Beach Wedding & Photography F.A.Q.

What are the advantages of hiring a professional photographer?

A professional photographer will be timely – arriving at your wedding promptly, and has just the right digital equipment to photograph your wedding. Having attended many weddings, an experienced photographer will be at ease at your wedding. A professional uses a color laboratory that is in the business of meeting high professional standards of print quality.

They are also used to working with individuals, couples, and groups to make the formal portraits go smoothly. When you think about the cost of photography, remember that the photographer’s fee is only part of your investment: You, your parents, your extended family, and your friends will be investing time with the photographer during your wedding. Don’t waste time on your wedding day with a photographer who won’t produce results you love!

What is the first question I should ask the photographer?

Once you have established that the photographer is available for your date and location, you will want to ask, “If we select your studio, will you be the photographer covering our wedding?” Some studios have several photographers and you may be speaking to a salesperson. The sample albums may have been done by photographers who do not even work for the studio ay more. If this is the case, you should make arrangements to meet with and see the work of the particular photographer who will be doing your wedding. You should also ask for a commitment from the studio to that effect, in writing.

Shouldn’t I be asking “What do I get and how much does it cost?”

Even shopping for shoes or furniture, you wouldn’t ask that question until you find the style and quality you like. After you have looked through a photographer’s portfolio – seeing candids, formals, and illustrative pictures, you will know if this photographer has the technique, style, and spirit to be the eyes through which you and your children will see your wedding day. Of course, you should determine if the photographer is within your budget, give or take a little, but what you really want from photography are memories and feeling.

If you find a photographer who makes you happy, you will never regret your investment, whatever the dollar cost. When we have invested in items that will be with us for the rest of our lives, our satisfaction has been highest when we have paid that extra bit for the best quality.

So, how much does wedding photography cost?

Prices range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on location and experience. Photographs (and maybe video) will be your only permanent record of the day. You want good photographs, so be prepared to spend what is appropriate for that photographer’s time and product. Expect better photographers to charge higher rates. In other words, it is reasonable for an inexperienced photographer to charge you as little as $10 for a print. And, it’s reasonable for an excellent photographer to charge you $60 for a print of the same size. If you are looking for a bargain and shop via phone for pricing, you are following a recipe for poor to mediocre photography. Research indicates that photography runs between nine and fifteen percent of the total wedding budget. When couples value photography highly and are on a limited budget, they will spend up to 30% of the wedding budget on photography.

Most brides initially underestimate the cost of photography by 50% – in other words, you will probably spend at least twice as much as you originally budgeted.

We’re having a small wedding with thirty people, and only wanted to spend a small amount on pictures. What can we do?

The first thing to do if you want a professional photographer under these circumstances is to be flexible. A true wedding professional can only work so many weekends a year, and reasonably expects one or two large weddings per weekend from May through October, or year round in tropical climates. If he/she reserves a prime Saturday or Sunday in October for you, then larger weddings will have to be turned away. If your budget is small, you will be choosing from the second and third tiers of wedding photographers. If you plan your wedding in the evening or especially early in the day, you might find a photographer who can fit you in after or before another event, and thus be able to work within your budget. Unfortunately, when you are limiting yourself to a smaller photo budget, you can expect lower quality photographs.

How much time will the photographer spend at my wedding?

That is really up to you. You can have the photographer meet you where you are getting dressed, and keep taking pictures until you leave the reception. Or you may just want a few hours of photography, with a few formal photographs and some pictures of the ceremony.

Why don’t many photographers give you printed proofs any more?

Now proofs are usually in digital form – on a website, CD, or DVD. Because some customers can scan photographs, printed proofs are a problem for the professional.

From the photographer’s point of view, proofs are becoming a liability. Dishonest clients are scanning the proofs and making prints which is a violation of copyright laws. Just as DVD manufacturers have made it difficult to copy their product, photographers will move towards proof presentations that protect the photographer’s copyright. Online proofing is a great solution.

What about black and white or soft focus photography?

That is why the Gods of photography invented digital! Digital capture in color leaves open the option of having the final print in sepia, black and white, or color, soft or sharp focus, or with special effects and filters. You or your photographer can decide when the images are printed or put into an album what looks best for each image.

Should we do the formals before or after the ceremony?

Some couples think it is bad luck to see each other before the ceremony. However, getting all the formals done at the beginning has several advantages: Flowers, clothing, and makeup are fresh, and you can carefully budget time for formals. (And, if your ceremony ends after dark, the only time for natural light pictures the two of you will be before the ceremony!) Couples who feel formal photos are important will set aside one, two, or even three hours for formals, which finish up about half an hour before the ceremony begins. If you do formals immediately after the ceremony, guests have to wait before they can greet you, and members of the bridal party will have to pose for pictures rather than mingle. Most formal photos at the beach are taken directly after the ceremony to take advantage of the colors during the sunset and approximately 80% of all church brides have all the formals taken before the ceremony. Think back to the last wedding you attended, and ask yourself how that bride and groom made it to their reception so soon, or…did their guests have to wait to greet them?

What about getting an album?

Some photographers offer “Packages,” each package having a set number of hours, images, and certain number of final pictures in a wedding album. It might be better to get a package that includes an album that the photographer will assemble completely, because most of us never get around to putting our pictures in albums if we have to do it ourselves. Consider ordering parents’ albums too. If your parents’ vision is less than perfect, they would really appreciate getting an album with large photographs so the faces are easy to see!

Who chooses the pictures that go into the album?

After looking at all the proof images, the bride and groom usually decide what goes into the wedding album. Some photographers will suggest a layout for your album or design the album for you. You will benefit from the photographer’s eye and feel for the wedding. You will probably let your parents decide what pictures go in their album.

Since the year 2000, the Magazine Album (also called Template Album, Table-top Album, Storybook Album) uses digital techniques to put more than one image on a page. I recommend you have your professional oversee the design and production of the album, since complete wedding photography is the combination of images captured on the wedding day and the final design, cropping, color correction, and special effects that complement the initial images.

Should we get plastic covered pages to protect the pictures?

Plastic gets in the way of the image. It creates reflections and lessens the clarity. A lacquer coating on the prints provides protection, but does not get in the way. Lacquer coating (spray) costs more, so when comparing photographers’ prices, be sure and note if lacquer spray is included. The lacquer prevents damage when facing pages rub against each other.

What can I do to help the photography run smoothly on my wedding day?

It is essential that you talk with your photographer during the last week before your wedding. Go over your time line for the day. Find out how long the photographs you have requested are going to take. If it is too long, cut out some of the posed pictures. It is extremely important to START ON TIME so you can finish in time and with no stress. If you have a beach ceremony and start late, there is a REAL risk of having photographs where you show up and the background is dark and possibly even black!

Suppose I want more copies in two years?

Get the high-resolution digital files – which will either be included or available for purchase. However, keep in mind that the photographer is not only giving you the files, but also secondary rights to legally reproduce them on your own. Be prepared to pay extra for this privilege.

I have found it takes a professional color lab to produce great color prints from digital files, so owning the files does not guarantee you are going to get the best wedding images at the best price-you are at the mercy of whichever lab you take them to. You can also go back to the photographer for more prints at a better quality. However, if you own the images, you can use them on a website, email them, and make acceptable prints.

What about having two photographers?

Some studios offer two-photographer coverage – where both professionals are taking pictures. This allows for better coverage of the overall day. One photographer can be shooting the bride and bridesmaids, while the other is covering the groom and groomsmen. If you have only one photographer, he/she cannot be in two places at once. During the reception and formal portraits, one photographer can focus on posed images and the other takes photos in a photo journalistic style. Very often the second photographer gets those “once in a wedding” candid shots.

However, if this is the kind of coverage you are looking for, be prepared to spend much more than if you were to have only one photographer. This is due to one simple fact: If both photographers are photographing your wedding, they will not be able to schedule additional weddings on your date.

Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures during the formal photography. Is that reasonable?

Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly through a series of formal pictures, a snap-shooter might slow the process. A problem arises when there are several cameras aimed at a formal group – the subjects will be looking at different lenses. The diverted attention will ruin the professional’s picture. Or, if the professional is using a light-sensing trigger device on an off camera second flash, other flashes will trigger this flash, ruining the pictures [that you are paying for] and wasting battery power. There are many other reasons why a professional might ask others to refrain from picture taking during the formals. On the other hand, many guests find snapping a few pictures a pleasant part of attending weddings, so it should not be a big deal for your professional to be relaxed and let people snap away after the formals are over. Ideally, guests should show respect for the bridal party and photographer and put down their cameras during the formal photos.

I want to make copies of my photos. Does my photographer really own the copyright of his/her pictures? Do I still have to pay the photographer if I make the copies myself?

Yes and yes. According to federal law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If you copy or scan your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you don’t feel comfortable paying for these copies, find a photographer whose work is so good you are glad to pay! When I really appreciate something I purchase, like a fabulous meal, an antique, a good pair of shoes, or even medical care, I do not mind paying a premium for getting the highest quality. Look for the photographer who will provide you the satisfaction of paying for a job well done.

If you have any questions that you don’t see here, please give us a call, and we’ll answer!