What makes a wedding photographer worth it? And what coverage do I really need?
Since 2012, I've helped couples navigate over 500 weddings, engagements and proposals. And when it comes to confusion and frustration around their photography needs, it all boils down to those two questions: Is a wedding photographer worth it, and what coverage do I actually need?
Most people think a wedding photographer is just a warm body with a camera, maybe one that went to art school. And that... can be enough. But that type of photographer isn't going to show up to your rehearsal unpaid to introduce themselves to your family and friends, or drive 3 hours to scout your venue a year prior to your date so they know exactly what the lighting conditions will be like.
A good wedding photographer focuses on that kind of trust-building and preparation, because those are the key drivers of clients' comfort. And comfort is what lets them forget about the camera in those high-emotion moments that everyone wants to capture.
But even if a wedding photographer nails the prep and trust and captures those high-emotion moments, there are still times when they need to go beyond the camera, stop being a vendor, and be their clients' biggest advocate instead. To do that takes a little something extra.
The reason I contract clients for multiple face-to-face meetings prior to their wedding isn't just so that I can wine and dine them. Aside from being a full-time wedding photographer, I also moonlight as a researcher specializing in behavioral observation for tech companies. I'm really good at reading body language and micro expressions in-context, and I use this skill to more fully understand my clients' expressed preferences. Maybe they defer to their partner around certain subjects, suggesting one person has a stronger attachment to an outcome (or that one person doesn't feel able to express their own!), or maybe their sentences get short and stilted when a particular family member's name comes up.
I pay careful attention to these details. I know when to circle back and let someone be heard, when to add a particular detail/moment to my 'emotional must-haves' shot list, or when not to put two people next to each other in a family picture.
In this way, a wedding photographer is the only vendor you'll have that sees every piece of the day's puzzle - not just the moments, but where they originated. A good one will notice how all those moments connect, where preferences align, and how it all will come together.
I've seen all the things that can trip a couple up, what caused them, and what came after. My experience can help you do it right.
So welcome! To the first installment of my Beyond the Camera series. Whether you're a couple just starting to plan your wedding, or a new photographer giving this business an honest go, I know you'll find something of value.
Releasing weekly on Mondays (via Instagram), I plan to share notable lessons and stories from my time as a wedding photographer and demystify my business practices. I'll cover topics like:
- the most common pitfalls of scheduling a wedding day
- how to never lose a client's images
- how I optimized my editing to deliver full wedding galleries (1200 images) in under 10 days (when some photographers take 10 months!)
- how I use data to understand client segments and create successful advertising strategies
- the craziest wedding stories you never thought you'd read
- and much more...
I don't assume my process is the only viable one, but I do hope to make others think about what a wedding photographer can really be. How much more they can offer than a warm body with a camera.
I hope you enjoy~