If you’re anything like me, you like to know a little bit about what an experience will be like before you jump in. I like to check the menu before I go to a restaurant, and I like to look up the weirdest stuff in any town I’m going to visit so I don’t miss out.
There’s something comforting in being prepared and knowing what to expect, which is why I talk a lot with couples and families about the whole photography process before they book and before we shoot.
When I meet with you for the first time I want to hear about what’s important to you and see if it lines up with my priorities as a photographer. Every photographer is different, so making sure we’re on the same page is essential to figuring out if we’re a fit.
So, what are the steps from your initial search to your wedding day?
It’s important that before we talk you have a look through my portfolio and get a good sense of my style. When should you start looking for a wedding photographer? Ideally, as soon as possible. Popular weekend dates from spring to fall get booked up really fast and the sooner you start looking, the more choices you’ll have. Most couples reach out to me between one year (or more) to eight months before their wedding. If you like what you see, the next step is to reach out so we can talk either by Skype, or better yet, in person!
While every wedding is unique and things like location, lighting, and season will be some of the things that differentiate yours (along with of course, the people in the photos), my style is pretty consistent. I’m not going to all of a sudden create lots of images of you smiling straight to the camera, or use a super different editing style. So if my style resonates with you, that’s the first important step toward us being a match.
2. Meeting of the minds
The next step toward finding out if we’re a match is for us to meet. We’ll get to know each other, and you’ll be able to get an idea of what it will be like to have me as your photographer. If you’re in Connecticut we can meet for coffee, and if you’re too far for a visit we can Skype.
I always bring sample albums so you can look at some printed images and envision what yours might look like. However, at this point you probably know you like the photos–what we want to find out is if you like my approach to photography and style of working. You’ll tell me all about yourself (I ask a lot of questions), your wedding plans, and loose timeline. Then I’ll go through:
- How everything works and what might work for you in terms of coverage, albums and portrait sessions
- How I take care of you throughout the process, and my philosophy about being there for couples
- How I direct sessions
If we’re a fit there’s usually a sort of connection, and the feeling that we have the same priorities. I always say that trust is really important when it comes to the wedding professionals you choose, especially when it comes to your wedding photography.
If we feel like we’re a fit, the next step is to book so you can secure your date. Once I have your retainer fee and signed agreement, you’re all set and your date is on the calendar!
If you’ve decided to do an engagement shoot, we’ll talk soon after you book to figure out the logistics of where and when. We’ll go back and forth about different ideas, locations, and how to make the session unique to you.
If you’re not doing an engagement shoot, I’ll be in touch again a couple months before your wedding day so we can start getting prepped. I’ll send you a questionnaire so I can gather all the details of your wedding day and create your photography timeline.
This is also the time where I do a little research on your venue, make sure everything in terms of insurance is in place, and talk to your planner or day-of coordinator if you have one. I’ll also have a little brainstorming session with my bad ol’ self to think over ideas for your day-of portraits. While I like to keep things organic and customize the session to each couple, I also like having ideas for compositions and “poses” beforehand.
The day before your wedding I check and clean all my equipment and backup equipment, get my memory cards ready and charge all my batteries. I put all the important phone numbers that you’ve given me into my phone. I email or text you to confirm times and check if anything has changed.
On your wedding day I arrive early to the location we’ve decided on, and either start capturing getting-ready photos or go straight into your first look/portrait session. During getting-ready photos I pretty much melt into the background and capture moments as they unfold.
If we’re starting with a portrait session there’s more directing involved (you can read about that here and here).
Once we’ve done portraits and family groupings the rest of the day is more fluid and I’m generally running around and trying to stay incognito. I might grab you at some point if the lighting is spectacular to get a few extra portraits, but other than that you’ll probably barely notice me.
After the wedding, I back up your images right away. In the next few weeks I get started on editing your photos. I put a lot of time into this, choosing the best ones and carefully editing for tone, contrast and light skin retouching. Editing is generally the most time-consuming part of photography.
As I go, I sprinkle in sneak peeks on Facebook and Instagram during the weeks after your wedding and then post my favorites all together in a blog post. Soon after this I get all of your images prepped for both web and print, and send out your USB package to you! At this point if you haven’t pre-ordered an album or prints we can talk about different options for printing and wall art.
7. Album design
If you’re getting an album, I start on your design after your digital images are delivered to you. My design process is:
- I create an initial design by choosing images that span from getting-ready, to portraits, to ceremony, to reception.
- Once I have a clean design that I feel is balanced, I send you a proof through an electronic album site. You can mark any images that you want swapped out with the image file number of the image you’d prefer.
- Once you’re happy with the swaps I make the changes, send to you again for final approval, and then send the album to print. I always have it delivered to me so I can proof it first, and then I ship it to you.
What about family sessions?
Family sessions work pretty much exactly the same way, except there isn’t a strict(ish) timeline, and of course no wedding! I’ll be doing a post about family sessions soon, so stay tuned!
Want to learn more and talk about options for your wedding? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form below!
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More posts about how I work:
Interview on WeddingLovely
How I capture mood
How to make sure your engagement photos look like you
Why Lighting is so important