For an industry with what seems to operate under a fairly basic premise, the wedding industry certainly contains a lot of pitfalls, questions, and unknowns that couples have to address as they prepare for their big day.. Recently, I asked the members of my St. Louis area bridal/wedding resource group (if you’re planning your wedding, check it out!) what types of questions they have and what they would like to learn more about.
In addition to some of the topics I already planned to address, I received quite a few others to add to the list. Many of those included questions about St. Louis wedding photography and picking a St. Louis wedding photographer.
(Quick note: If you have any questions about a topic that aren’t addressed, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll certainly get to work on it!)
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Ready? Let’s get started!
Should I hire one wedding photographer or two?
The easy answer? Two!
If you have a very strict budget and simply CANNOT afford the additional cost for a second photographer, I get it. In this case, I highly recommend that you take some extra time to talk to the St. Louis wedding photographer you are interested in booking to ensure that you are on the same page. They will need to be aware of the details surrounding the timeline you’ve created for your wedding day, and you will need to add a bit of extra time around each “phase” of your wedding day to allow them to move and setup new gear, take a restroom break, etc. You will also need to keep in mind that things that might normally be shot at the same time will need to be scheduled for separate times as photographers are normal people too and can’t be in two places at once...yet!
This is one of the main reasons why I recommend having two wedding photographers. Two photographers shooting throughout the day allow for a lot more photos of every aspect of your day. You will end up with more details covered, more candid, emotional moments captured, and you can streamline your timeline by having one photographer covering one aspect of the day while the other is somewhere else.
(Note: I recommend hiring a photographer that will have a trusted second photographer with them, not two separate photography studios. The established team will work together more efficiently and your end result will be much more cohesive than it would be with two completely different people shooting whatever they think you want in completely different manners.)
Should I have both photo and video?
This is mostly a personal preference scenario. My opinion? You are spending countless hours, sleepless nights, and tons of money putting together this one epic celebration of your love for your spouse. After you leave the venue, the vast majority of that investment is gone forever…unless you’ve considered the importance of preserving those moments, details, and memories in the form of photography and video. In order to do so, I would highly recommend booking both a wedding photographer and a videographer if your budget allows.
Do they have to be (or should they be) from the same company?
No. Not necessarily. I recommend finding the best of each within your budget and booking them, or at least talking to them. These folks are going to be all up in your business the entire wedding day, you need to LIKE them. So find the ones you like and book ‘em, Dan-o! Whether they are from the same company or not…
How many hours of coverage should I plan for?
ALL OF THEM! Seriously, read my response to the photo + video question (above). It might seem silly to have a photographer hanging out while you just chill with your bridesmaids or hanging with the guys at another location, but those times are when the magical, intimate moments happen. Those are the moments that bring tears to your eyes 20 years from now.
Another reason you want to consider scheduling as much coverage as you can, because NOTHING ever works according to schedule. Think about it! It takes way too long just to get a group of friends out the door for breakfast or dinner when you’re all hanging out. Add the dress clothes, high heels, nerves of the day, the fact that someone is always going to forget something and have to run back inside and someone is always going to be hanging out in the bathroom holding everyone else up, and you have a recipe for stress if you haven’t prepared! Add in tons of cushion time, extra time before and after photos, and have your St. Louis wedding photographer there for as long as you can!
What questions should I expect from an experienced photographer in an initial consult?
This varies quite a bit based on how well they know you, how much you choose to reveal, and how engaged you are in the photographic end of the process. During the course of an initial meeting, you can reasonably expect to discuss these topics:
- Your story! Photographers are visual storytellers and we want to tell the story of your relationship, so be prepared to share details!
- Your hopes and dreams for the wedding. How many guests, bridal party size, venues, themes, details, etc.
- The types of shots you would like to see, if any. (If you don’t have any at this point, it’s all good!)
- Favorite date spots, etc. if you are going to be having an engagement session with them. Although, these questions might come as you begin to plan your engagement session.
- What questions do you have?
What information should I know before hiring a photographer?
First and foremost, you should be comfortable with them. There needs to be some camaraderie and comfort there. So take some time to ask them about themselves and get to know them on a personal level a bit. Make some small talk, drink some coffee, and relax a bit before diving into your interview.
(The better you get to know your photographer, the smoother your photo sessions with them will go, the more comfortable you will be with their judgement, and the more amazing your photos will be!)
Once everyone is comfortable, some questions to ask include:
- What do your packages include?
- Do you shoot with a second photographer?
- What is your style?
- Are they mostly documentary style (minimal posing/interference) or are they fine art where they’ll do most anything to get the shot they envision?
- Are you comfortable with off camera lighting or are you natural light only?
- This comes into play quite a bit depending on the venue you are using. If someone is comfortable with using additional lighting, they will be able to provide a different level of final image than someone that is strictly a natural light photographer.
- What are the payment terms if you book with them?
- How long does it take to get images back?
- What’s your stance on digital files?
- Many photographers charge a flat fee and provide unedited images on a CD/USB. Many others truly value printed products and want to offer something of heirloom quality and they will approach things a bit differently. I fall into the latter camp and would certainly want to discuss this with potential clients early on.
How can I tell between an experienced vs. a novice photographer?
Ask them! That’s pretty much what it comes down to. Talk about their experience. Look at their work. If possible, ask them to see an entire wedding gallery with all of the pictures from a wedding, not just their portfolio shots. If they are willing and able to show an entire gallery with shots that you like, chances are you are going to be satisfied with the images they provide you. There’s a big difference between a photographer that can nail 5-10 portfolio images and those that crank out hundreds of solid images from a wedding.
What are some things a photographer should never say or do?
Something that makes you uncomfortable on a personal level. If it’s an accident, that’s one thing, but your photographer should be professional, conscientious, and respectful of you and your ideas. They might (respectfully) argue with you about something or point out if something might not work (they do this in the best interest of your final photos!), but in the end they should ultimately defer to your preferences with a smile and good attitude. If they don’t or if they act ignorant, I’d recommend you find someone else. Your wedding day is going to be stressful and crazy enough without spending it with a cranky photographer that doesn’t know how to work with you.
How do I plan for/minimize problems or issues before they arise?
The hard part of planning for problems before they arise is actually thinking of what problems might crop up. I subscribe to belief in Murphy’s Law - anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Beyond actually predicting the future, your best bet is to work closely with your wedding vendors. Discuss your concerns, talk to them about the issues they’ve seen in the past and what they can do to avoid those things occurring in the future.
After that, it becomes a matter of rolling with whatever comes up. If you go in with the understanding that things are going to go wrong, you can be in a much better mental state and will be able to trust your wedding professionals to do their job and overcome whatever arises.
How do I deal with Mother Nature when I’m having an outdoor wedding?
Plan for the worst, hope for the best!
There are steps you can take to minimize the impact of inclement weather such as having tents to keep the ceremony and guests dry, heaters if you are planning something for when the weather might turn chilly, umbrellas, etc. However, the main thing you can do is properly plan. Look through the Farmer’s Almanac to get an idea how the weather might turn out.
Once you’ve done all of your planning, it comes down again to trusting your vendors to help you out and overcome whatever might occur. If you’ve selected your vendors carefully, your wedding will turn out great despite what Mother Nature throws at you. No matter what, keep your cool and stay focused on enjoying your big day!
What questions do you still have?
I know that there are countless questions still floating around out there and that I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of all that can be covered here. I would absolutely LOVE to hear your questions, comments, stories, and real-life experiences! Feel free to leave comments below, shoot me an email, or bebop on over to Facebook and strike up a conversation!
Thanks for your time and I hope to hear from you soon!