Top Considerations when choosing
a Wedding Photographer
Why is wedding photography so important?
Simple. After the wedding day is over, the pictures are all that’s left. And they are the key to your memories.
Think about your childhood, the things you remember best (or more likely the only things you remember) are the people and events you have pictures of in the family album.
Weddings are expensive and stressful to plan, you deserve a breathtaking album full of wonderful moments to enjoy for the rest of your life.
Wouldn’t you love to have an album full of pictures of your parents or grandparents on their wedding day?
How do I compare photographers and packages? what am I receiving for my investment?
Wedding photography is a combination of a service and an art.
Art should speak to you; make you feel something. When you love it, it has a high value and you appreciate the artist’s talent.
Wedding photography is a waste of money unless you love the result. So first and foremost, choosing a photographer is an emotional decision and should be, it’s OK!
So the bottom line is - you should respond positively to a photographer’s work, and like the photographer. After all, they are the vendor you’ll see the most on your wedding day and who is telling your story through their eyes.
But also with art, there are basic rules that make for a pleasing image. Anyone can paint or snap pictures, but only the true professionals know why an image looks good and how to make it so. All “professional” photographers are not experts in lighting and posing. And by posing, it simply means knowing how to make you look your best!
In addition to skill, you’re also hiring a photographer for their service. This is why comparing package sheets is like comparing apples and oranges. The price includes many intangibles, like experience - and with fast paced weddings experience cannot be overrated. It includes the amount of time and money a photographer spends to improve their own skill in posing, lighting, technique, processing, and retouching. It includes the amount of time a photographer spends with you from the initial email or phone call through album design and delivery which can add up to 70-100 hours! It depends on whether the photographer is full time or just a photographer on the weekends. It includes the quality of equipment a photographer uses to both photograph your wedding and prepare your images. It includes the quality of an included album or product. As small businesses, photographers have a significant amount of business expenses from overhead to insurance, to maintaining and updating equipment, to multiple types of taxes, to paying assistants, and a variety of professional fees.
A cheaper price may indicate that a photographer has a business model that relies on volume, so a lower level of service and quality. Or that photograph is just starting out and building a portfolio. Or that a photographer has a hobby rather than a business. With photography, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.
Can I have the digital negatives?
The files that come out of my camera are in RAW format. These files are only readable by programs like Lightroom and Photoshop. All the images need some level of tweaking from the contrast to the color temperature to the shadows and highlights. This is what I call the editing process. Selecting the best images to keep, and checking the focus (this alone can be two days of work after a wedding), then making all the “tweaks” (this is an additional day of work and requires experience and software). This brings an image to the proofing stage and a jpeg format image. This is the stage that is provided to a client as proofs and “digital negatives”.
But most images will benefit from retouching which is anything from further adjusting the warmth, dodging and burning, skin softening, etc. This is very labor intensive and only performed on images that are made into prints or put in the album.
The misconception is that giving away files doesn’t cost the photographer anything. In reality, days of work have gone into those files and giving them away negates any sales, be it an album or prints. All images are also automatically legally copyrighted to the photographer forever.
While having a copy of the files for your archives is great, the files alone are not a finished product. The final step of retouching an image and printing it professionally or designing a fine art album is what you’ve hired your photographer to do. Asking for digital files without a tangible product is like asking your florist to deliver the flower unarranged so you can make your own bouquet. You hire a photographer for their artistry and expertise, which is fully realized in printed art and albums.
My clients also remark how different it is to view their wedding printed on gorgeous metallic satin pages in an Italian leather album, tangible in their hands, than it was to view the images on their computer. It’s a different experience. And that album or those prints become family history to be enjoyed and passed down for generations.
Another consideration is that digital files can corrupt over the years and the media may not be readable by your computer in 10 years (what if your pictures were on a floppy disk?), so prints are always more enduring for posterity.
So, how is jan michele photography different?
As a boutique studio and a full time photographer in my 11th year in business (it was a serious hobby for 15 years before that), I am continually investing in my craft, learning from the best wedding photographers in the world. I hold myself to the highest standard in creating amazing images and capturing meaningful moments for each client. I want your wedding day to be perfect and for you to look absolutely amazing!
I am a resource to my clients during the planning process, as much or as little as they want. This accomplishes two things, first you have a smoothly running, beautiful wedding day with a great team of vendors, and second, I get to know you which enables me to capture who you truly are and what is most important to you on your wedding day. I communicate thoroughly with you ahead of time to make sure we both have the same expectations and are on the same page. A wedding day flies by and there is no time for decision making on that day, the details must be worked out ahead of time. Your job is to enjoy your day and my job is to capture it all!
I also attend your rehearsal whenever possible to meet your families and wedding party and to become familiar with your ceremony. I personally process your images and design your album to tell your unique story. And my turn around times are very quick, you are not waiting months to see your images. I use an amazing Italian album company to turn your story into a genuine work of art. You are not simply hiring me to show up on your wedding day, I’m invested in making sure your day is all you dream it will be.
It’s a joy to make people happy through a wonderful experience, images they love, and art that will last for generations.
The two most common things I hear people (whose weddings I didn’t photograph) say about their wedding pictures is they didn’t like them, or they still haven’t seen them. I don’t want you to have any regrets!
Why are you a photographer?
Photography makes beauty immortal. Beautiful faces, beautiful places. I strive to make every client look and feel beautiful, so when they look back at their pictures it reminds them of a wonderful moment in their lives. Documenting my own life through pictures reminds me of places I’ve been and experiences I’ve had that I may otherwise forget.
I fell in love with portrait photography when I was 13 and took a few portraits of my 2 year old cousin by a lake. I was fascinated by how her sweetness and innocence shown through the picture. Children grow so fast, it’s like freezing a moment in time to capture the new-ness of a newborn and every stage after for parents – who are often former wedding clients. Being part of documenting family history is such a joy and honor.