Frequently Un-Asked Questions About Wedding Photography
Typically when working with a couple who’s planning a wedding, they are pretty new at wedding planning and are having to become experts while using google for all kinds of wedding topics. (Does that sound about right to you at this point?) Most of the time, you're hiring a wedding photographer for the first time, and generally doing lots of wedding stuff for the very first time. So you spend a lot of time reading blogs and wedding magazines and they all tell you to ask the same questons, right? But what about the stuff that you don’t know you should ask? That’s what this page is meant for. These are things we try to explain to couples when doing face-to-face consultations, all the things you’re too overwhelmed to even think about now, but will wonder later. And a couple of bonus just for fun questions too.
Q: How long have you been taking photos professionally, and how long have you been a professional wedding photographer?
A: Long answer: Some of the staff took courses or have degrees in photography, and some learned the old fashioned way by assisting or shadowing other skilled wedding or fashion photographers and now have several years of experience. We all fell in love with photography. Most of our staff have their own websites and photos displayed online or Facebook and other social media sites. Our team is expanding as we meet other talented photographers at bridal shows and weddings. Now a half century of collective industry experience between our team members.
Q: Why do professional wedding photographers charge so much per hour if all you’re doing is pushing a button and burning some files to a thumb drive?
A: Oh, au contraire mon frère (this is loosely translated as, “I don’t THINK so Bro.!!”) (thanks Rebekah!) For every hour you see a professional wedding photographer with a camera in hand, there are at least 4 more hours spent behind the scenes; prepping for the job, buying, borrowing, or renting the perfect gadget to make your photos rock, and the ever important post-production sorting and processing of your images to get them ready for prime time (your new in-laws). Plus there’s the costs of all the consumables involved in your final project, like flash drives, presentation materials, shipping stuff everywhere, metric tons of Sumatran coffee and so on. And the cameras ain’t cheap either. Now that cameras have tiny little computers operated by gnomes inside, they have to be replaced every twenty minutes because they’re obsolete in fifteen (gnomes need frequent breaks).
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 monkeys are falling from the rafters (hey, that sounds like a really killer 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, there’s the buckets of blood, sweat, and coffee that it took to be able to make the kick ass photography magic you know you’re going to get.
Q: How many hours of coverage do I really need?
A: There are a lot of variables involved here, but the short answer is 8 hours. We do offer 8 hour package, and that’s what most couples start with, but sometimes 6 hours of coverage is really best for people who are having very small (think elopements) weddings (not hour long catholic ceremonies) with very few guests (75 or less) and short receptions, or no receptions at all. If you want photos of things like getting ready and reception photos until all formal dances are finished, then you need to plan for at least 8 hours of coverage. If you’d like to have less stress or you plan to change locations during the day (such as from the hotel to church to a nice park and reception venue), then you’re going to need 10 hours of coverage. 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 90 minutes to make creative portraits before the ceremony, and 90 minutes to make portraits of your bridal party and family after the ceremony ends. 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. Driving around from one to place to another takes plenty of time (long distances during peak traffic. Walking from one area in the garden to another takes time. Arranging the dress takes time. All these little things add up quickly and before you know it, that reception coordinator is shouting from the balcony that we need to start your bridal party entrance and let those older folks eat dinner.
Q: What do you mean when you say the photos are professionally edited?
A: 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. It’s meant to be a blank slate so that the photographer can have complete artistic freedom. (Yeah, baby, yeah.) So we take your photos into our secret photography laboratory and process them. We prefer a classic fine art film look to our wedding photos if the bride doesn't object, so we keep the colors clean and the skin tones natural. If you have a blemish, our magic wand makes it disappear. If there’s a spot on your tux, we use a spot treatment to remove it. If there’s a random street sign in an otherwise perfect photo, we chop it out. There’s lots of little remodels that we can do to make your images just right. It takes a village… of software engineers and programmers… to create a finished collection of wedding photos.
Q: Why do you take so many photos, but give us so few? Can we have all of them?
A: At a typical 8 hour wedding, a pair of photographers will shoot about 2,000 photos, but the majority of those photos are taken in big bursts. Anytime we have a posed group of people in front of us, we usually take 10-12 photos each time. That’s because it’s really hard to get a photo of a group of people with all eyes open and their mouths closed. So, out of that burst of photos, you’ll get maybe 1 or 2, because in all the other photos people are blinking or reciting epic poetry or looking down cousin Angie’s dress or whatever they’re doing that isn’t what they should have been doing. It’s kind of the same for pictures of dances. Have you ever seen a series of photos of your Uncles or Aunts dancing after a few drinks? It take a few dozen shots to get that good one that doesn’t look like he or she is having back spasms or seizure. 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 nice photos showing everyone at their best, and you don’t have to weed out a bunch of crummy ones to find the best shots.
Q: What does the copyright release allow me to do with my pictures?
A: This copyright 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 print up 150 wallet prints of your Uncle Harold putting 37 cocktail shrimp in his 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). Including entering them in most contests. However, we 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 beforehand. 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 us an email and we can discuss how to get it done just right.
Q: What do you do to make your business eco-friendly?
A: Everything we can! To begin with, we use Canon & Nikon photographic equipment, Apple computers, and Western Digital Caviar Green hard drives. All battery powered camera equipment we prefer rechargeable batteries. We conduct business electronically, so there’s almost no paper or need to drive super far to hundreds of appointments. We’ve even cut back on the number of paper airplanes we make, and we always use recycled printer paper.
Q: Do you always work with a 2nd photographer or assistant?
A: Depending on the number of locations, size of wedding party, number of guests, we prefer to have a 2nd photographer to capture those finer details and the opposite perspective during the ceremony and reception. If you only need 3 hours at one location and your wedding party is small or you're not having that many guests for a reception or anniversary party...its totally fine to fly solo.
Q: Are you willing to accept a list of “must-have” photos?
A: That’s a loaded question, and the answer is, it really just depends. We send couples a questionnaire and ask for a list of five photos that they think are the most important photos for us to make, and then five more that they would like us to make if weather and time permits. When we arrive on your wedding day, we (you and I) have already created a detailed schedule and we have a plan of what kinds of photos need to be made based on our texts and emails and talks. We’ll do group photos and individual portraits and detail shots and all of that typical stuff. But if you need to hand me several pages of marked boxes and you’ll be crushed if I don’t get Every. Single. One., then we must have a long talk about the countless ways this may not workout exactly like you've perfectly planned with that checklist. We won’t be able to make any of the wonderful candid photos that you see in our portfolios for you because we'll have our nose buried in that checklist for the entire day. This is one of those defining moments where you have to decide if philosophies match or not before we come out to do photography at your wedding.
Q: What should I do to keep my photos safe?
A: Once your wedding photos are fully edited, you will get a flash drive. We also store your edited photos online. However, we all know how fleeting things in the interwebs can be, and obviously we 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 for yourself and store in a safe place. You should put this copy in a deposit box or something equivalent (not your sock drawer) in order to protect your data from stuff like fires or animal stampedes or glitter tornadoes, which have been on the rise in recent years. You should copy the photos to your computer and back them up again with someone you trust. That’s your safety net, in case anything happens to your 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 on them, don’t prop your television up with them…..you know the drill.
Q: Why should I invest in a fine art wedding book or lay-flat wedding album?
A: Because you are a rock star. Or at least the wedding equivalent. 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 see your day as the major moment that it is. A wedding album tells the story of your wedding day, from the earliest moment of “getting ready” to the bubbles (or birdseed) 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 on USB 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 pimp hat and feather boa in the photo booth, but Whoops! NOBODY uses CDs or flash drives anymore. This can totally happen, since technology marches ever onward like determined digital soldiers armed with weapons of media frustration. Seriously, we've got a pile of floppy disks in the filing cabinet (that’s the analog version of a desktop folder) that haven’t been near a computer since the early 90's. 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 lay-flat wedding album. Besides, it will really impress the grand kiddies when you pull this out and sit on the sofa and show them your wedding day many years from now.
Q: What is press printing?
A: 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.
Q: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT UNPLUGGED WEDDINGS?
A: If an unplugged wedding will make you happy, then that’s exactly what you should do. We completely understand why you would want your guests to put their gadgets down and engage in the moment. After all, some of our staff currently live with teenagers. But if you’re thinking of having an unplugged wedding because you think we need you to, then we want you to reconsider. We 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 we are not those photographers. We promise that your guests aren’t ruining anything if they make some photos on their smartphones, and we promise that we will never 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 parties or weddings. Who can blame them? But a simply stated polite request made quietly in the ear of the guest usually resolves the issue. We think most of what you see on the internet about unplugged weddings is the result of the inability of wedding photographers to tactfully interact with guests. And viral marketing. So you know, have an unplugged wedding if it will make you happy. But don’t feel like you have to do it for us, because we are professionals and make amazing photos for you either way.
Q: How do I know if you’re the right photographers for my wedding?
A: If you’ve read this far, you have learned a lot about us, and what professional wedding photographers should do for you. Let's chat and get to know each other a little better. If you live in other States, we can text, exchange a bunch of e-mails or talk on the phone whenever you have time.