Presenting images with personality

Professional Photography FAQ’s

1. What is the first question I should ask the photographer?

Once you have know that the photographer is available for your date, you will want to ask what her philosophy is about photography and how she works with you and your guests. You should make a face to face appointment with this photographer to see if your styles complement each other. If you like what she is saying and feel comfortable with her words, she may be the person who should photograph you.

2. What should I look for in a wedding photographer?

I tell brides and grooms that the number one thing to look for in their wedding photographer is personality. The photographer is the only individual who will be with you all day, and you want to feel comfortable with the person. So, when you are meeting them, you are checking them out for comfort. See how you feel around them. Can you picture them with your family and friends? The right choice for a photographer will make your wedding day! It isn’t the cake, nor the colors of the bridal party gowns, or the types of flowers for the wedding bouquets. It is the photographer that will make your day go smoothly. Choose wisely.

3. So, how much does wedding photography cost?

Prices range drastically from one photographer to another due to their years of expertise, products you choose to purchase, travel and set up time, and a number of other factors. It is difficult to quote just one price fits all since each couple is unique. If you want great images, trustworthiness, and a ”friend” to be your wedding photographer, be prepared to consider it an investment and not just how “how much.” Expect better photographers to charge the higher rates. With an inexperienced photographer, he/she may charge you as little as $10 for a print. And, it is reasonable for an excellent photographer to charge you $40 for a print of the same size. That is because you are getting a better product from the experienced professional. If you are looking for a bargain and shop by email or phone for pricing, you are following a recipe for poor to mediocre photography. Photography is about 10% of the total wedding budget. When couples value photography highly this translates into a bargain for the memories it will hold dearly in your hearts!

4. Will you be the photographer at our wedding or will you substitute an assistant?

If you establish a rapport with the person you met in person and discuss your wedding plans in detail, that is who should be photographing your event. This photographer does not assign an assistant to photograph the most important day of your lives together! Some photographers do, so read your contract thoroughly!

5. What photo style do you offer that is different than other photographers?

I celebrate the individuality of the bride and the groom and their families and friends in each of the weddings I shoot. Each wedding has its own personality, and I try to listen and then capture that personality in lively and beautiful images.

6. How do I find the right wedding photographer?

You should choose a wedding photographer based on several considerations. Do your research. Check online, ask your friends or neighbors, ask local Chambers of Commerce; and keep your eyes and ears open when you go to a special event or to a mall with photo exhibits. Secondly, once you have a list of photographers and met with each of them in person, you must love her work. Look for a photographer whose work moves you, whose style you love, and who tells a story the way you want your story to be told Another factor to consider is personality. Since your wedding photographer will be with you the whole wedding day, you need to make sure that you feel comfortable with this individual. One way to gauge this is to ask yourself: “Would we be friends with this photographer even if we weren’t getting married?” If the answer to this question is “yes,” then this is the person to book.

7. Shouldn’t I be asking “What do I get and how much does it cost?”

Even shopping for shoes or furniture you wouldn’t ask that question first until you find the style and quality you like. After you have looked through a photographer’s website and portfolio; viewing candids, composition, formals, inside and outside lighting, you will know if this photographer has the technique, style and spirit to be the one to be responsible for capturing the most important day in lively and rich images. Then it would be wise to discuss a range you wanted to spend for photography and also the products you wish to have such as an album, online viewing, and a DVD.

8. All the photographers seem the same. How do I choose the one for us?

If the photographer is within your budget, give or take a little, pay attention to how it feels being with that person. If you feel celebrated and comfortable as though she were your friend, that is the person you want photographing for you once you know the person is trustworthy and her quality matches yours. Look for an established and reliable photographer whose work moves you, whose technical quality is tops. If you find a photographer who makes you happy, you never will regret your investment.

9. How much time will the photographer spend at my wedding?

Some photographers work in five hour blocks and then charge you an hourly rate after that. This photographer works with you the whole day, and you don’t have to look at your watch worrying whether you are spending more than what you budgeted for. If you want a customized package and are looking to book a photographer for only one part of your day to photograph the ceremony and some formal posed images, that can be arranged too.

10. Will I get a fully edited Hi Resolution DVD of your images?

Yes! In this digital age, clients want to share images on the iphones, facebook and online. If you purchase my services, you get a fully edited DVD of your images. If you book my services for a professional portrait session, you get a high resolution jpeg.

11. How early in the wedding-planning process should I book a wedding photographer?

If photography is very important to you, you will also want to book as early as possible to ensure booking the best photographer for your needs. If your wedding will be in nice weather, during a holiday, or on another popular date, you may want to consider booking your photographer as early as 12 to 18 months ahead of the date. If you have a favorite wedding photographer in mind before you have booked your wedding venue, you can call the photographer to confirm his or her availability before signing the contract with the venue. In any event, it is in your best interest to have your wedding photographer booked at least a year in advance.

12. Why is wedding photography so much more expensive now than when my parents got married?

A lot has changed in photography since your parents’ wedding. Chances are that when your parents got married, wedding photographers typically worked from set shot lists and only took the photographs that they knew would sell after the wedding. This led to cookie-cutter wedding photography that left every wedding album looking almost exactly the same. The true story of the day was left untold. Your parents’ photographer probably took fewer than 200 photos at their wedding. Today’s wedding photojournalists may take 10 times that many as they document the unique story of a couple’s wedding day. Digital wedding photography has led to advancements in wedding albums, too. Today’s wedding albums are original works of art with custom-designed layouts that are produced using the same methods employed for art books and magazines. This is a time-intensive process that requires all of the skill, talent, and artistry that professional wedding photographers already bring to their viewfinders.

13. Are you a photographer who does the same for every client?

Absolutely not! My creativity has no boundaries. When we meet face to face, we get a sense of each other and your uniqueness shines through. That is what I love to capture for you and I offer rich and alive images.

14. What technical details in sample photographs should I watch out for?

Lighting quality is an important ingredient in superior photographs. The light in photographs should be natural and flattering, so that the pictures look three-dimensional. Overuse of on-camera flash can ruin wedding pictures. Watch out for flattened faces, harsh reflections off of cheeks and foreheads, and dark shadows directly behind or next to the subjects. With finesse, a fine photographer can work with almost any outdoor lighting situation without using flash.Look for a variety in subject size – a mix of distant, medium and close-up pictures. Even with groups, lighting and posing should be interesting. The well posed bridal portrait should minimize the subjects’ flaws (weight problem, blemishes, etc.) and express who the subject is and how he/she/they feel. The dramatic and scenic wedding image, like the red convertable on the show-room floor, attracts everyone’s attention, but most brides and their families, like most car buyers, want what suits them personally. You want pictures that tell the story simply, with immediate impact, and as if the photographer was not even there.

It’s like fixing your hair or applying make-up so that it looks natural.

15. What else should I look out for when I am looking at a photographer’s samples?

It is important that an album you see one wedding from start to finish, not just a collection of highlights from a dozen different weddings. If a photographer assembles and shows the best photos from several weddings in one album, you are not seeing an accurate representation of the results you might expect from your wedding. It is reasonable for you to expect the same quality work at your wedding that the photographer shows you when you first visit, especially if the sample images match the setting and time of day of your wedding.

16. Some photographers ask that no one else take pictures during the formal photography. Is that reasonable?

Yes. If the photographer is trying to work quickly through a series of formal pictures, a snap-shooter might slow the process. A problem arises when there are several cameras aimed at a formal group – the subjects will be looking at different lenses. The diverted attention will ruin the professional’s picture. Or, if the professional is using a light-sensing trigger device (“slave”) on a second flash, other flashes will trigger this flash, ruining the pictures [that you are paying for] and wasting battery power. There are many other reasons why a professional might ask others to refrain from picture taking during formals. On the other hand, many guests find snapping a fewpictures a pleasant part of attending weddings, so it should not be a big deal for your professional to be relaxed and let people snap away when formals are over. Ideally, guests should show respect for the bridal party and photographer and put down their cameras during the formal photos.

17. I want to make copies of my photos. Does my photographer really own the copyright of his/her pictures? Do I still have to pay the photographer if I make the copies myself at a copy shop?

Yes and yes. According to federal law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If you copy or scan your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints. If you don’t feel comfortable paying for these copies, find a photographer whose work is so good that you are glad to pay. When I really appreciate something I purchase, like a fabulous meal, an antique, a good pair of shoes, or even medical care, I do not mind paying a premium for getting the highest quality. Look for the photographer who will provide you the satisfaction of paying for job well done.

18. Suppose I want more copies in two years?

Get the high-resolution digital files – which will either included or available for an extra fee. Since currently no electronic medium will last your lifetime, you will need to update the media on which you store your images. I have found it takes a professional color lab to produce great color prints from digital files, so owning the files does not guarantee that you are going to get the best wedding images at the best price. However, if you own the images you can use them on a website, email them, and make acceptable prints.

19. How important is it to consult with my prospective photographer in person?

The rapport that you create with your photographer will make or break your event! Emails convey content but not emotion. Actually sitting down in a meeting with your prospective photographer (my portrait studio is in Schenectady, NY) is the right thing to do to assure a perfect event. Body language, warmth, smiles, personal connections…these nuances can only be created in person. It’s not just the content that makes the day, it’s the relationship that you develop together that makes the day.

 

 

20. Tips on Hiring the Right Photographer for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Your son or daughter will be bar or bat mitzvah shortly and you have no idea who to hire to photograph such an important day. Do I google? Do I ask whom others have used? And when I get a list, meet all those photographers and  am ready to make a decision, what do I do?

The majority choose the cheapest photographer. “Well, why not. All photographers take the same events of the day. And I spent so much money on the venue and food, I really don’t have much of a budget for photos.”

Folks, the only item you will have left after the glory fades will be the photographs. Why not consider a budget for the memories which WILL last a lifetime!

Not only that, why not choose someone with the lifelong experience of being Jewish? She has the complete knowledge of what is important; and can even help you plan your bar or bat mitzvah down to the types of candles to buy. (they are dripless, by the way!)

Why not choose the photographer who has years of experience with bar and bat mitzvah vendors who have worked in Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs, NY?

When choosing a bar or bat mitzvah photographer in the Albany, NY area, you may want to consider the knowledge and experience which will make planning your event less stressful and fittingly more joyous.

With years of photographing dozens and dozens of bar and bat mitzvahs, please strongly consider contacting Joan Heffler Photography!

And Mazel Tov

21. Is it important to see keepsake albums when choosing a photographer?

Yes! As many images as possible and as many venues photographed as possible are critical in choosing a photographer for your wedding or bar or bat mitzvah. This will give you a great idea how expert the photographer is in different lighting conditions. In fact, how good the images are in various lighting situations separates out the professional from the less experienced amateur.  Don’t you test drive all the cars you may consider purchasing?

Same with photographers. View as many images as possible whether online, in slideshows, in proof albums or keepsake albums. Not only do you get a great idea of the professionalism of the photographer, but you also get great ideas for poses if you choose to want to duplicate some that you have seen and really enjoy.

Your photographer and you can discuss the types of photos you may want in your album at that time and it is a great way to get to know each other better which will enhance your special day!

22. Photography — The Universal Language?

Almost everyone loves to look at photos. We are drawn to faces, to something awesome, something beautiful, something simple… something different.

Surfing the web, looking at highway billboards, checking out Facebook, picking up a book or magazine, checking out peoples’ iphones…everyone and everywhere are pictures, pictures, pictures.

No matter where you are in the world or what your are doing, photos are the universal language, and you will understand that person even if they speak another language. For photography has become the number one universal language!

We are drawn to pictures. It is our way of recording our existence. We have been depicting people since the cave man. In Greek and Roman times, only those with high status and money had their pictures done. When photography came in existence, it was no longer relegated to the rich. Everyone could have them now! And more and more, there are billions of pictures circulating all around the globe for us to enjoy and comment upon. How delightful!

 

23. What Will Become of Photography? Hire A Pro.

Almost everyone on this planet can take photos now. Whether it is through a camera’s lens or an iPhone. It really doesn’t matter the form….unless you CARE about your photos. WOAH. What does that mean? It means when it really counts and you want lasting images for keepsake and to pass down from generation to generation, it is really really important to hire a professional photographer to take those really important images. It is fun to take images on your iPhone and it is so much fun to post them on social media outlets. But are they really the photos you want in an album? Are they the quality you want in frames in your house? I suggest they are not.

So hire a real professional photographer who knows how to “sniff out those moments” and get those intimate moments from your family portraits or special events, or even a wedding or bar or bat mitzvah. Hire a pro who is skilled in capturing pictures with personality. Hire a pro and you don’t have to worry that they will bring their iPhone. Are you kidding?  They will bring real cameras and back ups of cameras and all the equipment they need to bring to get those images you want for your very special event!

24. What are the advantages of hiring a professional wedding photographer?

A professional photographer will be timely – arriving at your wedding promptly, and getting the results to you on time. A professional has just the right equipment and film for photographing your event. Having attended many weddings, an experienced wedding photographer will be at ease at your wedding. A professional uses a color laboratory that is in the business of meeting high professional standards of print quality. And, a professional is used to working with individuals, couples, and groups to make the formal photography go smoothly. When you think about the cost of photography, remember that the photographer’s fee is only part of your investment: You, your parents, your extended family and your friends will be relating to the photographer during your wedding. The pro knows how to relate to all of them with a professional demeanor. Don’t waste time on your wedding day with a photographer who doesn’t know the score and won’t produce results you will love!

25. Why should I hire a more expensive photographer? Aren’t they all the same?

Not all photographers are the same. Do you see a difference when you shop Walmart and Macy’s? The same holds true with photographers. Attending workshops, learning new techniques, investing in my business makes for a better photographer; and therefore, worth more. Also, the integrity and trust you build with me gives you the sound mind that I will follow through on my promise to give you images that jump off the page and delight your spirit. Because I work hard with you, my clients, helping to orchestrate the event prior to the day and responding to any and all questions along the process; whether a wedding or event, my value to you has increased and we get fantastic images from the get go. That attention to detail coupled with the “know how” is the difference between a mediocre photographer and a great one.

26. Have you had any formal training?

I have a master’s degree in counseling and have worked with people in my jobs for over 30 years. My hobby for decades was photography, and when I wanted a change in careers, I chose to follow my heart. I am a member of a number of professional associations such as PPSNYS (Professional Photography Society of New York State) and SFS (Schenectady Photographic Society) who offer extensive weekly, monthly and yearly training in the latest techniques taught by world renowned photographers; and I have been attending these trainings for 14 years

27. Your subjects look so natural? Were you just lucky and caught the moment or was there more to it?

A truly talented photographer can get even the stiffest subjects to loosen up for the camera. If there ever was a time to pick an experienced photographer over a lesser one, this is it. When it comes to photography, experience and the ability to bring out the best in people is proportional to the quality of the relationship and the product. I spend a lot of time with you before your event and I become “your best friend.” I also spend a lot of time studying new techniques, knowing how to turn crises and meltdowns onto opportunities, and ways to engage my subjects to get that smile and spark everyone wants to see in his or her photos. This photographer has spent decades combining those talents and more to offer you outstanding images and great service. 

28. When will my photos be ready for viewing?

I provide you with instructions for viewing your images once they are fully edited and uploaded through my website. For an event or portrait session, it usually takes a day or so. For a wedding, expect two to three weeks.

29. Will I get help planning my event?

Each and every one of my clients gets my 100% attention throughout the process. And if you need help even after the event, I am here. I want to make sure everything runs smoothly from start to finish.

30. Do I use film or digital cameras

I photograph only in digital and have since 2004.

31. Do you carry backup equipment on location ?

Absolutely. I always carry two sets of backups of cameras, CF cards, flashes and battery packs. Oh, and plenty of batteries, too. 

32. Who designs my wedding album and when will I receive them?

I have the experience and know-how to design all albums and would be delighted to do that for yours. I use a professional lab and album companies and turnaround time, once designed, is less than three weeks.

33. Shouldn’t my photographer have a designated back-up in case he/she is sick on my wedding day?

That would be ideal, but consider the plight of the backup photographer who has to turn down weddings just in case she/he is needed for yours? I am part of a network of photographers, and do have many people I can call in an emergency so not to worry!

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If you have a major life event like a wedding, baptism, retirement party or any event where you might want to capture every moment then Joan Heffler photography should be considered. She is creative with her picture settings but she also doesn’t interfere with the actual event which was very important to me. She is extremely talented. I would use her services again if I ever have another big event.

Karen Gordon

Joan’s studio is located in upstate NY, though she travels anywhere in the world to be a part of your world… Contact Joan Heffler Photography online, call (518) 346 – 4485 or e-mail for more information on portrait, corporate, event and wedding photography in Albany, Saratoga and/or Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Troy, Saranac Lake, Lake George, Bolton Landing, Lake Placid, Syracuse, Upstate NY, Capital Region and/or Capital District, Tri-County Area, Upper Hudson Valley, Hudson Valley, Adirondacks, Berkshires, Western Massachusetts, Vermont, Northeastern New York and New York State.