. Instead, we received images that only printed up to 5x7. While Van said this was discussed when signing the contract, we did not remember this. She sent us larger images for free b/c of the confusion, but this would be something to check when booking!
All in all, we loved working with Van and would recommend her whole-heartedly for any event! She is a joy to work with, and we were just so pleased with the results.