Main photo by Julie Dreelin
OBX Wedding Photography: You want to hold on to every moment – every detail – of your wedding day for years to come. And while memories may fade, you can be assured that photographs will keep those precious memories alive long after that first year of marriage.
Again and again, photographs will retell the beautiful story of your wedding day to you, your children and your grandchildren. That’s why the bride and groom will want to take great care in choosing the right photographer and videographer to capture all those special moments that make up their special day. It’s an investment of time and money you’ll thank yourself for every time you open your wedding album.
Fortunately, the Outer Banks has plenty of talented and dedicated photography professionals to choose from. A quick flip through this magazine is a testament to that. The biggest challenge for couples is sifting through this talented pool of artists to choose the one right for you, your style and your wedding venue. There is a lot to keep in mind, but breaking it down and following this guide can help you in deciding which photographer and videographer will be the perfect match for you on your wedding day.
Make it Your Style
One of the most important points to consider when hiring a photographer is your personal style. There are a number of popular styles of wedding photography out there, so read the list below to get started. Be sure to talk to photographers about their forte and comfort zone regarding style or combinations of styles and, of course, consider the popular trends in photography as we’ve detailed below.
If you are looking for traditional portraits, seek out a photographer who specializes in them. Prior to the wedding, a portrait photographer will arrange for shots of the wedding couple, family, friends and the wedding party. Photographers may shoot portraits in the studio or in more creative locales such as the sand dunes, on the beach, or beside piers.
Documentary or Photojournalistic
This type of photography focuses on candid or spontaneous photographs as opposed to posed portraits. If you are looking for photos that capture the moment and tell a story, this may be the style for you. With documentary photography, you will see fewer photos of people who are lined up and smiling into the camera. These photographers will capture more fluid and spontaneous images of the entire event, and in the end, you will have your wedding story in photos.
This style allows photographers to put their own creative touch into the photographic process. Photographers can make photos appear dramatic, old fashioned, or soft and dreamy. They can choose which part of the composition to blur, sending the focus to artistic imagery and actions. Think elegant photos of the wedding dress, last minute shots as the bride gets ready and candid moments with the bridesmaids. Some photographers opt to shoot both digitally and with film so that they have wider latitude in choosing styles and effects.
If you want journalistic or artistic photography plus portraiture, check to make sure your photographer is willing to do different styles. Some don’t. One way to get a good sense of a photographer’s style is to look through his or her portfolio. You want your family to savor these memories for generations, so be sure to communicate your desires to the photographer.
The bottom line is that your photographer has to be someone you genuinely like. Remember, this person is going to be a big part of your wedding day. If you find the photographer you are interviewing to be inflexible, pushy, abrasive, or just plain annoying, those sentiments will come across in the photos that are taken. Weddings can be stressful enough, so you need to hold onto all the joy that comes with the big day. One tip: Imagine that your photographer is one of the guests at your wedding and be sure this person is someone you would be happy to have attending.
A warning flag should go up if you are asking all the questions and the photographer is not asking you anything. Photographers should be interested in how you want your wedding day to go. They need to know important details such as how many people are in the wedding party, the lighting at the venue, whether there will be dancing, who your attendants are, and how long you anticipate each phase of your wedding to last. These questions show they are invested, sensitive to detail, and interested in getting the best shots. If they are not asking, it may be time to consider interviewing another photographer.
Packages, Proofs, Privacy, and Prints
There is a lot more that goes into hiring a photographer than what shots he or she will take on the wedding day. If you follow some simple guidelines, you can make the hiring process easier and lessen the possibility of undesirable surprises.
During the interview, be sure to ask the photographer what packages are available and whether you can customize a package based on your preferences. The photographer should also let you know what album designs are offered and whether he or she will help create an album. Policies on features such as retouching and color adjustment are also important details to hammer out before a contract is signed.
It is important to get answers such as whether the proofs will be retouched or if that happens only after the photos are selected. You should know before you hire a photographer whether there is an additional cost for retouching. Find out how many images you will get back and whether they will be high resolution or low resolution. Inquire whether you will be able to reprint photos or if the photographer retains the rights to the images and negatives.
The cost of the package and what services are covered is essential information. Ask about reprints, mini-albums, wall portraits, printing on canvas, frames, and which of these items are considered add-ons. And don’t ever be pressured to commit to a package on the spot. Know the timeline for when you will receive the proofs and inquire about whether you will be able to view them online or if you will get them on a CD. Check what the ordering process is and how long it will take to receive your photos or album.
It typically takes two to three weeks to get your wedding images back. Often, completed print orders can be provided within eight to 10 weeks. It’s a good idea to ask whether the photographer will give you the negatives or digital images and if there is a fee involved.
Another consideration in this age of social media is privacy. Some photographers will post wedding albums online so your wedding guests can order their own prints, and as a way to show off their professional portfolio to future clients. If you are concerned about privacy, find out ahead of time who will be given passwords to your photo collection, how long they will be posted, and who determines which photos to post.
Always insist on a written contract, know how much of a deposit is required, and inquire about possible payment plans if need be. Other need-to-know information includes the photographer’s refund/cancellation policy and whether they have liability insurance. A contract should include details of what services will be provided and at what price, conflict resolution terms, overtime policies, etc. It is definitely time to walk away from the photographer who says he or she doesn’t use contracts.
The Right Angle: Take Advantage of Where You Are
Don’t forget all the reasons you picked the Outer Banks as your venue in the first place – the majestic ocean, romantic beaches and beautiful sunrises and sunsets! With this in mind, it is important to discuss details with your photographer about making the most of the natural environment on your wedding day. Remember that here on the Outer Banks, the sun rises over the ocean and sets on the sound. Time your wedding day and photographs accordingly if you are interested in sun-related shots. Ask about high and low tide on your wedding day and how that will affect your photos. Inquire about backup plans if the weather thwarts your desire for glorious outdoor photos.
A Vintage Touch: Black & White
Take away color, and you are left to completely focus on emotions, people and composition. Black and white photography will never be out of style. In fact, couples love it and enjoy mixing it in with color shots. Any color photo can be changed to black and white – or just portions of the photo can be colorized to make just the bride’s bouquet and the groom’s boutonnière pop out in a sea of gray, for example. Your photographer is the right person to ask if the image works well monochromatically or if it’s better in color. You can view it with just a click, thanks to digital photography. So if you are looking for drama, a vintage photo feel, or simply love the look, consider tried and true, black and white photos.
Small Booth = Instant Photo Fun
Photo booths at weddings provide not only entertainment for your wedding guests but they also create an instant keepsake for them to take home. In addition to the photos that your guests will keep, today’s photo booths will automatically capture all of the day’s shots on a single DVD for the wedding couple to see and share later. Photo booth mementos make excellent gifts and are sure to be some of your favorite, unscripted sights from the wedding.
Drones are everywhere and weddings aren’t any exception. Drones are perfect at providing aerial views of your wedding venue as well as hard to get vantage points of your ceremony. Just think – an overhead shot of your processional, the dance floor, the toast…the possibilities are truly endless.
Just for You
Intimate shots of the happy couple are very popular these days. A boudoir approach says: for your eyes only. Imagine tasteful forms shot through sheer curtains with available light – clad in delicate nightwear. An embrace, private kiss, or cozy couple in a soft bedroom chair can be romantic and make a wonderful wedding gift to each other.
What About a Videographer?
A photographer at your wedding is really a no-brainer. But the videographer can be just as important. After all, photos can’t capture the sounds, movements, and all of the emotions that go into your wedding day. Videos can immortalize every word of your vows, every music note during the reception, and every smile during the toast.
The most recent trend in videography is high definition. In addition, new technology allows you to add vintage-style scenes to your video. For example, a Super 8 effect, which gives the video a grainy feel, can be used to enhance some classic shots. A videographer can improve color, contrast and volume after the film has been shot. Typically an amateur shooting a home video does not have the ability to meet all the challenges of videotaping a wedding. A bonus in hiring a professional videographer is that they have filmed dozens of weddings and can anticipate the crucial moments of the day. They also have the audio equipment to meet challenges in our unique environment, such as capturing the vows with the ocean roaring in the background or lighting contrasts between bright beaches and shaded piers.
When it comes to documenting your special day so you can return to it years from now through photographs, the most important thing to remember is to go with the professionals. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions and be sure your personalities match. Be assertive and don’t settle for a style you don’t want.
In other words, know what you want and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Engaged: Let the Photos tell your Love Story
After you say “yes,” but before you say, “I do,” another question is bound to come up between you and your soon-to-be spouse during all that wedding planning.
Should we get engagement photos?
Engagement photos have become increasingly popular among happy couples, which means that more and more of those newly engaged lovebirds are going in front of the camera months before their wedding day arrives. These photos are used for everything from personalized albums and save-the-dates, to wedding websites and engagement announcements. Not to mention, these precious photographs are often as cherished as the ones taken on your wedding day.
Experiencing these pre-wedding photo shoots often gives couples an opportunity to be photographed in a more casual, intimate setting – when the stakes aren’t quite so high as they may be on the big day. The end result can be truly authentic, genuine photographs in which the couples’ love for one another naturally shines through.
Another advantage for couples who opt for engagement photos is that they are given a chance to work with their photographer before the wedding. Some photographers offer engagement photos as part of the entire wedding package. Others offer mini sessions. If you’re not entirely sold on your photographer just yet, sign on for the engagement photos first and see how it goes. You can decide later if you want to book the photographer for your wedding day.
The cost of engagement photo sessions can vary, but the average session tends to run about $250.
If you decide you want engagement photos, below are some key things to consider before and during the photo session:
• Meet with your photographer beforehand. Be sure to address personal concerns in advance and let him or her know what you have in mind.
• Research images of engagement photos online and choose a handful of images you love and could easily imitate.
• Schedule your photo shoot early in your engagement so you can use the photos for your announcement, save-the-date, website, on and social media outlets.
• Consider what makes you who you are as a couple and choose a location that tells a part of your story. The location you decide on should be meaningful to you, or perhaps evoke a memory of a time spent together.
• Lighting is important. Remember to consider both lighting and background when choosing a location. Sunsets make for great photos, while open fields at high noon with no shade may feel oppressive. Consult your photographer when choosing the time of day and location.
• Dress comfortably, but perhaps a bit more formal how you would wear on a daily basis. Remember, these are your photos so you should love the outfits you choose.
• Decide what you want from your photos. Is it a casual, laidback look that documents this exciting period of your life? An intimate, romantic feel? Let your photographer know.
• Consider props that you could use. Some popular items include balloons, pets and seashells.
Most importantly, perhaps, is to remember to relax. Let your love for each other flow naturally. Try to shut out your photographer as much as possible to allow for more candid shots. Be active. Be playful. Be yourself. And have fun.
Before You Hire: A Checklist
The consensus among most wedding planning experts is that you should hire your photographer as soon as possible – at least six months before the big day. But that doesn’t mean you should do so without careful consideration. Be sure the photographer meets your vision and needs. Once you have established that the photographer has your wedding date open and is willing to shoot the style you are looking for, ask these questions:
• How long have you been a professional photographer, and how many weddings have you shot?
• Have you photographed weddings at the site where our event is being held?
• Will you be the actual photographer, or do you utilize assistants?
• How do you describe your working style?
• How will you be dressed?
• What type of equipment do you use?
• Do you shoot digitally, with film, or both?
• Do you provide in both color and black and white?
• What backup equipment do you bring with you to weddings?
• May I request specific shots or groups of people that need to be captured?
• Do you have any other events to shoot on the same days as our wedding events?
• What time will photographers arrive, and how long will they shoot?
• If the wedding events last longer than anticipated, will you stay and how much do you charge for overtime?
• If a videographer is being hired, ask if the photographer has ever worked with him or her on another job and how they recommend coordinating their efforts.
• Ask to see the photographer’s portfolio – including photographs from all events at a wedding.
• Ask for references. (Contact three or four couples who have hired the photographer and had weddings similar in size and style to yours.) ♥