You may not have put any thought into photography, but you do have at least one image in mind—the one you picture when you daydream about your wedding day. It might be the two of you holding hands and beaming with excitement as you leave the church under a shower of rice. Or maybe it’s that candid shot of your groom’s face shining with adoration as he gets that first glimpse of you walking down the aisle.
Capturing these irreplaceable, once-in-a-lifetime moments is not mere serendipity. Hiring the right photographer is paramount, but knowing how to interact with your photographer before, during and after your wedding is the key to ensuring you get the photos you want.
We picked the brains of some of the city’s wedding photographers to find out how you can get the most out of your relationship with the wedding photographer you select.
Ask the Right Questions
First things first: What steps should you take to make sure you hire a reliable photographer? You can and should ask for references, but photographer Greer Gattuso of Greer G Photography (931-0622, greergphotography.com) advises also asking each photographer you interview not only how long he or she has been in the business, but also how long he or she has been shooting. The difference may seem like a nuance, but the answer to the second question can be revealing. “Two photographers may have both been shooting weddings for two years, but one might have extensive experience in photography of another kind, while the other photographer might have just picked up a camera for the first time two years ago,” Gattuso says. She also recommends checking to see whether the photographer you are considering is listed in the Better Business Bureau. “If a photographer is running a legitimate business, she should want to be a part of the Better Business Bureau,” Gattuso adds.
Don’t Worry About Tiny Details
You know the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” On your wedding day, that can be easier said than done, but have you considered how wedding day stress could affect your photos? Photographer Stevie Ramos of Stevie Ramos Photography (259-9751, stevieramosphoto.com) always reminds brides that it is a given that certain things will not go as planned on the big day, and to look at these as “wedding day hiccups” rather than huge problems. “If you get hung up on these glitches,” Ramos warns, “that stress can show in your face and perhaps in your wedding photos.” Photographer Fabi Asencio of Fab Fotography (220-4196, fab-fotography.com) always reiterates to her brides that the wedding day is their day and they should enjoy it. “It’s not a day to stress over little things!” she says.
Meet Your Photographer First
In order to ensure none of these hiccups are photography related, communication is key. Photographer Jacqueline Kay Lachin Dallimore of Jacqueline Kay Photography (jacquelinekay.com) stresses the importance of meeting your photographer before the wedding. “Setting up an in-person meeting is the best way to get a good idea of someone’s character,” Dallimore says. As for what to go over at this meeting, Dallimore recommends asking questions such as how many weddings the photographer has shot in the last year and whether he shoots weddings full time or has another job.
Regarding pre-wedding communication and preparation, Gattuso has her brides fill out a form specifying which specific shots, if any, they want captured. “I’m even okay with brides showing me examples of photos that they like,” Gattuso says. Another way Gattuso helps her brides prepare is by exchanging Pinterest boards. “If they don’t know exactly what they want, they can get ideas from my Pinterest boards,” Gattuso says. “Likewise, if they have made Pinterest boards, I ask them to send them to me so that I can see what they like and even comment on the photos they have pinned.” Asencio of Fab Fhotography always sits down with her bride before the wedding to discuss what she wants, as well as always makes a list of the shots the bride is certain she wants.
Work on Communication
One way to prevent glitches is to establish a contact person for the photographer to communicate with on the big day. Gattuso says that, in the absence of a wedding planner, it is a good idea to make the contact person a close family member, the maid of honor or another bridesmaid. “If a bride hasn’t designated a specific person as my contact, I’ll usually communicate with the bridesmaids. They’re really good at helping out.”
On the other hand, Kay believes that it is up to the photographer to use his or her best judgment on when is the right time to talk to the bride. “When the bride is busy, the photographer will then choose who to interact with depending on the situation; if it’s a timeline-related question, the planner may be the best person to ask,” Kay says. “If the photographer wants to know who the mother of the groom is, a relative is probably the best person to ask.”
Make a Timeline
Establishing a timeline before the big day will pay off in spades. Asencio recommends that all brides stay organized, have the day planned out, and stay on schedule. “It is so important to sit down and talk to your photographer about events that will occur during the night and exactly what you want pictures of,” Asencio says. Part of determining this timeline is deciding whether you want to take posed photos before or after the ceremony. In New Orleans, most weddings take place at night, but many brides like the look of photos taken in natural light. In this case, portraits or “first look” photos should be scheduled earlier in the day. Stevie Ramos recommends doing a photographed first look before the ceremony. “It gives you time to be with one another before the wedding and it ensures time set aside for a creative opportunity for photos of just the two of you.” But if you decide you want to go the traditional route and wait until the ceremony to see your groom, photographer Kerry Maloney of Heirloom Collective (484-9033, heirloomcollective.com) advises: “Be sure you plan with your photographer enough time to take photos before the reception.”
Stick with a Professional
Perhaps you’ve heard horror stories about wedding photography gone wrong. The photographer demands too much time from the bride and groom because she can’t get the shots right. Or worse, she never delivers the photos and won’t answer phone calls. “We’ve had clients decide to book us for their wedding despite already having a photographer,” shares photographer Heather Schneider of Dark Roux Photography (905-4367, darkroux.com). “After their engagement shoot, they decided that, on second thought, they saw the value in hiring a pro. Like most things, with photography, you get what you pay for. Plain and simple.” Maloney concurs: “It is the difference between having a few photos from your wedding day and having a complete documentation of the day and photos you love and can’t wait to hang on the wall and share with your friends and family.”
As far as timing goes, it was the unanimous advice of the photographers we interviewed to book your photographer as early as possible, ideally six months to a year in advance. Likewise, all agreed that the typical turnaround time, from the date of the wedding to the date you receive your photos, is somewhere between four to eight weeks. “Make sure you know how long you’re going to be waiting when you book your photographer,” Dallimore advises. “That way you won’t have to continue to send emails asking when they’ll be done.”
Go with Someone You Trust
When you meet with potential photographers, ask yourself whether he or she is someone you would invite to your wedding. As Schneider puts it, “There is a lot of trust involved with getting the right photographer. If you don’t have a good vibe with her, you’ll be able to tell in the images.”