Interview With An Expert: Millie Kuyer Photography

Today we kick off a new column we’re really excited about. While we fancy ourselves fairly knowledgeable about most things wedding related, we don’t have the kind of specific, long-earned information that different experts in the wedding industry have. You’ll find those insider tips and tricks in our “Interview With An Expert” articles, starting today with one of the elements of a wedding that almost everyone opts for and that many of you have plenty of questions about: Photography.

Our expert is Millie Kuyer of Millie Kuyer Photography, and she gave us so much great input on finding a photographer, working with a budget, and what to expect from your expert, that we’ve decided to split it into two posts. Read on for advice on the early stages of hiring a photographer, and come back next week to get the low down on what to expect once you’ve found one.

WiV: What warning signs should you watch out for when hiring a photographer?

MK: A photographer that doesn’t ask any questions. There are many things a  photographer should know about their couples, like what type of photos they prefer, their expectations, what the wedding day schedule is, and if there’s anything special to be aware of.

For example, I once shot a wedding in which the mother of the bride was in a wheelchair and was self-conscious about it. It was good to know ahead of time so that I could get in closer for head and shoulder shots of her, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been thorough with my questions for the couple.

I’d also make sure that the photographer doesn’t just have one or two incredible shots from each wedding, requesting to see more images if necessary. Not every image will be spectacular (it’s just not possible), but they should have great photos from throughout the day.

WiV: What are some good ways to stick to your photography budget?

MK: There are several things you can do to keep your costs down.

First, it’s always good to be organized and stick to your schedule, which will prevent you from overtime charges if you’ve booked the photographer for a set number of hours.

Second, you can often save money by booking a photographer without a second shooter. You should know that you’ll eliminate the opportunity to get images from different angles (like you walking down the aisle and the groom’s face as he watches), but also that many experienced photographers will be able to capture a wide variety of shots on their own.

Lastly, think about which parts of the day are most important to you so that you know which memories will be most valued as professional photographs. Do you really need the photographer to stick around past midnight to photograph all your red-cheeked, sweaty, dancing friends and family after they’ve had a few drinks? Or could those moments be captured by fellow guests on their point and shoot cameras and uploaded to the internet? On the other hand, if you’ve booked separate hotel rooms for getting ready, invested in a hair and makeup artist, and plan to cherish those intimate “getting ready with the wedding party” moments, then they should be professionally documented.

My rule of thumb is that if you’ve invested a lot of money in a specific portion of the wedding already, you should really have the photographer around to document it and, essentially, increase your value by making those moments last longer.

WiV: What should you bring to the photographer meetings?

MK: I’d recommend bringing a list of your questions. It’s not unusual to forget half the questions you’d planned on asking when the excitement of talking about the wedding day starts to distract you. You’ll also want to bring the timetable for your wedding day (or as much as you have at that point). Your photographer will want to know the locations you’ve selected and how much time you’re planning for family photos and creative shots.

It can also be a good idea to bring some images you’ve found that highlight the style of photography you like. However, know that you won’t be getting any of the exact images you show. Photographs are not meant to be replicated. Stylistic examples, though, aren’t a bad idea. If you have a favorite photo or two from your photographer’s website, tell him or her about it so that you can give an idea of your taste and earn a little goodwill through flattery.

Come back next week for part two and get filled in on what’s standard once a photographer is booked (including some do’s and dont’s for posing on the big day!). 

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