18 January 2012

Calling all 2012 Brides a.k.a So you are thinking of having a wedding this year... Pt One

Hey y'all this one is a little long....oh dear. Please bear with me... :) - smh I realize that I have become one of 'those' people who somehow (very erroneously) believe that putting a smiley face before, in, around, after any and everything magically makes it ok! LOL

Well you will understand why there was need for this tome you're (hopefully) about to read. It's that season, that time again y'all when TV ads are filled with weight loss remedies, programs, drugs and measures to quit smoking, the bottle, food, name it and of course somewhere around all those ads are also the wedding venues ads, the David's Bridal ads, don't forget those...wait a sec, I zoom in on the David's Bridal ads. What could this mean? *having a 'coulda had a V8' moment* - of course silly, this is January and it's the aftermath of the happy engagements that occurred on new year's eve and a precursor to a frenzied wedding season 2012!

So you know, now I'm a bit more interested, excited even, on the edge of my seat (ok maybe not quite but you get the idea...). This is the time when things get to a feverish pitch, everyone is trying to get some frazzled bride on board whatever it is they're selling. At the same time, being in the industry, my email inbox is deluged with emails about various bridal fairs coming up over the next few weeks. Dear Bride, you have to think of your venue, your cake, your flowers, the band, your dress...aaah your dress, you will have to say yes to some dress out there with your name stamped all over it, whispering your name! And while you're at it, sure can't forget your shoes, your favors, your decor, lighting, cake tasting...YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!! Heck! Your photographer - someone almost forgot about your photographer!!!!

Now, some brides, bless their dear heart will delegate this aspect to the poor groom and while many of you lovely grooms are more than capable and equal to this err herculean task, I just think this is where you both gonna have to just each take one for the team; yep both of you need to be involved in this aspect, afterall, photos are the ONLIEST things you will have left after the cake is eaten, band finally stopped playing, the flowers are dead, the tux is returned, the dress is stashed in some old closet in your mom's house (lol like my sister's dress that I just saw after 5 years in questionable condition in some closet at home (sorry sis heheh). Therefore everything media around the wedding is arguably one of the heavyweights.

All of that said, I do realize not everyone is very 'photographer hiring' savvy - yes some might need a bit of help along the way. To that end, while you mull over the other very important details of your wedding, I figured I'd pass along some unsolicited advice, sorry err, nuggets I have gathered over the last couple of years around the business, about choosing the photographer that is right for you.

Here we go.
1. So, thinking of having a friend shoot the wedding? Ummm, q for you: do you want photos of your wedding?!?? I am just asking because except they're a professional wedding photographer, sorry to break it to ya but your (very well meaning) friend will be a guest 1st and a photographer 2nd and they might miss key moments. Period. Add to that the fact that there might be no contingency plan if there are any mishaps or malfunctions with their gear (again no fault of theirs - after all they are not a pro). Side note to well meaning 'photographer friends' out there: Not to knock your hustle, but if you haven't gone pro yet, then at best be a second shooter and hone your wedding photography skills. All the big hitters started out this way. Yes they did...

2. Decide on and choose (both of you) the style that is right for you. What's your pleasure? Wedding Photojournalism - Unobtrusively capturing real moments as they happen. Traditional - Emphasis on posed pictures, lots of direction. Art/High Fashion - Stylized, studio type photography. Fusion - a mix of two or more styles. Figure out what style of photography you would like, ok fine, at least have an idea :)!

3. Get Referrals! I have found that nothing beats word of mouth. Some of the weddings I shot last year were from word of mouth, referrals from other clients I had worked with, or vendors I worked with. Not that there is anything wrong with finding a photographer off the internet, nothing at all but then you step up your photographer hunting game when you actually have real life live testimonials too...

4. You have gotten your referral but you still want to see for yourself. No worries. Contact the photographer, go to their blog to see their recent work, check out their portfolio to see if their style works for you! Viewing their work needs to evoke some emotional response; are you smiling, feel like you were a part of the moments the photos are presenting, ok so maybe not feel anything earth shattering, but you must have some sort of sentimental reaction to their work.

5. So you have pored through tons of blogs, websites, portfolios, it is all looking like a blur. There are soo many lovely wonderfully talented photogs out there! Geesh what to do? Strive to narrow down your search to the top 5 blogs/websites and find out starting package rates, lol now that always puts things in proper perspective :)

6. You checked prices, terms, rates, and all the blah sorry, fun stuff and narrowed down to at least two that fit your style and budget. Next thing is to contact them and let them know you are interested in their work for your wedding. Do it fast. Run , don't walk to your email/phone. I say this because it would suck if your photog of choice doesn't have your date available because just 4 hrs before you decided to stop putting it off one snazzy bride already snagged your date complete with a retainer to keep the photog on lock...oh snap.

7. Anyway you were lucky and they had your date open. What next? Call them, talk to them, and if time and space allows, have coffee with them. Any photog worth their salt would not gawk at the opportunity to meet a prospective bride even if she is still shopping around. I know I wouldn't. Get to feel them out, their style, do you click on a personal level? I mean not like you must 'bond' with your photog like something out of a scene from a daytime soap opera but it is important to feel comfortable with this person. Why? Well, would you want this person in the room when you're stressed out, frazzled, or nervous? Would you care if they were there to witness a mini bridezilla moment or meltdown (jes sayin)? You have to feel comfortable enough to allow this person all access to your most private moments, I mean this person will probably be the only one in the room while you're down to your skivvies who doesn't know you from grade school:). Also while you have them on the phone or in front of you, now is the time for the questions you always had but were afraid to ask! While it aint supposed to be the Spanish inquisition or nothin' like that, you are thinking about signing a check with three zeros on the end (oh I hear its four for some rock star photos, my bad lol); they owe you an interview at least. Also feel free to share about your wedding, your vision, what you are looking for, the kinds of shots that interest and intrigue you, how you met your fiance, etc. Get the photog excited because the more they learn about you, the more invested they will be on your wedding day and the better they can deliver! Trust me, I know. Couple of years back I was at a wedding and when we vendors were sent to our little vendor dinner room (fun fun :)), we were all talking about how lovely the day was going and someone asked the videographer a question, I don't remember what, but all I know is his response made me almost gag- he said "...oh I don't know them or what their deal is, all I know they got a good deal so they hired me..." Oh dear. Could he have been more impersonal?! I wondered if it was him or the couple (he seemed like a meatloaf so I decided it was him lol). See, not to 'overemotionalize' things, but this here, your life's most memorable day, is more than just hiring someone. Get each and every of your vendors invested in your day by sharing with them your wedding day vision and some of your background.

8. Prices, packages and contracts. Ok so there isn't nearly enough time to really dive deep into this subject, at least not without sounding like a broken record, but I will try to cover a few things you have wanted to know but were afraid to ask about this fun, fun aspect lol. Here goes *deep breath*
a) Ok I said it before, I'll say it again. Remember, photos are the ONLIEST things you will have left after the wedding. So budget accordingly and when I say accordingly, I mean, better not to leave photography till everything else is paid for and there is some change left over.
b) After you reviewed and did all of your ground work in picking a photographer you have to know, you are paying for talent, experience, time and the bells & whistles (prints, beautiful photobooks/albums). I'll expand on time: Here is some quick math for you - I can tell you that 1 hour of shooting usually means at least 3 (give or take) hours of post production (not to mention the other logistics around presentation, album design, heavy retouching, etc). So think about how much time a 12 hour wedding would translate to after the fact. I remember joking with a DJ friend of mine after a wedding was over, that his work was over right then but ours as photographers, really only just began!
c) If you are having a large wedding (over 200 guests), consider your photographer's second shooter offer (usually at an extra charge) but it will be worth it if you want wider coverage of your wedding. Your photographer is only one person, she will be most focused on your and the actions of the day and can only be in one place at a time through the day. One photographer sure can do a great job but for larger gathertings, a second shooter will help make sure that other bases are covered.
d) Retainer: don't take this for granted. If you are really interested in holding down your date with the photographer, make sure you provide their retainer and fulfill terms of payment after careful review of course. This leads to the next point...
e) READ YOUR CONTRACT!! Every last word. I know everybody knows about this but please read your contract! Remember what your mama said. Ok maybe there are a few contracts out there that are more comprehensive than mortgage papers yikes lol but most photography contracts shouldn't exceed 3 at the most 4 pages. So read every last word and ask your questions before you agree to the terms.
f) Albums,photobooks, prints, etc. Don't get bogged down just yet with all of that. The most important thing at this point are the photos themselves that will go into such album or print or what have you. Don't place too much weight on the dazzling album offers, etc as much as the real product you want to get, the story telling, the photography. Definitely check to be sure that your package includes the high resolution copies of your photos so you can make prints and do whatever you want with it. My services include this; only a few photogs refuse to release those these days. Most will, but at an extra charge (a charge you want to be sure you'd be willing to pay if push came to shove, just sayin') so check!

9. Dum dum dum ! Yaay you met me and you clicked with me, you would like me to tell your story! Again, yay (that's how honored I am!). Next up - and here is where the fun begins, is the engagement session. Don't dull on this one brides. Most photogs will usually include this as a complimentary throw into every single package they offer (very few do charge for it), it is that important. Please don't try to negotiate it out of the deal to beat down the price (the price would usually stay the same whether or not there is an e-session hence the word 'complimentary' lol) It is a lot of fun and makes a ton of sense functionally. For starters, you both get to meet me, your photographer in a setting that mirrors your wedding day. Further, I get to help you get accustomed to being photographed to smithereens and how to pose for the camera (by the time the wedding rolls by, you'll be pros!), I get a better feel of you as a couple and as individuals because each story is unique and no 2 couples are ever the same even if I shoot 200 weddings a year, it will never be just another wedding or engagement session for me! We get to discuss anything you might want me to be privy to, you can give me heads up to help me avoid any awkward wedding day situation or also help me know who you would like me to focus on to get an amazing photo of on the day, things like that. I would usually spend a whole afternoon with you because now, for me it is more than the shoot, it is us getting to hang out and most importantly have fun all while discussing those all important nitty gritty details you need me to know.

That's it for now but wait, there is a part deux coming soon covering the big day!! Well I have to break it into two part, I don't want to be guilty of information overload because I know you haven't got that much time on your hands now; you have a freaking wedding TO PLAN!!! :))
In the meantime, enjoy a collage of some of the wonderful, beautiful brides I shot last year- some of them while on second shooting duties. 11 was a good year; 12 is gon be even better!

1 comment:

  1. Well said and written Yinks! I will save this. Brides will definitely find this extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!!