12 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Photographer

Your wedding is quite possibly the first event that you’ve ever hired someone to photograph, so it’s perfectly understandable if you are a bit unsure of what to ask. Thank goodness for the internet, right?

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I’ve seen a few long lists of questions for photographers, but let’s be honest you probably don’t care what brand of camera your photographer uses or what shoes he plans to wear.

I've complied a shorter list, from my experience on both sides of the interview, of questions that you probably do want answered.

By the way, please have an interview (video chat works too), rather than listing questions in an email.  I really believe that meeting face to face is the way to get a feel for who they are and how you feel around them.  After all, they will be with you the majority of your wedding day!

Now, let’s get to it!

About the Experience:

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1. Please share about yourself.  Like I said before, it’s worth making sure that your personalities and priorities are at least somewhat compatible.  Do they have a sense of humor that will put you at ease in front of the camera, or did talking with them seem uncomfortable?

2. Tell them about you. Okay, I know this is technically not a question, but it’s still worth doing.  If they are interested in what you have to say, it’s a good sign that they care about how you want your day to go and they will listen to your desires in the future.

3. What kind of experience can we expect from you? Give them a chance to prove that they offer more than just beautiful images.

4. Will you help me create a timeline? Who is better to give advice on timing than someone who has walked alongside multiple brides each step of their wedding day.  Again their interest level in your timeline may be a good indicator of their willingness to accommodate your desires.

About the Logistics

5. Are you shooting any other weddings on my date? You may have already asked if your day was available, but did you make sure that your wedding is the only one they are planning to shoot that day? 

6. What packages do you offer?  There are actually a few related questions here.  What are the prices? What exactly is included in each package? How many hours of coverage do I need? Finally, are you able to customize a package to fit my needs? 

7. Will there be a second shooter?  Having two photographers working together often means more photos in less time, and it definitely means additional perspectives on the big moments.

8. What happens in the case of illness or emergency?  No one wants to be stuck without a photographer on the morning of their wedding because the flu is going around.  Do they have a trusted colleague to cover for them?  Will you be reimbursed?

About the Photos:

9. What’s your photography style? They might say something like, traditional, artistic, or photo-journalistic. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples or more specific descriptions if you aren’t familiar with these terms.  

10.  What kind of retouching or processing do you do? Are they willing to do a lot of blemish reduction and facial retouching, if that’s what you want? Do they edit photos for a specific feel (i.e. vintage, modern, soft)? If you prefer natural, authentic looking photos can they do that?

11. Are you take-charge or laid back? Some people want a photographer who will take the initiative to direct the flow of the day, while others want a photographer who goes with the flow and captures things as they unfold naturally.  Are you a match in this area?

12. Share your ideas. I know, I slipped in another non-question. If you have specific shots that you want or creative ideas you’d like to try, make sure that they are capable and willing to do those things.

One final piece of advice: Go with your gut on this.  There are tons of photographers out there, and I think you will thank yourself for taking the time to find a photographer that you are compatible with, one who will give you photos and an experience that you love!

 

Motherhood is beautiful

 My mom called me yesterday, and she asked me what I was up to.  “Oh ya know, just washing dirty diapers and vacuuming the car.” I replied.  “So, living the dream?” she joked.  We laughed for a minute about how UN-glamorous motherhood can be.   

Whether it’s middle of the night feeding for an infant or making hundreds of hand decorated cookies for an adult daughter’s wedding, moms spend hundreds of hours doing many thankless tasks for their beloved children.

 On the wedding day, most of the attention goes to the father of the bride, but when we photograph weddings, I’m always keeping my eye out for the mom.

 I want to catch her in action helping her daughter get ready, making guests feel welcome, or dancing with her son. Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, and she’s always busy doing something, she exudes love for her children. 

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That love makes for a beautiful photo. It’s the thousand words that a picture is worth.  It’s something transcendent that the mother, the child, or even a complete stranger can see and appreciate.

Just think for a moment. Where would we all be today without the imprint of a mother’s love on our lives, be it from a mom, grandma, or other mother figure?

Here’s to you mom, for all the Halloween costumes you made, for all the middle school band concerts and cold high school track meets you sat through, and for all your acts of love. Thank you!

 

How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

Let me begin by saying I am the epitome of a type A personality. I love to make lists and plans, and I tend to obsess over punctuality.  (Ok, before children I obsessed over punctuality; with the kids, all bets are off!)  When we shoot weddings, Phil brings the chill vibes, while I keep things rolling on schedule.

Maybe you are like me and you plan out every detail of basically everything in life or maybe you are super laid back like Phil.  Either way, when it comes to your wedding day, we both agree that having a timeline is essential.

“Why?” you might ask.  Well, let me just list a few reasons for you. (List making! can you feel my excitement?) Having a wedding day timeline:

-lets everyone know where they are supposed to be and when

-ensures that there is time for the photos you want

-takes care of all scheduling issues ahead of time

-helps the officiant, caterer, and DJ to follow your wishes without asking you a million questions all day

-allows you to relax and have fun, knowing everything is going smoothly

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So, how do you make a super amazing timeline?  You follow these simple steps:

1. Start with the ceremony because you probably already have a time set for that.  Then, work backward from there.

2. Leave a half hour of unscheduled time directly before the ceremony.  Trust me, you won’t regret this!  If all goes well, you and your besties will have a chance to relax and drink in the moment. If something unexpectedly goes awry, you’ll be glad to have a little buffer time!

3. Next, decide if you want to do a first look.  (If you are waffling between first look and tradition, this might help.) If you are going traditional, you won’t need as much time up front, but leave plenty of time after the ceremony for couple and bridal party portraits. If you are doing a first look you can cut some time out of your post ceremony photography, but make plan enough time for photos beforehand.

4. From there, you can continue to work backwards and set a time for hair, makeup, and putting on the dress.  I’m just going to throw this little tip in here. Plan a little extra time for makeup.  I have nothing but love and a lot of envy for my makeup artist friends, but in my experience, makeup is the one thing that repeatedly takes longer than expected.

5. This next one is another biggie! Don’t forget to schedule time to eat something before the ceremony!

6. Now for the post-ceremony. At this point a lot of people are ready to loosen their tie or take off those pumps and get to dancing!  Particularly if you are doing bridal party, family, and couple portraits here, you might want to limit family portrait time to immediate family only.  On the other hand, if family pictures are important to you, go with that.  Do a whole audience picture if you want.  It is your day, play the bride card!

7. My type B friends, am I wearing you out?  Don’t worry; we are almost done.  In my opinion the reception is the most flexible. Throw down an order of events for your DJ’s sake and make sure you save time to get a bite of your cake!

8. Finally, do a quick review.  Did you take into account when your venues are available and the drive time between locations?  Check with your photographer to make sure that you’re working within your coverage hours. Go ahead and show her your timeline to make sure the time allotted matches the amount of posed photos you want.

If you need a little more guidance, here are two sample timelines to peruse. Here is the supercharged one for my fellow type A people, and here is a condensed one for those of you who like to go with the flow.

That’s it; you did it! You’ve created an organizational masterpiece! Print out a ton of copies.  Give them to everyone involved in the wedding, and let them take it from there!