Wedding Photography Myths and Facts - Seattle Wedding planning tips and advice

I'm really excited to share some of my experience in the wedding industry with brides-to-be,  and so I'm going to be writing some helpful wedding planning tips and advice posts which will answer the most common questions I get as a wedding photographer. It's very normal for couples planning their wedding to have these questions, and to want to know what their wedding photographer thinks about these things, because most of them have never planned a wedding before! I can tell you as someone who has literally been at hundreds of weddings, that there are a few things that never work, a few things that always work, and some things that no one else can answer for you. The great part is that I can use that experience to make great suggestions for my couples! So here it goes - the most common wedding photography myths and facts I hear and share:

1. Do I get ALL of the images you take/Can I get unedited images? No, you won't receive all of the images your wedding photographer takes - why? Because your photographer takes multiple images of the same thing/pose/group of people in order to give you the best possible result. What you will receive is all of the images that meet your photographer's professional standard. As for unedited images, I would advise strongly against hiring a photographer who provides or would agree to provide unedited images, because as a professional wedding photographer providing you with a consistent finished product is part of the service you will receive. Also, unedited images are often in a format that you may not be able to view or work with without specific professional software.

2. Have you worked at this venue/with this vendor/with this type of wedding before? We as photographers know how important hiring experienced wedding professionals is to you, and knowing that they know the venue, or the other vendors they have already hired definitely helps you to see what your wedding might look like - but ultimately, an experienced wedding photographer doesn't see your wedding as a place or another similar job. Your wedding is unique. No two weddings are the same, even if they are in the same place, or the same people work on them. What you should look for instead are weddings of a similar style to yours, with similar elements (outdoors/indoors, rustic/urban, sunny/snowy/rainy, daytime/evening/sunset) to see if you like how your wedding photographer will capture those things in a style you love. And if you love a certain photography style but you don't see a similar wedding to yours on the photographer's website/facebook page, you can always contact them to ask for samples, or discuss your wedding plans and how they might fit in!

3. Do we need a second photographer? Some photographers like to work alone. Some photographers like to work as a pair. My first question to the couple is, "What would you like to capture about your day?". If the answer is a very long and detailed list including major events that are happening at the same time, I recommend a second photographer. If you are having a casual wedding with a loose structure and schedule and have time between wedding events, you may be fine with just one primary photographer. 

4. What does 'lifestyle' mean? Great question! There are a lot of 'industry terms' that photographers may use to describe their work and what they mean is not always obvious. Some popular terms that photographers may use to describe their style might be 'lifestyle', 'fine art', or 'editorial' which refers to the style and level of editing and posing your photographer will do. 'Lifestyle' photographers tend to work more like a photojournalist, and will capture the real and genuine moments and emotions without offering a lot (or sometimes any) direction or guidance - they present images of the things that happen naturally without their artistic intervention. 'Fine Art' photography may be the most confusing of the terms photographers use because technically all photography is fine art, but in modern terms it usually means a look that is based around a certain consistent editing style that may look vintage, like film, or may actually be shot on film. And on the other end of the spectrum is 'editorial', which means a highly stylized look sometimes using extreme editing, retouching, and different light sources and setups to achieve magazine like (or editorial) results. My best advice for finding the right photography style for you is to look through galleries of full weddings, and search for photographers who use words that you would use to describe your wedding or your theme, like 'intimate', 'rustic', 'glamorous' etc.

5. What happens if my photographer isn't able to attend my wedding because of an emergency? This is an important question to ask, because the answer will depend very much on your wedding photographer's contract policies and their professional network. As a service provider, extenuating circumstances happen from time to time, and making sure you get the best possible service on your wedding day should be your photographer's main priority. Personally, this is a major reason why I prefer my couples to consider having a 2 photographer package - All of my associates are very capable photographers in their own right who I know I can depend on in case I have a personal emergency. Secondly, the more experience your photographer has, the larger the professional network they can draw on to help you secure a suitable replacement, even at the last minute. We know that your wedding day is very important and wherever possible we will do absolutely everything to ensure you get the service you have booked.

6. I have a lot of ideas about locations and photos I'd like to take at my wedding - do you work with a list that I provide you? Yes - you should absolutely let your wedding photographer know which locations and images you'd like to use before your wedding day, but that doesn't mean that every one of your ideas will be possible. Trust your photographer's professional opinion if they bring up concerns about certain locations, lighting, time allowance, or image ideas - which is why it's a great idea to give your photographer that information in advance. A list of family photo groups is also great to have so that your photographer doesn't miss anyone, because there can be a lot going on for you the day of the wedding, try to prepare your photo requests as much in advance as possible. I send out a photo request list about 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding. Also, be aware that not every request on a long list may be possible. Work with your photographer to ensure they know the most important aspects of your wedding, to help them give you the best service!

7. I have a difficult family member/family situation - can you help with that? Again, make sure you get this information to your photographer as soon as possible. We really don't want to make anyone uncomfortable by asking them to pose together, or stand right next to each other for photos if they aren't amiable. The more information your photographer has about the situation they are walking into, the better they can manage any possible complications. Make sure to be completely frank and honest about how you feel, and chances are, your photographer has seen it many times before and can head off any issue before it interferes with the enjoyment of your big day! This would also be a great thing to mention to a planner and enlist the help of your bridal party for.

8. A family member is paying for our photography - who signs the contract? Like any other product or service, the person who the service is rendered to must sign the contract. If a parent or sibling is paying for the service, you may request the addition of that person to the contract, but the couple must be named. Images will only be released to the named parties on the contract.

9. I have a friend/family member who may also be taking photos, is that ok? Yes, as long as that person does not interfere with the hired wedding photographer's duties. As the hired photographer, my contract states that I may request any other guests refrain from photography if it interferes with me capturing images, including having people looking at other cameras, distracting behavior, interfering with my movement during key moments etc. I also kindly ask that guests refrain from taking images from behind me during the posed portions of the day (such as family pictures, bridal party pictures, and bride and groom portraits) for the reasons above.

10. I am also hiring a videographer - is it possible for you to work alongside them? Of course! Photographers and videographers sometimes have the reputation of disliking each other because they have to capture the same moments at the same time, and can get in each other's ways, but with proper planning and coordination, working together is no problem! Feel free to put your wedding photographer and videographer in touch with each other so they can go over any special plans they may need specific time for.