Finding your wedding photographer can be a daunting task. It’s so important to feel comfortable trusting the person you hire with capturing your big day! Today on the podcast, Sara and Dan have a candid discussion with long-time friend and luxury wedding photographer, Faith Dugan. This trio creates one special episode for you to see behind the veil into what procedures a trustworthy, professional photographer has in place to make sure that you receive the images of your dreams! So, if you are still looking for your wedding photographer, this episode is a MUST LISTEN!
I’ve been a wedding and portrait photographer in my hometown of Newport, Rhode Island for 18 years. After opening in 2005, I began photographing luxury weddings for couples in Newport, Rhode Island and the surrounding area, as well as portraits beyond their wedding.
We’ve known each other for at least 15 years now and started our careers about a year apart. I also met Dan about 15 years ago and the three of us have been friends and shooting together for a long time. Being a photographer can be a bit isolating – we work at these events but then we sit and edit alone. That’s part of why we wanted to get together for this interview.
Today, we’re letting three photography experts talk about the behind-the-scenes of being a photographer, what you should ask your wedding photographer, and what’s really not important.
Let’s jump right in. What’s something you get asked about a lot as a wedding photographer?
When you sit down to interview your photographer, it’s really your initial point of meeting us. The thing I get asked about a lot is my gear and equipment specifically. I personally don’t think this is a great question to lead off that interview. There’s other thing to ask them. If you like their images on their website or Instagram, then it doesn’t really matter what equipment they use. Your time with your photographer is better spent doing other things.
I do want to be clear; I think it’s important to ask your photographer about backup equipment. Every photographer should have extra lenses, bodies, and equipment with them at your wedding day because things happen. If you really want to get technical, ask about dual slots so you know if their camera is recording the images on two cards or not and backup equipment. For most people, you can just skip the gear question, though.
I think that’s definitely true. It’s like Coke and Pepsi – can you really tell a difference in the brands? It’s the same with cameras. I do like that you said to ask about the backups though. It’s a good thing to look for when choosing a photographer. Most of us who have been doing this awhile, it’s a no brainer for us. But someone newer, it might not be. I think the question really becomes: what is your backup option?
I would agree. Another thing that’s off on a tangent, but is about preparing ahead, is to think through things that could happen. I always had an extra set of keys for my car in a key box. I also carry a halo battery charger so I could jump my batter if I needed. These are things we have to think through as vendors so that we can always get where we need to be.
Another question we get asked a lot about is insurance. Again, a no brainer for us – we have all sorts of insurance. The last thing you want to do is book a photographer that doesn’t have insurance. What else should you ask your photographer?
Another thing that you should be speaking to your photographer with is who owns the right to your images? Do you own the rights to your images and how will you be receiving them? Make sure you now if you’re getting a download, USB, hard drive or whatever. You should also ask when to expect images and what you can do with them.
That’s such an important question.
This is really important! I actually have this specifically spelled out in my written agreement. If your wedding is in the first half of the year, your turnaround time is a little bit faster than if it’s in the last half of the year. August, September, and October are our busiest months where we’re out at weddings every weekend, so we wind up with a bit of a bottleneck when it comes to editing. The other months are less busy – we’re marking, working on albums, taxes, and such. But it’s generally easier to edit everything faster. That’s always something I put out there. It’s something I discuss in every initial meeting that I have with a potential couple, too, because I want to be very clear about that and why.
And I think that is the main thing is basically just asking your photographer how long their turnaround time is – because it’s different for every photographer (and product).
The other thing that they should be asking us is will they own their digital images? Because not every photographer is giving you the rights to their images. Let me give you a quick run down on copyright law. We own the images as the creator. We always own them, no matter what, even if you’re buying the rights. You should always be crediting the photographer when you share the images, too.
What’s the next thing that people should be asking wedding photographers?
Another great thing to ask your photographer is how will you be receiving the images once they are ready. Some photographers do delivery 100% by digital downloads. Since most computers don’t have DVD drives or even USB ports anymore, a lot of photographers are gravitating towards digital download.
Definitely a great question. I also think couples should ask how long a photographer is holding onto the images, too.
Absolutely. You may not need to ask this but definitely check out the contract about this one. It’s about transparency, right? Many photographers have invested in backup systems. Your photographer should be backing up your images in a few places – not just the cloud. Ask them how long they’ll be keeping those backups for. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you do your own backups once you receive the images, too.
What is important to ask your photographer in regards to their style?
I think editing styles are a huge, that’s something that absolutely should be covered in a meeting. Right now, a lot of editing styles are gravitating towards a moody edit. But there’s still a lot doing a very clean, neutral, bright edit.
Totally. It all comes in waves. The trend used to be very saturated colors, then it went to light and airy, and now it’s more moody. Look at your photographer’s work. If they’re editing dark and moody images, they’re not going to give you something light and airy. It’s just not going to happen. So make sure they’re consistently editing and that you like their style.
Another thing you should talk about is inspiration photos. I think most photographers are okay with you sending inspiration photos, especially for posing. But it’s important to think about what you’re sending them. Those photos are probably from all over the country with different locations and lighting. Odds are, your photographer can’t replicate that exact scenario. So, it’s just important to talk with your photographer about what you like in those images.
I think really good advice is to literally go on to the venue’s site to get a better idea of if you have the chance of getting that light or vibe. I mean, if you’re sending us a photo of a castle and you’re getting married in a field… well, that’s not going to happen.
Take your Pinterest board or your inspiration pictures and put them in different buckets to showcase what you like: posing, light, location. Then your photographer can talk to you about what’s achievable. I think it’s important that you have that dialogue with the visuals. By the way, it’s also totally okay if you don’t send us pictures, either!
Yeah, about half of my clients don’t send images – and that’s okay. I do have clients that have gone back through my Instagram and looked at photos from their venue. It’s been helpful because we know what made that photo possible – so I love when I get my own work as inspiration!
The same thing goes for posing, too. If there’s something that you don’t like or are more conscious about for yourself, talk to your photographer. We can make sure we don’t highlight that in the photos. I have brides who tell me they don’t like their arms and wear strapless dresses (like I did) and I’ll do my cake topper pose with them. We’ve been at this awhile and know how to make you feel good.
Honestly, that is a great nugget. Because you know what, that’s exactly it. I agree with you. If I’m going to get any type of inspiration photos, it definitely helps me to get it from the pictures that we’ve created ourselves. Because exactly that we know exactly what happened there and how to replicate that that feeling in that vibe.
Speaking of vibes, people may say they’re photojournalistic photographers but it’s important to see the kind of photos they capture. If you like those unposed images, your photographer still has to set them up to happen with prompts. So, make sure they can capture those images.
What are some key points that couples should be asking their photographers when they were inquiring to make sure that they are working with a professional company to ensure that their wedding day is an absolute perfect event?
Definitely ask the company that you’re interviewing about their backup systems and their insurance policies.
Talk about the rights to the images as well as turnaround time.
Remember that inspiration images aren’t bad, but you need to discuss them with your photographer. They’ll be able to tell you what’s possible and set those expectations.
What We Discussed
Meet Faith (2:46)
Asking Photographers about Gear (5:12)
Backups and Liability (14:17)
Editing Styles (30:43)
Setting Expectations for Inspiration Photos (35:04)
Wrap-Up Question (39:48)
Links Mentioned in the Episode
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