So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 2

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Union

WHEN TO SEARCH AND BOOK?

The absolute best time to start planning any aspect of a wedding is at least a full year ahead of the actual wedding date. This includes, location, costs, everything; therefore, wedding photography is no exception.

In this world, it is rare but certainly possible to meet someone, fall in love and tie the knot in the timeframe of two months or less but nine-point-five times out of ten, it is not going to help you to get the picture-perfect wedding that almost everyone wants. Wedding photographers carefully keep schedules because we try to stay extremely busy, and much rides on our contractual and fiduciary commitments to our clients. If you’re cutting it close, you’ll likely find it mighty difficult to book a photographer for your special day, so planning well in advance is highly recommended.

Similar to having portrait photography done, when you seek out a wedding photographer he, she or they will have various standard packages that you can select from. Packages can make choosing so simple. Modes of Flight currently offers the following packages (subject to change):

Bronze Wedding Photography Package:

  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (no printing, and USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 100-200 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Silver Wedding Photography Package:

  • 1 unframed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 unframed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″ or 11×16″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by client choice of USB flash drive, DVD-R or CD-R (USB flash drive will be the default choice if client prefers MOF to choose).
  • Estimated output; 300-500 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Gold Wedding Photography Package:

  • Engagement Party (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Bridal Shower (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Stag and Doe Party (in the case of separate Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties, clients must specify which party is to be photographed, and shooting location).
  • 1 framed Engagement Picture (clients must specify shooting location, and picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″ or 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Wedding Ceremony Rehearsal (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Rehearsal Dinner/Party (photography is typically not performed on this occasion but it is advised that the photographer be included in this function for planning purposes) – clients must specify if rehearsal photography is desired.
  • Pre-ceremony (behind scenes) – typically concerning the bride’s preparation (clients must specify if groom or other half of partnership will be photographed instead, and shooting location).
  • Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location).
  • Post-Ceremony (clients must specify shooting location – garden, park, greenhouse, church exterior, etc.) – wedding portraiture is to be taken at this time.
  • Reception (clients must specify shooting location) – photography concludes after the cutting of the wedding cake.
  • Post-production digital studio work.
  • Proofs of all digital images (all proofs will be printed singly as borderless 4×6″ prints with matt finish).
  • 1 Framed Wedding Portrait (clients must specify picture size of 8×12″, 11×14″, 11×16″, 12×18″) – the image will be borderless.
  • Digital images provided by USB flash drive.
  • Estimated output; 1000-1120 images.
  • 1 Hardbound proof Book/Wedding album.
  • Expected delivery time, 3 months post-event.

Customized Wedding Photography Package:

Clients are advised to contact MOF. A consultation is still a must when customizing a wedding shoot with me. My consultations, like my price quotations, are always free.

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Bearing Witness

Post-Production and Time

The hours a photographer spends photographing your engagement and wedding certainly add to your costs. Post-production, which is executed after the big day, is another major factor to consider. It has a profound psychological impact on your personal value system; things like vanity, is very time sensitive and; therefore, affects cost considerably.

Up until roughly the mid-1990’s, it was fairly common for newlyweds to wait 6 months to a year to receive their albums and prints. With digital photography sweeping the world at that time, competing wedding photographers have had to push themselves to curtailing package completion times to 3 and even 2 months. To do this requires photographers to invest in and heavily rely on quality image editing software. Even with the newest technology, these completion times can still be extremely tight.

Post-prod in wedding photography is broadly known as photo retouching. Photo retouching is not restricted to the images of famous actors, fashion models, beauty pageant contestants, sports figures, Fortune 500 moguls, major retail outlets, consumer product producers and politicians. You’d be hard pressed to find a professional portrait or wedding photographer today of any status who doesn’t touch up at least the majority of the photos in the packages of everyday non-celebrities to at least a small degree. Do clients fully understand this? It appears that most do but there are clearly some who don’t. Even of the ones who do, it seems there is some portion of them who only have a vague idea of what goes on to doll-up their photos. This is why some portrait and wedding photographers point that fact out on their websites, during client consultations, in their price quotations and sometimes in their consignment agreements. They’re trying their best to make sure that all of their clients are well-informed.

So, why bother “Photoshopping” the pictures at all? It’s primarily about supply and demand. When prospective clients look at the untouched sample photos of one photographer, and compare the results with the retouched shots of another shooter, most of the clients select the shooter who retouches. This happens regardless of if the client usually is critical of retouching, or even if the non-retouch shooter is able to charge less than the photographer who retouches. Clients have a perception of what is a better standard of portrait or wedding shot. It’s the standard that says this photographer will make beautiful images of me, my children, family, husband or wife. With this perception, clients will demand those results from select photographers who need and want to make money by supplying the type of images that clients want.

Additionally, retouching is done so that; dare I say it, photographers don’t get sued for not retouching enough or at all. Such suits are not yet common, fortunately, but modern society’s profound obsession with always looking good has definitely set the stage for it. Photo retouching is that expected now.

If you have reservations about having it done or are even interested in pushing the envelope, you should definitely advise your prospective photographer.

Do I retouch photos? Yes, and quite often. Converting colour street photography to black and white, and post processing them to make their blacks darker and their whites brighter is largely what happens there. Street photography is a genre that requires far more depictions of reality than glam and fashion images. I pull out almost all the stops; however, on most — not all, portrait and wedding photography while still making clients look natural (even I have my own perception of what is too much retouching). I also encourage retouching for those types of images to my clients. No one has complained once about it.

Hamilton wedding photographer search selection guide tutorial tips course

Purple Rose

Extra-Creative Post-Prod and Time

Beautiful, is when clients want to push the post-prod envelope by heightening creative photography. For examples, their entire wedding has a feudal Japanese, medieval European, 1700’s European, 1800’s American wild west, cyberpunk or some other theme in which almost everyone is in costume. To top the aesthetics off, the couple wants 25 – 100% of their images post-produced with creative effects like bokeh, long exposures, HDR, rotoscoping, cross-process colouring, Infra-Red, Sabatier, Orton, tilt-shifting (seriously not recommended for wedding photography) and so much more. The downside to this creativity is that clients really should be prepared to shell out a lot more money for this level of creativity, and expect wait times of 6 months to a year.

Due to time and cost constraints, most photographers know to not even suggest this level of creativity to their clients. This road is only ventured down if the client asks for it, and the photographer is certain that he, she or they can deliver.

I originally learned how to shoot film in my teens but when I photograph a wedding, I shoot digitally and I will capture events by taking a combination of formal and informal portraits through an artistic and skillful melding of three wedding photography styles being, from the most relied upon to the least:

  • Illustrative

Western art is typically characterized as a random depiction of a person, place or thing with little context. It is why westerners use the phrase “Art for art’s sake”. When a person, place or thing is visualized in the context of one or more circumstances in a story or poem, however, that art; whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, specifically becomes an illustration. Paleontologists, archaeologists and anthropologists have traced illustration back to when mankind communicated the events of our lives to one another on the walls of caves as a visual language. It is tried and true. As I am primarily an illustrator, this is my most used style for conveying the story of a wedding and the romantic circumstances surrounding it.

In illustrative style wedding photography, I think in terms of design elements by placing the wedding couple, their entourage and guests in settings of interesting and flattering compositions and backgrounds. Careful use of lighting is imperative. Separately before vows are exchanged or together after the ceremony, a bride and groom is encouraged to interact with their bridal party to produce spontaneous and natural images.

  • Photojournalism

A style that is quite commonly used in modern wedding photography, and largely following the curt or summarized story telling practices of news photographers, photojournalism is essentially a series of candid photographs covering the moments of an entire event. The cherished moments of a wedding are captured as they spontaneously occur.

  • Traditional

The traditional wedding photography style involves using creativity to pose the wedding couple and their party or stage endearing moments to be captured by the photographer. Standard wedding photography industry favourites and new visions can be achieved with this style.

Special requests and candid photography of family and friends can also be taken. The inclusion of various colour and tint-type images are best left to my judgement unless specified in the Wedding Photography Contract. Clients are encouraged to inquire about the possibilities of expressing their artistic vision through the free consultation. Post-production work to achieve their preferred look may include: colour balancing, colour blending, spot-colouring, black and white, duotoning, tritoning, quadtoning, hand-painted effects, filters, glamour retouching, Orton effect, etc.

So, if you want to get married start planning your wedding day as early as you can. Right down to your photography requirements.

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22 thoughts on “So, You’re Looking for a #WeddingPhotographer ? | Part 2

  1. Wow, extensive info on how to plan for the wedding…Personally I would be too scared to take on the job of documenting someone’s wedding…pfft..sleepless nights!

    • You know, it is nerve wracking every single time but it’s the sort of challenge that I’m game for. Every time I complete a contract, I feel a profound sense of accomplishment for myself and the couple. It’s really something that you can’t afford to screw up in the slightest. There’s no room for error, so when you pull it off how can you not feel immensely proud?

    • Oh yes, for years.

      One of the reasons for this series is because I found that not many noticed the original posts that I did back in 2011. I think it’s due to my making the series a set of standard pages that people had to click just under the blog masthead graphic image. Not too many explore this part of the blog.

      So, I’m redoing the series in the regular post stream to generate more attention, as I did with The Unrepentant Flâneur’s Guide to Street Photography back in 2012, and it seems to be working so far.

      Wedding photography has never been my mainstay; I’m still predominantly an illustrator and I’m reconnecting with those roots right now, but wedding work is both a welcome challenge and interesting way to meet new people and get a glimpse into how they experience the earliest stage of marriage. It is quite a fascinating aspect of the human condition which I typically explore through street photography.

      • I hope you show some pictures about it in your blog. I myself do not understand at all why people marry. Apart from a few marriages who are lucky, most is unfortunate unhappy and it becomes divorce. And a new marriage. Divorce again. Marriage etc.

        • Ah, I covered divorce and wedding photography in Part 1. I had to because these concerns do come up from time-to-time.

          To put it simply and from a personal POV, I married Kim because I scrutinized the kind of woman she is until it was clear to me that truly admired me, believed in me, encouraged me, trusted me, would always have my back and wanted me to reciprocate.

          With my personality, there’s no way that I can dismiss that attraction. I don’t know of anyone else that would take such an interest in me in this world. I don’t know of anyone else that I could admire, believe in, encourage, trust and support as strongly. I don’t know of anyone so deserving, and wonder how she ever came to see me as so deserving. It makes me want to reciprocate, and love her for the rest of my life.

          I think this is where people’s heads need to be for any possibility of marriage. Otherwise, it is smart for them to remain alone until the day they die.

          As I write this, today is our 18th wedding anniversary, and I have never regretted marrying Kim.

          • You were lucky and I’m so happy for you. I wish you luck in the future as well. Love, understanding, tenderness. 🙂

  2. I enjoyed reading your quite elaborate wedding photography plan – as I am getting more and more into doing weddings in a documentary style. It’s quite fun, isn’t it. Good luck with you weddings.

    • Thank you, Otto.

      As I was telling Paula and Antonia above, wedding photography is always incredibly stressful because I can’t tolerate the slightest error in my performance to deliver on something so important and lasting to a client. It’s a profound emotional and financial investment that they’re acquiring with my help.

      At the same time, it’s fascinating to witness the family dynamics of couples getting married so up close and personal like this. This work appeals to my interest in the human experience.

  3. Comprehensive piece, Allan. Great that you are doing weddings….lots of pressure but great photos make everyone so happy! It’s obvious you have high standards and enjoy doing them.

    • Thank you so much, Jane.

      When a client signs my consignment agreement, it’s not just a business transaction for me. They are putting a great deal of trust in me to help them record some extremely personal moments of their lives, and bear witness to those moments even though I am a complete stranger. I don’t dare take all of this for granted. I appreciate it immensely, and I have to deliver.

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