Just like planning your wedding, choosing a photographer is not something you do everyday. We have listed some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about wedding
photography and a have added a few key points that we feel are important for you to know. Don't be afraid to ask us, or any other wedding professional if you don't fully understand their service.
A professional photographer will be timely - arriving at your
wedding promptly, and getting the results to you on time. A professional
has just the right equipment, film and experience to handle most unforseen circumstances for photographing your wedding.
Having professional training, having attended many seminars, professional lectures and having photographed untold numbers of weddings, an experienced wedding photographer will
be at ease at your wedding and can probably even offer advice on wedding topics you never thought of.
A professional uses a color laboratory that
is in the business of meeting high professional standards of print
quality. And, a professional is used to working with individuals,
couples, and groups to make the formal photography go smoothly.
think about the cost of your photography investment, remember that the photographer has one and only one chance to do it right. If your photographer of choice makes a mistake, they won't have the opportunity to do it over again! Your photographic memories should be meant to last a lifetime. How satisfied you are with those photographic documents depends primarily with your photographers level of skill and experience.
So, I want a professional to photograph my wedding. What do I do next?
Visit several photographers. Look at their sample albums. Pay
attention to your emotional response to the
photography and to the communication skills of the photographer. Look
for high technical quality too. Once you have decided on a photographer
whose work has meaning to you, discuss prices, deposits, packages,
quantity of pictures and so on.
What is the first question I should ask?
Once you have established that the photographer is available for
your date and location, you will want to ask, "If we select your studio,
will you be the photographer covering our wedding?" Some studios have
several photographers and you may be speaking to a salesperson. The
sample albums may have been done by photographers who do not even work
for the studio anymore. If this is the case, you should make
arrangements to meet with and see the work of the particular
photographer who will be doing your wedding. You should also ask for a
commitment from the studio to that effect, in writing.
Shouldn't I be asking "What do I get and how much does it
Even shopping for shoes or furniture you wouldn't ask that question
until you find the style and quality you like. After you have looked
through a photographers portfolio - seeing candids, formals and
illustrative pictures, you will know if this photographer has the
technique, style and spirit to be the eyes through which you and your
children and even your grand children will see your wedding day. Of course, you should determine if
the photographer is within your budget, give or take a little, but what
you really want from photography is memories and feeling. Look for an
established and reliable photographer whose work moves you, whose
technical quality is tops. If you find a photographer who makes you
happy, you never will never regret your investment, whatever the dollar
cost. When we have invested in items that will be with us for the rest
of our lives, our satisfaction has been highest when we have paid that
extra bit for the best quality.
So, how much does wedding photography cost?
Prices range from $950 to $10,000, and even more! Photographs (and video) will be your only permanent record of the day. You want
good photographs (or you would not have read so far), so be prepared to
spend a minimum of $1,000 for a small wedding album and $1,500 and up for more traditional sizes. Also, for additional copies, an 8x10
reprint will cost around $20 or more each. Expect better photographers to charge
the higher rates. If you are looking for a bargain and shop via phone
for pricing, you are following a recipe for poor to mediocre
photography. My research indicates that photography runs between ten
and fifteen percent of the total wedding budget. When couples value documenting their wedding with
photography highly and are on a limited budget, they will spend up to
30% of their wedding budget on photography.
Most brides initially underestimate the cost of photography by
50% - in other words, you will probably spend at least twice as much as
you budgeted, unless you have advice from a wedding coordinator who is
familiar with prices in your area.
We're having a small wedding and only
wanted to spend less than $1,000 on pictures.
What can we do?
The first thing to do if you want a professional photographer under
these circumstances is to be flexible. A true wedding professional only
can only work so many weekends a year, and reasonably expects one or two
large weddings per weekend from May through October, or year round in
tropical climates. If he/she reserves a prime Saturday in October for
you, then larger weddings will have to be turned away. If your budget is
much smaller, you will be choosing from the second and third tiers of wedding
photographers. You may be better off selecting either a Friday or Sunday for your wedding. Many photographers offer a discount for non-Saturday events and thus help to work with your budget.
How much time will the photographer spend at my
That is really up to you and the individual photographer. You can have the photographer meet you
where you are getting dressed, and keep taking pictures until you leave
the reception. Or you may just want a few hours of photography, with a
few formal photographs and some pictures of the ceremony. (If you choose
a high quality professional, the price difference between short and full
coverage will be small.) At The Perfect Image we believe in providing our services for the entire day. In our opinion, there is just no other way to fully document an important once in a lifetime experience.
What are proofs?
Fifty years ago, photographers presented clients with proof pictures
printed on special paper; images would last for a few weeks and then
fade. Now, color proofs are made with the identical paper and chemistry
as final pictures. However, only on final pictures can you have
retouching and cropping. Some photographers use the term "images" or
"originals" in order to avoid the confusing word "proofs." Many
photographers are now using video "proofs." That means that you
initially view the images on a computer or television screen. You then
order from the screen (or from a video tape of the images) and have true
prints in your hand a few weeks later. As digital printers improve, you
might have your images the same day you order. Caution - Currently, the
color and especially the longevity of desk-top prints does not match professional
prints from a professional wedding lab. All the prints from The Perfect Image are archival quality and with normal care, will last for many years.
Do I get to keep the proofs?
Some photographers include the proofs in the price of their
photography, others sell them separately. Some keep the proofs, putting
them in the final album or simply not selling them. When you first see
your proofs, you take them home and keep them for a few weeks. I
recommend you order your album and reprints quickly - your photographer
will have ways of helping you to avoid procrastinating. The price list
should state explicitly the price of the proofs, which may be sold
either individually or only as a complete set. If your photographer uses
a video or slide presentation, then there will be no proofs. At The Perfect Image you always get to keep your proofs. They are of no use to the photographer so why should they just be thrown away?
What about getting an album?
Some photographers offer "Packages," each package having a set
number of hours, images, and certain number of final pictures in an
album. It might be better to get a package that includes an album that
the photographer will assemble completely, because most of us never get
around to putting our pictures in albums if we have to do it ourselves.
Consider ordering parents' albums too. If your parents vision is less
than perfect, they would really appreciate getting an album with large
photographs so that the faces are easy to see!
Who chooses the pictures that go in the album?
After looking at all the proofs, the bride and groom usually decide
what goes in the album. The photographer may let you specify the
sequence and size of the pictures, so that the album really shows the
wedding the way you want to see it, with important images enlarged, and
related candids grouped together. Some photographers will suggest a
layout for your album or design the album with you, using proofs or
computer images to show you what the final album will look like. You
will benefit from the photographers eye and feel for the wedding. You
will probably let your parents decide what pictures go in their
What else should I know about albums?
Some popular album manufacturers are Albums Inc., Capri, Leather Craftsmen,
Leather Bound, Art Leather, General Products, Holson, Tap, and
Spicer-Hallfield, Zookbinders. Each manufacturer makes a variety of
styles and price ranges, so if you are picky about albums, note which styles and
manufacturers appeal to you. Again, it is a matter of taste. The style
to avoid is a non-reversible album. Reversible simply means that you
don't have to flip the album sideways to look at
horizontal pictures. Some albums have metal hinges visible on the spine
of the album. I find these unattractive, but the pages do lie flatter.
Look at sample albums that are several years old. If sturdy, they will
not show wear.
What about albums with the pictures permanently mounted on
The disadvantage is that if one picture is damaged, the whole album
has to go back to the factory. Also, you cannot add another page or
change the sequence later. Other than that, it is a matter of taste. I
have had several brides who, quite reasonably, decided to add or change
pictures once they saw the final album. This was very easy to do because
their albums were not permanently bound.
Should we get plastic covered pages to protect the
Plastic gets in the way of the image. It creates reflections and
lessens the clarity. A lacquer coating on the prints provides
protection, but does not get in the way. Lacquer coating (spray) costs
more, so when comparing photographers' prices, be sure and note if
lacquer spray is included.
Is there an advantage to textured prints, like
Again, anything that gets in the way of the image on the print can
be a distraction. Textures (canvas and linen) can minimizes skin
blemishes. However, skin imperfections can also be minimized with a soft
filter rather than with textured prints; which is what I would
recommend. Canvas is usually recommended for prints 16x20 and larger.
What about black and white photography?
Many couples want black and white pictures because they like the
classic quality. This is purely a matter of preference but the trend is making a strong comeback. If you just love
black and white photography, make sure your photographer uses black and
white film, rather than color film, to produce your black and white
prints. I have seen good black and white prints made from color
negatives, but in
my opinion, there is a magical quality in black and white film that
cannot be completely matched with color film. And, yes, strange as it may seem, black and white is more expensive today than color. If you end up with a specific color image you particularly like, we can always have it printed in black and white.
Do color photographs last as long as black and
No. Color paper (and color negatives) are made of three layers of
color. Each layer, being different chemically, fades --- both in the
light or in the dark --- at a different rate. So, if the green layer
fades more in twenty years than the red layer, your pictures will look
brownish. However, black and white prints (on black and white paper)
should last at least a century. Some color labs are printing black and
white images on color paper, sometimes with a faux sepia tone. These
pictures, like color pictures, have no silver in them, and will fade
I prefer color photos, but I want my children and
grandchildren to see my wedding pictures.
Take black and white photos, along with color, for the formal poses
of the bride and groom, and maybe also of your immediate family. You can
be sure these very important photos will last. The rest of your wedding
photos can be color or a mix of each.
What technical details in sample photographs should I watch out for?
Lighting quality is an important ingredient in superior photographs.
The light in photographs should be natural and flattering, so that the
pictures look three-dimensional. Overuse of on-camera flash can ruin
wedding pictures. Watch out for flattened faces, harsh reflections off
of cheeks and foreheads, and dark shadows directly behind or next to the
subjects. With finesse, a fine photographer can work with almost any
outdoor lighting situation without using flash.
Look for a variety in subject size - a mix of distant, medium and
close-up pictures. Even with groups, lighting and posing should be
interesting. There is a trend among skilled photographers to produce
highly posed bridal portraits - which can get great scores in print
competitions, but which may not be a true picture of the bride and
groom's personality. While you may anticipate wanting a few of these
dramatic images from your own wedding, probably most of your album and
your parents' albums will consist of traditional and candid pictures.
My mom likes soft focus pictures, but I want sharp
Except for mood shots and some portraits, pictures should be sharp.
You should be able to count the threads in the veil. But a soft filter
can be flattering in a close-up photo. You might tell your photographer
that you want a few pictures done soft-focus and the rest sharp. Then,
when you get the proofs, you have your choice for each pose.
Does the camera used make a difference?
Sometimes. There are five camera and film sizes commonly used by photographers. From smallest to largest they are -
35mm (2.4cm x 3.6cm)
6 45 "six-four-five" (4.5cm x 6cm)
2 1/4 inches square (6cm x 6cm)
6x7 (6cm x 7cm)
4x5 (4 in. x 5 in)
It's true that prints from a larger negative may be sharper and less grainy when greatly enlarged. Large
negatives can also produce excellent
prints when they need to be cropped to correct for shooting errors. Most experienced photojournalists are trained to properly crop in the camera to avoid the necessity of doing it in the darkroom later. The technology of new cameras and film today is such that unless you are expecting to need a really big enlargement, (greater than 16x20) you probably won't see much difference between 35mm and the larger formats. Look at a photographers samples to see if the
difference in film size shows. Some photographers who are less experienced may even send their film to a one-hour store
front rather than to one of the professional color labs for processing. At The Perfect Image we only use top professional labs that specialize in weddings.
We can also use the larger medium format cameras for the formal
images (where retouching might be used) and 35mm for candids and
wedding-photojournalism. 35mm is greatly preferred for the wedding
photojournalism style. You just cannot match the speed and versatility of 35mm in any of the medium format cameras.
Find the photographer who can do all three
well and have the best of all worlds.
Why do some photographers make square prints, rather than
the usual rectangular prints?
The old traditional film size for wedding photography was 2 1/4 square.
This negative produces square prints so the photographer doesn't have to worry about shooting either vertical or horizontal. They all look the same and makes for one less framing decision. When you want an 8x10 or 5x7
print, part of the picture would have to be cropped away. The newer medium format cameras that we use requires 645 or 6x7 film which has the same aspect ratio as the favorite 5x7 or 8x10 enlargements so no parts of the original image is lost.
What else should I watch for when I am looking at a
It is important that each album you see is only one wedding from
start to finish, not just a collection of highlights from a dozen
different weddings. If a photographer assembles and shows the best
photos from several weddings in one album, you are not seeing an
accurate representation of the results you might expect from your
wedding. Anybody (even Uncle Fred) can put together a decent looking 'best of' album. Always insist upon seeing an exact copy of what the brides before you received.
I just hate posed pictures - I always look so stiff and
unnatural in them.
I know what you mean. I had posed pictures of me taken for my
high-school yearbook. I still cringe when I think about how awful they
were. However, the person behind the camera was probably given minimal
training and had no real interest in photography. Most posed
portraits in the USA are taken under such circumstances. If you have
gotten this far in this FAQ, you probably are going to be looking at
professional photographers, who will be far more
skilled (we hope). Unless you are a fashion model, you probably will
look better at least somewhat posed - assuming you have a true craftsman behind the
camera. This is just one more reason to consider a professional photojournalist that uses a minimum of routine poses to document your wedding.
What sort of balance between posed shots and candids should
I get? What about the trend of photo journalism?
This is also a matter of taste, combined with necessity. Great
wedding photography can be done with no formal posed pictures at all
(wedding photo journalism). But, there may be many people and
combinations of guests that will never be captured unless the
photographer deliberately gathers them in one spot for a picture.
(Whether the picture looks posed or natural depends on the
photographer.) When planning with your photographer, draw up a list of
"must get" photos, such as college roommates, kids from your old
neighborhood, a four generation picture, and so on. If you want a large
catalog of specified pictures, then expect your photographer to spend
more time doing those, and less time doing candids and wedding
Should we do the formals before or after the
Some couples think it is bad luck to see each other before the
ceremony. If following this tradition is important to you, all of the
photos of the bride and groom together will be done afterwards, but solo
shots can be done before. However, getting all the formals done at the
beginning has several advantages: Flowers, clothing and make-up are
fresh, and you can carefully budget time for formals. (And, if your
ceremony ends after dark, the only time for natural light pictures of
the two of you will be before the ceremony!) Couples who feel formal
photos are important will set aside one, two, or even three hours for
formals, which finish up about half an hour before the ceremony begins.
If you do formals immediately after the ceremony, guests have to wait
before they can greet you, and members of the bridal party will have
pose for pictures rather than mingle. About half of the weddings I
photograph have all the formals taken before the ceremony and the other half have at least some done before hand. Many brides are breaking the tradition of not seeing other before the ceremony. Of those that do, nearly 100% claim it really helped to break the tension and pre-wedding jitters.
What can I do to keep the photographer from running my
It is essential that you meet with your photographer in that last
week before your wedding. Go over your time line for the day. Find out
how long the photographs you have requested are going to take; If it is
too long, cut out some of the posed pictures. If you have dozens of
posed shots on your photo list, expect your photographer to be
persistent in getting them. Or tell your photographer the way you have
scheduled the day, and that he/she is to follow your schedule. A posed
photo of cutting the cake takes ten seconds, and the rest of the cake
shots should be candid. The more information you and your chosen photographer share, the more likely you will be happy with your pictures and the events of your wedding day.
Suppose I want more copies in two years?
Your photographer should keep negatives on file for a specified
number of years so that you can call or write any time and order more
prints. Or, he/she may offer to sell or give them to you after a certain
period. Expect to pay a fee for retrieving old negatives from the files.
Shouldn't my photographer have a back-up in case he/she is
sick on my wedding day?
That would be ideal, but consider the plight of the backup
photographer who has to turn down weddings just in case she/he is needed
for yours? Professionals are part of a network of photographers, and do
have many people they can call in emergency. No doubt as your wedding
approaches you will have many far more significant worries. Let your
photographer manage this problem.
What about having two photographers?
A few studios offer two-photographer coverage - where both
professionals are taking pictures. One can concentrate on the formals while the
other on wedding photo journalism. Having two photographers or at least an assistant present will greatly speed up the process of posing and shooting formals. Two photographers also can be in more than one place at a time. You are guaranteed much more comprehensive coverage with two photographers. This is especially important if you are looking for the photojournalistic approach.Look for a photographer that doesn't charge twice as much for this added service.
Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures during
the formal photography. Is that reasonable?
Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly through a series
of formal pictures, a snap-shooter might slow the process. A problem
arises when there are several cameras aimed at a formal group - the
subjects will be looking at different lenses. The diverted attention
will ruin the professionals picture. Or, if the professional is using a
light-sensing trigger device ("slave") on a second flash, other flashes
will trigger this flash, ruining your friends pictures as well as those [that you are paying for]. There are other
reasons too why some professionals might ask guests to refrain from picture
taking during formals. Our experience is that many guests find snapping a
few pictures a pleasant and time honored part of attending weddings. At The Perfect Image we politely ask guests to wait until we finish then we help pose the group and let people snap away. Ideally, guests should show respect for the bridal party and photographer and put down their cameras during the formal photos but your photographer should also be willing to make some compromises too.
I want to make copies of my photos. Does my photographer
really own the copyright? Do I still have to pay the
photographer if I make the copies myself at a copy shop?
Yes and yes. According to federal law, images produced by a
professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created.
Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material
without permission from the owner of the copyright,
i.e., the photographer. If you copy or scan your photos, the
photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you
or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer
should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. When I really
appreciate something I purchase, like a fabulous meal, an antique, a
good pair of shoes, or even medical care, I do not mind paying a premium
for getting the highest quality. Look for the photographer who will
provide you the satisfaction of paying a reasonable fee to obtain the highest quality reprints available. There is a tremendous difference in the quality of photo prints from a top quality wedding lab than what you will find in the mall or corner drugstore.
Fine wedding photography should stand the passage of time, providing years of memories and joy. Now that you've planned a beautiful day, let The Perfect image Wedding Photographers capture the images for you. We will professionally and artistically photograph your wedding, blending a touch of our style and technique with a lot of your own personality and taste. After all, every wedding is different, and yours is the most important one of all!
By now you may have already set your photography budget and found a few studios with superb craftsmanship. With so many possibilities, how do you know you are choosing the right one?
Simple---talk to them! Discuss your plans and expectations and ask for advice and feedback. In the end, hire the person with whom you feel the most comfortable. All else being equal, the personality of the photographer will determine if the picture-taking is exciting and fun or merely a chore. Weddings can be hectic, but the right photographer can help make your day run more smoothly.
At The Perfect Image, we understand that you want a friendly, caring, unobtrusive photographer who will contribute to the overall success of your day. Our job is to provide the best possible pictures...your job is to enjoy the wedding!
Long after your wedding day is over your wedding photos will serve as a reminder of the love, magic and excitement of the day. Insure that your wedding images are of the highest quality by choosing a full time professional wedding photographer you can trust & have fun with.