12 Things Wedding Photographers Wish You Knew

You want perfect wedding photos and your photographer wants to capture those special, ever-so-fleeting emotional moments you’ll remember forever. So, what is the key to more amazing photos? Communication. And, since most wedding photographers might not want to tell you what they really think, I’m here to do it. Here’s 12 things wedding photographers wish you knew.

Yes, We Know How to Use Photoshop, But We Don’t Want to

As a photographer, I want to get everything as perfect as possible in camera. Posing, location scouting, and camera settings will “fix” most things before I even click the shutter. If your grandpa photobombs you, I’m going to retake the photo. It’s much easier to get the photo right than to fix it with Photoshop. Many photographers charge for extensive editing in Photoshop, because it can be very time-consuming.

If we happen to miss something, we can absolutely fix it in Photoshop, but I’ve gotten pretty good at making sure everything is perfect before I click the shutter.

We Feel More Comfortable With a Second Photographer Present

Don’t get me wrong, some photographers prefer to be the only one taking photos at a wedding. For me, I would much rather have my second shooter with me who happens to be my husband (it doesn’t hurt that he’s a full-time photographer/videographer at the University of Charleston either).

While it’s not imperative to have a second photographer, it really helps us relax and really focus in on getting great photos instead of trying to capture everything.

If you were to look at a wedding written up as a movie script, you would see a primary storyline surrounded by smaller side stories that are happening at the same moment. For example, during a wedding ceremony, the main story is, of course, the bride and groom. However, there may be multiple side stories occurring at the same moment. For instance, mom or dad wiping the tear from their eyes or the flower girl sitting in the corner picking petals from a rose in her hands.

No matter how good a photographer is, he/she cannot be at all places at the same time; and so, to compensate, I prefer to use multiple wedding photographers.

We Want You to Look Your Best

As if this wasn’t obvious.

Just trust us.

If you hire the right wedding photographer, they will know what you need to do to look amazing. Many brides stress too much about looking good in their photos that they forget to enjoy the moment. If you are relaxed and loose, it will come across in the photos. A good photographer will tell you how to stand, how to pose and if a piece of hair is in the wrong place.

That said, make sure you leave some room in your schedule for photos so you don’t feel rushed. We suggest at least 30 minutes for family and wedding party photos and an hour for couple portraits. Speaking of portraits…

Seriously Consider a “First Look”

I know I know, this breaks one of the most important traditions in a wedding. The bride and groom absolutely cannot see each other before the wedding! That’s rule #1 right? Well, I say break the rule!

If you aren’t familiar, a first look gives the bride and groom an opportunity to see each other before the ceremony. This is often a private and quiet moment and one you won’t forget. In my experience, this is usually a very intimate moment between just the two of you and it usually a very beautiful, personal experience. This gives you both and opportunity to get some pre-wedding jitters out, it also gives the photographer a great opportunity to capture some fantastic photos. Often, some of your favorite photos from the wedding will be during the first look.

Besides be being selfish and wanting to get great photos, it actually is really beneficial to you as well.

Let me paint you a picture….

The wedding is over and all your guests head over to the reception. You, your family and bridal party stick around for photos. Let’s say this goes according to plan and only lasts 30 minutes (it will take longer, I promise. Uncle Gary always wonders off when it’s his turn). After these photos are finished, it’s time to get a few photos of just the bride and groom. Personally, I like to go somewhere close to either the church or the reception site so we can save time (I live in Charleston, WV and there are tons of amazing locations right in town to get portraits of the bride and groom). I try to get these photos finished in an hour or so and then we can head over to the reception. So, if everything goes perfectly, you will be AT LEAST an hour and a half late to your own party. I promise you will start to get antsy while you are smiling for photos after the wedding knowing that all your friends and family are enjoying themselves and you are stuck with me taking photos. This just gives you a chance to get those photos out of the way so that you can quickly go from the wedding to the party and start having fun.

Why is Wedding Photography So Expensive?!

This is probably the question I have heard the most and it’s completely understandable. It seems easy – all you do is show up, snap some photos and then go home. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. My husband and I personally carry close to $10,000 in equipment to each wedding and work long hours. Add insurance, taxes, software, advertising, albums, repair, shipping, and studio expenses, and many photographers end up making less than minimum wage for the first few years of their career. There’s also pre-planning, making lists, getting the right equipment for the job, travel, editing, re-editing, and editing some more. Then add in the actual wedding photography itself, and that’s a hefty workload. A photographer costs the price they’ve set, and unfortunately if it doesn’t fit your budget you might need to find another who does.

We Will Give You As Many Photos as Possible

Wedding photographers typically deliver 50-100 photos for every hour of coverage they provide. Four hundred photos may seem like a lot, but your wedding photographer is preserving all those little details and the moments you missed while you were mingling.

After a wedding, your photographer most likely will go through and delete all of the unusable photos (out of focus, bad lighting, weird faces, etc) and all the photos they just don’t like and then give you the rest. We want you to have as many as you can because we know this is a special day, but you won’t get every photo we take of the day. Personally, I go for quality over quantity.

Some photographers will professionally edit their favorite 20-25 photos from the day, do a small edit on the rest of them and send them to you. I personally edit and painstakingly re-edit all 400+ photos I give to the bride and groom, which can take a lot of time (10-20 hours). Some photographers like to get their photos back to the bride and groom in a couple of weeks, but I take a bit longer (4-6 weeks) to make sure each photo is personally re-touched.

We Will Try to Blend in As Much As Possible

Even though the wedding photographers are a big part of the wedding day, it’s important that they are not distractions. As such, it’s important for the photographer to blend in as much as possible. Furthermore, for religious or cultural ceremonies, there may be certain colors that are considered taboo. Make sure your photographers will be dressed appropriately for the occasion. Typical Whitney and Brock wedding photography attire is black suit pants with a black polo or dress shirt. We dress completely in black because we want to go unnoticed by the clients and guests, so that we can capture the event as photojournalists.

Feed Us

It is traditional for the bride and groom to feed the photographer(s). While this is not required, it is mutually beneficial.

A fed photographer is a happy photographer. And its actually beneficial to you if we are fed when you are….not after everyone else. Typically we have to stop eating to capture the speeches….(and more often than not return to our little nook to find someone took our untouched plate). If we can eat before dinner is fully served, we’ll be ready to go when the festivities begin in earnest.

If you decide to not feed the photographer, expect them to dip out for a few minutes to grab something to eat elsewhere. Very few photographers are going to work 6-10 hours without eating.

Should I Tip You?

That is a great question and I’ve heard this one a lot as well.

If I can be completely honest, I’ve never once expected a tip after a wedding. I have gotten them before, but it’s not something I’ve ever thought about when shooting. While they are appreciated, it’s not something you need to do.

We Get Butterflies Before the Wedding Too

Bet you didn’t know that, did you? I’m nervous before every. single. wedding… it’s not just you!

I’ve heard that if you don’t get nervous before an important event, then it doesn’t mean enough to you. Well every single wedding is important to me so I definitely get nervous because I just want to make sure I get the best possible photos for you. I believe that nervous energy is what drives me to be the best photographer I can.

Friends Do Not Make Good Photographers

Now, this is NOT necessarily a hard and fast rule….just one I’ve seen played out again and again. I’ve had couples contact me and say “We’ve decided to have a friend photograph our wedding as a gift”

There’s a few things that can go awry with this plan:
1. Often…Friend is not a wedding photographer….they’re a camera owner. There’s a big difference here.

2. If friend IS a professional wedding photographer, resentment can crop up if they’re not being fairly compensated for their work.

3. If friend has OTHER friends at the wedding, it can be tough to be in work mode 100% when others are in party mode.

4. If you wanna keep “Friend” a Friend…..let them come as a guest and hire a non-friend professional. However, as your friend, I can’t promise I won’t be watching your chosen shooter like a hawk. : )

Engagement Sessions Are Important

No, I’m not trying to sell you an engagement session (well I am, kinda).

Engagement photography sessions are wonderful for many reasons. Engagement photography not only provides you with beautiful imagery capturing your pre-wedding romance, but it also gives you the chance to create a unique presentation at the wedding. You can use these photos on a slideshow, your invitations and much more.

In addition, the engagement session also allows you to get to know your photographer a little more prior to the wedding. This allows you as a couple to build a better relationship with your photographer. This relationship will allow your photographer to create more natural and unique imagery since he/she has a good understanding of your unique personalities and tastes.

Here’s a tip when scheduling an engagement session – think of a meaningful place to the both of you. For example, the place you went on your first date, where you proposed, or another special date place for the two of you. This will give your photographs a special meaning when you look at them years later.

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