Things to know about your Photographer
Top 10 questions to ask your wedding photographer.
By Russell W. Brinson III
Russell Brinson Photography
Know some facts. Your wedding photographer is one of the most important parts of your wedding. Don’t hire a photographer because they have a cool website. Remember you are not hiring a web designer so do not go with someone just because you love their website. Many photographers pay to have someone else design their site or use a template site built for them already. They are only going to show you their best work and normally not images thereout the wedding. Visit or call the photographer to find a professional that is right for you.
Below are some questions to ask your photographer and things to look for when picking out one. If they don’t know or provide these services be very wary.
1 – What kind of photographer are you and what do you specialize in, your style? Can I see some examples of what to expect?
There are many kinds of photographers from landscape to fashion. Some may crossover, but you want a professional wedding photographer; someone who is confident of their skill and makes you feel comfortable.
Be very cautious of a photographer that claims to be a “natural light” photographer. I have found more often than not, this means they do not know how to properly or comfortably use flash and strobes. These are photographers, but most aren’t professional even though they may claim to be. They are normally a friend of a friend… There are many people out there that can take great pictures on a beautifully lit sunshiny day. The problem is, what happens if that pretty day is not that pretty or you have your sessions inside where the lighting is poor? Most of the time the natural light photographers are going to turn their ISO up which will cause your pictures to be grainy when you make large prints of them. With that said, there are some good profession natural light photographers. These are a very small part of the majority, and most know how to use flash and strobes as well. In general, stay away from natural light photographers for your wedding and be cautious of friends or friends.
Most Wedding Photographers are going to say their style is primarily photojournalistic. They say this because it’s the buzz word and a lot of couples are looking for this. Many couples don’t know the difference in styles. Journalistic photographers are those that tell a story with their photos. This is going to be your candid and action shots and “quick spur of the moment” shots.
It’s important to have a photographer that uses a portrait style as well. Generally, when you think of a portrait photographer you think of a studio, backdrops and being posed. While sometimes this is the case, a good wedding photographer does both. This type of style is important when taking the posed group and family shots… Normally the best and creative wedding pictures are posed.
If possible meet you photographer before the day of the wedding. Look at more than a couple of pictures before deciding to go with them. You might not like everything they show you, but you should like most. It will give you a little idea of what to expect. Engagement and bridal sessions are excellent ways to know what to expect on the big day too.
Russell Brinson Photography – Our photographers are members of (PPA) Professional Photographers of America. They are Fine Art photographers skilled at both journalistic and portrait photography as well as composited Fine Art. It’s a style exclusive to us in this area that combines techniques of landscape, architecture, editing and fashion to create Fine Art to give you a truly incredible picture capturing the bride and groom and the magnificence of their venue like no other.
2 – What kind of equipment do they use? What back up equipment do they have?
Most pros use Canon or Nikon. Both have many styles of cameras from point and shoot cameras to high end DSLRs. Professionals will use top of the line equipment and normally happy to brag about their equipment.
“Pro photographers pride themselves on their equipment and generally they have the best gear available. People who dabble in wedding photography on the side can’t justify the expense of professional gear, reliable backup gear, and proper business insurance. Consider experience – an amateur can show you a few good images, but can they do that day in and day out? Do they have the experience to deliver high quality images on a consistent basis? Probably not, or else – they would be running a real business. “
~ Mike Topham Photography, Richmond, VA
Russell Brinson Photography – Our photographer’s primary camera is a Canon 5D Mark III. It’s considered the best camera for wedding photography and it’s used by many pros. The camera uses 2 cards. As pictures are taken the imagines are stored on both cards in case there is a problem with one of the cards. If the camera goes down we always carry a backup. We use multiple high quality lenses so if we have a problem with one we can always switch to another.
3 – What type of insurance do you have?
Professional wedding photographers should have insurance that protect the photographer and the client. It helps the photographer if there is accident or loss of their equipment. They should also have liability protecting the client. Example: Uncle Bub trips over the photographer’s light stand and injure himself. Be sure to ask what company they have and does it cover their assistants. They should have liability as well. If a wedding photographer does not have insurance you are putting yourself at risk.
Russell Brinson Photography – Our photographers and their assistants are covered by our insurance. We have insurance through State Farm. It covers us and liability for our clients. We strive to put safety first, but if the unexpected happens we have you covered.
4 – Do they have a contract?
You should require a contract. It should be detailed as to what services they will be providing, pricing, products, packages, copyright, cancellation terms and payment. It’s there for your protection and the photographers, also it specify what you are getting for the price.
It should also detail what will happen if the photographer becomes ill, Acts of God, and loss of pictures.
Russell Brinson Photography – Contracts are meant to clarify any questions and details. Each contract is specific to the needs of that client.
5 – What is your budget? (Question to ask yourself to know if you can afford the photographer you want)
You should have an idea of your budget before picking your wedding photographer. It will help you get the most for your money and help the photographer to design you a package within your limit. Be careful of photographers that the price is too good to be true. It probably is and you will see it in loss of quality. On a limited budget, it’s better to invest in a good photographer rather than the products.
“I can’t tell you how many brides I’ve had come in to look at my albums, and tell me: “My sister got married last year. They had Uncle Bob take their pictures because he only charged them $200. But she didn’t get a single picture from her wedding that she likes. Every time she looks at her pictures, she cries.” The biggest mistake a bride can make is to undervalue her wedding photography. Countless brides have tried to save a few dollars by hiring a friend, or having a family member take their wedding photos. And countless brides have little but tears to show for it. Think of professional wedding photography as an investment in your future joy. It will cost a little now (although it will cost less than the food you serve at your wedding), but it will pay off in great dividends, as you enjoy the memories for the rest of your life.”
~ Fritz Liedtke, Fritz Photo, Portland, OR
6 – What is included in your package?
It is important to know what your package includes. Not only to know what to expect, but to compare packages with other photographers. When comparing nothing is more important than the skill and experience of the photographer.
Do you need more than one photographer or an assistant?
There are moments during a wedding you might miss by having just one photographer. Examples: If the only photographer is at one location getting pictures of the bride getting ready he will not be able to get pictures of the groom getting ready at a different location at the same time. When the Bride and Groom kiss, the photographer will be focused on them and can’t get the emotions from the parents or guest. Photographers stay very busy and have lots of equipment to keep with. An assistant is very useful to help with the little things.
Russell Brinson Photography – We have several packages available and is more than happy to create a custom package for you. We have packages with single or multiple photographers. Many times, we will have an assistant at no cost to you. These are individuals that want to learn more about photography or student photographers in training.
7 – How many weddings has the photographer shot?
If you have a photographer that has only shot a handful of weddings then he or she is new to wedding photography. You should use caution. Also, a photographer that has several weddings in a weekend may not give yours the priority that is deserves and attention to detail might be lost.
Russell Brinson Photography – Our client and their wedding are our priority. Russell Brinson Photography will not overbook and we pay close attention to each one and every detail. The details are so important. Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most.
8 – What does the photographer plan to wear?
Your photographer should be willing to dress as you and the event dictates. The photographer should blend in. Certain colors or attire my not be acceptable with certain religious or cultural events. What you consider appropriate dress should be decided at the time of contract and detailed in it.
Russell Brinson Photography – We have it detailed in our contract that you can state what you expect the photographer to wear. It could be blue jean and dress shirt for a barn wedding or a tuxedo for a formal one.
9 – Do you charge by the hour or event? If it runs over will there be an extra charge?
You don’t want your pictures held hostage because your photographer said the wedding ran overtime or have the photographer leaves in the middle of your wedding. It’s very important you talk to your photographer about their policy on how they charge.
Russell Brinson Photography – We cannot imagine walking out in the middle of a wedding. Our photographers are there for the event. We will not leave until you release us or the event is over. If there are any specifics regarding hours it will be noted in your package.
10 – How will the images be processed and how long until you receive the finished product?
There are many question you can ask dealing with this. Here’s a few:
Do you shoot in RAW or JPG?
How do you backup your pictures?
Do you color correct your photos or give them to me just as they were shot from the camera?
In what media and file type will I receive my images?
Can you do special effects with your pictures?
How long will it take for me to receive the finished product?
Pro photographers are going to shoot in RAW. This is a camera standard that will allow for a lot more editing than JPG will. If they just shoot in JPG you need to question their experience or their camera quality. A professional will take a RAW file and edit it in programs like Photoshop and Lightroom to get the best possible image. After editing the photographer will save them as JPG for your use. This is standard for general use, web use or for print.
When a file comes straight from the camera it may have colors that are off. It is important that the photographer corrects the color before you receive them. Shooting in a JPG format makes it very hard to adjust these corrections. A pro photographer will go through every photo and correct small things like, exposure adjustments, highlights or cropping it to get the best image. These things are what take so long for a picture to get back to you. Normally for every hour a photographer spends taking pictures they will spend 4 hours editing.
Pro Photographers will always have more than one copy of your images backed up in case they have a hard drive crashes or some type of system failure.
There are 4 general Medias that photographers use to deliverer pictures to you.
Prints (paper) – Come in many sizes, 5×7, 8×10, 16×20…etc.
Disc – CD, DVD or Blue Ray
USB – Acts as a small hard drive with your prints on them.
Download – View them and download them online.
Many professionals can do special effect. Example: Everything in black and white except the flowers which are in color or giving a picture a vintage look. Very few photographers can do Fine Art Composites. You need to ask if the special effect and Fine Art pictures are included in the package or if they charge extra.
Most photographers that develop and produce their images will take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months. They will normally sell you prints or the images on a Disc. Make sure you have a copyright release to have more printed or you will have to go back to them every time you want to make a print. Some photographers will give you a disc with the images on it, but have a water mark on the images. This means if you want any prints without the watermark you have to order them through that photographer.
Russell Brinson Photography – Your pictures are our priority. From the time your pictures are downloaded from the camera’s memory card they are backed up on a second hard drive. We never erase the originals from the camera card until we have the pictures completed and on your media type ready to deliver to you. In addition our insurance covers pictures retrieval from hard drives if they crash.
We will edit all Choice image for color and other details. We will deliver the images to you in any media you like, and in a JPG file type unless you ask for another type. Depending on your package you will receive copyright permission to have the imagines reproduced for personal use; this will be noted in the contract. Normally our photographers include some special effect pictures and a Fine Art Piece at no charge.
Generally, Russell Brinson Photography will get you your pictures back to you within 2 to 4 weeks after the wedding.
Your wedding will be one of the most memorable moments in your life. It’s a love story. As a professional photographer, I’m a story teller. Through my photography and videography, I will capture that once in a lifetime moment, the beginning of your “Love Story.”
Wedding photographers in Greenville, SC / Pickens, SC / Easley, SC / Asheville, N C / Peachtree City Ga / Surrounding Areas and Abroad Destinations.