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Old Dec 27th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #1
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Wedding photography

No, I'm not asking ehMac'ers to do me a favour at a low, low price.

But I am looking for a photographer, and wow, is it ever amazing what people put out there and then describe as 'professional photography'. And I'm not really a photographer, so it's not like I'm even seeing all the finer points about what's wrong.

Seeing things like lots of weird angles on almost every shot; colours that don't look right; odd and funky tinting for every photo; portfolios that are 90% BW or sepia-toned; this overexposed look that seems to be trendy but for some people seems to be the only kind of photo they can take; photos faded out to darkened corners on every single shot (I assume this is a lens or Photoshop effect); strangely posed photos that just look odd; portfolios that contain nothing but extreme close-ups of particular details which leaves me wondering if they are capable of any other kind of shot....

Most of these things, used judiciously, can look fantastic. A lot of what I'm seeing doesn't seem to be that. Especially the online portfolio doesn't have a single single 'normal' shot... personally, I think using arty tricks on every single shot does not a good photographer make.

Personal favourite so far as a black and white shot where the bouquet and the brides hands were in full colour... so her arm went from grey to colour at the wrist. Strange.

Granted, budget concerns have me looking in the low end of the market, and I think there's a lot of truth to the adage 'you get what you pay for' but even at out-of-budget pricing, there's still a lot of odd stuff out there.
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Old Dec 27th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #2
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Couldn't agree more, Sonal. We're seeing the same kind of portfolios here, and we refuse to pay those prices. Suggestions (general or local), anyone?
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Old Dec 27th, 2011, 10:42 PM   #3
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Welcome to the world of the Weekend Warrior, where their solution to stand out from the crowd is every freakin' ugly, kitschy, overused, abominable effect they can produce via a single keystroke with a Photoshop plugin. Don't let Uncle John with his brand new kit talk you into doing a "really good job" for you.

There are photographers who can offer solid work at a reasonable price, the issue is separating the wheat from the chaff. Have a look in the phone book, start making calls. Find out how long they've been in business. Don't even talk to anyone who hasn't been in business for at least 5 years, preferably 10 or more. Yes, that's a cold, arbitrary number that may eliminate perfectly good professionals, but there aren't many WW's who have been around that long. The older the studio, the less they'll depend on the weird stuff & the more their work will speak for itself. Ask what style their photography is. Listen for keywords like "traditional" style, as opposed to "contemporary", which can mean all the weird stuff.

As far as your price range is concerned, unfortunately, that is where most of the weekend warriors & garbage photography operates: at the low end. "10,000 photos for $79.95, each a unique & fantastic piece of art, guaranteed..." or some such drivel.

Try to budget for $2000-$2500 minimum. This is generally out of the range of the WW's. Decide if you want portraits, albums or both. Make sure your photographer has a studio. Most pros will have one, WW's won't. Have a look at portfolios other than their wedding line to see what breadth they have. Sit down & talk with potential studios, have a look at their finished product. Is their vision yours? If not, don't waste any more of your time. Don't be afraid to sit down with as many studios as necessary to get what you are looking for. Let them know that standing on your head in 3 feet of water at the local lake is not the style you're looking for.

Make sure that everything is written out on a contract so there will not be any surprises for either party.

I would suggest getting coverage of the ceremony & formals (or informals, as it were) afterwards. Good outdoor photos look better than studio results but make sure they have a studio contingency plan in case of bad weather (one more reason to have a studio). Usually there isn't a need for professional reception/dance coverage. You can purchase a handful of disposable cameras, leave a couple at each table & let the guests take photos for you. Just have them leave them at the door when they go. This is an area where you may be willing to take Uncle John up on his offer. If he gets some shots, great! If not, you haven't lost much.

Photography should be one of the first things you start planning. Good studios will book full quickly.

Good luck.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 12:47 AM   #4
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In a different life I managed custom photo labs. I cannot count the number of botched weddings I saw, usually done by some well meaning friend or relative. No matter how good the photographers is, somehow weddings have a way of bringing out the creative idiot in some otherwise very competent photographers.

Please take your time and find someone that specializes in weddings as their full time profession or at the very least does them in addition to portrait work. If his samples consistently please you then chances are good you will like what he does for you. If you do not feel comfortable take that as a warning and look elsewhere.

Many really good photographers refuse to do weddings. This is because with weddings there is no safety net. There are no makeovers. Someone that does not absolutely thrive on this sort of pressure is better off making their living in some other manner.

Good luck with your search and may yours be a long and happy union.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 10:13 AM   #5
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Ha, ha, as FeXL said, welcome to the world of WW and wannabees where every so called "creative" shot is instantly copied by 10,000,000 wedding photographers overnight.

So, you don't like selective colour, flare shots, vignettes, off-colour tinting, tilt-shift lenses for portraits, cut-off heads and all black and white? What would Jeff Ascough who's considered one of the worlds best wedding photographers say...eh?

I guess very few brides these days want traditional wedding photography, most want the gimmicks and even the really talented photogs relent if they want to make the sale in a hugely competitive market where everyone with a digital Rebel and a kit lens thinks they are the next Yervant or Jasmine Star. Both at the top of their game, but do they deserve the world class reputation? Well, only their clients know for sure.

These two locals are my favourites who I think are not only good, but can and will adjust to the client's needs. Have no idea as to their prices, but don't expect bargain basement rates.

I wont hot link as most photogs pay close attention to their web stats.

<<links removed as they're no longer needed>>

...and I like FeXL's idea of only hiring a pro for the ceremony and formals. In that case a good traditional studio will be the ideal choice on your part.

Just make sure you don't hire this guy:

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #6
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One more thing...

There's been a recent trend (say, last couple of years) whereby the "formals" are photographed prior to the wedding day (a day or week before). The main reason for this is to reduce the stress of a crazy schedule on your wedding day. Generally speaking, the images are better because you can relax more, not having to worry about all the running around. Then, on the wedding day you get the ceremony covered, throw in a few groups with the wedding party/parents, done! This also enables you to confirm your hair/makeup decision.

This may contravene whatever superstitions you may have about your dress being seen by the groom prior to the wedding day, something my spice was adamant about.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 01:32 PM   #7
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Wow, thanks for the advice and voice of experience everyone. Based on all this, I'm feeling really good about the person I'm meeting this afternoon. No weekend warrior, but freelance photographer for about 10 years or so. Has a studio. Perhaps the only possible qualm is that she doesn't do a lot of weddings (she's offering a really great rate right now in order to increase her wedding portfolio--I googled and managed to find her regular rate to confirm that this really is a deal) but there are several weddings in her online portfolio, and she says she has more to show us, and frankly, at the price I'm willing to pay I am very cognizant of the fact that I'm not going to be getting the number 1 wedding-person in the biz. (Though I'm now thinking that I might be lucking out and getting someone better than I'd hoped.) If she seems good in person, I think we'll book.

I'm planning something rather non-traditional. Have decided to skip the whole photo session.... to be honest, I never looked at those photos after my last wedding, and it's always seemed a little odd to me to invite people to an event and then tell them to go twiddle their thumbs for a few hours while I get photos done. Planning to do the ceremony and reception all at once. No wedding party. No grand entrance and exit. Photos at the event only. This may be challenging, since it will be all indoors with party-appropriate lighting, so maybe we'll do some outdoor shots immediately prior though at the location we're at, outdoors involves a not-inexpensive permit. (I'm determined to have a non-stressful wedding, which apparently is an exercise calling a lot of stuff unnecessary and cutting it out.)

You know, I'm perfectly okay with not having the best photos. I figured that at the budget I want to stay at, my expectations are that as long as out of however many digital images, we get maybe a one or two reasonably decent shots of the two of us that we can print ourselves, frame, and hang on the wall, that's good enough. But it seems like the hardest this is finding someone who can just leave photos alone without fancying 'em up.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 02:00 PM   #8
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Sonal, you'd be my ideal client. Practically zero expectations...LOL

If what you have seen of this photographer is acceptable to you, than you should be set.

Watch for the upsell after with respect to products. (albums, thank you cards, DVD etc.) get that sorted out at the meeting if you're going that route.

If you're getting a DVD of the images, make sure you have a release on the DVD for reproduction (print) rights. Otherwise you may have problems at many commercial labs without the photog's release.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #9
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Yes, keep in mind that the photographer owns the photos, and you have no rights to them other than what you contract for.

The classic pre-digital model is that the photographer keeps the negs and you have to order all prints through them and pay for each.
With digital, there is a different model, which is delivery of the files, but you still need to contract that you get the high res files and the right to print them yourself.

Also the photographer may want to retain rights to the images for use in their portfolio, or even to use commercially as advertising or stock photos. you need to determine your comfort level with this, and whether you need to restrict the use of the photos (for example, for the photographer's professional portfolio only, not to be published on the Internet)

Always have a backup plan. The photographer will NOT let anyone else take photos in the studio, but you can make clear that there will be other photos taken at the ceremony and reception.

For example, if you are doing a video, I recommend setting up a second static video camera on a tripod, plugged into AC, and letting it run through the ceremony. That way you have a second source of footage that can cover missed shots and bad angles and equipment failure.
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Old Dec 28th, 2011, 02:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FeXL View Post
Try to budget for $2000-$2500 minimum.
I appreciate all the commentary and suggestions. Maybe I'm just pig-headed and ignorant, but I think the whole model of a wedding is messed up if the photographer is the second-most expensive item in the budget. As it will be the second wedding for both of us, maybe Uncle John will get the call.
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