Our 411 section is ment to help you choose a wedding photgrapher
David & Kristie
"James is hands down the best wedding photographer in South Alabama! First off, he is great at responding to calls, emails, and texts. So many vendors I have encountered don't even return your messages! He is so easy to work with and makes the whole shoot so much fun. After interviewing a few photographers and also attending the bridal expo, we decided to hire Snaps for both our engagement and wedding photos. James is patient and was also good at directing us into poses which looked amazing and so natural. We used the engagement for our save the date magnet, and have gotten so many compliments on them. As for the wedding day, which is super stressful it was so great to have James around. He is not only a great photographer, but he is also great at keeping things on track and making sure you are in the perfect pose and lighting. I worked for months on all the details...Favors, signs, custom crafts...James made sure to get pics of all of them! Our venue which is a golf course is so impressed with how the pictures turned out they even asked if they can feature them on their WEBSITE... That is the ultimate validation that our pictures are amazing! I would highly recommend James to anyone looking for the best wedding photography."
Tim & Abbie
"James was amazing to work with from start to finish. He took his time to capture all of our photo requests and more. Our package included the engagement session and the wedding day. The package value is amazing! We have searched for professional wedding photographers for months and finally chose James for his talent and unbelievable price. We are keen on details and composure, and James hits all the right spot and moment when capturing the photos. James' photography skills are literally sharp... the images are vibrant and very sharp. Not to mention, James will make you comfortable with poses and make you look like a model. We are so pleased with the service and quality of the photos, we will definitely hire him in the future for major events."
DeeAnna & Mike
Hey guys just wanted to say thank you for the wedding photos. The pictures came out amazing and everyone had so much fun. You provided me with not only pictures but memories that can never be earased.
Thank You So Much :)
Helena & David
Awsome. The wedding pictures turned out amazing. A wonderful experience. I recomended Snaps to everyone.
Brandon & Erin
These pictures are absolutely gorgeous! After viewing the pictures, I’ve told people about snaps as well. Great work!
A list of the most common questions asked about our work
Q: “Do you deliver every image you shoot?”
A: No we do not. We eliminate duplicate images, test shots, missed focused shots, shots with bad expressions and other images that may dilute the overall product delivery. For example, because we shoot with low apertures, sometimes we take a few extra shots to make sure we have the perfect focus. We don’t expect you to have the expertise or the time to zoom into each image to select the one with the sharpest focus, so we spend hours doing that on our end. In another example, candid laughs and emotional tears are some of the best images from the day. Unfortunately, they can also yield some unflattering facial expressions. We might snap a few extras of any of these moments to make sure we have a great shot with the ideal expression for the moment. With our expertise if processing millions of images each year, we may eliminate ones that we feel are duplicates and only deliver the best one.
Q: “Have you shot at my venue before?”
A: We have shot at hundreds of venues so there is a good chance that we have. If we have not however we will be sure to perform a thorough walkthrough prior to your wedding day.
Q: “Do you do destination weddings? What additional fees are associated with destination weddings?”
A: While we are based out of Mobile AL, we serve clients all around the country. Our destination wedding photography packages are simply our standard packages plus the cost of travel and reasonable accommodations if necessary.
Q: “Which Photographer will be shooting my wedding?”
A: We only have one primary photographer and that is the photographer that you will meet with. Don’t worry, we’re not going to have some random person show up on your big day!
STYLE AND QUALITY QUESTIONS
Q: “What is your photography style?”
A: Snaps Photography has a unique style of wedding photography that is deeply rooted in wedding photojournalism while influenced by fine-art and fashion photography. We love using creative lighting, unique perspectives, angles, compositions and artistic post production refining to bring out our clients personalities and beauty while telling your wedding story. We pride ourselves on not just being photographers, but rather jounalist and artists creating unique and expressive imagery.
We believe that in hiring a professional wedding photographer, clients deserve a professional that is able to use technological expertise and creative vision to create a product that clients and amateur photographers could not on their own. With digital SLR cameras becoming more and more affordable, there are many amateur photographers out there posing as professionals. Our goal is to educate our clients on the differences, and provide artistic imagery that far surpasses other top knotch wedding photography studios.
Therefore, our wedding photography philosophy has three primary parts as follows:
-Wedding photographers are artists and therefore must have a deep understanding of artistic theory including concepts on composition, lighting, color, design, balance, etc.
-Wedding photographers should be using professional grade camera and lighting equipment.
-Wedding photographers are constantly in unusual lighting situations with significant time constraints, thus wedding photographers must be masters of their equipment. Being able to quickly adjust camera settings, anticipate lenses needed for each scene, use on and off-camera lighting techniques, etc are crucial to being able to consistantly create a professional product.
Q: “My venue is really dark. How does your studio handle these situations?”
A: We have shot in the darkest of dark churches and reception halls so no need to worry! If the situation allows, we will set up additional lighting to ensure we get bright crisp pictures. Some churches do not allow for flash photography; and for that reason, we shoot on camera’s with superb low-light performance and lenses with low apertures.
POST PRODUCTION QUESTIONS
Q: “Do you touch up all the images in our image download?”
A: Yes we do. Every image we deliver is post produced with our unique style of basic post production. This involves color correction, exposure adjustment, selective black and white processing, clarity adjustments, tone-mapping, and other corrections. Many photographers will not post produce any, or will only post produce “select” images from your wedding. This means that you may have pictures that are too dark, have strange skin tones, or other common photography flaws.
Q: “Do you shoot in JPEG or Raw?”
A: We shoot all of our images in Raw.
WEDDING DAY QUESTIONS
Q: “How many hours do you suggest we set aside for wedding day photo’s?”
A: The amount of time we suggest you set aside for photos depends on the time of day.
Preparation Shots – Duration: 1.5 hours
Ideally we would have 45 minutes for the girls and 45 minutes with the guys.
Pre Ceremony Shots – Duration: 1.5 hours
Ideally we would have 45 minutes for the girls and 45 minutes with the guys.
Post Ceremony Family/Bridal Party Formals – Duration: 20 to 30 Minutes
Post Ceremony Couples session – Duration: 30 to 45 Minutes
Have a list of pictures that you want with your family/friends right after the ceremony. Typically this is done at the altar but we can do it any location you’d like. Also, have one person from each side of the family that is really organized (and loud) to move people in and out of photo’s.
Q: “I have a lot of downtime in between events on my wedding day. Will I be charged for that downtime?”
A: For a variety of reasons, we have to charge for the time in between events. The fact is, we’re never truly resting during the day, whether we’re backing up images, setting up for the second venue, traveling to the second location, taking venue shots, or making up for lost photo time because of wedding day delays.
Q: “What happens if we go over the contracted amount of time?”
A: We understand that not everything goes as planned during a wedding. We never pack up before the contracted time; and moreover we’re not leaving on the dot when the contracted time is up. Instead, we will ask you at the end of your contracted time whether or not you would like to extend the time. If you would like us to stay, we will charge the rates specified in your contract.
ENGAGEMENT SESSION QUESTIONS
Q: “When can we expect to see our photo’s from our engagement session?”
A: Post production for engagement sessions are completed within two weeks after the date of the shoot. If you require the images to be completed prior to two weeks after the date of the shoot, a rush-process fee of $100.00 will be charged.
Q: “When should we do our engagement session?”
A: We encourage you to do your engagement session as soon as possible. The latest we suggest is at least eight weeks prior to the wedding date due to the time necessary to post produce each image (3 weeks) and complete your product order(s) (3 weeks).
Q: “Can we schedule our engagement session for the weekend?”
Because most weddings occur on weekends, we are rarely availble to shoot engagement sessions on weekends. We also like to shoot on weekdays because locations are typically less crowded.”
Q: “How many images do you typically deliver from and engagement session? From a wedding?”
We typically deliver anywhere from 50-100 images per engagement shoot and for weddings we typically deliver 125 images per hour.
Q: “How long does it take to get my album?”
As with our other products, production times vary. However you can expect to receive your album 4-6 weeks after approving a proof of the book. The process before placing the order varies in duration depending on how quickly you respond to the instructions for the album design as well as the amount of changes you request after the initial designs. Some brides complete this within a month or two, others take longer.
Q: “How many pages and images do we get in our wedding day album?”
A: Our signature album contains 30 pages and 80 images. If you’d like to add more pages and images, each additional page can be added at additional cost and includes the design time/revisions and three retouched images.
Q: “Can I add more pages and images to my album?”
A: Yes Each additional page can be added for additional cost and includes the design time/revisions and three retouched images.
Q: “Do you guys provide framing services as well?”
A: We do not provide framing services, however we can provide you with recommendations on where to purchase and frame your images.
IMAGE DOWNLOAD QUESTIONS AND LEGAL QUESTIONS
Q: “What size can we print our photo’s up to with our full resolution image download?”
A: In most cases, you can print your photo’s up to 16×20 without any quality loss. If you’d like to print larger than 16×20, additional post-production will be required. For pricing on these services, please contact us.
Q: “What rights do I have to the digital prints?”
A: You have the right to reprint images whenever you want, wherever you want. However you may not sell your images for a profit or publish your images without the written consent of Snaps Photography.
Q: “Do you provide the RAW files from my engagement session and/or wedding day?”
A: Each of our packages comes with a full resolution image download. However, we typically do not provide RAW (unprocessed) files from our shoots because we believe in delivering a finished product. In fact, we’re often shooting with the end (post-produced) product in mind. However if you absolutely want your RAW images, we will provided them to you along with our post-produced JPG’s for an additional fee of $350.
Q: “Do you provide the digital negatives after the shoot?
A: Yes we do. All of our packages come with Full Resolution image download.
Q: “What if I lose my images?”
A: There is a $50 replacement charge for additional downloads after the event has been archived. We strongly suggest you make at least one copy of the download when you receive it from us.
BUSINESS INSURANCE AND IMAGE BACKUP QUESTIONS
Q: “Do you backup our images? How can we ensure that our images won’t be lost?”
A: We have never lost an image from a wedding due to the following backup workflow for each our events:
During the shoot, we back up on an External Hard Drive after each major event throughout the day. This leaves one copy on the CF cards and creates one copy on the Epson External Hard Drive. After the shoot, we back up the CF card to a local server set up in a RAID 1 configuration. Once the images are completed we upload the images to a offsite location and burn another copy for our archives. At any given point, there are two copies of the files.
Q: “Do you have liability insurance?”
A:Yes. Many venues require the photographer to have Liability Insurance. So before hiring Uncle Friend, make sure they are covered.
PAYMENT AND TAX QUESTIONS
Q: “How do I reserve you for my date?”
A: All dates are reserved once we receive your signed contract and deposit
Q: “What if we exceed our contracted time for our engagement shoot and/or wedding day coverage?”
A: Standard rates apply for overtime. Overtime is billed at the rate of $250/hour.
Q: “If we cancel the wedding, will we receive our deposit back?”
A: Unfortunately no. Deposits are use to reserve your date. Once we’ve reserved your date we do not accept new clients for your date.
Q: “If we change our wedding to a different date, will we be able to use our deposit towards a future date?”
A: Yes. However, if rates change from the your original date to your new date, the new rates will apply
Q: “Are there travel fees associated with the Engagement Session and/or Wedding Day shoot(s)?”
A: For all engagements sessions, the first sixty miles roundtrip (30 miles each way) of travel are included or thirty miles each way. All miles in excess of sixty miles roundtrip or thirty miles each way is charged at $1.50 per mile.
Q: “Why do you charge travel fees?”
A: Travel fees are not intended to nickel and dime our clients. The primary purpose is to provide adequate compensation for the additional time spent in travel. Trips to Los Angeles, for example, can take over an hour each way, time for which we have to compensate our team. For this reason, coupled with the costs of reimbursing the team for the actual costs of travel, these fees are unfortunately necessary.
Q: “Do you offer any discounts on weekday weddings, Sunday weddings, or weddings during the offseason?”
A: We do offer discounts on Sunday weddings and weekday weddings.
Q: “If I pay for my package in cash will we be able to avoid paying sales tax or receive a discounts?”
A: Unfortunately, collecting in cash does not exempt a photographer from paying Alabama sales tax on the amount of the entire package price when a physical product is delivered, whether that product be an album or any other physical product.
CHOOSING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
A guide to help you select the perfect wedding photographer for your wedding day
1. GENERAL – WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Photography is so much more than just having a nice camera or taking a lot of pictures to cover your bases. The first thing we hear from all of our assistants trying to become professionals is, “Wedding photography is much more difficult than I thought it would be.” Our answer, “Of course it is!” The goal of this article is to help prevent you from hiring the wrong photographer, or even worse, “Uncle Friend.”
This section will cover more of the soft-skills that your photographer needs to posses. These are areas that you need to pay attention to during your meetings and conversations with professional photographers, because they are not things that you can really determine by asking a question. We recommend that you read this section first, then head on over to our section called, “15 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer” for more specific ideas on what types of questions you should be looking to ask.
2. EXPERTISE – BEING TECHNICAL AND CREATIVE
A professional wedding photographer must not only be completely versed in the technical side of the trade, but they must also be artistic and creative. Those are two completely opposite personality traits. How many people do you know are very technologically savvy and artistically creative at the same time?
Having great camera and technical skills will allow the wedding photographer to capture properly exposed, well lit images regardless of the lighting situation and time constraints. On the other hand, having great creative skills will allow the wedding photographer to approach each shot with a unique perspective and artistic vision ensuring that the shots are not just photos, but artistic imagery.
3. PERSONALITY – BEING PERSONABLE AND CHARISMATIC
Just as important (if not more important) as their technical knowledge and creativity is the wedding photographers interpersonal skills. How well do they get along with their clients and those at the wedding? Are they outgoing, personable, charismatic, professional, and honest?
Not including engagement shoots, bridal shoots, etc, you are going to be spending a full day with your photographer on the most important day of your life. A wedding photographer with a personality that matches your own is important to the overall experience of your wedding.
4. EXPERIENCE – PROFESSIONALS OR PART TIME
Once you get past technique, creativity, and personality, the next thing you should be looking for is experience. Is the wedding photographer actually a professional photographer, or is this their “weekend gig”? How many weddings has this photographer shot?
While experience is definitely important, some of the best and most hard- working wedding photographers we have met are experienced photographers, but relatively new as wedding photographers. In situations where you love the photographers style, but are concerned with them not having enough experience, ask to look at their entire collection of images from each event they have shot.
To help you out further, when we take applicants for assistants and 2nd photographer positions, we base their level of experience off of how many weddings they have shot as the lead photographer, i.e. not under another professional photographer’s guidance or direction.
1-5 Weddings – Inexperienced
6-10 Weddings – Amateur
10-20 Weddings – Knowledgable
21-30 Weddings – Experienced
31+ Weddings – Professional
5. QUALITY – QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
When seeking a photographer, don’t get caught up in the amount of products each photographer is promising. Stay focused on the actual quality of the work provided. We realize that some people are working within a budget. Think to yourself that you can always purchase an album, or additional prints later (even 2-4 years later), but you can’t change the quality of the photographs taken at the wedding after the wedding day.
We strive to tell clients, if there is something you need to cut from your package in order to make it more affordable, start with the products. Cut the album from the package, but don’t go with a cheaper photographer because they are willing to give you all the products you want up front. If you can, always keep at least two photographers in your package.
6. 2ND PHOTOGRAPHERS – HAVING MORE THAN ONE PHOTOGRAPHER
We often are asked the question, “why do I need more than one wedding photographer?”
Well, if you were to look at a wedding written up like a movie script, you would see a primary story line surrounded by smaller side stories that are happening at the exact same moment. For example, during a wedding ceremony, the main story is obviously the bride and groom. However, there may be multiple side stories occurring at the exact same moment, such as mom or dad wiping the tear from their eyes, or the flower girl sitting in the corner picking petals from a rose in her hands.
No matter how good a photographer is, he/she cannot be at all places at the same time; and so, to compensate, we offer multiple wedding photographers, each with a different focus. For example, our lead photographer focuses strictly on the bride and groom. Our second wedding photographer would focus on reaction shots from the family, guests, etc. Our third (when needed) would focus on creative imagery by constantly surveying and moving around the scene to find unique angles and compositions of our subjects.
Having multiple photographers enables us to broaden the coverage and creative eyes at the event.
QUESTIONS FOR YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
15 Specific questions to ask your wedding photographer to help with your decision
1. GENERAL – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Wedding Photography is no easy subject and interviewing potential wedding photographers can be a daunting task. Regardless of if you are hiring Snaps Photography or another photographer, we have created a list of 15 questions to help you find the perfect photographer for your wedding day.
While this list is an exact reference of what questions to ask, make sure that you are also paying attention to the soft-skills that are mentioned in our section “How Do I Choose a Wedding Photographer” during your meeting and conversation.
2. WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY STYLE?
This should be your first and foremost question as this is the style of photography that interests you. Snaps Photography is primarily photojournalists with hints of fashion and fine-art influenced wedding photography techniques.
3. HOW MANY WEDDINGS HAVE YOU SHOT, AND HAVE YOU SHOT ONES SIMILAR TO MINE?
This is a great question to get an idea of how much experience your photographer has in general. Years are generally not a good gauge of experience since some wedding photographers may work part time, and only shoot 5 weddings a year on weekends. Thus, maybe they have 5 years of experience, but they have only shot 25 weddings. Again, look at our experience gauge in the “How Do I Choose a Wedding Photographer.” section for a gauge on what we consider experienced.
4. HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU WORKED SPECIFICALLY AS A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER?
This question is designed to find out if your photographers are specifically wedding photographers, or if they are “one-stop-shop-photographers.” More specifically, you would be better off looking for a photographer that specializes, not only in wedding photography, but in the style of wedding photography that you are looking for.
5. HOW MANY OTHER EVENTS WILL YOU PHOTOGRAPH THAT WEEKEND?
Larger studios with multiple photographers will often double and even triple book dates. Snaps captures only one wedding event a day.
6. WILL THERE BE A CONTRACT OF THE SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED. IF SO, CAN I GET A COPY?
There are a lot of studios that don’t create contracts for their wedding photography clients. You should require a contract from your photographer that details what services they will be providing, pricing, termination resolution terms, etc. A contract is created for your protection, and for the wedding photographer’s protection. It is best to hire a photographer that will create a contract with you, and be wary of photographers that “don’t typically create contracts for clients.”
7. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PHOTOGRAPHER IS ILL?
While it is unlikely that the photographer happens to get ill on your wedding day, there is still a chance. So we do have backups for our primary photographer.
8. DO YOU HAVE INSURANCE?
Professional wedding photographers should have the proper insurance for their business. Insurance protects the photographer against equipment theft, but more importantly it provides liability protection in case Great Aunt Sophie trips over the photographer’s bag and breaks her leg. If a wedding photographer does not have insurance, chances are they are new to the industry, or simply aren’t taking their business seriously.
Snaps Photography carries general business, equipment and liability insurance.
9. DOES THE PACKAGE I AM INTERESTED IN INCLUDE AN ASSISTANT?
If your wedding has 100 or more guests, you should make sure you step up to a package that has an assistant photographer or add an assistant photographer. In addition, aside from wedding site, there are many moments in which one single photographer cannot cover completely alone. There is no way to capture the first kiss, and at the same time, turn around and get the tear in mother’s eye.
10. WILL YOU COLOR CORRECT MY IMAGES?
Color correction is the most basic post production that should be done on every single image. Many photographers will not color correct any, or will only color correct “select” images from your wedding. This means that you may have a lot of pictures where your skin tones are orange, yellow, red or even blue.
Snaps Photography color corrects every single image from your wedding in order to make sure each and every image is a professional quality product.
12. WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT DO YOU USE? DO YOU HAVE BACKUPS?
Snaps uses top quality camera bodies (Nikon) along with the finest quality lenses from Nikon. We carry at least four cameras, 6 lenses, a wide array of lighting and personal tools that have only come with experience. While wedding photographers don’t necessarily need the best of the best, it is important to have a good set of equipment. Make sure your photographer has at least backups of everything, lighting (not just the light on the camera) and professional lenses. Nothing would be worse than for the photographer to miss half of your weddings because his camera or lens broke, and he didn’t have a spare.
13. SHOULD MY EVENT LAST LONGER THAN SCHEDULED, WILL YOU STAY? IS THERE AN EXTRA CHARGE?
Knowing up front the photographers policy on overages is critical. You don’t want to be surprised when your wedding photographer asks for an additional $1,000 before they release your pictures to you. Even worse, you don’t want your wedding photographer to just pack up and leave when their time is up.
14. WHAT ATTIRE WILL THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THEIR ASSISTANTS WEAR?
Even though the wedding photographers are a big part of the wedding day, it’s important that they are not distractions. As such, it’s important for the photographer to blend in as much as possible. Furthermore, for religious or cultural ceremonies, there may be certain colors that are considered taboo. Make sure your photographers will be dressed appropriately for the occasion. Typical Snaps attire is black suit pants with a black polo or dress shirt. We are happy to accomadate the need for other dress styles to suite your needs and location. We dress completely in black because we want to go unnoticed by the clients and guests, so that we can capture the event as photojournalists.
15. HOW LONG AFTER THE EVENT WILL THE PROOFS, ALBUM, ETC BE READY?
Each wedding photography studio varies in the time it takes to produce and deliver your pictures. Studios that do not do any post production or color correction may try to entice you by saying your photos will be ready the next day, or even within a week. However, most studios that develop and produce their images will take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months.
Snaps Photography has developed a consistent production schedule in order to deliver an amazing product in an exceptionally quick manner. This schedule can be seen below:
1-2 Weeks after event – Proofs are available online, Facebook teaser posted
4-8 Weeks after event – Album is delivered (this depends on how long it takes for you to choose the photos for the album and how much revision is required from the original album)
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY STYLES
Terms used to describe different styles of wedding photography.
1. WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISM
Wedding Photojournalism is a story telling style of wedding photography that involves minimal involvement on the part of the photographer. A photojournalistic wedding photographer allows all of the moments to unfold around them, while they simply use their creative eye to capture and interpret those moments through their photography.
2. FINE-ART WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Fine-art wedding photography involves using artistic angles, creative lighting, unique compositions and advanced post production techniques to create imagery with a much stronger artistic flare. Our wedding photographers are very meticulous about researching scenes and anticipating moments so that we can use fine-art techniques, without interfering with our surroundings.
Fine-art wedding photography starts with an image shot with an artistic finish in mind, most likely not a “say cheese” moment. In post production, these images are transformed into fine-art using textures, filters, masks, and other advanced Photoshop techniques to create a visually stunning, emotional image.
3. FASHION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Fashion photography is a genre of photography that is focused around displaying clothing and other fashion items for commercial purposes. There are several unique photography techniques that are employed in fashion photography which we borrow in our wedding photography style. These techniques include the usage of unique off camera lighting, fashion-esque poses and expressions, along with dramatic backgrounds. Typically, our fashion influenced style of wedding photography will only be used at request of the bride and groom during the engagement shoot/bridal shoot.
4. TRADITIONAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Traditional wedding photography typically has quite a bit of wedding photographer involvement. The wedding photographer is seen almost as a type of coordinator, and thus, assists in guiding and directing the wedding. While Snaps Wedding Photographers are not traditional wedding photographers, we do have extensive experience in directing and posing people for group formals when necessary. However, in general, our philosophy is to capture real moments and to remain as unnoticed as possible.
5. TRASH THE DRESS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
“Trash the dress” is the style of photography that contrasts elegant bridal clothing with an environment that is completely out of place. We typically shoot this type of photography with a fashion and fine-art style of photography. Popular locations for these sessions are beaches in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Fort Morgan, Dauphin Island or any other sandy beach, but we can also get creative with a location that fits your personality or expresses your artistic side. If relieving post-wedding tension with a trash the dress photography session is what you are looking for, we would be happy to oblige you.
WHAT IS WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISM?
The difference between wedding photojournalists and wedding photographers
1. PHOTOJOURNALISM DEFINED
These days, it seems that many wedding photographers are wedding photojournalists. In fact, photojournalism, in relation to wedding photography, has become more of a buzz word in recent years than an actual description of a photographer’s style. But where does the term photojournalist even come from in the first place?
Photojournalism is a term that is actually used to describe a style of journalism accomplished through photography that is used for story telling in news, magazine and other publications. As a type of journalist, photojournalists were expected to observe and record events as they unfolded, without any interference or adulteration. In the late 1980s early 1990s, a group of photojournalists moved into the wedding photography industry and created a new unique style of photography called wedding photojournalism.
2. PHOTOJOURNALISM AND WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
When introduced to the wedding photography industry, this new style of wedding photography was a breath of fresh air. Prior to that point, wedding photography seemed to be firmly entrenched in a standardized set of perfect cliché-looking shots and effects. Every wedding portrait had the same glamour-esque look with a soft wash over the image. Wedding photography consisted of capturing, and even fabricating, the exact same image with each and every client. “Let’s do the looking out the window shot, ok, now look into your watch, ok, now tie your shoes, ok, now button your cuffs, etc.”
Wedding photojournalism took the standard approach to weddings and turned it onto its head. Instead of the wedding photographer helping guide and direct the wedding day, he now stood back and let things happen naturally. Instead of creating picture perfect scenes for every moment, the wedding photographer strove to capture the truth and realism in the actual moment. The result was photography that was no longer standardized as a canned product sold from the shelf of your grocery store. Rather, each client got customized pictures that may not have been flawless, but were perfect in capturing the actual emotion and atmosphere of the scene.
3. WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISM TODAY
Fast forward 20 years and it seems as though every single wedding photographer today appears to be a wedding photojournalist. Why? Well, because photographers are afraid of losing clients if they do not use the marketing term somewhere in their material. However, despite the usage of photojournalist, there are many photographers out there who have no experience in wedding photojournalism, or photojournalism in general. In fact, often times their portfolio doesn’t even exhibit photojournalistic style shots.
While it is not required for a wedding photographer to have worked at a newspaper agency in order to qualify him to be a wedding photojournalist, it should be expected that their training and educational background is in the field of photojournalism.
4. OUR EXPERIENCE AND TRAINING IN WEDDING PHOTOJOURNALISM
Our photographer James Thompson has worked in the newspaper business as a photo journalist.We also spend hundreds of additional hours each year studying our art. Probably the easiest and most effective way of getting an idea of whether or not a wedding photographer is actually a wedding photojournalist is simply to take a look at their portfolio, as well as a sample wedding. Throughout our portfolio you will notice our roots in photojournalism. We would also love to show you a full wedding event in person. Simply call us to setup an appointment with one of the master wedding photographers.
COMMON PHOTOGRAPHY AND EQUIPMENT MISCONCEPTIONS
1. A BRIEF OVERVIEW
There are many misconceptions regarding photography and photography equipment. We often hear questions like, “How many megapixels do I need?”, “Which is better, Canon or Nikon”, “Should I (or my photographer) use a crop frame or full frame camera?”, “Is digital or film better?”
We wrote this article to help explain and correct some of these common photography misconceptions.
2. MEGAPIXELS MEGASHMIXELS – DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN MEGAPIXEL MARKETING
For years, camera companies have marketed their products to consumers by primarily touting the number of megapixels. However, megapixels are not a measurement of the quality of the images; the number simply determines the printable size.
For example, a 3 megapixel camera can print a 5×7, while an 8 megapixel camera can go up to an 8×11 without any post production sharpening. However, any sharp image above 8 megapixels can be enlarged to any size with a little bit of post production preparation.
However, the quality of your print is determined by the quality of the image sensor, not the megapixels. Thus you can have a lovely 8×10 print come out of an 8 megapixel camera, while you might have a terrible looking 8×10 print come out of a 15 megapixel camera. So, be sure to look at the quality and type of camera rather than just the megapixels.
3. CANON VS. NIKON – TWO GREAT CAMERA SYSTEMS
While our studio uses Canon cameras and equipment, both Nikon and Canon make great professional camera bodies and lenses. When people ask, which camera is better, there is really no clear cut answer to the question. The fact is, both manufacturers make great cameras overall, with subtle differences. For example, Nikon cameras typically have more autofocus points than Canon. However, the difference is more of a preference than one in quality.
While each camera maker takes turns of being on top, in the long run, they are both equal. Prior to the release of Nikon’s D3, Canon was on top with the 1D series cameras. Since the release of the D3, Canon was behind until the release of the 5D Mark II. It has always been, and will be this type of environment in the professional photography market. When you ask, “which camera is better,” it really simply depends on the month and year you ask. But in general, both camera systems are amazing and professional quality.
6. DIGITAL VS. FILM
A few years ago, we might have been able to make the argument that it makes more sense sticking with film, rather than digital. However, today the professional photography scene is much different. While there are still certain situations where film performs more favorably than digital, the overall quality and advantages of digital over film make the choice relatively straight forward.
Shooting digital allows professional photographers to have virtually unlimited storage capabilities and thus take more shots (though this is not always a good thing). Today, professional photographers can shoot 2,000-3,000 images in a single day using digital where as with film, it was unheard of to exceed 1,000.
What does this mean? Well, with more images, you generally will have more choices to select from. Thus the photographer can choose the best of three shots, rather than having to accept whatever shot he had in that moment.
Digital also allows the professional photographer to “chimp,” or preview, the shot straight in the camera. This allows them to quickly remove any poor shots, as well as to be creative and test their exposures right on the spot. (We do not condone constant chimping, You cannot get great photos if your eye is not looking through the camera.)
The digital workflow is similar in theory to the film days. Previously, we were developing film in the dark room; today the dark room has simply moved to our computers. However, the techniques of dodging, burning, brightening, levels, etc are largely the same.
So, because of the overall quality of digital, the ability to create and test on the spot, improved workflow, and much more, our studio now shoots only digital.
HIRING "UNCLE FRIEND"
A not so fictional story describing what can happen by not hiring the right wedding photographer
While the names and locations in this story are fictional, it is based on real and unfortunate wedding photography horror stories that we have heard first hand from friends, contacts, wedding guests, clients, etc.
IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH THE SAME LINE
“My "UNCLE FRIEND" has an amazing camera, I think I am going to just pay him $500 to shoot my wedding.” While "UNCLE FRIEND" may be very good, here are a few reasons to go with the professional.
As we have previously said in the “How to Choose a Wedding Photographer” section, wedding photography is so much more than just having a nice camera. "UNCLE FRIEND" may have a nice camera, in fact, let’s say "UNCLE FRIEND" is a lawyer and photography is his passion. So, not only does he have a nice camera, but he has the best camera money can buy at the moment, the Canon 5D Mark II ($2,700). Even more so, "UNCLE FRIEND" loves shooting in his spare time so much that he even bought a full set of Canon L Series lenses and accessories ($15,000).
Already, we are assuming that this "UNCLE FRIEND" is much more prepared than 99% of the "UNCLE FRIEND"’s out there. Now let’s assume that "UNCLE FRIEND" frequently goes out, once or twice a month and shoots nature and urban scenes with all of his great equipment. "UNCLE FRIEND" even had some of his work published.
Wedding time comes, and "UNCLE FRIEND" is feeling great and confident that he is going to do an awesome job. "UNCLE FRIEND" starts with some outside shots of the preparation location and everything is looking good. Then "UNCLE FRIEND" steps inside where the preparation is taking place. "UNCLE FRIEND" doesn’t like manually exposing his pictures, so he shoots with the cameras help. Unfortunately, the camera is only so smart.
"UNCLE FRIEND" starts snapping preparation shots and notices that his lens isn’t wide enough. So, he quickly goes out to the car to swap out his lenses since he wasn’t anticipating this problem. When he gets back, the bride’s makeup is done, and now they are working on the hair. "UNCLE FRIEND" didn’t take any time to check out the lighting prior to the shoot, so he has no off camera lighting, or any additional lighting equipment. So, "UNCLE FRIEND" figures that he can just raise his ISO settings super high so that he can capture enough light to properly expose the scene. This works, however, little does he know, that every picture shot will be too grainy to blow up beyond a 4×6 print.
"UNCLE FRIEND" now heads over to shoot the groom. "UNCLE FRIEND" looks at the scene and adjusts his camera settings based on what the camera reads. Unfortunately, because there was so much black in the scene from the suits, the camera was over exposing all of the shots to compensate. "UNCLE FRIEND" didn’t realize though, and just kept chugging away.
Let’s say this is a simple wedding and now it’s time for the ceremony. "UNCLE FRIEND" scopes out a great spot, pops on his zoom lens, and waits. The groom makes his way in, and Joe shoots him like a pro snapping 50 shots as the groom is coming down the aisle. The only problem is that all 50 shots are out of focus because the subject was walking towards "UNCLE FRIEND", and his focus settings were not set for moving subjects.
The father and bride begin coming down the aisle, and just the same, "UNCLE FRIEND" fires away taking 50 more shots. Again, none of which are crisp and in focus.
The wedding ceremony is going great, and Joe grabs several great shots. But "UNCLE FRIEND" realizes again, that his camera lens isn’t wide enough, so "UNCLE FRIEND" runs to his bag to grab a different lens. On his way back, he sees the couple just as they kiss for the first time. "UNCLE FRIEND" missed it. He also didn’t think to shoot any of the bride or grooms family during the ceremony, as he was trying not to miss anything in the ceremony.
After the ceremony, it’s time for formals. "UNCLE FRIEND" guides everyone to his favorite spot outdoors where he has a beautiful shot of the view. The subjects are facing away from the sun, so that he can capture the grandeur of the scene. Because the formals are being shot in the bright noon-day sun, "UNCLE FRIEND" doesn’t realize that the camera is under exposing the entire scene since the background is so bright.
"UNCLE FRIEND" takes only a few family formal shots, and only one shot of each set. Little to Joe’s knowledge, every shot is coming out too dark and completely underexposed (See below)
Reception time has arrived, and "UNCLE FRIEND" has already worked 10 hours! He figures that he should relax and enjoy the wedding too since he is family. So, he gives his camera to his young son who loves photography and tells him to shoot.
"UNCLE FRIEND" is so exhausted that he doesn’t shoot for the rest of the night. I mean, he is helping out the bride and groom so much by saving them money, and doing it for so cheap that he figures it shouldn’t matter anyway.
Since "UNCLE FRIEND" doesn’t have the software, or even know how to post produce images. He simply gives the bride and groom a DVD with all of the images burned to it. The bride and groom sit down, dying with anticipation and pop the DVD into the computer to start looking through their uncles beautiful work!
100 pictures into the 2,000 pictures "UNCLE FRIEND" shot, the bride is already in tears, as every photo is too dark, too bright, blurry, or just not that good. Furthermore, the bride and groom notice that there is no shot of their first kiss, and the only reception shots were of "UNCLE FRIEND"’s son shooting all of the kids at the reception.
While this story in particular is fictional, each one of the events and outcomes are from real situations that we wedding photographers hear about all of the time. In fact, so many of our client’s guests have approached us during a shoot to tell us about their “"UNCLE FRIEND"” experience, and how they wish they had hired us to shoot the wedding. So, why does this happen to "UNCLE FRIEND"? Because the bottom line is, while Joe had all the professional gear (which is unlikely in the first place), and experience shooting nature and outdoors scenes he doesn’t have the following:
The ability to quickly adjust his camera settings based on different lighting scenes. Most of the time wedding photographers have 2-3 seconds to adjust settings on the fly, any more than that, and the wedding photographer is almost guaranteed to miss something.
The knowledge of how his camera reads and interprets light in order to compensate for under or over exposure. In these situations the wedding photographer must rely on his experience rather than the camera’s readings.
The foresight to be prepared for each situation with a secondary camera prepped with a different type of lens. Professional wedding photographers will always scope out the wedding venue and scenes prior to the wedding and plan ahead.
The carrying cases needed to always have his necessary equipment and accessories on him at all times. Professional wedding photographers will always have their equipment readily available on their person, or nearby.
Experience shooting fleeting moments that you only have one chance to capture. A first kiss typically only lasts 1-2 seconds, and you don’t necessarily know exactly when it is going to happen. The wedding photographer must be staring through his lens, ready and prepared for this moment to happen.
Experience and knowledge required to anticipate angles and approaches to each scene. Knowing where to stand, and what angles to shoot is something that only comes from experience.
The energy to work non-stop for 8-13 hours.
The ability to create unique lighting scenes, and supplement natural light with his own lighting. Understanding light and lighting is something that comes from study, training and experience. Being a master of lighting is impossible unless you have tried shooting in every possible lighting situation.
Experience in guiding and directing large group formals. This is where the wedding photographer’s personality and tact are so important. How do they interact with the bride, groom and their family.
The knowledge of advanced focus techniques.
Experience in taking extra shots of crucial pictures such as during formals in case of blinking, awkward expressions, etc.
In addition to all of this, there is so much more that "UNCLE FRIEND" would need in order to take professional quality wedding photographs from start to finish.
While there are a lot of areas in your wedding budget that you can save money on, wedding photography should not be one of them. If you want to have professional- quality, creative imagery of your wedding day that will be timeless heirlooms to be shown and handed down to your generations to come, you will need a professional wedding photographer.
Often times, wedding photography studios such as our own, will work with clients in customizing their packages in order to fit within their budget. If that is the case, choose quality over products. Choose to have 2 photographers rather than just one, and forgo the album, prints and slideshows for now. We understand that newlyweds are often on a budget, as they are starting their new lives together. So, wait on the products until later in your life. Three, four, even five years from now when you and your family is well established, go ahead and order that album, or those large prints. It might be better to wait to buy gorgeous and real imagery, than to have low quality photography slapped into an album and ready for you when you get back from your honeymoon.
To sum it up, while you can always order products later, you can never order better quality and more creative imagery after your event.
ABOUT SNAPS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY
Our style and history and background
A little bit about James ...
Potential clients often ask me - how long have you been a photographer? In a light hearted response I may reply - long enough to know quite a bit about what I am doing, but not long enough to be bored or stuck in a rut! In all seriousness however, following college, I began my professional career in 1999. As a photographer for the Opelika Auburn news my attention was surrounded by sports photography, traveling throughout the southeast covering SEC sports. While working at the paper a fellow photographer asked if I would assist her with a particular wedding job. It was similar to what I was already doing, the emotion, the fast pace, and the constant attention to detail, I loved it. Following that day, and a number of other such assists, I began the transformation to working with brides and grooms, and location portraiture.
Weddings and portraiture make up the majority my photography, and since 1999, every year I strive to go beyond what I have done in the past. Though most of my college training was oriented towards photojournalism it turns out that it made for the best foundation for wedding photography.
Your images should reflect who you are, not merely a collection of set arrangements. My goal is to present you with a collection of images that will not only bring back memories and emotions years from now, but do so in a non-intrusive, enjoyable, and creative fashion.
My three daughters, Kali, Delaney, & Stella! They are the light of my life and better at looking good through the camera than I am as a photographer.