I used to plan weddings way back before I ever picked up a camera professionally, and here’s a list I compiled way back then to help find the photographer you’re looking for when you email prospective photographers.
I urged my Brides to ask these questions to make sure quality expectations are met, and that there were no surprises when they got their finished images back.
Truthfully I’m saddened every time I hear a story where a bad photo experience could’ve been prevented. All it takes is a few simple questions. Since different Photographers have different styles, AND since some HIDE their real work behind only a few “best” images on their site….make sure your style and skill level expectations mesh with theirs! :)
One gal recently told me her friend’s wedding photographer only edited the first 100 images, and had a charge per image after the first 100 to edit more. A fact she was only made aware of AFTER the fact…that was a sad, and unnecessary blind side. So, KNOW before you sign a contract…and by all means…SIGN.A.CONTRACT!!!!
Here are a few popular questions to ask your potential Wedding photographer
(or Senior, Boudoir, Family, newborn, etc…) Because really it’s a once
in a lifetime memory…and you don’t get a “do-over”!
1) Do your dress shots show the details of the dress? My dress has beautiful __________ (lace, beading, feathers, gathers, etc…), and I want to make sure I can see those details in my images…instead of just looking like a white washout.
2) What retouching do you do? Do you retouch at all?
3) If I have wrinkles, dark circles or big under eye bags will you remove or soften them? Whiten teeth? Soften skin? Remove blemishes or stretch marks?
4) How many images do you retouch? What are the charges to retouch more?
5) Does the disc of images, or digital files, I get contain Hi, medium, or Low res images?
What size can we print up to?
6) Will the disc have your watermark on the images?
7) Do you know what angles to shoot (or NOT shoot) from if I’m slightly
plump or have larger builds in my pictures?
8) Natural light…Do you know how to shoot indoors with and WITHOUT a
flash? I don’t want shadows or red-eye in the Church or reception!
9) Do you know how to handle “blinkers” or “squinters”?
10) How many images do you actually edit? What are the charges to
11) Will you show me an entire gallery from a wedding that you’ve shot?
12) Do you give instruction on how to pose or move?
13) My venue is a Church and they have a restriction on photographer’s not being allowed in the sanctuary during ceremonies (or they’re allowed only behind the last row of pews). Is this a problem for you?
14) What kinds of professional products do you offer to help me display my images around our new home?
15) What’s your turnaround time?
16) Do you travel? How far? Have passport, will travel? Travel fees?
17) If I have family and friends who want images are you equipped to handle their orders so I don’t get stuck with the bill, and ordering all of those images?
18) Will we work out a contract with you to keep us all accountable (i.e. make sure you’ll be there, or if something happens to you someone similar to your style will cover our wedding)?
Once you have these answers review the ENTIRE wedding gallery they link you to CAREFULLY! *If they don’t, won’t, or “can’t” provide you with an entire wedding gallery they’ve captured and edited….RUN!
Do people look professionally posed or awkward? They may say they edit every image, but do they all look cohesive…do they all look edited the same way? If not are you OK with that edit/not edit style?
If you’re wanting more “candid” images, and they have mostly “smile and look at the camera” images you may want to keep looking, and vice versa if you want more traditional “poses” or “mom shots”.
NOTE: Some photographers may say they retouch, but look at close-ups of the bride and groom specifically. Are their pores deep, dark, and harsh? Do they have dark bags under their eyes…I call them “laugh bags”? Yellow teeth? Blemishes? Stretch marks? Red Eyes? Harsh shadows or strong orange or yellow casts in the indoor shots? Are the images straight or crooked? Glasses glare? And so on. Ask yourself “AM I OK WITH THAT?”
Not every professional photographer is an editing and retouching freak like me…it’s not their style, or maybe they don’t know how yet. And to each their own, but make sure you’re not expecting super smooth, flawless skin, and white teeth when they only do color and b&w editing. Make sure you’re not expecting slimming angles for fluffier frames when the skinny frames in their gallery look wide.
Note: “EDITING” does NOT = RETOUCHING! DO NOT ASSUME this! Ask!
Why do I urge every Bride to ask these questions Well….If you don’t ask you have no right to be upset later. Of course we put our best work out front for the world to see, who doesn’t? It’s the actual full Monty of a recent wedding that will speak VOLUMES. So, ask and review, and above all have PEACE about your decisions.
Weddings are meant to be fun, so make sure you’re going to be able to relive that fun AFTER the fact…through your images!
Happy Wedding Planning & Rock ON!
BONUS! Guess what! There’s MORE great Wedding Planning Freebies at your fingertips. Check out the links below for more outside the box Wedding Planning Wisdom.
If you’re a client of mine you’ve seen the image below in my BraskaJennea Magazines. If we’ve met in person you’ve seen the “Oompah Loompah” Wal-Mart and Shutterfly prints, and the “Vampire Grey” Walgreen’s prints alongside their professional lab counterparts. You’ve felt the paper quality differences as well from my Kodak Endura Professional as opposed to “Photo Paper”.
I’m so thankful to finally see the rise again back to full service Professional Photography…helping clients have beautiful, tangible, prints showcasing our works of heart to hang in their homes…instead of just on social media!
There’s a big cry right now for “Give me digitals, or I’m gone!”, but walk into a traditional Portrait Studio that’s been around awhile, and that “disc” you walk out with winds up only being for your own personal computer use. Most don’t include a print release, and they’re sized so small they look strange on social media, and for good reason.
They, like me, don’t want their beautiful works of art butchered by retail printers and cheap retail ink that’s only going to fade or yellow like those prints your parents have of you in that box in the closet. Keeping them low res is a necessity because sadly enough if people can jack your work with a shoddy screen grab or download from Facebook that looks distorted from stretching to print a 4×6 then by jolly they will.
Thankfully though people are finally coming back to the realization that those “old school” Portrait Shops have hung onto all along….digital media changes, the technology we had 5 years ago is hard enough to navigate, much less finding readers or software to load discs and programs from 20 years ago.
Computers even now are rumored to start rolling out sans a CD drive at.all. Children today have no idea what a land line phone or Walkman is!
Who’s to say that in 10 years, much less 100, people will even know what a .JPG file is…or how to view it?
I think my First thru 3rd grade years were made perfect simply by a “Computer Game” on an ooooold, HUGE, Macintosh computer. The one, the only, OREGON TRAIL!
Up there with programming exploding fireworks later in 7th and 8th grade in DOS Command Prompt those were the highlights of my Elementary School career.
I still remember when that box of O.T. GIANT floppy discs came out of the cabinet! It was GAME TIME! I was about to cross some rivers, kill some food, and catch some illness that could take me or my family out all while battling thieves, weather, and busted wagon problems.
They seemed like they were 10×10 back then, but now I know they were really only 5.25″ squares. Later in school we learned we could save our work to those floppy discs….they were multipurpose!
A few years after that we got those 3.5″ Hard floppy discs. A lot smaller, could hold “a lot” more, and were much more durable than their large counterparts.
I still have a box of my first ever digital camera pictures, and work from high-school and college, saved to those discs. Ahhhh the memories they must hold.
But…there’s one *TIIIIIINY* problem….
There’s no way to access them! I tried plugging in an old Floppy Reader a couple of years ago to my laptop….nothing happened. I made sure they were unlocked so I could read them, and nada.
So, while I get it, we’re a digital society, I must ask you this important question…What would you do if your parent’s or grandparent’s wedding images were solely stored on one of these bad boys?
What if that CD breaks, gets lost in a move, or your child scratches it? What if your external and/or computer hard drives crash, at the same time, (ask me all about that one!)?
Someone recently said “But we have the Cloud so we don’t have to worry about that!”
Really? You’re 100% comfortable, and certain, that some unseen super computer server somewhere in the universe won’t evvvver fail?
You’re positive that with all of the recent data breaches stealing credit card info, and leaking images stolen from celeb’s phones and cloud storage systems that your photos are ALWAYS going to be safe and stored?
You have a lot more faith in that system than I do.
I pay my WONDERFUL Online Gallery people at Shootproof.com archival fees each month to back-up my client’s images for at least three-years (after that I think it just gets a little expensive storing hundreds of thousands of images), but if their site, or the Cloud, or Pixieset, or Pass, etc… were to be hacked, or fail, or what.ev.er, how would you view your memories?
My liability is gone after I deliver your products, storing for as long as I do is merely a courtesy.
If your Facebook account got deactivated how would you get those images back that were on that phone you had 5 years ago and never saved?
If your phone got water damaged and refuses to boot up any longer how would you view those images of your child’s birth and life that you had stored no place else?
Yes, if Heaven forbid you had a fire, a flood, a natural disaster, etc… that ruined your prints, digitals might save you…that is if the media format you had them saved on somehow survived, but chances are that disc is gone too.
So, don’t ask me for “Just a CD”. That’s not the BJP way. It used to be, but I turned a corner 3 years ago, and I want my clients to have tangible parts of their legacy to pass down.
I wan them to have tangible heirlooms they can flip through at Christmas in a giant box that’s so worn it’s about to fall apart from all the family memories tucked away inside,a nd all of the times it’s been passed around after stuffing ourselves with turkey and pie.
There really isn’t a comparison for professional archival quality prints that you know will look just as vibrant and transcendent long after you’re gone.
Once you see a Bride looking like a sunburned orange fictional character out of Willy Wonka accusing you of tampering with her images, or an image you edited of a beautiful pink, warm, newborn looking grey and lifeless hanging on a client’s wall, that’s it. You educate, educate, educate, and become a “hybrid” print and select few digitals photography business.
Plus hanging a disc on your wall just looks silly ;)
I am the Impatiently Patient Single. The Impatiently Patient Photographer. The Imaptiently Patient…you name it.
I’ve become OK with waiting.
I gave up putting timelines on anything a long time ago as it’s simply not up to me.
Planning things, setting deadlines, adding in time to try to make sure I’d be early only to still be late, all of which just simply proved to be in vain.
This is a new kind of hard though. Just when I’d come to grips with the monumentous call God cornered me with last September. Just when I had started researching, planning, taking the necessary steps….
Sometimes a “YES” from God isn’t a “yes” of action, but instead a “yes” of obedience.
Sometimes a yes from God results in the answer of “Just wait…I just needed to know you were ready”.
I’ve become an expert at waiting, but still those are by far the hardest “yeses” to give.
We’ve jumped. We’re ready.
The anxiety and doubts have been put to rest, finally, we’ve made peace we’re about to be gloriously shaken up…thrown in the deep end, finally ready to swim.
“LET’S DO THIS Lord!!”
“But I’m ready NOW!! I KNOW you are calling me to this? I’ve already started preparing! I’m READY!”
“I know…but wait! It’s not perfect just yet. Behold, I am doing a new thing. Do you not see it? It’s already started, but you must wait!” -God
By far the hardest words to “hear” when you’ve already braced yourself and leaned in, ready to weather the storm.
Excitement and expectation turn to sadness and longing.
You were ready…or so you thought.
That’s where I am. Where I’ve been.
I was ready.
After all He broke me DOWN. Sent me to a beautiful place with speaker after speaker driving the nail further in to prepare me for a life changing journey. One full of so many things I’ve wanted for so so long.
I bucked. I wrestled. I FOUGHT. For MONTHS. Harbored bitterness and resentment at all this was going to change…all that it would complicate.
Finally one night though “What are you waiting for?” Was asked by sweet Mary Marantz down in Rome, Georgia in a small chapel packed with 150 something Jesus loving women. “What are you letting fear hold you back from?”
I was DONE. Floodgates opened from my eyes. Feet that didn’t feel like mine walked me to a stage turned alter where I knelt and WEPT.
#UGLYCRYING in hard.core. Holy Spirit fashion.
Peace. Precious peace I received the day I accepted Christ way back in December 2001 washed over me….because I let go. It’d been there all along, it always is, but I was fighting…until then.
I was ready. Finally. Running, wrestling, trying to hit God with the “flaws” and “impossibilities” of His plan ended.
“Be not afraid. I did not give you a spirit of fear.”
I started trying to prepare, and then….*SMACK* I hit a wall this past week.
I looked for ways around the wall, over it, under it. It was the week of my 32nd birthday…it was TIME!
Time to get started having a LIFE, maybe not in the order I wanted it, but in God’s beautiful, non-sensical to me, timing.
The wall only grew. Taller, longer, wider. No way over, around, or under. This wall wasn’t meant to move.
“Wait. Not yet. I just needed to know you’d be ready.”
So here at the wall I wait. Ready to charge forward when He brings it down.
Time after time He’s brought walls down for His people, His plan, and He’s going to do it again.
He just needed to make sure my heart and spirit were ready.
Sometimes a “Yes, Lord!” isn’t meant to be an action, right then, it’s just simply a “Yes, Lord!” and *crickets* as we wait.
I feel someone else reading this is here too. You’re beyond ready. You’re broken. “…but wait.”
Lean in harder. Stand ready. Enjoy the beauty of the stretching, trusting, breaking.
Because when that “Yes” of obedience becomes an action “YES! It’s time!” hold on!
It’s going to be the best ride you never could’ve imagined.
Ohhhh comparison. You thief of joy. You mocker of milestones. You berater of success.
I almost let you get to me….almost!
Today I turned 32. Happy Birthday TO ME!!! :)
I’m not one of “those women” who hide their age. Like a fine wine we only get better with time, so like a nice “vintage” Merlot, or Pinot, I shall own these years. I have indeed earned them.
Albeit still nowhere I thought I would be, or even near what I wanted to be, I’ve carved 32 notches into this belt, and I’ll wear them proudly.
You see, comparison, your scales are always weighted unevenly. For no two people can ever be perfectly symmetrical, therefore neither can their journey. Even identical twins will have some sort of difference, and two separate life paths.
I am not in control of anything. Tried that. Was terrrrrible at it…and always more disappointed after the fact when what I wanted at a certain time still hadn’t manifested.
So today I celebrate uniqueness. For so long I tried to fit in…to be “popular”. That is ANNOYING!
I’ve found out that, like Christ, it’s much harder to be “unpopular”, and far more rewarding in the long run.
People love the lambs in society…the quiet, the timid, those who dare not speak up, or ruffle feathers. They get all the “likes” on social media. Their blogs tend to get shared more than the “hard hitting”, toe stomping, posts.
But God…He reminded me just a few weeks ago that He didn’t make me to be quiet, timid, docile, or placating to the masses.
So I wasn’t chosen to be a speaker for this event, I wasn’t chosen to be a leader for this group, I wasn’t asked to share my yearrrrrs of vast wedding prowess at this conference, and allllll of the women who were chosen for these things are much either younger, trendy dressers, hip, soft-spoken, much smaller in stature than I…. I admit the rejections hurt.
One denial message stated I wasn’t “a fit stylistically”….whatever the heck that means!
I didn’t know telling people about Jesus and wedding photography had a “style”, but I was CRUSHED.
Once again denied because I don’t “fit in”….that’s when He reminded me I AM fearfully and wonderfully made just.how.I.am! That He has given me the gift of spoken and written word, and He’s going to use me just as I am!!!
While I longed for a softer, quieter, more “dainty” or “lady like” voice (like my grandmother used to tell me to speak in!), and to be more “popular”; He shouted through the self-deprecation.
If you’ve never had God “scream” at you it’s rather weird honestly.
I was just sitting there replaying a sermon I heard last year where the preacher laid out a man’s role in the home and a woman’s role in the home.
Telling how He made us each male and female, one strong, the latter soft. Man to take care of provision, then woman to take care of the heart matters. How men are designed to fall for the “lady-like” as it is the “way woman was made”… “delicate, smaller, more fragile than man”…..
In the midst of rehashing that night I closed my eyes and in alllll CAPS ( so you know it was serious!) these words played in my mind, a sort of visual speech.
“I CREATED YOU TO STAND OUT! I MADE YOU TO ROAR LIKE A LION, NOT COWER LIKE A LAMB!”
When I was hearing this sermon I sat there defeated, sad, in full knowledge I literally was physically “gifted” with the natural muscle mass and strength that’s made every male personal trainer I’ve ever encountered “envious”, many Doctors and Nurses weigh me twice with exclamations about what muscle mass I have, a “boorish” voice (again my grandmother’s word, love her heart she just didn’t get it) that is the complete opposite of what we call feminine or dainty….and I was hearing that I’m not desirable to men…
I beat myself up, and tried to make myself not do things I knew I could because of my grandmother’s, and then the preacher’s voices, playing always in mind…”dainty and feminine”.
I used a shopping cart to carry “heavy” bags of dog food or all of the groceries. I tried to ask for help unloading/carrying all of my gear on shoots. Tried to not ruffle so many feathers by refraining from blogging or posting on Social Media at all.
My grandmother and the preacher were wrong.
All of that just isn’t me! If I wasn’t meant to leg press over 600lbs without ever training weights then I wouldn’t be able to.
If I wasn’t meant to carry a 50lb sack of chicken feed or dog food like it’s nothing then I couldn’t.
If I wasn’t meant to carry 20-30lbs of gear on me shooting an 8-12hr wedding day then I wouldn’t.
He made me strong. Physically, Spiritually, and emotionally.
He gave me physical strength because He knew my “Prince Charming” would take for.ev.er to arrive, and I’d have to carry all my own loads until he gets here.
He gave me a physically strong stature to not only carry my own loads, but to carry those of the people I love….everyone! So, He gave me broad shoulders, long, thick legs, and wide hips, to carry those on.
He gave me a commanding voice, both in person and in writing, because He has a purpose for my boldness.
He gave me a thick skin to weather criticism and loneliness because His ways are higher than my ways, and He wanted me to be able to carry truth through this growing mine field we live in today.
He shouted over allllll of the self-loathing what I knew all along….I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE….EXACTLY HOW I AM!
These aren’t traits to be hidden from the world, ashamed of, they’re ME…they’re “B”…at my core.
I’ll never “fit it” because truly I was made to stand out, and stand UP for truth.
I can’t do popular because “warm and fuzzy” feel good types are everywhere.
No, people need the “unpopular” people no matter how much they talk trash about us…because we are the game changers.
We are the boat rockers, the bell ringers, the door knockers trying to shake up a world that’s falling down.
We are the lights in growing darkness, the pillars of strength among a cowering, scared, people.
Male and female He created us. Yes. His creations though come in all manner of sizes, heights, strengths, gifts, talents, voices…male and female.
So, no, I will no longer cower and hide who I am, how I was wonderfully made.
I shall be proud of who I am in Christ…spiritually AND physically.
I’m no less a woman than my size smaller, thinner, counterparts.
No less a woman than the mother struggling to just carry her newborn and their car seat.
No less a woman than chime-like, bell voiced Kristen Chenoweth.
God made me desirable to men too, not a lot, obviously, but still He has one special gent still making his way to claim allllll of this ;)
And it’s about time I CELEBRATED that!
I’ve always secretly hated photos of myself (besides the occasional rocking selfie! Haha!), and therefore tried my best to stay behind the lens…letting my own self-loathing insecurities inspire me in how I photograph others.
It snowed here in Tennessee, and while shooting some Sweet 16 snow
Portraits for my precious photo-ge (protege of photography), Ally, I had her turn my lens on me for a few shots.
I felt awkward, weird, goofy even in front of that lens…just like always…and just like every client seems to say during each session.
For some reason it always feels strange that we would capture ourselves living, that we would want documentation the we were, in fact, ALIVE and part of this world. Why is that?
Why are we so shy in front of something that’s only a tool to let our future generations “know” us because they may never get to meet us, or won’t be able to remember us?
Albeit the images where I felt most awkward and just could t stop laughing are by far my favorites, why?
I should’ve felt confident in who I am, confident in who God made me to be, that I was all in that camera like “Here I am, and I.AM.AWESOME!”
Sadly I was letting worldly opinion define me, and my confidence. I wasn’t “measuring up” to worldly standards on what is beautiful.
I never will. I have to be OK with that.
It’s dis-honoring to my maker to be anything but happy with how HE.made.me!
Certainly I can still stand to lose a few, but I’ll never be a size 2, probably not even a 12, and I’m 100% OK with that.
I am loved, I am respected by many, I am fierce, I am unique, I am remarkably healthy, and I’m exactly who and where I am supposed to be. I am enough!
I want to urge you to laugh loudly. Be not afraid to shake things up in Jesus’ name. Stand tall, hey wear heels even if you’re 6’2.
Hold your head up high, shoulder’s back, make eye contact, get in front of cameras, make yourself known.
You are a person worth knowing…just as you are!
Let comparison die. And leave it dead. That’ll be the best birthday gift you’ll ever give yourself! (And a photoshoot…that’s an awesome gift to yourself too! ;) )
A few favorites from my headshot shoot back in January…because I like these too :)
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Professional Wedding Photographer. Your dearest friends or family searched diligently for me, basically interviewed me, then hired me.
This will probably offend you, rub you the wrong way, maybe even make you a tab bit angry. Welcome to my world. Allow me to educate you on a growing problem, one that you, and only you, can stop. I’ve resolved to keep it more REAL and RAW this year. Tip toeing hasn’t worked, so maybe some to the point blunt-ness will.
You see Brides and Grooms have invested thousands in not only this day, my services most specifically, as once everything is done, the glitter has settled, and the sparkler smoke dissipates, my images will be all that is left to remember this day by. Please allow me to do my job.
Even if the couple doesn’t insist, post signage, or have the ushers and minister advise everyone to keep their devices off because this is one of those AWESOME new trends of “An Unplugged Wedding” act like it is.
You may think this is not new news, you know who I am because you see my equipment and I trying valiantly to as silently as possible traverse the ceremony, so why am I writing you this letter?
You see I’ve been planning weddings and floral designing for them since 2001. The last 6 have been spent capturing these one shot moments for Brides and Grooms. Needless to say I’ve been to a LOT of weddings. I’ve been to close to 75 just as a guest, then I’ve been in about a half-dozen. I’ve seen it all.
Your behavior though in most recent years is what is so disconcerting…increasingly troubling. Thus the reason for this letter.
Hear me out, I’m not angry, I can’t stop you from ruining your friend’s or family’s wedding images. When they ask later why this image isn’t included I’ll show them, explain to them how you ruined it, and that I couldn’t salvage it so it wound up in the unusable pile on the culling room floor. (Photog speak for best image selection process) I can do A LOT with Photoshop…unfortunately accounting for every.single.rude.thing. you can do to ruin an image isn’t one of them.
Somehow we’ve shifted from a society that respects a solemn occasion where everyone sits politely through the ceremony, actually engaging in the ceremony through their undivided attention, to something more resembling a paparazzi frenzy at the latest red carpet event.
These actions that in far too many cases literally RUIN our one chance at our Bride’s “must have” shot. And for what? A horrible, grainy, slightly blurry, iPhone image you stuck your arm into the aisle to catch then slapped a filter on because that’ll make it better? An image where the flash on your new camera shouldn’t have ever fired, which was probably banned anyway by the venue, which I abided by/am equipped to handle, but no not you. Rules don’t apply to you it seems.
You had to have that image so badly you accidentally flashed the bride so brightly as she passed that not only in your image does she look like a ghost, but in my paid for, professional, image she’s now wearing “white out”. There’s no recovering from a “white out” spill ya’ll!
Yes, I’m talking about your blatant disregard for the sanctity of the ceremony, and the duties of those who’ve been entrusted, PAID, to capture the day. On what planet would the iPhone image quality above on the left be worth ruining a B&G’s professional images for?
Then of course there’s your unexplainable urge to shoot over my shoulder during family formals. Thank you so much for creating “shifty eyes” as people struggle (though I don’t know why they struggle…my camera is bigger, and I’m clearly the professional so they should only look into MY lens but I digress) to choose which camera to look at. I appreciate the extra work I’ll now have to do to face swap in with another image, hopefully, where they were looking at me in. Thank you for that.
As for after the ceremony that too is all too often a “feeding frenzy” as the first ant to the picnic wants “Just one picture”, then the next ant shows up, and then there’s a whole “Receiving line” of ants wanting to take “just one”. To quote the popular YouTube lady “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!”.
We’re on a TIGHT schedule. We’re fighting available day light 99% of the time, and you, being the star of this day, obviously, just HAD to have that “ONE” image. Thank you for robbing the Bride and Groom of the best light for their portraits. They’ll cherish your “ONE” over their images together, I’m sure.
Thank you for your grumbling also during the cocktail hour or reception, that my second shooter overheard you annoyed, and loudly, proclaiming “Well I guess the photographer just thinks it’s all about them huh?”, “Good grief I’m starving! How long does it take to take a few pictures?”, “Well since I’m never going to see them because they think pictures are more important than greeting guests I’m leaving. I don’t have all day to wait around at a wedding.”
Really. We hear you. Thank you for once again proving you think you are the center of this day. I’m glad to know the beautiful magnitude of this man and this woman following suit in matrimony isn’t wasted on you. ;) (That’s a whole lot of sarcasm…in case you haven’t picked up on it already. Ha!)
YES, you are literally the bottom priority of this day. Seriously. Yes, I just said that. The LAST priority on a wedding day is the guest. You are there for them, they are NOT there for you! Now, before you go off in a tizzy that that’s rude, you “gave up your Saturday”, bought them a gift, etc… let me explain.
On a traditional wedding day the pecking order goes like this:
FIRST, and I mean ABSOLUTELY TOP PRIORITY, are the BRIDE AND GROOM. I don’t care if you sit there 2hrs because the Bride wants “Oh just this one last shot”…we’re doing it. I don’t really run this show you see…the groom doesn’t either, trust me he’d probably rather be right there with at the reception talking smack about “how much longer”…the Bride is the one cruising this ship, I’m just along to capture the ride. You can chill. Pop another shrimp cocktail, toss back a beer, and socialize. We’ll be there literally as soon as we can! (Hey, in most cases we haven’t eaten all day….or drank anything…we’re ready for the reception before the ceremony!)
Next is the Ceremony. Without it you wouldn’t be here at all.
Post Ceremony the Family comes in third place today, via Family formals. We’re not really a fan of them wither….trust me….but they’re an absolute MUST for Weddings. You HAVE to have pictures with His family, Her family, and BOTH together as they are now one family. And of course all the sections of those families as requested by the B&G.
Maybe hate is a strong word, they’re simply just the hardest images of the day to capture. You see we know most of the people in them don’t want to be there…”I hate having my picture made”, “I’m starving! Can we cut this short?”, “How many more?”, “UGH! I just sat down!” We hear it all, and have to happily photograph faces that rather read of a funeral than a wedding.
Alas, we must all power through. These images WILL be framed. If no other images get framed, the family formals will.be.framed! Gifted to grandma, mailed to aunt Sue in Denver, proudly displayed in dad’s office. These images MINIMUM take 15 minutes…and that’s for small families. For larger families, or Moms wanting images with extended family who came in for the wedding, we’re looking at a good half hour Max.
From there it’s the Bridal Party’s place in line. They’ve invested a ton of time and money to stand beside their boy, or their girl, they too were hand chosen to help rock this day. They’ve stood in broiling sun in 3 piece suits or floor length gowns, they’ve dabbed sweat, fixed hair and make-up, they’ve walked and stood in painful shoes for longer than their feet care to remember anytime soon.
While you were sitting comfortably in a chair or pew, they stood, probably in pain because they didn’t want to tell their Bride the shoes she just LOVED for their dresses made their feet want to bleed…and they’ve been standing for quite a while on this day already. They deserve killer images with their friends now too. Sadly they only get about 10-15 minutes as we’re trying our hardest to make the reception ASAP.
Finally it’s back to the first priority I mentioned above. After everyone is dismissed (read: out-of-the-way ;) ) it’s FINALLY time for these newlyweds to get their images…the most important images of the day. This IS THEIR moment. These are the prizes of the day. What they’ve waited for.
Thankfully many Brides and Grooms are opting to do “First Looks” to knock all pictures out before (barring family portraits unless everyone can there in time beforehand), but still here in the South superstition reigns, so don’t get comfortable that every wedding will have receptions immediately following because you assume they went the First Look route. It’s about 50/50.
Once we wrap those most important portraits then, and only then, is it almost your time.
Before you still reside the First Dance, Father Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance, and hopefully them actually grabbing a bite of the delicious cake and food they’ve spent so much bank on!
FINALLY it’s YOUR time. See, last priority of the day. Socializing with guests. That’s actually what receptions were for! Did you know that? The purpose of the reception is for guests to celebrate with the new Bride and her Groom. That’s the time to go photo crazy. That’s what that time was set aside for. To rejoice with the couple in their new life together!
My job is to capture this day. Not yours. You’re a bonus. I’ve been the “bonus” before. But I promise you back then I never would’ve dreamed to treat a photographer like you all treat us now. The audacity with which you place your own want for a picture before that of the Bride and Groom’s images.
You’re literally leaning, or STANDING, in front of us IN.THE.AISLE., sticking your arms out, holding your phone, iPAD, even camera over your head, with no regard for the Bride and Groom’s images they’ve invested so much in having captured professionally. (Now, even if a friend or family member who’s new/”building a portfolio” is shooting you still should offer them the same respect…they’re new…they don’t need anything else making this already insanely difficult job any harder!)
You’re taking them by the hand, forcing them to take a picture with you as we’re trying to complete their portraits with “it’ll only take a second”, and they never want seem rude so they oblige.
So, I urge you to please control yourselves. Leave your camera at home, or in the car until the reception, turn your phones off and keep them in your purse or pocket. Trust me they’d rather see your FACE in their images as she’s coming down the aisle than that iPhone, tablet, or camera….plus you just look strange!
PLEASE, for the love of everything beautiful and right with weddings, remember you’re JUST.A.GUEST! It’s not about you! It’s about them, it’s about their memories captured forever by the person they’re paying to capture them professionally. Go crazy at the reception, but before then help me help them. Be a FACE not a device in their moments. Most of all JUST BE PRESENT, help them celebrate, and help me (and my fellow photographers) give them only the most emotionally beautiful memories we all can…unimpeded!
Undeniably some of you will still think you’re going to save the day with your second-hand images, so you can win some imaginary game of “I got it first”/(more like you got it worst) so that in mind here’s a list of Wedding etiquette Guidelines to preserve the B&G’s one shot deal memories:
1) My Brides and Groom’s families and friends get this pep talk after the rehearsal, here it is for the whole world to use. “Treat the aisle like a roller coaster. Keep all arms, legs, heads, electronic devices inside the row at ALL times. I’m looking through a lens, normally a telephoto, I CANNOT see you when I’m tracking the stars of this show through it. Be warned: if you’re leaning in, sticking out, etc… I’m not responsible for what may happen when I pass you and you disregard this common sense rule.
2) Act like your camera or phone hits a wall everytime it tries to come above your shoulders. If we can’t see it, we can see you, and they’d rather see you than your device! Do not, I repeat DO NOT, hold it up to your face during any of the major moments where you’ll be seen (i.e. Bride coming in, rings, kiss, coming back down the aisle, etc….)
3) KILL YOUR FLASH! It won’t do you any good from the distance you’re sitting anyway, except to blind the Bride and “white out” her dress. Put your finger over it just to make sure it won’t pop up.
4) WAIT! Save it for the reception. You’re not allowed to steal my poses and lighting ideas. It’s poor taste to interrupt the couple to be needy anyway, and you eating up their prime time lighting we’ve scheduled is.not.cool.
5) If the B&G don’t follow to the reception or cocktail hour they’re DOING PHOTOS! Chill. Enjoy the reception music or cocktail hour (if there is one, there’s a reson it’s called an HOUR) because at minimum shooting family, bridal party, and Bride and Groom takes 45 minutes for small families, and that’s only giving about 15 minutes to the B&G…don’t they derserve more than that? My B&G’s are told to expect no less than an HOUR! The B&G need a good 30 minutes at least when no First Look is done.
6) Finally RELAX. This is not.your.day! If you get zero images for yourself that’s ok! It’s not about you! Just eat some cake, chug come sweet tea or some punch, and wait patiently until the images they’ve paid me to capture are ready.
Party on party people! Let’s rock some weddings in 2015!
It’s exciting reliving where all I’ve been this year, and the breathtaking sites God has let me witness…and capture.
The people He’s let me meet, the lessons He’s taught me, the promises He’s made me, the loves and lives I’ve been chosen to photograph to capture small parts of their Legacies.
I’m so beyond thankful for the lives He’s led into mine, the people I’ve been able to impact, but mostly the blessed people He’s used to impact me.
I can truly say 2014 was a year of change. Heartaches, pain, growth, loss, unexpected additions, new dreams, putting old dreams to rest so new ones can be born, and a new calling on the horizon that still scares me to death.
When trying to sum up how I feel about saying good-by to 2014, and hello to 2015, there’s ONE image that plays on repeat.
It’s an image that, at the time, no one, not even myself, would know just how poinant it would become.
Lauren and Trent stood out on a bluff, overlooking the Chattanooga Lookout Valley, just as the sun was setting, staring out into the vast beauty, but yet great unknown of all that lies before them.
Symbolism. Stunning symbolism. It’s the image that sums up all my feelings of one year out, and another one in. Staring straight ahead, eyes fixed on the feet of Jesus, His warmth and light guiding my path.
So, CHEERS to a New Year! May yours be more than you ever dreamed, and may blessings flow to you and yours everyday!