For those about to wed, I salute you.
Every photographer has a different approach to your wedding day; mine is as straight-forward and honestly as possible, with a lot of love.
My overall philosophy:
My aim is to curate a collection of images, both candid and posed, that tell the story of your day from beginning to end in the most authentic way possible. They'll be presented with timeless, clean editing and classic posing, skipping the trendy filters, cliché poses, and artsy photos that are so far out that they would look out of place framed at your grandmother's house.
Pretty details are great, too, and I enjoy creative shots and photographing gorgeous floral displays, but the photos that will make you laugh and cry and the images that you are going to come back to again and again are going to be the joyful faces of you and your loved ones at this once-in-a-lifetime event.
That’s where the magic is.
As for me? Being a wedding photographer isn’t “just a job” for me, it's a privilege. You’re creating a whole new family on your wedding day, and that’s HUGE! I feel lucky to be at every wedding I'm invited to capture.
Black and white or colour?
Both, mostly colour. If you want more black and white, let me know. Images are ONLY delivered in either colour or black and white and can’t be converted either way afterwards.
Do you want a shot list?
I will need a list of the family formals, and will ask for a list of special details you'll want captured that might not be immediately apparent (such as a memorial brooch on your bouquet, or a new wedding tattoo, etc.) During your wedding day, I have a list of the usual things at the back of my head: shoes, rings, invitation, etc. so you need not worry about those. There is no need for an internet list that has "bride and groom together" on it, and I don't copy poses off of Pinterest.
How do we build our family formals list?
My big guideline is "don't leave out spouses". That includes each other. Sometimes couples want a few special photos without each other, like "Bride and Mom", but for the most part, you should stick together. After all, you're family now.
A few weeks before your wedding, we'll have a final list and go over everything together (we can do this over the phone or meet in Manhattan.) I'll then re-write it in a an order that minimizes moving around and makes family photos go smoothly. On the day of your wedding, your family formals will be quick and fun (I swear!) and we'll make sure no one gets left out.
Our family is loud and unruly. Are you you sure you can handle it?
Oh yeah. It's also a really good idea, though, to appoint a wrangler who knows everyone for the family photos, too.
What's your wedding photography style?
I get asked this when couples come to me after reading articles that say you should make sure a photographer lines up with your ideal style of photography. If you read a few of these articles (and there's a lot) you'll start to notice conflicting advice and maybe get overwhelmed. The reason it's so confusing is that this is become a bit of a tired concept while at the same time, styles have blended and definitions have morphed.
I shoot a combination of candid photojournalist photos, and editorial (what some might call traditional.)
About my candid, photojournalistic style:
Candid, photojournalist photos are taken all throughout the day, starting at the getting ready, and especially on the dance floor! Unlike a traditional photojournalist, however, I will manipulate an otherwise organic scene, removing water bottles and ugly packaging, and picking a space for you to put your wedding gown on in the prettiest light. I write a bit more about this in my essay, "When the Photo is Sacred."
About my editorial portraits:
It is vogue right now to say "we want candid photos, not stiff, posed ones." I get it. Formal portraits, however, are very important. This is because I am, in a way, a historian, and fifty years from now, well-lit, camera aware portraits that record the details of your faces and outfits are going to be so treasured, by you, and by your grandchildren.
We'll bring some of those candid vibes in the editorial portraits, though. You won't be instructed to stand there stiffly and smile; I'll have you walk, dance, and interact with each other for the most genuine smiles and organic, vibrant portraits that show who you really are.
I will also do this with your bridesmaids and groomsmen photos, too.
Some of those blog articles call this style "traditional", but I shy away from that word because it can sometimes feel like it's leaving some folks out. I like "editorial" better, but I mean the same thing. I adore working with everyone, and we'll get photos that will look genuine and be cherished, no matter who you are, who you're marrying, what you're wearing, or what your gender expression is.
We don't want our photos to look super stiff. How do you handle posing if someone is shy? What about LGBTQ couples? We are super awkward, you know. We hate posing.
I think at least 80% of my clients have "warned" me about how awkward they are but it's never a problem. If you're really worried, though, have an engagement session. You'll get to know my style and how I work, and get a feeling for being photographed professionally.
We laugh and joke and smile during portraits - both at your engagement session and at your wedding - so your personality shines through. You’ll look back at your wedding photos and see two people in love.
I typically allow couples to fall together into their own patterns the way they will naturally, and go from there. This works well for everyone, no matter what their orientation, height difference, etc. (Seeing these lovely patterns everyone has is the best part of my job.)
Do you do engagement sessions?
I love engagement sessions. They're a wonderful time for us to get to know one another, and for you to see what it feels like to be professionally photographed before your wedding. Plus, a lot of my wedding clients find their wedding days are largely about family; these are just for focusing on you.
Due to my wedding schedule, I photograph them exclusively on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (very occasionally, there is an exception to this). They take place in Brooklyn or Manhattan, although other locations are available and may be subject to an additional travel fee.
Ideally, we aim to begin our session an hour and a half before sunset, so 3pm in the winter months, and as late as 7pm in the summer. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though, and if you have something unique you'd like to do, let's talk about it.
Clients are responsible for obtaining all location permissions and permits necessary. This generally only applies to shoots indoors on private property; we do not need a permission to shoot in Central Park or on the streets of NYC, etc.
Do you use a second shooter at weddings?
You may add one. For weddings that are smaller and/or straightforward, I'm comfortable photographing them by myself. Others are larger and/or more complicated, with lots of logistics to consider; if that's the case, I'll strongly recommend a second shooter. Either way, I always have an assistant with me, so there will be either two or three people from my team at your wedding.
Will you photograph our rehearsal dinner?
Rehearsal dinner photography coverage is a great addition, particularly for couples having destination weddings. You'll get warm, wonderful photos of your closest friends in family in a laid-back setting. You can add on this photography coverage, and will receive the photos along with your wedding day photos. Otherwise, I do not attend rehearsals.
How do we get our photos, exactly?
You'll be emailed a digital gallery of your images that you can order your prints from. The set up is exactly like a typical online store, and you'll be able to share this link with friends and family so they can shop for prints themselves (read: you don't have to handle the ordering for everyone). You'll hit a button and use your unique PIN to download the images from that gallery at high resolution. You'll also be able to click a button to download a second set of the .jpgs at "web size" (smaller resolution) which are good for sharing your photos via email, on Facebook, Instagram, etc. You should back them up for archival purposes.
Are the digital images we download watermarked?
No. Some photographers do this to make sure they get properly credited, but I've never had a client have a problem putting "photo by @AmberMarlow" on their Instagram photos. My couples are the best.
Do we have to order prints through you?
I hope that you do.
The digital images, or .jpgs, should never be considered a final product (my irreverent - and possibly unprofessional - motto is "Flash drives make shitty heirlooms"). I believe in photos for your wall, and a wedding album for your coffee table. For those prints that you want to treasure, frame, and display in your home, I recommend you order through me, even little ones. A big box printer like Target or Costco will take all of the work I've done (and all of the money you've paid me!) hand-correcting every individual image and ruin it.
In my shop, you have a choice of luster prints (standard) or the fancy, luxurious deep matte prints. (The deep matte is what I have framed in my own home. They are incredible.)
You will also receive a 4x6 print of each wedding photo as a printed proof. These are ideal for building your wedding album, deciding which prints to order as wall art, and are yours to keep forever.
What are your wedding album options?
I have a traditional Wedding Book album which is what most of my clients get, and the Marlow Signature album made with 100% cotton paper that is super deluxe and delicious.
How many photos do we receive?
"Enough to tell the story" is the best answer I can give you. This is a hard question because the answer changes based on the timing of your day and the number of details and family formals. You will have enough images to make a beautiful album, though, and no one has ever been unhappy. I'm very attentive to details.
I cull images very lightly, meaning I only throw away the blurs, the blinks, and the accidental duplicates. There would be no value in me holding anything back, of course, so I don't.
How long does it take to get our images back?
My contract says 6 weeks from your wedding day. My goal is always 30 days or less.
How long have you been a professional photographer?
I won my first photography award in 1998 (I was 16), became serious about photography in college, accepted the first payment for photography in 2009, and shot my first wedding in 2011.
How many weddings and elopements have you photographed?
Over 150, and I learned something new at each one.
Tech & Legal
Do you have backup equipment?
Yes. Extra lenses, extra cameras, and so, so many batteries. The cameras I use have dual slots for memory cards so I go home at the end of the night with two copies of your images. I also shoot with two cameras.
How do you keep our images safe? We've heard horror stories!
Beyond making two exact copies of your images when I am shooting them, I take other precautions, too. Your images never go on the subway or bus. The RAW files get backed up immediately when I get home from your wedding, to a hard drive that backs itself up to the cloud continuously. The cards themselves that I used are archived with your name on them and sealed until the images on them are delivered to you, and your digital download is available for you to download from for up to a year, at least.
This is probably overkill.
What is your process like?
I shoot RAW images. This allows me to process the photos exactly the way I would like, using a program called Lightroom. They are hand-corrected by me individually, with no batch edits or Instagram-type filters. For album images and large framed prints, I take it to the next level with a bit of extra Photoshop on the images (you won't be able to tell!) to make sure they are absolutely perfect, and I use a program called Alien Skin to make certain images really sparkle.
Your album will be filled with magazine-quality images. This is a source of great pride for me.
Can we have the RAW images?
No. It would be like a baker handing you a few layers cake and a tube of icing and telling you to "go for it", when what you asked for was a wedding cake. They're an incomplete part of the overall product you're paying me for. It's the RAW files, plus the processing after, that makes the image. You also won't be able to open them without proper software.
What gear do you use?
Professional level Canon cameras and lenses, and a few indie manufactured lenses, too. I've been shooting a Canon camera since I was a teenager in the 90's, and my grandfather did, too. This makes me feel elderly.
Are you insured?
Yes. Please let me know at least two months in advance if your venue specifically needs a certificate of insurance. Some venues do, some don’t.
What about permits?
You are responsible for acquiring all photography permits needed on the day of the wedding. If it’s in NYC, I can usually point you in the right direction off the top of my head.
What if something happens to you on the day of our wedding?
I've never missed a wedding due to illness. I take shooting your wedding very seriously, of course, and would never "call out sick" unless there was a circumstance so extenuating it could not be helped. Should this happen, your wedding would be photographed by someone who matched my skill level.
When should we book you?
As soon as you know you would like me to be your photographer. To book, I need to receive from you a signed contract and a retainer. Without these things, I cannot hold your date.
Can you travel?
Yes. Being based in New York means that it's easy for me to travel just about anywhere on the planet. I handle my own air travel, accommodations, and ground transportation so you need not worry about it.
I read this whole thing!
You are very thorough. Well done, you! Let me know, and if you book, I'll add a $30 print credit to your order.