WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER FuQS
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Frequently unAsked Questions about wedding photography
Typically when I’m working with a couple who’s planning a wedding, they are pretty new at wedding planning and are having to become experts on weddings as they go along. (Does that sound about right to you?) Most of the time, you are hiring a professional photographer for the first time, and generally just doing lots of stuff for the first time. So you spend a lot of time reading wedding magazines and wedding blogs and they all tell you to ask wedding photographers the same Frequently Asked Questions, right? But what about the stuff that you don’t know you should ask? That’s this page. These are the things I try to explain to people when we have wedding consultations, all the things you’re too overwhelmed to think about now, but will wonder later. And a couple of bonus fun questions too.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT UNPLUGGED WEDDINGS?
I think that if an unplugged wedding will make you happy, then that’s exactly what you should do. I completely understand why you would want your guests to put their gadgets down and engage in the moment. After all, I've lived with teenagers.
But if you’re thinking about having an unplugged wedding because you think I need you to, then I want you to reconsider. I know it’s pretty trendy right now for photographers to post images of people at weddings holding up cell phones and publicly shame them for daring to want to make a photo, but I’m not one of those photographers. I promise that your guests aren’t ruining anything if they make some photos on their phones, and I promise that I will never ever publicly shame your family and friends on the internet like so many photographers have done recently.
It’s true that sometimes people get excited and enthusiastic and want to make photos at weddings. Who can blame them? But I’ve never found myself in a situation that a polite request made quietly in the ear of the offender didn’t immediately solve. Personally, I really think most of the whinging you see on the internet about unplugged weddings is the result of the inability of wedding photographers to tactfully interact with wedding guests. And viral marketing. Obviously.
So you should definitely have an unplugged wedding if it will make you happy. But don’t feel like you have to do it for me, because I’m a professional and I’ll make amazing photos for you either way.
How long have you been taking photos professionally, and how long have you been a professional wedding photographer?
Long answer: I learned film photography in college a really long time ago, and have been in love with photography ever since. In 2009, I became a professional portrait photographer. Shortly after that, I began assisting other experienced professional wedding photographers around Atlanta. In 2010, I photographed my first wedding as a professional working under my own name, although I’ve photographed many weddings over the years as favors for friends. Basically, I’ve been a professional working artist for 25 years, and a wedding photographer for about 13 years.
TL;DR, About 13 years, and I’ve photographed over 300 weddings as the primary photographer.
why should i hire a professional photographer?
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not hiring a professional wedding photographer for only what they do when you can see them, you’re hiring them for the finished product. You’re hiring them because you want someone at your wedding with a camera (or four) who knows how to make a good photo no matter what happens, what time of day it is, whether it’s dark, or raining, or kittens are falling from the rafters (hey, that sounds like a really neat wedding!). You’re hiring a professional because you want kick ass photos and because you don’t want to have to worry about this one thing. And of course, that's the kind of expertise that only comes from years of perfecting a craft.
How many hours of coverage do I really need?
There are a lot of variables involved here, but the short answer is probably at least 8. We offer a 6 hour package, and that’s tempting to a lot of people, but six hours of coverage is really best for people who are having very small (think elopements) weddings with very few guests (less than 40) and very short receptions, or no reception at all. If you want photos of things like getting ready, details, and reception coverage of at least the toasts and cake cutting, then you need to plan for at least 8 hours of coverage. If you’d like to have the least amount of stress, or if you’ll be changing locations during the day (such as from hotel to church to reception venue), then you’re going to probably need to bump up to 10 hours. Our bookings are pretty evenly split between people who choose 8 hours and people who choose 10 hours.
If you ask me what I would prefer that you book, I’d say that I want you to book whichever coverage will let us plan to have at least an hour to make creative portraits together, and plenty of time to make portraits of your wedding party and family. It’s not that making photos takes a long time, it’s getting ready to make a photo that takes up all our time together. Walking from one area in the garden to another takes time. Arranging the train of a wedding dress takes time. Helping you relax takes time. All those little things add up quickly and before you know it, portrait time is over.
What do you mean when you say the photos are professionally edited?
Photos don’t just come out of a camera ready to hang on your wall. Unless it’s a Polaroid. Truth is, a professional SLR camera actually takes a pretty boring photo. Shaking it like a Polaroid won’t help, either. The image is meant to be a blank slate so that the photographer can have complete artistic freedom. So I take your photos into my secret photography laboratory and I process them. I prefer a classic fine art film look to my wedding photos, so I keep the colors clean and the skin tones natural. If you have a blemish, my magic wand makes it disappear. If there’s a spot on your suit, I use a spot treatment to remove it. There’s lots of little remodels that I do to make your images just right. It takes a village… of software programmers… to create a finished wedding photograph.
Why do you take so many photos, but give us so few? Can we have all of them?
On a typical wedding day, I will take about 2000 photos, but the majority of those photos are taken in big bursts. Anytime I have a group of people in front of me, I will take 10-15 (ok, 50) photos every time. That’s because it’s really hard to get a photo of a group of people with everyone’s eyes open and their mouths closed. So, out of that burst of photos, you’ll get 2, because in all the other photos people are blinking or reciting epic poetry or whatever they’re doing that isn’t what they should have been doing. It’s kind of the same for pictures of people doing anything. Have you ever seen a series of photos of your Uncle Raymond dancing? It take a few dozen shots to get a good one because he always makes weird faces at the camera. And since it takes a bunch of time to edit all those photos, only the good photos are pulled out and edited for you. In the end, you get a beautiful set of perfect photos showing everyone at their best, and you don’t have to weed through a bunch of crummy ones to find them. That’s why professional wedding photographers are so awesome.
What does the copyright release allow me to do with my pictures?
The copyright release gives you personal use rights to your photos. This means you can plaster them all over Facebook and Pinterest and MySpace until your heart’s content. You can blog about your special day. You can run down to the local drug store and order 150 wallet prints of your Cousin Jerry putting 37 cocktail shrimp in their mouth and send a copy to every one of your guests.
What you can’t do with your wedding photos is say that you took them, re-edit them in Instagram-o-matic splendor, or post them anywhere that requires that you claim sole ownership of the photos (you know, pretend that you made them). That includes entering them in most contests.
However, I do really want you to be excited about your wedding photos, and if you want to share them on your favorite forums and blogs, we will just need to communicate about it first. Most blogs just want to be sure they have original content, and not images that are already on 17 other blogs. So if you want to share your pictures somewhere more public, just send me an email and we can discuss how to get it done just right.
What do you do to make your business enviromentally friendly?
Everything I can! To begin with, my office is pretty green. Well, it’s actually Zone 5 grey (true story… we had the paint matched and everything), but it’s earth-friendly. I use Canon photographic equipment, Apple computers, and Western Digital Caviar Green hard drives. All my battery powered camera equipment uses rechargeable batteries, especially the ones designed to use AAs and AAAs. My home and office have all CFL & LED bulbs, and our household participates in a local recycling program for all home and office waste. I conduct most of my business electronically, so there’s almost no paper. We’ve even cut back on the number of paper airplanes we make, and we always use paper out of the trash for the few we still make. At home, we drink filtered tap water instead of bottled water, and have switched from paper napkins to cloth, and from paper towels to washable cotton terry towels for cleaning. And, not to be forgotten, since it’s just us and the dogs in the office, we often work in our pajamas (heh-heh… jealous?), which in turn reduces laundry water and energy consumption. We also make our own laundry detergent, glass cleaner, and a few other household cleaning supplies from common household ingredients that are more environmentally friendly, yet still darn effective. And finally, we use the library. A lot. You can read a whole nerdy blog post about our efforts to be a green photography business if you want to know more.
Why does it take you so long to answer my email?
Being a one-person show means I have to totally rock the Google calendar around here. Most of the camera work is done on evenings and weekends, since that’s when you guys are free. My work day is kind of the reverse of your work schedule. When y’all are at work I’m in the studio, and when you’re off work I’m out taking super sweet pictures of you. And I don’t stop in the middle of a shoot to answer phone calls or emails, because it’s kind of tricky to hold a camera and a cell phone at the same time. So, if you email me on Wednesday afternoon while I’m out shooting an epic sunset engagement session, I’ll email you back promptly on Thursday morning. And if you send me an email on a Saturday when I’m at a riduculously amazing wedding taking an insane number of mind-blowing photos, I am absolutely going to email you back. On Tuesday, because Monday is my only day off.
What mode of transportation do you use to travel back and forth between home and destination weddings, especially ones in other states or countries?
That depends. I have many friends and family scattered around the country (you were wondering how I could travel so cheaply!), and sometimes I will be combining working trips with visiting them. So, sometimes I will drive my car and sometimes I will fly. If I fly, I will use an airplane.
Do you find it harder to shoot weddings that require travel? What kind of logistical hurdles do you encounter in destination wedding photography?
I’m a professional photographer who doesn’t maintain a traditional studio, so everything I do requires complete mobility. I can carry an entire studio to a location and set it up and create amazing photos that no one would ever suspect might have been made in your kitchen. Traveling is what I do for every job, even the ones that are in Atlanta. So I don’t really encounter any serious logistical hurdles for destination wedding photography, other than having to take my shoes off at the airport if I fly. That’s pretty annoying. Yay flip flops.
Do you work with an assistant?
Depending on the type and location of the wedding and the number of obstacles expected, I sometimes work with assistants (also known as voice-activated light stands). It can be nice to have someone to carry all the heavy photo gear, or have another pair of eyes on the wedding party to make sure no one is sleeping while we make the group photos. However, most of the time I’m just a lone wolf. With mad ninja skillz.
Are you willing to accept a list of “must-have” photos?
That’s a loaded question, and the answer is, it depends. I always send my wedding couples a questionnaire and ask for a list of five photos that they think are the most important photos for me to make, and then five more that they would like me to make if I can. When I arrive on your wedding day, you and I have already created a wedding photography schedule for the day and I have a plan of what kinds of photos need to be made based on our talks. We’ll do group photos and individual portraits and detail shots and all of that stuff. But if you need to hand me a seven-page list to follow with checkboxes and you’ll be crushed if I don’t get every single one, then I won’t be able to make any of the wonderful candid photos that you see in my portfolio for you because I’ll have my nose buried in that list all night. This is one of those defining moments where you have to decide if our philosophies match or not. However, rest assured that you won’t have to tell me to get the standards, like cutting the cake, or the first kiss. If I didn't know that, I wouldn't still be in business.
What should I do to keep my photos safe?
Once your wedding photos are edited, you will get two copies of each photo on a custom flash drive, a large file for printing and a small file for uploading to social media like Facebook. Your flash drive is stored in a beautiful box that is custom made for you, so you can leave it out on the bookshelf and show it to all your friends. Over. And over. And over. We also currently store your edited photos online in the cloud so that you can share them all with family and friends.
However, we all know how fleeting things in the interwebs can be, and obviously I can’t promise to keep your files forever, or even for very long at all. So the first thing you should do when you receive your files is make a copy. You should put this copy in a safe deposit box, or something equivalent (not your sock drawer) in order to protect your data from stuff like animal stampedes and glitter tornadoes, which have been on the rise in recent years. You should also copy the photos to your computer and back them up again. That’s your safety net, in case anything happens to one copy, you have multiple back ups of every file. As far as keeping your prints and/or wedding albums safe, all the common sense stuff applies; don’t get them wet, don’t put your coffee cup on them, don’t prop your television up with them…..you know the drill.
What can I do with all my photos?
The best thing to do with them is to PRINT them and frame them and hang them on your wall. Or even better, since you’re going to have so many amazing photos that you’ll run out of wall space, you should make a wedding album. Or get one of those neato digital photo frames. But whatever you do, don’t just leave them on your hard drive all alone and never let them feel the sweet kiss of daylight. That’s just sad.
Why should I get a wedding album?
Because you are a rock star. Your wedding is probably the most important day in your life to date, except for that time you saw Bill Murray buying a diet soda and a pack of gummy bears at the gas station. You’ve spent months agonizing over every detail, right down to the color of the ribbon to tie on those cute little bubble bottles, and this is the perfect way for you to celebrate your wedding day as the major moment that it is in your life. A wedding album tells the story of your wedding day, from the earliest moment of “getting ready” to the confetti hitting the getaway car as you make your escape. As an added bonus, it’s totally portable, and doesn’t need to be plugged in or recharged for you to inflict it on your friends and family.
On a more practical note, while I provide your photos to you on a flash drive, what happens if you get all responsible and actually stick it in your safety deposit box, and then ten years from now you want to get a copy of that picture of Aunt Martha wearing the bowler hat and feather boa in the photo booth, but Whoops! NOBODY uses flash drives anymore. This can totally happen, since technology marches ever onward. Seriously, I’ve got a pile of floppy disks in my filing cabinet (that’s the analog version of a desktop folder) that haven’t been near a computer since 1992.
Digital back-ups are all smart and stuff, until they get obsolete. Your best bet for preserving important memories will always be a physical printed copy, like a wedding album. Besides, it will really impress the grandkids when you pull out an Actual Book and sit on the sofa and show them your wedding day. I know how much I always loved looking through the family photo album with my Grandma.
What is a flush mount wedding album?
Only the coolest way to see your amazing photos. Ever. First your photos are silver halide printed on high quality archival photographic paper, just as if they were going to be framed. Then they are mounted on a thick archival substrate, which makes a luxuriously stiff page about 2mm thick. Kinda like a children’s board book, only exponentially more fashionable and gorgeous (and not appropriate for teething). Our albums can be leather bound, silk-covered, or have custom printed covers. And they are beautiful. We call them heirloom wedding albums because these hand made archival albums will truly last for generations. We know you want the grandkids to know just how bad-ass you were back in the day, and now we can give you the technology to do it.
What is press printing?
Press printing is high-quality printing, but it is not printed on photographic paper. More like a coffee-table book or a high-end magazine. The pages are thicker than regular book pages, but still thin enough to be flexible. Sadly, unlike most other topics here, press printing really isn’t all that funny.
How do I know if you’re the right photographer for me?
If you’ve read this far, you have learned a lot about me, and what a professional wedding photographer should do for you. Do you feel like I’m someone you would want to spend a day with? (Remember, your wedding photographer is a vendor you’ll actually spend time with on your wedding day, so it’s important that they don’t creep you out.) Do you think I seem like someone you trust to make the kind of photos you want to see of your wedding day? If the answer is yes, or even maybe, you should email me right now. We should have a chat and get to know each other a little better. If you live near the Atlanta area, we can meet up and have a cup of coffee and talk about your plans. If you live elsewhere, we can Zoom and do the same thing.
Also, it’s ok if I’m not the perfect wedding photographer for you. Hopefully you’ve learned a little something here to help you find the perfect professional wedding photographer for your day. No matter what, remember: It’s your day, and it should be perfect on your terms.
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