Questions and Answers on Wedding
What distinguishes a professional photographer
from an amateur or weekend photographer? Why should
I hire a professional?
A professional photographer is prepared for virtually
anything that could go wrong and will have a backup
plan. The professional knows that this is a once
in a lifetime event and can't be rescheduled. Professionals
know the importance of being prompt and will
often arrive at events early just to be safe. A
professional uses professional equipment that is
designed to be reliable and dependable and just
to be safe, the pro will also bring backups for
all key items (e.g. extra camera, flash, lenses).
Having attended many weddings, an experienced wedding
photographer will be at ease at your wedding. Professionals
understand the importance of archival printing and
use labs that print to high standards of quality.
And, a professional is used to working with individuals,
couples, and groups to make the formal photography
How should one choose a wedding photographer?
Most professional photographers have a website making
it easy to get an idea of the style and quality
of their work. Visit a variety of sites, using the
opportunity to both make a list of photographer's
whose work you like as well as getting a sense of
the differences in style between photographers.
I recommend contacting photographers whose work
you like first by phone so that you can ask some
questions and see how comfortable you are with them
in your intial conversation. After speaking on the
phone if you are comfortable with this photographer
make an appointment with them to meet in person
in their studio where you can see samples of their
printed work. When looking through sample albums
pay attention to your emotional response to the
photography and to the communication skills of the
photographer. Look for high technical quality too.
When you find a photographer you would like to have
photograph your wedding, it's time to discuss prices,
packages, and other details.
What is the first question I should ask the photographer?
Once you have established that the photographer
is available for your date and location, you will
want to ask, "If we select your studio, will
you be the photographer covering our wedding?"
Some studios have several photographers and you
may be speaking to a salesperson, or simply one
of many photographers. The sample albums may have
been done by photographers who do not even work
for the studio anymore. If this is the case, you
should make arrangements to meet with and see the
work of the particular photographer who will be
doing your wedding. The name of the photographer
who you have chosen to work with should have there
name listed as the photographer for your wedding
on your signed contract.
What about price?
While price is of course a consideration, the quality
of the images and your satisfaction with how your
special day is captured will be what you are left
with for a lifetime. After you have looked through
a photographer's portfolio and viewe the breadth
of their work, you will know if this photographer
has the technique, style and spirit to be the eyes
through which you and future generations will see
your wedding day. Look for an established and reliable
photographer whose work moves you. If you find a
photographer who makes you happy, you never will
regret your investment, whatever the dollar cost.
So, how much does wedding photography cost?
I've seen prices ranging from $500 as much as $50,000
for a wedding! Prices below $1000 are generally
offered by students and amateur photographers. These
are people who may photograph occasional weddings
but depend on another job to pay their bills.They
won't have the eye and experience of a full-time
professional nor will they have the same quality
of equipment, backups in case something goes wrong
nor are they likely to have references. Limiting
yourself to experienced, professionals, you can expect
to invest a minimum of $1,500 for a small wedding
on a weekday or Sunday, and $2,500 and up for Saturdays.
Also, for additional copies, an 8x10 reprint will
cost $20 to $50 each. Expect better photographers
to charge the higher rates. If you are looking for
a bargain and shop via phone for pricing, you may
be insuring that you will be happy with the price,
but are far less likely to be happy with the value
you receive for what you spend.
We're having a small wedding, with a very limited
budget, what can we do?
One of the best ways to reduce costs for a wedding
is to be flexible on dates. Pick a time of the year
that is off season for most professionals, which
in the Bay Area is roughly November through March.
Sundays, and weekdays are often more negotiable
than Saturdays which is the day that photographers
book the largest number of there weddings.
Another way to save money is a cash and carry package.
This is a package that includes the photographer's
time on your wedding day and a full set of images
provided on CD/DVD or Film. The downside to this
option is that professional quality prints purchases
from a custom lab will tend to cost as much or more
then they would from the photographer. The upside
is that you have the images, can print inexpensive
copies and can still select a few professional enlargements.
You can make a simple album yourself or purchase
one from the photographer later when you are better
able to afford. This choice is far superior to compromising
on the quality of the photography -- as you will
never be able to make up for photos that were missed
or poorly exposed/focused by an amateur photographer.
What about Proofs, Negatives, and Digital files?
Proofs may be electronic (CD, DVD, or on-line),
or printed one or more on a page. Because of the
proliferation of scanners and copy stations, printed
proofs have become an invitation for illegal copying.
Most photographers will give you proofs in a form
that makes ordering easy and copying difficult.
Who chooses the pictures that go in the album?
After looking at all the proofs, the bride and groom
usually decide what goes in the album. The photographer
may let you specify the sequence and size of the
pictures, so that the album really shows the wedding
the way you want to see it, with important images
enlarged, and related candids grouped together.
What about black and white photography?
Some clients have a preference for or against black
and white photography and sepia is still an option
though less popular than it once was. Not all black
and white is really black and white. Many photographers
who are still shooting film use a special film that
records black and white (really black and orange)
using color dyes. This option is less expensive
and easier to have printed but the results are of
poorer quality. Similarly digital images can be
printed with a black and white look on color paper
(this is the most common way it is printed) or can
be printed on true black and white paper which gives
a true black color. I can show you the difference
if you come into my studio.
Some images are greatly enhanced
by being printed in b&w as the color is only
serving as a distraction. Imagine for example and
image of the bride and groom dressed in black and
white with a brightly colored dress right behind
them. If the bride and groom are the subject of
the photo the color is distracting and it may work
far better in black and white. I recently photographed
a brightly colored wedding in Mexico -- because
the colored decoration and colored clothes are such
a big part of the Mexican tradition the vast majority
of these photos work best in color.
Should we do the formals before or after the
Some couples think it is bad luck to see each other
before the ceremony. If following this tradition
is important to you, all of the photos of the bride
and groom together will be done afterwards, but
solo shots can be done before. However, getting
all the formals done at the beginning has several
advantages: Flowers, clothing and make-up are fresh,
and you can carefully budget time for formals. (And,
if your ceremony ends after dark, the only time
for natural light pictures of the two of you will
be before the ceremony!) Couples who feel formal
photos are important will set aside one or two hours
for formals, which finish up about half an hour
before the ceremony begins. If you do formals immediately
after the ceremony, guests have to wait before they
can greet you, and members of the bridal party will
have pose for pictures rather than mingle.
Some photographers ask that no one else take
pictures during the formal photography. Is that
Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly
through a series of formal pictures, a snap-shooter
might slow the process. A problem arises when there
are several cameras aimed at a formal group - the
subjects will be looking at different lenses. The
diverted attention will ruin the professional's
picture. There are many other reasons why a professional
might ask others to refrain from picture taking
during formals. On the other hand, many guests find
snapping a few pictures a pleasant part of attending
weddings, so it should not be a big deal for your
professional to be relaxed and let people snap away
when formals are over. Ideally, guests should show
respect for the bridal party and photographer and
put down their cameras during the formal photos.
I want to make copies of my photos. Does my photographer
really own the copyright of his/her pictures?
Yes and yes. According to federal law, images produced
by a professional photographer are copyrighted the
moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying
or reproducing copyrighted material without permission
from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer.
If you copy or scan your photos, the photographer
should be paid just as if you were buying reprints.
If you or your videographer transfer the proofs
to videotape, the photographer should be paid just
as if you were buying reprints. If you don't feel
comfortable paying for these copies, find a photographer
whose work is so good that you are glad to pay.
When I really appreciate something I purchase, like
a fabulous meal, an antique, a good pair of shoes,
or even medical care, I do not mind paying a premium
for getting the highest quality. Look for the photographer
who will provide you the satisfaction of paying
for job well done