And you can count on me, and you can lean on me….and we can throw our dreams into the wind, they’ll find us again….¬†-Brandi Carlile (Us Again)
¬†Love stories are often portrayed as dramatic, extraordinary, and often overblown tales. Not to say that each story isn’t extraordinary, but the idea of romance has been a driving force for humanity since somewhere in history….one human felt something inside that he/she knew was worth living for beyond all things. Who knows who or when that was, but a phenomenon was born, and this little feeling carries on to where we are now. I often find myself frustrated with how this pure emotion has been twisted and displayed as a trite, colorful, empty thing in which to base entertainment off of. I guess I am perhaps also in this business for what I believe in, and to find the real love stories that matter.
Jessica and Eric’s simple, beautiful story was translated into a stunning and charming wedding brought on by an effortless breeze. They make it all look so easy. We are reminded that love doesn’t have to be so difficult.
From fresh farmer’s market and homegrown blooms, music from family and friends, dancing toddlers, a warm spot of sunshine in the country….and even clouds of mosquitoes….this wedding was perfection. It didn’t take much.
Venue: Lussier Family Heritage Center
Hair: Serena Hesse (Anaala Salon, Atwood)
Dress: Doris Bridal Boutique
Music: Nic Barnum & Father of the Bride
Cake: Bunky’s Restaurant
Flowers: Madison Farmer’s Market & Homegrown by Mother of the Bride
Videographer: Kraig Moreland
Photographer: Emily Bee Arts
For three years I hesitated about shooting boudoir. Three years after I had photographed my first session of this nature. I wasn’t sure if it was a good move for my business, and since the concept behind this type of photography is very personal and intimate, I wasn’t confident that I would be able to pull it off. I figured, if someone is to be photographed in that way, they should be under the artistry of someone who is comfortable posing and can be encouraging to the subject.
I’m so very glad I got over it and decided to do this.
What is Boudoir Photography, exactly? ¬†The word boudoir¬†comes from a French term for a lady’s private sitting room or dressing room. ¬†Traditionally, this form of photography is described as sensual or suggestive images of women in candid or posed photographs where the subjects wear very little clothing (commonly lingerie or implied nudity). ¬†Photographs are often gifted to the women’s significant others, and this is still true of Boudoir Photography although the movement has evolved into more of a Feminist art style that promotes inner and outer beauty working to grow self-confidence and self-esteem. This idea makes it perfectly acceptable for a single woman to treat herself to a Boudoir session (5/10 clients on Saturday were single).
The process of Boudoir photography brings a woman into a state of vulnerability as she is quite literally, exposed in her own skin. Every single woman on Saturday was nervous at the start of her session. Through added touches of glamour, lovely and clean light, and words of encouragement and gentle coaxing from the photographer–a woman can be transformed into a full spirit of strength and bold beauty both inside and out. Every client was given a questionnaire so I could gauge their comfort level and the other stylings of their shoot. Since it is such an intimate form of art, I allowed for the clients to reveal as much, or as little as they wanted to, and whether or not the images were kept private (If they wanted to simply prance around in a sun dress, so be it). I had read about Boudoir and how it can raise a woman up, but I really had no idea to what extent my work could impact someone. The session starts stiff, nervous, and uncomfortable and slowly the client is brought to a place where she feels nothing short of gorgeous. When someone opens up in a state of fear and then after seeing a glimpse of themselves on the LCD screen on the back of my camera reaches out to hug me with gracious tears….that’s when I know I’m doing the right thing. Girl, I’ve been there. It’s a tight, cold, dark, festering place where no one should be resident to. Once you’re out and really alive, nothing is more freeing than to say “D**n, I’m awesome.”
I close this entry by proclaiming that every woman should do this once in her life. For herself.
We assured Catherine that it wouldn’t rain. It would be sunny outside, it would be perfect, and her engagement pictures would be lovely. We were right, and what a great evening in the third ward it was.
A blaring golden sun in a cloudless sky lit up the landscape of cream-city brick, sparkling black pavement, and the beautiful faces and glowing eyes of Catherine and Mario (I know, I’m cheesy…but it’s my job…and admit it, YOU LIKE IT).¬†Look. At. Them.¬†There is something so simple yet powerful about this amazing couple. Catherine’s engaging smile with easy laughter lights up the eyes of her fiancee and it’s quite plain to see that this just works. They make love look so effortless, so simple by how crazy they are about each other.
You both are so delightful, I can’t wait for your magical, wintry wedding! Many congratulations.No comments
Reflecting on this event, I experience a wide spectrum of emotions. I don’t even know where to begin or what to say, especially given the ironic and unfortunate happening for Shana Martin (Huntington Disease Society of America Spokesperson) and her family, and at such a joyous and hopeful event for such a great cause…I feel so honored to have been involved.
Huntington’s disease is awful, and I hadn’t gotten much knowledge of it until Shana asked me to help photograph the event. It is a terrible, genetic neurological disorder that slowly shuts down a person’s motor skills…imagine not being able to think, eat, or walk on your own…imagine this all starting when you’re at your prime and in the middle of your life. Luckily, through people like Shana and others who speak and work to find a cure, we can have events like this re-prom, and it gives us all hope. I was overtaken by emotion at one point where a speaker mentioned that she tested positive for the disease, and lives having knowledge that one day she will succumb to the fate of her diagnosis…but she keeps on fighting.
Shana’s mom passed away on the way to this event. There were tears, and words that cannot be found…all you can say is “I’m so sorry…”¬†Shana and her dad came to the prom anyways, as they felt it was their mother/wife’s wish for them to be happy and dance the night away. To say that this is inspiring is a serious understatement.¬†And then it was also Shana’s birthday. The entire night was so moving, there was something if not multiple things that everyone could take away from it.
The event held a silent auction, dance, dinner, and more all to help sponsor and fund research to find a cure for Huntington’s disease. It was such a beautiful thing to see all these people come together and connect in a place to find comfort, hope, fight together, but still party and dance the night away.
As the last song of the night played….Don’t Stop Believin’.
I have seriously drafted this blog post 4-5 times. Now, I need to just write it.
The idea of doing maternity photographs for my dear friend/soul-brother Adam ¬†and his wife Alicia was both an honor and cause for definite nerves. Adam, like myself, is a¬†photographer. His work is really freaking awesome, and I have always admired and respected him and his photographs with high regard, especially since ¬†I consider Adam as a mentor of mine and partially responsible for my getting into photography–it was his camera that I borrowed when I took intro to photography (Gotta love that little Minolta!) and I cannot thank him enough for his encouragement and teaching. I wanted nothing more than to deliver amazing photographs for him, his wife, and son on the way. It was only natural to feel a little pressure, but I think I got this.
At the time these images were photographed, Alicia was about 38 weeks along in her pregnancy and rocked her baby bump like nobody’s business (seriously, how did you do that!?). In their eyes, you could see a giddy glow of anticipation and a gushing outpouring of that thing-called-love….and their son hadn’t even arrived yet! There was a strange hint of perfection as Adam and Alicia made monster faces at each other out on the ice…you only know that their son will be roaring playfully at them during bathtime with a mohawk of bubbles on his head. How beautiful is this family? They’re the best possible mixture, moustaches and monsters included. Having known them personally for many years, I know these two will be fantastic parents as they are some of the most kind and genuine people I have ever met, and that this little boy will be playing with so many legos and will grow up with great taste in music. So much love.
As I write this, Alicia is in the hospital right now and the baby is on his way….we finally get to meet Baby Boy Koenig! (I don’t want to brag, but I know his name already mwahahahaha…be jealous!). Congratulations, you lovely parents-to-be!No comments
It’s been nasty-cold out here in Wisconsin mixed in with a few bizarre forty-degree days that melt a clean blanket of snow as soon as it hits. Allison & Dan were (un)fortunate enough to come on one of the more biting-cold days, granted it was two Sundays ago and the temperatures were at least in the double digits. I don’t think they realized what they were in for once they had crossed the Indiana and Illinois state borders.
Dan is going for his PhD at Champaign-Urbana, and Allison is a fitness instructor at Indiana-Lafayette….but they are both proud Wisconsinites and definitely have Badger Pride. They met at the University of Wisconsin their freshman year and years later Dan popped the question at the feet of the famous Abraham Lincoln statue on Bascom Hill. Allison was supposed to run a marathon that day, but a rainstorm had prevented that from happening. The proposal came at a perfect time — to help a girl smile in a wave of dissapointment, and obviously…her best friend asked her to stay forever.
Winter aside, this couple knows how to stay warm. Whether it be with a cup of hot cocoa and a deck of cards, eachother’s arms, or running into the morning light together. Such a beautiful couple. Can’t wait until September 14! Congratulations, again
This shoot has been in discussion between Kelly and I for a few months now. I’m glad we were finally able to work it out, and it was such a great way for myself and their family to ring in the new year…on New Year’s Day itself!
Memories are precious, and they deserve to be preserved and cherished as life rolls on and changes so quickly so we can look back and smile at these days in a photograph. If nothing else, when things are gone, we have that.
In this cozy little house in the middle of a real Wisconsin Winter it was my honor to capture these photographs for this beautiful family. ¬†Thanks for dinnerNo comments
Bear with me as I write this, as I have never planned a wedding myself. I went around asking new brides, and old brides what they’d like to know, or what they wish they would have known back when they were planning. Being in this industry, there is some information I’ve gathered and learned about weddings as a whole that I’ve retained and feel they could help other couples. The average couple with EBA spent $10,000-20,000 on their wedding, and I had some very budget-savvy brides this year that amazed me with what they saved and still pulled off a gorgeous wedding (it was more personal, and about the lifetime, too!). Some even pulled off their wedding for less than the average.
Most of my couples had between 100-200 guests. The average wedding party was 3-4 on either side, and only one wedding had a ringbearer (no flower girls in 2012).
Before you begin, and have your date selected, come up with a rough guest list. This way you can determine your costs more accurately and can later work the guest list to fit your budget. The best breakdown to a budget that I found is from BRIDES.COM and I’ll share some of that information here. According to Brides.com, the average American wedding budget is $24,844. This cost is based on the average guest list being 152 people. I would also reccomend sucking it up and having the awkward discussion with your parents or whoever else may have mentioned they’d be willing to help out in that light conversation over Thanksgiving dinner over the years in helping pay as to determine the most accurate overall cost (I wouldn’t reccomend soliciting others for donations!).
They reccomend breaking your budget down into the following percentages:
- Groom‚Äôs Formalwear (Rental): 1.1 percent
- Favors: 1.3 percent
- Officiant: 1.5 percent
- Hair & Makeup (Including Attendants‚Äô): 1.8 percent
- Attendants‚Äô Gifts: 2 percent
- Invitations & Other Printed Materials: 2.8 percent
- Transportation: 2.9 percent
- Flowers: 5.7 percent
- Wedding Rings: 6 percent
- Music: 6.8 percent
- Wedding Dress, Veil & Other Accessories: 7.5 percent
- Photography & Videography: 13.6 percent
- Reception Site, Meals, Cake & Bar: 47 percent
The first thing that should be figured out are your venues. Where could you possibly put all the people you’d like to invite where everyone would fit? Once you know the costs of the venue rental, you can then easily play with the individual budgets of the other things on your list. If the cost of the hall of your dreams is slightly larger than imagined, you may go overbudget on that, and then lower your budget for other things.
Next, you should figure out what items are of highest-priority, so you can budget more for what is most important to you and your groom.
I just wrote a blog where I mentioned this, but the next-highest budgeted/priority vendor should be your photographer and/or videographer. ¬†This may be my biased opinion, but this is one day. These vendors create lasting memories that you cannot relive again aside from the imagery they’ve created. Everything else is more-or-less time sensitive.
Where can you keep costs down? These are just a few ideas.
The number one way to save money, is to cut down on the guest list.¬†It is reccomended that 40%-60% of the budget is spent on feeding and receiving your guests. If not, there are alternatives to saving $ in these areas.
Get married on a different day than Saturday, and/or during the off-season.¬†Getting married in December on a Friday could save you LOADS of money. I’m serious. Many vendors and reception halls give off-season discounts and deals in the slow-season, and will take lower prices to simply get bookings. Saturdays in the Summer and fall are most popular, therefore getting married at another time will help save in these costs.
Get married in a public park.¬†Public parks often are free, or inexpensive for event rentals. It’s the next-best thing to getting married in your backyard, and can provide a lovely scene for your ceremony and/or reception. This will make the food, table/tent/chair rental costs able to negotiate more guests! If you are renting a hall, some places even come with tables and chairs. Just something to keep in mind. Weather is often a factor with this option as well.
Think over hair & makeup.¬†Everyone wants to look their best on their wedding day. If you are getting married outside on a hot and sweltering summer day, your hair and makeup may not hold up through all the sweating you’ll be going through in that heavy dress. If you think you aren’t good at doing your own makeup, perhaps you have a girlfriend that is and could help you out (you could get her a coffee gift card!). Perhaps consider having yourself and your attendants be responsible for their own hair and makeup.
Consumable favors.¬†As quoted by a former bride “The reception and dinner are pretty much the thank-you to the guests anyways,” think about the costs for those tiny little things you leave at each place setting. No one has a problem with a bag of candy. They’ll eat it, think it’s delicious…and it won’t cost you much, nor will it be sitting around someone’s house being not being used, collecting dust, or given away as a white elephant gift.
Flowers.¬†I love fresh flowers over fake ones for a wedding, personally…but there are ways to keep these costs down. Perhaps avoid spending money on centerpieces and table arrangement, and keeping the flowers between yourself, your groom, the bridal party, and your parents. Consider a wholesale florist or an independent florist that works out of their home (I personally know a GREAT one, and would be more than delighted to reccomend her!). If you’re having a shabby-chic wedding, you can easily grab bouquets from the farmer’s market and tie them off with twine
Cake & Catering.¬†Drinks, hors d’oeuvres, dessert, dinner per person…this is one of the highest wedding costs there is! If you do not feel you need the hors d’oeuvres, consider leaving those out. Consider a buffet to keep the cost per-plate down. Limit the drinks you are offering in the bar (maybe just beer and wine) so people cannot take advantage of an open bar if you are paying for drinks (it adds up fast!)
Jewelry.¬†Ladies! Perhaps consider using your engagement ring as your wedding band as well? A lot of brides are doing this to save money! You’d just be left having to purchase your future husband’s ring.
Bridal Party.¬†A small bridal party is not only cost-effective, but having just 1-2 bridesmaids/groomsmen can often be a more personal/intimate option for a wedding, rather than dragging around an entourage (not that I’m opposed to you having all your best girls stand up! I’ve just found that smaller wedding parties provide a more personal wedding experience).
Music.¬†If you want live music, consider a community group as opposed to a professional band. If you are looking into a DJ, consider a more amateur dj with a personality that you like that can get people on the dance floor. I’ve also seen brides and grooms hook up their own music just with some rented speakers (or if they’re available at the facility) with ipods and laptops. The only downside to the latter, is that people don’t dance as much without a voice encouraging them to get down with their bad self and do the cupid shuffle.
Decor.¬†DIY, DIY, DIY. This actually is a small percentage that barely makes much of a difference as far as saving money…but every little bit adds up, and perhaps you can put this money towards something else (extra hours of photography — KIDDING). If you aren’t the artsy type, there are plenty of tutorials you can dig up on pinterest, or maybe your mom or girlfriends can help you! Most of my brides have resorted to DIY decor, and I think it makes the wedding more personal, and it’s amazing to think that she took her creative juices to work and created all of those beautiful things.
Attire.¬†If your wedding is more casual, perhaps consider allowing the guys to hang out in suits and ties instead of tuxes? Perhaps give your girls one color to shop for for a dress, and they can do their own shopping, and they all look uniquely beautiful in something coordinated, but different. Most of my brides and grooms have left their attendants responsible for their own day-of attire, but they have individual budgets too, and that is something to consider.
Attendant gifts.¬†These are necessary, but you don’t need to buy someone $100′s of in jewelry for the day. If you’re crafty, maybe you could make them scarves? Set a budget of $20 or less for these gifts and perhaps you can apply the money to another guest that could be fed.
Photography/Videography.¬†If you cannot afford a professional, I would reccomend asking a photographer if they have an associate photographer who would be willing to do it for less….or find a student that at least has some education and background in their field.
These are just a few ideas I’ve thought up, and I’m sure there are more I might mention in later posts, and I’m sure you’ll find ingenious ways on all those wedding blogs and on Pinterest (just be careful of sources, too!) and gain some education on that as well. Personally, I find that a wedding is just one day. It’s such a beautiful thing, it’s what I want my business to specialize in…but just keep in mind that the marriage is about a lifetime.
Below are some examples of awesome DIY work 2012 EBA brides put together! Check out how awesome and personal it makes their wedding
I can’t believe how fast 2012 went. A lot of changes happened to me personally, and professionally….but most of all, I can say that I am blessed to have had such a great first year with a full wedding season. I’m still a newbie to the world of professional photography, and I have a lot of work to do to to create a successful business…but I know I have something special, great artwork to offer….the potential is amazing. I’m so very excited to continue this journey. I was unbelieveably lucky with all the great clients I had this year and how far I have come.¬† I took some time to read through the resolutions I made last year and looking back, and looking ahead…I have come up with these 13 (for 2013) resolutions:
- More informative blogs! I addressed this in the post I had written earlier today, but I think some helpful tips and guidance from a vendor is one of the greatest resources any client could ask for. Since I want to specialize in Weddings as a professional, and because prospective brides and grooms have more questions planning such a large, one-shot event, I will try to focus on this aspect of my business…but of course, there is more to life than weddings….I will have some more posts for those as well.
- This…website. It’s not the prettiest website out there, and it has served past it’s time. Since I am a small-businessperson on a budget, I have gone through several developers in the process of trying to get a new layout. It has to happen. Thanks for your patience!
- Balancing life and photography! Above all, this is what I struggled with most this past year. Working a full-time job and working 10 weddings plus portrait sessions had it’s trials on my sanity and my business. I think that mastering this goal will improve other goals on this list as well.
- Better marketing. The business ran itself for awhile, and I fell behind….not having found time to put out a newsletter since *gasp* July….2013 is not as booked-up as I’d like it to be (in fact, it’s scaring me). I’ve honestly learned from letting this slip by, and the value of marketing. It’s not gonna happen this year.
- Sleep! Chances are you have gotten emails from me at 2, or sometimes 3 in the morning….regardless of the fact I work 3pm-11pm most of the time in my full-time, bill-paying job…I need to sleep more. Going to bed at midnight or 1 would be a great accomplishment of mine, and more beneficial to my lifestyle and business.
- Sell more products. I need to push prints and beautiful products like wall art and albums! These items are beautiful ways to cherish memories and I know my clients would love and appreciate them!
- Fabulous turnaround. I have delivered everything on time except for the last wedding…I delivered super fast for awhile before I got buried by too many photos to edit. I need to create better regimented schedules to assist in turnaround.
- Organization. I could really use the time to organize my files and client database….and re-evaluate how I organize them. This has never been easy for me.
- Master the experience. I’ve created some great relationships with clients this year, and I know I can be more consistent and get even better!
- Branding. This was on my list last year, and I would consider that resolution mastered, but as identity design is the face of a business…I have some great ideas to polish this further.
- Book an out-of-state wedding. It doesn’t have to be a wedding in the 2013 season, but I would like to have a wedding signed and booked for a wedding outside Wisconsin lines by the end of the year Just a step closer to my dream of being an international wedding photographer.
- Shoot more lifestyle sessions. Weddings are my pride and joy, but these are awesome, too
- More design work. This also was a goal last year, and I did design a couple things for clients, but I still don’t have a portfolio. Maybe I’ll go back to school and get my major, and not just a minor. Hmmm….
Looking back on 2012 as it is almost drawing to an end…there is only one thing that can truly sum up how I feel about it. Thank you, thank you thank you….THANK YOU! You wonderful, amazing, and beautiful clients…and assistant photographers….I was so truly blessed to be working with every single one of you. How did I get this lucky?! Thank you so much for your business, patience, kindness, and for believing in me as an artist. I feel as though I cannot express enough in this simple blog post…but you were all so great to work with, and I am so glad I got to work with each and every one of you. Here are some favorites from this last year’s wedding season:4 comments
Introduction, a New Year’s Special, and Choosing a Wedding Photographer – Wisconsin Wedding Photographer
One of my New Year’s Resolutions for my business (another blog to come) is to put out more informative blogs for my clients. Seeing as I just released the below special yesterday, I thought I might as well take a jump start to introduce that and also use this as an opportunity as a kickstarter.¬†Two birds, one stone¬†(as if I haven’t spammed you all with this on social media enough already).
Yup, that’s what it says.¬†$100 off¬†any¬†2013 Wedding Package¬†(This applies to 2014 Weddings too, I just haven’t created 2014 pricing yet!) as long as you inquire and schedule your consultation with me before the end of January. Just to refresh everyone on how this works:
Step 1. To inquire, shoot me an email or give me a call. I still work a full time job, so it is usually easier for me to respond to email as I can reply and answer handfulls of questions in one email.¬†Just an fyi: I only show my prices at consultations. This is because I would prefer to go through the contract with prospective clients about what is all included and I am a very budget-friendly photographer–so I want to try to make my best effort to find a package for works for them as well as myself while trying to get the very best value. That way, you can also get some help on-the-spot in selecting your package as well.¬†I will send you a copy of my contract, and we will schedule your consultation! Consultations are also free and can be done over phone or Skype if you live far away
Step 2.¬†The consultation. We will meet at a coffeeshop, where I will get you a cup of your favorite warm beverage (or smoothie if you’re not a coffee or tea person) and will have a folder chock full of goodies for you. This includes some tea (because I put it in EVERYTHING), my business card, a hard copy of my contract, a list of products and prices, a wedding questionnaire, and an engagement questionnaire. We will go through everything in this folder, especially the contract. The consult is also a great way for me to get to know you guys as a couple.
Step 3.¬†Decide if you want to book. I will likely email you in the next week or so following to check in and see if you have any other questions. If you decide to book, go on to step 4. If you decide not to, that’s okay. I hope you find a photographer that is a great fit for you.
Step 4.¬†Fill out your contract, sign it, and send it over to me with a 50% retainer fee! With that, you are booked and ready to go! Following booking, we will schedule your engagement session (all packages include it) and I will continue to follow up and read your questionnaire and have a timeline all ready for your big day! I love this job beyond all reason, and I cannot wait to work with you!
And now, if you aren’t yawning or bored yet…keep reading! It’s a lot, but it’s worth it Especially if you don’t know where to start!
¬†CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
¬†Before we begin, I feel obligated to state that yes, I may approach these ideas with somewhat of a semi-bias seeing that this is the nature of my business. At the same time, I’ve witnessed a lot, and read a lot on this matter and this is the very best advice that I have come up with. Before we begin….keep this in mind:
Your Photographer and/or Videographer may be your most important vendor purchases of the day.¬†Why is this? Well, think of it this way. Yes, everyone wants a beautiful wedding–but in an economy like this, a budget is often unavoidable. Most of my brides and grooms are very budget conscious (and I like it that way!) and have pulled off some very beautiful weddings with a limited wallet. So you buy a beautiful dress, flowers, delicious food, and a fun DJ. More often than not, the bride will never wear her dress again. The flowers will die, the food will get eaten, and the music plays and disappears into the air (or you hear it on the radio again). What is left? The captured memories. Yes, being a photographer I may hold a stronger value towards photography being a photographer myself (sick of me saying that?) but at the same time…you know those photo albums you’ve created over the years? Precious memories you can never relive unless through a photograph or a video.
Alright, now here’s the best step-by-step process I have come up with in selecting an awesome wedding photographer. I hope you aren’t bored.
1. Choose a Date.¬†This is very important. Any wedding vendor will not book you unless you have a date they can reserve. This doesn’t apply for dresses and sometimes flowers…but we need to take an entire day out of our schedule so we need a day to put on the calendar and claim as yours.¬†You don’t need the venues yet, but you NEED to have your date.
2.¬†Start searching immediately.¬†Wedding planning is stressful. The sooner you start, the easier you make it on yourself in the long run. The first things you should book first are your venues, your dj or band, and your photographer. You should book these at least 6-12 months in advance. Some of us even book events two years in advance.
3.¬†Create a Budget.¬†If you want a seasoned, experienced, and skilled professional….plan on spending AT LEAST $1,500-$3,000 on a photography package.¬†I’ll talk more about this, later.
4. What products and coverage do you want?¬†Think about how long your wedding might be and if you want all or select moments cherished. Do you want prints, digital files, an album? Naturally, you can always change your mind…but it is a good thing to have at least an idea of what you may be looking for so your photographer-to-be can fill your needs adequately.
5.¬†Look up photographers, look at samples.¬†Make sure their portfolios not only back up their talent, but also show aspects of a wedding from start to finish. Make sure that they work in a style you like. Photojournalistic styles are very popular now, and there are many that still shoot more traditionally. Many of us combine both styles. See that they know how to work with lighting (you can tell by how the dark reception photos look) and that their images are sharp and in focus. You may want to check with their reviews on WeddingWire or they may even have client testimonials on their sites. Find out if they have liability insurance, insured equipment, backup equipment, and perhaps see if they are members of Professional Photographers of America and/or Wedding and Portrait Photographers International.
6.¬†Think twice, or thrice before hiring a friend or family member.¬†Now, I have done work for family members before. But something to think about is that with the digital boom, a LOT of people have a DSLR. A camera is merely a tool, and just because you want to save some money and your Uncle Bob has a nice camera…does not mean they are a great photographer. The best analogy I can think of is this quote from photographer Sam Haskins:¬†A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must hava a terrific stove.’¬†If your cousin, uncle, or brother is accredited and has their own business with quality work and proper education…by all means hire them, but keep in mind…this is their job and they need money to put in the bank, too. Also think about how engaged you want them to be in your wedding. Photographing a wedding is a physically challenging, fast-paced, and stressful job. If they are doing the photography they will be unable to sit down and have a good time like you may wish them to.
7. Schedule consultations.¬†Meeting or talking with your photographer directly, especially in-person is very important. This way you can get a preview of what it might be like to work with this individual, go through the contract (very important, and make sure you read it and are very familiar with it), and ask any questions at once. I personally find this methodology is easier than emailing back and forth. I prefer to keep it more personal, as well
8. Gauge their professionalism.¬†I personally feel like I have a very laid-back, and friendly relationship with my clients. At the same time, I do not take inquiries on Facebook, and I do not share too much about my personal life unless a further friendship is developed (which it has in many cases, and I feel oh-so blessed!). Remember that this is a business arrangement, and if you have a photographer who is complaining about other clients, etc. You may want to rethink hiring them for your services. At times, I have let my struggle balancing my full-time job, this business, and life sneak out into the open. At the same time, I let my clients know about my lifestyle and how busy I am maintaining the website (Oi, this one is an embarrassment), editing, filling orders, etc. As long as they are aware of this, and if I am ever late I grant my clients a credit (which has only happened once in two years!). We all have crazy lives at times, make sure that if your photographer slips (we’re all human) that they have great client recovery.
9. Ask questions!¬†Find out what you need to know, make sure they have answers you want to hear and that they can answer all your questions to the best of your ability. Some questions include but certainly aren’t limited to:
* What is your turnaround time?
* How many years have you been in the business?
* Do you use an assistant photographer?
* What kind of equipment do you use?
* Do you have liability insurance?
* Do you have backup equipment?
* Do you scout at locations?
* What products do you offer?
* Do you offer a-la-carte pricing or packages?
* Do you offer digital files?
10. Make sure you are comfortable with your photographer!¬†You don’t have to be friends with them, but your photographer aside from your wedding planner (if applicable) is the vendor that you will spend the most time with. From the consult, to the engagement session, all-wedding-day-long, through delivery. Your photographer should be there 100%, and you should vibe well with them. You’ll have to be with them for hours-at-a-time communicating with them, make sure you are comfortable with him/her. I try to have my second shooters even come to consultations or engagement sessions to meet the couple so they know who they are working with. I also select the assistant based on how well I think they would vibe with that particular couple as well.
11. Budget…again.¬†Weddings are expensive. So is wedding photography. My prices are based on hours of shooting and editing time….and I have an expensive business (cameras are so friggin’ expensive!). Camera upgrades, maintanance, and cleaning; memory cards and batteries; insurance and membership costs; continued education; assistant fees; etc….all things that cost me to put out the best work and create the best experience for you possible. Any creative professional understands what it is like to be strapped for cash…we are artists…but if you try to find a Craigslist shooter advertizing full-day coverage with a disk for $200….more often than not, you will get what you pay for. If you are looking into someone more amateur,¬†review that portfolio.¬†Photography students can often be the best substitutes to a professional since they at least have an education.
12. Determine costs and sign the contract.¬†Read the contract over 10 more times if you must. ¬†Select your package. Pester your photographer over and over if that’s what it takes to make sure all your bases are covered and you send a non-refundable deposit. The photographer should sign the contract, too.
13. Plan the rest of your wedding, put the photographer to work!¬†Schedule your engagement session, fill out your questionnaire, produce a timeline. Your photographer is there to answer any questions, make lovely imagery with your beautiful and in-love faces, and help you in any way that they can!
Well, that may be a lot to take in. But I assure you, after reading this and doing some more homework, and breathing time to let all the information you are taking in to sink in, the job of planning your wedding all-the-easier. It will be worth it.
Image credit: Klara Burger