Be kind to your photographer or How to create more beautiful memories!

While writing this article, I enlisted the help of a wonderful photographer and fellow wedding service provider Herschel Gutman of Herschel Gutman Photography ( ), to get his perspective on wedding photography, selecting and working with a photographer and more. His advice and comments are spot on!  All of Herschel’s comments in this article are marked with HG.
Herschel in action on the beach with a lovely bride!
(All photographs included with the kind permission of Herschel Gutman Photography)

Wedding photography is one of the only wedding tasks that must be dealt with before, during and after the wedding.  The wedding photos freeze a moment in time that can never be duplicated.

With this in mind, this article is divided into before, during and after the wedding advice and I believe it can help you avoid many of the most common wedding photography mistakes, as well as give you the tools needed to ensure you enjoy your wedding and then enjoy your wedding photos for many years to come.

Before the Wedding or Why can’t my cousin take a few pictures with his new digital camera?

Herschel in action
Choosing a photographer should take as much effort as choosing the gown!

HG Choose a photographer you get on with. Don't feel stiff in their presence, they should relax you. Also, have a fun engagement shoot with your photographer not only will you get beautiful pictures but it is a chance to spend time with your photographer and to create a bond. Both I and the clients gain invaluable information about each other which makes the wedding day so much better. Remember, your photographer is with you from the morning until the night on the most important day of your life - so choose wisely!
  • HG Don't only go with the photographers who only shoot the latest trends - a professional photographer will capture images that will never be dated and always in.
  • HG Find a style that you like and then look for that photographer. Price is important, but if you are searching for the cheapest, then you must accept that you will get below-average photos and SERVICE
  • HG Research! Everyone knows the best photographer in town, someone might have been excellent two years ago and been inundated with work, so now they are not producing the results they used to. Phone them/email them, see how long they take to get back to you, how is their behavior on the phone/email, do they make you relaxed, do they know what they are talking about? Ensure you set up a meeting with them and you will quickly know if they are right for you.
  • HG Ask them if they have a 2nd camera (professional photographers will have two sets of everything, if not - they not professional and you should look elsewhere). Do they have liability insurance - if yes - they are professional, if not – avoid them! 
  • HG Ask them what happens if they are sick, do they have replacement photographers?Professional photographers always have backups and state that in the contract that you sign. Professional photographers work together, assisting each other, so if he is in the industry, you shouldn't worry - you should ask to see their backups portfolios.
  • HG Some companies introduce you to their pro photographer and on the day, send you a student - ask them who will be shooting, get a guarantee! 
  • HG Sometimes smaller one-man businesses are better, more personal.
  • HG Ask them who designs the photo albums. Professional photographers will have a graphic designer that will do this. Photographers take photos while designers design! Always make sure you will be able to speak to the designer through the design process so that you get a product that you want.
  • HG Ask if they have package deals (photographers/videographers/makeup and hair stylists, magnet photographers, etc.) Professional photographers will have this and you will find that they all work well together and enjoy working together - this creates an excellent atmosphere at your wedding!  You don’t want a situation where the videographer and photographer are fighting for the best position by the chuppah.
  • HG Good equipment is vital to any professional and your professional photographer should have the best equipment around - especially if your wedding held at night or in a dark hall. Professional equipment will be able to handle the low-light scenarios much better than nonprofessional equipment.
  • HG I love it when people ask me if they will be able to blow up the picture to a standard A4 size. What a lot of people don't realize is that good photographers like to shoot very large files and in a format called RAW as opposed to JPEG. RAW gives you much more scope for adjustments in the editing process; an example will be if the photographer is photographing you under the chuppah and the videographer decides to point his large flash in your direction, in JPEG the photo will possibly be burnt or over-exposed, but with a RAW file, you can easily correct this in an editing program.
  • HG A good photographer should be able to provide you with a number of backups, in the cloud and at least two external hard drives of your photos - you don't want to lose the photos!
  • Be kind to your photographer and sit down with her/him BEFORE the event and discuss your expectations. 

Herschel Gutman Photography
HG Many couples are so caught up in the emotion of the day, that they forget who they want in the photos. Sometimes when the couple see the family photos after the wedding, they realize that an uncle or a brother-in-law or aunt is missing. I always tell my clients to give me a list detailing who they want in the family photo, this enables the families and the couple to relax while the photographer and the assistant scramble around looking for the family members.

Let me add: Appoint a friend or relative that knows you and your family to work with the photographer to ensure you get all the photos you need, without BOTHERING YOU during the wedding.

Give a copy of this must-have photos list to the photographer and to your friend/relative (mentioned above). Remember your photographer does not have to know that your two great aunts have not spoken since Lincoln was shot, so they need to be seated at opposite ends of the table when photographed.  The photographer does not need to know that your cousin married your first fiancé and you do NOT want to see his ugly face in any of your photos. 
Herschel Gutman Photography

  • HG Weddings, especially in Israel are big. Very big. I always recommend that there should be two photographers at the event. One being your main photographer, who is with you from morning until the end and then the second photographer who will be there for the critical hours; from one hour before the chuppah and through a few hours of dancing. This additional photographer adds another style to your photos and if the photographers work well together, your pictures will truly be spectacular.

  • Let me add: I have spoken about this in past articles, but you must be mindful of the ladies (of all ages) in your bridal/groom party when choosing wedding colors, flowers and dresses. Otherwise you may only find out in the photos that your mother looks washed out in black or your best friend’s dress does not fit her as well it does on your cousin. 
Take the time to think about the lighting in your venue, the lighting around the chuppah and at the tables before you make your final color decisions.  Light-colored flowers can lighten up a dark venue, a strategically-held (for instance, low on the waist) bouquet can hide a “multitude of dressing sins” for full-figured gals.  If you are not sure about something, revisit your venue, talk over color choices with your makeup artist.  Talk to professionals – they are there for you!

  • I also want to discuss final scheduling for the wedding day, which is very much in the hands of the photographer, especially the hours before the wedding.  I always ask the bride to talk to the photographer, in advance of the day, in order to ensure that we will all be in sync with the schedule to avoid unnecessary hurrying and worrying.  There are always last-minute changes – rain or oppressive heat may cause the pre-wedding photography session to be taken in doors or heavy traffic my cause unwanted delays in getting to the venue. 
The following table should help you understand the pre-wedding scheduling issues.

Time table – working BACKWARDS from Chuppah:

Action Time Amount of time needed
6 Start of chuppah

(What time the chuppah is set to start according to the invitation) No time – you are already in the venue.
5 Start of wedding reception

(What time the reception is set to start according to the invitation) Depending on the type of wedding, you should be in the venue 20 -30 minutes BEFORE the time listed, so you can greet your guests or 10-15 minutes before the guests arrive you should be seated in your kallah chair and the like.
4 Travel to the venue from the photography session

How long will it take you to travel from the photography session site to the venue?
3 Start of photography session

How long will the photography session last? Close this with your photographer IN ADVANCE.
2 Travel to the photography session site

How long will it take you to travel from your home to photography session site?
1 Makeup, hair and dress and final touchup ~ 5 hours for the bride!

  •        Finally, remember that your photographer and his/her team, as well as the band are people too and need to be fed during the wedding!  A table should be reserved for them to be able to eat and drink during their breaks in their work.  Remember, these folks are on their feet serving you for hours, making sure your simcha is perfect!

During the Wedding or Can I stop smiling now, my mouth is numb?

Herschel Gutman Photography

  • HG RELAX - it is OK if you spill wine on your dress, or get food on your shirt - it’s all part of the fun and if you go with it, the photos will look very spontaneous and fun - the alternative to this is a bride and groom will spend too much time worrying about unnecessary things and the photos will capture that.
  • Herschel Gutman Photography
HG Let the photographer direct you. He knows what works best and what will get the best moments. Be natural and relax and, of course, in love - a good photographer will be able to tell that story through a few pictures.
Herschel Gutman Photography

  • HG Don't always look at the camera (unless the photographer asks you), the camera will mostly be on you, so act natural for the best journalistic shots.

After the Wedding or Isn’t this over yet?

Herschel Gutman Photography
All the planning, crying, wishes, dreams, fights, misunderstandings, sweat and tears expended before and during the wedding, disappear immediately after the Big Day and all that is left are happy memories.  Not exactly!  There is still one last and many times, painful and BORING task: selecting the wedding photographs for the wedding album(s)!

You would think that in the era of digital photography, digital printing, and all the “fun” advancements in visual media, the whole “wedding photography” portion of the wedding would be an easy task to handle or perhaps not even necessary.  But the opposite is true!  Wedding photography, albums and all the visual memory aids have made this part of the wedding exhausting, tedious and sometimes impossible to control.

Today, we all know, there is no such thing as changing rolls of film, worrying about over-exposures, under-exposures, babies crying or grandmothers fainting.  Today the photographer will “just” take 40 shots in a row of the same scene; until everyone is smiling, standing, sitting, facing forward and in general “decent looking”.  The photographer will take 100 shots of the bride looking off into the sunset.  The photographer’s assistant will then take 50 shots each of the makeup/hair sessions, bridal shoes, the grooms tie, kitel, rings, ketuvah and every other symbol of the wedding.

The photography was the easy part.  Days after the wedding, the happy couple will get a seemingly innocuous email from the photographer containing a link to something like 5,000 photos, with the simple message – “choose some 50 – 75 shots for your album”.  Seriously? I personally know of couples that a year or more after the wedding still have not selected their wedding photos!   Children have been born and are entering Gan before the albums are printed. 

The “problem” with this overflowing file of photos is that you can receive a hundred photos that show you walking every half-step down to the chuppah and hundreds more of guests eating sushi, of flowers in the sunset, of the chuppah before, during and after the wedding and more. 

  • Ask the photographer to provide you with an edited file and a manageable number of photos for final selection.  You do not need to see 50 photos of yourself getting dressed or 30 photos of you kissing a baby, 45 photos of your giving brachot to your friends or 100 photos of you walking down the aisle. 
  • The photographer’s eye should be professional enough to ensure that you see only the very best photos.  Agree upon a maximum number of photos for final selection and have that number included in the work contract.  You do not need to remember this agreement during the wedding or want to fight over it after the wedding.
Herschel Gutman Photography

  • Select photos or your album(s) immediately!  Take a day off of work, shut your phones and the TV, order in a meal and then sit down with your beloved and CHOOSE THE PHOTOS.  The longer you wait the harder the selection process will be. Believe me!
Remember to be kind to your photographer – she/he is the holder of your wedding memory photos! 

Thanks Herschel for all your professional input and advice!

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