12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't
Off Beat Bride, post a great blog on 12 things wedding photographers want to tell you, but can't.. with some really interesting points. I wanted to take the time to elaborate a bit on a few..
1. How do I pick a good photographer when there are hundreds listed in my area?
Look at reputable wedding vendor directories like The Knot and Wedding Wire. Google is also a great place to start. But dont just stay on page one. There or plenty of talented pros that may be buried beyond the prime real estate of google first page.
Once you've got a few favorite photographers, narrow it down to a handful of favorites, and set up a time to meet them!! Either in person or via phone. Make sure you're meeting or chatting with the person who will be wielding the camera at your wedding, not a sales consultant or studio owner. You have to, like, trust and get along with your photographer — that way you can leave the magic of photo making in the photographer's hands. Not only should you like their images, you should also like them! You'll be spending many hours with them during your wedding day.
2. How many photos do I get?
Typically, many professional photographers deliver between 50-100 photos for every hour of coverage they provide. You may also find that some photographers promise to deliver thousands of pictures, with no rhythm or reason. If a photographer promises to deliver 2k pictures, RUN! As the same with many other things in life, quality over quantity! Your wedding photographer should be preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling, while selecting the best of the batch as not to overwhelm you with multiples of the same pictures.
3. I love those photos with the blurry backgrounds. How do you get that look?
You're talking about shallow depth of field. Photographers get that look by using professional lenses that are able to focus tightly on the subject.
If you're a fan of this look, you've found your photographer. We love using this technique to really make your wedding images pop!
4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean and vibrant, and one whose images look like they were shot on old film. What's the deal?
Every photographer has a different way of editing their images using computer software (the high-tech version of a darkroom). This is called "Post-Processing." Most photographers do some basic lighting and color adjustments, but you can also use editing software to create a unique look. Three popular styles right now are:
- Clean: lightly processed to appear natural
- Matte: a low-contrast look with muted pastel colors, similar to vintage film
- High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colors that pop
We at Stella Image Photography like to edit your wedding photos to look sharp, clean, and vibrant, rather than the washed out "instagramy filtered" look.
It doesn't matter which style you go with, as long as you love it!
5. Why is wedding photography so freakin' expensive?
This is the question I see most from brides on the interwebs. Wedding photography seems like easy money — work for one day and rake in the cash, right? But most full-time wedding photographers I know carry over $15,000 worth of wedding gear and often work 60-hour weeks. (Remember those 800 images from question #2? It takes several full days just to edit those.)
Add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career.
With that said, sure you could find someone to "just take some pictures" at your wedding for a couple hundred bucks, but i can guarantee those individuals likely dont have the proven track record and experience you want your wedding photographer to have. I have heard countless stories of friends who wished they'd chosen the photographer they really wanted, as they missed out on having beautiful images to look back at after the wedding day has long passed.
6. How can I make sure I look good in my photos?
Relax. Trust your wedding photographer.
If you're relaxed, it'll come through in your photos.
Leave some breathing room in your schedule so you don't feel rushed — I recommend a minimum 45 minutes for family and wedding party photos, and an 45 mins for the couple portraits.
Oh, and get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water the night before.
Take it easy at the rehearsal dinner. Wedding-day hangovers are not fun.
7. I keep hearing about "shoot and burn" photography. Sounds painful. What is it?
Actually, yeah, it can be kind of painful. "Shoot and burn" is slang for photographing a wedding and sending the photos straight to you without post-processing. It's usually super cheap — for a reason. Bad lighting isn't corrected, distracting elements aren't removed (hello, Speedo-clad photobomber!), and zits remain proudly on display.
Digital files may be important to you, but find a full-service photographer who will edit the images and print reference proofs before handing over the digis.
And please, don't let the digitals rot on your hard drive. As a photographer, I want you to proudly display your wedding photos. It makes me sad when I think of all the photos that never get printed. Don't hide your wedding photos! Print and share them!
8. Should we do a "first look"? And, um, what the hell is a "first look"?
The first look is a chance for wedding couples to see each other privately before the ceremony. Two-thirds of my clients currently opt to do a first look. It's a great chance to get the wedding jitters out and spend a few minutes alone together. I find that first look photos tend to be some of my favorites. It's a real moment with real emotions.
Honestly, it's also a great way to avoid stress on your wedding day. (Some of my couples even choose to get ready together!) And many of my couples get to enjoy their whole cocktail hour because they got all of the photos out of the way before the wedding.
9. Do I really need a second photographer?
No one needs a second photographer, but they can provide you with more images and a different perspective. Many of the top photographers only work with assistants who carry gear and help with professional lighting. The best thing is to ask your wedding photographer to see how they prefer to work. You can get good results either way.
10. How far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?
Many in-demand wedding photographers book weddings at over a year out. As it gets closer to your wedding date, it will be harder to book your first-choice photographer.
If your favorite photographer is unavailable on your date, don't panic. Ask them for recommendations — they may know someone with a similar style and a lighter schedule.
11. You can Photoshop that, right?
It depends. As a photographer, I want to get everything as perfect as possible in camera. Posing, location scouting, and camera settings can "fix" most things before I even click the shutter. If your uncle photobombs you, I'm going to retake the photo — it's much easier to get the photo right than to fix it with Photoshop. Many photographers charge for extensive editing in Photoshop, because it can be very time-consuming.
12. Should I tip my photographer?
I get asked this a lot. There was a great article about tipping on Offbeat Bride. For photographers, "Tips are never expected but are always appreciated."
Hopefully this clears up some burning questions about wedding photography — and makes it a little bit easier to find the perfect photographer for your wedding day.