DIY Bride #8: Photography

If there is one piece of advise I can offer to anyone: DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. That doesn’t mean that you have to break the bank. No pressure, but these are photos you’re going to be looking at the rest of your life – let’s be a little selective about the photographer.
wedding photographer
When choosing the photographer, you have to review the portfolio. Most photographers keep an online portfolio for easy viewing. Just like every other vendor, start your search with Yelp. Nothing is more important than word-of-mouth reputation. Cross-reference those with Four Square, and review the potentials’ websites/ portfolios to eliminate any outside of your budget.
One thing you have to keep in mind about photographers, videographers, DJs, and any other vendor who falls into the ‘artist’ category (like your wedding planner/ designer) is that they don’t know how to create their craft without pouring their soul into their process. They are usually eccentric and passionate; they live to create. To the couple that are more logic than artistic, this could be a difficult interaction. A lot of clients describe their photographer as a pushy or demanding person. They may come off that way. Please keep in mind, they just want to make the shot perfect. These artists take each shot very personal and they demand perfection not just from their subject matter, but from themselves. They understand what’s at stake. They understand the pressure of such an important part of the wedding they play. They just want to bring success to the record of the wedding.
With that being said, I don’t ever select a vendor who treats me with disrespect, like I’m an idiot, or with unnecessary hostility. Ever. Just keep in mind when contacting a photographer – or any other artist – they are intense because they put so much of themselves into everything they create. However, the process is the same: once you complete the Yelp/ Four Square/ Website research, move onto the email test. Again, if they don’t get back to you with in 24-hours or they are an ass, cut them. A good photographer is one that can work with you, not just produce nice pictures.
Photographers are artists and artists are gems. However, they are not psychic. One of the most important things you can do to save a huge headache later on is to be honest about your expectations and specific about what you want. Guide them so they know what you consider a perfect picture. The biggest conflict that I come across is clients having expectations without letting their vendor know and then the vendor not meeting those expectations. Be honest with yourself too. If you go through all the little tests, meet the photographer and you are just not into what he’s putting across, cut him. Don’t feel like you have to settle for the first one you meet in person. Let them know you are interviewing several photographers and that you will make your decision once you have collected all your data. Being upfront with them from the beginning earns you respect and demonstrates respect for the photographer and their craft. They will hugely appreciate it.
Now, the DIY Bride needs to take some things into consideration, and that is mostly cost. A great photographer is always expensive. When it comes to photography, you get what you pay for. There are ways to get around that though. An option is to post the need for a photographer at a community college that has photography classes. Dreamy-eyed would-be photographers are much cheaper than professionals not to mention they are usually brimming with unchannelled talent. Most will barter their services for free food and the ability to use the photos to build their portfolio, but always pay them. Just trust me on that one.
Another option is to not order prints from the photographer directly. It’s more work this way but just purchasing the licencing for the pictures (putting the images on a jump drive), then ‘Groupon’ printing services for the ones that you want. Every so often they have canvas printing for $20. Office Depot and Staples also offer canvas printing for a fraction of what some photographers charge.
Understand that photographers rarely work alone. There is usually an assistant or co-photographer. Depending on how many hours you have them booked, you will need to count them in your catering allowance. They will need to eat.
If you go on Pinterest (which I’m SURE was your first stop) you will see 800,000 lists and suggestions for pictures you just HAVE to have done. You don’t have to do anything. Do what feels natural to you as individuals and as a couple. Those lists are good suggestions but they can make you feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and phony. You have enough going on. You’re paying for a photographer. Let them get a feel of the setting, the venue, the subjects, and of you both – give them the freedom to create in a way only they can do. Trying to micromanage a photographer is like trying to herd cats. They work best when they can be free to create in a way that suits them. When they can shine at their best, your pictures will be everything you can imagine. 
Now a big question I get a lot is: Is it worth it to hire a videographer? That all depends on you. Videographers are much more than just setting up your video camera, hitting record, and then stopping the record.
THE VIDEOGRAPHER

When it comes to videography, the interview is the most important part of the selection process. Of course, you want to continue with the process, but when it comes to videographers, I have found a majority of the ones I have dealt with are one of two categories: 1. Aspiring Coppola or 2. really wants to be something else but thinks this is easy. Sometimes you either get too much interest, or not enough.

How can there be too much interest? It’s the job of the videographer to get all the special moments of your ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and any other time that you want them to record. You do want someone who is going to look for the best shot – you don’t want someone who is too diva to be able to get the shot.

What needs to be understood is that videographers are artists. They pour their heart and soul into their craft, and the passion bubbles over into everything. Follow the same interview formula: Email first – any replies after 24 hours don’t get considered. Then do the call – any returned calls after 24 hours don’t get considered. If you talk to someone and they are curt, rude, dismissive, or just rub you the wrong way, cut them. There are plenty of vendors, you want one that works well with you.

We can talk about constitutes the perfect shot, be it photography or videography. The answer is simple: Whatever makes you feel like ‘you’ in the pictures. Ever take a few of your friends to JC Penney and tried to pick out your pictures after a photo session? 20 minutes – and some hurt feelings – later, you finally get it done. I’ve seen it 1000 times (literally. I used to be a photographer at JC Penney). The picture that you want is one that really displays the love you share, not just smiling faces.

You should feel something when you look at your pictures, not just think it’s a nice looking picture.

I mention it because when you’re looking through the portfolios and watching videos of their work, you want to be stirred. You want your heart to break when looking at their portfolio because of all the love. You want your heart touched, not just, “That’s a beautiful picture.” I like to think of it as knowing a beautiful sunset. You don’t know it by the oranges and reds and purples that streak across the sky. You don’t know it by the black silhouettes that decorate the horizon. You know it because you have to stop yourself from tearing up while looking at it.  

Like with any other vendor, make your expectations very clear. Let them know exactly what you’re looking for and what you expect. In the same right, if you don’t know what you want, let them know that too! They can help nail down – with your help – what is going to fit you to a tee. They are professionals, so being completely honest is the only way to get what you want and what’s going to fit you just right.

 

CUTTING COSTS

As a DIY Bride, you are probably looking for ways to cut extra expense, and you’re thinking having Uncle Henry hold a camcorder in the aisle is a good idea. And if he’s a videographer then yes! If he’s not – then no.

This can be expensive, to have a photographer & videographer at your wedding. Not just in money, but they have to eat too. Here’s couple tips to cut those costs:

  1. Craigslist or FB Marketplace for a student photographer. They charge way less than an established professional – sometimes they will even barter for use of the pictures in their portfolio in lieu of actual payment. People don’t work for free so even if you barder for food, make damn sure you pay them in actual money.

  2. Again, instead of purchasing the photos printed from the photographer, purchase the license from them. Essentially, it means to get only the digital copies of every picture, then take them to Staples or Shutterfly and print from there. Watch Groupon because there is often a deal for canvas prints (which they also do at Staples) for $19.99.

  3. See if the photographer you like also does videography, or visa versa. A lot of times when you hire the extra service, you get the second service at a discount. Kind of like AV Club bundling.

  4. Hire a photographer for the ceremony, the beginning of the reception, and that’s it. Instead, leave the disposable cameras on the tables and encourage the guests to take pictures of the reception itself. Have the photographer there for the important stuff like cutting the cake, first dance, and such but leave the candids to your guests. Drop the cameras off at Costco for super cheap development or have them put the pictures on a drive.  Also, make sure your guests know to hashtag you on social media to have access to their photos rather quickly.

  5. Make sure – double sure – that your make-up is on point. I don’t mean the eye brows or any of the details, I mean the foundation. Man or woman, both wear make-up at their wedding. If your foundation doesn’t mesh with your skin, no matter how good the photographer/ videographer is, it’s going to look bad. These pictures  are going to be looked at for lifetimes to come. This little detail can make a HUGE difference.

There are photographers that will really push additional services like Engagement pictures. If you’re trying to cut costs, decline those and go to JC Penney or the Picture People or something like that instead. They’re a fraction of the price, and at the Picture People, they print your pictures right then and there (mostly).

Thank you for joining us today! Our next segment – DIY Bride #9 – is dedicated to one of the more complicated and most anticipated but then the most dreadful subject: The bridal dress. Yes it’s exciting! Yes it’s scary! Yes, we will get through it together.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Swingin.Dolly@outlook.com. Feel free to sign up for our emails or visit us on social media:

*This post was originally published 07/20/17*

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