Since you likely only see your wedding photographer at your consultation and on your actual wedding day, it can be easy to think they don’t do a ton of work. In reality, however, most of a photographer’s work is unseen by their clients, from education and training to planning to editing your images into art.
Most photographers have been told that their job is “just pressing a button,” that it’s easy or something anyone could do. But photography takes skill, talent and a solid business mind. It requires starting your own company from scratch and building it up into something that can become your full-time career.
So, what does a wedding photographer do? So much more than just taking photos of your walk down the aisle! Let’s take a look at how a photographer prepares for and captures a wedding.
Before the wedding
Long before I photograph a wedding, I start working with the couple. Most brides or couples contact me well in advance of their wedding date (up to 18 months) because my calendar can fill up quickly. I usually first hear from a potential wedding client via a phone call or email, after which we will set up a consultation. During this meeting, we discuss their plans for their wedding day so far—how many people are in the wedding party, the venue (if chosen), immediate family details, locations they may be considering for photos and what they would like us to capture about their big day.
Once a couple has notified me that they'd like to move forward with us, I’ll put together an agreement for the client to review and sign. I stay in touch with my clients after the contract is signed via resource oriented emails that help them with planning and preparing, referrals, videos to help them with their engagement session and gathering additional details about their wedding day as their planning progresses. About 90 days before the wedding, I send a wedding day details questionnaire for them to fill out. Once I receive the questionnaire back, we set up a call or in person meeting to go over it and organize our wedding day timeline.
Each couple’s needs and wants are different, and it’s important to me to get to know my clients on an individual basis so I can better create the images they want of their wedding.
The Wedding Day
On the wedding day, we will constantly be around but unobtrusive. From the time we start during the getting ready portion of the day to your end of the night shot at the reception, we’ll work hard to capture every memory and moment of your day! Wedding day coverage is anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. Our approach is a combination of photojournalism to capture those magical, unplanned moments with our expertise in posing and providing direction when needed.
After the wedding
Once your wedding day is over, I get to the work of editing your images and building out your gallery. It will take several weeks to process and edit your images—a time-intensive process that means going through many photos and choosing the best that tell your complete wedding day story
About a week after your wedding, we'll set up your gallery reveal party! This is where you and your loved ones will join me in my theater room for an evening of wine and cheese while we review your entire image gallery on a 120 inch screen. It's a wonderful evening and way to relive your wedding day once again!
Within a week after your reveal party, you'll join my designer via Zoom to design your album and wall art. Once the designs are complete and sent to Italy for print, it takes about 6 weeks for your products to arrive.
All the other details
In between weddings and sessions, there is so much other work that goes into maintaining a photography business, from accounting, marketing and creating invoices to keeping everything organized and running smoothly. I have to keep my images backed up to ensure that nothing ever gets lost and keep my gear well-maintained and replace or repair it when I need to. I also take time to continue my education, attending workshops and training to stay on top of the latest trends and skills. There’s always more to learn and my education as a wedding photographer and business owner is never complete.
In addition to the details of running and maintaining my business, I have to answer phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook DMs—you name it. There are a variety of ways to contact me and potential clients use every single one. I go through initial inquiries and get back to everyone within 24 hours.
Running a photography business is definitely a full-time job—and then some! But I wouldn’t trade this career for anything else. I love capturing the memories that matter most to my clients, providing them with heirlooms to look back on for years to come.
Want to learn more? Hit me up and let's chat!
"We could not have hired a better photographer for our wedding than Ralph. We have countless photos that we can use in our home and are thrilled to look back on to remember our wedding day. The day moves so quickly but Ralph did an incredible job capturing the moments throughout the day so we can re-live the emotions, setting, and all the love that filled the occasion. Ralph's process of getting to know my wife and I through the planning meetings and engagement session was more detailed and fun than expected. He wanted to get to know us. The level of effort that Ralph pours into his work mirrored the level of effort that we felt we were putting into the wedding day as a whole, which we were thrilled with. The post-wedding meeting is a great experience as well as Ralph allowed us to walk back through the day and choose the layout for our wedding album in-person in a theater-like setting. Working with Ralph to capture the irreplaceable moments on the most important day in our lives was the best choice we could have made!"
- Dan Bergvall