Tammy: I know some clients are often surprised by what professional photographers charge to shoot a wedding. As a planner, I try to educate them on what is involved and the process in general. Meetings, contracts, second shooters, assistants, equipment, insurance, post production, etc. Do you find this the case as well and if so, what do you say to perspective clients who question your pricing structure?
Kristina: While a current or prospective client has never actually come out and said that wedding photography is expensive (not to me anyway!), I have definitely gotten a raised eyebrow when I mention my rates to people. I have also, on more than one occasion, had to defend pricing when talking to family, friends and even other vendors.
I recently read in a professional photography magazine that the average wedding photographer spends approximately 40 hours on each wedding he/she shoots. That’s a lot of time! Some people view it as simply 8-10 hours on the day, but the bulk of our time is spent after the day importing, backing up, culling, editing, etc.
Professional equipment is expensive – as is its upkeep. The average camera set up runs us several thousand dollars and most photographers shoot with two set ups, not to mention back-up gear! On top of those two things, there are a lot of other expenses that factor into our rates, for example, as you mentioned liability insurance (which all venues require us to have).
While I’m biased, I feel it’s important for couples to remember that your wedding photographs are one of the only things you’re left with when the day is over. They are tangible memories to share with family and friends for years to come.
Tammy: How can couples (and planners for that matter) make your job easier?
Kristina: Being kept in the loop is key for me. Sadly, we sometimes get overlooked in planning and our input/advice on timing isn’t taken into account as the day’s timeline is created. Experienced photographers do know a lot about the flow of a wedding, ideal timing for portraits, etc. so asking for input and using our suggestions is always nice.
At the same time, though, a balance is necessary. Our input on timing before the day is great, but on the day its important we are able to focus on doing our job. Having a day-of coordinator or designating someone to be in charge of the day’s flow is a giant help for all vendors. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve done things like transport flowers that were delivered to the ‘getting ready’ location instead of the church or reminded a couple at 9:45 that they were scheduled to cut their cake at 9:30! Because we do know what we are doing and we care greatly about our clients, I’ve seen all vendors (officiants, DJs, florists) end up having to make sure things go smoothly – even in the areas that do not pertain to our expertise. It’s understandable, because we’ve been a part of a lot of weddings, but it’s definitely more important that we are able to focus on our individual roles.
Tammy: How would you advise a couple who is evaluating the wedding photography of three or more professional wedding photographers?
Kristina: Obviously a couple should be drawn to the photographer’s body of work, that’s the first thing. I advise couples to look at a photographer’s portfolio very closely and more than once, gauging how connected they feel to the images they’re seeing. Strip away things like whether or not you like the wedding colors or the dress the bride is wearing and focus on how the images make you feel.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, a face to face (or Skype if necessary) meeting is the next step. It’s crucial, in my opinion, that a couple feels a connection to their photographer. I say it all the time, but you are spending 8+ hours with your photographer on one of the most important days of your life. It is a complete must that you feel comfortable letting them in on the day’s moments. You should feel at ease with them, you should want to spend time with them and you should not feel guarded in any way.
Tammy: What is your favorite part of the wedding day?
Kristina: Tough question! More than anything, I love the interactions. I know it’s not necessarily a part of the day, so to speak, but they do happen throughout and I love capturing them! I’m sort of a ‘quiet observer’ and I feel like I have a good eye for noticing subtle interactions between the bride and groom, their family and friends. I never try to force moments that aren’t there and I do think that shows in my work. There are so many emotions running wild on a wedding day, what is the point of trying to create something that is fake? The feedback I get from couples often include phrases like, “I remember exactly why I was making that face at that moment!” or “when I saw the look on my moms face again, I completely broke down.” These are the things I love to hear, because I know that I did my job right.
Tammy: If you could be judged on three photos you took in 2011, which ones would they be?
Kristina: Wow, okay, tougher question!!! Since I mentioned ‘interactions’ as my favorite part of the day, I’m going to stick with three images that illustrate some of my favorite types of interactions.
First, how fun is this family? Sure, we got plenty of “everyone look in the camera and smile” shots, but if this were my wedding, this shot would be framed and hung!
I love this portrait of Nancy and Doug. It was captured while taking their bride and groom portraits. I feel like Doug’s face says so much about how Nancy makes him feel. Love those in-between-moments!
Lastly, this candid dance floor moment between the groom’s sister and her family melts my heart entirely.