most creative st louis wedding photographer

Quick Tips for Beginning Your Wedding Planning by Michael Henson

How do I start!?!?

That's possibly the most common question in the entire wedding industry. It seems simple, but it's overwhelming once you start looking at all the moving pieces you must put together. To shed a little bit of light on the question, I asked a couple local St. Louis wedding professionals to weigh in with their experience and expertise.

Some quick tips from Inspired Design Wedding Events, a 14 year veteran in the industry, include:

  1. Budget // How much do you want to spend? Who is contributing?
  2. Goals // What are your goals for the event? If it's just to "get hitched" you could do that at a courthouse! What do you want to get out of the event itself? Photos, memories, time with family? 
  3. Important Elements // What is most important to each member in the couple? Don't just assume that you both care about the same things!

I also had a couple questions that I sent over to VSM Event Creations and Vanessa gave me some great feedback as well. Budget topped the list and she mentioned some incredible resources for those struggling with budgeting - The Knot & WeddingWire are great starting sources. In addition, she mentioned:

  1. Venue // The next step when getting into the "nitty-gritty" is to look at your ceremony and reception venues and get them booked. She suggests making a list of the top 3 places you'd like to check out and to start communicating with them as soon as possible.
  2. Wedding Planner // Hiring a wedding planner is an investment in your sanity. They can certainly help in choosing high quality vendors and really help out with the tiny details that make your wedding everything you want it to be!

Hopefully, this is beneficial and gives you a bit of direction as you start planning your St. Louis wedding! If you have other topics you'd like to chat about, shoot me a message or drop me a comment. Also, check out our bridal resource group on Facebook and join up!

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9 Questions Brides Want Answered | St. Louis Wedding Photographer by Michael Henson

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!)

If you'd like to be the first to hear about new resources and would like to snag a copy of the guide I created for "How to Choose the Perfect Location for Your Engagement Photos," click this link, enter your info, and I'll get a copy of that e-book sent over to you ASAP! 

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!

Michael

Jon & Erin | St. Louis Engagement Photographer by Michael Henson

From a photographer's perspective, it wasn't a great day for photos, but part of being a photographer is taking the uncooperative days that Mother Nature throws over top of your schedule and make them work. I've discussed this a bit in previous posts, but Erin & Jon's session provided some fun challenges - wind and blinding sunlight. In addition, my schedule provided us some hoops that we had to jump through in order to get our session in, but Erin & Jon were incredible. They were understanding and accommodating, and I am VERY grateful!

What about the session?

Well, we battled crazy gusts of wind that threatened to carry various gear away on a regular basis, worked around the sun's blinding rays, and we even had to overcome my tumbling over my camera bag to land flat on my back! (Try recovering from that!!)

From old industrial buildings in downtown St. Charles, MO, to the always amazing Moonshine Blues Bar in the basement at Hendricks BBQ, and our final destination for sunset shots at Creve Coeur Lake, we had a great time! We talked dogs and TV shows, complained about the wind, enjoyed the day and I even got to hear an acoustic attempt at metal and a duet (however short lived) of Banana Pancakes before Erin stopped singing!

It was great fun, these are two very cool people, and I'm honored to have had the opportunity to capture these moments! Congrats on the engagement, Erin & Jon! Looking forward to your big day!

~Michael

When should I book my wedding photographer? by Michael Henson

A great question and something everything bride needs to think about as she makes plans for her big day. Understandably, the madness and chaos, the nerves and the excitement surrounding an accepted proposal can the coolest of cucumbers break into a cold sweat. Eventually, things will calm down and the all-important “list” will result in clear direction and understanding of the tasks facing you.

In the initial stages of your planning, there are two components you want to consider.

  • Your Venue
  • Your Photographer

Each of these are subject to scheduling constraints that are difficult to work around, and if they are booked before you are able to book them, you miss out. Seeing as how I’m a photographer, that’s what I’m going to focus on here…If you are looking for information on booking a venue, I would browse through some tips over on The Knot. However, the generally accepted booking time is nine to twelve months in advance.

So, consider exactly what you are looking for in your photographer

  • Find a photographer whose style you like. 
  • Schedule some time to get together and chat about your vision for your wedding day, your dreams, and what you would like to end up with once the wedding day is past and the honeymoon is over.
  • Make sure that you like the photographer and that they are someone you are comfortable with as you’ll be spending a lot of time with them both before, during, and after the wedding.
  • Once you determine that you like their style, are comfortable with them, and that they offer the services you are looking for, BOOK 'EM DAN-O!

(Side note - Photographers work with other wedding vendors all the time and might be able to point you in the direction of a phenomenal venue, planner, florist, baker, etc. Let them be your ally!)

Finally, please, please, please, ensure you end up with tangible, physical products from your photographer. Trust me, the memories will fade and if you simply walked away with a CD or USB drive that hold your images, you’ve missed out and may end up losing treasured memories! CD's get lost or scratched. USB drives stop working, disappear, or break. Large prints on your wall are beautiful reminders of your day.

Your wedding album is your very first family heirloom and provides laughs, tears of joy, nostalgia, and refreshed memories every single time you open it. Don’t miss out on that!

Make the investment and book your photographer today!

If you have any questions, experiences, or thoughts, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments!

And, if you would like to schedule a time to meet with me and chat about capturing your big day, shoot me a message! I'd love to grab a cuppa coffee and get to know you!