If you find yourself here, reading this, you have either found this page by accident, or, more likely, have booked me as your wedding photographer! This page is to help direct you through the process. It will cover things like day of timing, engagement shoots, weather concerns, preparation for the wedding and being photographed, as well as album information. I am always available for questions, advice, or just witty banter should you so choose.
The engagement shoot serves a few purposes in preparing for the wedding. You may want to use the photos for a save the date or wedding announcement, it's great to have some professional photos of you and your other half besides just the wedding photos, plus you get to show off great photos to your friends on Facebook and Instagram. One of the most important parts is that it's going to get you ready for being photographed on your wedding day. I know the idea of staring down the barrel of a large camera can be a bit intimidating, so this is a bit of a practice run. It will also get you used to how I work, how I'll have you interact together, and get you used to my bad jokes!
Location & Timing
The location of your engagement shoot is very much up to you. It can start in your back yard and we can walk around your neighborhood, we can go someplace that is important or special to the two of you, we can go to midtown Manhattan or the middle of the woods or the top of a mountain. If you want to jump on a plane, fly to the other side of the world and shoot your engagement shoot on the Great Wall of China, I'm game for that too. (standard travel fees do apply) I have also been shooting in this area for quite a while, so if you would like a recommendation from me for a location, I am happy to help with that.
For the most part, I prefer to do engagement shoots in the late afternoon/early evening. The light tends to be softer, warmer, easier to work with, and more flattering. Plus there is always the chance of a great sunset! Early morning or sunrise engagement shoots are also an option for the same reasons as evenings. I generally advocate for afternoon and evenings as I'm not much of a morning person, but that's what coffee is for, so if a sunrise engagement shoot is something you are interested in, we can do that too! I am also not opposed to doing an entirely night time engagement shoot. Shooting at night is one of my favorite things and I'm sure we could do something very cool and different than the average shoot. The one caveat to that is that it does have to be in a more urban area, otherwise its just going to be too dark to work. I will also happily shoot anytime of the year, so don't worry about a hot summer day or a cold winter storm.
After the Shoot
Approximately 2 weeks after the shoot you will receive a link to an online gallery of your edited images (about 75-120) You will be able to download the images directly from the gallery, share them on Facebook, or buy prints if you so choose. If you download the images and put them on social media, I only ask that you give me photo credit. I will also be making a guestbook to be put on display at your wedding reception. You will also get a use release if you need if you are using the photos for your save the dates.
Wedding Day Timing
Putting together the timing is one of the things I get the most questions about. What time to start getting ready, what time should I show up and start shooting, what time for first look, how long to shoot the wedding party, what time should my parents be there for family photos? Well, I have great news. This section should help greatly with that.
Every wedding is different, so I can't say exactly what time everything should happen, but, in 300+ weddings, I can definitely offer some insight. Let's start with some generalities. Obviously, the more people you have in your wedding party, or the more people you want in your family photos, the longer it will take. I can shoot a group of 6 a lot faster than a group of 25. Also, you know your friends and family. Are they the type who are always 5 minutes early, or the type that are always 5 minutes late? Keep that in mind when deciding timing for everything. I am also a firm believer in cushion time. Traffic happens, weather happens, things run long, people run late. If you add in a little extra time, it will make the entire day less stressful. Being late for everything is a terrible feeling. But if you built in extra time and everything runs promptly and on time, you can sit back with your feet up and enjoy a glass of champagne while you wait for the next part of the day. And trust me, that will be a welcome break on such a hectic day.
When should you have me show up
I generally like to get there during the getting ready process, maybe an hour or so before you get your dress on. I don't need to be there for the entire hair and makeup process, but am happy to show up whenever you would like. I also like the bride to be the last to get hair and makeup done, which is usually the case. Again, build in a little extra time on the getting ready process, not that it happens often, but I have seen makeup artists and hair stylists go a full hour longer than they have promised.
Whether you have decided to do a first look or not will have a huge impact on the rest of the day. I know some people are very much against a first look for their wedding, if that is the case feel free to skip over this part. If you're on the fence, I would recommend it. A first look does make the rest of the day a lot easier. We can get all the portraits done, all the wedding party photos done, and all of the family photos done before the ceremony. This will give you and your brand new spouse a chance to actually enjoy your cocktail hour and greet your guests. The entire photo session can be far more relaxed, and we don't have to rush to finish everything in the span of cocktail hour. Ideally I would love about 2-2.5 hours to take care of all the wedding party, family, and couples photos. Again, this is building in a little extra time than is truly necessary, and that time is also very dependent on how large the family groups and wedding party is, as well as how long the two of you want to take portraits. I will say, the more time I have, the more I can do, the more we can explore and the better the photos will be.
If not doing a first look, generally everything has to happen after the ceremony. I always like to start with immediate family photos at that time, followed by the wedding party and finally finishing with the couples portraits. If you can allot any extra time between the ceremony and the cocktail hour, it will be beneficial for everyone.
At this point, the timeline is less of a concern for me. Once the reception starts and the posed photos are (almost) done, your venue or dj/band will generally take over the timing, and I will be there to document the celebration.
The one part of the day we have absolutely no control over. Obviously everyone wants beautiful weather on their wedding day, unfortunately that can't always happen. But, fear not, I actually enjoy shooting in bad weather, things get very dramatic and interesting. If you're willing to endure some weather for amazing photos, I will make that happen. Some of my favorite photos have happened at weddings where it poured all day. No matter what, we will make it work and make it awesome. The other part of weather to keep in mind is heat. If your wedding happens to be in the summer time please be sure to drink lots and lots of water.
Nighttime portraits are one of my favorite things. I get to control the light a little more, make things more dramatic and abstract. I will always take the two of you out sometime during the reception to get something cool and different from the rest of the portraits that day. I always scout this out ahead of time and have a plan, so I will rarely disturb you for more the 10 minutes. Generally the best time for this is either right after dinner or right after the cake cutting as there is less going on and I won't have to feel bad dragging you off the dance floor. . Also be prepared to be dragged outside immediately if there is amazing rain, amazing snow, or an amazing sunset.
What you can do to ensure the best photography on your wedding day!
There are definitely some things that you can do to get the best photos possible. You certainly don't have to adhere to all of these, or any of them. My job is make amazing photos happen no matter the situation, but these tips can definitely make it a lot easier on everyone!
Time is a big one. The more time I have for portraits the more we can do. I generally start with something a little safer and more standard, it's when we have a little more time where I can really play with the environment and light to get some of the more creative, unique images. The other benefit, is the portrait sessions can be far less stressful when we're not worried about time, and the less stressed you are, the better you will look.
You've probably heard this term thrown around a lot when people discuss photography. Magic hour refers to the time about half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunset. The light tend to be warmer, softer, prettier and more flattering during this time period. This is absolutely a time I would always love to shoot photos, but unfortunately, on wedding days it tends to happen during important events during the reception. So, if you want that type of light and look for wedding portraits, it has to happen very close to sunset.
Understandably, your wedding guests, family and friends want to watch events such as first look and portraits. I generally discourage having anyone non-essential around for portraits. The fewer people that are present for these events tend to make them happen faster, and makes everything more natural. Being intimate for photos gets a lot harder when you have your parents or friends watching. Same for first look, the fewer people the better.
An Unplugged Ceremony
An unplugged ceremony is when you request that your guests do not take photos during the ceremony. Often times people can get overzealous in their desire for a great photo (something I totally understand) and will stand in aisle, and at times have jumped in front of me for photos. The other benefit is when you are standing up there you can look out and see your loved ones faces instead of the back of their phones and ipads (I've seen that many times). I have no problem with guests taking their own photos, or bringing cameras to the wedding, I just don't want it hindering my ability to give you the best photos possible.
There is a thing that happens at about half to 60% of the weddings I shoot, where halfway through the first dance, the DJ will say "The couple would like to invite their guests to join them on the dance floor for their first dance." I'm not exactly sure where this comes from, but I strongly advise against it. There will be literally hundreds of photos and hours of the reception where you will be on the dance floor with your friends and family. There is one song for it to be just the two of you. Some of my favorite photos happen during first dance, and having your guests join you makes that exponentially harder.
Often times, dj's will offer to have one of their assistants walk around and shoot photos during the reception and display them on tv monitors for all to see. I must strongly advise against this as well. I rarely find out about it till the beginning of the reception and it greatly hinders my ability to properly cover your reception. They say they will not be in my way at all. They always are, 100% of the time. It ends up being too many people on the dance floor taking photos, which can often times be overwhelming for both you and your guests. They frequently get people's attention, training them to stop what they're doing and pose for the camera, the exact opposite of what I want them to do.
This is your wedding day, it can be anything you want it to be. Don't do things on your wedding because you think you're supposed to do them. Throw in as much of your personality as you possibly can. Don't concern yourself with what other people have done on their wedding days. I have shot weddings in castles, on Caribbean beaches, in the mountains of Arizona, in people's backyards, and everything in between. My favorite weddings are always the ones that are a reflection of who the couple is.
I would say this is the most important thing you can do, give me your trust. I want you to have the most amazing wedding photos you've ever seen. I may get some ideas that are a little weird, I may want you to climb rocks, get in streams, walk into deep woods, even climb a mountain if there is one available (I have requested all these things) You may also see me do things like that, as well as lie in the street, climb trees, hang off 15 story buildings (again, I have done all of that for a photo) Just keep in mind, all of this is in service getting great photos. My favorite phrase to hear on a wedding day is "Dennis, do whatever you want, we trust you."
Don't forget that part. Joy always shows through.
After the wedding
Depending on the time of year, you can usually expect to receive your photos in 3-4 weeks. I will first provide you with an online gallery. You can view all the photos there, download the high resolution versions as well as buy prints. If you're family or friends want prints, I suggest having them purchase from the gallery, the quality will be far better than a standard photo lab, and they won't have to pester you for photos! A few weeks following that you will receive a flash drive in the mail with all of your high resolution photos on that as well.
I don't include albums in any packages, I very much like my clients to see their photos first before they decide on an album. The process can actually be very simple. I will generally have you pick about 70 of your favorite photos for the album, at which point I will do an initial design for you to either approve or make changes to. I don't put a limit on the number of revisions, I want you you to be 100% happy with the product I deliver.
Full wedding albums start at $1000 and parent albums at $250 each. If you purchase more than one book, I can adjust the price for such situations.