Don’t Hire a Wedding Photographer Until You Read This!

Probably your most important decision, after choosing your Maine wedding venue, is choosing your photographer, and if you’re going to splurge on only one thing for your wedding – splurge on the photographer! Yes, the meal is important, and your DJ or band will bring the reception to life, and your wedding flowers are of paramount importance. But in 10 or 20 years, all that will remain of your wedding are your memories and photographs, so make sure to choose wisely.

Our guest blog post this week is written by Lauren DelVecchio of LAD Photography, a Maine wedding photographer. She has done outstanding work at the Agora Grand, a new wedding venue in Maine that specializes in all-inclusive and destination Maine weddings.

What are the current trends in wedding photography?

I think a lot of the “trends” have faded and beautiful images that stand the test of time are what matter now. I think the best photographers have the ability to capture the emotions of a wedding day, knowing where to be at the right time, and anticipating the right moment to click the shutter. I also think the best photographers will know how to use the right equipment, such as off-camera flash to create sunset photos, night photos, and the most amazing reception photos. It separates the beginners from the seasoned professionals, in my opinion.

How long should a bride budget for family pictures? Should they be done before or after the ceremony?

There are some traditions that some couples don’t want to say goodbye to. One of those is seeing each other for the first time as the bride or groom walks down the aisle. If that is done, then there is quite literally one hour from the time the ceremony ends until the reception begins (called the cocktail hour) to do family photos, wedding party photos, and photos of the couple alone. Twenty minutes for each of those three items is a safe way to budget time, but it also means that the photo list for family can’t be a page and a half long. Ask your photographer how many groupings they feel comfortable fitting into that family photo time. For me, it’s approximately 10-15 groupings, but certain other factors can change how many can realistically be done.

If a couple chooses to see each other before the ceremony (called a “first look”), they essentially have all the time they want for photos alone and for wedding party photos after they see each other, but before the ceremony. I still don’t recommend family photos happen before the ceremony because organizing that many people ahead of time can be like herding cats, and if it takes place after the ceremony instead, at least they are already in one place. Essentially, the process doesn’t take as long as trying to do them before the ceremony, and because you got wedding party photos and alone photos out of the way pre-ceremony, you’ll still have plenty of time to join your own cocktail hour and greet your guests!

What is your favorite style of photography, and why?

As far as weddings are concerned, my style varies based on the couple I’m photographing, the light that is given to me, and the mood of the day. I love shooting with natural light from the beginning of the day through the cocktail hour. You can get some amazing images using natural light, and it can bring a bright and airy feeling to the images. I’m a huge fan of pulling out lighting equipment for a reception, though. You can make reception photos feel like the party that it really is, and with the right lighting you can avoid unflattering photos, especially in dark spaces or after the sun sets.

Overall, I take a candid and photojournalistic approach to wedding photography. I like to take images that are not posed, aside from some great wedding party photos and images of a couple alone, and record the day as it happens. I’ll use a long lens and wait from halfway across the room as people talk and dance, and click away without them ever knowing I caught them smiling so big.

What tips would you offer a bride when she’s looking for a photographer for her wedding?

First, hire a professional. I hear more stories of well-meaning friends who want to photograph the wedding as a gift and end up backing out at the last minute, or deliver images the newlyweds are not at all happy with. It can put a huge strain on a friendship.

Second, find a photographer whose style you like, and just as importantly, whose personality you like, too! Aside from your wedding planner, your photographer will play one of the largest roles as a professional contributor to making your wedding day perfect. If they don’t make you feel comfortable enough to just be yourself around them, you might consider another photographer.

There are some venues that are notoriously difficult to photograph. This is why I stress the importance of hiring a professional, and especially one who knows how to use off-camera flash. There’s an incredible difference in the color and quality of images taken without it.

What kinds of backdrops make the best wedding photographs?

There is no backdrop that makes the “best” wedding photographs. Whatever fits the personality of the couple being married is the best! That can range from an apple orchard to a botanical garden, a farm, a rooftop with a cityscape at night, to a lodge in the woods, and all seasons have their beauty. The floral backdrops of spring are just as amazing to photograph as a couple in a horse-drawn sleigh in the snow.

Can you tell us about one of your favorite weddings, and what made it your favorite?

I don’t have a favorite wedding. There are some that stand out in my mind more than others, because they had something new I had never seen before, or because the party was insane. But what makes a wedding special and amazing to me is the couple themselves. I love couples who put a lot of thought into their day, who choose their wedding professionals carefully and then allow them to use their expertise to create magic for them. Couples who smile and laugh, and on the wedding day, just let go and enjoy it all, understanding that not everything will go according to plan, but it doesn’t make the day any less perfect.

What should a bride expect to pay for various photography services?

There is an enormous range of skill level in Maine when it comes to wedding photography. And there is a difference between a photographer who specializes in weddings and those who do not.

You can find a photographer who will photograph your wedding for as little as $500 if it is their first wedding and they need the work to build a portfolio. You can also find a photographer who starts above the $5000 mark. Depending on the skill level of the person you are hiring, and their experience with weddings, whether they are legally in business and paying their taxes, have insurance, bring backup equipment, etc., will all affect your price. Some photographers also include more or fewer hours in their packages, and some include albums while others do not.

My best recommendation when choosing your wedding photographer is to decide what your priorities are for your wedding day. If excellent photography is one of them, you should choose someone who is experienced (has more than 25 weddings as a primary shooter under their belt), and whose personality you really like. Do your research on reviews as well. Ask whether they carry insurance and have a sales tax ID number. Ask whether they can shoot in very low light situations, too, and how they light a dance floor.

Once you’ve chosen the person who you know will rock your wedding photography, don’t worry so much about price. You do get what you pay for when it comes to wedding photos. If you are working on a budget, figure out where you can cut elsewhere. If great photography is not high on your list of priorities for your wedding day, and maybe having a live band is, then spring for the band and hire a less experienced photographer. Just be aware of the trade-off and what your photos may look like.

What tips would you offer a bride so that she enjoys the wedding of her dreams?

Be organized from the beginning and don’t leave the little tasks to the last minute because they are time-consuming and stressful and not what you want to worry about the week before your wedding. And most importantly, on the wedding day, let it all go. (Side note: a wedding planner or day of coordinator is a great investment).
If you’ve been organized and planned everything with the littlest of details in mind, then everything should go really smoothly the day of the wedding. Sometimes not everything goes perfectly, but at that point, you just need to realize that what matters isn’t whether your cake has a small lean or your bridesmaids shoes weren’t the right color… it’s that you get to marry the person you are truly madly deeply in love with, and that should be enough to put the biggest smile on your face for the whole day!

If you’d like to find out more about Maine wedding photography, feel free to reach Lauren at LAD Photography. We also have blog posts on how to choose other vendors, including officiantscaterers, and florists, as well as whether to choose a buffet or plated meal for your reception.If you’d like to know more about Maine wedding venues, costs involved, as well as amenities, let us know!