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Tips from the Pros: Avoid This Catastrophic Pitfall With Your Wedding Photographer

Tips from the Pros: Avoid This Catastrophic Pitfall With Your Wedding Photographer
tips from the pros joanns photography picking the perfect wedding photographer arches zion brides

Our wedding photos are one of the most long-lasting mementos after the last napkin is put away.  Besides a planner, it's one of the top key vendors you want to make sure you get right.  That's why we asked a pro how to make sure you get just the right photographer who won't just match your style, but also make sure your images are safeguarded.

The last thing you'd ever want is to find yourself searching for your wedding images, only to realize they're missing or lost on a drive somewhere-- AND then call your wedding photographer and find out they don't have them backed up either.  Or worse, never get your gallery because the photographer lost your images before they ever went to edit them.  So how do you avoid this pitfall as a bride or groom?  And what other pitfalls can we help you avoid so your wedding experience is smooth(er) around such an important part of this memorable day?

We took a moment to interview one of the top wedding photographers in the business, JoAnn Loper with JoAnn's Photography, and asked for her best advice to couples about protecting their images, as well as several other great ways to avoid common pitfalls on your big day.

To all readers meeting JoAnn for the first time, she's a photographer and educator whose top goal is to help clients feel alive for their wedding day by being their authentic selves and helping them feel comfortable from booking to delivery.  She's a must-follow on Instagram for some dreamy inspo.


#1. How can I avoid having too little coverage of photography on the big day and end up missing moments I want to remember?

Before asking yourself how many hours of photography coverage you think you'll need, I recommend asking yourself what your day is going to look like. Will everything be in one place or will you be changing locations? Do you guys have small families or will family pictures include in-laws, step-parents, multiple different groups, lots of young kids, etc.? Are you going to have a small wedding party or will there be lots of bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring bearers?

All of these play a factor in the amount of coverage I would recommend for a wedding. I personally don't offer any full-day packages for less than 8 hours, because that's the minimum amount of time I feel like it takes to tell the full story, from beginning to end, for an average wedding.

One thing to keep in mind is that the more hours of coverage you have, the more relaxing the pace will be for the day. More hours give you more downtime, which allows for more candid, special moments to happen, the ability to take breaks if needed, and more room for creativity for your photographer. When I don't feel super pressured to stay on a tight schedule, I always end up taking to most creative photos because I'm able to play around!

#2. How can we avoid feeling nervous on camera?

It's totally normal to be nervous in front of the camera. Unless you're a professional model, you probably will feel a little weird having your photos taken at first, and that's okay! I tell all my couples that they have full permission to be themselves in front of the camera.

I like to "direct" my clients instead of "pose" them. By giving them general directions, it allows them to pose themselves in a way that feels natural to them, which always looks the best on camera. Plus, it's them being themselves – not me forcing a certain vision onto them and it not reflecting who they are.

If you're nervous about having your photos taken, just remember that incorporating movement (arm rubs, cheek kisses, swaying, tickling, etc.) helps you not feel stiff. Focusing on each other instead of the camera will help you feel more at ease.

One thing I recommend is doing something that will make your pictures feel like a date. Whether that's having a picnic, bringing your pups on a hike, grabbing happy hour drinks at a bar, chilling in your hammocks, exploring on kayaks, pizza & beers, or making s'mores around a campfire, you name it. Incorporating a fun activity will not only help you open up in front of the camera, but it'll also be an amazing way to make some memories together.

#3. Should I Order A Wedding Album?  Don't Most People Just Look At Photos On Their Phone?

I deliver my wedding galleries online and offer unlimited downloads. I believe that your wedding photos are your memories, so I edit every image that turns out (sometimes that's a lot!) and online digital galleries allow me to not hold back.

I do recommend ordering a physical wedding album too because printing your photos brings them to LIFE! Having your album sitting on your coffee table invites your friends & family to look through it and gush over your day when they come over. Having an album to pass down to your kids one day will ensure your legacy lives on. Because honestly, do you think they're going to dig through the digital archives to relive those moments?

Ordering a professional photo album through your photographer is so, so worth it. I know it's tempting to go with the cheaper option and order from Walgreens or Costco, but truly, you get what you pay for. Yes, those are a fraction of the price, but also a fraction of the quality. The albums I offer are handcrafted and built to stand the test of time so that your children & grandchildren will always have a piece of your story to hold onto.

#4. How do I avoid ending up with a wedding photographer who doesn't quite meet my expectations?

Choosing the right photographer is so important. You're placing your trust in someone to capture some of your most precious memories. Photography isn't a one-size-fits-all thing.

Each photographer is COMPLETELY different, whether it's shooting style, posing method, editing style, the client experience they offer, their personality, the list goes on. It's more beneficial in the long run to spend a little extra time researching photographers to find the right one for you than to book with one of the first ones you find and risk not being completely happy.

Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a wedding photographer:

Do you love their style? Do they mostly use natural light or artificial light? Do they capture more posed pictures or candids? Is their editing style consistent? (That's a SUPER important one – you want to know what to expect out of your photos!)

Do they primarily shoot what you're booking them for? This one may seem obvious, but make sure your photographer regularly shoots exactly what you want. For example, don't hire a photographer that specializes in elegant upscale weddings to shoot your adventurous destination wedding. Photographers tend to shoot what they are most passionate about. As a client, you deserve to have a photographer that's just as excited about your shoot as you are, because you know their heart will be in it and they will be able to give you the best experience they can offer.

Do you connect with them on a personal level? Super important! If you don't click with your photographer, it'll show in your photos. If you can be yourselves and open up around one another, they'll capture your story in a way that much more truly reflects who you are as a couple.

#5. Any other things I should look for in my wedding photographer to make sure I've got the right one for me?

1. Make sure they have a service mindset

Photography is a service-based job. A lot of times wedding photographers end up taking on responsibilities that extend past photography, whether that's researching locations and scouting places before your shoot, helping mom fasten the buttons on the back of your wedding dress when she's struggling, or helping set decorations back up after a wind gust blew them over. It's crucial to find a photographer who's happy to help in any way they possibly can instead of simply saying, "that's not my job."

2. Experience & expertise

Having shot over 100 weddings in my career, I can confidently say I am a much better photographer now than I was when I only had four or five weddings under my belt. That's not to say that someone just starting out can't be a great photographer (they absolutely can!), but having years of experience can really be beneficial if you're met with a problem on your wedding day and need a photographer who can come up with a solution on the spot. After shooting so many weddings, I can better serve my couples by giving them advice & heads up on things they might not have thought of, by knowing what lighting situations photograph best and what things to look for, and by being quick with my camera settings (it's basically an extension of my body at this point) to capture all the spur-of-the-moment candids.

3. Knowing the weight of their job

A great photographer understands that even though we might shoot a wedding every other weekend, this is the BIGGEST DAY of someone's life. It should never be "just another day on the job" when you're shooting someone's wedding! When you approach each wedding with this mindset, you're more grateful for being able to do this as your job and you have so much gratitude toward your couple for choosing you to capture some of their most important memories.

#6. How do I avoid that terrible moment of hearing my wedding photos are lost forever?

I can't stress this one enough – make sure your wedding photographer has a solid backup process so your images are safe! My backup process starts WHILE I'm taking the photos because my cameras hold two memory cards, so there are automatically two copies of your images in case a card was too corrupt (it happens).

I also back them up on three physical hard drives at home (and keep one in a fireproof safe), as well as a cloud backup online. So if technology were to ever fail me, I will almost always be able to recover your photos.

#7. Any last advice on selecting the right photographer?

Make sure you familiarize yourself with your wedding photographer's methods and policies. A lot of times this information can be found on our websites and pricing guides. I include FAQs in both places because it's important information I want potential clients to know before booking with me.

For example, I want my potential clients to know that when they book with me, they're not only getting an incredible experience and amazing photographs but also things like a customized timeline tailored to their wedding specifically, a pre-wedding consultation, sneak peeks within 24-72 hours, no limit on the number of images included in their gallery, etc. Every photographer will have different policies so make sure you're okay with them!

Hopefully, this has been super helpful in answering your questions and finding a great wedding photographer and avoiding common pitfalls as you're tying the knot.  Wanting to see more about JoAnn's services?  Check out our link below!

Learn More About JoAnn's Photography

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