Planning your wedding photography
What coverage do we need?
Since most people getting married haven’t had to plan the event before, it can be a daunting process trying to work out what you need, especially when it comes to possibly the most important aspect – recording the day for posterity.
When I meet couples who are trying to decide who to have photograph their wedding, the first thing I do is listen and find out what your plans for the day are. Where the ceremony and reception will be, how many guests you expect to have, whether it’s a religious or civil ceremony, and so on. I also want to find out if you have any firm preferences on the style of photography. If it’s a destination wedding, your requirements will often be very different from a traditional affair in your home town, for example.
We can cover all this when we meet, but it helps if you have at least the outline of the day sketched out before hand, so that I can help you pick the most suitable options.
How long will you shoot for?
My standard coverage includes the bride’s preparations, the ceremony, formal group photos and a private session with the bride and groom afterwards, and the arrival at the reception plus some posed pictures of the cutting of the cake. This gives you full coverage of the most important parts of the day, but allows you to then sit down and enjoy the wedding breakfast with family and friends. I don’t put a set number of hours on it as every wedding is different, but it’s usually about 5-6 hours.
Then as an option you can add in some extra time for coverage of the speeches at the reception, or if you’d like me to stay to shoot the first dance and the party afterwards. It’s up to you.
Read about the various coverage choices here.
How many images do we get?
This is one of those “how long is a piece of string?” questions! The short answer is “plenty!” The long answer is that the number of images that I deliver is determined by how long I’m shooting for and what’s happening during the day. Obviously a big wedding with many guests and additional reception coverage will produce more images than a romantic destination wedding with just the bride and groom on a tropical beach. Like the majority of photographers these days I shoot with digital equipment, so I can take as many photographs as I need to do justice to the coverage.
Do we get to see every image you shoot?
No, you don’t – but there’s actually a very good reason for that – in fact two reasons.
First of all, part of my service to you is to select the images from the day that best tell the story of your wedding. And of course I’ll delete any shots where you blinked or that are technically imperfect for some reason – those aren’t going to be any use to you.
But I also remove images that are close duplicates, so that you don’t have to wade through thousands of images to make your final choices for prints or your album. I do leave some duplicate images in where there are differences in expression, where you might prefer one over the other.
But over and over again experience has taught me that if there are too many similar shots in the gallery people find it much harder to pick their favourites! So it really helps if I have done the basic selection for you.
Can we give you a list of photos to take?
Yes, of course you can. I welcome advice from you on who are the important people at the wedding who you would like photographed. Do bear in mind however that a wedding is a live, unpredictable event, and sometimes it isn’t possible to get a picture of absolutely everybody – especially since occasionally some guests can be determined not to be photographed!
When it comes to the formal posed groups what I would recommend, again based on long experience, is that you keep the number of group shots to 10 or less. While I do work as quickly as I can, getting people together for group shots can be time-consuming, and most couples would rather be chatting with their guests than lining up for an endless series of photographs. It’s really helpful if you can nominate somebody (perhaps the best man, or a bridesmaid) who knows most of your family and friends, as official “guest-wrangler”, to help round up people when needed for the group photos.
If you have a lot of guests, one popular solution is to do a big group photo of everybody together.
Do you bring a second photographer?
Usually, no. There are pros and cons to having two photographers. If it’s a wedding with a large number of guests, or you want coverage of both the bride and groom getting ready and the locations are far apart, then it can make sense to have a second photographer. For most weddings however it’s not necessary, and it can make the coverage less unobtrusive. I’ve photographed hundreds of weddings on my own! However if a client does request an additional photographer, then of course it’s something I can arrange.
Do we really need an album? Can’t we just get the files?
I do offer just digital files if that’s what you’d prefer – but the reason I emphasise the importance of getting an album is because very often when people get just a set of JPEGs from their wedding the disk just sits in a drawer and the images don’t see the light of day – and eventually the disk gets lost or damaged and those priceless memories are gone.
An album is the most durable and practical way to store and present your wedding images – it’s easy to bring out when you want to look at it, requires no electricity and won’t become incompatible with your computer in five years time. I offer craftsman-made book-bound albums that will outlast all of us and with sensible care will be around for generations to come.
So yes you can get the files, (which will be JPEGs that have been tonally adjusted and colour corrected) but I strongly recommend that you consider an album as the best long-term way to preserve your memories.
Read about the various album options here.
How do we pick photos for the album, or for prints?
You will have a personalized, password-protected online gallery, available for 90 days, to allow you (and family and friends if you wish) to browse through the photos and pick your favourites.
However, what many couples prefer to do is have me make the initial selection for the album, and then produce a draft design for them to approve. You can then make two rounds of substitutions or amendments free of charge. This method often works better, since I can use my experience to select images that work well together to tell the story of the day, but you still get the chance to have the book feature your very favourite images, or make sure we include a photo of Cousin Fred, for example. 🙂
Can we get images in black-and-white, or sepia?
Absolutely. No extra charge. Everything is shot in colour, but I normally pick a few images that I think work better in black and white, and add them to the gallery. If you’d like a particular image as a black and white just specify that at the time of ordering.
Are you insured?
Absolutely. I have full professional business insurance cover including public liability.
So far I’ve never needed to call upon it, but better safe than sorry.
Are you a member of any professional organizations?
Yes, I am a member of SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait photographers) and WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International). When I was based in the Caribbean I was a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America). I’m also a member of the MyVision forum, a UK-based collective of photographers.
Do you have backup equipment?
Yes, of course! I always bring at least two camera bodies to a wedding, plus multiple lenses and flash units. After the wedding I backup the image files to multiple locations.
What happens if you can’t shoot the wedding?
Thankfully I’ve never had to miss a wedding through ill-health or accident, but it could happen. Through the professional organizations mentioned above and also via personal contacts, I have many professional colleagues who I can call upon to help out should an accident befall me. If for any reason I am unable to attend, I would give you the option to either have an alternate photographer arranged by me, or a full refund, whichever you prefer.
Do you charge VAT?
No – at present I don’t charge VAT.
Any other questions?
I’m happy to answer any other queries you may have over the phone or by email – but the best way is to set up a time for us to meet (no obligation) as it’s always easier to go through things in a face-to-face chat. And I’m excited to hear about your wedding plans!