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Freq. Asked Questions Since choosing a photographer is not an everyday event, nor is your wedding, Roel answers the most frequently asked questions about wedding photography.

What are the advantages of hiring a professional?

A professional photographer will be timely - arriving at your wedding promptly, and getting the results to you on time. A professional has just the right equipment for photographing your wedding. Having attended many weddings, an experienced wedding photographer will be at ease at your wedding. A professional uses a color laboratory that is in the business of meeting high professional standards of print quality. And, a professional is used to working with individuals, couples, and groups to make the formal photography go smoothly. When you think about the cost of photography, remember that the photographer's fee is only part of your investment: You, your parents, your extended family and your friends will be investing time with the photographer during your wedding. Don't waste time on your wedding day with a photographer who won't produce results you love!

So, I want a professional to photograph my wedding. What do I do next?

Make an appointment to have a consultation with your photographer. Test the photographer's experience, skills, creativity, and customer service during the consultation. Make sure that everything you review is written down and documented. But be prepared, the wedding photographer will also be asking you a lot of questions. So make sure you have an idea of what it is you want from a photographer. Once you have decided on a photographer whose work has meaning to you, discuss prices, deposits, packages, quantity of pictures and so on.

What is the first question I should ask the photographer?

Once you have established that the photographer is available for your date and location, you will want to ask, "If we select your studio, will you be the photographer covering our wedding?" Some studios have several photographers and you may be speaking to a salesperson. The sample albums may have been done by photographers who do not even work for the studio anymore. If this is the case, you should make arrangements to meet with and see the work of the particular photographer who will be doing your wedding. You should also ask for a commitment from the studio to that effect, in writing.

So, how much does wedding photography cost?

In the Rio Grande Valley, the average wedding photography package starts at $2000.00. Roel Photography packages start at $1000.00 and up. Why is this? In the Rio Grande Valley, there are only a handful of professional photographers who believe that you "get what you pay for." While this is true in most businesses, we strive hard on customer service - making sure that everyone is able to afford a professional photographer for their special day.

How much time will the photographer spend at my wedding?

That is really up to you. You can have the photographer meet you where you are getting dressed, and keep taking pictures until you leave the reception. Or you may just want a few hours of photography, with a few formal photographs and some pictures of the ceremony. (If you choose a high quality professional, the price difference between short and full coverage will be small.) My typical coverage starts 1.5 hours before the ceremony and ends after the bouquet, garter and cake.

What are proofs?

Sixty years ago, photographers presented clients with proof pictures printed on special paper; images would last for a few weeks and then fade. Then for a few decades proofs were made with the same paper and chemistry as the finished prints, but without retouching, cropping or precise color and density correction. Now proofs are usually in digital form - on a website, CD, DVD, or a projection in the photographer's studio. Because some customers can scan photographs, printed proofs are a problem for the professional.

Roel Photography has invested in an online photo gallery. In approximately two weeks after your event, digitally enhanced photos are uploaded to an online gallery (password protected optional) where you may view then. This allows you the opportunity to request edits, select the photos to be used in your package, and order additional pictures a la carte. Additionally, clients share the link with other friends and family members who may not have attended the event – allowing them to view the photographs and order.

What technical details in sample photographs should I watch out for?

Lighting quality is an important ingredient in superior photographs. The light in photographs should be natural and flattering, so that the pictures look three-dimensional. Overuse of on-camera flash can ruin wedding pictures. Watch out for flattened faces, harsh reflections off of cheeks and foreheads, and dark shadows directly behind or next to the subjects. With finesse, a fine photographer can work with almost any outdoor lighting situation without using flash.

Look for a variety in subject size - a mix of distant, medium and close-up pictures. Even with groups, lighting and posing should be interesting. The well posed bridal portrait should minimize the subjects' flaws (weight problem, blemishes, etc.) and express who the subject is and how he/she/they feel. The dramatic and scenic wedding image, like the red convertable on the show-room floor, attracts everyone's attention, but most brides and their families, like most car buyers, want what suits them personally. You want pictures that tell the story simply, with immediate impact, and as if the photographer was not even there.

It's like fixing your hair or applying make-up so that it looks natural.

I don't want any posed pictures at my wedding – is this okay?

Though I have a style of my own, this day is all about you. We will go over if you want posed, candid, photojournalistic, or artistic pictures. But do keep in mind this. What if your parents want a nice picture to send out? What if your favorite aunt is late, then sits in a dark corner during the reception? Do you want her excluded from your images? Posed subjects in the visual arts is classic. Bad posing (stiff, pointless, uncomfortable, cheesy) is a staple of standard wedding photography. Most families want some posed images in their collection.

My posed pictures are created by finding a suitable location (easy access, good lighting, good background) and then allowing (coaching?) the couple to be themselves - playful, loving, romantic, goofy - while I capture a variety of angles and compositions. As we continue, my directions and tone-of-voice help the subjects both show more emotions and look better.

Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures during the formal photography. Is that reasonable?

Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly through a series of formal pictures, a snap-shooter might slow the process. A problem arises when there are several cameras aimed at a formal group - the subjects will be looking at different lenses. The diverted attention will ruin the professional's picture. Or, if the professional is using a light-sensing trigger device ("slave") on a second flash, other flashes will trigger this flash, ruining the pictures [that you are paying for] and wasting battery power. There are many other reasons why a professional might ask others to refrain from picture taking during formals. On the other hand, many guests find snapping a few pictures a pleasant part of attending weddings, so it should not be a big deal for your professional to be relaxed and let people snap away when formals are over. Ideally, guests should show respect for the bridal party and photographer and put down their cameras during the formal session.