Nashville’s documentary wedding photographer
and headshot studio.

How Many Hours Do I Need A Wedding Photographer?

How Many Hours Do I Need A Wedding Photographer?

I think because this is a very heavily discussed topic on wedding discussion groups, people tend to be a bit stubborn with pre conceived notions. No offense of course, I’m just here to help you. While I do think it’s better to have a comfortable amount of coverage than it is to run short, let me play devil’s advocate. If you can budget for 6-8 hours for a great photographer, you’re better off going that route than hiring one who gives you more coverage for less price, who’s work you are not as passionate about. Most of the time, couples don’t need 10 hours of coverage that seems to be the bragging right in these communities. It’s about working smart and making use of your time.

first dance

First steps in determining- How Many Hours Do I Need A Wedding Photographer?

-How long do you have your venue? This could be a factor in the next question.

-Where are you getting ready? If getting ready photos are important to you, having them done at the venue saves time for the photographer. My personal thought, I think some of the getting ready photos are a nice beginning to the story, but you don’t really need 3 hours of them. Considering maybe half a dozen of them go in your album. Some couples and wedding photographers have different ideas. Refer to next question.

-The hours you need with your photographer will depend on not only your timeline but the style of working for each photographer. Include them in the discussion and get their input as well. For example, I spend a lot less time than most wedding photographers on posed photos. That’s part of the style and experience couples book a documentary wedding photographer for.

-What time do you arrive at the venue?

-When do you finish getting ready?

-Ceremony time?

-Reception start time?

-Reception end time?

Know these things and work with your photographer, you’ll have your answer. Time dedicated to getting ready, portraits, and reception are up to you. I think the photographer staying for most of the reception is prudent. But usually until the very end isn’t necessary. As discussed here.  With this said, my 7 hour package is my biggest seller and 7-8 is my average. Some more intimate weddings do nicely with 5-6 hours, there is no black and white. I work with my couples and help them make sure it all makes sense and it’s efficient.

Downtown Nashville engagement photo session | Chad and Alice

Chad and Alice met in their home city, in an urban downtown area where professionals work and play. It was a chance encounter where both of them were in the right place at the right time and they’d unknowingly find each other! Fast forward to current day, Chad proposed in the same place they met and it was a resounding yes! It wasn’t long after that, we’d be doing this marvelous and romantic Downtown Nashville engagement photo session!

Downtown Nashville engagement photo session

Yup, there was a Predators game later that day, explains the two canaries in the background. I was mindful of that on other photos, but there was a radiance about Alice and Chad that made this photo special.

Downtown Nashville engagement photo session

Downtown Nashville engagement photo session

The best view of the city! On the way up, I was telling them about the flood in 2010 and the damage it caused. I was proud that Nashvillians banded together to rebuild. I like serving as a makeshift tour guide in between spots to help make their experience a fun one. Chad and Alice love coming to Nashville.  They wanted their Downtown Nashville engagement photo session to be reminiscent of Nashville, and who they are as a couple.  In simple documentary storytelling form.

Downtown Nashville engagement photo session

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

That magic golden hour as the sun was setting behind the buildings.

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

The whole vibe of my documentary approach to engagement photos is being a fly on the wall following the couple and documenting their fun day. No one can question how well connected this couple is, photos don’t lie.

Nashville engagement photos

We were to finish up getting the couple dancing at their favorite downtown Nashville establishment, Rippy’s.  I almost wasn’t allowed in because I had a backpack and new house rules. Well, me and my trusty Fuji was able to get in and leave the backpack with the manager. Thankfully they were accommodating to Chad and Alice! Was a pleasure, and am excited to show of these great engagement photos of these fine people! Congratulations Alice and Chad!

Nashville engagement photos

Nashville engagement photos

wedding photography for entire reception

One very commonly asked question about whether or not couples need wedding photography for entire reception, it is no longer a mystery!

Franklin TN LGBT wedding

The short answer-

Most of the time I do not stay for the entire reception unless there is a special exit that is important to the couple. I will not leave a couple if the story is not told, so I will explain. There comes a point in many wedding receptions when some guests leave, and I’ve already documented the critical moments like cake cutting, couple and parent dances. Also the couple, wedding party, and other guests hitting the bar and shaking it on the dance floor!! Those events are why the reception is my favorite part of wedding photography. However, by the time guests thin out, I’ve gotten what I need. Past that point, it would be redundant.

LGBT wedding Nashville

All the Nashville wedding photographers I know work differently, but I think all of us would agree on a couple fine points. Many couples err on the side of caution and overestimate the time they need their photographer for. It’s wise to have enough time, but the best solution is to use that time wisely and have logistics that make sense.

kids at weddings

The whole idea for hiring a wedding photographer is to have them tell a story. About you and your day. The balance of getting ready, ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and even portraits is to be worked out between the couple and the wedding photographer. It’s about the balance that is right for you. Each event is unique.

wedding dancing

The easiest way to sort this is to speak with your photographer and let them help you, based on their approach. As far as the original topic of wedding photography for entire reception, that’s a personal choice. From my experience, it’s not usually necessary or particularly beneficial once the event reaches that point right past the peak.

Tipping wedding vendors

I see different discussions on social media and online wedding forum communities about tipping wedding vendors. I’m not here to tell anyone they need to tip their vendors or how much to tip them. Plenty of resources online for that. But more rather who to tip, how to deem a vendor or service provider is deserving, etc.

Outdoor wedding Nashville

Who should you tip?

Any vendor you feel worked hard to provide the goods and a good overall experience on your wedding day. If the cake maker shows up an hour late and the cake is not in perfect condition, well. Needless to say that vendor doesn’t deserve a tip. It’s a personal choice. I don’t personally expect a couple to tip since they’re paying good money to hire me in the first place. But as their wedding photographer who has an important role in their story and experience on their day, I always appreciate it when it happens. Reviews are equally valuable to me. There’s one ugly misconception around the internet, and it makes my blood boil.

wedding cocktail hour

You don’t tip business owners do you?

Why wouldn’t you, if you were going to tip that vendor and the person providing the service was the owner? That is utter nonsense. I don’t know where that idea came from. Obviously, if it’s a larger operation and the owner wasn’t involved, that’s a different story.

I’m the owner and sole operator of my business. What does that mean? Nothing. I hire contract labor for assistants but it’s me who meets with clients, emails them, does the photography, provides design and does post production. Also puts together the online galleries and print goods. If I’m hands on, why is someone working for another company more deserving of a tip? Ignorant. Basically, no one is obligated to tip. If you do, whoever was hands on and went above and beyond for you are good candidates for a tip. If you feel inclined.

LBGT wedding photographer Nashville

If you feel like tipping wedding vendors who served you, there are a couple different ways to do it. Provide envelopes at the wedding, or send them a check or gift card in the mail afterwards. This way you can assess who the most valuable players were. Or if you don’t, that’s fine too. We know it was an expensive proposition, but we’d love you forever if you write us reviews.

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Telephoto lenses for wedding photography

One very popular tool for wedding photographers are telephoto lenses, and it used to be one for me. This will take us to the SLR days for me compared to being all mirrorless for over 3 years, and how that platform switch changed many things about my approach. Despite what most wedding photographers do, I haven’t used telephoto lenses for wedding photography since that switch to Fuji in 2014. I am not here to make fun of those who use them but more rather explain my thought process on why I stopped using telephoto lenses for wedding photography.

wedding cocktail hour

I work from the inside out-

I have seen a difference in my work since getting my system of working refined based on my smaller mirrorless systems. I can’t say it’s just because of gear, but as gear changed, so did some of my thought process and what weddings are all about. Human interaction. For me, doing so non intrusively and traveling lighter help me be less noticeable. As I work closer to my subjects, I blend in with the guests and am close enough to feel in my heart what is going on. This helps me more effectively watch for the moment and document it when the time is right. I don’t have that advantage standing in the back and looking through the lens.

wedding dancing

The longest lens  I have is the Fuji 56mm 1.2 which is great for shallow depth of field if needed, but that isn’t the most important part of my approach. If I was doing a very restrictive church ceremony, which I seldom do, I have the option of renting a telephoto if needed. They do have a purpose, even though I don’t own one. I just feel that not using telephoto lenses for wedding photography has brought my work to a more intimate level. With compact gear, I blend in and can work closer without establishing a presence. Plus I don’t experience blocked shots because I’m right in the vicinity. The energy rubs off on me and I can report it from the inside vantage point.

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