2019 & 2020 Couples: The Time is Now.
Hello new friends! If all is going according to plan, congratulations are in order because YOU JUST GOT ENGAGED! What an exciting time of life and I’m honored that you landed here while in the midst of planning the most fun day of your life. In my journey of becoming a wedding photographer, one thing has remained the same: my desire to become a confidant for you throughout your wedding planning. In this desire, friendship is inevitable. That is what makes this journey worth it to me and one of my biggest hopes is that my couples feel the same.
Now, it’s probably time that I got to the actual content of this blog: things you need to know when booking your wedding photographer. And GO!
When a couple decides to book me and become part of the #stephparkercouples gang, they’re getting way more than someone who’s just going to show up on the day of and wing it. Weddings are about love and fun and excitement. But they’re also about preparation and developing relationships. That’s why I always make sure to maintain open communication with my couples between booking, their engagement session, any and all of their consultations, their wedding day, and even after the big day! Part of the reason I give my couples a complimentary engagement session is so it’s another opportunity for us to spend time together and for us to touch base on their wedding planning.
Part of the open communication prior to the wedding day is sitting down with the couple to go over final wedding details: finalizing the timeline, going over the family formals list, discussing locations for photos. I’ve found that this is the most absolute thing I will never not do with any of my couples. If I don’t have a game plan coming into a wedding day, the whole day just feels as if it has no flow and there’s no way to guarantee my couples will be happy with their final gallery. I know this portion of the planning isn’t super fun but rest assured that most of it falls on me 🙂
After the wedding day, the experience continues. After the gallery is completed, I find so much joy in selecting some of my favorite images to print and include with the couple’s USB. The world of photography was forever changed when the digital camera was created and technology is a fantastic thing that makes life so much easier. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be printing our photos. When I deliver those prints and the USB, I package them in a beautiful, handmade wood keepsake box – the perfect thing to keep displayed on your coffee table and to take with you to family events! Over the last year, I’ve found so much joy in delivering this gift in person – seeing my couples reactions to this gift is something that is so deeply meaningful. The best part of this “last” part of the experience is getting to see my couple again after the wedding day!
The Engagement Session
During the six years I’ve been photographing weddings, I’ve been including complimentary engagement sessions for all wedding couples for at least four or five of those years. Getting to photograph my wedding couples at their engagement session is always something I enjoy because it’s a great opportunity for me to learn more about them! From learning about how they met and fell in love to learning about what toppings they like on their tacos. It’s all important because it’s what makes them people. Learning the back story helps me develop the relationship and that develops the trust I need to do my job and capture those intimate, raw, impactful, authentic moments I love!
Every year, a couple who has inquired about their wedding date will ask about skipping the engagement session to save money or to take those hours and apply it somewhere else. To be 100% honest, I say no to that request every single time. Firstly, I say no because the engagement session included in every collection I offer is a gift. Secondly, why would you want to skip something that is going to be so much fun?! Engagement sessions do not have to be stuffy or forced or – gasp – boring!
If it’s one thing I strive for when planning an engagement session, it’s FUN! You like beer? Cool, let’s go to your favorite bar and grab drinks and I’ll bring my camera. You just bought a house or brought home a new dog? Awesome, invite me over and we’ll do an in-home session filled with lots of snuggles and probably some snacks. Did you have your first date at the neighborhood coffee shop? You guessed it, I’m down for that, too! Beyond the location, I’m going to ask you guys silly questions or to do funny prompts to pull out even more laughter to pump up the fun. If you guys drive home from the engagement session and don’t rave about how much fun you had, then I did something wrong.
I’m going to be super frank with you. If you book your wedding photographer without looking through their portfolio first, then you’re probably going to be shocked by the images you receive. Looking through and jiving with the photos you see in your photographer’s portfolio is critical. THAT is the biggest example of what you’ll see upon your gallery delivery. If you enjoy a brighter look to photos, then why would you ever book a photographer who describes their style as “dark and moody” or vice versa.
Beyond editing style, images in the portfolio are a good indicator of the type of photos you’ll receive, as well. As someone who focuses more on documenting and capturing moments, that’s mostly what you’ll see in my portfolio. If you want a true representation of what wedding days look like, look through a few blog posts and ask to see a full wedding gallery. Photographers that are comfortable in their work will have no issue showing off their work to potential clients!
One of the things I’m not going to write paragraphs covering is this: If you don’t get along with or see the same vision as the person who is going to be tailing you for 8+ hours, then you’re in for a pretty miserable day. If I’m to leave you with one final tip, it’s to become friends with your photographer. It’ll mean the world to them to see that you care about them as much as they care about you!