I want to share my behind-the-scenes wedding day services with you. There is a huge misconception that when you hire a wedding photographer for six, eight or 12 hours to shoot your wedding day, that is ALL you are paying for—those hours of work. That is just a small piece of the pie. In addition to skill, experience, knowledge, equipment, insurance, staff, overhead, and administrative duties, wedding costs cover many, many more hours that are (or should be) put into your special day.
Behind-the-Scenes of my Wedding Photography
Many clients don’t stop to consider all the actual hours of work that come before and continue to happen after the big day! I am going to break this topic down into several blog posts that I’ll release over the coming weeks. We will first discuss what happens before your wedding day even gets here.
Prior to the Big Day:
- Client Consultation: This is the first investment I will make to your wedding day—and I haven’t even been paid yet. I will take my time finding out about your big plans, how you two met and fell in love and what is important to you on the day of your wedding. I will try and find out what you want your wedding day images to capture and what plans you have for them after the fact. Then, I will spend some time explaining how my services can help you achieve these goals and how I am different than most other wedding photographers. If I have a clear understanding of what you are expecting from the beginning, I will be better equipped to be make you a satisfied client.
- Client Education: All through the weeks and months leading up to the big wedding day, I periodically send my brides and grooms emails educating them about certain aspects of their planning and wedding day photography. Over the years and still with each wedding, I learn something that could have happened differently to help the day be less stressful and go more smoothly. I love sharing these learning experiencing with my brides. Most likely, this is your first wedding and I’ve done this dozens of times! I am a wealth of information and I can share this information with you—like asking your DJ for lapel mics to use during the ceremony, like to be sure trash cans are kept out of view during the reception, the pros and cons of doing a first look and recommending other vendors at your request.
- Timeline Preparation: This is a huge part of my service. Many of my couples don’t hire a wedding planner and don’t realize how important a detailed timeline (like extremely detailed) is on their wedding day. I prefer for each and every minute to be accounted for on the big day. Even though the timeline rarely gets pulled off without a hitch, it is a very effective tool to not only set up the photographer for success. It also ensures the newlywed couple has the least amount of stresses on their wedding day as possible and enjoys the ceremony and reception as much as possible! Without a plan, everything is just willy nilly and basically, you’re just left wandering aimlessly with no real plan. I usually start timeline preparation with my brides no less than 60 days out.
- Family Formals Preparation: This, by far, is the most stressful part of the day for me. If I didn’t have a game plan going into this part of the wedding day, I may just run away crying. What makes family formal portrait time so stressful is (1) I don’t know Aunt Mildred from Cousin JoAnn, (2) Inevitably, someone will run off to grab a drink or visit the ladies’ room and then they are not present when they are needed, (3) Someone else will always have a camera behind me—even though I specifically ask there not to be—and someone in my group photo will always look at their camera, and finally (4) Either someone will try to disrupt my order of family groups (leaving early, bathroom break) or a new group will suddenly need to photographed because it was overlooked during the planning stage. A few weeks prior to the wedding day, I send my brides a worksheet that has just about every possible family grouping imaginable listed. I advise that, on average, each grouping will take about three minutes to photograph and explain best I can how this part of the day will work. I ask her to select each and every grouping she will want photographed on her big day. I then receive the worksheet back, compile a tidy PDF and prepare a wedding day document to work form.
- Location Scouting: Even when I have shot at a venue before, I like to visit before the big day to see if anything has changed. I like to visualize the light in the ceremony site, how the ceremony site and reception area will be set up, discover where all the nooks and crannies are for the creative portraits, where and how I can set up my off-camera lighting and meet the venue coordinator so that we’re on a first-name basis by the wedding day. Recon. Military 101.
- Mental Preparation: Google® and Pinterest® help me with this. I don’t like to trail every other photographer shooting venues exactly like they have. I use the images from the internet to try to find new ways to shoot a venue. I’m a very visual person and love to have a short list of ideas in my head of what I’m going to do before the big day gets here. Other photographers’ images allow me to visualize what I want and what I don’t want to do.
So, your wedding day hasn’t even happened and chances are the work I’ve listed above has already taken me about 12 hours to complete! But wait!! You’ve only hired me for eight hours?!! My job here is done? Not hardly; I am just getting started. Stay tuned for next week to see what happens the night before and the day of.
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I am a San Antonio-based wedding photographer and I cater to outdoor-loving couples who prefer to have all the realness captured on their wedding days. I am the wedding photographer for the outdoor adventurers, the romantics, the laid back, the snugglers, and those who wish to capture all their realness.
I am absolutely in love with capturing the kinds of weddings where there are more hugs than handshakes, the dance floor rumbles all night long, and chairs are pretty much rendered useless after dinner. Whiskey bottles are passed around, most of the wedding party has been best-best friends since kindergarten, Grams is likely to lose her shoes and your partner is much more emotional than you are. These kinds of weddings are my jam!
I started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. I enjoy documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I love being a part of people’s journey and consider myself privileged to document their legacies.
I am a WPPI-C certified professional, full-time wedding photographer. I specialize in a 10-day image delivery, same-day prints, same-day slideshows, Italian handcrafted wedding albums and I have a mobile meeting space.
When I’m not behind my camera, you can find me hiking, cycling, backpacking, camping, enjoying water sports, listening to music (Elvis and Prince), hunting for arrowheads, reading audiobooks, occasionally eating a few glazed donuts (my only weakness to sweets) and then re-starting my keto diet about every 10 days. The most important things in life are for me to see my two daughters happy and to create a family history my grandparents and grandson would be proud of.
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