Weddings. Oh, this ‘beautiful mess’ we have the honor of preserving.
Adrenaline and the scent of blooms fill the air. Tension mixed with peaceful calm. Joy mixed with sadness at the reminder of loved ones no longer there to join.
Beautifully, perfectly imperfect. (And…if you do it right. It happens just. once.)
Ya’ hear that???….just. once. You get one go of it to make this the day all you have imagined.
That said–often times industry friends share our ‘war stories’ which typically begin with ‘I just wish I could tell our bride ___________’ to insure the day goes well. (Including myself.) As we often times see ‘bad’ decision being made that impact timelines/budgets/overall spirit of the day and well, sanity. So guess what? Depending on your stomach for the ‘real deal’….you are in for a treat. (**Easily offended, you may want to run!:-) We are about to launch a series on ‘Things your photographer wishes you knew’ (the first part for brides…the second…for our industry peers.) Disclaimer: it is meant to be both useful/truthful and a little tongue in cheek. (And genuinely meant to give you the best experience on your wedding day.)
So…”if you can’t handle the truth”…see previous comment and tuck and roll up on outta here.
So let’s start at the very beginning…its a very nice place to start:
Booking your Photographer: News flash! You do in fact often get what you pay for
Yes–we know you think wedding photography is really expensive. (and as Brides Magazine tells us…you hate when we use the word ‘investment’ vs. ‘price’) To that I say …yes…wedding photography will be a decent chunk of your overall budget if you are looking for a seasoned pro. But here are the facts Jack: You know that amazing dress you spent you thousands on? Those beautiful red-soled wonders to pair it with? That cake you swooned over at your tasting? Those fab peonies in your bouquet? –They will be boxed/stored/weathered/yellowed/eaten/lost and guess what..not forgotten if you have selected your photographer well. (We assisted in crafting an article for Charlotte Wedding Magazine last year that gives you some ideas on how to find the best wedding photographer for you just click: here.)
A couple of quick things to note:
– The average wedding photographer in Charlotte, NC starts at around $3000-3500. I said average. (As in…this includes everything from actual pros to ‘uncle bob’ with his new camera and a week old website –all rolled up into one bell curve.) And depending on the items in your collection; wedding photography can cost upwards of 8-12K.) This, in my mind…is an investment. (a big one.) So think us not pretentious brats when we use the word ‘investment’ vs. ‘price’ on our websites. 🙂 We often choose this wording to acknowledge the trust (and dollars) you have put into us to handle this very special role. (I freeze time….what is your superpower?? **wink wink**)
– No–you are not paying us for 8 hours. You are paying us for 8 hours, a year’s worth of appointments/sessions/editing as well as our educations and equipment. (Often in the 30K plus zone) and our overall experience level. (most of us attend at least one educational event per year that cost a boat load and have photographed hundreds of weddings.) On average–a photographer will put 60-100 hours into each and every wedding client from start to finish. (It’s the reason at our studio each of us will only photograph a max of 20 weddings a year going forward.)
-Tip: Don’t compare apples to pineapples. A photographer may be offering you the sun, moon and stars while another seems to offer ‘brass tacks’ for the same price. …Chances are…..there is a very good reason. So if photography is high on your list of important items….just do a little homework…
All the Photoshop in the world cant fix shizzy light.
Want to get married at 2PM in a gorgeous garden? Take family pictures at high noon? Rooftop ceremony mid-day? All Awesome. Now let’s think about some ‘shelter.’ A soft, flowy fabric on an arbor to diffuse the sun’s rays? Or, perhaps think ahead to a location that offers what is referred to as ‘open’ shade’ (buildings/mature trees that offer a spot of blazing sun reprieve but still let in enough light to make your images look fab.) Better yet–look at the sunset schedule for your wedding date and set a ceremony time for approximately no more than 2 hours before sunset.
The fact is–harsh light brings out every wrinkle, flaw and then makes some up just for ‘good’ measure. (no one loves a raccoon eye or a gorgeous dress blown out to bits by Mr. Sunshine) –The entire principal of photography is ‘painting with light’–you give us ‘crappy paint’ and well…you get the picture. (Note: yes–some of the management of tougher light is in fact a learned skill and us pros can do a lot to make less-than-opportune light decent…but terrible light. Not-so-much.)
Same principal goes for dim churches and dark-as-night hotel ballrooms. If there is no light….though a true pro can bring along some…it is not the same as thinking ahead and adding some lighting of your own. Lighting can be one of the most cost-effective means of adding amazing ambiance to your wedding day. Twinkle market lights? Yes please. A romantic alter of candles in the ‘no-you-cant-use- flash-photography’ church. Winner, winner chicken dinner.
Don’t burn bridges but consider burning your Pinterest page
Ok. Here’s the truth. We photographers have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. It can be a great tool for you to plan and dream about your big day. (and for us to seek added inspiration by photographer’s we admire) You can find amazing ideas for flowers and cakes and all things wedding-y. Its even a great place to start to find wedding images you love to determine the style of photographer that is right for you. HOWEVER–handing a Pinterest board of 50 different photographers’ best-of-their-entire-career images to your photographer…well…guess what? It’s not going to happen.
Why? Unless your wedding posses unlimited time for photography and all of the same conditions (amazing details, joyful expressions and creamy dreamy light…you just cant replicate someone else’s moment. (Inspiration is one thing…copy cat-ing is another)
Bigger reason you may want to hold out on the ‘please recreate these 400 images’ email…. its YOUR wedding day. Let the natural joy and amazing kisses and familial tears be the inspiration for someone else’s board! In the time it takes to study a particular pose/image board and recreate it …your photographer could have missed 20 amazing things organically happening on your day. Tip: share images you love with your photographer but don’t ask them to copy things. You have hired them for a reason–their particular brand of magic you have already seen in their work. –Not how easily they can knock-off another photographers’ image. (If you have your heart set on one or two ‘poses’…go for it! …just try and find a way to make it your own:-)
Girls Gotta Eat!
I know–you read that section in the contract that says ‘photographer requires a hot meal’ and thought–‘I am paying this biscuit 5K! Can’t she afford to carry a power bar?’ Here’s the thing you’ll get to see pretty quickly. We work our tails off! We are typically running for 6-8 hours minimum (excluding prep/drive times..) before we ever see a glass of water. We have been toting 25 pounds of gear. (You know…uphill both ways and that jazz.) Photography is a physically intense job. (Side note: my husband always wondered ‘how do you look like that’ after a wedding until he second shot with me last year. His first…and last time. Needless to say he now knows why my hair is ratty mess and my mascara is no longer in its rightful lash-lengthening position by night’s end.:-)
All that said–our bodies need fuel. And we would be happy to go and get it. But that is not an option on the wedding day. We need to remain in close proximity to the bride and groom at all times as like Aerosmith says: ’cause we don’t wanna miss a thing.’
Tip-ask your caterer to serve your photographer the same meal as your guests. (Traditional vendor meals are fine–and we will gladly take it over nothing!) …but guess what…you probably just paid $35 for a stale turkey sandwich and bruised apple. (What is commonly referred to by your venue/caterer as ‘the vendor meal.’) For a bit more you have just made your photographer’s night. (And I promise you this. its not about the $..I would gladly take a few bucks off of any photography collection to eat a super -quick, ‘real meal’ on a physically demanding day. I mean–more than gladly.) Also-if you request the photographer eat when you do…then we are ready to begin documenting again when you put down the fork! (If we are served after the last guest is served-as many caterers suggest…we often have the option of forgoing eating or potentially missing key moments.)
Want to know a secret. Feeding your photographer well at your wedding has a funny way of bringing a giant smile to our faces, recharging our batteries and us busting our bottoms with some extra busting. Food or no food–a pro is going to get it done. However, it is in fact a much easier feat to create amazing imagery when running on some nourishment for energy.
We know you love Facebook and to share in all of the joys this thing called a wedding brings with the world. “#mrandmrsjones #20daysandcounting” We love it too. (and often times join in the fun)
So creating a hash tag is awesome, right? Well….maybe. But perhaps having all of your guests vying for the ‘best’ shots armed with every mobile device known to man may or may not actually be the wisest of ideas. (PS: the ipad is personal favorite I mean, who wouldn’t drag a device the size of pizza box to a wedding and lean into the aisle obscuring the first kiss to get that dimly-lit grainy beast of shot to post “first” on instagram? #happensallthetimefolks)
Consider this: back in the day during first kisses and dances we photographers looked out into a sea of smiling faces and tear-brimmed eyes. Today–while you are introduced for the very first time and Mr. and Mrs…we look into a sea of devices. (often flashing into our lens and creating some ‘interesting’ shots. By interesting-I mean, craptastic.)
Today, mother’s of the bride often bring their cameras and are photographing the very same moments you have paid a photographer to document. (and missing out on just being a mom on a very special day. ) By deciding on an ‘unplugged wedding’ you allow your family and friends to just be present. (check out this article we collaborated on with another awesome Charlotte wedding photographer last year for Charlotte wedding magazine on this very subject: here.)
**Added benefit of an unplugged wedding: no drunken/sweaty images of the bride to hit facbook before the cake is even cut:-) One way to allow friends to still join in on the fun….just ask them to hold off until the dancing starts..then fire away! #hashtaguntiltheirheartsdelight
Ok–so that’s my 5 (for now..more soon. Including What we wish could tell other wedding pros:-) Here’s the thing folks–most of us do this job because we fully believe we are doing something very special. (In my case–I left a high-paying corporate job to do so.) Though the above could be taken as bossy-Bessy or prima donna– we genuinely only want what is best for you–our amazing clients! We have the luxury of not only having ‘one chance’ at a wedding. We have one nearly every weekend. And we do in fact become ‘wedding experts’ and we share these tips not to ‘know it all’ but so you can look back at this magical day and know it was just perfect. (perfectly imperfect. YOUR perfectly imperfect;-)
…and because no blog post should be left without images. Here are a few snaps of us in our full ridiculousness:
Yes-we have been cat photobombed on more than one occasion (once..mid-ceremony)
G. is known to be a train-carrier/lipstick toter/bouquet holder. #aboveandbeyondfolks
G. also thinks its hilarious to take a snap of my backside while crouching…with a wide angle to ‘encourage’ me to go to yoga. Image 2: this is how we test the lighting before we use it on you:-)
More light testing…
…more light testing for dance floor shots. #thisismyrobot #whyidontdance
PS: For those of you who made it to the end of this long post. You are in for a surprise. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our complete wedding guide filled with all kinds of tips for making your wedding (and the days leading up to it...) FABULOUS!