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Frank Gomez Photography | Affordable Artistry

Beautiful wedding and portrait photography at a reasonable price

Serving the San Francisco and South Bay Area, located in Morgan Hill

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Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer Before Booking

Over the years we have met with dozens of couples seeking the right wedding photographer. Some couples we’ve met with were already decided on hiring us for their wedding because they were referred by a friend,  or maybe they loved our online portfolio, or perhaps it was our 5 star reviews on Yelp that helped sway them. Other clients may have been interested in us because of our Yelp reviews and affordable wedding photography pricing, but still had questions, some couples more than others. Here are a list of five questions that we believe are the most useful to ask in your hunt to find for the right wedding photographer for you.

 

Will you be my actual photographer? 

 Is the photographer you met with at your consult the same photographer who will show up at your wedding? 

Is the photographer you met with at your consult the same photographer who will show up at your wedding? 

Seems like an odd thing to ask a wedding photographer, but when you consider that an increasing number of wedding photographers are trying to increase their business through use of “associate photographers” it begins to make sense. The “associate photographer” is either an intern, or sub-contractor working under the brand  of a main photographer, such as, “Jane Smith Photography.” This business practice should not be confused with the “second photographer,” who is just that, the “second camera guy” working along side the “main shooter” at an event to help ensure not one precious moment goes uncaptured. Typically, the associate or intern is trained to photograph weddings in the style of the “main” photographer, or the main photographer helps the intern develop their own style, while allowing them to photograph weddings under their brand. Using this business practice, “Jane Smith Photography” can now cover two or more weddings on the same Saturday in June. There is nothing wrong or unprofessional with this business model, so long as the photographer business  you are contracting with to photograph your wedding is completely transparent about who is actually going to show up on your Big Day to photograph your wedding. It is also worth noting, there is usually a substantial surcharge to have the main photographer (i.e. “Jane Smith”) get out of bed on a Saturday photograph your wedding.

How would you describe your photographic style?

 Candid documentary style photography can capture genuine emotions during a wedding. 

Candid documentary style photography can capture genuine emotions during a wedding. 

 Many clients say they have a preference for candid photos, but ultimately are glad they took the time for traditional wedding portraits. 

Many clients say they have a preference for candid photos, but ultimately are glad they took the time for traditional wedding portraits. 

By the time you actually schedule a consult with your potential wedding photographer you have likely viewed their online portfolio and how they photograph weddings resonates with you. There are three major photographic styles when it comes to photographing weddings. The Documentary Style is becoming increasingly popular all over the world. The photographer who practices this style shuns “traditional posed portraits” and instead attempts to “tell a story” by taking candid unposed photos throughout your Big Day. And when done right, the documentary photographer’s end product can tell a powerful story; Neale James, a documentary style photographer working out of the UK, has mastered this style elevating it to an emotionally charged art form when coupled with his “photo films.” Traditional Style, is another wedding photography style that you may be more familiar with. This style of photography does incorporate the “posed portrait” that you are certainly familiar with; traditional portraits of the bride and groom plus parents after the wedding ceremony are an excellent example of this style of photography. But keep this in mind, almost all wedding photographers switch between “traditional” and “documentary” styles of photography throughout a day when photographing a wedding: The “traditional photographer” who directed the bride, groom, and wedding party for a portrait after the ceremony will switch to “documentary style” during the cocktail hour, and speech making portion of the reception. The “documentary photographer” will (should) accommodate the Mother of the Bride’s request for a “posed portrait” with her daughter, new Son-in-Law and the Officient. A third, and increasingly popular style, is the “Hybrid Style” of photography. This style incorporates both photography, video and audio throughout the day. Video may be taken in long segments, or video clips and used in the final product that is delivered to the client, either as a long form video, or a “mash up” of photographs taken, plus video in a slide show, or “photo film” (see Neale James above). I have increasingly incorporated this style of photography into my workflow when covering weddings and similar events (Quinceañeras and Sweet 16s) to help deliver more value to my clients in the form of video slideshows which include photographic highlights of the event coupled with video clips with sound. 

 

Are you a natural light only photographer, or do you work with artificial light too? 

 Is your wedding photographer comfortable using artificial light or strictly a “natural light” photographer? 

Is your wedding photographer comfortable using artificial light or strictly a “natural light” photographer? 

”Natural light photography” refers to the style of portrait photography that works with available sunlight, sometimes with the use of a reflector. This style of portrait photography can yield beautiful and dramatic results during the “golden hour” (that time of day in the late afternoon, about 1 hour before the sun sets), and although this style of creating portraits can yield beautiful results, it can be very limiting to both the client and the photographer; the client and photographer have to schedule their portrait shoot around a very narrow window of time. There is a movement within the photography community of “natural light photography” which assert this style of portraiture is more “honest” and “genuine.” In fact, there are some photographers who schedule all their portrait appointments around the “golden hour” because that is their style and their clients seek them out for that specific look. On the other hand, there are some photographers who also claim to be natural light photographers when in reality they simply are not comfortable with the use of artificial light, perhaps because they haven’t invested the time and money necessary to learn off camera flash techniques. This has proven to be a controversy in the photography community, and you can read more about that here. Ultimately, a well rounded wedding and portrait photographer, just like any other professional, will know how to use all the tools available to them such as speedlights (flash units tht sit on top of the camera) and strobes (off camera portable lighting). So we advise wedding photogography clients to ask the photographer at their next wedding consult to show you examples of bridal photos they have taken at night. Skillful use of off camera flash can open up a whole world of beautiful and dramatic portraiture 

 

 

 

Do you work with contracts?

 A good contract protects both the client and the photographer and helps avoid misunderstandings. 

A good contract protects both the client and the photographer and helps avoid misunderstandings. 

Unless you are hiring your brother, or BFF, to shoot your wedding, the answer to this question should always be “yes.”  A proper contract assures that there are no misunderstandings between the client and the photographer. Here are six things a photography contract must have to protect both parties: 1) The names of the client and the photographer and who is actually going to photograph your wedding; 2) How much is the photographer’s fee is in total, how much is their retainer/deposit, and what happens to your retainer if you need to cancel or change the date of the wedding; 3) What products is your photographer supposed to deliver, digital files only as download, or jpegs on a USB stick, prints, albums, etc -and how soon after the wedding, 4, 6... 8 weeks; 4) When and where is the photographer supposed to be and for how long, how much is “overtime;” 5) What happens if the photographer can’t show up for the wedding? Do they send a send an associate, offer a refund? You may also be asked to sign a “model release ” which is commonplace. This allows the photographer to use any of the photos taken at your wedding on their website or other marketing activities. These are the a few of the protections you as a wedding photography client should expect to see on your contract. 

 Are you insured?

 Professional photographers should have insurance protecting both their equipment, and their clients. 

Professional photographers should have insurance protecting both their equipment, and their clients. 

Wedding photographers, and professional photographers in general should not only carry insurance to protect their equipment against damage or theft, but also have a liability clause in case their client is injured during a photo shoot. What happens if your photogher’s light stand falls over bonking your Aunt Josie on the head, sending her to the ER? Any responsible business carries liability insurance for just this kind of situation, because some times bad things happen -no matter how careful you are. Furthermore, most nice wedding venues require that third party vendors (ie. Outside caterers, DJ’s and photographers) carry and provide proof of insurance. We carry insurance to protect our business, and our clients. 

Elegant Backyard Wedding in Cambrian Park Neighborhood, San Jose, CA

Pauline Nguyen reached out to us by phone in early October asking about our availability in November and I confirmed that we were tentatively free so  we scheduled a meeting with the couple at their home in the quiet Cambrian Park neighborhood where they lived. When we arrived we met the family, including their lovely children, Nathan, Bella, Madison and Marina. Pauline and fiancé Sonny explained their plans for a family oriented, intimate backyard wedding with approximately 70 guests. They had recently performed a major remodel on their home, and given the large open floor plan, their house was ideally set up for entertaining. Pauline explained their photographic needs for their Big Day and we all agreed with the style of photography they were looking for on their Big Day.

 Bride and Groom portrait, elegant backyard wedding, San Jose, CA. Portrait taken by Frank gomez, Professional Photographer, Affordable artistry

When we returned on their Wedding Day,  Pauline and Sonny's pride of home ownership was very apparent. Not one thing was out of place, inside or outside their beautiful home. The inside of the house had been set up perfectly to accommodate the "cocktail hour" and Sonny had obviously spent hours arranging their already immaculate back yard to accommodate seating seventy or more of their guests for the ceremony, dinner, and portraits. I had planned to shoot family portraits in the front yard, but why do that when the back yard was just lovely, and we had a better angle to the sun? Everything was turning out perfect!

We (my wife, Angela, who is also my Second Shooter) make a point of not just being on time, but generally arrive early because we like to spend time setting up our gear and evaluating the lighting conditions. During our set up time it we were able to observe Pauline and Sonny's comfortable, relaxed personalities as they mingled and spoke with a few of their early guests and family.

It was especially heartwarming watching Pauline's mother, Mary Ly help make the final adjustments to Pauline's wedding gown, and put on some new jewelry. Of course, Pauline, the ever present mom helped her son, Nathan, and fiancé Sonny, with their boutonnieres. Everyone was ready just in time to greet the family Matriarch, Pauline's grandmother Ba Ngoi, who flew in from Viet Nam to witness her granddaughter's wedding!

Sonny was accompanied by a group of old school friends, Benny, Duc, Jack and of course, Omar, who all kept the atmosphere light and fun for the rest of the guests. Omar performed a heartfelt ceremony where he recounted how Pauline and Sonny met, and how they grew together, and their decision to "make it official" and blend their two families into one via an elegant sand ceremony.

Pauline and Sonny made an excellent choice in hiring Karen Bevels Custom Catering and Events (Facebook: @Karen Bevels Custom Catering and Events) to fully staff their event, which to the delight of their guests, included a professional bartender and hosted bar. Karen's  team served up a tasty assortment of hors d'oeuvres during the cocktail hour, and a delish plated, sit down dinner of the guest's choice of fish or steak, both of which looked tempting!  Karen Bevels described her menu choices as "healthy gourmet."  

Karen Bevels and her team of chefs cooked all the food on site, using the highest quality organic ingredients. She informed me that their "busy season" is October thru December, and that typically a client should inquire at least 30 days in advance of their event, but sometimes they shorter notice is possible. Karen Bevels Custom Catering works out of Hayward, CA, but they serve the entire Bay Area. 

The rest of Pauline and Sonny's evening went on like a dream, as Sonny toasted his new in laws and friends, and family. They danced, ate cake, and enjoyed the company of close friends and family on what was a truey  elegant wedding night.