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The Best Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer, an interview with Rebecca Ickes
Today, we're sitting down with Chicago-based wedding photographer Rebecca Ickes, owner or Rebecca Marie Photography, who answered our questions and gave advice on how to pick a wedding photographer for your wedding.
What’s your favorite thing about being a wedding photographer?
Hands down, it’s the people. I actually specifically chose to be a professional wedding photographer over other photographic mediums (which was not a popular choice over 10 years ago) because of the opportunity to capture personalities. It amazed me that photography held this ability to remind us of what it felt like to sit in a room full of our loved ones, or see a portrait and be reminded of the sound of a laugh. Documenting not only what a day looked like but what it felt like is central to my approach to wedding photography.
Is there a specific moment that’s your favorite to capture at a wedding?
It’s hard to pick just one (and yes, I know how cheesy that sounds)! But if I absolutely had to… I could narrow it down to 2 moments. :) First would be when our couples do a First Look. Now, I know this is going to be controversial - seeing each other before the ceremony or not - but hear me out. When a couple waits to see each other until the ceremony, that moment isn’t only about seeing each other. It’s also the first moment they are seeing everyone who has shown up in support of them. There is also the possibility that a parent or special loved one is joining them in walking down the aisle, so there’s a special moment happening there as well. Frankly, it’s overwhelming to remember all of those emotions at once. But when our couples choose to see each other prior to the ceremony, we’re able to slow down the entire wedding day’s schedule and actually help them soak in the day. The two of them get to talk to each other when they see each other (rather than turn and immediately start a ceremony). I still get butterflies in my stomach and goosebumps on my arms when I lead one person towards their fiancé(e) to see them for the first time. And what’s most incredible is to watch the transformation of someone who was was feeling anxious getting ready all morning, to breathing this huge sigh of relief after seeing their partner. You can literally see their muscles relax. It’s amazing.
Second, is the walk down the aisle after the ceremony is finished. Sometimes, wedding days can get busy and stressful if you aren’t careful (spoiler alert - my greatest tip: hire wedding pros that help you relax!), but no matter what, the walk down the aisle after being pronounced married is always the most joyful, relaxed, “Holy cow we did it!” moment. I love those photos every. Single. Time.
What’s some advice you have for couples who are looking for a wedding photographer?
Trust your gut and know that you don’t have to have every single detail figured out. I never expect my couples to know exactly how many hours of coverage they are going to need for their wedding day, because we're usually talking between 9-12 months before the wedding! While my 10 years of experience can give a really solid estimate so that they can appropriately budget, we also make sure all of our contracts and systems are set up to allow for the natural flexibility everyone needs when planning for something so far in advance.
If you are talking with another wedding photographer who expects you to have your own answers to the list of questions that are only natural when trying to make such big decisions - RUN. Of course you wouldn’t have all the answers to something that (maybe) you’ve never done before! How are you supposed to know how many hours of coverage you’ll need or where the best spots near your venue are for portraits, or what you need to add to a shot list or…(insert any other important question here)? It is my belief that the team of wedding vendors you hire - whether for photography or otherwise - should help make wedding planning easier by guiding you through the process rather than expecting you to arrive with all the answers.
What are the best questions to ask a wedding photographer before deciding to work together?
My belief in your vendors helping you through the process rather than expecting you to do the legwork of research is definitely not the case for everyone. The hands-on approach we take with our couples is specific to our business model. There’s not really a right or wrong here (although my earlier answer clearly showcases my feelings! Because, I mean, why make wedding planning harder on yourself?!), but I do think it’s important to learn from your photographer if they prefer to be hands-on throughout planning or sit back and wait to hear from you. It’s also important for the two of you to know which you prefer!
One great question that will shed some light on this is asking any wedding photographer you are considering how many weddings they photograph per year. Because of our hands-on approach, I personally never photograph more than 20 weddings each year. What that means for you is that I’m active, continually improving my craft, and learning new venues while also remaining committed to my couples. Plus, it gives me (and you) flexibility for things like scheduling engagement sessions.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask the scary questions - “What happens if you can’t make it to our wedding?” can be a very telling question. Does the photographer respond with a clear, thought out plan or do they simply say, “Oh, don’t worry! I’ve never missed a wedding!” While indeed, I've never missed a wedding in 10 years of being a wedding photographer, at the same time, I would never risk something as important as the responsibility of documenting this once-in-a-lifetime day to the hope of not getting sick or having an accident, etc. My team and I have clear backup plans not only for photo locations in case of inclement weather, but also in the event that someone can not physically photograph an event (and you'd better believe that our April 2020 couple was able to sleep well at night knowing we had those plans in place when I was in Italy at the start of all things COVID. Their wedding was ultimately postponed, but still!).
None of these are the fun questions, I realize, but I always assume that if a couple is taking time out of their busy life to have a phone call with me, they’ve already looked at my work and connected emotionally with the style of photography I prefer (you don’t need to be able to define that exact style with Webster-like accuracy. All that really matters is that you like what you see!). When I first talk with a couple, it’s often far more about connecting as people than about describing the kind of gear I use. At the end of the day, you want to work with a wedding photographer who you naturally connect with, because you are going to be spending a lot of time - and intimate, emotional moments - with us.
Check out Rebecca's work on her website: Rebecca Marie (she took all the lovely photos in this post!).
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Questions? Give us a shout at email@example.com or a ring at 917.719.3634