Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photography Blog by Trifon Anguelov Photography

1090 Clark Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94040 | (650) 930-0743 | http://www.trifonanguelov.com


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26 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer


Bride and Groom Portrait as Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, CA

Bride and Groom Portrait as Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, CA

Selecting a wedding photographer is on every bride’s to do list. Considering the fact that there is no shortage of wedding photographers offering their services, it is not an easy task.

Apart from the technical information that might be overwhelming, there are many other questions that a bride might need to get answered before she decides on hiring a certain wedding photographer. Things like, digital images, wedding albums, poses, coverage duration, what to capture and when.

Wedding photography is a service as the floral and venue decoration, DJ and MC, videography and event planning. it requires face to face interaction to interview and select the right professional. But what to ask a wedding photographer in order to determine if it is a right fit or not?

The following list of 26 questions to ask your wedding photographer could help you be prepared and ask the right question. I also explain why each question is important to get answers to and what a good answer would be for each questions.

Brides could use this while preparing for their interviews with wedding photographers. It is by no means a complete list of all the questions but would give you a pretty good starting point.

So let’s start with the first and foremost important questions of all:

1. Do you have my wedding date available?

This is the most important question. You do not want to totally fall in love with a photographer who in the end is already booked on your wedding day! Nothing else matters unless the answer to this question is: Yes. Unless of course, you can convince the photographer to cancel his other wedding and take yours.

This is the very first question you should ask before inquiring any further.

2. What is the cost?

Cost is usually one of the main factors in choosing a wedding photographer. The average cost of a wedding photographer in the USA is $3,700. But it varies depending on your location. Are they really expensive or are their services cheaper than everyone else’s?

If you have questions like those, do not be afraid to ask your wedding photographer. He or she should be able to justify their cost with quality work and plenty of experience. As well as many other factors that ultimately determine the final wedding photography cost. Things like: Do they own a studio or work from their own home? Do they typically bring along an assistant with them to help capture every photo or do they work on their own? Also, be sure to ask if they add mileage to the cost or if travel expenses are included in the original price.

3. What is your photography style?

Like we discussed before, there are different styles of wedding photography. Would you like more contemporary or traditional? Do you want your photos to be very artistic or in a documentary style?

The key is to find a photographer who can match and deliver the style you have in mind. If you are not sure what the styles are or need to see sample images for each style, consider reading Wedding Photography Styles guide I created for my wedding clients.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

4. Are you the actual photographer that will shoot my wedding?

Keep in mind that there are wedding photography companies that hire freelance wedding photographers and book them for their client’s weddings. So the person you have been interviewing and signing the contract might not be the person photographing your wedding.

Find out if you are talking to the right photographer and if not, ask to meet the person who will be your actual photographer. You don’t want to be surprised on your wedding day. Do you?

5. How do you typically work?

Does the photographer like to blend into the background and capture photos as they unfold naturally or does this particular photographer enjoy planning out and choreographing different shots. Does he or she likes to take charge and stay in control, directing everyone and “setting the stage” for the shots?

If that is what you need, then great. You have a match. If your guests and bridal party are easy going party people, having someone who constantly interrupts the flow of your wedding and trying to direct everyone might be a disaster.

6. Can I provide a list of specific shots I would like to get?

Many brides have ideas of poses and shots they would like for their weddings. Unfortunately, not all wedding photographers believe in working from a list of images.  Asking this upfront makes the photographer aware and also shows you how easy going they are to work with.

The middle ground where the photographer reviews the poses you like and he accepts to try to do similar or the same with its own touch of creativity is a win-win situation and works for most couples. As with all the questions: Don’s assume anything. Inquire and validate for piece of mind.

7. Can you provide references from other weddings?

This is a very reasonable question to ask and every established wedding photographer would not have problems providing, you with at least 3-5 past clients you can cross reference. Technical skills are as important as ability to get along with the bride and groom, so you are also looking for a great personality apart from a technically savvy and proficient photographer. Your wedding photographer would be around you and your groom the whole day, so people who already have experienced this can be of great help.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

8. How many hours will you be available on my wedding day?

Ultimately you need the photographer to be available from the start to the end of the coverage hours. If planning getting ready coverage, find out of the photographer is available at that time. Similarly, if planning, cake cutting at 10:00 pm, find out if there is no other appointment the photographer have booked already.

Most wedding photographers would accommodate the entire wedding, but be sure to double check this.

Related: Step By Step Guide For Hiring Wedding Photographer

9. What is your refund or cancellation policy?

Find out what happens if your wedding needs to be rescheduled or canceled. Family emergencies, change of plans. All possible. So how your wedding photographer usually handles this. Most photographers have a clause in their contracts that deals with that, so find out and be clear. It’s like the spare tire in your car. You might never need it, but you would not want not to have one when you get a flat tire on a busy freeway in the middle of the night.

10. Have you photographed at my venue before?

Knowing the venue is a big advantage when it comes to a wedding photographer. Not only one who has photographed before in the same venue as you are considering would be able to navigate the floor plan and would know the best angles, but would also have met and worked with the venue coordinator and staff.

With better knowledge and existing relationships, you can expect less time to be spent figuring things out and more time capturing your wedding day moments.

11. Have you photographed my religious ceremony before?

Every religion (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc)  have specific rituals and meanings. A wedding photographer who is experienced with the religious rituals and ceremonies would be better prepared to anticipate and capture these moments than someone who does it for the very first time.

You can also ask for an example (portfolio images, client’s galleries) to see who these were captured.

12. Do you offer online gallery with my images?

Most wedding photographers require that you purchase a wedding album and charge extra for the digital images from your wedding. So if you decide to purchase the digital images from your wedding and would like to share them with friends and family, imagine all the time you would require to sort through the images, attach to emails and share with everyone.

Some wedding photographers offer online private gallery with their client’s wedding images. This makes it easy to share as simply sharing the web link and password to the gallery. Ask if the wedding photographer you are considering offers this as part of their package.

13. Do you watermark your images?

Many photographers will provide you only with images which have a digital watermark (photographer’s logo) on each image. If you decide to use these images to make yourself a wedding album, this might not be a good option.

So clarify this with your wedding photographer and if there is going to be a watermark, ask how this can be removed. In 99% of the cases, it is a matter of additional fee. As with all other questions: Make sure you are not surprised by an additional fee that you have not planned and cannot afford paying later.

14. Do you release the copyright for the wedding images?

Related: Wedding Photography FAQ by Trifon Anguelov Photography

15. Do you offer a second photographer?

If you plan to have a long wedding (more than 8 hours) or ceremony in a church which doesn’t allow movement during the ceremony whatsoever, or simply would like to have images captured from different angles, having a second wedding photographer working with your primary photographer, it is a very good idea.

Most primary photographers do offer a secondary one, so be sure to clarify this in case you would like to have it.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

16. Have you worked with the second photographer before?

There are wedding photographers who usually don’t use second photographers for whatever reasons. Bringing one for your wedding for the first time might cause awkward situations, miscommunication or conflicts. Something which you definitely not need on your wedding day.

If the wedding photographer you absolutely love usually works alone, it is a good idea to trust his or her professionalism. Forcing a second photographer without clearly having any benefits could do more damage than good.

17. Do you have backup equipment in case of failures?

Photographers use complicated digital cameras, lenses and flashes with electronic components which can fail from time to time. Because you cannot redo your wedding so it can be photographed, having a backup equipment (second camera body, second lens and flashes) is imperative to ensure not moment of your wedding would be missed.

It will not hurt to ask the type of equipment the wedding photographer use as well. Information as camera model and lens model is very useful in determining the quality of the final images. As one cannot expect to race and win NASCAR with a consumer grade compact car, so the professional wedding photographers invest and use professional grade digital equipment.

18. Do you have a liability insurance?

Many venues would not allow a wedding photographer or any vendor on their premises unless they have a valid liability insurance against any damages or loss that can occur on their premises during the wedding. It is not uncommon for a furniture or fixtures to be knocked down or damaged and an insurance is one way to replace them after the accident.

Don’t waste your valuable time interviewing and hiring a wedding photographer who would not be allowed in your venue because of lack of liability insurance.

19. Can I extend my wedding coverage hours?

Weddings get off schedule. In the majority of cases events take longer as planned and it might be that the cake cutting which is usually at the end might be beyond the time you booked your photographer to. So having the flexibility to add extra hours or time to your contract is a piece of mind.

Any reasonable wedding photographer would accommodate their clients. So keep your options open and find out if the photographer doesn’t have anything else booked right after your wedding.

Related: Wedding Tips For Brides From a Wedding Photographer Point of View

20. Do you offer expedited images processing?

If your parents or relatives are so eager to see your wedding images or you are simply one of the “inpatient” types of brides, it is good to find a photographer who can process and deliver the final images faster than his regular 4-5 weeks timeline. Most likely you would have to pay an extra fee for the priority processing, but keep in mind that not every photographer offers this. So better to clarify before hand rather than to assume it will be possible.

Christian Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

Christian Wedding at Memorial Church in Stanford, CA

21. Do you offer slideshows with my wedding images?

Very popular lately is to create slideshow from the very best wedding images and share with the couple. Adding music to the slideshow creates a nice video clip which can be shared with friends and family. Asking your wedding photographer for one, is usually a good idea.

22. Can you share an entire day wedding images set?

Reasonable question to give you an idea how much experience the wedding photographer has. The last thing you want is to have a newbie photographer learning on your wedding. Somewhere between 3-6 years of previous experience should give you confidence, although the years of experience is not a 100% guarantee for amazing images. Unfortunately, there are wedding photographers with many years of experience who produce mediocre results. See more in bullet point #26

23. How many weddings you have photographed so far?

Related: How To Avoid Wedding Photography Scams

24. How many weddings you usually photograph per year?

Wedding photography is not only physically demanding but also an emotional drain which over time can impact the photographer’s creativity. A photographer who photographs 40-50 weddings per year might not give 100% of his creativity and energy due to fatigue and “burn out” especially in mid-summer. On the other hand someone who is very selecting on the weddings he or she takes and prioritizes quality over quantity might produce better results.

Focusing on less weddings and putting 100% energy and dedication is what you need. Believe me, 85% is hardly compared to 100%.

25. What is the most favorite part of the wedding you like to photograph?

The answer to this question would open a conversation to help you gauge how much experience the photographer has. Many primary photographers do also second photograph weddings so they will answer to be their favorite whatever they have been doing the most and feel most confident into. You can also understand if the personal preference matches your style expectations.

For example: If you are looking for a photojournalist wedding photographer and you find out that he or she likes posed photos, which are the complete opposite to the candid images you are looking for, there is the conflict. Same as the photographer likes to photograph details as glasses, shoes, rings, your dress, etc while you are looking for outgoing, people’s person to mingle with your guests and engage them for fun photos.

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

Indian Wedding at Cinnabar Hills in San Jose, CA

26. What do you like about being wedding photographer?

As everything service related, you want to hire a professional who is passionate and love what he or she does. Creativity in photography comes from passion and internal drive to excel. You most likely would like to have someone who will capture your day in the most creative and unique way.

Many “money chasing” wedding photographers do cookie cutter approach and might not go the extra step to meet all your needs. So decide earlier: are you after true professional who is passionate about the art he or she is creating or after the money you are about to pay them.

Conclusion:

To read more real life wedding photography questions and the answers I usually provide to my clients, consider reading Wedding Photography FAQ.

Wedding planning takes time and careful preparation. Being educated if the best preparation you can do before start seriously considering a wedding photographer.

I am sure there might be additional tips you might have, so if you have a tip, any comment or a feedback, feel free to drop me a line or two in the comments section. I would love to hear from you on how you managed find and select your wedding photographer. .

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding and Events Photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area. You can follow him on social media (links in the top right sideblock of this blog) or check his latest photography projects on his Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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Why Hire a Second Photographer For Your Wedding


Bride and Groom First Dance in Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, CA

Bride and Groom First Dance in Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, CA

Hiring a wedding photographer to take photos during the ceremony, reception and party afterwards is a no brainer. It’s a must if the bride and groom would like to have the wedding moments captured. And the wedding photographer can guide and pose the couple on How To Look at Their Best on Their Wedding Photos.

The wedding photographer is the person would will use its talent and vision to create stunning and amazing wedding images.

Brides also have an option to hire a second wedding photographer who will team up with the primary photographer for additional coverage. There are numerous reasons for why a bride might want to add a second photographer (also called second shooter) as well there are lots of benefits of doing so.

But first, let’s mention the disclaimer: There will be no extra efforts or meetings required to hire a second shooter.

The responsibility for screening, hiring and processing the images from the second photographer, lays entirely on the primary photographer’s shoulders.

Many primary wedding photographers already have second shooters in mind and have been working with them in the past. This collaboration guarantees styles and equipment matching. So now that we know, there are no extra meetings and efforts required for the bride, let’s see what the benefits are.

1. Getting Different Compositions and Angles:

The primary and secondary photographers would be looking for, capturing the wedding moments from different angles which mean you would get many more differently looking photos. Both photographers would be also used a different perspective and lenses, so you would receive both wide-angle and zoomed into shots.

You will be able to see both the entire scene as well the individual images of key people in your wedding.The different compositions and angles would allow you to have much more interesting images in your wedding album later.

You would also have another benefit of having both primary and secondary photographers complement each other rather than capturing the same scene and moments from the same angle.

2. No Additional Interviews and Paperwork:

The secondary shooters are contracted by the primary photographer under his own contract so there is no need to interview and contract them on your own. This will save you precious time to meet additional vendors and planners. It is one less contract to read and sign and vendor to coordinate it.

DIY Decoration at Romantic Backyard Wedding in Livermore, CA

DIY Decoration at Romantic Backyard Wedding in Livermore, CA

3. Consistent Look and Feel:

Because you will contract the primary photographer, he or she would be primarily responsible for editing all the images (both from the primary and secondary photographers). You can expect a consistent look across all images (brightness, sharpness, colors, etc) which mean all images would be processed with the same effects and workflow.

Style (feel) would be the same as well. The primary photographers usually would pick a secondary photographer who matches their style (candid, photojournalistic, modern, fashion, traditional, etc) so you can be guaranteed your images would have the same style as well.

Related: Wedding Photography Styles Explained

4. Documenting Everything:

While the primary photographer is focusing on the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen during the wedding, there is a lot more happening: Grandma crying from joy, Mom and Dad gasping in excitement, guests reacting to bride’s and her father walking down the aisle, etc.

There is more than the bride and groom on each wedding, so having a second photographer allows you to have these moments documented as well.

5. You Get Undivided Attention:

A single photographer has to focus on all the moments during the wedding, plus capture the decorations, flowers, details as rings, dress, shoes. This means that he or she has to switch its attention between you (bride and groom) and these other shots that needs to be staged and photographed.

A second photographer usually takes these off the mind and shoulders of the primary thus freeing him to focus its undivided attention to you. You can be assured that no single moment would be missed while you would have wonderful images of your flowers, decorations and bridal artifacts.

6. Capture More Moments:

There is a limited time allocated for a wedding. A single photographer can only capture so many moments of the wedding, but add an additional (second) photographer and you would double the images captured. Which means there will be more to choose for your wedding album and prints later.

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Also there are few extra benefits from having your primary photographer bring a second shooter to your wedding:

  • The primary photographer would find and hire a second shooter who matches the style and look consistent of the primary, so the look of the final images set would be consistent
  • Primary and Secondary would most likely be using the same or similar equipment (camera body, lenses, lighting techniques) so there will be no image quality differences between the images taken by both
  • Both photographers would have worked together in the past and know to supplement each other and not stepping on each others toes

Related: How To Prepare For Your Wedding Day

Conclusion:

Hiring a second photographer is a great idea. It allows you, as a bride and groom, to have more moments from your wedding caught. Your wedding photography coverage is limited in duration, but there are so many moments and events happening.

Adding a second shooter to your package will not only allow your primary photographer to focus on you (the bride & groom) coverage but would also allow you to see how your family, relatives and friends have experienced your wedding. These reactions and emotions will happen and you can have them documented as well.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days. To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site


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8 Tips for Photographing Wedding Formals


Bridal Formal Portrait at Rengstorff House, Mountain View, CA

Formal Wedding Portrait at Rengstorff House, Shoreline Park, mountain View, CA

Anyone who has been on a wedding knows that right after the wedding ceremony, it is time for the wedding formals (or group pictures). And guess what: this is not what everyone is looking for. Including many wedding photographers who actually dread the formals. The reason: Posing and getting everyone ready for these photos is not an easy task.

I have already written a full tutorial on How To Photograph Wedding Formals which I hope contains many of the preparation steps a wedding photographer can consider. This guide has some additional tips and gotchas on how to make the process of taking group pictures easier and less stressful.

These are by no means all the points that a wedding photographer should consider but in my view and the most important and useful I have found to work for me. Feel free to share your comments or feedback in the Comments section below.

So here are 8 tips to help a wedding photographer take the formal photos in less time and with better success.

1. Let Your Clients Pick and Confirm the Shots List:

Many wedding photographers have a list of shots they must take during the formals. In many cases the bride has her own list as well (more on: How To Deal With Bride’s List of Wedding Images). So which one to use?
I have found that letting the bride and groom decide on the images is a great idea. First, they best know the group images they would like to have in their album. And second, letting them pick the group images instead of taking a “cookie cutter” approach is simply a matter of listening to client’s needs. No matter if there are just few or lots more formal images to take. After all, it is their own wedding and they are paying for it.

2. Control Your Own Fate:

Another good idea for the wedding formals is to find and pick the location for the wedding formals instead of relaying on the bride or groom to pick one for you. First, you as a wedding photographer would have more experience and knowledge on which location (background, light, composition) works best. So go ahead and put this knowledge to use rather than having to explain to your clients why the location they picked doesn’t work. It might sound to the couple like you are making an excuses not to shoot at their location.
Second, wedding photographers are paid to guide the clients on what’s best for their pictures. So take charge and be in control. You would have much better light and photos when selecting the formal’s location by yourself.
Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Ceremony at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

3. Eliminate Eye Blinks:

When photographing large groups of people, the inevitable happens: Someone would always have their eyes closed or look on the side (away from looking into the camera). Well this makes the whole group photo not as good as when everyone’s eyes are properly aligned towards the direction intended.
So what most wedding photographers do in this case is: taking multiple shots from the same pose.Well, while this is good approach and works, there is a drawback. All these extra images need to be downloaded, reviewed and culled latter which means extra post-processing time. Taking multiple images also drains power from the flashes or strobes batteries (if such are used for the formals), not to mention space on the memory cards and wear the camera shutter.
So what to so? The solution is simple. Get everyone to close their eyes and open them on a count of three. Then take the shot just after counting to three. You will never get closed eyes that way and can quickly go through the group photos in less time and with less effort.

4. Use The Allocated Time Wisely:

One approach many wedding photographers take is to work through a list and sequence of formal shots. This is the most common way because it is easy for the wedding photographer to keep track of the shots that needs and were taken. It’s a shots sequence to works through.
For example many start with bride, groom and both sides of the parents. Then with one side of the parents. Then bring bridesmaids with the bride. Than bridesmaids with the groom, etc. While doing so, they expect the people required for the shot to be available and if not, they wait for them to come over. Well this approach means valuable time is wasted. Waiting on people to show up is the most challenging but if someone is not there.
More efficient approach is to look around and shoot the formal photos with whoever is available. This way no time is wasted to wait for people to show up and while they are coming up to the formal location, photos are still taken. Of course, this requires the wedding photographer to keep track of the shots taken and make sure he or she doesn’t miss any.
One last thing to help you use your time wisely: If you have an assistant, use it to bring guests to the formals. Enlisting random people who have other things to do can slow you down. I you don’t have an assistant, ask in advance for one uncle or aunt from each side of the family to help find and arrange people.
Groom and Groomsmen on Catholic Wedding Ceremony in St. Cecilia Church in San Francisco, CA

Groom and Groomsmen on Catholic Wedding Ceremony in St. Cecilia Church in San Francisco, CA

5. Tripod To The Rescue:

I know. Tripods are just another think to remember to bring, to set up and getting ready to use things but it is very helpful to have one for the formals. Why?
Few reasons:
  • A tripod really helps keep people out of your space.
  • In low light conditions (churches, pass sunset, shady areas) it would allow you to use slower shutter speed with the larger apertures required for the formals (f/5.6 -f/ 8)
 So, if you still don’t have one, consider buying a good quality and solid one. There are so many carbon fiber tripods which might cost you money but would make your formal pictures so much sharper.

6. Stool or Step Ladder:

For working with large groups (30 or more people), what is going to happen is that you will have to arrange them into rows in order to be able to capture them all. The most correct way to arrange such large groups is to put the tallest people in the group in the further away from the camera rows while the not so tall in the front.
However, even with this approach and when there is no way to put each row on a different level (stairs for example), the people in the back rows would always be blocked by the one on the front. One way to deal with this is to bring and use small stool or step-ladder. Bringing your camera and point of view higher would allow you to capture everyone’s face not matter in which rows they are positioned.

7. Use Ultra Wide Lenses:

On a full frame sensor camera And yes, having ultra-wide lenses. For Canon shooter this would mean 16-35mm f/2.8 or 17-40mm f/4 or 14mm f/1.4 . Frame wider and plan to crop later instead of trying to compose very tight in the camera.
The reason is that first you would need to straighten and align the final images so some cropping would be required just to get the image aligned. If you compose too tight, you would have to crop someone’s feet.
Plus on an ultra wide angles there is a distortion at the edges which means, any person who is on the very left of right ride of the frames would have his face and body bloated out and distorted. If you crop wider the last person’s distortion would be less and you can then crop out the excessive space around and have less distortion. Believe me, this makes perfect sense once you known it, but not that obvious at first.

8. Get Your Equipment Ready:

If you would need an artificial lighting as strobes or flashes with diffuser, it is a great idea to get these ready before the formals. Setting up the light stand, mounting the flashes or strobes, putting the diffuser and triggers (testing the triggering is highly recommended) would save you time when the group is ready for pictures. Not to mention that you would look like a pro having everything ready. no body likes to wait for the photographer to tinker with their gear and check things.
Bride & Groom Formal Wedding Photo at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in San Francisco, CA

Bride & Groom Formal Wedding Photo at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in San Francisco, CA

Conclusion:

Group pictures (formals) are required on all weddings nowadays. Preparation is required in order to make the posing and picture-taking process easy and less stressful. The simple tips outlined above and the preparation tutorial are just two of the resources to help the wedding photographers. I hope these are helpful and you found them informative.

Feel free to share with fellow wedding photographers or anyone who can benefit from it. We all can be better photographers and make our clients happier, if we all are better prepared. If you have any other experiences or tips, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. You can read more about the author and review his portfolio on his website. For complete list of services and to book your wedding, visit his Wedding Packages page.