Expert Advice from Wedding Photographers

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2011

Whitney and Jesse Chamberlin

Known For Playful photographs that reflect their clients' personalities

Where to Find Them Our Labor of Love and Smilebooth (this married duo owns both)

Top Tip Natural light is a photographer's friend, so outdoor spaces and rooms with tons of windows are the best spots for photos. To brighten up dim interiors, hang bare bulbs or drape the walls in white fabric.

How many months out should couples book their photographer?

Jesse Chamberlin: It depends on how in-demand the photographer is, but around a year in advance is the norm. If you're planning a destination wedding, which requires a longer time commitment, hire someone as soon as you set your date.

What's the best way to choose someone?

Whitney Chamberlin: Rather than simply browsing through blogs and websites, ask to view at least one full wedding -- from start to finish -- that was shot in a venue similar to yours (a dark church, an open field, or an airy loft). If you like how it turned out, have the photographer put you in touch with the couple so you can get their honest feedback on the experience.

JC: Also, ask lots of questions. Will they carry backup memory cards, batteries, and another camera that's of the same quality as the one they primarily use? Do they work with a second shooter? When things get hectic, it's helpful.

And what does a good package include?

JC: Two photographers for around six hours, about 400 shots to choose from after edits, and an online slide show for purchasing prints. Expect to pay $3,500 and up. Albums, digital negatives, and printing are usually extra.

How can couples ensure that their photographers get all the right shots?

JC: We always ask for a list of all the people you want photographed, plus info on sensitive family dynamics, like who won't want to stand next to each other in a group portrait. It's also helpful to know about specific moments you want us to catch.

Any thoughts on taking pre-ceremony photos?

WC: It's a great idea -- around 70 percent of our couples request this. Some worry that it will ruin that moment of seeing each other for the first time, but it can actually make it more special since it's less rushed and very intimate.


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