Frequently Asked Questions …
Wedding Photojournalism & Style
Q: What makes your photography different?
First, I value authentic moments and authentic emotions above all. For me, the magic of photography is how it draws from reality and transports us to a time, a place and a feeling — far more vividly than our memories do. At some point, our memories of events start to merge with our photos of those events.
As a result, authentic documentary photos hold a value for me that goes beyond the value of posed photos. That doesn’t mean that I never direct my subjects (I do direct people for portraits). It does mean that I put extra effort into the unposed photos. These are genuinely found, brief and unique. Typically, they only happen once and can’t be re-staged.
Related to that, I value photos that are themselves authentic representations. This means that I shy away from trendy ways to stylize photos. Wedding photography has been the home of many trends that came and went. Whatever is “in” at the moment is guaranteed to be “out” and to look dated in a few years. Just look back at old wedding photos. The ones that captured real moments remain meaningful and timeless. The ones that were stylized or over-processed show their age and often look a bit cheesy.
I hope you’ll see in my photos a natural style — creative but not forced. I may try something new from time to time, but generally speaking you won’t find photos that are “overcooked” with trendy effects that will come and go.
Finally, it seems that every photographer today describes themselves as “unobtrusive”. I say it too — but not because it’s trendy. I say it because unobtrusive actually is my nature: that’s who I am. I have a low-key, quiet personality that fits in easily at a wedding or other event. I don’t have a tendency to direct. I can direct when it’s needed, such as for some portraits, but for the most part I prefer to be an attentive observer — someone who is in the moment and who will tell the story well.
Q: What is wedding photojournalism?
Wedding photojournalism is photography of the real moments of a wedding, as they happen, without staging or direction by the photographer. I also make any requested posed portraits, although those typically make up only a small percentage of the day’s photos. My goal is to document the event as a witness, and to tell the story of the event from an artistic point of view.
For a photojournalist, key goals typically include:
- anticipate action and peak moments
- be very present, open to the spontaneous and unexpected
- show both action and reaction
- make pictures that tell a story
- get close for details, but also step back to describe the place
- establish mutual trust to capture genuine moments and emotions
- look for good light, and use available light as much as practical
- compose thoughtfully, being mindful of backgrounds, layers and juxtapositions
- photograph with your own way of seeing, your own artistic sensibility
- edit to present the images that are most effective at telling the story
Q: Will you photograph every person at the wedding?
I don’t photograph every person in attendance, but please feel free to ask for photos of specific people and groups during the reception.
Q: Will you photograph each table?
I usually make candid photographs of guests interacting with the bride and groom. Posed table photos are rarely done as many guests are only seated when they are eating or listening to a speech — both very impractical times for table shots. While food is being served, I have to stay out of the way of the servers. At other times, guests move around to mingle; they get up to dance or go to the bar, so tables are usually incomplete. Photographing tables involves asking people on one side of the table to get up and stand behind people on the other side of the table, which can take a good deal of time if there are many tables. Tall centerpieces often get in the way. Also, if I’m doing table photos while the bride and groom dancing or interacting with guests somewhere else, I can miss a lot of good photos.
If posed table shots are requested, I recommend that the bride and groom participate in each table photo as guests will readily gather for a portrait with the bride and groom, and it makes for a more meaningful photo. Otherwise it is just the photographer interrupting their meal. Table photos at a few selected tables can be done fairly quickly, but a group photo at every table can take up much of the reception, depending on the number of tables.
Pricing, Availability & Booking
Q: What are your rates and are you available for our wedding date?
I offer a wide range of coverage options and each can be customized to your wedding. Pricing is based on a rate of $350 per hour.
Please get in touch via the Contact page or by phone for my complete price list and to check availability. Please mention your event date and locations and how you heard about me.
Q: How do we reserve the date?
Your date is reserved once I receive your signed contract and a retainer for 50% of the contract total. Dates are booked on a first come, first served basis. Dates are not held pending a scheduled meeting, or after a meeting, as other clients may actually submit their contract and retainer in the meantime. You can print the contract form linked in the introductory email or included in my printed information package. New Jersey residents please add 7% sales tax. I will return a fully signed copy of the contract for your records. The contract balance will be due two weeks before the event date.
Q: Can you provide a second photographer?
Yes, I would be glad to include a second photographer. Please see the current price list for the cost of this option. Please reserve the second photographer at least two months before your event.
A second photographer may be helpful when:
- photography is required at two locations at the same time. An example of this is when the bride and groom are getting ready at different locations. If they are near each other, such as in the same hotel, then a solo photographer may be able to first photograph one and then the other.
- photography is required from two perspectives at the same time. An example of this is during the ceremony when one photographer may be at the front of the aisle and the other may be at the back.
- key events are happening simultaneously on different floors or in different rooms, or there is a large number of guests (250+), or clients simply want more photos.
Q: What is the resolution and format of the digital files?
If your coverage includes high-resolution digital files, they are presented on a flash drive or DVD in their native camera resolution (usually about 20 megapixels) in JPG format. This resolution is suitable for very large prints.
Q: Are the digital files individually adjusted?
Yes, digital files are individually adjustmented for color, contrast and brightness. They are generally not cropped or retouched. Retouched digital files are available for an additional fee (please refer to your price schedule).
Q: How long will the digital files last?
The lifespan of flash drives and DVDs varies depending on the brand and the storage conditions. Recommended brands of flash drives include Sandisk and Lexar, and recommended brands of DVDs include Verbatim and Taiyo Yuden. Like negatives, flash drives and DVDs are sensitive to heat, light and moisture, and do degrade over time. Unlike negatives, they can easily be duplicated without any loss of quality. It is advisable to make an extra copy to be stored at a separate location, and to re-copy them every 3 to 5 years.
Portraits at Weddings
Q: Will there be any posed photos?
I recommend that we do a few posed photos. Portraits are important for family historical purposes, and these are normally posed. The five key group photos for most weddings are:
- bride and groom
- bride and groom with wedding party
- bride and groom with parents
- bride and groom with bride’s immediate family (include any siblings and grandparents)
- bride and groom with groom’s immediate family (include any siblings and grandparents)
I would be glad to photograph as many groups as you wish. Please keep in mind that each group of people is likely to take about 3 minutes (sometime more for big groups).
My photographic style is non-posed, journalistic coverage of events in real time, so a long list of posed photos reduces my ability to find and capture naturally occurring moments. For example: a list of 30 posed photos could take 90 minutes or more. If you plan to do more than the five key group photos above, I recommend that you assign one or two people to help gather people for the group photos. Give them your portrait list so they know who to gather.
Q: How long will the portraits take?
For scheduling, I estimate that each arrangement of people will take 3 minutes. So, for example, if there are 10 arrangements of people on your portrait list, the estimated time will be (10 arrangements) x (3 minutes each) = 30 minutes. Typically, some groups are photographed in several arrangements. For example, portraits of the bride and groom with parents may involve several arrangements (bride and groom with all parents or each set of parents, bride with mom, etc.). The bride and groom with the wedding party may involve several arrangements as well (bride and groom with entire wedding party, bride with bridesmaids, groom with groomsmen, etc.).
In addition, plan some time for portraits of the bride and groom — anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. How much time depends on the location and on your personal taste for portraits. I generally don’t want to keep you away from the wedding for more than 15 minutes, but more time definitely helps if the location has an interesting landscape or buildings, or if you would really like some extra shots.
Please make everyone aware of the scheduled time for group photos, and send me a list of your requested portraits at least one week before the wedding.
Payment, Taxes and Travel
Q: Does sales tax apply?
The State of New Jersey requires that I collect and remit sales tax on the entire coverage fee unless the photographs are to be delivered outside NJ for use by the client out of State. If the photographs are to be delivered in NJ, then sales tax applies, even if the event is photographed in another State.
Q: How do we pay?
The retainer may be paid by check only. Print orders and album orders can be paid either by check or credit card.
Q: Is there a travel fee?
There is no travel fee if the location is less than 75 miles from Cresskill, NJ (07626). Please inquire about availability for farther locations. For locations that are more than 75 miles from Cresskill, a travel fee of $75 per hour is added for the round trip travel time. For example, if the location is three hours away, the round trip would be six hours, so the travel fee would be 6 x $75 = $450. The cost of hotel accommodation (if needed) is additional. Time and distance are calculated using Google Maps. Please inquire about additional travel fees if the assignment requires air travel.
Prints & Proofs
Q: What are proofs?
Proofs are 4×6″ prints that are available as an option on my current price list. Proofs are made from the high resolution digital files, so they have the same adjustments for brightness, color and contrast. Proofs are the entire set of photos and are printed as a batch. They cannot be ordered individually or with cropping. There is no logo or writing on the front. Proofs are printed borderless or with a white border if requested.
Q: How many photos will we receive, and will we receive every image that you take?
You will receive approximately 100 photos per hour of coverage, averaged over the coverage time. Wedding clients with 8-hour coverage typically receive 600 to 900 proofs after I have completed my editing and post-production work. Editing is an essential part of the creative process, and is as important in photography as it is in other arts. Unedited photographs are like the very first draft of a book or song. The ability to edit later allows the photographer to shoot more freely. When photographing fast action or rapidly changing expressions, the photographer may make several similar images very quickly and later select the best among them. Subjects blinking or having unappealing or unflattering expressions are some common factors that may cause images to be edited out.
Q: Are any photos retouched?
Retouching is available as an added cost option when ordering prints. I also retouch portraits when creating an album. Please inquire if you have a special request for retouching of a photo.
Retouching usually consists of reducing the appearance of:
- glare on eyeglasses
- shine on foreheads
- yellow teeth
- excessive skin redness
- temporary blemishes (pimples, cuts, etc.)
- lint on clothing
I occasionally also retouch small details in the background. When practical, I may do a bit of slimming to counter the wide-angle distortion inherent in some lenses (“pounds added by the camera”). I generally can’t remove people or large objects unless it’s practical to do so by ordinary cropping of the sides of a photo.
Good retouching is subtle, never obvious. It doesn’t draw any attention to itself. This is why I put the emphasis on reducing certain details, rather than eliminating them. Eliminating them completely would result in an unnatural, overly perfect look. While “perfect” may sound appealing, in practice it looks artificial and is easily spotted by the viewer. This makes the viewer distrust the photo as “fake” or “photoshopped”.
The magic and wonder of photography is that the image is automatically drawn from the light emanating from the subject at a specific time. As a result, it can represent a past reality with greater vividness and authority than any other art. Photography is the ultimate memory aid. But once our trust in the image is broken, such as through excessive retouching, that special authenticity of photography is gone. What is left is more of an illustration, perhaps a good one, but not one that represents how something looked.
We’ve also moved culturally toward greater realism and away from artificiality. As a result, highly retouched images look more fake to us than they did in the past. Overly smoothed skin is now described as “plastic-looking”. Photographs that are overly retouched may give the appearance of being dated, as if from a time or place where such a look was in fashion.
Q: How much time should we plan for getting ready photos?
Not all clients request getting ready photos, but for the ones that do I recommend 1 to 2 hours of coverage of the getting ready time, especially if there will be some posed portraits toward the end of that time.
Q: Do you have any advice on scheduling and staying on schedule?
Yes, quite a lot! Please see my article: “How to Keep a Wedding Day on Schedule” (link).
Q: How much time should we schedule for portraits?
How much time is needed for portraits depends on how many portraits are needed. This varies greatly from one wedding to another. Some couples and families expect a lot of portraits, some just a few. Some want big family photos, others don’t.
As a general rule of thumb, portraits take about 3 minutes per group. So, for example, five groups of people require about 15 minutes. Ten groups require about 30 minutes. These five groups are photographed at nearly all weddings: (1) couple with bride’s family, (2) couple with both sets of parents, (3) couple with groom’s family, (4) couple with wedding party, and (5) couple alone. The actual photography may take less than a minute per group, but gathering and arranging people easily adds a few minutes. Very large groups take longer.
Some groups are typically photographed in several arrangements. For example, the wedding party may be photographed as one group and then separately as several sub-groups, such as bride with bridesmaids, groom with groomsmen, etc. In that case, plan an extra 3 minutes for each such sub-group.
In addition, plan some time for portraits of the bride and groom — anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. I generally don’t want to keep you away from the wedding for more than 15 minutes, but more time definitely helps if the location has an interesting landscape or buildings, or if you would really like some extra shots.
Please make everyone aware of the scheduled time for group photos, and send me a list of your requested portraits at least one week before the wedding.
Q: Can we include our invitation in the album?
Yes. Please mail me an original of your invitation when you order your album. The invitation can be added to the album at no extra cost.
Q: How do we identify photos for album orders?
When preparing photo lists for album orders, clients can save a good deal of typing by identifying their selections using just the first 4 numbers in the photo’s filename. Those are unique to each photo. There’s no need to write the full ID number, which is 13 characters long, followed by “.jpg” — something like this:
You can send me just the first 4 numbers to identify that photo for your album (or print order), thus saving yourself a lot of typing:
Alternatively, you can use the online gallery’s Favorites feature to select and send me your album photo selections.
To save a list of your Favorites, please click on the “Login or Register” link in the top menu and create an account. When creating an account, enter your name and email and set your personal password, which is different than the password that I set for the gallery. To select Favorites, click the ♥︎ symbol that appears over the top of a photo when you mouse over it. Your Favorites can then be accessed via the My Selection link at the top left of the screen. After clicking on My Selection, you also have the option of sending me your Favorites list for the album by clicking “Send to…” at the top left and then clicking “Share”. Be sure to also follow up with an email as we’ll need to discuss cover options, etc.
Q: How big are the albums?
The exact size depends on the album style. For traditional matted albums:
- Medium albums typically hold 5×7″ photos on 9×9″ pages. They may also hold some 5×5″ and 6×8″ photos.
- Large albums typically hold 7×10″ and 8×10″ photos on 12×12″ pages. Large albums can also include a mix of other photo sizes.
All photos get trimmed a bit by the album maker.
Q: Leather albums with matted photos look a bit old-fashioned to me. Do you offer more contemporary albums?
Many clients love the traditional “800″ matted album, but others feel it is too old-fashioned. The most contemporary design is probably the “3500″. You can see an assortment of 3500 albums at my album maker’s Pinterest boards here:
The 3500 albums have no outlines as the photos are not matted and can extend to the edge of the page, although most pages are done with some white border around the photos.
The difference between “split edition” and “folded edition” is minor. It just depends on whether the photos are printed as single pages or double pages. If printed as double pages, then the pages are necessarily folded at the binding. I prefer the split edition.
Another option is the “8500″ which combines traditional and contemporary styles. It looks traditional on the inside, but contemporary on the outside:
“7500″ is the non-square version of the square “8500″. Please note that if you choose a matted album (such as the 8500), the outlines around the photos can be in white, black, gray, brown, red, copper, silver or gold.
For the cover, there are many fabric and leather options: