Wedding Photography FUQs

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 wedding 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.

 

Hey, why is there no music on your website?

Oh how I loathe auto-play, with a deep and abiding passion. Seriously, that crap is annoying. I don’t like having control of my computer hi-jacked, so no way am I going to do it to you. Besides, how am I supposed to know whether you prefer Moonlight Sonata or Gangnam Style?  And what if I prefer Jimmy Buffett (I swear I don’t, but what if I did)?

 

How long have you been taking photos professionally, and how long have you been a professional wedding photographer?

Short answer: About 4 years. 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. So, in summation and stuff, I’ve been a professional working artist for almost 20 years, and I’m very experienced with cameras but new-ish to weddings, just not freakishly last week new.

 

Why do professional wedding photographers charge $200/300/400 or more per hour if all you’re doing is pushing a button and burning some files to a DVD?

Oh, au contraire mon frère (this is loosely translated as, “I don’t THINK so Bro.!!”)(thanks Rebekah!)!! For every hour you see any 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, archival disks, disk cases, transportation, shipping stuff everywhere, metric tons of coffee and so on. And the cameras ain’t cheap either. Now that cameras have tiny little computers and 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 their time, 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.  As the immortal Ms. Summer opined so eloquently in 1983, “She works hard for the money… so hard for it, honey…”

 

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. It’s meant to be a blank slate so that the photographer can have complete artistic freedom. (Yeah, baby, yeah.)  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 tux, I use a spot treatment to remove it. If there’s a random street sign in an otherwise perfect photo, I chop it out. 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 2-3000 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 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 10 photos, you’ll get 2, because in the other 8 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 people doing anything. Have you ever seen a series of photos of your Uncle Raymond dancing? It take a few dozen shots to get that good one that doesn’t look like he’s having a 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 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?

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). 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 (shout out to APW), we will just need to communicate about it first.  Often, most blogs 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 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 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 only a one-woman show, means I have to totally rock the Google calendar around here. Most of the photography work is done at crazy times, 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. Because I’m totally going to treat you like a celebrity, it’s ix-nay on the atting-chay. 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 Monday.

 

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 along the east coast and around the country (you were wondering how I could travel so cheaply!), and sometimes I will be combining working trips with visiting my friends.  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 for flip flops.

 

What about travel fees and lodging? Is there a minimum package required for travel?

There are no travel fees for anyone who purchases wedding photography coverage in the continental United States.  Are you getting married anywhere in the Lower 48?  Cool. I’m not gonna charge you any travel fees.  This whole process should be pain free for you. I want you to be able to quickly and easily understand the actual cost of your wedding photography so we can start talking about the fun stuff sooner.  We have a whole page about our free travel for wedding photography if you want to learn more.

 

Do you work with an assistant?

Depending on the size of the wedding and the number of guests expected, I sometimes work with assistants and second photographers.  If your expected number of guests is large enough (over 150), or if you party like a rock star, I would recommend that you add a second wedding photographer to your package so you get plenty of incriminating photos. Don’t miss your golden opportunity to get a photo of your mom doing the macarena with a lamp shade on her head out on the dance floor, and also get the photo of Aunt Judy outside on the patio doing flaming lemon drop shooters with four of the groomsmen. Two wedding photographers can actually be in two places at once because of a glitch in the space time continuum.  (A second wedding photographer is included in Wedding Package One and Two, but is a separate charge in Wedding Packages Three and Four.)

 

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, we (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.

 

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 with a service that promises to protect our files forever, or almost as long as a Stanley Kubrick movie feels. 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?

Well, you could love them and squeeze them and look at them and call them George. But the bestest 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 fine art book or 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. For even more ideas about things you can do, check out acrylic printswedding guest books from your engagement photos, and lay flat photo books.

 

Why should I get a wedding album?

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 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 pimp hat and feather boa in the photo booth, but Whoops! NOBODY uses flash drives anymore. This can totally happen, since technology marches ever onward like determined digital soldiers armed with weapons of media frustration. 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 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 gaw-juss.  We call them heirloom wedding albums because these hand made 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 the only 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 Skype and do the same thing. You’ll just have to get coffee (or wine or beer) on the way home.

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.

 

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I wish you all the best and many years of joy and prosperity.