What time is your photographer staying until?
What time does a photographer work to? How long will they be there and to what time?
This is one of those thorny questions that does come up time after time. Every photographer is different, let alone how they charge for it. Some will give you a fixed time, others will give you the option to add extra chargeable hours, others like me are nuts. By the way, before we go any further, all the photos on this page exist BECAUSE I stayed late. They all have value to my couples though as they’ve all ended up in their album.
Oh the whole, the generally accepted guide seems to be either 30 or 60 minutes after the first dance. That’s not me I’m afraid, I like to do things a little differently. It wouldn’t be fair of me to talk about other photographers and why they approach things the way they do. What I can do is talk about me, why I do it the way I do it, and why I think that’s important.
So first of all, what time do I start? Well, realistically speaking, this is guided by you as a couple. My general theory on life is that I like to get to where the bride is getting ready about 15 minutes after her hair and makeup has started. Why after?
Simply put, light is the most important thing to a makeup artist and also a hair artist. They want beautiful, natural light, so that they can see in real time, what the efforts they’re making for you are going to look like throughout your wedding day. If I get there first, it becomes a competition for space and realistically speaking they should always be the winners. Unfortunately, some hair and makeup artists are a bit quiet and they may not ask me to move. So, the simple solution is for me not to be there. If I come in 15 minutes later, it means that they will take the spots they want without worry, and I can then work around them.
In these minutes before I get to you I’ll be popping round to meet the groomsmen and drop off their cameras. Their cameras? Well you’re only asking that if you’ve not read my article on this. So here’s a link for you. PS it’s my way of getting photos of both sides of the wedding morning story without stress for the groomsmen.
As I’m dropping off their little cameras, I’ll be giving them a bit of a starting point on how to use and why and so on. Also, a few tips that really help about aperture and shutter, but obviously that’s up to them. Then, I can be with the bride all day which gives us both the advantage of seeing everything unfold as we head up to the magical part where you say “I Do!”
Now, let’s switch to what time I finish. Yes it’s true that the first dance and cake cut are the last formal events during a wedding day, but this is also when the party really gets going and people let their hair down. The vast majority of your guests will have a drink and enjoy themselves. Dancing photos are always a bit of fun! Yeah, there can be some cringe involved, but on the whole, they’re fun and give something to the party. It really is as simple as that.
Additionally, depending on the time of year you’re getting married, sunset might be before the cake is cut, it might be after. Sunset is vitally important to me and to you to get time together, as I’ve explained in this article. And so, if sunset is after the first dance it would be pretty unreasonable of me to leave before we’ve taken those photos!
Moreover, ultimately, I’m your friend, by this point. I want to be part of your friends and family circle for the day. They don’t get to escape, should I? NO!!!! I want to stay and be part of the party because that way I’ll get better photos. Hopefully you’ll also want me to stay and have fun too, by this point you’ll have got used to me and my craziness.
I’ll warn you now, I’m going to be on the dance floor. I’m going to be having a LOT of fun. Do not be surprised if you find me sitting or lying on the dancefloor either. I will be finding alternative angles to make your photos that little bit different and quirky.
You’ll notice that up to this point I’ve not even mentioned a time that I leave. Well that’s because it is a three way thing between us: you as the couple and me as your photographer and friend.
Route 1 is from you as my couple. You’ve got to a stage in time that actually, you don’t want any more photos. And you’re quite happy for me to disappear. Well if so, come over and say, tell me, I’m not going to object. I’m certainly not going to get frustrated. It’s your day. I’ve got to do it your way. Ultimately, it might also be that you decide that you want me to stay but you don’t want me to take any more photos because you want me to let me let my hair down.
Route 2 is from my side. It might be that I’ve actually got a wedding the next day, or that I’m absolutely knackered and I’ve reached the end of my adrenaline. So I might come up to you and say, guys, “I’m done. Is that alright?”
Route 3 is neither of these happen. I would say happens, probably about three quarters of the time I’m still there at midnight taking photos of the party survivors.
Now, I’m not going to guarantee that that always happens. Of course I can’t. There are going to be times when I have weddings the next day, or times that I’ve come from a wedding the previous day. It may be that I’m hundreds of miles away from home. But realistically speaking, if I can be there at midnight, then I probably will be.
This I’d like to think makes a difference and a positive contribution. Certainly previous couples have told me it does. After all, the reason you have a photographer is to document the fun, the laughter and the happiness of a wedding day. The end of the evening is as important to me as the rest of the day. When people are having fun, when your friends and family are enjoying themselves I think there should be memories of these moments.
So, PLEASE, discuss with me when you would like me to be there until, and what matters most to you. Tell me what your ideal answer or dream would be, because then we can find a way to do it.
What has happened on a number of occasions is that my couples have said, “Phil, we want you there till midnight, we think it’s important”. They have then decided of their own accord to book me a hotel room for the night at their venue. This always touches my heart: it’s the kindest, most generous offer anybody could make and shows they value me and what I’m bringing to the party. It gives me the ability to enjoy the party, it gives me the ability to not worry about having to drive home. It also gives me the chance to really go to town on images. Being truthful, it also gives me the chance to have a beer or two after a really busy day!!!
The most important thing for you to take from this article is that: I’m here to serve you on the most crucial day of your life. You tell me what you need, I’ll do my utmost to make it happen. Because I’m also your friend, you’ll probably want me there until midnight. I would be delighted to accept that request and make many memories for you.
All Night Long.......
If I can be, I’m with you all day until the party draws to a close. You’ll be having fun with friends and family and I want you to have memories of that too!