Tuesday, March 18, 2014

DIY Wedding #8: Photographers & Videographers, oh my!

Good afternoon, soon-to-be-brides and faithful readers!

I missed my goal for posting on Monday this week, so Tuesday will have to do. Sorry for the wait, but I think you'll find the wait a little more beneficial than if I would have stayed up until 1am finishing it yesterday.

This DIY Wedding post is devoted solely to the topic of "Photography & Videography." It's a big topic--it can be a bit overwhelming, both mentally and financially. So I'm writing this post purely from the bride's perspective, what I wish I knew when I was planning this part, paired with what I learned from my photographer & videographer friends along the way.

I know that this whole series is devoted to DIY's and budget weddings--that's exactly what mine was. But I do hold to the opinion that some things should be considered an investment rather than automatically going the cheapest route.

This post fits into the investment category.

I want to share how you can save a little bit but also invest and get some bang for your buck. 

 As I mentioned before, this part of the wedding was perhaps the most important to me personally. Some people only want some shots taken of the highlights and don't mind if it's from a Kodak disposable by a wedding guest. If you don't mind the risk, that's a great way to save money considering that this is one of the areas that requires the big bills.

But before you go that route, let me share why I think investing in a good photographer is important, and then you can decide where you wish to go.

Why it's a Good Investment...

1) It's what you have after the wedding is over. In my mind, I saw the photography and videography as most important because that was what I would have left as tangible memories from our wedding--apart from a husband and in-laws. I didn't mind putting most of my budget towards something that would hang on our walls for the rest of our lives, decorate our photo books, and could be shown to our kiddos when they were old enough to care.

2) You might care about the results, even if you think you won't initially. I can't tell you how many of my friends I've talked to that very much dislike their photos after it's all over. The reasons vary from going with the "cheaper photographer" to not being specific about what they wanted. In the end, I highly encourage you to carefully consider your options rather than making a quick decision under pressure of "getting everything done & quickly."

3) Most importantly, it's one day that you'll never redo. We've talked before about the wedding day being "only one day of your life" therefore don't kill yourself over it. But at the same time, it is only one day that you'll never relive. So on the important things, don't spare the expense because you won't have a chance to take better pictures or hire a videographer a second time around. 

Why you should consider Videography...

1) Video captures things that a photographer can't. Now don't get me wrong, I loved our photographer--I'm not saying one is better than the other. But photographers capture moments in one shot that's great for a photo book or frame. Video is an ongoing shot--capturing words and actions. There are so many funny/priceless moments--of toasts, dances, and vows that a video captures that a picture makes into a still-life. In my mind, they both serve different purposes and work best together.

2) Don't dismiss it before you check it out. None of my friends or family had ever had videography in past weddings, at least the way that my videographer does it--so it was all unfamiliar territory. I had never considered that a possibility or added it into a budget. But when I found out that my engagement photographer, Kent, specialized in video--I had to check it out. And dang, he and his wife, Ashleigh are good. I was convinced that it was worth the investment. 

3) You'll have a personal "movie" to share. Our video was a big deal with the family. We watched both the short and long (1 hour long) version with both families and best friends over Christmas break. Not to mention that I probably watched the short version about 100 times myself. Every once in a while, we'll whip it out and get all mushy & romantic as we reminisce. It's great. 

Why it's so expensive...

1) You're paying for skill and experience. There's a reason that the cheaper photographer is cheaper. You probably know this--and at the time of planning, it sounds good in theory to save and settle for decent pictures rather than great. But this is me telling you that it's a great idea to invest a little more for great--remember, you should want to hang these pictures on the walls of your home, seeing them every day. I'm not saying that you should hire the highest paid photographer--but maybe you should consider paying more than $500 and look around for that photographer that suits your personality rather than your budget. 

 2) You're paying for time and labor. When we consider the photographer or videographer and their required salary, it's a bit mind-blowing at first. Andrew kept saying that we need to get into this field because "it's where the money is at." One full day and they walk with thousands of dollars, or so it seems. When you break it down, it makes more sense. Essentially you're paying for:
  • the time and travel on the day of the wedding.
  • the wear and tear on their equipment.
  • the time that they put into editing your photos/film.
  • the salary they pay their second shooter.
  • the "package deal"--CD/shipping, online album, or any other complementary additions that they might offer. 

3) The name. Anything with "wedding" stamped on it is automatically expensive. The market knows what's important to a wedding and so the prices skyrocket because most will pay that high price for a special event. It's a rock and a hard place situation.

What you should remember when you're hiring...

1) Don't be afraid to look around at your options. You don't have to hire the first person that you talk to--don't commit to something that you don't love or feel right about. It's your wedding, your money--you have the right to say "no." Look at the work of several artists--their galleries, testimonies, and pricing/what's included. Each photographer/videographer should have a list of packages--make sure to ask for these. Do some comparison and see what will work best for you and your wedding. 

2) Communicate and ask questions. What do they consider their style to be? Do they bring a second shooter?  Do they provide a high resolution picture/film CD? Do they offer printing through them? Do they like to work alongside a videographer? Do they correct their photos? How many pictures (corrected or not) will you walk away with? Do they take requests? Would they be willing to tour the wedding site beforehand to familiarize themselves? Would they shoot your rehearsal dinner as well? These are all great questions to consider asking your potential photographer/videographer.

2) Consider experienced connections or "friends of friends." Our wedding photographer was someone that I worked at camp with years ago and kept tabs on her photography over the years. I always loved her stuff and planned to ask her to be our photographer when the time came. She had schooling for photography paired with years of experience and raw talent. What worked in my favor financially was that she hadn't established an actual business at that point, so it was much cheaper than a "professional photographer." So I got greatness for a budget. Granted, that won't happen in every situation. But keep your eyes peeled for or ask friends if they might know a skilled someone that takes photos or shoots video as a hobby rather than a profession.

3) Go local if you can. Some people have a long-distance friend or favorite photographer that they are willing to pay to fly in to shoot their wedding. But if there is no such person for you, GO LOCAL. Or at least as local as you can. If they're local, you won't have to pay for the hotel, the travel expenses, etc.  It's one way to clip the extra expense. 

4) Consider how long you'll need them. For me, I wanted the photographer for the entire day. Marisa spent the morning with myself and the bridesmaids, while her second shooter captured the morning with the guys. They both stayed until Andrew and I left--so we have every possible highlight and detail captured on camera. We couldn't afford to have Kent and his fiance there the entire day, so we went with 6 hours which captured our first look all the way to the sparkler exit. We only missed out on the "getting ready" part. Ultimately I would have loved to have them there longer, but it was something that I couldn't expend. Some will opt to hire just for the ceremony. Think through what you want to be captured on your day and compare that to their price chart. It's all by the hour.

5) Make sure their style matches yours. Ultimately, the photographer/videographer will capture the sort of things that are important to you. But remember that they are an artist with a particular bent. They've worked to find their niche in that industry, that's what they specialize in, and that's what their product will take on--customized to your chosen poses and requests.

6) Schooling doesn't necessarily matter. Just because someone graduated with a degree in the arts, doesn't mean they're great. The arts are something that everyone can be involved in to a certain degree. But those who can make a living off of the arts are those that truly love what they do, have a natural knack or talent, and that "eye" that catches things that others don't. It's important to find someone that lights up and loves to talk about their job. The more they enjoy and care about what they're doing, the better your product will be.

Once you've made your decision...

1) Do your research. You're not the photographer/videographer, but it wouldn't hurt to do some research on "how to pose" or best time of the day to shoot. Most photographers will help you on how to stand or pose--especially if you ask them to. But it helps if you already have a working knowledge on what works. Here's a link to some tips on posing--it'll be good to keep in mind as you're showing off your special dress.


2) Make an idea board. Pinterest or otherwise, look through what others have done for their weddings. Make note of what you like and compile that into your arsenal of ideas. It's helps to have a visual to convey to your photographer of what you like/don't like. Here's a link to my photography Pinterest board.

3) Make a detailed list. This is oh-so important. A good photographer/videographer will ask you what matters to you to most--what is a must-have in your pictures/film. Prepare for that question by setting some time aside to compile your idea board and your wedding schedule into one, "must-have" list. After our wedding, there were some things that weren't captured that I wish would have been. But it wasn't anyone's fault but mine, because I failed to communicate that I wanted that. I did cover the main parts, as most do--but don't feel weird asking for pictures of favors, specific ring pictures, specific candids OR even the style of that picture (where it's taken,certain props, or whom with). Most photographers or videographers aren't telepathic--so don't assume they'll "just know" what you want in the moment. Be very specific and communicate. Here's a link to a photography checklist, you can add to or subtract from it--use it as a springboard for ideas and customize it to fit your needs:


4) Schedule a time to meet-up. Most photographers/videographers will initiate a meeting with you at some point or have a survey for you to complete as a means of communicating wishes and desires. I highly recommend making the time to meet up with them in person so that you can easily communicate what you're looking for and touch base on things. This typically happens a month out from the wedding.

Other ways to get photos...

You can always go the traditional route and leave out disposable cameras to get candids from your guests. But if you don't want to spend the money on extra cameras, create your personal wedding hashtag and ask people to "Instagram" your wedding. 

Not everyone can do that, but you'll have your avid, smartphone users raring to go. Once you get back you can search your hash-tag, download the pictures or have them printed into magnets, etc. They will probably turn out better than a disposable, with all of the effects of Instagram and clarity of a smartphone. 

I made sure to advertise this everywhere that I could--on the main reception sign (above), a sign on the greeter's table (where the programs/flags) were handed out, in the programs, as well as mentioned by the DJ. 

Also, using either a rented or makeshift photo-booth will not only capture pictures of all of (most of) your guests, but be a fun activity for your guests. We had so many great comments about our photo booth--people loved the opportunity to dress up and make silly faces. We'll talk more about these things later when we get to the DIY's.

I stand by whatever you decide in the end, but now you know why I consider photography and videography an important investment. Mission accomplished.

I didn't want to make this post any longer, so I wrote a second post on "Why I chose a First-Look." Yes, the ever controversial topic. Go here to read my thoughts on the topic.

And just in case you were wondering, here's some links to the great works of our photographer, Marisa, and videographers, Kent & Ashleigh.
Next week, REGISTRY! I'll be sharing the helpful tips that I learned when registering paired with the best places to go. Who doesn't love to talk about shopping? See you then!

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