Regrets You Won't Have: Investing in a Professional Wedding Photographer | Guest Post: Andrew & Tianna

It is a great honor to have creative business friends contribute to help educate my readers and clients. Andrew and Tianna are among the best of the best in our area and I greatly value their advice. The part of planning I am most passionate about is the quality of your photographer. Take a minute to read their top reasons for investing in a professional wedding photographer! 

I’m not sure I had ever sweat this much in my life. Noooo, that’s silly - of course I had...but on that warm June day, at the beachfront wedding venue in my huge ruffled wedding dress I felt like a I was a one of those poor people in a team mascot suit on the hottest day of summer. I remember Andrew was red all over - not quite sure if it was from the sun or nerves. I remember jumping in that huge halter wedding dress for a photo op directed by our photographer. I remember how awkward our family photos were and feeling like we didn’t get much direction.
Friends, we never had this - this experience we are we incredibly passionate about it. In our engagement photos we felt like a number, a job to be completed - instead of really feeling like that time was for us to reconnect & remember why we are doing all of this in the first place. We didn’t have a photographer who would sit down and talk about our timeline with us, making sure it was optimized for our enjoyment and them being able to dutifully document all the moments we wanted and needed. We were never educated on the best products to display our images in our home. To be honest - if you asked to see our wedding images...I wouldn’t show them to you. Half of them are awkward and the other half - blurry.

As wedding photographers now Andrew & I wish we could go back and shake 18 & 19 year old us. We didn’t have much and got married before Pinterest was invented but boy oh boy we STILL ran up our credit card bill on a LOT for our wedding I wish we hadn’t. If I could tell any bride getting married it would be this - please please please hire a professional photographer and here’s why:
1. Timelines, plans, and backup plans for the plans, and all the necessary equipment. You’ve never done this before - and I hope if you are reading this you plan on hiring a professional wedding planner or day of coordinator but a beautiful wedding is a team effort. A professional photographer will be able to work with you to design a timeline that guarantees you have enough time for all the moments you want and need captured from your day. If things dont go as planned a professional can roll with the punches and still make sure to get you amazing images and document your story beautifully.. Having an indoor wedding, an outdoor one, in a church with very low lighting, or even during a hurricane (because we’ve shot three of those)? A pro will have the equipment to make sure no matter where, when, or the weather conditions your images will absolutely be beautiful, properly exposed, and true to life.
2. This is YOUR wedding. While bridezilla may be a term we all hate, you deserve to be a little spoiled. A professional photographer has time for that. You are going to need someone on your team who can will answer emails in a timely manner and knows their stuff. We’ve had brides who have texted or called us inthe middle of meetings with other vendors to ask us questions about where things should be placed for the best photos/lighting and we were happy to respond immediately. We know you care deeply about the details of your wedding and love when our couples ask us questions. Your photographer is a resource & wants the
very best for you - dont be afraid to use them!
3. Print those images. Our promise to our couples is a simple one - to give you authentic photographs filled with true-to-life moments & products designed to last a lifetime. A professional photographer can and should make sure you get the very best quality because we know you are going to want to show those beautiful moments off. We dont give our clients a CD of images and send you off hoping you purchase a product that it wont peel or fade within a few months. A pro knows all the best labs and options for you to ensure the images you have invested in show off the true beauty of your day, the best there is to offer.

Your love, your relationship, your unique journey and your life together deserve to be documented beautifully, professionally, and honestly.You are more than a job, and you should be treated as such! It’s absolutely an investment and one I promise 50 year old you will not regret for a second.

Love, Andrew & Tianna

Portrait photos courtesy Andrew & Tianna

How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

My friends Andrew and Tianna are guest posting today!!! I love featuring other creatives and hope you will find their words helpful and honest. Enjoy!!!

With all the many amazing options out there how do you choose your wedding photographer? Every photographer runs their business differently from the products they offer, to how they interact with and pose their clients, to their package pricing, and the style of their work. But ultimately its in your hands to find the photographer who meets your needs and wants for you wedding day best. Here are what I consider the most important tips you should consider in helping you decide who will photography your special day. 

1. Style: This (I HOPE) is the main reason why people choose me to be their wedding photographer. Do you like their work? Do you love their posing and the emotions evoked when you see their portfolio? If you see mostly sun flare photos note that that probably means that is an integral part of that photographer's style and so a lot of your photos may have sun flare.  Do the subjects tend to be looking at the camera or more engaged in each other? Photography is an art form that is directly built into the photographer. If you prefer one over the other this may play a part in who you choose!

2. Personality: Do you get along well? For a lot of your vendors, you will only see them when you book them or have appointments discussing your details. (And MAYBE when they are dropping off things for your big day) Your wedding photographer is with you ALL DAY LONG. It's important that your personalities jive and you enjoy being around them. How awkward would it be if you didn't actually like your wedding photographer but they were trying to elicit genuine lovey reactions from you?

3. Availability and Promptness: This may or may not be a a major factor for you but planning as a bride, it was for me! I'm SUPER prompt. As a wedding vendor I know brides have a million different plates they are trying to balance in order for their day to come together just right. So I make sure I answer my brides within a day (usually just within a few hours) because I know often that them making a major decision may be riding on my response, and I certainly don't want to hold them up or stress them out! So your wedding photographer should be prompt, not everyone can answer within a day or a few hours but I've heard horror stories about vendors who don't respond for weeks. Take note when you are communicating with your wedding photographer, how fast and in what manner do they respond?

4. Reviews: Check reviews of your photographer! While you should take everything with a grain of salt (both not so good and great glowing reviews) this will help access how others have responded and received services from this photographer. It takes a bit of effort to go and make a review so remember if these people really went out of their way to make these comments that means something!

5. See full wedding albums OR a full digital wedding gallery. REMEMBER a photographer's website is the best of the best and their favorite work. Make sure you see a photographer's full and most recent wedding gallery. It would be great to see a wedding that is similar to your own. If you have an indoor wedding make sure you see an indoor wedding and the same with an outdoor wedding.  If you have an indoor wedding make sure your photographer is good with flash because most likely the reception venue won't be perfectly lit. If you are having an outdoor wedding you want to make sure your photographer is comfortable with natural light and possibly harsh sunlight if your venue doesn't have a ton of shade.

6. Consider what YOU want to do with your photos. Some photographers only include digitals, some give the option for albums on top of digitals, and some ONLY do albums or prints. If you are looking at wanting to be able to share the images with your family and friends, an album only photographer may not be for you. A lot of people now use their images for invitations and thank you cards so you want to be sure you can either order those items from your photographer (and that you like the products they provide) OR that you will receive the digitals so you can make those yourselves.

7. Professionalism: This may or may not be a big factor for you but professionalism can be quite the criteria and potentially affect a lot of areas. For example if you happen to find a friend that has a photography business on the side great, BUT if this isn't this person's full time job you may run into a few roadblocks or find that they don't have all the "kinks" worked out. As a full time photographer I tell my wedding clients that their images will take 4-6 weeks and usually end up finishing around 3 weeks. I've heard stories where couples don't receive their images before six months which is understandable! If photography is something that person does on the side they may not be able to take the time to dedicate to getting the images done sooner. Or maybe you happen to have a bruise or blemish that your hair and makeup artist was unable to hide from the camera. Does your photographer have the equipment or post processing program to be able to handle hiding such blemish? This may not deter you, but all that to say, be informed, know what you are getting into!

8. Price: Let's be honest, though we all wish that money wasn't a factor it certainly can be. I think the best thing to remember here is to pick a photographer who meets all of the above criteria and then let it come down to budget. You definitely don't want to put price at the top and then end up landing on a photographer who mostly fits your style criteria but who's personality you don't jive with. Speaking from experience it's no fun to be that married lady on the plane to her honeymoon replaying the wedding day and those things you wished you could change. One of the number one regrets of brides is not investing in the vendors they REALLY wanted. Most photographers have payment plans! Just ask!

 Love, Andrew & Tianna

Wedding photos: Andrew & Tianna

10 Things Brides Forget to Tell Their Wedding Photographers | Guest Post: Caitlin Gerres Photography

I am SO excited to share a guest post from my dear friend, Caitlin Gerres. She is a wedding photographer in Hampton Roads and has been such a wonderful support to me since we first met about a year ago. I asked her to share some helpful tips to brides from the photographer's point of view. I hope you enjoy! (My brides, take note!)

10 Things Brides Forget to Tell Their Wedding Photographers

Once the timeline is planned, the engagement photos have been taken, and the family portrait list is created, it can be easy for a bride to assume her photographers have everything they need for the big day. But in my experience, the wedding day flows a lot more smoothly when the photographers have much more information about the wedding day. Here are 10 things that you might forget to tell your wedding photographer.

1. Exact addresses – With multiple First Baptist Churches or Marriot hotels, having an exact address to all wedding day locations is very important. This might also include directions to a specific building if you’re getting married on a large property or if a GPS would lead you to the physical address, but not necessarily the correct entrance.

2. Getting ready location – Once we arrive at the wedding venue, where do we go to find you? Letting us know where to find your room at the church or your hotel number after you’ve checked in will help save us from wasting time or starting off behind schedule.

3. Names of bridal party members – This is a minor detail, but it is nice to know the bridal party’s names ahead of time, so I can call them by name as much as possible on the wedding day. Walking into a room and learning 10 people’s names at once can be tricky, so having a list to study ahead of time is helpful!

4. Heirloom jewelry piece or wedding day detail – When I know a bride is wearing her grandmother’s ring or that her toasting glasses are the same ones her parents used, I know to spend a little extra time photographing those heirloom items. Sometimes these details are tucked so seamlessly into the day that I might not realize how special they are unless my couple tells me about it!

5. Rain plan – While we’re always hoping for a beautiful wedding day, we’re not always able to take portraits outside. (Summer weddings could also call this an extreme heat plan!) We might find an even better alternative for rainy portraits on the wedding day, but it’s good to have at least a general idea of where we can go, so we aren’t standing around on the wedding day trying to figure out what to do. (The rain plan for the ceremony and reception might affect the gear I bring, so it’s important to know that as well.)

6. Ceremony elements and order – We always want to be discrete during the ceremony, so we try not to move around too often and to move slowly and quietly when we do. When we have a rough idea of how the ceremony will flow, we can create a plan of where to shoot each portion of the ceremony without having to hustle around the pews to keep from missing a certain moment.

7. Sensitive family situations – In addition to a list of all the family group shots you want taken, it is important to mention and explain any sensitive family situations. If your parents are divorced and remarried, if certain family members don’t get along, or if someone is recently deceased and I don’t know about it, I could easily say the wrong thing during family portrait time, and I certainly don’t to embarrass or offend anyone!

8. When to take detail shots – Detail shots of your reception room may or may not have made it onto your timeline. But since most brides and grooms don’t get to see their reception space all set up until it’s filled with people, taking photos of the details you spent months planning is really important! Typically, when we’ve done a first look with the couple and cocktail hour is in a different space, we take these photos during cocktail hour, but many times other arrangements need to be made.

9. Surprise or choreographed dance – I love it when couples surprise their guests with a special or creative dance, but we don’t want to be surprised by it as the photographers, because we want to make sure we’re in the correct spot to capture guests’ reactions and your sweet dance moves. This tip goes especially for the dip kiss at the end of the dance. We need to know what direction you’ll be facing so we have a good view of the kiss and not of your backside!

10. Your exit plans – One of the most important questions I ask my couples before the wedding day is what kind of exit they’re planning. Ceremony exits are typically done in natural light and don’t require advance set up, but an exit from the reception after sunset means we have to move our lighting equipment outside and make sure we’re all dialed in and ready to go before the guests start lining up.

Thank you, Caitlin!! As always, I highly recommend every bride and groom hire a wedding coordinator to help communicate these details to their photographer. There is so much to think about on wedding day and having a clear plan for ALL of your vendors will result in a seamless, enjoyable day.

To learn more about Caitlin and see some of her work, check out her blog HERE. Girl, thank you SO MUCH for your words of wisdom!!

Photos courtesy of Caitlin Gerres Photography.