HIRING A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER IN HAWAII
By Slava Slavik
I created this page to explain my wedding photography approach in question-and-answer format, based on real questions asked by brides and prospective clients.
What is your primary photography style?
My most favorite part of photography is capturing and showing the loving relationship between the two people who made the decision to formally join their paths for the rest of their lives. If the photograph communicates about the couple’s relationship, I’ve got closer to my goal. From the technical point of view, I like simple, clean, and creative pictures with minimum of distractive objects, with true and vivid colors.
How prepared for problem-solving are you when you come to a wedding?
I believe, I can say, well prepared. During my photography carrier, I have been entrusted to photograph more than 300 weddings of a different size from lovely elopements, involving just the bride and groom, to the elaborate 3-day celebrations with more than 600 guests. During the years, I learned how to anticipate and get most of every imaginable situation, be proactive, and always take the responsibility when the elements might not be on the couple’s side.
How do you help coordinate my wedding day?
It depends on how you want me to. I worked with many clients who had every piece of their wedding carefully planned by a professional wedding planner and was just happy to join the perfectly scripted and smooth ride as one of the wedding vendors. On the other hand, many clients drew on my experience working at a certain venue or simply liked the set of pictures I had from another wedding and wanted very similar experience. In those cases I always loved providing my insight when it came to building the wedding day timeline, choosing locations for the pictures, brainstorming ideas for decorations or entertaining the guests.
What kind of input can we have on our pictures? How about a list with ideas?
If you have a certain vision for your wedding pictures, please share 3 to 5 links to photographs that represent the desired visual language of your wedding. We can discuss how we can together achieve such look. However; asking a wedding photographer to follow a tight script of tens of “template pictures” might not be a wise decision as this can restrict their creativity and flow.
How many photographs can we expect from our wedding?
A typical full-scale wedding with 8 hours of photography can usually be featured on 400 - 600 photographs.
Are you the one who will actually be taking our pictures?
Yes, I am! I can’t imagine transferring the honor of capturing memories of the most important day of my clients to somebody else.
Who would shoot if you got sick on the wedding day?
Well, ... knock, knock, ... this has never happened in my career before, but one never knows. Luckily, I’m involved in professional groups of other wedding photographers established on the island who are ready to step in and help out either on a sub-contractor basis or under their business name.
When will you start and how long will you stay?
The entire wedding day photography will be carefully pre-planned. About 14 days prior to the wedding we will already have completed a document called Wedding Photography Schedule that will list all formal portrait combinations and candid photos placed on the timeline with all the locations, names of all people involved in the formal portraits, and your special requests. Please ask for sample Wedding Photography Schedules from my past weddings.
What kind of equipment will you bring with you?
On a typical wedding assignment, I have two cameras on my shoulders, one with a tele-photo lens and the other one with a short zoom lens. Both usually have an on-camera flash unit attached. My most commonly used equipment: two camera bodies Canon 5D MkIII, lenses 16-35, 24-70, and 70-200.
How intrusive will your lighting, tripods, etc. be?
I might be using one or two off-camera flash units during the reception and I like to place them in opposite corners of the room or “blend” them together with the sound equipment. In general, I try to place them as inconspicuously as possible. I don’t use photo-umbrellas or soft-boxes at weddings.
Can we buy the digital raw files from you?
All my wedding photography collections include quality high-resolution files that are considerably post-processed. However; if you like to work with the original raw files, the Canon CR2 files, they are available for an extra fee at $9 each.
How do you edit the photos? Which programs do you use?
First, all the pictures from a wedding go through the selection (culling) process where I keep about 20 – 30 percent of them. The keepers are color corrected and enhanced. All is done in Adobe Lightroom. Retouching and advanced edits are done in Adobe Photoshop.
How long does it take to get to see the pictures and to receive my files?
I try to be as fast as possible. Most couples see the on-line previews within 7-10 days after their wedding for their approval. The high-resolution files are then released (shared in a private on-line gallery) immediately.
How long do you keep the pictures?
My wedding photography contract provides for saving of your final set of the pictures for one year.
Is an engagement portrait session included in your packages?
Engagement portrait session can be booked as an add-on to your wedding collection for a discounted price.
Do you mark your previews?
All on-line previews are marked with watermarks, but your pictures you will receive after the wedding will be nice and clean high-quality pictures without any markings.
What about deposits and payments? What happens when we can't come?
To book a wedding day, a non-refundable retainer of $600 is required. The final payment (the package price minus the retainer) is due 21 days before the wedding. Please don’t ask for exceptions to this policy – they won’t be given. A cancellation of the wedding results in a loss of the retainer.
Do you take payment by credit cards? Is there an additional fee?
Although personal checks are always my preferred payment method, I do accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover. There are no additional fees for the credit card payments.
Are there any additional charges, services, taxes, travel, etc?
For certain venues, I might add the parking fees as incurred on the wedding day. All other expenses (weddings on neighboring islands) are pre-negotiated in the time of booking and added to the contract.
Do you offer any discounts for non-Saturday or off-season weddings? Do you charge extra on holidays?
Compared to the continental United States, Hawaii has a bit different status. We don’t have high or low wedding seasons or slow days. My pricing is all the same throughout the entire year.
Have you photographed at (my venue) before?
I always become familiar with all wedding places before my wedding assignments. I usually scout all the locations including places where the bride and groom are getting-ready a week or two before the wedding, and if possible, in the same time of the day to see how the natural lighting will look like on your wedding day. If you wish to participate in my scouting sessions, you are more than welcome to join. We can discuss concepts and ideas right on the spot.
What is your legal structure?
I operate under a sole-member limited liability company called 11 Clicks, LLC.
Do you also provide videography services?
I offer photography only, but I will be happy to share links for several wedding filmmakers working here in Hawaii.
Do I have a copyright to my digital files?
You can use your pictures as much as you like for your personal use – prints, making your own copies, or sharing on-line. However; the pictures cannot be sold to businesses, media or stock photo agencies for profit.
I only need a photographer for the ceremony and a few portraits...
Please refer to my pricing for the regular portrait sessions. The same rates as for the engagement and family photo-shoots will apply to small weddings.