Things You Should Ask Your Wedding Photographer AND YOURSELF: Henry + Mac

Guest blog from Henry + Mac, a Boston based wedding photography business owned by ’11 NESOP graduate Dana Curran (Tavares) and her husband Zak. You can find their work featured in publications like Brooklyn Bride, Style Me Pretty, The Wedding Chicks, Intimate Weddings, and Classic Bride or check out their Facebook page.

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Figuring out who should document your wedding day can be a pretty stressful ordeal. Photographers book 1-2 years in advance – meaning it’s usually your 2nd commitment (if not first) after picking your venue.  There are literally thousands of options in the New England area alone. Figuring out where to begin can be overwhelming to say the least.

My wife and I are in a unique position because not only are we wedding photographers, but we just got married ourselves this September and got a whole new education on the hiring process. So we’re going to give you a little insight from our vantage point, the side of the vendor and the side a couple who just experienced it.

We’re often asked our advice for picking a photographer; what should a couple ask?  Who did YOU hire?  How did you decide?  If you keep up with popular blogs you’ll read over and over again questions like, “ How many images do you deliver,” or “ what equipment do you use,” or,” do you have insurance?”

Ugh. Look we get why that idea is out there.  These questions are important to understand before entering into any agreement.  The wedding machine will push this on you constantly. It’s nothing against that line of thinking it’s just, well, is that what’s really important?

So, this will not be that sort of list.

Any professional photographer worth a damn should be able to deliver you plenty of professional images, have insurance and all that. You’re inviting someone in to one of the most important days of your life so far; that’s a big deal.  If you ask vanilla questions, you’ll get a vanilla photographer.

We also included questions we think you should ask yourself. In the roller coaster of wedding planning they’ll hopefully give you a better idea of what you want your day to feel like, and what you want your experience to feel like with your photographers, you know, the ACTUAL important stuff.

  1. ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU WANT A BUSINESS TRANSACTION or PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP? We each have our own priorities and a vision for our big day that are often drastically different from one another. Both are great options just be honest about which you are looking for upfront.  Really think about this.  The rest of your communication from then on will hinge on this decision.  If you have a personal relationship it DOES NOT mean you don’t get the same professional treatment. Make sure you get what’s included in your package, discuss what that means, and set expectations. Make sure you understand the contract and your usage rights.   But also make sure that if you want something more personal out of the relationship your photographer has the depth and connection to do so.
  2. ASK THEM: Hourly vs. full day coverage. The toughest thing when talking to photographers is comparing apples to apples. Some charge by the hour, some full day. Some deliver edited photos, some don’t.  While every photographer builds his/her business differently for very personal and legitimate reasons, you just need to make sure it fits your vision.
  3. ASK YOURSELF: WHAT’S OUR BUDGET?  Yes, we’d all love to fly Jonas Peterson in from Australia to flawlessly capture our day and make us look like movie stars.  Unfortunately, we can’t all afford it.  Sometimes, a budget is a budget.  Be realistic, do your research to find out what the market bears, know what’s important to you, and try to set your expectations accordingly.  Find a few photographers you’re drawn to on a few different levels – talk to them – find out who fits you best – then go with your gut.  Find the happy place between the disappointment of an unattainable figure and the disappointment of choosing based solely on numbers.  There’s a match for you at every budget level.
  4.  ASK THEM: WHY DO YOU THIS / HOW’D YOU GET INTO THIS? Ask some questions about how they got into their business, what motivates them to do this? What’s important to them?  What are they looking for in you and other couples?  Why is always the heart of the matter.  This is usually something a photographer volunteers anyway and comes up naturally in our conversation but if this matters to you, ASK.  We think this is a vital question to discuss.
  5. ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU TRUST THEM? Can I let go and allow this person be the professional?  Can I trust them to do their job?  Not just that they’ll deliver what you’ve agreed to, but that you also feel comfortable trusting their creative process.  Do I trust them with this enormous responsibility?
  6. ASK THEM: HOW WILL WE PLAN FOR THE DAY TOGETHER? WHAT DOES A DAY WORKING WITH YOU LOOK LIKE?  When the right one answers these questions you should find yourself nodding along, having revelations, ‘Yes! That’s exactly what we were thinking!”  Timeline meetings, phone calls, a site visit. Be on the same page 30 days out so when you see them on that day, they just do their thing so you can do yours.
  7. ASK YOURSELF: DO YOU LIKE THEM? The last question you should always ask is of yourself. It should go something like, “ Do I like hanging out with these people? Would I love having them around on my wedding day?” Any other answer besides, “Hell YES,” should warrant serious reconsideration of hiring that person. We spend more time with the bride and groom than anyone else on their wedding day. If you want to enjoy every minute of a day that always flies too fast, you must be comfortable with your photographer.  It’s the only way you will look back on your photos and truly feel like a piece of you is reflected, that your story was told.  That, to us, is everything.

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Alumni Profile: Dave White ’06

After 6 years of working for Hasbro Inc. as a photographer, 2006 alum Dave White recently left his job to open his own studio in Rhode Island, Studio DTW.

Studio DTW is a full service photography and digital imaging studio that specializes in creating dynamic images for use in multiple advertising and promotional applications. Their clients are a diverse group of businesses and individuals, from varied backgrounds and with different needs, who recognize the importance of compelling imagery to tell their story and drive their business.

“I am about to launch a new and exciting product that combines the world of photography with 3D printing.  The brand is called TOPOGRAFICS™, they are 3D-printed files that have been converted from traditional photographs. I will be presenting my prints to the public for the very first time at the PDN PhotoPlus Expo on October 24-26th in New York City.”

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Introducing the NESOP Alumni Portal

portalpicNESOP proudly announces the launch of our new Alumni Portal. Alumni can access the portal through the NESOP website under the Alumni menu navigation item from the home page, or, simply go here.

The alumni portal is an easy way to access job leads at any time, update your personal information and stay connected with fellow alumni and 2nd year students.  Alums are encouraged to take a few minutes to set up/request an account, your account request will then be submitted for approval. Once approved, you will receive a confirmation e-mail and will be ready to log-in and enjoy all the new features of the portal!

Things to Note:

Job Leads: As of  July 11th, job leads will no longer be emailed out to alumni database, all job leads will now be accessible through the portal and are available 24/7. They are posted in real time, so check back as often as you like.

Calls for Entry will also be posted and accessible via the portal. If you have a Call for Entry that you want to post to the portal for your fellow alums and current NESOP students, there are options for you to do so.

2nd Year Students: Your access to the portal is limited until you graduate. As a student, you will have access to job leads and Calls for Entry only. When you graduate, you will have access to the full Alumni Portal.

Class of ’13 Commencement Address: Tara Morris ’07

2007 NESOP graduate Tara Morris was selected as the 2013 Commencement Speaker and recipient of this year’s Alumni Achievement Award.

In her address to the Class of 2013, Tara, co-owner of Hitched Studios (voted ‘Best of Boston‘ for Wedding Photography in 2011,) shares her post-graduate experiences and encourages students to celebrate their strengths.

“There is no better life than the life of a successful artist – you are at that door, and it is in your hands.”

Video by Long Haul Films.

Expert Insights: Keitaro Yoshioka

NESOP Architectural Photography instructor, Keitaro Yoshioka, took a few minutes to share his thoughts on the most important elements for an emerging photographer in developing a marketing and business plan.

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NESOP: What do you believe are the five most important elements to guide an (emerging) photographer in developing his/her business plan and why? 

Keitaro: First of all, I think it is important to note that I don’t believe the standard MBA-format business plan works well for photographers.  It doesn’t fit the creative model for new photographers attempting to launch their careers.  Originally a vehicle for obtaining bank or investor funding, the “traditional” business plan has elements that are important but others that simply don’t apply in this context. 

I also think it is important that anyone entering this field understands the difference between photo enthusiasts and professional photographers.  If you want to make a living as a photographer, you need to have technical, creative and business skills and understand that, as a professional photographer, you are running your own business

With this in mind, I require my students to create both a marketing plan and a five-year plan.  Five key elements in developing these are:

1.                  Have a vision and trust your vision.  Know what makes you and your work unique.  The are a lot of photographers out there and they all have something different to offer; the most successful ones will all agree that you must trust your vision.  As an emerging artist, understand that your portfolio may be as good as or better than many of the established professionals.  To succeed, you must stay true to your vision and market yourself well. 

2.                Create your marketing materials and marketing plan; keep your “brand” in mind when doing this.  You are going to send out your own promotional cards and other promo materials (hard copy and/or electronic depending on your clients and strategy).  These materials should include your strongest image(s) and the images and materials should clearly represent/describe what you do.  Your materials should convey the image you want for your business. 

3.                Research the market to identify your potential clients. Create your (client) database based on research.  Your database should contain the company name (if applicable) and contact information (mailing address, e-mail address, direct phone or extension, website, social media sites, etc.) for all the individuals who will make the hiring decision.  Don’t simply target a department—send your materials to the marketing director, photo editor, creative director, art director, etc.  Ultimately, you want to get in front of these individuals, show them your portfolio and make a (positive) impression on them.  Create a schedule to follow up with anyone to whom you’ve sent your promotional materials—do what works: make a cold call, set up an appointment to meet, etc.  Just be sure to follow up. 

4.                Plan (and budget) to stay educated and stay in business.  Photography is always changing.  Today, more than ever, photographers must stay current with the latest technology and trends and always be ready to reinvent themselves.   This is true in terms of the equipment we use to make images and the ways and technology we use to market ourselves.

5.           Have a (five-year) plan.  Rejection is part of being a photographer, so if you are a freelancer or planning to operate your own studio, the ultimate question is how you will handle that.  Do you have a plan for the “lean” early years?  Do you plan to take other (unrelated) work in an effort to support your photography?  If so, how long can you support yourself in that unrelated field while still managing to produce new bodies of work and promote your photography business?  Because THAT is the focus—building your business and your career as a photographer.  Some may see results within a year.  Others may take five years to start earning a “stable” income from photography.  There’s no guarantee in this business.  One thing is certain, though:  If you are not shooting and if you are not aggressively marketing your business, you will not get jobs.  So, however you do it—make a plan, set goals for your photography business and constantly revisit them and work toward achieving them.        __________________________________________________________________________________

Keitaro YoshiokaA successful commercial photographer for over 25 years with client lists including IBM, Microsoft and Proctor & Gamble, Keitaro is not only a masterful photographer, but an expert in handling the business aspects of the job.

Alumni Profile: Aaron McElroy ’07

Aaron McElroy, class of 2007 joined AM Projects, an international photo collective with five other photographers from all over the world.  AM Projects launched in September 2012 at The Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, as they released their first book, Nocturnes, which was included in Time Magazine’s “Books We Loved” in 2012. They currently have a show at Noorderlicht in Groningen, NL through May 19th 2013.

Outside of AM Projects, Aaron recently had a solo show at the Horton Gallery in NYC, as well as a solo show at Ampersand gallery in Portland, OR where he released his book, After Wake.  He was featured in the February issue of The British Journal of Photography, released a monograph with Self Publish, Be Happy and will also be included in a book due out next month with twelve other artists titled Nudity Today.

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After Wake, Aaron McElroy ’07

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‘Nocturnes’, AM Projects

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Aaron McElroy, ’07

To contact Aaron / view his work:
ph.    212-470-2440
web. aaron-mcelroy.com

Alumni Profile: Catalina Piedrahita

2011 NESOP graduate Catalina Piedrahita has her work published in the latest issue of Revista Indigo, a Colombian magazine dedicated to showing artistic talents in multiple areas (graphic design, illustration, photography, visual arts and writing).

“This series presents images produced as an answer to sexist and misogynous attitudes that pervade our society. In particular, they are a reaction to conservative positions on issues like professional equality, sexual violence and reproductive rights in the context of American politics.  My objective is to contribute to the conversation and help shake the complacency of those whose rights are being violated; to encourage them to take on a more active political role and advocate more strongly for themselves. The rights of women are mutilated, partly due to fear of change and loss of privilege. But even more dangerous than this abuse by others is self-degradation. Women have become complicit in this war against equality by agreeing – implicitly or explicitly – with their own inferiority, or simply by remaining silent.

These images seek to show the literal and symbolic marks that aggression makes on women, while reminding the viewer of integral aspects of womanhood such as sexuality, sensuality, fertility and beauty. It is necessary that men and women alike accept the nature of femininity and allow all women to flourish with all their aspects and virtues.” – Catalina Piedrahita

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© Catalina Piedrahita 2013

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© Catalina Piedrahita 2013

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© Catalina Piedrahita 2013

To see more of this series, and to view her other work, visit her blog.

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