What you should really ask before hiring a wedding photographer

Long after the cake has been eaten and your bridal bouquet has withered your photographs are one of the few aspects of your wedding day that will last long into the future. It's important you find a trustworthy photographer so that you can remember always the bliss you felt on your wedding day.

You're engaged. You're on an emotional high from the excitement of what's to come. You've just shared the blissful news with all of your friends and social media connections when it hits you: there's a lot of work to do!

Finding the perfect match of venue and vendors for your wedding day is daunting for sure. If you dare ask for advice from your Facebook friends you're certain to be bombarded with personal anecdotes of who's the best (they can't all be right, right?). And when it comes to photography nowadays it seems everyone and their mother is a wedding photographer. I'm not being cynical, just honest. And another truth is there's a lot of talented, professional wedding photographers out there. But, there's also a lot of poor, inexperienced ones, too. So, how can you tell the difference? Unfortunately there's no licensing or master test photographers need to pass to declare themselves "pro" photographers, but you make an educated choice if you simply ask potential photographers these questions below.

1. What type of equipment do they have? It may sound sort of invasive but any wedding photographer worth their salt shouldn't bristle when asked what's in their camera bag. Professional photographers should have at least two camera bodies (you know the nice ones with interchangeable lenses) and a variety of lenses and flashes. Why is this important? For one thing, image quality does sometimes come down to optics. I'll be the first to say the most essential piece of equipment is the photographer's mind and creativity. I think I can do a pretty decent job with an iPhone when it comes to composition of a photograph. That being said, I would never pass on such a photo for commissioned work. If you want quality photographs you can display in your home your wedding photographer better have top-notch camera gear.

2. Do they have back-up camera equipment? On top of everything outlined above back-up cameras and lenses are a must because (gasp!) equipment fails. It's sort of a dirty little secret among wedding photographers that technology isn't perfect, especially when it comes to digital photography. Our pro cameras run on computer software and it's easy for something to go haywire. Lenses stop focusing, flashes get dropped. Plus, there's the never-ending array of technical glitches we've never seen before that usually pop up at the most critical moments of the day. Scared yet? You should be. If your wedding photographer doesn't carry back-up equipment they might be running off to a camera store while they should instead be capturing that precious moment as your mother fastens a set of pearls around your neck that has been worn by every bride in your family for five generations.

3. How experienced are they — really? It can be easy to get up in the energy of someone who's super excited about every detail of your wedding day, but how far will that passion take you when the scenario outlined above comes to fruition? I've been doing photography as my full-time occupation for more than 10 years and I can tell you equipment failures do happen, and probably much more often than you can imagine. It's the photographer's job to make things run as smoothly as possible so that you're none the wiser. When your centerpieces haven't arrived on time and your brother forgot to pick up uncle Bill for the ceremony do you really need to worry about the error code your wedding photographer just received on his viewfinder? I don't think so. A true pro will simply start using her back-up camera and figure out what the heck went wrong while commuting from the church to the reception site. Yes, this really happens.

4. What does a real wedding look like? Many wedding photographers can fool you with an impressive portfolio. Most decent photographers can look spectacular when they're showing you the best 12 images they've ever made. What's worse, many photographers, especially the up-and-comers, set up or even PAY to have style shoots. What's that you say? They recruit make-up artists, hairstylists, décor divas, florists, tailors, you name it to set up a faux wedding simply for beautiful pictures to put in their portfolio. So, when you see a gorgeously adorned rustic table replete with gold-leaf place settings nestled under a willow tree chances are it's not a real wedding. Who seats a full guest list of 8, am I right? Pictures like these are fine and they can show the photographer's artistic talents. However, it's not a real wedding. You should ask to see examples of what the photographer's full day of photography looks like. You might discover she's really great at those table-setting photos, but terrible when it comes to posing the photos of you with your family. Figure out what's most important to you and find the photographer who fits those needs.

5. Are they insured? Professional photographers treat their work as a business, and protect it as such. Don't be afraid to ask potential wedding photographers if they carry equipment and liability insurance. If your photographer is caught up in the moment, backs up into a lighting truss and sends it tumbling down on the children carousing around on the dance floor you don't want to be held accountable, do you?

6. Who owns the pictures after the wedding? This is a big one, and often controversial. Pro photographers know that the pictures made from your wedding day are in fact their own intellectual property. Ask your photographer if your wedding photography package includes the rights to print photos on your own. You may be able to negotiate printing photos on your own at a certain size, but in the end the photographer technically owns the images. A photographer who hands off the pictures to you — no questions asked — is most likely a weekend warrior, or a full-timer soon to go out of business. Photography is an art and what you're paying for is the skill of the artist, the years of experience that went into creating the wedding day photos of your dreams, not the actual time it took to press the shutter release on the camera.

7. What does their dream wedding day look like? That's right, the photographer. It sounds like sort of a funny question, but this is a quick and easy way to determine if you and a potential photographer are on the same page. You may realize you have a completely different vision and expectation for what the experience and finished product may look like. It may be that the photographer doesn't really like to do candid photos, or they want to do everything outdoors because they're not really comfortable using artificial lighting in a church. Conversely, you may discover they put a huge emphasis on family groupings and that's the most important to you, too.

Do you have great or insightful questions you've asked a wedding photographer? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks for viewing!

Is the wedding dance important to you? If so, just think how upset you'd be if the photographer left before this talented groom serenaded his bride on the dance floor. Be sure your expectations and those of the photographer are a match. Photo by Dan Iverson/

Mother Nature's cruel sense of humor

050910 The Bruce family figured that waiting until May was a safe bet for scheduling family photos along the banks of the Mississippi River (as did I). But as true Minnesotans know, you can't can't count on Mother Nature to cooperate.

As is often the case with our "No Foolin'" promotion — set to coincide with changing seasons — we found ourselves questioning whether or not the kids could withstand 30-miles-per-hour wind gusts, and if short sleeves were a good idea.

Despite the chilly conditions (ha!) and a bit of wintry precipitation (did I mention it was May), the Bruces decided the show must go on — both kids were nearing their birthdays and the family wanted their latest photo experience to pay homage to their summer tradition of boating along the river. Their determination paid off in the images, and I think the kids showed that they can be more resilient than adults when confronted with a cold front.

Thanks guys. You proved "No Foolin'" can mean "no excuses," too.


Seniors: tell your story

sen_blog Time flies when you're having fun It's hard to believe. Though the 2010 high school seniors have yet to receive their diplomas, it's already time to start thinking about commencement 2011! Knowing just how quickly 12 months can pass, Anthologie has designed graduate collections that will honor your senior year and preserve these memories for the rest of your life. Aside from a generous time allotment for photo sessions, every 2011 collection boasts a print package, ownership of digital negatives and a keepsake, hardcover photo box to store your wallet-sized photos.

In addition, two different graduate collections include archival books, including our signature Graduate - Anthologie, which allows for photography on two separate dates, a feature story that captures your personality and a 30-page, leather-bound book.

Click HERE to download the 2011 Anthologie graduate flyer. Specific details of the 2011 graduate collections are in the post below.

Anthologie is movin' on up!

Please excuse our dust.

Anthologie is moving even closer to you!

As of March 17, 2010, Anthologie will no longer be based out of our offices and gallery at 18 Bridge Square in Northfield. We're moving 20 miles north to make it easier than before to meet face to face with our clients.

So why the move?

About one year ago, Anthologie embarked on a journey to operate in historic downtown Northfield. From the beginning, the venture was a test to see how we can best serve you — our clients. With a year lease on our building, the storefront would serve akin to a business incubator.

While it has certainly been fun and a worthwhile learning experience, we've discovered the move mostly serviced our egos rather than the needs and desires of our client base.

Anthologie, since its inception, has been dedicated to documenting your life's moments — both large and small — as they happen. That means we come to you on your terms, meeting and working at locations that make sense and are most convenient to you. Thus, our gallery and offices aren't necessary to provide you with the service you've come to expect from Anthologie.

We're excited to bring you a new home showroom in the coming weeks for those clients who still desire to see our larger product offerings in a relaxed and realistic environment.

More on these changes is coming soon.

The big picture

Anthologie gallery begins to take form

With every new home it takes awhile before the personality of its owners is reflected in the interior. John and I finally had the opportunity to show a bit more of who we are by installing some of our favorite Anthologie images yesterday at 18 Bridge Square, Northfield.

The four massive giclees (38×38 inches each) welcome all who enter our new headquarters and take the viewer on a journey through a piece of life’s continuum, beginning with our favorite baby, Logan, and finishing with our favorite bride and groom, Philip and Virginia.

John and I are thrilled with the lush black ink quality of the prints and the immediate impact of each composition. And the crystal clear LED lighting is the perfect (and most efficient) accent. We were able to get the prints installed just in time for Northfield’s Girls Nite Out.

The rain did put a damper on our original plan to offer complimentary mini lifestyle sessions to the Girls Nite Out participants. However, despite the rain, John and I were able to make some great connections with the visitors who did stop by to check out our work and see what Anthologie is all about.

Thanks to all who took the time to visit with us. We’re already looking forward to next year!