For me, finding a photographer came right after putting the ring on my finger. But for a lot of brides, finalizing plans for wedding photography is at the bottom of the to-do list and selecting the right photographer comes with a lot of questions.
Don’t you wish you had a professional wedding photographer that you could pelt with all of these questions? Luckily, we do! Matt from Sepeta Photography is here to answer our tough bride-to-be questions.
Do you think relying on the internet to narrow down your photographer choices is an okay way to go about it? The internet is certainly a great starting point for finding your photographer. That being said, it is even more important to meet with your photographer in person, preferably multiple times prior to your wedding day! If you and your soon-to-be’s personalities do not mesh well with the person charged with documenting the event, who knows what kind of disconnected photos you could end up with.
How far in advance do you think the photographer should be selected and confirmed? Typically you want to book your photographer long enough in advance to shoot some engagement photos. You want enough time to utilize the finished photos in any announcements or invitations you may be planning on incorporating them in. (Or simply long enough to post them all over facebook to show everyone how cute your spouse is!)
What are two simple factors about a photographer that a bride can look at in order to get a feel for their level of expertise?
• First and foremost, their body of work (“Portfolio” or “Gallery” on most photog’s websites). Don’t limit yourself to their “Wedding” work. Try to check out their non-wedding work as well. It also helps to ask to see a complete gallery from a past client, or even a “sample gallery”.
• Personality. Like I said earlier, if you don’t feel the “vibes” with your photographer, imagine how awkward it will be to have them chasing you around on your wedding day!
What photographic skill do you think is most important for wedding photography?
It really depends on what kind of coverage you are looking for. If you are looking for very dynamic, edgy photos, look for a photographer well versed in lighting techniques and a photographic background in portrait, fashion, etc. If you want journalistic, naturally emotional photos, look for a photographer with a background in editorial, live music, or documentary-type photography.
Prior to doing our engagement photos, you and I passed back and forth a lot of links to photos we liked. Do you think looking online for a few “examples” is a good way for brides to communicate their vision for photos?
“A picture is worth a thousand words.” So if you want to type thousands of words trying to convey ideas, go ahead. Otherwise, a photo works much better. DISCLAIMER: If you are having a hard time conveying what you want, consider finding another photographer. There is only so much style-bending a photographer can do.
What is one rule you wish every bride would adhere to?
Oh geez . . . To be as creative as you are! Your engagement shoots were some of the most pleasurable shoots of my life! You guys came with ideas shooting out of your ears, it was awesome. But bottom line----have ideas and be creative with your photos so that they mean something to you in thirty years.
What is the best way to ensure a bride gets the photos she wants?
This is one of many reasons it is important to take engagement photos. Aside from allowing you and your photographer to get a feel for each other and make a connection, it lets you see your photographers work, LIVE. You can then think about anything you like, dislike, or whatever. It is important to communicate these feelings with your photographer so he/she can do his or her best to capture your wedding.
Let’s say a bride has 12 months before her wedding and books you immediately, what should her interaction with you be like over the next 12 months?
• Schedule your engagement photos (if you are doing them).
• Establish a rough timeline of the day, as well as providing the photographer with the ceremony and reception venues, as well as any other fun plans you may have, allowing him/her to plan accordingly.
• Try to stay connected with your photographer, even though you will have months and months after your engagement photos and before your actual wedding day. The more excited you are, the more excited your photographer will be, and the more AWESOME your photos will end up. Let them know of any cool ideas you have, or if you saw any photos you were really into.
• A couple weeks before your wedding, it is important to get together with your photographer and have a quick meeting going over the finer details of the wedding day. You could come up with a “shot list” of specific pairings you want captured during the formal photos, and any other specific moments you want the photographer to be sure to cover.
What do you think about Trash the Dress Photography?
While it may possibly be a brief phenomenon or trend, I love it. The way I look at it: Unless you are planning on handing the wedding dress down and expecting your daughter (or son?) to wear it on his or her wedding day, you might as well get down-n-dirty in the mud, surf, or sand with the thing on! I have seen some AMAZING "T.T.D." photos that really blew my mind, and I can’t even imagine how pleased the couple must be to have that once-in-a-lifetime shot of them frolicking In the rolling waves in their very best.
Retouching photos. What’s your personal stance on it?
My stance? Guilty as charged!
In all seriousness, “Retouching” is something that has always been in the photographers proverbial toolbox, even in the days of film. Dodging, burning, spot pens, etc. It’s just a heck of a lot easier and more accurate now! I retouch every single photo I deliver. Personally, I process all of my RAW photos (think of it as a digital negative) with Aperture 3 and the help of some choice plug-ins (program add-ons, typically third-party) such as Nik Silver Efex and Color Efex, then do any of the heavy lifting with Photoshop CS4.
Just how far can a photographer take digital editing? If my friend wants you to add 20 inches of hair can you do it?
The sky’s the limit. I have had to combine facial features, turn smiles into frowns, remove entire people from a shot, etc. Keep in mind, these kind of adjustments are time consuming, and will likely warrant additional charges.
When Josh and I were looking over our budget I was adamant about having a great photographer. In my opinion, the photos are going to be one of the most cherished aspects of our day, so for me it was definitely worth fin ding a professional. What are a few reasons you think professional photography is worth the price tag?
This one is easy. Because we are professionals and this is what we do! It is our work to capture your wedding day memories in the best way possible. Off the top of my head, here are three reasons:
• We have professional level equipment and doubles of every crucial piece including camera bodies, lenses, batteries, memory cards, lights, etc. (Every photog SHOULD have these items.)
• We have the experience required to capture all the details, all the little things that your uncle with the camera may miss, or may not have the equipment necessary to capture.
• Having experienced so many weddings, professional wedding photographers are also a great asset. We have seen every wedding situation and know how to respond, if needed, to help the wedding along.
Do you have any tips for brides who absolutely cannot afford a professional photographer?
If you have cut every possible corner and still cannot afford to pay a professional, consider finding an “aspiring” pro. The chances are great that you have an acquaintance or a friend of a friend of a friend hoping for a professional photography career. Talk to them, check out their work, and offer to pay them a little bit, or heck, buy them a beer or two!
So, there you have it gang, some down-to-earth responses from a real photographer. I just love his personality and after reading a few of his responses you probably understand why we went with Matt! If you are interested in contacting Matt about your wedding photos email him here. (Mention you're a fan of Aisle File and you'll get $50 off your wedding package!) For information about his pricing and packages go here.
A huge thanks to readers who submitted questions, and for anyone out there who is still dying to ask one----post it on the wall at Aisle File: Dani & Josh and we'll get it answered!