Moms and The Knot and potential clients all have one thing in common: they’ve got questions. And I’m here to answer them! If you still can’t find what you’re looking for after looking through this list, please don’t hesitate to contact me for more information!
I don’t see any traditional, posed photographs on your website. Do you still take those?
You bet! Although I treasure the candid, unrehearsed moments I capture during weddings and portrait shoots, I also take plenty of more traditional shots of you and your family smiling at the camera. I think each type of photo is wonderful in its own right, so I try to achieve the best balance between the two throughout any shoot.
Do you have backup equipment?
Absolutely! I shoot with professional Canon camera bodies and lenses and have backups to my backups. :)
How do we book you?
For weddings, I require a signed contract and 50% deposit at the time of booking to reserve your date. (The remaining 50% is due two weeks before the wedding.) For portrait sessions, payment in full is due at the time of the session, but it’s always a good idea to schedule the session a few weeks ahead of time (or more during the fall and holiday season, which is the busiest time for portrait photographers). Please contact me if you’d like to see a sample contract and proceed with the booking process!
Why is professional photography so dang expensive?
This is a tough question to answer, because sometimes it comes down to a matter of what you value and prioritize when you spend your money. Some people prefer to splurge on designer clothes or fancy meals or pricey home improvement projects, while others would rather invest that money in quality photographs that will last a lifetime and can’t be captured in exactly the same way once time has passed. I’m not one to argue with personal preference, but I will say that there are several factors that go into the cost of the photography you’re paying for.
For one, just as you’re paying a doctor or a lawyer not just for their time, but also for their years of education and experience, you’re paying a photographer not just an hourly wage, but also for all the time and resources they have previously invested into the development of their talents. Sure, photography may not be brain surgery, but it does require hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to cultivate.
Experienced wedding photographers are invaluable on your wedding day. For one, they’re going to know their equipment inside and out. They’ll know exactly which lenses and settings to use to get the perfect shot in a given scenario, and they’ll anticipate important moments. They’ll have the equipment and knowledge to be able to handle any lighting situation, from dark churches to rainy days to less-than-lovely flourescent lights. They know how to pose you in your best light and most flattering angles, how to manage the chaos of family and bridal party photos, and how to always be on the lookout for unsightly stray hairs, bobby pins, fire extinguishers, and any other distracting elements that might tarnish your images. They know composition and editing and album design. Bonus? They have learned the art of the flow and schedule of a wedding day firsthand. They’ll be able to guide you as you figure out when to make your hair appointment, when to make sure to tell Grandma to show up for family pictures, and how long portraits will take post-ceremony. The bottom line? They’ve been to a whole bunch of weddings and understand them inside and out!
Also, there are a lot of business expenses associated with being a photographer. Quality equipment (not to mention insurance, taxes, licenses, marketing, education, and other costs) adds up to thousands of dollars. And a photographer’s job doesn’t begin when they show up to shoot and end when they drive away from the reception. They also spend a lot of time responding to emails, meeting with clients, editing, mailing off products, designing albums, etc. By the time it’s all said and done, I put at least 40 hours of work into a single wedding. But it’s so worth it!
And finally, you’re paying for a photographer’s unique artistic vision. No two photographers will see and document a wedding in exactly the same way. Look through a photographer’s portfolio and you’ll see what distinguishes them from others, from the way they compose to the way they edit to how they present themselves. Chances are, you’ll be drawn to a particular style, which means that a photographer who fits that style will become a hot commodity in your eyes. Anyone can go out and buy a fancy camera, but a true artist can use any equipment they’re given to create beautiful images. You can’t go out and purchase vision at the store. So when you find someone whose vision you admire, I would say it’s worth paying a little extra for them. (As a bride, I ended up spending twice the amount on photography as I was planning to because I fell in love with my photographer’s style, and it was 100% worth it!)
We’re stumped on what to wear for our portrait session. Any suggestions?
My biggest piece of advice would be to not over think it and to dress comfortably. I want you to be relaxed and to feel and look like yourself. (Same goes for your kiddos!) Take something you would normally wear and kick it up a notch or two with some fun accessories or maybe a new pair of shoes. I’m a big fan of layers– think a dress with tights and boots and a fun necklace, or a T-shirt and jeans with a nice cardigan and headband. Or for the men, try layering a vest or blazer over a button-up shirt for a nicer look, or keep it simple with a solid color T-shirt and jeans. Don’t be afraid of color and patterns! While I do think you should avoid loud Hawaiian prints, distracting logos, and fire engine red shirts, that doesn’t mean you have to play it safe or stay away from trends. Matching white shirts and khakis are so twenty years ago. ;) A photograph is a reflection of who you are right now, so embrace that! And when in doubt, bring a change of clothes so we can capture a variety of looks.
We’re also stumped on WHERE to go for our portrait shoot. Do you have recommendations?
Sure! It all depends on the look you’re going for. Here are some of my favorite options:
- HOME: Shooting at your home works especially well for families, because it is generally where kids feel most comfortable and in their element. Plus, you get the added bonus of remembering what your house looked at this moment in time. My favorite kinds of shoots are those where kids are allowed to jump on the bed, or the family makes Saturday morning breakfast together, or there are board games and storybooks and slip ‘n slides involved. The best smiles come from people who are having fun and who are genuinely interacting with those they love the most, so shooting at home can really facilitate that. And if you want a few more traditional shots, we can always go to the backyard to get some pretty trees in the background. Easy peasy!
- URBAN: Looking for a cool, hip place to shoot? Do you love the textures and colors of graffiti-ed walls and brick buildings? Then let’s head downtown! Birmingham has lots of great stuff to offer, from Railroad Park to rooftop parking garages with the city skyline in the background to huge painted murals. There are also green spaces scattered throughout, so we can also inject a little bit of natural beauty as well. Other downtown areas, such as Homewood and Mountain Brook, offer smaller scale (and sometimes easier to get to) spots for getting a similar look. Let me know if you have a location in mind, or I can definitely give you some options to choose from!
- NATURE: Do you prefer the soft, classic, natural beauty of changing leaves in the fall or blooming flowers in the spring? Maybe you want lovely, vintage-y portraits that will go perfectly in your home. If that’s the case, there are tons of options to choose from. Think farms (maybe you know someone who has one?), state parks, gardens, nature centers, random fields off the highway, etc. This is a great choice when the surroundings are particularly colorful and will really make your portraits pop. Handy tip: It’s always a good idea to bring along a quilt or blanket to these types of locations, so you don’t have to get your clothes dirty if I have you sit in a cotton field or lay in a grassy area (and let’s face it, I probably will!).
- THEME: I love, love, love when clients bring their own ideas and concepts to the table! To make your session especially unique, consider an out-of-the-ordinary location, like the state fair, your favorite ice cream shop, the zoo, your ballet studio, an old theater, or pretty much anywhere you can dream up! As long as we’re not breaking (too many) trespassing laws, I will pretty much go wherever! Think about what’s important to you, and what you love to do, and let’s use that as inspiration to make your session even more of a reflection of who you are.
Can we have the RAW files from our wedding or shoot?
Unfortunately, no. I have to protect my images from being altered and misrepresented, so while you may want them just to look through them, I can’t guarantee that they won’t be seen by others. In the digital age, we tend to liken RAW files to undeveloped film… they’re not really “finished” until they’ve been professionally processed (or “developed”). The good news is that I include a huge amount of fully-edited, high resolution JPEG files for you to print and share as you like. Don’t worry about missing moments– I take a lot of photos, and I deliver a substantial portion of them to my clients. I promise that the biggest problem you’ll have is deciding which ones to print and frame. :)
What is your copyright policy?
Essentially, the digital files I deliver to you are for personal use only (printing, making photo albums, sharing on Facebook, etc.). As the photographer, I retain the actual copyright, which basically means I’m the only one who can use the photos for advertising purposes, to enter into competitions, etc., and that I’m the only one who can edit or alter the photo in any way beyond basic cropping and black and white conversion. For example, you posting an album on Facebook of your favorites from your session is great (even better if you give credit in the captions!). But re-editing the photos using software like Photoshop or iPhoto and then posting them is not okay. Besides, I hope that you’re hiring me because you love my style and wouldn’t want to change it one bit! :)
Do you recommend that brides and grooms see each other before the ceremony?
I believe that this is a very personal decision and would never attempt to force a couple to do something they’re not comfortable with or that would change the way they’ve always imagined their wedding would be. That said, I do think there are quite a few benefits to doing a First Look, and I’ve outlined them in this blog post. Let me know if you have more questions about this!
How much time should we allow for photos on our wedding day?
Glad you asked! I actually wrote a post on this very topic (as part of the larger conversation about how to schedule your wedding day), which you can find HERE. A wedding planner or day-of coordinator can be an invaluable resource for making sure you allow plenty of time for all the events of the day and help keep everyone on track and on time. But if you decide not to hire one, sitting down and planning out a schedule beforehand is definitely a must!
How would you define your style?
This is a hard one. On the one hand, I feel like my style, whatever it may be, is constantly evolving, hopefully always for the better. I’m not sure that I’ll ever find one style and stick to it. However, I do think there is a very strong recurring element throughout my entire body of work, and that is that I am drawn to photographs that are full of color, emotion, and authenticity. I absolutely adore capturing candid and intimate moments, from big ole belly laughs to tears to the quick squeeze of the arm that a father gives his daughter before they walk down the aisle. I try to be as unobtrusive as possible on a wedding day so that everything can unfold naturally and I can capture honest moments as they happen. Most of the time, people forget that I’m even there, and I kind of like it that way. But I will definitely step in and direct or offer my professional opinion when necessary, like during family formals or when we’re picking out a location for the first look. I also believe strongly that much of a photograph’s success depends on my interaction with my clients. The more comfortable you feel around me, the more natural your photographs are going to be. Sure, I might make a lot of cheesy jokes, but I promise it’s only to get a totally non-cheesy reaction out of you. :)
I also tend to attract clients with a wide variety of styles, from punk to princess to organic to retro, and I’ve shot weddings all over the country at all sorts of venues, from a fancy hotel in downtown Portland to the Natural History Museum in Salt Lake City to a snowy bed and breakfast in Vermont to a family farm in the South. I LOVE the fact that I get to meet so many different kinds of incredible people and document their love in a way that best represents who they are.
What is your favorite part of a wedding day?
Next to getting to document some of the most wonderful moments of a couple’s lives, I very much look forward to having a piece of wedding cake at the end of the reception. :)
Breaking Bad or Dexter?
Thanks for saving the hardball question for last! ;) Though I love both, there’s just something about Michael C. Hall in the role of Dexter that mesmerizes me. If you want to learn more about what I love, head on over to the “about” page!