By:  Debbie Morrison
(Originally printed in the March 17, 2008 edition of the SPG newsletter.)
We’re proud to bring you a “Photographer Spotlight” interview with wedding and portrait photographer Kevin Luby of Wavecrest Studio.

Please give us a short background about yourself.
Hi! I’m Kevin Luby. I’ve enjoyed photography forever, and have been actively shooting for the last 6 years. My photographic training has come from great mentors, many workshops, and exhaustive reading and research. When I’m not shooting, I teach Band at the junior high level, and have been for 19 years. We operate a home-based studio, and our primary specialty is wedding photography.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of photography is how excited my clients are when they view their bridal album and enlargements for the first time! It’s at these moments that I know hard work really does pay off! I am very proud of the attention and service we give to all of our clients. We build great relationships, and I really enjoy working with all of them! I consider our clients to be our best asset.

Why are you a photographer?
Making people happy is so rewarding! It’s the best feeling in the world to document the greatest moments in people’s lives and to be able to preserve them. I love how real the moments I photograph are, and it really resonates with me. I still get goosebumps at most weddings!

Why do you value being a part of a professional organization?
I enjoy spending time with fellow photographers and discussing the issues that are most important to us in the field. We all have many experiences in common, and it’s so great to hear how different people view our industry and its challenges.

Why do your clients choose you?
Our clients choose Wavecrest for our photographic style, positive attitude, and dedication to personal and professional service. We treat each client with great care, and always go the extra mile to exceed expectations.

What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the attention and service we give to all of our clients. We build great relationships, and I really enjoy working with all of them!

What has been one of your most difficult challenges?
Lighting has definitely been a challenge, but one I really like! The sensors in our cameras deliver such amazing results when lighting and exposures are correct. I’m working hard at getting everything right in the camera.

What is your #1 goal for the year ahead?
To shoot better and more creatively each week, and push myself into new photographic directions all the time. I have ideas constantly for shots I’d like to do, and lighting techniques I want to try. This year I want to push myself to try as many new ideas as possible!

Who has been and inspiration or mentor to you?
Ken Manwiller really got me started. His knack for “seeing light” made me realize how much I really needed to learn! He could always find good light to shoot in even during the worst parts of the day, and he is very adept at combining good posing and lighting to create beautiful images. He always makes it look easy!

Bill Curry has also been a great source of inspiration for me. He amazes me with his energy – he literally does not stand still all day, and always has such a positive way with his clients. He inspires everyone in front of his lens to laugh, have fun, and make great images. His style is both dynamic and natural at the same time, and the expressions that Bill captures are amazing! Bill has also helped me in more ways than I can possibly explain when I first started my studio. He offered a wealth of knowledge and advice from his vast business background, and always shared freely. I would not be here today without his help and encouragement!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Kevin!

For your viewing pleasure, a few samples of Kevin’s most recent work. These images were taken at the Bedell Cellars Winery located on the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

"Red Truck at Bedell Cellars Winery"

"Red Truck Couple"

"Bride at Winery"

"Couple at Winery"

Until next time, here’s a kiss and a smile!

"PPA Logo"

By:  Debbie Morrison (PPA Member)

After the last bite of the sumptuous reception meal is enjoyed, the delectable wedding cake is cut, and the euphoric last dance winds down to completion, what will you have to remember your special day? You guessed it. Your wedding photographs.

Your wedding photographer will capture the important details that make your wedding unique. The emotional and decisive moments captured in a professional, yet unobtrusive manner. The goal of the wedding photographer is to beautifully photograph the unforgettable moments of a couple’s special day, and to create memories that will last a lifetime. It is so important to hire a professional photographer, especially one that you feel comfortable and at ease with. After all, he/she is the one person (besides your future spouse) that you’ll be spending the most time with on your wedding day.

What can you do to ensure that you’re choosing the right photographer? An ongoing series of posts about that very topic is on the editorial calendar, but to start things off I’ve put together a list of pointers to help guide you towards the best photography partner for your special day.

1. Professional, Professional, Professional

A great place to start is to ask your friends and family for referrals. If they were happy with a photographer’s work, there’s a good chance that you will be too. In addition, I heartily encourage brides to choose a professional photographer affiliated with Professional Photographers of America (PPA). To find a wedding photographer who can confidently bring your wedding day vision to fruition, simply search the PPA database of professionals. PPA members are usually full-time, highly experienced photographers who shoot for a living. They know how to work an event, how to work with people, and how to keep cool and remain professional at all times.

No matter who you choose for your special day, there are some fundamental questions you may wish to ask. How long have you been photographing weddings? How long have you been in business? Can you provide business references? Can I get everything that we’ve covered in a written contract? What if I’m dissatisfied with my photographs? Do you have insurance in case something happens to my photos? Do we need to leave a deposit today?

2. Style

What is your artistic style and vision for your wedding day? Do you prefer traditional, posed photographs or perhaps you’re looking for more of a documentary-style for your photographic coverage? Many brides don’t realize this, but many photographers strive to develop their own style and each has their own unique way of shooting a wedding. Some specialize in traditional wedding photography, others take a more photojournalistic approach to shooting a couple’s special day. But it doesn’t stop there. Each photographer also has their own style of editing, retouching, color correcting, and designing albums!

Be sure to review your prospective photographer’s portfolio, sample prints, and albums. Are they photographs that you like? Do you share a similar photographic vision?

Trends and fashion in wedding photography are constantly changing and evolving, and — like ’80s parachute pants and acid wash jeans — some are more timeless than others. Happily, most photographers will be thrilled to discuss their shooting style and what makes them unique. Some may even specialize in being adaptable across several styles. When hiring a photographer, it’s very important to find one with stylistic sensibilities that match your own. By looking at their work samples you’ll get to know a photographer’s shooting style, and more importantly, what that style will mean in terms of your wedding photographs.

Many brides will let the budget determine who the photographer should be, but if there’s a single factor that should govern your decision, I recommend that you give the most attention to style.

3. “Show Me the Money!”

Of course in today’s economy, everyone is looking to save money. However, cutting your photography budget will only lead to disappointment later on. Don’t skimp on your photographs. They’re worth the investment. They will become a family heirloom to be passed down from one generation to the next. Something so valuable should not be entrusted to an amateur or to someone charging super low rates, promising to save you a buck so that you can spend more money on the linens. Do you really want to hand an heirloom down to your children (or grandchildren) that was put together by the cheapest bidder?

Photographers have certain fundamental overheads that affect pricing. Basic expenses like wardrobe, dry cleaning, batteries (for some devices that don’t work well with rechargeables), tips, travel, valet parking, media, insurance, and equipment maintenance combined with transfer time, editing time, retouching time, time to design album layouts, vendor coordination, as well as other time sinks, all need to get added into the costs of goods like albums, photographic prints, specialty framing and other related expenses. At the end of the cycle, an eight hour wedding can easily result in 60 hours of work and require an outlay of hundreds (or even thousands, depending on the products involved!) of dollars.

Nonetheless, there’s no call to get swindled, either. There are unscrupulous photographers out there, and it’s wise to obtain a full explanation of the fees being charged. What’s included in those fees? How many hours of photographic coverage will you receive? Is there a charge for travel expenses, overtime? You don’t want any surprises after the fact when you return from your honeymoon.

4. Products and Time Frame

There are a plethora of wedding albums available for couples to choose from in today’s market. Again, style comes into play here. Are you looking for a traditional album or perhaps something unusual and a bit more cutting-edge? Investigate the album styles that are being offered before you hire a photographer to make sure that you’ll be pleased with the finished product. Don’t forget about prints (such as wallets), framed prints for the office or Mom & Dad’s wall. Custom thank-you cards with one of your photos are a classy way to go, too. These days, you’re only limited by your imagination: calendars, mugs, t-shirts, paperweights, clocks, pens, hats, handbags — the list of photo-related products you can buy is nearly endless.

Most photographers have several wedding packages to choose from, and these can be a great starting point. It’s also good to find out the cost for additional items that aren’t included in the packages, if you’re looking for something in particular.

Some photographers will have you review your proofs via an online service. Others will offer images on a CD or DVD, and physical paper proofs are still available from some photographers, too. Many newlyweds can easily be overwhelmed if they have to go through 400 or 500 proofs. Think about what might work best for you and your lifestyle, and bring your questions or concerns out in the open with your photographer candidates. Remember: they can’t finish the job and supply you with albums or prints until you’ve supplied your proof selections.

Other good questions to ask: Will you provide us with the negatives or a DVD of digital wedding images? Is this included in your costs? Do we choose the images for our albums or do you design it based on our proof selections? Once we supply our proof selections, when will our final prints and albums be ready?

“Don’t skimp on your photographs. They’re worth the investment. They will become a family heirloom to be passed down from one generation to the next.”

5. Equipment

I believe there’s nothing worse than hiring a photographer who shows up with sub-standard equipment. It’s important to determine if the photographer will be using professional cameras, lenses, lighting, etc. A lot of professional photographers are also gear heads, so you probably won’t have to do much coaxing to get them to show you their latest piece of shiny new equipment. (It’s probably worth noting that “old” gear doesn’t necessarily mean “unprofessional”, and someone who still shoots mainly film may still be an amazing professional photographer.)

Lenses are something to consider. Ask a photographer what lenses they like to use. If their primary camera doesn’t allow interchangeable lenses, that’s a definite warning flag. Another point of concern is how they print your images. If they use their own desktop printer, or a consumer service like Snapfish or Shutterfly that doesn’t emphasize good color calibration in their prints, you might want to be careful. Don’t be fooled by megapixel references. There are many consumer grade 10+ megapixel cameras out on the market that have poor quality sensors and cheap lenses.

If the photographer can’t assure you that they will be shooting your wedding with professional equipment, walk away. Correction, run. Run away as fast as you can. Leave skid marks if you have to.

6. Staff

Hiring a single photographer presents two basic limitations:  the photographer can’t be in more than one place, and they have to do everything on their own.

A photographer with an assistant can spend more time shooting while their assistant spends time packing and unpacking equipment, changing out batteries or lenses, positioning lights, assembling and posing people for shots, etc.

A “second shooter” effectively allows the photographer to be in two places at once. While the primary (or “lead” photographer) is shooting the happy couple, the second shooter might be able to capture Aunt Vera whooping it up on the dance floor with one of the little flower girls.

Some second shooters can bring a different style to the event, too — allowing the lead photographer to shoot mostly posed shots while they document the event photojournalistically.

Some studios even have entire teams that will descend on an event like the most well-oiled paparazzi machine you’ll ever see. Dressed in black, these “photo ninjas” covertly scour the event in search of the perfect shots!

Of course, these options come at a price, but they can make a huge difference in the quality of the final product. At the very least, it’s usually a wise investment to have the photographer bring their assistant. The photographer will get to spend more time shooting, and the quality of every image will increase when the assistant can provide additional lighting via the infamous “flash on a stick” that you’ve likely seen at many events.

Be sure to add the photographer and their staff to your head count so that arrangements can be made with your catering manager to provide each of them with a meal. It’s important to feed your photographer and staff. You don’t want anyone fainting from hunger.

7. Contingency Plans

I can’t stress enough how critical it is to hire a photographer who has a backup plan. Confirm that he/she not only has ancillary equipment, but a contingency plan and liability insurance in case something unforeseen occurs on your wedding day. Make sure that you’ll be informed about who the backup photographer will be, along with their contact information in case there’s some kind of an emergency. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.

8. Review and Read the Fine Print

Once you’ve worked through these points and found the ideal photographer for your special day, it’s time to move to the contract stage (and if your photographer wants to proceed without a contract, you should probably reconsider hiring them).

Before signing on the dotted line, ask yourself, “Is the photography contract clear to us?” Be certain that everything is explained to you and that you understand what you will be receiving for your investment. Confirm that the payment schedule is mutually agreeable and that all products and services are listed at the agreed rates. Once the contract is signed, be sure to keep your copy safe until you’ve received your final, gorgeous wedding photos, albums and any other photography products you’ve contracted for.

Your wedding day will be one of the happiest days of your life. How do you want it documented? How do you want to remember it? Give yourself peace of mind by placing your trust in the hands of the professionals. Until next time, here’s a kiss and a smile!