Housewives In The City Orlando Florida Event 08/21/2019Read More
Guide to Finding the Right Florida Wedding Photographer
….and making the best of your big day.
You found that special someone, have a wedding date set (or maybe an idea of a date) and now it is time to start searching for local Florida wedding photographers.
You search “wedding photographer in (enter city)” and an endless list of options appears.
You start clicking. Soon your eyes are itchy and dry from looking at hundreds of photographers.
Perhaps another cup of coffee and it will all get easier? Probably not.
You become overwhelmed, call your best friend and put it off for another week. Rinse and repeat until you’re under the gun. You procrastinated so long that now your only option is a Craigslist “expand my portfolio” type of photographer. Yikes!
This guide should hopefully help you avoid common mistakes that couples tend to make.
1. Photographic Style:
a. Photojournalism Style
b. Formal Style
2. Choosing a Photographer:
a. Interviewing the photographer(s)
b. Photographer interview questions
3. Venue Options:
a. Outdoor Beach Weddings
b. Indoor wedding venue
4. Day of Tips:
a. Getting ready photographs
c. Photographs with family/wedding party
1. PHOTOGRAPHIC STYLE
The first question to ask yourself is what KIND of photos do you want to look back on in 20 years? Do you want a more photojournalism approach (where the photographer captured the day as it happened with little to no posed formal photos) or do you want a more formal approach?
a. The Photojournalism Style: The photographer acts as an “observer” and is capturing moments as they happen naturally. The photographer will usually schedule in a time during the event to take some photos of just the lucky couple alone. This style tends to be more laid back and does not require a big chunk of time to be used up for formal/posed family photos.
b. The Formal Style: This is the more traditional way of capturing wedding photos. The wedding photographer will usually have a “requested photo list” that they will work from. This style is more structured and requires more time to be allotted for the formal/posed family photos.
2. CHOOSING A PHOTOGRAPHER
Now that you have decided on formal vs photojournalism, it is time to narrow your search by meeting with photographers.
a. Interviewing the Photographer(s):
I am always shocked when I hear that a couple picked a photographer and signed a contract without ever meeting the actual photographer! This tends to happen most often when a couple hires a photographer from a larger studio. These same studios will often combine sample images from various photographers that work for them. This can result in you not knowing which photographer took which photos and hiring a photographer that does not meet your style/expectations.
It is very important to meet with the “actual photographer”. How do you know if you will get along with them? Matching personalities with your photographer is very important. People often overlook this. You will be spending a lot of time with this person on your wedding day. They must be a good fit for you. You also want to find out how this person deals with stress/challenges? Are they a calm problem solver or are they going to shut down and not be able to help find solutions?
(SIDE NOTE) I have literally been handed a needle and thread by a bride and been asked to sew on buttons that came off a dress shirt. Things happen at a wedding and a good photographer will be willing to be helpful (within reason).
(SIDE NOTE) There is nothing wrong with interviewing a few photographers to find the right fit for you. Someone can take amazing photos but be super weird/awkward in person. Who wants to be around that on their wedding day? (My wife just yelled from the other room “NOT ME!”)
b. Photographer Interview Questions:
How many photographers will be at my wedding? Sometimes two is not better. Some photographers choose to work alone (like me). The reason for this is that I don’t want to be constantly watching for a second photographer in the background of my shots. I also don’t like the added distraction of a second photographer during the ceremony.
What kind of gear does your photographer use? I use full frame digital cameras mostly. Full frame digital cameras have a bigger image size/sensor and generally provide me more room to crop in editing.
Will I get an online gallery and is it free to download images? Most photographers provide an online gallery. Ask if the gallery will allow your guests to download images for free or will they have to buy the images? I provide a gallery and usually leave this gallery up for a while (typically a year or so) so that guests can download the images for free.
Does the photographer provide an album? If you are purchasing an album, find out who decides the final images in the album? I normally send the photo gallery to the couple and let them pick out a list of images for the album. I will design the album layout myself (to what I think is aesthetically pleasing). Not all photographers do it this way so be sure to ask what the process is.
Does the photographer have insurance? Most professional photographers will carry insurance. The reason that this is important is because some venues will not allow a photographer to shoot at the venue without insurance.
Do you have reliable/accessible transportation? I know this sounds silly but having a photographer with reliable transportation is important. What happens if they are riding a bus/train to reach your location and must leave at a certain time? Your event may go late into the night and you may want full coverage till the end. Also, what happens if they have an unreliable vehicle and can’t make it to your event? Sounds scary, but it does happen.
Does your photographer have a backup camera? Having a backup camera is very important as things can and do go wrong.
What happens if our wedding date changes/is cancelled? Make sure that the photographer has a written policy regarding this. If it is not in writing it does not exist.
Be on the lookout for those who only accept cash payments. In my opinion, never, and I mean never, pay anyone cash for photography services in advance. We live in a time where scams occur a lot and anyone requiring cash should raise a red flag (in my opinion). Law enforcement has seen an increase in scams involving services related to weddings so make sure that you are dealing with a legitimate business.
Can I see a full wedding gallery? Make sure to ask to see a sample wedding from start to finish. Not just the “good shots”. Some photographers will only show beautiful cloudy day outside images as a sample. Ask to see photos that had been taken in natural light and photos in a darker location (such as a church).
Will your photographer be at another wedding on the same day? This may seem obvious, but you don’t want a photographer running behind because they had another wedding that ran late. You also don’t want them to show up tired and in a rush. Some photographers will book themselves back to back for weddings. Make sure that your photographer is YOURS for the day.
Will the photographer visit the venue in advance? A good professional photographer will make every effort (if possible) to visit the venue in advance (if they have not previously photographed at that venue). This allows them to see what they are working with and to get an idea of the venue layout.
Does your photographer offer retouching (editing) and/or is it extra? Every photographer has a different policy on this. Some photographers charge extra and some will not do it at all. Please make sure to discuss this in advance so that everyone is on the same page. My wife goes crazy over the amount of time I spend editing photographs. I tend to spend 14-16 hours editing photos. I have this mentality that I believe people should get what they pay for! What a concept.
What happens if the photographer is ill on the date of the event? Check the contract regarding this and get it in writing if not mentioned. If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist.
3. VENUE OPTIONS
Your venue will have a huge impact on your final photographs. *gasp* (I know, shocking.)
So how do you pick a venue and what things do you need to consider? I hope this list below helps.
a. Outdoor Beach Wedding: Florida is beautiful, and a destination hot spot for weddings. People love our beaches and we can justifiably boast having some of the prettiest sunsets.
1. Heat and Humidity: It gets seriously hot and humid here! The heat and humidity are also not kind to your makeup and hair. Hair starts to look frizzy and the makeup starts to not look so fresh. Your skin starts to get shiny from the heat and it all goes south quickly (Florida pun) get it? Cause we are already in the south! Never mind. My dad jokes are killer (I know).
2. Sun: The sun is not your friend when it comes to photographs. The sun creates harsh shadows on faces in photographs. It also causes everyone to squint in photos (you know exactly what I am talking about). I know! I know, you saw cute photos on beaches all over social media. Most likely, the cute photos you saw, are the ones where the clouds moved in and helped soften things. Or maybe everyone wore some shades and look like a secret service team.
3. Rain: It rains in Florida a lot and rains randomly. Sometimes it is even the torrential pour variety! These rains are not your romantic comedy type rains where the girl asks why he never wrote?
4. Tent: If you do insist on an outdoor beach wedding, make sure to have a backup plan. Even if it is just a beach ceremony, AND I CAN NOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH, have a backup plan. I highly recommend having a professional wedding tent setup close by. This is insurance so that should rains move in, you have a place to hold your ceremony. If you are also having the reception on the beach, a tent with fans is a must. Your guests love you, but killing uncle Jim from heatstroke is not going to earn you a “welcome to the family” award.
b. The Indoor Wedding Venue:
Florida is a wedding Mecca. And lucky for you, we have a lot of gorgeous air-conditioned (thank god) wedding venues to choose from.
1. Grass: Grass looks lovely in photos but in Florida, it rains and rains a lot! Grass gets dirty after a storm. Keep this in mind if you plan on having a lot of outdoor photos or an outdoor ceremony. Dragging your wedding dress/suit and shoes in mud and wet grass is not fun! (My wife is telling me to include that ladies should have a pair of wedge shoes if possible (so the heels don’t sink into the grass).
2. Walls/Ceilings at Venues: Are the walls painted white (soft color)? White walls are ideal because they reflect light and act as a light softener. Photographers will often fire a flash against a white wall to create that beautiful soft light. Some venues forget this important detail and have the wood siding on the walls or utilize dark paints. Some venues even have black ceilings. This will cause the photographer to have to use direct flash (which is not flattering on your skin).
3. Glass Walls: Glass wedding venues look beautiful in person but make it difficult when it comes to photography. The reflection from the glass will look odd in photos and a flash going off makes it even harder to get clean photographs.
4. Indoor Reception but Outdoor Ceremony: If you haven’t gathered already, the weather in Florida is unpredictable. If you plan to have an outside ceremony and move indoors for the reception, make sure to have a backup tent! Some venues require you to rent a tent even if you don’t “think” you will need it.
4. THE DAY OF TIPS
a. Getting Ready Photographs:
The getting ready photos are sometimes overlooked by the couple. They often feel that they don’t want a camera around when they are barely awake and stressed out. I feel the opposite. I have captured a lot of special moments just by being around while couples got ready. It also gives me the chance to photograph the details.
1. Rings dress/suit: Make sure to have them available to photograph.
2. Clean rooms: Make sure to clean up the rooms where photos will be taken.
3. Spouse to be photographed: If both spouses are not in the same location, decide which spouse will be the one photographed while getting ready. This decision is often needed if you are hiring a photographer that works alone (like me).
b. The Ceremony:
1. Time: Make sure that you have allowed plenty of time for your photographer/bridal party to make it from the “getting ready location” to the venue. Your photographer will likely need enough time to setup and be ready to take photographs. Don’t make the schedule unrealistically tight. Add buffer times if possible. If you think your hair should start at 9 am, why not make it 8:30 to make your day less stressful? Things happen (including traffic, hair and makeup, last minute hiccups) and you want to have plenty of time for everyone to arrive and prepare.
2. Don’t have your back to the guests during the ceremony: Standing with your back to the crowd and having things blocking your side view will limit the photographic options (shots). Please try to face each other as much as possible during the ceremony as this looks the most pleasing in photos.
3. Don’t run down the aisle: This is your time to shine. Take your time and walk at the same slow pace. This gives your family, friends and your photographer enough time to take photos of you.
4. Smile: I know this sounds like a given but some people forget to smile. They are tense and stressed. This is your big day so make it happy and smile. This is not time to be “too serious”. At ease solider! You have put a ton of hours into planning and you deserve to relax and smile.
5. Don’t run away at the end: Do not say “I do” and runaway/disappear. Try to pause and allow family to take a few photos with you. Smile and feel the warmth and love of all these people who have traveled and taken time to come share this moment with you.
c. Photographs with Family Members/Wedding Party:
1. Posed photos with family: Some couples insist on posed formals with family members directly following the ceremony. I highly recommend using this time instead to get photographs of just the two of you! Right after the ceremony, you will be looking fresh (as long as you listened to the rain/weather warming and tent suggestion mentioned earlier) and this is the best time to get the first photos of you as a married couple.
2. Table to table photos during the reception (instead of formals after the ceremony): At some point during the reception, make time to take photos with family members by going from table to table. Remember, uncle Jim will be much happier after he ate (drank) and less likely to be frowning in photos. He was also not forced to stand around waiting on photos after the ceremony.
3. Wedding planner if you insist on formals with family after the ceremony: If you insist on posed formal photos with family after the ceremony, make sure to hire a wedding planner! In fact, always hire a wedding planner. The wedding planner is your best friend on your big day. Too many times, in the planning stages, couples have told me that a family member will “help gather people for the formal posed photos”. Do not do this to yourself. Don’t be that person.
If money is the issue when it comes to hiring a wedding planner, skip the fancier chairs and napkins or that fondue fountain and hire the planner instead. Have peace of mind that you don’t have to be a cat herder on your big day (no matter how much faith you have in your family).
The planner’s job is keeping things on track and this includes gathering people for photos. Planners usually have a big personality and don’t mind yelling out people’s names and telling them where to be. Your family member may be less inclined to use their outside voice inside. The wedding planner is likely not related to anyone at the event, so they don’t mind being assertive to keep things on track.
4. Allow realistic time for the photos: Couples often underestimate how much time staging photos takes. Please include time for the following items when planning for formal photos:
-Setting up lighting gear.
-Planner organizing/gathering people for photos.
-Time to pose each group.
-Photographer taking down lighting gear and making it to the reception location.
-Photographer setting up at the reception location.
-Family that stayed back after the ceremony will need time to get from the ceremony to the reception venue (including time for parking and locating designated seats).
When it comes to photography, it can be a big scary world on Google and as soon as you say you need a photographer everyone says “oh! I know someone that I used to have chemistry class with in high school who has a “photography business”. Be picky. Be thorough in your questions. Any photographer that acts annoyed by questions is NOT the person you want with you on your big day. Ask the photographer to show you complete wedding albums (the day from start to finish).
Thank you for reading this guide and I hope that this information is helpful to you. Please let us know if you have any questions and we would be happy to answer them.