I’m sure you have many questions about wedding photography. What should you expect? How does it work? How can you help make sure your photographer is best prepared for the day? Here is some helpful information about wedding photography, as well as some helpful tips to help make the day go smoothly.
1. Research your photographer.
I believe there are three main things that go into choosing the best photographer for you:
Style. Price. Personality.
If these three things don’t jive, chances are in the end neither will you and your photographer. So do yourself and your photographer a favor and research to be sure you are a good match in these three realms.
2. Rip up those wedding magazines.
That’s right. Show your photographer examples of both what you LOVE and what you HATE. Pick up some wedding magazines and start ripping out pictures to fit both categories to be presented to your photographer. You’d be surprised at what a huge help it is!
3. Engagement Session.
Consider booking an engagement session with your photographer. First off, engagement sessions are fun and give you beautiful photos to display at your wedding. You can also use the photos to send out on wedding announcements and invitations. But what’s more, an engagement session allows you to get a feel for your photographer, to establish more of a relationship, to get comfortable, to get a feel for their shooting style, and to know what to expect when it comes to your big day. It sort of breaks the ice and inevitably adds a better chance of having a successful photo shoot the day of.
4. How much time will you need your photographer for?
I recommend a good 7 – 8 hours to get thorough coverage at a wedding. Of course, every wedding is different, but this is a good basic estimate. When contemplating, keep in mind that this is a once in a lifetime affair. Will you regret not having certain special moments of your day covered? Wedding photography is an investment… I think you will find your photographer and the memories they capture for you are priceless.
5. Wedding Photographers are professionals.
Please remember wedding photographers are professionals. And there’s a reason for that. Good photography isn’t as simple as pressing a button. There is a TON that goes into photography and it takes years to learn. It is a trade, an art, and a real skill. Weddings can be extremely high pressure and high intensity and you might be astonished at how much goes into photographing such an event. Your photographer will most likely be the person whom you spend the most time with on your wedding, other than your fiance. They often tend to run the show… acting as somewhat as a second wedding coordinator… making sure everything runs smoothly and on time, smoothing out issues, tending to emotional mothers… even holding up your dress for you. With these things in mind, please let your photographer do their job. Your photographer knows best about lighting and what will turn out in a photo and what won’t. It’s perfectly fine to make suggestions, but please leave it up to your photographer to make final decisions. If you have special must-have shots, alert your photographer to them before your wedding day. And don’t present a list of 50. It is impossible for your photographer to remember all those and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Your photographer will inevitably get the standard must-haves. It’s wonderful if you add a few, and then let your photographer fill in the in-betweens. You’re photographer will do their very best.
6. Book your photographer A.S.A.P.
It is not uncommon for photographers to book up a year in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute!
7. Alert your photographer to anything special or unusual.
Will your reception be by candlelight? Will there be a grand sparkler send off? Is your grandpa toting you around in his Model A? Will you be wearing your great grandmother’s necklace? These are all things to alert your photographer to. Not only are they incredibly special aspects that your photographer won’t want to miss, but they may be things your photographer will need special preparation for. For instance, they may need to bring in special lighting for a candlelit room, or scout out a perfect place to photograph you with your grandpa’s Model A. If you’re organizing to have all your sorority sisters dance to Thriller, your photographer will certainly want to be alerted and prepared to be ready for the moment.
8. Why is wedding photography so expensive?
Wedding photography is a hefty investment. Couples are likely to spend $2000 for the most basic of package, and upwards to a more realistic price of $3-5000 for super coverage. This seems like a lot… why the big numbers?
First, please know that being a photographer is incredibly expensive. The demand of what is expected for wedding coverage is every changing and increasing, and so is the necessary photography gear. To give an idea, I bring at least 10-15 thousand dollars worth of photography gear to each wedding I shoot. Not kidding or exaggerating. It’s not uncommon for wedding photographers to go through more than one camera body a year. The risk of toting around this much gear nearly gives me a heart attack. There is liability that goes along with it all, risk of stolen equipment, and risk of equipment failure which means we must have good insurance and backups of everything.
9. First Look.
You will find that just about every wedding photographer highly recommends a ‘pre-see’… having your first look before your ceremony. Couples generally place high importance on couples photos. Getting good couples shots takes at least an hour. By sticking to the tradition of waiting, time and daylight will be greatly limited. To get the best possible photos, I highly recommend a pre-see, giving at least an hour, and having the session during good day light. If tradition is ultra important to you, your photographer will respect your decision. Keep in mind, however, that you will either need to schedule time away from your guests for your session and possibly limit the amount of time and, therefor, the amount of photos and variety, or… consider scheduling a ‘day-after’ photo session with your photographer.
10. How long should you expect before seeing your photos?
Editing photos takes a ton of time! It’s like your photographer’s second job! Each photographer is different, and some photographers send their work to editors rather than doing it themselves, but even then photos may generally take between 2 – 3 months to complete. I try to choose a few favorite shots to send to my couples as candy to tide them over until the rest of their photos are completed. But, like I said, expect at least 2-3 months. Remember that your photographer probably has thousands of photos to sift through from your wedding alone, not to mention thousands of photos from other weddings they’ve photographed as well. Ask them when you should expect to see your photos (every photographer is different), and respect that time frame.
11. Why a second photographer?
Hiring a second photographer, although not necessary, is a smart consideration. Having a second photographer, especially during the most crucial coverage hours (generally during the ceremony onward through the reception) offers you extra coverage, more variety in shots, different perspectives, as well a secure backup. It’s not common for files to be corrupt or lost or for your photographer to miss the number one most important shots, such as ‘the kiss’, but it’s not impossible either. Having a second photographer doesn’t add much to the relative price, but offers a whole lot of security for everyone. If you want this option, talk to your photographer. They should offer a second as an additional service to you.