6 Questions You Must Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Choosing the right wedding photographer is important.  After your wedding the only thing you’ll have other than memories will be the photos.  With all the expenses of the day, this one is arguably the most important.

For my wedding, one of my tasks was to choose the photographer.  I mostly decided based on photos I found online and really liked.  There were several great photographers that had actually done weddings at our venue, so it was easy to see how ours might come out. After finding a few photographers that were available and within budget, I came up with the following list of questions:

1.  Can I see a full wedding’s photos?

Photographers post only their best work online.  A full set of wedding photos will not look exactly like the small set that were hand selected for a website or social sharing.  Asking to see the whole wedding will show the total quality of the photos for an event.  It may be that only two or three photos turned out well from the wedding.  This is also a great time to see their technique in different scenarios.  Will your wedding be at night?  Ask to see a night wedding.  Can this photographer handle low light situations?  Mastering off camera flash isn’t easy for someone that normally shoots in natural light.  Would you be happy if this set of wedding photos is what was delivered to you?

2.  Are you insured?

You are going to want to make sure you are dealing with a professional, and that the professional is insured.  Insurance covers a wide variety of scenarios that rarely occur, but do happen.  Ask them about their contingency plans.  What happens if they get sick, have car trouble, or get hit by a bus the day of the wedding?  Pick someone that has an answer to these what-if scenarios.

3.  How many weddings have you shot as the primary photographer?

Experience is important.  A photographer may claim to have shot over 20 weddings, but this could have been done as a second shooter.  This experience is good, but you want to make sure your photographer has a good sense of timing, knows the shots to take, has experienced some challenges, and can manage their own second shooter.  The primary photographer is also generally in charge of the editing and handling the business/contract side.  A person with greater experience will also likely be more expensive.  If you’re looking to save money, choosing someone with less experience may be the way to go.  I would make sure that they have done at least 15 weddings as the primary.

4.  What are your deliverables?

You want to know what you are paying for.  Are you going to receive physical prints or digital images or both?  Can you make your own prints or do you need to buy them from the photographer?  Will the package include an engagement session?  These deliverables generally drive the price.

5.  What is the turnaround time on a final product?

You want to know when you’re going to receive your wedding photos.  A busy photographer can take a long time to go through and edit photos.  Don’t be shocked if a busy photographer says it will take 30 days.  You may prefer someone that can deliver them sooner, and will commit to two weeks instead of 4-6 for example.  If you do not ask, the photographer may take their time, and deliver the photos months after the event.

6.  Do you have backup equipment?

Backup equipment is required.  Equipment fails all the time, you want to make sure your photographer and their secondary shooters are covered in these cases.  Make sure they are going to bring multiple cameras, batteries, flashes, and memory cards.  Are they prepared for bad weather if it occurs?

 

Delete Your Photos

I love my photos.  All of them.  I must have had some purpose in mind to pull my camera out, point it at a subject, and shoot a photo.  These pictures were meant to capture a moment in time, so someday I could go back and relive the experiences.  However, what I have found is that they are mostly sitting on a hard drive, taking up space.  As someone that practices minimalism, I’m very good at keeping only a minimal set of clothing, kitchen gadgets, books, and limiting all other “stuff” as well.  Adopting this lifestyle has made life a lot simpler.

The one area that I haven’t yet applied this practice of minimalism to is my collection of photographs.  I have been collecting a set of photos for over 10 years.  I rarely have the need to go back and look at photos that were taken at a random party in college, however I don’t really want to delete “irreplaceable” photos.  I have always thought of photographs as irreplaceable, since it’s impossible to go back and capture each image and guarantee that it looks exactly like the one lost.  This is especially true when it comes to capturing moments related to people and pets.  Are they really ALL irreplaceable though?  Will I care if I lose my uninteresting shots?

not interesting
Why have I been holding on to this photo for 10 years?

Since 2003, when I purchased my first digital camera, I have put together a cluttered top level folder of 88,192 photographs which are currently taking up 391GB of drive space.  This amounts to 22 photos per day over the years.  A large portion of these are either out of focus, uninteresting, duplicates or test shots.  I have photos from old cell phones, and even exact duplicate files from when I bought my first DSLR and set it to save in both raw and jpg.  Why keep everything?  My rationale has always been that drive space is cheap and nearly unlimited.

I want to reduce clutter and keep only a minimal set of photos.  I believe that less is more, and I’ll appreciate a smaller set of good photos over the full set of mediocre ones.  It will also be a lot easier to backup a smaller set of photos as opposed to backing up a larger set.  It’s nearly impossible to protect nearly 400GB of data without incurring a large cost for stuff that I mostly don’t care about.  It will also be easier to access and find photos that I care about.

Criteria for a photo to be deleted(one or more must be true):

  • The subject of the photo is out of focus
  • The photo is not interesting
  • The photo is poorly exposed (and not correctable)
  • The photo is of a person that is unflattering (goofy looking, has their eyes closed, etc)
  • The photo is of/or related to an ex girlfriend (or someone that I equally dislike)
  • The photo is a duplicate or looks identical to a photo that I plan to keep

The Result

It took a long time to go through each individual file, a very long time.  The process was completed, and I have successfully deleted a very large number of photos.  I applied the criteria to each and every file and came up with a startling discovery.  Most of my photos fit the criteria needed for deletion.  I was able to reduce my total number of photos to just over 8,000, a reduction of 90%.

This image is out of focus
This photo is out of focus
This image is not interesting
This photo is not interesting
I took a few hundred photos on this evening. This photo is a duplicate
I took a few hundred photos this evening.  This is a duplicate of a better one I took 2 seconds earlier

I’d guess that around 15% of the photos had the subject out of focus, 30% were as interesting as a pile of rocks, and the other 45% were duplicates of another image that looked better.  I’m very happy with my resulting set of photos.  This exercise also provided me a chance to go back and relive the last 10 years.  Each photo told a story, and now I just have a clearer and more usable picture of the events.  As an added bonus, I only have to backup around 50GB, when a 400GB backup was required before.

This is a repost of something I wrote a few years ago. Today, I still use this method to remove clutter in my library of photos.  I can say, three years later, that I do not regret my decision to delete photos.

2016 – Year in Review with Photos

I originally had the idea to post my top 10 photos of the year after listening to an Improve Photography podcast about the subject.  The purpose is to post your top 10 photos each year, and see how you are progressing, or potentially regressing as a photographer.  Instead of a top 10, I will do a top 12 and provide my best photo that was taken in a given month.  I may go back and do previous years as well.

This year, due to the arrival of my son, I haven’t had as much time to go out and shoot.  Outside of a trip I was able to make over the summer, I haven’t really had any personal time.

January

Abandonded Building
Egli House — Commerce City, CO

Egli House is an interesting abandonded building at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.  The Arsenal is a wildlife refuge just north of Denver.  The best part of the refuge is the free admission.  The visitor center is new and worth stopping in.  I took this photo on a cold cloudy January morning.

February

Welding
A Welder at the Colorado Railroad Museum — Golden, CO

This photo is of a volunteer worker welding something at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO.  My brother-in-law worked here for a while and was able to give a behind the scenes tour.  I really like all the different lines in this photo.

March

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Tommy — Littleton, CO

Tommy was born at the end of March.  I took this photo when he was 12-hours-old.  I have tons of other pictures/videos from this time.  These are some of the most backed up files I have.

April

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Overpriced Beer and Rockies Dog at Coors Field — Denver, CO

My parents flew out to meet Tommy in early April.  My dad and I were able to catch a baseball game between the Padres and Rockies on April 10.  The game was pretty good for the Rockies.  There were back to back home runs for Car Go and Arenado in the first inning.  This was also at the time where Trevor Story was hitting home runs at a ridiculous rate.  He hit a home run in this game well.  This was a rare Rockies game that was worth the price of admission.

May

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Coke Ovens — Redstone, CO

In May, we attended a family wedding in Redstone, CO.  This whole area is my favorite in the state.  It is our go-to place for vacationing in the mountains.  This was also our first family vacation.  The photo shows coke ovens, which are alongside the major road that goes from Carbondale to McClure Pass.  These ovens were used in the production of coke fuel from the coal in the area.

June

Jefferson Vegetable Garden
The Vegetable Garden at Monticello — Charlottesville, VA

This was taken during a trip to the east coast at the end of June.  I have always wanted to take the tour of Monticello.  These gardens were the inspiration for my own “Jefferson Garden” at home.  There will be more on that in later blog posts.

July

Dark Hallow Falls
Dark Hallow Falls — Shenandoah National Park, VA

This was one of two hikes I was able to do with limited time in Shenandoah.  There were lots of pictures to choose from in July.  Hopefully the others make it on this site.

August

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13th Hole @ Arrowhead Golf Course — Littleton, CO

Arrowhead is easily the nicest course I have ever played.  I was able to play this course at a decent price as part of a work golf tournament.  I didn’t want to play this hole long, so my tee shot ended up short of the green.  In the past, this area was full of brush/rattlesnake habitat.  Recently, they decided to open up that area and make it into lower cut rough.

September

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Georgetown Loop Railroad — Georgetown, CO

In September, we took a trip up to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

October

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Tommy — Littleton, CO

This was Tommy’s halloween costume.

November

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Hot Air Balloon — Littleton, CO

This shot is of an unusual hot air balloon over Chatfield State park in Littleton, CO

December

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Tommy at Christmas — Littleton, CO

This is one of the photos I took of Tommy for the purpose of Christmas cards.

 

In 2016, I didn’t have the best photos, but had some of the best memories.  I hope that I’ll get some personal time to do some more landscape/nature photography in 2017.  There will definitely be lots of pictures of Tommy as he grows up.  Also, in 2017, I will be getting in to Aerial Photography/Videography.  More on that in later posts.  Happy New Year!

While writing this, I found a few photos that were just outside the month boundary.  If it was within a couple of days, I was ok placing them in the wrong month.

Going Mirrorless

The Reason(s)

I made the switch from mirrored to mirrorless one year ago.  As a non professional, the transition for me was based mostly on use of the system. I found that my camera bag was incredibly heavy and too bulky to use.  I had been looking into trying out a mirrorless system since more and more people had been converting.  I saw some amazing shots on the mirrorless system.  Finally, after a recent trip to Mexico, where I decided it was too much of a hassle to bring my gear… I knew it was time to make a change.

My canon gear consisted of the following:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L
  • Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
  • Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

This represents a large, for me, investment in the Canon system.

This bag was heavy.  Very capable, but a pain to carry around hiking and traveling in general.  I was basically using my cell phone for taking pictures in both of these situations that I most likely found myself in.

I decided on keeping my older Cannon Rebel T2i body with 2 EF-S lenses (kit lens and the 55-250mm).  These are worth almost nothing in trade, but still have some capability if I want to use a DSLR in the future.  It will also work as a good spare or primary camera if I can convince my wife to go out shooting with me.  I have managed to do this twice in the last five years.

The Trade

I traded my cannon gear at my local brick and mortar for the Fujifilm XT-10 and comparable lenses.  I chose the brick and mortar, because its a good shop with good people, I feel good supporting small business, and I was able to get a good value in trade.  I could have done a bit better if sold things online, but I preferred to get things done quickly with a lot less hassle.

I chose the X-T10 since it had the same functionality of the X-T1, including the exact same sensor at a fraction of the price.  I do miss the weather sealing, but I rarely use electronics in the rain, even my IP68 Samsung Galaxy S7.  Over the summer I was caught in a very intense thunderstorm while hiking in Shenandoah.  The camera survived.

With the trade I was able to get a brand new camera and the lenses to cover me from 10-200mm. For the above cannon gear, I was able to trade for the following:

  • Fujifilm X-T10 (new)
  • Fujifilm 10-24mm f/4
  • Fujifilm 18-55mm f/2.8-4 (new)
  • Fujifilm 55-200mm f/3.5 – 4.8
  • Battery Charger (new)
  • 2x Batteries (new)
  • $300 credit towards a prime

Snip20151230_5

The Results

Since day one, I’ve been happy with the trade.  I have carried the camera around a lot more than my previous one.  My camera bag dropped it’s weight in roughly half.  It went from 8lbs 2oz (3680g) down to 3lb 11oz(4lb 60z (1693 g).  This is significant, and a lot easier to take around.  With the exception of the telephoto, which I only use rarely, any configuration of body/lens with the Fuji weighs less than my Cannon 5dm2 body alone.

I have also picked two additional lenses. The Fujifilm 23mm f/1.4 and Zeiss 32mm f/1.8 (effectively 35mm and 50mm primes).  One of the bonuses of switching to Fuji is the price of lenses.  The equivalent Cannon lens (35mm f/1.4) goes for around $1000.  This may be an apples and oranges scenario, but from my experience these Fuji lenses are sharp.  Here is an interesting comparison of the two.  In general Fuji gear (bodies/lenses) are roughly 65% of the price of the Cannon equivalent.  For someone like myself, a non-pro with a family on a budget, it’s nice having an option of purchasing high quality gear.

With the new camera, I have been able to take a lot shots that I have been proud of this year.  Here are just a few of them:

In short, I traded a very capable camera for another very capable camera that I will have on me more often.  As the technology changes, I feel like I’m in a system where the future cost of upgrade is a lot more comfortable.

Only 10 States Left to Visit

States Left to Visit:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Wisconsin

Since the last time I have updated this, I have traveled to Oklahoma and West Virginia.

20160226_121437The trip to Oklahoma was a long one.  I drove straight from Littleton to the border of Oklahoma.  This was a very boring drive.  There is not much other than tumbleweeds, bad smells, and trucks on the route.  My original goal was to travel to the state line and return.  My secondary goal was to visit the town of Boise City, OK.  This town is notably the only town in the continental united states that was bombed in World War II.  After four hours on the road to get to the border, I didn’t have the energy to add the extra hour to see the bombing memorial.  Of all the states I have been to, the trip to Oklahoma has been the shortest.

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The best part of Oklahoma is turning around and seeing Colorado

I got to spend some time in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  This easternmost town of West Virginia has a lot of history to take in; from Thomas Jefferson to the Civil War to the interesting proprietor of the Towne’s Inn.

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View from Jefferson’s Rock

The hike up to Jefferson’s rock is short, but seemed longer since I had decided to skip the shuttle bus to get to town, I  didn’t take water, and it was July.  So I walked from the visitor’s center just outside of town directly to Jefferson’s rock.  This was worth the trip.

“The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea. The first glance of this scene hurries our senses into the opinion that this earth has been created in time, that the mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow afterwards, that in this place particularly they have been so dammed up by the Blue Ridge of mountains as to have formed an ocean which filled the whole valley; that, continuing to rise, they have at last broken over at this spot and have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks of their disruptions and avulsions from their beds by the most powerful agents in nature, corroborate the impression.

“But the distant finishing which nature has given the picture is of a very different character. It is a true contrast to the former. It is as placid and delightful as that is wild and tremendous. For the mountains being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in that plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring around to pass through the breach and participate in the calm below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself; and that way, too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Patowmac above the junction, pass along its side through the base of the mountain for three miles, the terrible precipice hanging in fragments over you, and within about 20 miles reach Frederictown and the fine country around that. This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.”

–Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of Virginia

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Harper’s Ferry, VA

At roughly the midpoint of the Appalachian Trail, the town combines views and history.

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The confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah.  Maryland to the Left, Virginia to the Right

Like most historic places I visited on this trip over the summer, I could have spent a lot more time here.

Connecticut Trip

I’m still trying to work out the overall theme of this site. I think the majority of content will be related to photography. I may also add a few posts at random that are off topic, but are things that interest me.

With 2015 coming to a close, I have had some interest in starting a 365 project in the new year. I know I won’t have the discipline to last more than a week or two, so I may aim slightly lower, or to at least have the goal of shooting at least once a week. I have a large backlog of topics I’d like to post about here, just need to find some time. In between, I might post links to recent images and provide some back story on the location and the thought process to how the image was created.

I took a recent trip to Connecticut.  The main purpose was to visit with family and friends for the holidays, but I also ended up doing some exploring around New England. Most landscapes in New England are a lot more impressive during the Summer and Fall seasons.  There still are a few interesting locations to see during the winter.  Here are some photos from the trip.

I’m still trying to work out the overall theme of this site.  I think the majority of content will be related to photography.  I may also add a few posts at random that are off topic, but are things that interest me.

With 2015 coming to a close, I have had some interest in starting a 365 project in the new year.  I know I won’t have the discipline to last more than a week or two, so I may aim slightly lower, or to at least have the goal of shooting at least once a week.  I have a large backlog of topics I’d like to post about here, just need to find some time.  In between, I might post links to recent images and provide some back story on the location and the thought process to how the image was created.