Your wedding photography is very important since it’s one of the few things that you will keep with you long after the wedding day is over. This is why the process of picking your photographer is critical and you should try not to cut corners on quality. Trusting your wedding to a discount photographer that’s trying to build a portfolio is never a good idea. A seasoned professional will have all the professional equipment, plenty of backup equipment and the experience to deal with any situation that weddings will present. If you have doubts ask to see a business license, check for references, and ask how many weddings they do. I actually allow my clients to see all of my weddings online via my Home Page that were done in the past year.
You want someone who is experienced in weddings (the bulk of their work); they will be familiar with the emotion and stress of the day and will have experience in dealing with tricky family situations. We’ve done hundreds.
A wedding photographer should be able to ease tension rather than add to it, if you have difficult family situations make sure you advise the photographer beforehand.
If you are opting for imaginative photos then you’ll want someone with creative flair who’s excited about photographing your wedding. Look at their work printed and online and see if they share your vision. They should have a great attitude and want to do the best job possible. Some photographers will visit your venues before hand to scout for the perfect backdrop and to generally get ideas.
Personal rapport is extremely important. Your wedding photographer may be an expert, but if you don’t feel comfortable or at ease with him or her, your wedding photography will reflect this. Comfort and compatibility with your photographer can make or break your wedding day and your photographs.
A couple of questions you should ask a photographer on the phone interview or via Email
-When you say that you are available on our wedding date does that mean that you will be our photographer? (I will always tell you up front that I am the one that will be there.)
-When shooting digital, what is the file format that you shoot in? (The only acceptable answer is Camera RAW since it’s the digital equivalent to a film negative. If they say JPG thank them for their time and keep looking. We open and process every image on calibrated workstations checking the image color, tint, exposure, shadow, brightness, contrast, and tonality then we crop and finish every shot. Every shot is important and every shot gets the same attention.)
-Who will process the images that you shoot? (I am the one that does the processing. I am a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals and I also work as a digital photo artist. It’s critical that the same person that shoots your wedding be the one that processes the images since I will know the people that are important to you and I know which photos you will be expecting.)
-Does the DVD of digital negatives come as part of the package or is there a waiting period? (With our packages you will get the DVD as part of your finished package with no waiting period. The DVD has the full size images and they are not the low resolution preview set some places are offering.)
Preferred Vendor Lists
Some locations, coordinators, and vendors will have a list of preferred companies for you to look at. These can be very helpful in the fact that they have worked with them before and seen them in action. It doesn’t hurt though to look beyond a set list since you need to find a match for your specific wedding, your personalities, your budget, and your own personal taste. You should be able to pick who you want as you make your wedding exactly as you want.
Some Tips From a Pro
Consider hiring a coordinator, even for only the day of the wedding, to make sure that everything and everyone is where they need to be. Often times at the reception we have to fill the role in the absence of a coordinator which makes our job more complicated.
A save the date refrigerator magnet with your photo (either a candid or from an engagement session) will remind your guests daily of your wedding date.
Have your makeup artist leave behind any eye and lip makeup so that you can do some touch ups before the formal photos are done. Remember the waterproof eye makeup if you think that you’ll be doing some crying.
While you’re having your hair and makeup done bring along a boom box with your favorite music to either relax to or dance and have fun with the rest of the girls in your wedding party.
Get the phone number from your dress maker/seamstress just in case something happens the day of the wedding, and make sure to try on your dress as advised to ensure a proper fit.
Bring band aids for your feet and check to make sure that your shoes don’t snag on your dress. Sometimes stones and other protrusions will snag and will potentially trip you up when you walk. Clear tape over the stones will prevent this and will allow for easy walking without having to hold your dress so have some handy just in case.
Don’t forget to wipe off any extra deodorant before heading out because you may leave behind some traces on your husband’s sleeves as you hug him. Bring some extra deodorant with you so that you can recharge before the reception and into the night.
Lip gloss doesn’t show up very well in photos so wear some lipstick even if it’s a neutral color and you normally don’t wear any.
Don’t forget to eat something and drink water while you’re getting ready. You’ll be able to cope with stress much better and feel more at ease. Remember that drinking alcohol actually dehydrates you, so keep sipping your water.
When you’re up at the alter don’t forget to look at each other and smile. If you feel like you’re going to start crying or your really nervous just simply reach out and grab hands. The touch of your love’s hands will settle any nerves.
This is for the Guys
Buy your own tie since rentals ones never fit as well.
Have an extra handkerchief in your pocket in case you or your bride starts to cry, her wedding dress doesn’t come with pockets. A simple card with flowers sent to your girl while she’s getting ready the day of the wedding will go a long way. If you’re planning a surprise don’t forget to let us know so that we can be there to capture the moment for you.
When it’s time for the rings, hold the hand gently and slowly slip the ring on. Once the ring is on hold it in that position of a few seconds so that we can get the ring shots. Hands tend to swell with stress and heat so put some lotion on your hands to aid in the process. This is especially important for the guys since their hands look like they walk on their knuckles some times!
The Kiss- Remember that this is a family show so try not to make out too much up there. Enough said.
Teeth Whitening- If you enjoy coffee, red wine, and or smoking your pearly whites may not be so white. Now thanks to all the strips and other over the counter treatments you can personally whiten your smile in about two weeks for those perfect white smile photos.
When you’re walking down the aisle I will be there photographing you but you won’t notice me, all you’ll be seeing is your soon to be husband waiting for you and all your guests smiling at you. Once you’re at the alter most fathers forget to hug and kiss their daughters since their one important mission is accomplished (walk her down the aisle) so you may want to help remind him since it makes for a really tender moment just as the ceremony begins.
Day of Your Wedding
If you give your photographer a must-have photos’ list then they should give you feed back on this before the day so you will know exactly what to expect on the day.
The bride and groom decide when, where, and who- for the photos. The most difficult part of getting your photos done-and done quickly-is assembling the cast. You can’t expect cooperation from your bridal party if they don’t know what has been planned. You must let them know what you expect of them. A great time to tell everyone is immediately after the rehearsal or at the rehearsal dinner. I actually recommend having a list of people you want for the family formals so that you don’t leave anyone out. Don’t even consider a photographer that’s not willing to work from your list!
If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, ask a friend, who is not in the wedding party, to assist. Her biggest job will be keeping amateur photographers and the curious at bay, while the professional gets the shots you want. There is nothing worse than having someone stand in the isle to take their shot with a personal camera ruin my shot of you walking down with your father. A friend on site is also useful if one of your wedding party goes astray. Otherwise, you send one person after that person, and another after the second person, and pretty soon there is no wedding party at all.
If you are employing both a still photographer and a videographer, let them both know that in advance. You might want them to consult briefly to work out a few logistic details in advance of the wedding.
If you don’t mind seeing each other before the ceremony, it is possible to take formal pictures prior to the wedding. If that just isn’t an option the best time is immediately following the ceremony. Photos done after the ceremony always have a better look to them in my opinion since the stress of the ceremony is over.
Keep in mind that the best outdoor lighting occurs in the morning and in the evening when the sun light is at a low angle. The worst lighting is between 11Am ~ 2PM since the sun will be overhead casting shadows around your eyes, nose, and chin. We use diffusers, reflectors, and fill flashes to correct the problem as well as shade for a tree and a building.
Even the photographer that contractually specifies exclusive rights to taking all photos at a wedding knows it is impossible to control all guests with cameras. If you’ve designated friends to take candids, let them know there are some rules. You’ll get better shots from both the professional and the amateur.
-Don’t take flash photos during the processional or recessional. The flash may set off the professional’s remote strobes and ruin his/her one chance at the perfect shot.
-Don’t try to duplicate the professional’s formal shots. The flash will definitely change the fill light, distract the subjects, and generally irritate the professional. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to have candids of your wedding party in between the formal shots
-Don’t try to be the director. The professional will direct the formal shots, and the candids should be just candids.
Feed Your Photographer. Be sure to include in your reception a full meal for your photographer/videographer. They will have been working for you sometimes for nine or ten hours at that point, and it’s just plain courteous to make sure they have something to eat during that long time period. Some locations or caterers offer a discounted vendor meal, which sometimes only constitutes a sandwich and a soda which is not enough food for a 12 hour day which we often do.
Gratuity is not mandatory, but like any service industry if you feel like your photographer or videographer went above and beyond then feel free to express your appreciation.