These are the most popular questions I've received, and there are some helpful planning tips at the end. This is a page you can return to during the whole planning process and share with family and friends so everyone is, well, on the same page.
Where do you live? Do you travel?
I live in Los Angeles and I do travel! I would just need the basic cost of airfare, two nights in a hotel for me and any second shooters if hired, and rental car fees reimbursed.
What's your approach to the wedding day?
My approach is to tell your story in a personal way - mainly to capture real, spontaneous moments in a way that, when you look back at your photographs, you remember how it actually felt to be there. That's the quality of the pictures that I've personally loved and cherished - and what I always aim for when I create for my couples.
It's why I believe that a little get-to-know-you-time with you before the wedding is super helpful - an engagement session, an in-person meeting, a phone call with both of you where we can connect. It helps couples trust me and let their guards down a bit, which means they'll reveal themselves more in honest, candid moments.
Since you have more of a documentary approach, does that mean there will be little to no direction?
No it doesn't mean that entirely.
There will definitely be some moments where I will be giving some direction:
During the getting ready (and the reception) portion of the day, my approach is highly documentary, except to move you into better light if possible. For example, if the bridal party is turned away from the window I may ask everyone to face the light, get them into an action, then resume.
In the portrait sessions however, I give whatever direction the couple needs so that I can guide them into genuine moments. I try to be very attuned to my couple’s moods and energy - some couples need more direction and some less. For some couples, letting go in front of the camera might mean swinging your bride into the air, for others it might mean holding each other quietly. I'll guide you into an action or a pose, and from there the moment is all you.
How did you get into photography, and weddings?
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 22, I documented our family with disposable cameras I had picked up at the store. The camera helped me process what was happening, and more importantly gave me an excuse to set up silly poses that made my mom laugh. Pictures of her in her cleveland browns cap. Pictures of her teaching my dad how to make her chili. Pictures of her sitting in the sun in her pajamas, watching my dad tend to her garden. My dad framed that one after she passed away, and told me so over and over how much that one photo meant to him.
After that I didn't stop shooting. I documented friends and strangers. People opened up to me and told me their stories. The camera became a way to help other people feel seen. I was meeting other artists I admired. Photography was opening up worlds to me.
When I second shot my first wedding for a friend, I was surprised at first how much I loved it. Here was a day full of love, full of family. I was using everything I learned from street photography, documentary photography, my love of art and people, in a challenging situation that had every range of emotion I could dream of. It required everything that I was good at. And when it was done, I delivered something precious to the family that they genuinely loved. I'm still humbled and grateful that this is my work and that what I can offer means so much to my clients.
It also doesn't hurt that my clients are wonderful.
What's your photography processing style?
I love the look of film and since I shoot digitally, I try to emulate film as much as possible in my processing. I like mood in an image. I think shadows can be beautiful. I want a cinematic feel in the processing as much as in the shooting approach.
Can I have the all the unprocessed digital negatives straight out of the camera instead of having the art you just created?
Since my name and brand is associated with the photos, it's important that I maintain the integrity of the look and quality of the images. All the digital, high-resolution negatives you receive (jpg format if you're curious) will be fully processed over several days (read: culled and cared for) for exposure, tone, and a look that emulates film a bit. It's really important that if you're hiring me, that you also like the way the final images look - like the ones here .
As for seeing all of the images - I only take out the blinks, flash mis-fires, person walking into the shot images, you get all the rest, including "outtakes" because outtakes are awesome.
Do we need a second shooter?
I strongly encourage a second is if the wedding is over 150 people, on expansive grounds and require a lot of time to get from one place to the other, or if you want both of you to be covered while you're getting ready and you aren't getting ready at the same place - otherwise it's entirely up to whether the following is important to you.
Sometimes I bring an assistant to certain weddings and they are there primarily to hold my gear and support me - assistants are not second shooters and if I decide to bring an assistant for myself there isn't an extra charge. I don't bring a second unless the couple finds they really do need and want one.
The second shooter is one of two ladies - both also wedding photographers who I trust to be professional, warm and positive, have film and art school backgrounds and have a compatible style to mine. These are the points of the day where a second can be handy:
- during the getting ready process if the couple is preparing at different locations and it's important to them that photos are captured of both of them.
- during cocktail hour. If that's the time we choose to do couple's portraits or if that's what we're left with if the timeline runs behind, the second can go ahead and cover the cocktail hour that we are missing and also some of the table details. This is important to couples who may have created a lot of DYI details and want to make sure those are covered in detail or who also want to be sure the cocktail hour shots of their guests are fully covered from start to finish.
- during the ceremony: The second stands in the back and covers an alternate view if the couple wants to limit the amount of movement that the main photographer is doing during the ceremony or if they absolutely want every angle covered. The second might cover a wide view while I use a telephoto lens. If the guest list is over 150 people, this can be helpful to ensure coverage.
- during the reception: Again, this is handy if the reception is over 150 people or if you're covering as many different moments as you possibly can.
What gear do you use?
I use digital canon bodies and mostly prime lenses with a few zooms sprinkled in. I also have backup gear for everything. It's your wedding, the last thing we need to worry about is gear.
Do you have insurance?
Yes. If your venue needs proof of insurance please be sure to give me 2 months notice to allow for processing the paperwork. (Yep, it can take that long.)
Can you handle low light situations?
Yes, I can. I shoot with natural light for most of the day and use on-camera flash or hand held video light during the evening.
Do you shoot family formals?
Yes of course. I just don't blog them very often. I love candids. My clients love candids. But, I know that your wedding day is probably the one day that will have multiple generations all in one place. That's a big deal. Granny Beatrice might really want that camera-aware family pose, and I’m happy to offer that for her. (If you know someone named Granny Beatrice, please introduce me immediately.)
As we get closer to the day, the family formals groupings is the only shot list I'll request from you so that you don't have to think of groupings on your wedding day and we can go through them as quickly as possible.
The sooner we get through formals, the sooner we get you all back to the party and back to covering candids. That's important to remember when you're making your formals shot list - keep in mind it can take up to 2 minutes per group.
What about a regular shot list to cover the day's basics?
Early on, I discovered that shot lists tend to take away from my being as creative because I'm focusing on checking things off instead of shooting intuitively and watching for moments. I also end up covering what's on the shot list anyway during the course of the day. So, the only shot list I'll take is one for the formals and special considerations: if you made your bouquet, or you're carrying your grandpa's watch, or you're seeing your sister for the first time in years - this is the stuff I really want to know about.
We have friends/family who love taking pictures. Is there anything I should tell them?
It's awesome when your friends are excited to take photos. Of course this will happen! I shot a wedding for two cinematographers and almost everyone there was a cameraman! There are two very important things to consider though:
During the formals many cameras are going off at the same time, and the couple and their family don't really know where to look. This can make your formals take twice as long, which means less time for candids and family time. I will normally ask friends with cameras to wait til I get the photo you want me to take first, and then they can go crazy.
If a friend with a camera steps in front of me at the last minute to get the shot (this has actually happened), there isn't much I can do there. I suggest that clients let friends and family with cameras know that they just need to be aware and respectful of the hired photographer and to try to make sure they aren't in the way of the shot or where the photographer needs to be.
What's a first look and do we need one?
A first look in wedding speak is basically the first time the couple sees each other before the wedding ceremony.
A major benefit to seeing each other before the ceremony is that you’ll both now have the option to have your portraits (and family formals) taken BEFORE the ceremony, which means more together time for you and your future spouse on the wedding day. It also frees up cocktail hour to interact with your guests rather than having a shoot during that time. If the ceremony is in the evening, it also often means that you are able to have your portrait session in the daylight rather than at night.
The cons are personal: if you see your future spouse before the ceremony, then you won’t have that moment of seeing them for the very first time walking towards you down the aisle. For many of my clients, a first look doesn’t take away from this moment, but this is a personal choice.
Do we need to feed you? Do you eat during the day?
Yes - If your wedding is 6 hours or over I'll take a little time to sit down and eat - a hungry, dehydrated photographer is a sad and not very useful thing. The meal doesn't have to be the same meal as your sit-down meal - a lot of caterers offer vendor meals and either way, we will appreciate it so much. I also always bring condensed, quick snacks for me and any assistant to eat during the day at discrete transition times, so that we can stay energized for you and function at our best.
Ideally it's best for us to eat the sit-down meal at the same time that you eat, instead of afterwards. While that admittedly, may be slightly awkward for us standing in the buffet line with our couples, it's actually really important because it ensures that I'm also completely ready as soon as you're done eating to shoot the candids, the first dance etc. All of my couples seem totally fine not having shots of themselves mid-mouthful, so it works out really well for everyone. :)
Also keep in mind that if we need to find a place to sit outside of the reception area, it will take us longer to get back if say, changes to the time line happen and the first dance happens early. Clients have set us up at a table in the back of the room or even with the guests sometimes. This isn't necessary, but if it's possible, it's ideal - please let the venue know in advance.
What if we need you to stay longer?
If you realize on the day that everyone is having too much fun and you need me to stay longer, just let me know! Additional coverage is available at $650 an hour and instead of your having to bust out a checkbook on the dance floor, I can send an invoice after the event date for the over time.
When do we receive our edited images?
You'll receive the images via an online gallery (or dvd if you opted for that) within 12 weeks of the wedding date. There will be a teaser likely on my instagram @lindabbott.la. Please feel free to follow me there and keep up on my photo adventures.
What's an "online gallery"?
An online gallery is a password protected section of my website where your wedding photographs will be placed for you and your family/friends to view. It's also a secure shopping cart where you all can order prints of various sizes. All you have to do is send the password to whoever wants to see the gallery.
If our images come with a license to print for personal use, why would we have to print through you?
You absolutely don't have to. But I do want you to be able to have access to quality prints of the images I've photographed for you. I want your prints to last through generations and the idea of having family heirlooms printed at a drug store makes me sad. I use a professional lab that works exclusively with photographers, the lab I wish I had access to before I became a professional. They make appropriate color corrections and use archival ink and paper that will last through the years.
Most of my clients LOVE having this option, and they've asked me for it. This works perfectly for a few of your very special images that deserve extra care and will be printed at larger sizes. It's also way more convenient than trekking to a store twice, and my clients have busy lives - you can order your prints online right through your proofing gallery and have your professional prints delivered to you. Easy peasy and now you have options.
How many images do we receive?
For weddings that are 6 hours and longer, anywhere from 500 - 800 edited images. It depends on the number of guests, hours of coverage, type of event and how much dancing etc.
Why do we have to pay sales tax on our wedding?
It’s required by the state of California. If any tangible product results from me photographing your wedding (whether that’s an album or a flash drive) the entire package price is taxable. The tax collected will be 7.5% CA state tax plus the small percentage of sales tax in the city where I'm delivering the product. I wish it wasn't so, but it’s spelled out by the State Board of Equalization on pages 1, 2, and 7 here: http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/pub68.pdf.
If you live out of state, CA sales tax does not apply.
Do you have album options?
Soon, grasshopper, soon. I'm working with a bookmaker right now to create that option and I'm very excited about it because I wanted something very, very special for my clients and since for many of my clients an album will be their first family heirlooms, I wanted the product to be perfect. And I found them. Albums will likely be available to clients this year. I'll have pricing options and detailed info sent out soon!
What does the "personal use license" that comes with our images mean?
Personal use means not for profit. You can't sell the images or prints you make from the images. You'll receive high-resolution images without any watermark on them so that you can make prints for personal use if you like. You can also share the images online - any images shared online would need appropriate credit attached. e.g: "by Linda Abbott Photography".
What if you totally like, get dengue fever or something before our wedding?
Good question! I will NOT be at your wedding if I contract a rare tropical illnesss - I promise. Honestly, It would have to be something that dire to keep me from shooting your wedding. If this happened, you'll still get coverage from my second shooter. I also have strong ties in my photography community to help find a suitable replacement for you.
I have to cancel my wedding, can I have my retainer back?
Your 50% retainer is non-refundable. The retainer guarantees that I'll hold the date exclusively for you and that I'll be turning down all other clients (and income) for that day.
Can you hold the date for us?
To be fair to my clients, I'm not able to hold your date. The only way to book me is to well, book me. I accept bookings on a first come/first served basis.
We're excited about you and we want to book you but we were told we need to book other things first.
There is a general organic order to the wedding planning phases that can happen. Sometimes the planner is hired first, and sometimes halfway through the process and sometimes not at all. My wedding planner friends will recommend a variety of sequences as well. This is literally one from a facebook conversation about this topic with other wedding vendors: One wedding planner said she typically recommends this: planner, photography, venue, catering, flowers and dress. Another said she always advises photography over catering first since good photographers can often be booked as far as a year in advance. And another that I work with often does: Planner, venue/catering, photographer, dress, floral and entertainment. Many of the planners I work with value photography and chose their photographer for their own weddings after or even before their venue.
Its up to you. That is my best advice to you. This is YOUR wedding day. Consider the suggestions for all of it and ultimately do what what feels good to you.
Do you offer discounts on non-Saturday weddings?
Occasionally I can offer more flexibility if your wedding is during the week or on a Sunday based on the time of year, my travel schedule and my availability. If you have concerns about your budget etc, please reach out and let me know.
When should we book you?
Write me as soon as you can. I only shoot a limited number of weddings a year and I can be booked up to a year in advance. A 50% non-refundable retainer and a signed contract by the couple is needed to book the date. The remaining balance is due 8 weeks before the wedding date. Once I receive them, I'm all yours, and you can check "find photographer" off of your list. :)
Can we take a picture with you doing The Stand?
I'm including this question because it's been asked. More than once. Like, a lot of times.
The answer is yes. :)
And now, for wedding day TIPS:
1) if you're up for more of an active portrait sessions (laying on grass, walking through trees etc: remember to bring comfy flats or even a little blanket.
2) Pad your timeline a bit. Every wedding runs behind a little and often it's hair and makeup or travel and traffic or just because that's what wedding days do. If you know you need to have your makeup done by 3pm, tell the makeup artist that you'd like to be done by 2:30. If you possibly can, try to have the entire day at the same location.
3) Find out when sunset is on your wedding day. The most beautiful light is the hour before sunset. You can opt to have your portrait sessions during that time which will personally make me so happy.
4) For the ceremony portion, here's a suggestion that a lot of my clients love: have the officiant ask everyone to turn off their phones during the ceremony. It's a really lovely to encourage people to be present during this time and just be there with you. Everything is so fast paced, but this is a truly sacred moment and the energy of everyone being there with you instead of behind their phones is pretty wonderful.
Besides, that's totally what you hired me for.
5) Have each of you assign one person - a best friend, a family member - to field incoming phone calls during the day and give directions if needed. Have one person be my go-to during family formals to help us wrangle missing people. This will take unnecessary stress off of you and help us all streamline the day.
6) Let your guests and especially bridal parties and family know the general time line and when those family formals will be so that they will be ready for us. Chasing down Uncle Fred in the men's bathroom will cause unnecessary delays. As we get closer to the date, I'll ask you for the time line and give you any feedback I can to help you.
7) Once you've chosen me as your photographer, let your wedding party and family know either through an email or on your wedding page if you have one, that you found your photographer and she's a photojournalist. Explain to your family and wedding party that this means I shoot candids which means they don't have to look at the camera. A quick link to my work will help explain what that looks like. Brides also introduce me on the wedding day and remind them at that time as well. It really helps to cut down on camera aware super posed shots. (During the reception, we'll cover some of those anyway.)