So… you have a few questions. That’s understandable. Hopefully I'll be able to put your minds at ease with a few answers. Simply scroll down until you find your question. And don't hesitate to ask me in person at our meeting, or on the phone. Thanks!
What is my photographic style?
The big catch-word right now is “photo-journalistic”. All that really, really means is shooting strictly as an observer as life happens. In true P.J. there is no posing at all, no getting folks attention to mug for the camera, no setting up of shots at all. You can’t even set the rings and shoes and other items by a window or wherever to get the best light. The photographer literally has to shoot everything as it sits, with whatever light is available.
So what most photographers do these days is shoot a combination of photo-journalistic and somewhat traditional. Many Brides and Grooms hate the idea of “posed images.” I think that is because so many photographers are not so good at posing and lighting folks, and that is what the couples are afraid they’re going to get.
I’ve studied lighting and posing for years, so I can make it look less posed. I make the light more natural and less stark. I love stylizing beautiful detail shots like your rings, while being the “fly on the wall” during preparation, in on the action at your reception, and respectful and unobtrusive during your wedding ceremony.
What are the wedding photography prices?
The real easy thing to say is that all weddings are different and I need to talk to you before giving you prices. But that’s also the truth. You may want an extra album for each parent, or your wedding could be out of state, or you may want coverage for the rehearsal, or a bridal session a day after the wedding or who knows what else you may want. These things actually all happen, so I couldn’t have a one-price-fits everybody. Also, to be honest with you, I don’t really want to be chosen just because my price is less than someone else’s price. I want to be chosen because we talked, either on the phone, you and your fiance love my work, and you believe that I’m the guy to capture your day!
My prices for most weddings start between $2500-$3000. I always try to pass along vendor specials to save my clients money on albums and prints. My days are usually 8-10 or more hours of coverage. I like to be a part of as much of your day as I can. It just helps to tell a more complete story. Depending on the package you choose, I will bring a second shooter or an assistant.
Who will really be photographing your wedding?
I will be photographing your wedding. I don’t have associates. It’s called Jerry Giles Photography and that is who you’re hiring. If I am not available for your wedding day I will tell you right up front, and I will then recommend another fine photographer. I’m not going to have someone representing me when I’m not there. I put MY name on MY work. I know what you’ll get out of me and am very proud of that. And anyone who I refer to you would be someone who I also respect for their work. And I’m not going to take a fee from them for the referral. You can know that I’m not recommending them just so I’ll get a little money for that referral. I just don’t think that’s right.
Depending on the wedding coverage you choose I may have a second shooter with me. I hire second shooters who I greatly respect, those who are also professional and not just hobbyists. I want you to feel extremely confident whether you are in front of my camera or their camera. You deserve nothing less than great coverage whether I’m in the room or someone else is. And I make sure that when they shoot with me that they stay within my style. There are 3-4 people that I pretty much always work with. Sometimes I’ll only hire an assistant to help with lighting, and sometimes I’ll hire both a second and an assistant. All of that would be discussed before we contract to photograph your wedding, as the additional people does change pricing.
How many weddings have I photographed?
You should ask that of anyone you’re considering. It is not the end all because some people can be incredibly gifted without having many weddings under their belt. And there are many who have shot hundreds who are just not your style. Having experience does not make a non-creative person into a creative person. They may be consistent with exposure and fine on technical level, but that may not be the only element in the equation. But it is a consideration. Someone who has played tennis for 40 years does not make them better than a player with 5 years experience. It only means they’ve been playing longer.
I think a very important thing is how hard the photographer works to constantly improve their craft. Most professions require continued education of some sort. That’s a pet peeve of mine, photogs who don’t work and practice to be the best they can be for their clients. We photographers should always be striving to be better, and I am! That involves study, workshops and simply practicing under as many adverse situations as you can. I’m a member of professional organizations, attend national events, as well as am involved with many local and internet photog organizations all for the emphasis on growing our skills. When new gear comes out I’m testing it to see if that would benefit my coverage for my clients. I want to be better for your wedding than I have ever been for any wedding I’ve shot before!
I have been shooting for many years, maybe having shot as a primary and/or second shooter over 150-175 or more weddings and engagement sessions. My site is riddled with a variety of couples. Be aware of someone who says they have hundreds of weddings but when you see their sites you see the same few Brides. Where are those other Brides and Grooms if they have shot so many weddings? Come right out and ask them. When I was newer to the business I was never offended when someone asked me that. I know it is the most important day of your lives and you want confidence in your photographer. You deserve nothing less than to know the ability and experience of your photographer. Sadly, many folks will misrepresent themselves. They will misrepresent honors, awards and most of all “Testimonials.” They’ll have friends write things or write themselves. So what are you to do? You just need to ask the questions so you’ll know. Of course, that is only after they won you over with great images on their sites. This is only one day in your entire lives: ask the questions that will make you feel secure about the photographer spending that day documenting it.
Again, I just want you to feel confident that your photographer will be able to handle whatever is thrown their way during your day, whether it be wonky time scheduling or not so flattering light. If you feel they can do that with no experience and you’re comfortable, then absolutely go with them. But if you have concern then keep looking until you find that photog who can put you at ease.
Do I need a second shooter?
This is tricky. No, I can shoot a wedding beautifully by myself and you’d love the results. But… the reality is that no one can be in two places at the same time. For example, there is simply no way to capture the exact moment that each of you see each other for the first time during the ceremony unless there are two photographers each focusing on one of you. But there only a few moments like that. Do I like using a second shooter? Yes. I like it because then I can tell a broader story by having people in two places. I’ll often have the second shoot the Groom while I’m with the Bride. But I’ll also have the second shoot the Bride with me and I’ll also shoot the Groom. I’m simply going to capture moments they don’t and vice versa. During the ceremony is probably the most obvious time to have a second shooter. I like for them to shoot opposite of me, and with different lens selections.
All that said, No, you don’t need a second. I shoot as many weddings without a second as I do with one. Some places and rooms are just too small and intimate for an extra person. I wouldn’t want the couple to feel uncomfortable by having an extra camera on them all the time. It varies so much from couple to couple.
What about Instagram lists?
Brides will often ask me if they can send me pics that they’ve seen on Instagram to show me a few things they’d like from their wedding. All I can say is that I will try to get similar images. There are just so many variables that make it impossible to replicate those images that you found. And I would hope that you hired me because of the images that you found on my site, and would trust that I’ll capture you beautifully and creatively. If I have to spend too much time trying to replicate an image you found on Instagram then we might actually miss moments that are uniquely yours. So we can try and copy some other couple’s experience, or we can try to shoot your unique images that will go on Instagram that other couples will try and copy. I certainly don’t mind suggestions, etc. It’s YOUR wedding. But at the same time I want to capture YOUR wedding, not copy someone you saw on Instagram.
How many photos should you receive, and how are they edited?
I don’t promise a particular number. I don’t want to limit the number nor over-reach and try for too large of a number. I’m always looking for moments to capture. I am shooting tons of images many photogs don’t. Some photogs have the rule “if they’re after the 4th row they’re not important” so they won’t shoot guests further back. To me every person there is invited because they ARE important to you. So I may not get to shoot everyone, but it’s not because I’m intentionally leaving anyone out. I want you to remember every person who shared your day and I try to get everyone in front of the camera at some point.
The editing I do is basic for brightness, sharpness, clarity and color balance. I try to remove the images where people are doing unflattering things or blinking, etc. That’s the first run. For the images you use for prints or albums through me I’ll go back and do further editing for each image. Also, any image that I may use for website or blog is available to you if you ask fr them. But my “basic” editing is pretty thorough for these things.
Why should you get a wedding album?
Remember the 8-track player? How about the cassette? Now that was an innovation! But, alas, neither of those are even around anymore. Sounds silly but that will also happen to DVD’s in a few years. Most computers already don’t have DVD players anymore. All of this is to point out that some mediums go away but print has never gone out of style. There’s just nothing like flipping through a beautiful album of the images from your wedding day. It’s a tangible trip down memory lane to an almost perfect day. And it’s something that can be passed along from generation to generation. That’s why I’m so sold on albums. I also highly recommend images for canvas wraps or large prints on your walls. I recommend you get them through me and my professional labs, but even if you go to a big box store I still hope that you do get wall hangings.
When should you expect to see your images?
It is written specifically in your contract when to expect your images for viewing. It varies by the season, but should be specific in your contract. Generally it will be 4-6 weeks for delivery. Check your contract to be sure. During wedding season it might take a bit longer, as you might imagine. But I want to get your images to you soon so that you’ll get to re-live the magic of your day! But I know you want them after I have done my basic editing, and that takes time.
It used to be that the first images you saw of your wedding were from the wedding photographer. It was so cool to get to show you those moments in time. Nowadays part of that is taken from us because everyone has their iPhone or Android taking pictures of the First Kiss and everything else. Your guests may be posting to Instagram within moments of “the Kiss.” Walking down the aisle after being pronounced? Yep, it’s already up on Instagram by somebody.
So while I’m excited for you to see the images that I’ve captured on your day, the fact is that you will have seen a few specific moments like the kiss, first dance and cutting the cake before I can show them to you. I really wish that wasn’t the case, especially since the quality of the pictures of those moments from the guests is so low compared to what I’ll show you. But that is the way it is, so we just smile and do the best we possibly can. And that is why I try to get you to see your images as soon as I can.
Why is it important for photographers to have back-up gear?
Anything can go wrong at a wedding. One time I had a second shooter break a camera of mine right before the ceremony. That would have been a disaster if I hadn’t had a back-up camera. But because I was prepared the couple never even knew anything happened. They saw me doing every single thing I would’ve have done had I had 2 cameras. I hope that I never have another scenario like that again but I’m ready if it does. I bring at least 2 cameras and lenses that duplicate abilities, as well as extra flashes and loads of rechargeable batteries.
In my opinion having back-up gear is another way to show commitment to their craft. It shows they’re ready to take care of the Bride and Groom no matter what!
What about print rights and copyrights?
With me you get shared rights, meaning that you’ll get print rights on those images granted. You may not, however, sell those images or give those rights away, as they are not yours to give. Nor can you publish them without giving Jerry Giles Photography “photo by”credit. The copyright remains with me as afforded by law. I most definitely recommend that you get your prints through me because the quality is simply better from my production houses than they are from the big box stores.
And the companies that make my albums are fantastic. I mainly use Graphi Studios. It is the album maker of many of the finest wedding photographers in the world. Even those photographers charging thousands and thousands for their albums are using the exact album companies as I do, and are the same albums in every respect. I just don’t command the prices that they do, but my albums are made the same in every way. Check out Graphi Studios for one. Check my Albums section to get an idea how I like to lay out YOUR story.
How about Slideshows to music?
When I first started photographing weddings I used to do slideshows pretty regularly. While there are programs that will let you just load the images and let it align itself, that is not the way I do it. I try to let the story, theme, music, beat, etc., lead me to lay out the images. I try and choose my images accordingly when I can. Back then I would use any song you brought to me.
One reason that I don’t do them so much anymore is that I just can’t publish slideshows to YouTube, Vimeo or whomever if I don’t have music that has been paid for through services like Triplescoop, Songfreedom or another service like that. Or it can be royalty free music and I’m fine with it. As a photog I can certainly understand the rights of usage and that the musical artist should be compensated for their usage. So I just only do slideshows that I will publish with appropriately covered music. And, of course, I do charge for the process dependent on the length of the song you choose.
What are Styled Shoots?
Styled shoots work like this. You gather a group of wedding vendors, often including a venue. Sometimes you just find a beautiful location to set the tables, plates and settings, champagne glasses, flowers, maybe candelabras and anything else you can get to set your image for the style you want for that shoot. You have a boutique dress shop or designer to fit a beautiful “Bride” and a tux shop outfits a handsome “Groom”. Many times these two people are just actors or models who meet at the shoot. They are very likely not a real couple.
I bring this up because I don’t want you to be tricked when looking at websites and thinking that someone is necessarily brilliant. They may be, of course, but by the nature of “styled shoots” even a newer photographer with enough time can come away with a few terrific images. And that may be somewhat misleading as to how they’ll shoot your actual wedding day.
The object of this whole endeavor is for each vendor to get great images that they can use for their marketing to future B&G’s. You all hope that the photographer can get this published in a blog or a magazine with the names listed of all the vendors. Then the vendors and photog can all say that they’re “published”. It’s a big deal to be able to advertise that you’re published, and free advertising if a blog or magazine uses your spread. The models (B&G for a day) get to use the images for their portfolios and they, too, can say they’re published.
This is all well and good. I highly recommend photogs pushing themselves and doing styled shoots. However, I think that prospective clients should know which images are from “styled shots.” It’s unfair to think that on a wedding day that the exact set and circumstances will be present to replicate that shoot. So take styled shoots for what they are. They’re just representations of what a photographer can do if given a lot of time and a group of vendors making a scenario perfect for a specific outcome. Don’t judge how your wedding images will come out based on those styled images. However, an engagement session might be a good time to plan your own styled shoot. But a photog’s images should represent what you likely can expect to get under normal wedding situations. If they shot stylized shoots they should simply tell you that’s what they are. Maybe after seeing the images you’ll feel more adamant about giving extra time on the wedding day to make those shots happen.
All this said, if you ever get a chance for a styled shoot I highly recommend it. Treat yourself to a magazine-styled shoot whether it be in a secluded park or woodsy area or dressed in 40’s attire at the Grand Central Station. Pick your theme from Dr. Who to whatever and just go for it. TARDIS awaits!
Am I The Premier wedding photographer in Southern California?
Heavens, no. I only put this here as a joke. So many photographers say things like that on their website. Personally I think it’s ridiculous on two counts. Firstly, there are so many fantastic photographers in Southern California that it would impossible to be THE premier photographer. For me to say that I was would be offensive to my top level piers, of which I feel I am. And secondly, if I have to tell you my level then there’s something wrong with my assessment anyway. But rather you should make that decision on your own after seeing my work. Hopefully you’ll consider me to be a top tier photographer. Most importantly I hope that you believe that I would be a good fit for your day.
Another thing to think about when you read something like the “Premier Photographer” is whether their site is made up of “styled shoots”, or were the images from real weddings with real people. As previously discussed, stylized shoots do show that a photographer is capable of those shots, but you have no idea how long it took them to achieve those shots, nor do you know how many people were involved in the making of them. Styled shoots are very fun and are great for getting published in magazines, etc. Photos may take several hours prepping the shoot. But on wedding days you have time schedules and people pulling at you from all directions. That’s when the truly gifted photographers still make beauty in an instant because they have done their homework and trained for years to think on their feet. The people who can deliver in those moments don’t have to tell you they are premier. You’ll see it in their sites and hear it in their voices.
It takes too much ego to say that you’re “premier” in a field that is strictly based on opinion and personal taste. I try to leave ego in the car when I’m at your wedding or engagement session. I bring my confidence and hard work and experience, but ego is locked in the car. The day is about you! My energy is in making YOU look the best, not in making me look the best. All I care about is doing my very, very best for you and then you being elated with your results. Premier is an elusive word. Just laugh when you read it. Who is The Premier chef in L.A.? Come on, there are so many great chefs who prepare amazing things. They are just different from each other, but there is no “premier” chef.