The Photographer

Dan Fried
H&H Photographers
Irvington (914) 591-4200

How far in advance should a couple book the photographer?
A year in advance, generally.  

What’s the best way to choose a photographer?

Referral, referral, referral. If you have a friend or trusted source who knows the photographer or has used him, that’s a big plus. I also suggest you visit the photographer in his studio and look at his workspace and operation. Ask yourself if you think he is creative, organized, and personable. If so, you have your photographer.

What should a couple ask a photographer?
A big one is whether the photographer has photographed at the venue you’ve chosen. You have a limited amount of time with your photographer and you don’t want to spend it waiting for him to figure out each shot. Find a photographer who knows the staff and the nooks and crannies of your location. Additionally, portraiture requires substantial knowledge, talent, and discipline. Ask to look at his portraits. Is the lighting flat or is there an attractive gradient across the subject? Are the subjects’ eyes lost in shadow or has the photographer filled that in with flash? Are the poses professional and dramatic and, most important, does the bride look like she’s having fun? Finally, if you’re getting an album, ask who does the graphic design and whether you can make any revisions before the book goes to print.

Should a couple attend a wedding to see how a photographer works?
I don’t think a couple needs to go watch a photographer on the job. It may be awkward for a photographer to have a prospect over his shoulder. It’s not a bad idea, however, to visit the studio when an engagement session is taking place. It is also a good idea to speak with a couple who worked with the photographer previously.

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How far in advance should a photographer be at the ceremony?
The starting time is determined by things like whether we have to shoot with the groom, how comfortable the bride is with a camera in the dressing room, and travel time, among other things.
 
What kinds of style do couples have to choose from?

Look at photographers’ websites and decide what you like visually. Keep those images in mind when looking through a photographer’s work. Ninety percent of brides request ‘photojournalism’ today from their photographer. I find it is best to do both photojournalism and traditional photography so that when it’s time to design an album there are no gaps in coverage. Parents may want to design an album with a classic style while the bride and groom may want to do something more avant-garde.

Can you ensure you’ll get good photos?
Good photography comes from the meeting of talent, preparation, chemistry, and luck. A good photographer finds a common energy with you so that the poses come naturally and the candid shots are fun. The photo session is really a dialogue between you and your photographer. When the dialogue is captivating, the good images just reveal themselves.

What do couples really want from a photographer?
A photographer who comes to their wedding with an open mind and heart and pours his or her creativity into getting great images. Great wedding photography starts with a desire to be of service.

What trends do you see vis-à-vis wedding photography?
“Trash the dress” sessions have become a recent trend. The wedding is over and, instead of preserving your gown, you and the photographer do a shoot where you literally destroy your gown. For example, the bride may jump into a pool for some underwater shots, climb a tree, or roll around in the surf. The juxtaposition of the delicate and intricate gown and the physical activity is a jarring image and a super-strong statement. Fifties Bettie-Page-like boudoir photography with wardrobe, makeup, set, and props has become a cool trend as well.  

Should you hire a videographer as well? If so, how do you find a good one?
Yes, video is important. I would suggest finding a videographer from your photographer. The two must shoot beside each other and be in coordination for much of the wedding. Imagine having your grandparents’ wedding on video as if it were shot yesterday. The video is not for you; it’s for your kids and your grandkids.   

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Who has the rights to the photographs once they’ve been taken?
Photographers generally retain copyright, but you should look over your photographer’s contract if you want to know. For an additional charge, a “buyout” of the copyright is often available. Keep in mind that you would likely not hire a photographer if he did not have the right to show you his work from previous weddings.

What is the range of pricing for a photographer?
Pricing differs more today than ever before as technology has made it easier for many to enter the field, and the current economy has caused prices to go down. The range of pricing is generally two thousand dollars to eight thousand dollars and up.

What should a couple know before signing the contract?
First see if you are fine with the schedule of payments. You should understand how long you are retaining the photographer, what your payments are if you go above and beyond the contract, and who holds the rights to the photographs. 

Should you tip your photographer?
While not necessary, tipping the photographer is standard practice in the field. Generally couples tip at least one hundred dollars per photographer.

Should you reserve a seat at your wedding for your photographer?
The photographer is generally working a ten-hour day with you, sometimes longer. You should make sure your photographer is taken care of.

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lights, camera, action
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