I’ve been a little behind on blog postings due to back to back events… but wanted to share this rustic, do it your self wedding that was held at the parents of the groom’s property. This couple was able to have their dream wedding on a budget due to a lot of help from friends and family. Their Aunt Jenny & Uncle Bill hired us for photography along with my husband’s DJ company, Digital DJ to provide music and MC services. It was a beautiful location to get married at with a ton of country charm.
The couple chose a clearing between a line of trees to set-up the chairs, arch, hay bales and aisle runner for their ceremony and then just a short distance away from the ceremony spot a huge white tent was set up to hold their reception under. A friend catered the event with his amazing BBQ and they also rented lawn games for all of their guests to enjoy.
I truly love when a community comes together to help a young couple put together an amazing event. Weddings don’t have to be huge grand elaborate affairs. This simple country wedding just reminds me of what Colorado is all about… down to Earth people with a lot of love to give! Congrats again to Chelsea & John! May you have many, many years together!
So I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a while…. The photography industry has changed a lot since I started my business 17 years ago and even more so from when I got my start doing photography with my mom and developing photos in an actual darkroom! And here’s what I see… cameras are becoming more and more user friendly with automatic settings on them, so much so that now someone with absolutely no photography experience could pick up a camera and set it on auto and get some half way decent images. Which leads to a huge influx of newbie photographers who think it would be loads of fun to snap photos all day at a wedding. In my experience those people don’t last long. All it takes is one unhappy client, or they realize charging $100-$500 to shoot an entire wedding will hardly let them break even. And here’s why –
1.) Photography Equipment is Expensive and So is the Upkeep.
I’ve invested thousands of dollars in all of my gear and yearly I’m also probably spending close to $2000 or more in just upgrades and upkeep on my gear. I send my gear in frequently to get it looked at, cleaned and repaired. My latest one cost me $580 to replace a shutter that was past it’s life (because shooting 1000+ images a wedding wears a camera out in 2-3 years!)
2.) A Professional will Carry Back-Ups of Everything!
Cameras will eventually break down and I’ve had it happen at events, but couples will hardly know it’s a problem because we carry 2-3 back-ups of everything. Someone who hasn’t been doing this a while or doesn’t know they should do this may only have one camera body… Do you want to trust a once in a lifetime event to someone with no back-up gear? Make sure you ask if they do and/or ask them to show you their gear when you meet.
3.) Insurance –
A professional will carry liability and equipment insurance. Some venues are now requiring proof of liability insurance from all wedding vendors before they are allowed to step on to the property. And like all insurances this isn’t cheap either and you have to pay for it even if you don’t use it. A seasoned pro will have all of this covered!
4.) Computers & Computer Software –
So you have a fancy camera… now you need the latest and greatest software to edit those photos and video. Along with continuing education to keep up with all the latest trends and changes in said software. There are many other types of software that you may also need to successfully run a business such as: semi regular updates to bookkeeping software, Office Management Software and more! Additional Photoshop classes cost money too!
5.) Advertising –
You can take all of the pretty photos that you want, but if you don’t advertise how are these people ever going to find you. Magazine ads are spendy and so are advertising on all of the popular wedding planning websites. There are have been some years in the beginning of my career where I spent more on advertising than I made! Really! It’s an unfortunate reality of being in business.
6.) Training & School –
Photography is not an industry that requires any special licensing or proof that you know what you are doing, yet there are tons of ways to educate yourself in this field. College, online classes, workshops and more. I decided early on in my career that getting the knowledge from the professionals in a teaching environment was the best route for me. At the time I spent way more on my education at the Art Institute than most people spent on a traditional college degree. I learned a lot and I understand lighting, and posing in ways that someone just starting out may not have the grasp on yet. Since technology is ever changing so to is our ability to use it. Continuing education is also something a great photographer will invest in.
7.) Experience –
Just as you probably wouldn’t want an intern that is training to be a doctor to do a surgery on you all alone without assistance. You probably do not want someone who just picked up a camera yesterday to photograph your special day. This requires a lot of vetting… you need to look at the work of the individual that you are planning on hiring. Look for consistency in their work. Make sure they can take photos indoors as well as outdoors. Ask them how long they have been in business and what their training has been. Ones that have been around a while are going to be charging more than someone just starting out because their experience is worth more.
Even though I really enjoy what I do for my chosen career, myself and other photographers do have to make a livable wage. Even if we work from home there is still overhead to consider just like any business you have to account for all the utilities, the cost of rent or house payments, gas to and from your event and more. Once the day is over the job of the photographer is not complete either… Six to eight hours of photography is around 20-40 hours of additional work in editing depending on how proficient you are at it. So a photographer is not making $2000 off your wedding! After they also pay their assistants, 2nd shooters, pay for the items included in your package like an album and everything else all said and done they are looking at maybe $10-$15 an hour! Really! We could all go work at McDonald’s for a lot less hassle. But we don’t because we love what we do. We give up our weekends to do what we love! I haven’t been to a Summer concert in over 10 years! Because anyone I’d like to go see is over a busy weekend for my business! I lose touch with some of my 9-5 friends because they only have weekends to hang out. But again I do it because I love it! Nothing better than hearing from a couple after the wedding how excited they were when they saw their photos and/or video for the first time!
In conclusion… I’m not saying don’t hire a photographer because they are cheap. Put everything into perspective… How important are the photos to you? If you realize the only thing after the wedding you have besides the marriage are the photos and video and that’s extremely important to you than don’t go cheap. The old adage you get what you pay for is also true. If you are a person that could care less about your images and your budget is really small than maybe take a chance on that young budding photographer (I was there once upon a time and thank the people who took a chance on me) but don’t expect your images to look like the ones that grace the cover of a bridal magazine. I’ve also done many a backyard wedding where I know I was the most expensive vendor there because the place the couple got married at wasn’t as important as capturing the special memories for the couple. There are ways to fit the photographer of your dreams into almost any budget… spend less on some other aspect of your day, ask for people to contribute to your photography fund rather than give you a gift you may not need, or work out a payment plan with said photographer.
Hopefully, if you read this to the end you have a little more perspective on why photographers charge what they charge and possibly other vendors in the industry as well. We don’t look at our wedding clients as “Cha Ching” “Pay Day”. We look at them as someone who we want to make happy, and we’re incredibly honored that they have chosen us to be with them and capture their memories on their special day.
Happy Wedding Planning!
Here are some of my favorite shots from Owen & Therese’s Mommy & Me shoot! What a cutie and look at all of that hair! Taking photos of six month old babies is my absolute favorite age to photograph! Why? Because they are just starting to sit up, you can still put them in cute containers, and most of them smile at just about anything! Pair that with a gorgeous mamma and it makes for one stinking cute photo-shoot!
I also really love it when a client returns to me after we photograph their wedding because I get to see how their family grows and sometimes it’s the only way we stay in contact because of hectic lives. So congrats again to Mike & Therese on their little bundle of joy!
Sarah & Jason’s highlight reel from their Willow Ridge Manor wedding!
Sarah and Jason had a magical wedding at Willow Ridge Manor last month and we’re so excited to share this wedding that I’m not even waiting until their video clip is finished! (I’ll share that as well when it’s done!) Here are some of my favorite moments from their event starting with some of the preparation photos. One of my favorite detail shots from this wedding is the one I took of the dress reflecting in the mirror with the bride’s bouquet in the foreground… this one I didn’t even set-up everything was there when I arrived!
Sarah had one of her best guy buddies stand in as a bride’s man in the wedding party… so my next favorite photo was when they asked him to do the last two buttons on her dress! He had no idea what he was doing and it was sooo cute!
Our associate photographer, Chris covered the guys getting ready and there were plenty of shots of the men helping Jason into his military uniform. Who knew it was such a challenging outfit to wear!
One of the “must have” shots of the day for the bride was a staged shot of her father seeing her for the first time in her dress. So we set this up on Willow Ridge’s awesome staircase. The emotion of this moment was really amazing and equally awesome to capture both in photos and in their wedding video!
Then of course you can not forget getting those important formal photos of the wedding party with the couple. We make sure to get the shot that mom and dad want along with fun and playful ones!
There was a little sprinkle of rain for the ceremony, but it mostly held off until just afterwards… made for some amazing photos though! You can definitely feel the love these two had for each other! I love that first moment when the groom sees his bride for the first time!
When the venue has a perfect spot for this photo I always suggest a large group photo of everyone present at your wedding. What a perfect way to capture all of the special people in your life that made it to your big day!
And then of course setting aside some time to take some romantic photos of just the couple getting married! This is always the best part of photographing a wedding for me. It allows the bride and groom a moment to relax before they have to go greet their guests and the photos will be some of the most cherished images that they will have from the day. The images of Sarah & Jason together did not disappoint!
The reception was also full of a lot of heartfelt moments: touching toasts from the couple’s friends and family, the perfect first dance, and lots of partying on the dance floor!
This couple also planned a send off at the end of the night with all their guests greeting them with glow sticks. Another perfect ending to a perfect day!
This beautiful Catholic wedding held at the St. Catherine of Siena Chapel last Summer just got featured on the Colorful Colorado Weddings Blog and we couldn’t be more ecstatic! This one was a lot of work for us… a lot of traveling between venues to get the shots, but it was all worth it in the end. I delivered their wedding album to them back in July just before their anniversary (sometimes correlating design changes takes that long) and now I get to share some highlights with you along with their wedding story that they submitted! Enjoy!
Michelle & Wade’s beautiful garden ceremony at Brookside Gardens Event Center in Northern Colorado.
So thinking about my wedding blog post this month and chatting with a venue coordinator we got to talking about the trend to have a sign for almost everything at your wedding… and well, do you really need all of those signs?! It used to be if your wedding was in an out of the way location maybe there was a sign stuck to a post with an arrow and maybe even some balloons to mark the spot… not anymore! There are signs everywhere at weddings nowadays! Direction signs, table seating assignment signs, reserved signs and more! It seems like signs have become just as much of the wedding decorations as the flowers themselves! So I thought I would put together a list of the most common wedding signs that I’ve seen the past few years and a few of my thoughts about them… Hopefully, this will give you some ideas on what you can use signs for or if you may want to scrap the idea because of time and money restraints.
1.) Direction Signs – Again if your wedding is in a hard location to find or internet maps send you in a funky direction perhaps you may need a sign at the gate or the turn off point of your wedding. Or perhaps you are having an outside ceremony located just a short distance from the venue’s reception hall and you just want to send people in the right direction when you don’t have a greeter. I can get on board with these signs as it takes away the guess work for the wedding attendees and also offers a great photo opportunity.
2.) “The Choose a Seat Not a Side” sign – Gone are the days of the Bride’s friends & family sit on the left and the groom’s on the right (at least for the guests) parents and immediate family still tend to sit in the first row of the side of the family member that’s getting married on. It used to be a fairly new idea to just have everyone pick a side. And if the wedding isn’t having ushers than I think this sign is still a good idea. Although it can also have it’s pitfalls… I’ve been at a few weddings where one side is completely over seated compared to the other side and it looks off. It’s better to have fewer guests in the back then everyone seated on one side. This particular sign is one that I think you can forgo all together if you have ushers. A great reason to consider using ushers is so they can even out the seating especially if you are not having people pick a side. Also a “reserved” sign on the front row reminds guests that those seats are for immediate family.
3.) Reception Seating Arrangement Signs – Sometimes a seating arrangement is an absolute necessity, especially if you are doing a plated dinner and the catering staff has to figure out where each meal goes. Most people can figure out where the seating chart is, but if you are doing something elaborate, for instance a rock with everyone’s name painted on it. Then it helps to have a sign next to your seating cards to explain how the seating is going to work.
4.) Guest Book Sign – A sign telling your guests to please sign your guest book is not needed as most weddings have some sort of guest book to sign and people expect it… unless you are doing something unique like asking for guests to give marital advice, or put their thumbprint on a tree. Also it helps to have a designated person to sit next to the “guest book” as your friends and family enter the reception to help them to know what they are suppose to do… especially, again if you are doing something out of the ordinary.
5.) A Place for “Cards” Sign – Again this is one that I think is completely unnecessary because if your card holder is sitting on the gift table it’s implied, but nevertheless can be cute! Especially if you are using a non-conventional card holder like a suitcase or a bird cage.
6.) Food Labels & Menus – I thought I would lump these two together… Does there have to be chalk board sign stating that there is a candy bar located on this table? Probably not. It’s self-explanatory. Does the chicken need to be labeled in a buffet? Again these are some of the signs I feel like you could skip. Is it nice to know what’s on the entire menu before you go through the line, yeah, but again not a necessity unless you know a lot of your guests have food allergies or special considerations for what they can eat. A chalkboard sign can make another cute detail for photos, but it’s one of those items I feel can be left off the list to save money.
7.) Signature cocktails & Beverage Lists – If you plan on doing a signature cocktail for your guests than I think a sign explaining what is in it is a great idea. This will help the bartenders from having to explain to each guest what’s in each drink and thus taking them away from getting those drinks made for everyone. Also if you spent a great deal of money purchasing the specific liquors that go into your special concoction than you probably want those drinks to go first before people break into the other liquor. A beverage list of all that is available from the bar is also nice, but again not a necessity.
8.) The wedding Hashtag # – It’s still going strong! And one of those things that’s still fairly new to society and may have to be explained to your parents and grandparents. If you have one then by all means make a sign for it, put it on your wedding website, or wedding program, but make sure it gets out there because if people don’t know about it than they won’t use it!
9.) Favors & Thank You Gifts – If you purchased a wedding favor for each of your guests I believe the best way to distribute those gifts is to place them on each and every person’s place setting because this ensures everyone has seen them and will remember to take them with at the end of the night. If that’s not very practical because let’s say you bought a bottle of wine for everyone and you want them to take it home and not drink it at the table then putting a separate table by the door with the favors is a good idea along with a “Help Yourself” Sign.
10.) Other signs – Poems, Love Stories, Bible Verses, Etc. – These signs fall into the completely non- essential category. These would be purely for decoration, to remember a loved one or to share how you and your fiance’ met. And while they are completely for esthetics rather than a pragmatic reason they really do give you a sense of the couple’s identity. Whether they are loving, funny or religious… they are just fun to have! If it’s not a “saying” that you plan on displaying on your wall after the wedding choose a really nice frame that can be used afterwards to display some of your wedding photos after the big event!
Angie and Chris were some of my earliest clients and best supporters of my business over the years. It’s been 11 years since I took their last family photo!! Can you believe it? The last time all of the kids were just little ones… I remember because Jayden was 6. He held up six fingers in one of their photos. I’m not sure if it was because of his age or because the year was 2006. So my last photo of the day was recreating that photo. This time Jayden held up a 7… because he’s 17 and it’s 2017! Crazy how time flies. I’m so happy I was able to finally photograph this family again!
One other item I want to mention is Chris is on the donor list waiting for a new kidney and pancreas. There is a fund set up on Go Fund me to help with the medical costs and they are also hoping a live donor might be a match for him. If you would like to donate to their fund please go here:
or if you are interested in being considered for a live donor https://www.uchealth.org/services/transplant-services/living-donation/ Once there, you just click “Become A Living Donor” and it will ask you several questions from there. One very important piece it will ask is your “donor type.” You want to do “named recipient” and then enter in Chris’s information, be sure to spell his last name right Padia (No L’s!) His birthday is 7-1-1974. From there, you are asked several questions and to give some information about yourself.
- The entire process is kept confidential. Chris and Angie will not know who is going through the process until there is a perfect match. That is the only time we are told any names of possible donors.
- All testing and transplant will go through our insurance, so no need to worry about the financial end of it.
- Donors must be age 18 or older.
- Any blood type is encouraged to start the process
Thanks for considering helping out an amazing family!
Just dropped off these awesome wedding albums to a couple from last year. They went with our coffee table style book with companion parent albums that were personalized for each set of parents. Beautiful couple, amazing wedding and now a great way to display all of their memories!