Couples seeking a wedding photographer are confronted with a dizzying array of choices, styles, and price points. One photographer will shoot your wedding for $500; others start at $3,000 or more. What's the difference?
Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the world's largest nonprofit association of professional photographers, has posted a guide to help couples sort things out: "The Top Ten Things You Need to Know to Ensure Wedding Photo Bliss." I'll offer a condensed version of the list and my responses (see the original article at the PPA site):
Q. Do you have samples of your work I can see?
A: Yes! I'd be happy to show you completed albums, prints, and other products that you can use to showcase your wedding images. You can also browse some of the wedding posts here on the blog if you'd like.
Q: What steps do you take to protect my wedding photos?
A: Ensuring that your images are safe is critically important to me. I'm a strong believer in the principle that digital media doesn't exist unless it's in two places. After your wedding, your images are loaded onto a drobo, a redundant (multiple) hard drive system. While hard drives are usually very reliable, they can fail without warning. When that happens, you risk losing all of the data on the drive--and that means your wedding photos could be gone forever. If one drive in the drobo fails, however, the images are kept safe on the other drives in the system. All of my files are also archived to a second portable hard drive that is stored off-site (two locations = safe data). Once the finished proofs are ready for you to view (typically 2-3 weeks after your wedding), these images are uploaded to an online gallery as well as to the drobo and the off-site archive drive. Your wedding images are thus protected in three different locations on three different types of media.
Q: Do you use professional-quality equipment and have backups?
A: Yes! I carry Nikon D700 and Nikon D200 camera bodies to every wedding as well as several Nikon and Tamron professional lenses. My distinctive lighting style relies on the use of additional light, so I bring four Nikon speedlights and a variety of lighting accessories (stands, umbrellas, reflector, etc.). The lighting equipment enables me to photograph in any circumstance--I'm not dependent on "available light" to create compelling images for you. In all, I arrive at your wedding with about $10,000 worth of camera equipment (not including my assistant's equipment). This investment in equipment is what it takes for me to do what I do best for you.
Q: Do you work with an assistant? How else does collaboration factor in to your work?
A: I always bring either an assistant and/or a second photographer to a wedding. I work more efficiently with the extra help (which means less stress for you) and having a trusted "second shooter" allows us to be in two places at once--especially helpful when the girls and guys are getting ready at different locations. After the wedding, I work with carefully selected industry-leading vendors who help me edit and process your images and design and print your book. You'll get great images and an amazing wedding book in an impressively quick fashion.
Q: How are my proofs delivered?
A: You'll receive a personal online gallery for your wedding images. From this gallery, you can easily mark your favorites (for inclusion in your wedding book) and your guests can order additional prints.
Q: How long will you take to deliver my proofs? My book?
A: Here's where you really benefit from my post-production workflow. Your proofs will be online in four weeks or less (two to three is more typical). After you select the images for your album, a draft of the wedding book is available in two weeks or less. After you approve the draft, the final book is typically delivered in four to six weeks depending upon the busyness of the season--December can be slower.
Q: Where do you get your prints and products?
A: I use professional labs and vendors for everything that clients receive: prints, books, wall art--everything. I don't go to Wal-Mart or Walgreen's to get your prints, and I don't use consumer services like Snapfish. The color, quality, and consistency are far better with professional labs than consumer labs.
Q: What is your artistic style?
A: I find that my clients prefer an approach that mixes candid, photojournalistic-style images with well-composed, intentional portraits. Some refer to this as "portrait journalism." I love making and lighting portraits--and my clients love receiving them!
Q: Tell me about your experience.
A: I've been photographing weddings since 2007. From the beginning, I've brought my strong interest in portraiture and unique lighting approach to every wedding. As a member of PPA, I've participated in numerous learning opportunities, oriented toward both artistic and business development to keep myself in a near-constant state of growth. I've also attended workshops with well-respected professional photographers like Bob Davis, Zack Arias, and Mark Robert Halper. I'd be happy to show you some of the weddings I've photographed so you can see if we're a good match for one another.
Q: How do you ensure my satisfaction? Do you have insurance?
A: By interviewing with you months ahead of your wedding, I listen and learn to determine what's important to you. We talk about your wedding style, the details and people you want photographed on your special day, and anything else that will make the experience memorable for you. I work hard with my team at every wedding: we show up on time, we are polite and friendly (never bossy), and we do very good work that makes clients happy. Stop over at the Weddings information page and read some of my clients' testimonials to see how they describe my work. And, yes, I do carry business liability and indemnity insurance (as should every wedding photographer) in the case of some unforeseen accident.
This brief post can't cover everything in the PPA guide but it's a good start. Want to talk more about your wedding? I'd love to.
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