Photos courtesy of Frank "bald photo guy" Donnino, Frank Donnino Photography
If you are planning your own wedding, you’ve got a lot on your plate. There are a lot of things to consider. Depending on you and your groom, your wedding has different priorities than any other wedding. Some families put a lot of emphasis on food during gatherings. Other families are extremely active and find that having a great playlist with a perfect dance floor is a necessity.
No matter what you place your emphasis on, you need to place special care when you choose a wedding photographer. It is easy to place more emphasis on other things that you will be able to hear, taste, smell, or see while you are at your reception but remember that your wedding photographs will be with you for the rest of your life – long after the taste of the wedding cake have left your lips.
When choosing your photographer, being selective can come in handy – after all, there are many things to consider: chemistry, style, price, and experience. Do your research, narrow down your options, conduct interviews, gauge their professionalism, discuss logistics, and determine the costs before your sign the contract.
Every photographer has his or her own style. Before you look into different photographers, you need to think about what types of photography style you like best. To start, check out some of these options:
Portraiture: If you like the classic look of wedding portraits, look no further than styles that place an emphasis on portraiture.
Fine Art: There is more of an artistic license given to the photographer if you want to emphasize the fine art aspect of wedding photography. Do you want to be able to print off your photographs onto a large canvas? Consider the fine art wedding style.
Documentary: This type of photography takes the whole experience into account, not just the people. There will often be shots of the scenery, shots of your wedding party getting ready, everyone dancing, etc. In this style, people rarely make eye contact with the camera. Emphasis is placed on getting the moments as they happen.
Bold and Edgy: This style is marked by out-of-the-box thinking, Dutch angles, and unconventional framing.
The most common styles are blends of documentary and fine art. Portraiture is becoming less and less emphasized in comparison to traditional wedding photography. After considering what styles you prefer, look into local photographers that utilize that style or those style blends in their art.
VG Invites reached out to local wedding photographer in Palm Beach County Frank Donnino for his expertise on the topic. Frank was kind enough to spend some time talking with us about what to look for in a wedding photographer and how you can build that perfect relationship.
Photography courtesy of Frank "bald photo guy" Donnino - Frank Donnino Photography
VG INVITES: How did you get into wedding photography?
FRANK: It was a natural progression from when my kids were born and when I started my business. I’ve been a photographer for about 35 years. These days I exclusively do wedding photography.
VG INVITES: How early should a bride and groom start looking for their perfect wedding photographer?
FRANK: I usually suggest about a year in advance. Now some people will not book their weddings that far in advance but to get the person that you really want, you need to do it in advance. I am constantly marketing on Facebook, WeddingWire, word of mouth, so people know that I book up way in advance. Sometimes as much as a year and a half.
VG INVITES: What should they be looking for in a wedding photographer? How do they know which one to choose?
FRANK: They need to find that chemistry, the perfect fit for them. I firmly believe in having passion for wedding photography. If you go to my website (MyBaldPhotographer.com) you can see how I have a different approach. How my website is set up; every word, every phrase is there for a reason so that when my prospects call me, they feel like they know me. It doesn’t look like everyone else’s website. Specifically, my mentor taught me that I need to see what all the other wedding photographers in my area are doing – and don’t do that.
Everybody’s style and tastes are different. When people go to my website, they can tell whether or not they want me by the reaction that they have to my style. Photographers talk about their style and brands, and I call myself a mutt because I customize everything to what my clients want and then I add my own flair.
They need to find a photographer who is trustworthy, honest, and prompt. I firmly believe in photographers responding to clients, literally, within seven minutes. When I get an inquiry, I actually pick up my iPhone and set an alarm for seven minutes from when I get the inquiry in so that I can respond promptly to that client. They want to be taken care of, they want to be served.
VG INVITES: How do you feel about photo lists (if they have one for you)? Do you normally have one yourself?
FRANK: I have my clients write down a list of groups of their family and friends and if they can call out those groups, during the session, I will happily take their photographs for them. As far as photograph lists, I usually tell them that they are commissioning me for my expertise. There is a sense of trust between the photographer and his clients. I don’t have a photo list and my clients don’t often come to me with one. I do allow them to pick five, Pinterest-style concept shots and if I can work those in, if it is possible. They aren’t guaranteed because there are a lot of variables to consider. I don’t have a problem with shot lists but, honestly, they just don’t ask me for them. They have total trust in me.
VG INVITES: What is the pre-wedding process like for you?
FRANK: When I get an inquiry, I respond within seven minutes. We set up a phone call and then go over different questions. For example, “When did they meet?” “How long did they get engaged?”, etc. For the most part, I get to know them a little. Then we talk about the price in a ball park figure, because I don’t exactly know what they want yet. I then schedule a meeting for Starbucks – if the ballpark price is within their price range. From there they can hire me or not. I tell them up front, “Hey, I may not be the photographer for you after we chat. If not, I will happily refer you to someone else; no questions asked, no hard feelings.
VG INVITES: Do you have any advice for someone who just hired a wedding photographer, and has never worked with one before? How can a bride help make the process go smoothly?
FRANK: Honestly, it all goes back to trust and honesty of who you are hiring. I just had a recent situation where a friend of a friend was very uneasy about the photographer that they hired. Their gut is telling them that something is wrong. The engagement photographs were not that great. That is a warning sign! A big warning sign! And they should not follow through with that wedding contract, even if they have to lose that retainer. I firmly believe in making sure that my clients are extremely happy from the moment that I get that inquiry to the moment that I deliver – what I call – Frank Surprises, which is a series of gifts that I give my clients because I am so honored to be working for them.
It also goes back to that chemistry. Without that chemistry, you’re dead before you even start. If you have a gut feeling, walk away. You’re better off.
Also, the biggest thing is that if they don’t respond to you right away with a phone call, an e-mail, or text, that usually tells me that they are too busy or they just have the attitude that, “Oh, I’ll get back to them when I get back to them. I already have their money.” So it’s unfortunate, because I hear a lot of horror stories. My job is to make sure that my clients are just over-the-top happy and that is reflected in all of my reviews. I am proud of the fact that I have these great, lengthy reviews from all of my awesome clients. I love them and they love me.
Finding a wedding photographer can be difficult but once you do find one that you trust with all of your heart, you’ll find a great relationship that will last a long time. Do you have any other tips for finding wedding photographers? Do you have any specific questions? Remember to jot down your thoughts in the comment section below. We love to hear from you!
JUST MARRIED PHOTO POSTCARDS BY VG INVITES