10 things to ask wedding photographers

You’re engaged! Yay! That’s so exciting.

How do you find a photographer? What do you even need to know to ask a photographer?

You googled Albuquerque wedding photographer and got 8 million listings for wedding photographers in our area. I know. I’m on page 4 or 5. It’s bananas!

There are so many. How do you narrow it down? I think you should start with thinking about your style. Are you into classic and timeless? Light and airy? Colorful? Dark and moody? Traditional? Photojournalistic? Artistic? A combination? If you’re like, “what does that even mean, though?”, just look through the galleries on our websites and make a list of photographers whose work you like best.

Next, personality. Do you want ultra professional and take charge or laid back and go with the flow? Somewhere in the middle? You can tell a lot about a photographer from their website. Poke around and see how they speak to you.

Alright. So you have narrowed it down a bit by combing through our websites and now you’re ready to talk to us. How? What do you ask?

Most photographers have a contact form on their website that links to their email or some management method. I have a contact form linked to a business management tool that keeps everything organized for me. I love to talk to people on the phone, but I prefer initial contact from this form so I can access your inquiry details quickly. If you prefer phone contact, you can also say that in your message. Easy.

10 things to ask us.

  1. Are you available on my date?
    This is maybe obvious, but if they don’t have your date available, then you can go to the next one on your list. Some photographers will refer you to their friends with similar styles. We are mostly friendly with each other and we have a community over competition motto.
  2. How long have you been in business?
    I think this is an important question to ask but I also think it’s important to not immediately rule out people who haven’t been in business as long. Length of time as a photographer doesn’t immediately translate to skill level. Some new photographer work will blow you away and some photographers who have been in the business forever are average. Do you like their work? Do you like their personality?
    Technically, I’ve been in business 8ish years, but we’ve moved 3 times and I’ve started over each time in a new place. So I could say 8 years and not be lying, even though the number of weddings is smaller. Speaking of number of weddings …
  3. How many weddings have you photographed?
    Ah. Here’s the one I don’t love. You should definitely ask it. Why would I tell you to ask a question I don’t like? It’s important to ask. Again…don’t immediately rule someone out who hasn’t done a certain number of weddings. Some photographers don’t book more than 10 a year. Some photographers book 50 or more a year and outsource editing or have a team to help. It depends on their business model. It’s a great question to ask.
    I started out super cheap and photographing for friends or people asking for new photographers on craiglist and second shooting for other photographers. I rely on word of mouth and Google, mainly. I want to stay at around 10 weddings a year. I honestly don’t know how you lovely people find me, but I really do get the most awesome weddings with fun and relaxed people. This summer I had a private estate backyard style wedding with a dining experience catered by Dig and Serve. And a chill outdoorsy wedding at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe. And a vintage pinup style wedding with a mini car show in Montana. And a biker wedding in Montana. I had 4 weddings this season. It was my first season back here in New Mexico. I have been around 3-5 a year with relocating every few years. We’re here to stay, so the new goal is 10 a year, but not more. My number will always be smaller. It’s intentional. So it’s not my favorite question because it feels like people will immediately count me out, but it does weed out people looking for higher volume photographers, so I guess it’s helpful after all!
  4. Can I see full galleries?
    I love this. LOVE it. There are two reasons. The first is that I don’t put everything on the website because it would be overwhelming for both of us. I try to curate the website like a little gallery. But I would love to show you full weddings. LOVE. haha “Oh, you want to see my work? OK!!”
    Also, this is horrible, but with the internet being a place where people can grab images and pretend they did the work, you really do need to ask to see full galleries. There could be people who put their best edited work on their website and then deliver less than stellar work. I don’t know any personally, but I have read horror stories online. Photographers should be happy to show you their work. haha I don’t know if everyone gets as excited about it as I do. I can’t speak for anyone else.
  5. Are you insured?
    Yep. Photographers should have liability insurance. In case your grandma trips over a light stand or some other kind of accident happens. Some venues require it. Your photographer should be able to produce insurance certification for your venue if it’s required.
  6. How many images will I get?
    This varies wildly depending on the photographer. Some photographers shoot with intention and give a smaller amount of images that are all high quality. Some shoot like crazy and give nearly everything. Most photographers can give you an expected average shots per hour. Mine is 50-75.
  7. When do I get my images?
    Again, this is one of those things that depends on the photographer. Some can turn their photos around super fast and some take a little longer, depending on their life and editing style. There are photographers who edit using presets (like a filter). There are photographers who edit by hand. There are photographers who outsource editing.
    I cull first and toss images that are multiples, images where someone is blinking or making a really weird face (you’re welcome haha), anything that didn’t really work or if a flash didn’t fire…you get the idea. I don’t toss funny or sweet moments, even if I don’t like the composition or something. Then I use a preset I made that is edits I found myself doing to every single image, just to save some time. And then I go through and do adjustments to every image by hand. Some get more edits than others. I always say 4-6 weeks, even if I deliver sooner than that.
  8. How do I get my images?
    A lot of photographers do online galleries where you can download images and purchase prints. I do this as well. But, I feel like I didn’t get to do my whole job with just an online gallery because I love making you pretty things and I love to be there when you see them for the first time. So I also offer larger prints and wall collages, several levels of albums, and several levels of image boxes. I use 3 professional labs because I like some products better at one or the other and 2 high end album companies because they offer different styles of books. I love to make things you can hold in your hands and experience with your senses.
  9. Why do you photograph weddings?
    Most of us have great reasons why we do what we do. I love a day where everyone is wearing their hearts on their sleeves. It’s a rush of declarations of happy and lovey feels, intimate tears, and silly jokes, with beautiful decorations and a big party. I love photographing all of that, obviously, but on a deeper level, it makes me feel happy to see you so happy. I love being there for that and I don’t care if it sounds super cheesy. haha
  10. Finally…it’s such an important day for you and the photographer you choose is going to be there with you all day in some form or another. While you’re getting ready and maybe undressed, when your parents and family come in and get emotional about seeing you, asking you to do things or move into a different light, sometimes in your face with a lens, maybe shooing people if you need a minute, guarding you if you don’t want to be seen before the ceremony, posing you, herding your family, and just being everywhere to get the shots. Yes, you pay us, but you should also feel comfy and relaxed with us. It doesn’t have to be all business. Get to know us. What do we like to eat? What do we binge on TV late at night? Do we like whiskey? Ask away.


    By the way, this is me when you ask to see a couple full wedding galleries…

via GIPHY

You might notice I didn’t say anything about budget. It was intentional because budget could be an entire blog post on its own, but also, if you’re narrowing down a list of photographers and wondering what to ask, then you aren’t price shopping. You’re looking for the photographer who suits you the best. Budget is concrete for some people and a ballpark guess for others because they might not be sure how much they should expect to spend. Hard numbers on the lower end might require some management of expectations and choosing based on lower prices instead (which is also ok, by the way, even if I’m not your photographer), and less concrete numbers or ones on the higher end will sometimes go up if you find a photographer you love who charges more than you expected or delivers more things you want in a top collection. All of that to say…some people have strict budgets and some people expect to pay top prices. Photographers have to calculate their prices based on what they need to deliver quality images and for their business to thrive and stick to it. Anyway…budget really is its own post. Maybe next time.

Hopefully that’s helpful for narrowing down the list of photographers. I know it can be incredibly overwhelming.

The love of a dog

When I was a kid, I wanted a horse. I decided a mini horse would be fine, because then I could keep it in the house, right? I would take care of it myself and my parents wouldn’t have to do anything at all. It could live in my closet. Somehow, my parents weren’t as into this idea as I was and they just kept saying no. I can’t imagine why.

As long as I can remember, I have had dogs in my life. There are tons of photos of me rolling around on the floor with dogs. At some point, I saw a great dane and I just thought that was the best dog I had ever seen. A dog the size of a mini horse. Yes. I had to have one. Someday.

Of course, they eat a ton of food, and that food makes a lot of poop, and they have larger bodies and larger vet bills … and that’s a serious commitment to make. So when my husband and I had bought a house, and we had a yard of our own, and no rental size requirements, I finally got my baby dane.

Can you even? What? How is anything on earth that cute?

She went everywhere with me. I was in grad school, so she went to hang out in my office with me, she went in the field for field work, we went to training classes, and she was just the best girl. Then she got sick and we spend a huge amount of money to make her better. She had food and skin allergies and we changed all the dogs to her super expensive food. We had three dogs at the time. She got better but had to take meds for a long time.

She was there for the pregnancy and birth for both of my boys. She took great care of me when I was pregnant. So concerned and gentle. She was super sweet with my babies too. Everyone loved her. Everywhere we went. She was the sweetest, gentle head butting, leaner of a dog.

I have spent almost all of every day for the last 10 years and 8 months with my best friend and doggie soul mate. She followed me to every room, even when she was having a hard time with her legs. I would tell her she could stay on her comfy bed, but she would still follow me. Right next to me always. The last couple of years were hard because I could see her slowing down and I would never be ready to lose her. Ever. And that happened last weekend.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we brought home a puppy a little over a month ago to see if we could pep her up a little, and for the boys to love on. And she liked the puppy, so she would play with him a little. She was so sweet with him. But she was so tired. So one night she wouldn’t get up from the kitchen floor, so I slept on the couch to be near her, and when I woke up to check on her, she was already gone.

My awesome friend Amy Jones took that photo of Sephie after she helped us buy our house in Corrales. Sephie was so happy to be back in New Mexico and she loved it here as much as we do.

Dogs like to have friends, and even though Sirius (the Dog Star) was only with her for a month, he already loved her. He was looking for her and needed a friend. So we picked up one of his sisters to come live with us too. We named her Artemis. (Yes…we are nerds) Siri and Artie have some really big paws to fill.

Persephone, Sephie, Tyrannosephus Rex, Super Pooper. 1-12-09 to 8-31-19. Miss you forever.

Rachel + Tim, an Elena Gallegos engagement session

You have to love people who are willing to go tromp around in the snow and cold for engagement photos. A little trip into the foothills to play in the snow is a fun way to spend an afternoon. We didn’t even notice that our hands and feet were cold. ūüėČ Well…I have big Montana style snow boots, so my feet definitely weren’t cold, but I made sure they didn’t get too cold either. Rachel brought a blanket that ended up being perfect.

We are so lucky here in Albuquerque to have as many beautiful places as we do. And so close. If you haven’t ever gone on a hike in the foothills, it’s time to get out there and wander a bit. There are several trails out there and at least one goes up the mountain.

They are so playful and fun together and the way they look at each other when it’s quiet is beautiful. Here are the photos from the session.

Albuquerque wedding photographer - Engagement session at Elena Gallegos
Albuquerque wedding photographer - Engagement session at Elena Gallegos
Albuquerque wedding photographer - Engagement session at Elena Gallegos
Albuquerque wedding photographer - Engagement session at Elena Gallegos

25 Tips for writing your own wedding timeline

In my last post I stressed how important it is to have a great timeline for your wedding to run smoothly. And I said I would help you figure out how to write one.

So here I am doing that. One really easy way to get help with that is to hire a wedding planner. The End. I’m kidding. (Seriously, planners are super awesome though.)

If you’re the DIY type, here are some things to think about:

  • Use a timeline planning tool.
  • You can use examples from online to help, but make your own timeline. Your wedding is yours and you may need more or less time for things than examples from other weddings.
  • If you have friends and/or family who got married recently, ask them if they have any advice for your schedule.
  • Delegate. Make sure the people who are setting up know that’s their task and they know what to do, when to do it, and where things go.
  • Communicate with your vendors. Ask them how much time things take. They can help you estimate time for parts of the day.
  • Think about how much time you have contracted with your vendors and when they will arrive and leave.
  • How many people are going through hair and makeup?¬†
  • Are you¬†getting¬†ready in the same place as the ceremony?
  • Plan 10-15 minutes of seating and shuffling between the ceremony time on the invite and the actual start of the ceremony.
  • How long do you want your ceremony to be? Do you have readings or singers or other special ceremony items to include?
  • Is the¬†ceremony¬†in¬†the¬†same¬†place as the reception?
  • Don’t forget to include travel time between locations.
  • How much family will be in family portraits?¬†
  • Will you do a first look?
  • Include 15-30 minutes of alone time for you and your love to be alone and take it all in together. Either after a first look and before the ceremony or just after¬†the¬†ceremony when you can sneak away.¬†
  • When are things being set up and delivered? Who are the points of contact for vendors? Who is setting up?
  • Make sure your guests are entertained and taken care of while they wait for your entrance at the reception, especially if you’re planning extra time for portraits.¬†
  • People like to eat and they get cranky when it’s supposed to happen at a certain time and it doesn’t. ūüėȬ†
  • Make a schedule for toasts, dances, cake, garter and bouquet and anything else you’re doing at your reception.
  • How many toasts do you think you’ll have?
  • Will you do a lot of special dances?
  • When does the party end?¬†
  • Is there a send-off?
  • Is there an after-party?
  • Who’s on clean-up? Very important. Hopefully not you. Get someone¬†else¬†to clean up. It’s your wedding day.

Some extra advice:
A lot of these things take longer than you think. Estimate a time and pad it a little. 
Take that little slice of alone time. For real. 
The most important thing … things may run late or go wrong. Remember you’re there to celebrate your love and to have fun.

Have a question about weddings that you think I can answer in a blog post? Send me a question!

 

9 reasons your wedding needs a timeline

Well, in my last post, I said your wedding needs a timeline and the reasons could write another blog. So here we are.

What is a timeline, anyway? Sometimes as professionals we use terms every day and maybe as a potential client you don’t even know what we mean. A timeline is a schedule of what’s going to happen on the day of your wedding.

It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve been at weddings where there wasn’t any sort of schedule. If you’re a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, it can work. Even if you are super adaptable, your vendors and guests appreciate a schedule too.

In no particular order, here’s a bunch of reasons to have a timeline:

  • It’s helpful to have a realistic estimate of how long things will take. Estimate how long you think it will take and then add more time. It will take longer than you think.
  • You’ll have time for things you wanted on the day of because you had a schedule. If you don’t have a schedule, then you’ll end up having to skip things you wanted on the day of because there’s no time left after everything takes longer than you thought.
  • You’ll be able to enjoy your wedding more because fewer people will be asking you what should happen next.
  • Vendors will know what to expect and where to be at what time.
  • Your ceremony will be more likely to happen on schedule.
  • Vendor mix-ups will be less likely. If you only scheduled your photographer for 6 hours, and they’re leaving but you haven’t cut your cake yet, a schedule would have helped you see that you needed more hours ahead of time.
  • You’ll know how much time you have for portraits
  • Your guests will appreciate being taken care of and knowing what’s going on. They’re super happy if you’ve sent them on to cocktail hour while you have photos. People like appetizers and drinks.
  • And finally, a wedding is an event. Events need a plan to keep them on track.

“Ok! I need a timeline! How do I do that? Help me!”

I got you. I’ll write about that next.

Have a question about weddings that you think I can answer in a blog post? Send me a question!

It’s that time of year!

Pumpkin everything, a chill in the morning, hot air balloons on the horizon while you wait at the school bus stop, and the leaves in the bosque are turning yellow.

It’s time for a family photo session! I mean, you can do this any time of year, but a lot of people wait for the fall because it’s gorgeous here. And it’s not a million degrees. haha

Don’t you love those notifications that pop up on social media to remind you of last year’s photo of your kiddo doing something cute? I love those too. Will those images be there in 20 years?

It’s time for new photos of your kids that you can see whenever you want in your home.

You know, as a mom, I know that if I don’t do something when I’m thinking about it, I put it in the pile. Then, if it’s not something on the top of my mind, it gets buried. So I’ve made it really easy to book family sessions, because…I know how it is.

Go here and click on “Book your family session”.

fall bosque family photos albuquerque New Mexico

Victorian Mansion wedding – Michelle + Scott – Albuquerque Wedding Photographer

It’s about time I get some weddings on the blog, don’t you think? I re-did the whole website and blog when we moved. I’ve decided to make collages of full wedding days. So here we go…

Sometimes you meet a couple and they are just so adorable together. When we met for a beer to talk about their wedding they were so sweet to each other. You can tell when they look at each other that there’s so much love, but they’re also best friends. I knew their wedding was going to be so good, you guys.

Their wedding was at Gibson Mansion in Missoula, MT, which is a gorgeous victorian mansion and I was beyond excited to photograph a wedding there finally. I had been by it so many times and I was dying to get in there.

Michelle and Scott are so obviously loved by wonderful, fun, and hilarious friends and family. They had a snow cone machine, outdoor summer games, and lots of costume props and games for kids. It was a perfect summer day and it felt like we stepped back in time with the backdrop of the big victorian garden and gazebo.

I think I loved their wedding day as much as they did. They are surrounded by love and happiness and it was awesome to be a part of it. I know they will continue to be so happy and loved.

We’re moving back to Albuquerque, NM!

Well, Corrales, really.

If you know me, you know that I went to college here in Missoula and I met my awesome husband here. He’s from Montana and he went to high school here in Missoula. In 2003, we moved to Albuquerque together. We went to grad school, made a bunch of friends, got married, and had both of our boys there. We were there for nearly 12 years. We made it our home.

We love Albuquerque. So much. But my husband missed his family too. We always kind of talked about coming back to Montana to be closer to his mom. Then, in 2014, I don’t know why, but I felt like it was more urgent…we needed to come back. Sometimes I just feel things and know to trust it. So we came back to Montana and not long after, we found out his mom was sick. We were here, and the boys got to be with their grandma for a while. Both grandma and her mom have passed since we came back. We are so grateful we were here to be with them. And we have loved being with our other family here too.

We needed to be here and now we need to go home. We love our family and friends here so much and Montana is a wonderful place. We will visit and we’ll love Montana forever. But the desert calls us back…we made a life and home for ourselves in NM and we miss it so much.

So a while ago I said that I didn’t renew my studio lease here and that I had an announcement. We’re moving back to NM!!! Yaaaayyyyy!

We will be in Missoula until about the middle of June. If you’ve been wanting to schedule a session, I will be available for limited sessions until we leave. We’re also packing, wrapping things up, and selling our house here and closing on the new one in Corrales…

I will be back for a couple of weddings in 2019. I do love travel and Montana. So if you wanted me to photograph your wedding and you’re super sad I’m leaving, send me a message and we can chat about that.

We bought a bit of a fixer-upper under asking price. It needs work, but we see what it can be. There is a studio space attached and I will keep you updated on the progress. It will be a combined art and photography space, because I’m going to be doing some different things there, which I’ll tell you about in a different post. Look at the awesomeness of this place though! I’m so excited!

To schedule a session here in Missoula until June, in Albuquerque/Corrales/Rio Rancho/Santa Fe starting in July, or to chat about your wedding in any of those locations or anywhere in between, send me a message here: contact me

A review! Sleeklens Forever Thine Wedding Workflow presets

A while ago, I was asked to review a set of presets for wedding editing that are compatible with Lightroom…the Forever Thine Wedding Workflow by Sleeklens.

First, I have never been asked to review anything before, so I feel pretty great about that. Thank you, sleeklens!

Second, I should note that I don’t regularly use presets in Lightroom or actions in Photoshop in my wedding editing workflow. I have some presets and actions I made myself of things I do to every raw image and I apply those to speed up my editing process so that I don’t have to do the same things over and over. Other than that, I do everything myself and by hand. I have tried presets and actions before though, so I have some previous knowledge to work with.

So…after saying that…This is a pretty great workflow set. It’s not just a set of presets. It’s a big set of presets AND a set of brushes. There are 11 SETS of presets and 5 SETS of brushes, with a bunch in each set. The presets: All-in-ones, bases, exposure, color, tone/tint, polish, vignettes, film, fashion, matte, vintage, and black and white. The brushes: color, face, haze, light, wedding.

You can start with a preset, tweak it how you like, and then use the brushes to do fine adjustments. They send you a PDF with a few recipes to do just that, to get you started.

I chose a few images from one of my weddings this summer to do a few examples.

First…This was my edit from this wedding. The one I sent my client.

This next one is the one I made using the Forever Thine Wedding Workflow:

This is “Base – warmer” with “Tone/tint – Fading Dream” with a bump in tint, clarity, and temperature. This formula is pretty much straight from their instructional PDF.

Honestly, I don’t love it as much as the one I sent my client. But I could probably tweak it a little more and get it there.

Here’s another of my own that I sent my client:

 

And one I made using the workflow:

This is “Wedding Film – Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with “Fix Over-exposure” brush on their bodies.

I know, they’re not the same. But it could be done. I’m trying to showcase what can be done with their presets, not my own editing. ¬†This is more like an editing style that is popular right now. Muted greens and grayed tones. If that’s your thing, this set of presets has a few muted tone and film style looks.

And here’s a look at a raw version of another photo with my edit:

And two versions from the workflow:

This is “Wedding Film – Gone with the Wind” with the “Add Golden Sun” brush on the left and “All-in-One – Best Man” with the “Add Golden Sun” brush on the right.

These are both beautiful as well.

A black and white of my own:

Another popular style…the dark and moody black and white. This one is made using “Repulsion” (They may want to reconsider that name? haha), using the brush “Fix underexpose” on the face and shoulder area, and pulling exposure up a bit.

There are so many things you can do with these presets. Depending on your style, it would be really easy to come up with a formula and dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend editing. And for $31, it’s pretty much a steal to get this many presets and brushes.