Wedding Photographer FAQ

1. How do I pick a good photographer when there are hundreds listed in my area?

This is where I’d love to be able to tell you, look no further! I’m your guy, but the truth is, you need to find a fit for you and your wedding – a style that you’d happily hang on your walls and a photographer you won’t mind spending time with on your wedding day! There are a few things to consider: Style, Price, Multiple Shooters, packages and more.

Price will always be a factor, and photographers understand that. They generally do their best to keep their costs down, but keep in mind this is another case of getting what you pay for. Sometimes what you’re paying for is the insurance that your photographer will have no reason to blow your wedding… this means back up cameras, batteries, data cards, lenses and even onsite back ups of your photos in case a card crashes.

Email is great, but if you have the time, set up a meet or pick up the phone and call some photographers. If you can’t develop a rapport over the phone or in person, chances are this is not the right fit for you.

2. How many photos do I get?

Some photographers will quote you a number of images. Unfortunately there’s no peace of mind in me guaranteeing you 850 images.  You will almost certainly get a mix of out of focus, eyes half closed sequences to simply meet that contractual requirement. In a 10-hour day, I’ll typically shoot maybe 1500-2000 images. But they normally get whittled down when to cut those aforementioned space fillers from the mix. Generally you will probably receive somewhere around the 500 mark give or take.

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.

4. I found one photographer whose images look soft and pastel, one whose images look clean, 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. This is called “Post-Processing.” Most photographers do some basic lighting and colour 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 colours, similar to vintage film

High Contrast: a vibrant look with rich colours that pop

It doesn't matter which style you go with, as long as you love it!

If I had to label my style, it would be documentary and clean. I also shoot actual film! So rest assured that in association with my digital images, this will give you a unique and ethereal look.

5. Why is wedding photography so freakin' expensive?

This is the question I see most from brides. 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 850 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.

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 30 minutes for family and wedding party photos, and an hour 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.

I always like to spend some time with my couples in the lead up to their wedding. An informal setting like a coffee and chat is great to get a feel for you both and develop a rapport so that we all feel nice and comfortable shooting on the day.

photo-1431361426216-5b0506d60eb9.jpg

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 burning it straight to CD without post-processing. It's usually super cheap — for a reason. Bad lighting isn't corrected, distracting elements aren't removed and you get all those accidental shutter clicks of the sky or ground on your disk as a bonus.

Digital files may be important to you, but find a full-service photographer who will edit the images and send you an online gallery for viewing prior to sending you your disk.

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!

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. 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 favourites. It's a real moment with real emotions.

Honestly, it's also a great way to avoid stress on your wedding day. And many 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. I personally choose to work alone because part of what you’ve employed me for is my eye for a story and more so, the shorter sub stories that often fly by un noticed on your wedding day. I like to blend into the background and pre-empt those interactions.

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 favourite 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.

If you’re looking for a healthy budget, the earlier you lock in a vendor, the better as you’re likely to pay 2015 rates for your 2017 wedding and I can guarantee you those prices will certainly go up in that time.

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 feed my photographer?

Keep in mind, you’re never expected to feed your photographer, most of us are happy to pack a sandwich and water into our bags. However if you can spare a plate, your photographer will be most appreciative.

At the very least, allow for your photographer to take a few short breathers throughout the day. He or she will be carting around maybe 10 kilos of gear for up to 12 hours, so to prevent them from falling headfirst into your wedding cake, allow for this in your timeline so they can put the camera down for a minute or two, sip some water and get ready to go again.

Ben Whitmore