“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”

Not surprisingly, wedding planning comes with many questions… after all, weddings are a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience into which you’re making quite a substantial financial investment. Most couples don’t have much in terms of a frame of reference when it comes to planning a wedding, and they want to make sure they’re getting the best value for money, so it makes sense that they should be asking a lot of questions!

So, what should you be asking your photographer?

Below are some of the most common questions I get asked by couples looking for a wedding photographer…
If you have any questions that are not answered here, or are simply looking for some advice, please contact me … I’m happy to help!

How much should we budget for wedding photography?

Understanding wedding photography pricing can be really frustrating and you’ll notice rates starting from as little as R1 999 and ranging to as much as R80 000+
A good rule of thumb is to budget approximately 10 – 12% of your total wedding budget. Years down the line you’ll pretty much just have your memories and your photographs of the day, so make sure you get the best value for money you can afford.

There are so many photographers around! How do we choose the right one for us?

In short, find a photographer that you feel comfortable with, whose product offering and style you like, and who fits your budget. Sounds simple right?

But it’s just not that easy… here are some tips to help you in making your decision.

Your wedding photographer will spend more time with you on your wedding day than any other service provider or guest, even your family and friends!  You’ll we working very closely throughout the day therefore it’s so important to find somebody who makes you feel comfortable and at ease. Keep in mind that the photographer will also be interacting with all of your guests so you want to pick someone professional and unobtrusive – they certainly shouldn’t be trying to steal the show on your wedding day!

Since your wedding is a once off event, you don’t get a second chance to get the photography right. Your photographer needs to capture some amazing photographs that show you and your guests at their best on your special day. For this reason, I would suggest that you invest in a professional who aside from creativity, has experience dealing with challenging lighting and weather conditions, has well-maintained professional level equipment, and has a good system in place for backing up images on (and after) the day.

One of the best ways to find great photographers is through talking to your friends. Referrals and recommendations from a friend, colleague or wedding venue is a great start in your quest to find a photographer. These reviews and recommendations will give you great insight into their experience of working with the photographer.

Most people will tell you to look at the photographer’s portfolio, which is great advice, but more importantly ask to see their real weddings. A portfolio is a selection of the photographer’s  best shots – a “brag book” of sorts… when you look at a selection of their real weddings you’ll get a far better feel of what you can expect to get when they give you your wedding album.

You’ll hear of wedding photography ‘styles’ such as traditional, contemporary, photo journalistic, reportage and documentary… even hybrid styles. It can all be quite confusing.  Look at as many wedding photos as you can, noting the style of photos which really appeal to you. Seek out photographers who seem to have a similar style to what appeals to you.

Shortlist the photographers you seem to like, contact them to find out if they are available for your wedding day. If they are, make an appointment to meet with them. You will often get a “gut feeling”  as to whether or not you think you’ll be able to work with them.

Most importantly, before booking your photographer make sure that you feel comfortable with them. That they’re a good fit for the style of photography you’re looking for and can offer a package that suits your budget.

How soon after our wedding will we get our photos and album?

About two weeks after the wedding I’ll send you some images that can be used for thank-you cards, newspaper submissions etc. Approximately six to seven weeks after the wedding I’ll have an album layout ready for you to approve. Once you have approved the layout, I’ll send your albums to print and they’ll be ready to deliver to you in about two weeks. I follow that same workflow process for each wedding.

Do we get to choose which images are put in the album?

I choose the photographs and design the album using my discretion, based on how I saw your wedding story unfolding on the day. Once the album layout is complete, I make the design available on my website for you view. At this point you have an opportunity to suggest some changes and do image swaps before the album is sent to the printers.
In most cases, couples are quite happy with the initial design, however it’s not a problem for you to request changes, just be aware that this may impact on the delivery time, depending on the number of changes required and how quickly you get them back to me. If major changes are requested, then there may be additonal labour fees applied.

Do we get all the photographs on disk?

Yes. You will get a DVD disk with edited, high resolutions images in JPG format. All of the images on the DVD have been cropped and colour corrected where necessary, and are ready to print. I recommend that you use a professional lab to have any printing done, however, the photos on the DVD can be printed at the lab of your choice. You will also get a low resolution version of the images for easy emailing and social media use.

Do you do special effects processing or use Photoshop actions?

My goal is to give you vibrant, uncluttered and beautiful photos that will stand the test of time! For this reason, I do not do vintage or retro type effects, these are not timeless looks. However I do enhance and colour correct every image manually and may use some effects e.g. black and white on selected photographs for the album. The photos I give you will still look great when you’re celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary!

How long will the creative shoot take?

45 – 60 minutes away from your guests is all I ask for. We’ll go for a short walk and take a couple of completely relaxed photos while I just let you be yourselves, and then back to your guests to celebrate.  Naturally, if you want to travel to various locations for your creative shoot it would take longer, but there are various options and ways to work around this – we would just need to meet to work out a plan to suit your needs.

Are my photographs safe after the wedding?

Yes absolutely. I follow backup procedures directly after each wedding and keep copies of all images offsite.

What would be the best time for a wedding?

It is a good idea to start your wedding ceremony at least 2.5 hours before sunset. Each wedding is unique, however. As a guideline, a typical wedding day will go as follows:
– 12 – 2pm: Bride and Groom preparation
– 2:30 / 3pm: Ceremony
– 4pm: Family photographs
– 4:30 – 5:30pm: Creative shoot with bridal party
– 6pm: Reception

How many weddings do you shoot a day?

Contrary to what many think, wedding photography is hard work! I only photograph one wedding a day and will usually only photograph one wedding per weekend.

Do you travel?

Yes I am happy to travel. If your wedding is more than 1.5 hours from my office in Durban, I may require overnight accommodation. For weddings outside of KZN other travel costs may apply.

We are not living in South Africa. Is it essential that we meet before the wedding, and how do you deal with bookings from overseas couples?

I’ve had the pleasure of photographing couples from many parts of the world such as Ireland, UK, USA, France, Bulgaria, Australia and New Zealand. Some of these couples have booked without actually meeting me beforehand, so this is no problem at all.
If the couple is in South Africa for a visit, I will always try and set up a meeting with them, otherwise all meetings and correspondence are handled online using email and Skype (and sometimes telephone call or two).
Image disks and wedding albums are couriered back to where you live, once ready. We would discuss the courier options and fees in one of the meetings.

Do you require a meal and seating at the reception?

After working on my feet for eight hours straight I would welcome and appreciate a meal and a seat!
I prefer not to be seated at a table with your guests, and it’s not necessary to provide a full three course gourmet meal for me. Most venues will have specific seating arrangements for service providers.
I prefer to eat at the same time as you and your guests (no-one needs photographs of themselves stuffing their faces). Service providers are often fed last, but if you ask for us to be fed at the same time as the wedding party then we’ll be done and ready to photograph the rest of the proceedings directly after the meal.

My uncle / friend is a really good photographer. Can he tag along with you and also take photos?

I encourage your guests to take photographs at your wedding. Since they mostly know each other and are comfortable around each other, they will be relaxed and naturally pose for photographs for each other. You should get some great memories from all your friends and family.
However, during the ceremony, it is preferable that guests are advised to stay in their seats and not get in the way of the professional photographer. Unfortunately “budding photographers” will also not be able to take part in the creative shoot with the bridal party. Should I feel that there is a need for an assistant or second shooter, I will discuss this with you and will arrange for a suitably qualified person.