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Four (4) Questions You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer

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There are many lists of questions out there on what you should ask potential wedding photographers. Many of those questions on many of those list – suck. bad. They’re either outdated, useless – or outdated AND useless. That question about what gear does your photographer use? Doesn’t matter. (If you’ve actually seen their work and their photos – you know they make amazing stuff. You don’t ask your caterer if they only cook with cast-iron pans or whatever so why ask your photographer if they’re shooting with a medium format blah blah blah.)

SO. Here are four questions you should ask your wedding photographer (during your sit down meeting with them.)

1. Do you have insurance.

I know – insurance talk is never excited and it’s probably not at the top of your list when you’re trying to find your wedding photographer. But whether or not they have insurance is a clear indicator of whether or not they’re a Professional Photographer. Again – this is really boring and not sexy at all, but it’s TRUE. They’re asking you to give them $4,000 to photograph your wedding. Would you give that much money to ANY other business that didn’t have their paperwork in order? Then WHY would you give $4,000 to someone who isn’t professional enough to have something as simple and basic as business insurance?

Your venue has insurance. Your caterer has insurance. Your wedding planner has insurance. So your wedding photographer should definitely have insurance. Your wedding is not the day for amateurs and beginners.

2. Do you have back up gear.

I’m not talking about an extra memory card, or extra batteries. I’m talking about a full back up KIT. That’s the whole thing. Camera, lenses, batteries, flashes – a full backup set. Of course this is a just-in-case scenario where your photographer would need to pull out the backup gear, but it’s YOUR WEDDING. You hired a professional photographer because they can handle anything and EVERYTHING – but most importantly – they have invested in their business, and they have professional gear and backups for their backups. The only answer you ever should accept to this question is “YES. I have a lot of backup gear.”

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3. When will the photos be delivered.

This is an easy question to forget to ask. For everyone’s sanity (yours and the photographer’s) – you should find out when to expect delivery of your photos. That way whenever your mom/grandparents/aunts nag you about the photos, you can simple say “It’ll be another 3 weeks. So stop asking please.” And at the same time it holds your photographer to making that delivery deadline. It’s a simple question and your photographer will probably include it in their contract anyway. You just want to make sure you know what to expect so that you’re not thinking it’ll be 2 weeks when your photographer’s normal delivery time is 6-8 weeks (especially if they’re a busy rockstar photographer.)

4. How many weddings do you photograph a year?

You want to ask this question partly to find out how experienced your photographer is, and what kind of workload they have. Just like the rest of us – being busy with work is great – to a point. A general rule of thumb is 30 weddings per year is about right for a very busy wedding photographer handling everything on their own (sales, shooting, editing, delivery). If they’re photographing more than 30+ weddings a year then they should definitely have a good workflow and process setup to keep things organized and running smoothly.

Also – there is a big difference in experience between a photographer that’s been doing this for 5 years but only does 5-10 weddings a year vs. a photographer that’s been shooting 30+ weddings a year for the same 5 year time period. A BIG DIFFERENCE. The photographer that does 30 weddings a year will have run across many more problems to solve, and will honestly just know how to handle many more surprise situations, deal with different people – and make the most AMAZING photos out of EVERY situation and location. You can’t beat experience most of the time.

 

All photos by LeahAndMark & Co.

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Six Reasons to Have a First Look (Or Not!)

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*Edited to be 43% less offensive.

A ‘First Look’ is generally when the two people getting  married see each other before their ceremony. It’s usually a semi-staged event, where your Asian photographer (me!) says hey person 1, stand here and look that direction  - and then I’ll tell person 2, hey, walk over there and say hi.

Well. Basically something like that.

Should you have a first look before your wedding? Should you wait and not see each other until your wedding ceremony? Yes.

No.

Yes. And no.

I used to push for the first look – because that’s what photographers do. We want that specific time set aside for us, so we’re guaranteed our space to make literal amazing. I used to push for it. Now? Not as much. What I do require is a 30 minute block of time for the couples portrait session. That can take place before or after the ceremony – as long as it definitely happens. No matter what. No matter how late the schedule gets. No matter what. Here are the things to consider when you’re deciding whether or not to have a first look before your wedding ceremony.

1. The Time of Your Ceremony

If your ceremony is at sunset then your portrait session will probably be taking place in the f*cken pitch black dark. That’s a situation when we should’ve had a first look because we need more light than NONE. Of course – if your ceremony is a little bit earlier and then the timing of your portrait session is sunset – that’s PERFECT. See? In that situation we didn’t need the first look. AND now the portrait session is taking place a much better time than at 3pm in the midday sun. Think you can’t have a slightly earlier ceremony time? WHY NOT? It’s your wedding.

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2. Do you want to enter your reception earlier?

The timeline goes like this:

5:00 – 5:30 Ceremony

5:30 – 6:00 Family Formals

6:00 – 6:30 Portrait session

6:30 Enter Reception

If you don’t have the first look – you’re saving 30 minutes of time before you enter your reception. To be honest though – some photographers are SLOW. I’ve heard of other photographers taking an hour+ to complete the family formals and then you STILL have to do your portrait session. That’s a nightmare and that photographer should be fired. Who takes two hours to complete family formals and the portrait session? Anyway… if you happen to have a slow photographer, then YES – you will want to have a first look because otherwise it’ll take 2+ hours before you ever enter your reception. But if you have a generally great photographer – they’ll knock the family formals out and then take care of you during your portrait session and you won’t feel like anytime has passed anyway – and as long as you have a real cocktail hour (you know – with DRINKS and hors d’oeuvres) everyone should be fine.

Of course – you’ll also need to take into consideration any travel time if your ceremony is taking place somewhere other than next door/at your reception venue.

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3. Do you even want ‘First Look’ Photos?

The thing with the ‘first look’ is that without it – you can’t make those photos. If we try to make them after your ceremony, after you’ve seen each other already… well… now we’re just REALLY faking it. It won’t be genuine and also it would just be kind of weird. So yeah – that’s definitely something you should consider. Do you even want those ‘first look’ photos? I think this is actually the NUMBER ONE question you should ask yourself when making the decision to have a first look or not. Sure we try to go into the portrait session right after this, but if you don’t even want the first look photos then the portrait session can definitely take place after the ceremony.

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4. It’s tradition to not see each other until the ceremony.

I won’t argue this fact. It is tradition to not see each other until the ceremony. However – I will say that nearly half of our couples DO have a first look, so this tradition is kept up only about half the time among the couples that we photograph. So there. How about that. It’s not good or bad or against tradition – but it’s definitely a perfectly great option that you shouldn’t feel bad about choosing.

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5. Where might your first look actually take place?

This is a tricky one. Because you could have an amazing location in mind and your photographer might not know how to handle it. There’s a chance your photographer makes average photos in amazing places. On the flip side – your photographer might know how to make amazing photos out of lousy spaces. On the side-side, it’s not your job to do your photographer’s job. Of course – a little help is always appreciated. If you know that the only place we can do the first look is a broom closet – maybe…. maybe we shouldn’t do the first look. Of course – if you don’t care that it’s in a broom closet – then by all means, have at it.

But HEY. This is YOUR WEDDING DAY. Why not give the first look the time and space it deserves because you got dressed up and you look f*cken amazing. Why would you stick yourself in a broom closet for a first look? If you have to take an extra 15 minutes to go over to that amazing spot where the sun hits everything just right – then DO IT.

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6. Aw screw it. HAVE A FIRST LOOK DAMMIT.

Seriously. HAVE A FIRST LOOK. I don’t know anyone who’s ever been like - aw man, look at all of these extra photos we have of us being ridiculously happy and in love. 

If you’re paying me a trillion dollars to photograph your wedding then I recommend you get your money’s worth – and demand that we do the first look. It’s okay – you don’t have to feel bad about it. I’ll be fine. Really. So if you want the first look just let me know and we’ll turn on the faucet that sprays amazing and beautiful everywhere while you guys meet up and bask in your love (you know – along with having an Asian guy yelling you to kiss/hold hands/be in love, etc.)

DO IT. Have a first look.

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All Photos by LeahAndMark & Co.
– Additional Photography by Joy Hmielewski, Niki Malek

Written by:

Atlanta Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Mark RoX Tioxon

 

 

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