So how does it all work?
What do we do next?
I’ve never planned a wedding before.
These are common comments I hear from couples when shopping for a wedding photographer, so here’s my wedding photography process for my wedding packages (4+ hours) to help give you an idea! Please note: this process applies to Wedding Packages A & B only.
Getting to Know Each Other
So you found a photographer whose style you love, great Yelp reviews and within your budget, but is it a match? To me, this is a commonly skipped step…….getting to know your photographer and your photographer getting to know you!
It’s so important for you and your fiance to be comfortable with me taking your photos so your photos are natural and really show your personalities. I always suggest a relaxed meeting at a local coffee shop or other favorite place for you to meet me and for me to get to know you as a couple. Things will be a little (or alot?!) crazy on your wedding day, so that’s not the best time to meet each other for the first time. So, let me buy you a coffee. I’d love to hear all about your wedding and may even be able to give you some advice on your planning, but most importantly…..let’s get to know each other! But let’s go a step further………So. We meet. That’s great! You like me. That’s super great! But what’s the best way to learn “how” I work with clients? How your photos might look? How fun am I to work with? How comfortable do I make you feel when taking your photos? Well, consider booking an Engagement Session. This is a great way to “try me out” before making a big commitment. Engagement Sessions are affordable and will give you the best insight to how I work when I’m taking your photos!
Agreement & Retainer
If you hire me to take your wedding day photos (yahoo!), I’ll be sending you a photography agreement. This is really important! DO NOT hire a photographer or vendor for your wedding without one. I repeat. DO NOT! I have heard so many nightmare stories and I don’t want you to have the same issues. An agreement protects both you and the photographer. It’s not a matter of distrust, but a way to ensure there are no misunderstandings on what is expected. And, many times I’m hired 6-12 months in advance, so it’s always important to have in writing what was agreed upon so long ago.
Once we review and sign our agreement, you’ll want to reserve me for your wedding date. A 50% non-refundable retainer is required to lock-in the date. This means, if another bride contacts me for the same date as your wedding and you’ve already signed an agreement and sent your retainer, I have to say “Sorry, I’m booked that day” to the bride.
Questionnaire & Balance Payment
As your wedding date approaches, I’ll be sending you a questionnaire and reminder for payment of the balance (the remaining 50%). The payment is due one-month prior to your wedding date. The questionnaire is also requested to be filled out and returned to me at that time. The questionnaire helps me produce your “wedding day photography timeline”. It will ask for a basic idea of start and end times of certain events on your wedding day including the ceremony, reception, first dance, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. It also includes a “shot list” for your formal family portraits where you check off the photos you would like. These photos are typically taken right after the ceremony. Examples are photos of: Bride & Groom with Groom’s Parents, Bride & Groom with Bride’s Grandma, etc. I allow 2-minutes for each photo, so it’s important to know the photos in advance to ensure enough time is planned for taking these photos. I also ask for the size of the wedding party and emergency contact numbers for the Maid of Honor and Best Man and any special family dynamics I should be aware of.
Wedding Day Photography Timeline
Once I receive the questionnaire, I’ll draft your wedding day photography timeline. It usually takes me up to 1-2 days to complete it. I will send it for your review and schedule a quick phone call to discuss any changes you might need. Once completed, the final version is emailed to you. I also carry a copy on your wedding day and will refer to it as a guide. Putting the timeline together also helps you plan your wedding day especially if you aren’t hiring a Wedding Planner. For example: it’s very common for couples to want formal family photos and Bride and Groom portraits, but they forget to plan time to take these photos. Producing the timeline will help us make sure you get all the photos you hoped for.
If you have a DJ, they will probably provide a timeline of events they will be announcing like the grand entrance, toasts, first dances and bouquet/garter toss. I always request a copy of the DJ’s timeline so I’m sure to be ready to capture those great moments!
Just another note regarding the photography timeline…………..every wedding, and I mean EVERY wedding I’ve ever worked something unplanned happens. I see Brides work so hard to the point of stressing out to keep everything organized and my advice is to make it part of your plan that “something will go wrong” and it’s okay! Somehow these things always work themselves out because nothing will get in the way of two people in love! So, I emphasis that your wedding-day photography timeline is only a guide and is totally flexible. It’s not uncommon for me to have a Plan B or even Plan C in the back of my brain, “just in case”. For example: although all the groomsmen were ready for their portraits before the ceremony……….the boutonnieres were left in the groom’s refrigerator back home. Luckily he lived close by and a groomsmen rushed to pick them up. So, I quickly adjusted my plan to shoot some reception and ceremony venue details first, followed with the groomsmen who now had their boutonnieres. No problem!
I always plan to arrive 30-45 minutes prior to taking photos. I’ll text the Bride & Groom (or Best Man and Maid of Honor) to let you know I’ve arrived. I’ll walk the venue, introduce myself to other vendors, i.e. banquet manager, DJ. It always helps to work as a team with all your vendors! Then, the magic happens as your wedding day unfolds. All the hard work has come together and you finally have your special day! After all the celebration and before I leave, I make one last check with you for any last photo requests and to wish you both a wonderful marriage………but my work isn’t done yet!
It’s a common misconception that once the photo is taken, it just has to be delivered to the Bride and Groom, unfortunately that’s not the case! This is where post-processing comes in. It’s when your wedding day photos are uploaded to my computer, backed-up and processed. Think of post-processing as the “dark room” of the old photography days. Your photos are being developed! Once on my computer, I pick some awesome shots right away to post as a sneak-peek to Instagram and Facebook allowing you to see some highlights within days after your wedding. Then the real work begins! Your photos are culled – where duplicates are removed or photos not within my quality standards including eyes being closed (which is one reason to take duplicates of the same shot!). Then, color lighting and sharpening adjustments are made along with basic retouching. Basic retouching includes whitening of teeth, removal of blemishes (always a pimple when you don’t want one!) and minor distractions, and brightening of eyes. Photos are then cropped and uploaded to your own online gallery.
Since your wedding may have 500 – 3,000 photos depending on the length of your photography coverage, post-processing can be time consuming. However, being a full-time photographer my goal is to have your online gallery ready within two weeks (and I usually even beat that!) You’ll receive an email with the link to your gallery that you can share with friends and family too! You’ll be able to download right from your gallery, if desired. In addition, a USB flash drive containing your photos will be mailed to you.
Well, that’s a very simplified description of my wedding photography process for you. I should add that after you receive your photos and relive that beautiful wedding day, I hope it isn’t the last time we connect. I love to hear how couples are doing and what’s new in your life!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to book me to capture your beautiful wedding day!