Ask a Wedding Photographer
There are very few days you’ll be photographed more than on your wedding day, so it’s important to find a photographer who not only shares your vision or aesthetic but will also exceed your expectations, from the moment you meet until months later, when your wedding album is in your hot little hands. This is your red-carpet moment, and you’ll want the photos to reflect that. Lori Suzanne outlines the costs—and how to stretch the budget.
What makes a good photographer? Like any profession, knowing the technical skills of your equipment and having years of experience working in many varied situations to be able to photograph in all circumstances. But beyond that, a talent for composition, having great instincts and being able to anticipate moments, people skills and finding your own unique way to really connect with your clients (humor helps!), and of course, a little luck.
What goes into the expense of photography? Equipment including multiple cameras and lenses, lighting, backup gear, computers, hard drives, monitors, insurance, membership in professional photography organizations, education and trade shows to stay current, and the cost of demo albums to show potential clients. Those are all the tangible costs. The intangible is the amount of time spent in post-production editing a wedding, posting the images online, doing the album design, etc., which can be 40-plus hours for one wedding. Intangible costs are definitely more than most realize.
How long are you typically at a wedding? Three hours before the ceremony until the bride and groom leave the reception. There is a lot to capture before the ceremony, including getting-ready photos, detail shots, venue photos, portraits and guests arriving.
What are some portraits that are at the top of your must-shoot list? I don’t have a “recipe” for posing, because what works best for one couple won’t necessarily be flattering for another couple. I like a lot of natural shots and really just go with the personality of the couple, the mood of the day, and the lighting. I like to do a lot of shots where the couple is interacting with each other and tend to forget I’m there. That’s when a certain magic occurs.
When is the best time to shoot formals? Before or after the ceremony? That’s a very personal decision for the couple, and I always defer to them for the ultimate decision. However, I will give input as to when the lighting will be better based on the time of year and the ceremony time. We will get a lot more pictures if we do them before the ceremony. If the bride and groom are not seeing each other, there is always more of a rushed feel to get them to the reception and not keep their guests waiting. If we are at a large, scenic venue where the couple wants various photos on property (think golf course or Chateau Élan), it’s best we do them before the ceremony.
What do you suggest for a budget-conscious couple? Don’t try to squeeze everything into an initial photography budget. Like everything else, you get what you pay for in terms of talent, experience and quality. Focus on the quality of the photographer and photographs first, then worry about an album later. Most of my clients take six to 12 months to get me their album choices, even when an album is included in their contract. If a couple meets with me and is concerned they can’t afford a complete package, we find a way to make it work, which may include getting the album later, when the initial expenses from the wedding are over.
Are second shooters necessary? Yes, I absolutely believe in second shooters! It’s impossible to be in every place at all times. A second shooter will also provide different vantage points, a slightly different style and a different personality to the day. Sometimes the most candid shots come from the second shooter from a side angle when the bride and groom are posing for the main photographer.
Lori Suzanne Photography, 770-642-4554, lorisuzanne.com