by Ashley Jones, Shutter Sweet Photography
Choosing a wedding photographer can be a daunting task. Everywhere you look, someone is holding a fancy DSLR camera and wants to be known as a “professional” photographer. But as a bride, how can you get the most from your photography investment?
First, we must agree that photography is one of the most important investments of a wedding celebration – it’s not just an expense. The ability to freeze precious moments in time is a gift that can keep on giving long after the day is over if done well. The raw emotion, special memories, the documentation of events and details – all of this captures the story of your day and allows you to share it with others. As memories fade, your photography will be there to reconnect your mind and heart to bring you back to that look, the kiss, your first dance, and the other moments you can relive over and over again as you look through your photos.
So choosing the right photographer is one of the most important decisions you will make, because that will determine the quality and experience you have. Don’t stress, we’re here to help. Some key things to look for are consistency in their work – quality, style and results. If you look at their most recent wedding, would you be okay if your photos looked like that? You should be able to connect with the photographer on a personal level because they’re going to be invited into the most intimate parts of your day and you will need to be extremely comfortable with them. Another important thing to look at is the final product they produce. Do they offer gorgeous hand-crafted albums or books that you could get yourself from Shutterfly? Do they just offer canvases and prints or do they have unique products you can’t get on your own? How do you want to remember your wedding 10, 30, 50 years from now?
My experience as a bride shaped how I structured my company, Shutter Sweet Photography, because I wanted to treat brides the way I wanted to be treated. First, I wanted to feel extremely comfortable with my photographer and I wanted to be confident that she could make me look awesome. Because of this, I offer an engagement session with every single package. I didn’t have one, and I realized it allows the couple to get to know me as a photographer, feel comfortable with my style of shooting, and have a relationship before I show up to shoot the most important day of their life. It also allows me to teach them some tips and tricks to posing to make them look incredible, have the opportunity to tell a little bit more or their story, and I can get to know them better as well.
Even though I thought an album was a great thing to cut to save money when I was a bride, seven years later, I’m so glad my parents bought one for us. There are certain images that take me back to the butterflies I had in my stomach, the peace I felt during our outdoor ceremony, the fun I had hanging out with friends. The album sits on a shelf in our living room. I never take it out unless we have friends over and they request to see it, which is maybe once or twice a year. However, when I do open it, I get to relive those moments and share our day with friends who didn’t know us then. Where is my disc of images? Somewhere tucked away in my office that has never seen the light of day. Have I framed any prints? No. Do I look through thousands of photos from our wedding on my computer? No. Do I gather friends around my computer to show them photos from our wedding – even just the best ones? No. Will I pull my album out years from now to show future friends and our future kids? Absolutely.
I’m a professional storyteller and I now see the value in a good album, so it would be silly for any of my clients to walk away without a storybook album, which is why albums are also included in very single package. And it’s not just any album – it’s a custom designed album where the images from your wedding determine the storyline, layout and size. The quality is top of the line, crafted by hand, and will outlast any shutterfly book for generations to come. Even though we live in a digital society, there’s something unique and special about seeing things in print, feeling the quality in your fingers, and sharing that experience with others. With my background in graphic design, it’s something unique that I love to put together for my clients. No two albums are the same. The storybooks reflect the personality of the couple, the colors or theme from the wedding, the series of events that took place that day. It’s a gift we love giving our clients – and most parents will request a copy for themselves too!
Another things that sets Shutter Sweet Photography apart from other companies is our desire and ability to create artwork for our clients, and not just with our albums. At the end of the day, we want to leave you with several favorite images that you could blow up and hang on your wall that will leave people standing with their mouths hanging open in awe. We offer fine art canvas, metal, acrylic (framed or unframed) prints in addition to other really unique products like our large image cubes that will make your friends wish they hired us too. We’re known for our ability to use the surrounding environments to create remarkable pieces of art that capture the couple’s personality and showcase the natural joy and love from the day.
We’re not for everyone though. A bride has to value photography and be willing to invest with us to get the quality and experience we deliver. We’ve created a registry system so that no bride who wants quality photography is deprived of it because of price, but there are plenty of people out there who don’t see the value in what we offer and that’s okay. They can find a cheaper less experienced photographer and they will still be happy because they can’t see the difference.
As a bride, you have to decide who you want to be with you on your wedding day. You have to decide what style you like. You have to choose the products you want to stand the test of time. Do your research, read reviews, and meet with every single person you want to work with before you hire them. At the end of the day, our wish for every single bride is that you’re happy and without regrets when the day is over.