FAQ

Over the past years, I have been asked various questions regarding everything from price to, "do I need to be fed at the reception".

To help clarify and answer some of these and other questions, I have compiled this faq page to let you browser at your leisure.

 

Wedding photography

 

How do we pick a wedding photographer?

In principle there are only three main things to consider when booking a wedding photographer.

a. Style

There is no right and wrong style, just as there are no right and wrong car shape or clothes designs. Style is exactly that, it is what appeals to you, and grabs your attention or heart. Before you look at price, have a look through the photographer’s portfolio. See if his interpretation of a wedding day is how you would like yours to be captured and presented. Some photographers capture 100% journalistic images having no intervention in the day at all. Others like to have total input, taking control of every situation to have images which are as perfect as they can produce. Again, some photographers do no retouching at all to the final images, while others create images that have a high degree of editing creating sometimes stunning pieces of art. Both give great images, and finished products, but as you can guess, the style of each is very different.  If you are thinking of booking me, my style is what I feel is a balanced approach. I will capture candid shots, photojournalistic images when I feel that that suits the moment. I will also have a time of posing, which is really necessary I feel, to capture some romance, intimacy, or fun. This is conducted with a freedom of expression allowing you to have your input into the shoot. The finished photographs are edited to a natural finish, giving minor skin and facial retouching to deal with some temporary blemishes that may be there. They are also kept as close to the natural environment as possible with a few artistic touches.  My style is to have a timeless piece of imagery depicting the beauty of your day without the over editing that I fear will result in some images appearing dated in a very short space of time.

This consideration of style I feel is by far the most important element in choosing any photographer for as time passes you by the photographs will remain the only visual reminder of your wedding day.

 

b. Personality

You may wonder why this is a consideration.  You are going to have to spend your entire wedding with your photographer. His emotional makeup and personality will impact your day. There is no avoiding him, unless he is totally photojournalistic and in that case you may not see him at all lol but if that is not what you want, then again, you will have booked the wrong photographer.

Unlike style were none is wrong, if you book a photographer with the wrong personality, then your day could potentially be ruined.

So, look at the reviews from clients.  Do they put you at ease?

I cannot speak for others, but I know my approach to every wedding is as an invited guest who does respect the overall concept that this is not about the photographer, but totally about the married couple and all their guests.

 

c. Price

I put this last for a very good reason. You will end up with a bag full of regrets if you book a photographer solely on what appears to be a discounted price. You get what you pay for – not just in photography but in everything in life. Every cheap bargain will appeal for a short time and then let you down sooner or later.

There are photographers out there offering to shot your day for £300. Their images are not up to standard, and I know some have the same poses they do for every client regardless of your personality or preference.  Others have simply seen the great big opening granted with the profusion of digital cameras and have felt they can make some money at taking photographs. Cost is very important in today’s financial climate, but I am sure you would not wish to pay thousands for your dress, reception, church decorations, flowers, but £100 for a limo to turn up belching with smoke and the Chauffeur untidy with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth! It’s just not what you would feel comfortable with. So why do clients spent so much time, effort and money on every other item but then book a photographer regardless of his style or personality, but simply because he was dirty cheap!!

This is not a plug to book me, but a genuine aid to helping anyone book a photographer.

I do have my own personal style, my unique personality and the cost that I feel is in line with all of that. I also know that unless all three of my principles are aligned in your heart then I will not be booked. But no matter who you decide to book, do have those three elements aligned in order to have a photographer who will give you not just what you desire, but what you deserve.

 

What are the packages you provide?

This is a great point. I have been through years of trial and error as far as the best package goes. Having a look through many wedding photographers you will see there is not a big consensus on what is generally agreed as the best.  The majority of photographers will have a tier system with quality/size of albums increasing along with prints, parent albums etc included as the price goes up.

I have settled on what I feel is a good win-win for my client and for me. I came to this position by standing where you are and asking myself what would I honestly like for my wedding package. Very often when looking at various photographer's packages, I found that I wanted the larger albums because they looked better but through the extra costs etc I could simply not afford it, as the additional cost for the higher albums also included additional extra personal profit for the photographer, which was simply beyond my reach. So I was trapped in the lower tiered packages, and would have had to settle for packages that I was not really in love with.

With this in mind, I have opted for a split, providing wedding albums to all, with the various sizes independent of what packages you choose. The wedding packages are time based, presenting each client with various moments throughout the day that they may or may not require to be photographed.

Some clients purchase their wedding packages and then come back to me months after the wedding to purchase their albums. This is perfectly ok as the albums are prices independently of the packages. It also gives them time to get back to normal, and give them time to decided on what the require for an album.

If your looking to receive a price list please use the contact form here to mail me and I will reply straight away with a wedding price list for you.

 

I see there are vouchers on your web site, what are these?

These are valuable little items you could grow to love lol!! They are used for any sort of gift purchase on your behalf.  I have created these for two reasons.

a. My own difficulty in buying wedding presents. I have been stuck at times by not knowing what to buy as a wedding present for friends. Some have lists that attempt to make the purchases easier, while others just want you to surprise them.  So I have created these to provide your family and friends with a very useful and practical option as a wedding present for you.

b. Due to the financial climate. These little gems can really help you. If you wish to use these, simply place little business card sized notices that I provide, into your wedding invites to all or selected guests inviting them to purchase vouchers towards the cost of your photography, leaving you free to save or spend that extra free revenue of other items or even extras for your honeymoon.

How they work is simple. The cards point the reader to the online voucher page and they purchase their desired amount through Paypal. I will pick that amount up and email you as the amounts tally in.

As an example, if you have only 20 guests purchase just £20 each, that will result in a total £400 off the cost of your wedding package, saving you that money for allocating elsewhere.

 

Do you provide prints?

Yes we do. Once you are happy with your photographs, they are all uploaded on to the web site in a password protected gallery for you and everyone who you choose to give that password to can enter and view them.

There you can order whatever prints you desire. There are a vast range of printable items, from standard prints, through to canvases, acrylic blocks, metallic prints, photographic keyrings, mugs, mouse mats and many more items.

These are ordered directly and conveniently in the web site simply through Paypal. The order is handled by one of Europe’s leading professional printers and I have secured a 20% discount off all items for the first month your gallery goes live.

Could I just say, as part of your foundation package you receive all you photographs on flash drive or disc. You are totally free to print any image you desire. If you however choose to use a super market chain or cheap online company, you will notice a lesser quality item. I would recommend you print important items off through the web site, but If you are looking to fill a hand-me-round album then yes by all means any printer will do.

 

What sort of albums do you supply?

We supply two main styles of wedding album.

a. The traditional wedding album.

It is a hard back album, between 12 – 14 inches square depending on the edition, and hand crafted to high standard, supplied in linen, satin or Leather bond. It consists of 40 – 50 acid free pages of cream card and interleaved with ph balanced tissue to protect your photos. They also have a beautiful signature double contrasting ribbon page marker. The preferred presentation is for one photograph per page or around 10x8 inches in size, though clients can have several images on each page if they prefer. These albums are normally finished within 1-2 weeks after the client has chosen the images for their album.

b. Story book albums

These albums are the more contemporary edition for any wedding. They come in a variety of sizes and finishes, from leather through to a piano finish. Though out these albums there are multiple images per page, with anything between 90 – 120 images in total. If requested a client can also have quotes and meaningful comments scattered through the album to make it a very personal keep sake.

We believe in sourcing through local talent first, and have secured a local printer with exceptional skill at album construction to be the supplier for our story book range.

 

Do you plan the wedding day out before hand?

Yes this is absolutely essential.  From the moment you book us we will be organising with yourselves how the day will proceed. It will never work out the way we will plan, but the plan in place gives a structure to the day and takes away a lot of stress of the unknown from your day and lets you focus on other things to enjoy it more.

A simple walk through of how I operate will give you an idea for how it all works.

Once you have booked me I will do several things.

a. Firstly, I will have several meetings with you to get all the details of times and locations. Also I will ask you for a list of the group shots that you wish to have. I feel having this is a smarter approach and saves a lot of time searching around for people on the day. A family or friend from each side will be given the list on the day and I will rely on them to help bring the group members for each photograph.

b. Next I will also visit your locations, both your place for photographs and your reception to get a feel for them and seek out locations that will suit your personality well. I also like to meet your wedding planner the week before so that we get to know each other.

c. I will create a spread sheet with all your details on it so that I know exactly how, who, where and when everything is taking place.

d. If you are nervous about getting photographed, I will take you out to a location to let us get to know each other as client and photographer. This will let you see how I operate and also give you an opportunity to see the quality of the images. I will give you one print from this if you wish, and the others will be placed in your very own personal password protected online gallery for prints if you wish to have them.

e. Several weeks before your day we will meet up and get a detailed schedule on paper, planning all the times from makeup, hair, and travel to the groom, back for the dress fitting, and planning the rest of the day along with any special images you may request.

Though I have a schedule for your day, this in no way detracts from the freedom, fun and enjoyment of your day. In fact knowing when everything is pencilled in gives my clients confidence to enter this momentous day with a calm relaxation that everything has been thought through beforehand and they can enjoy their wedding day fully.

 

How long do you spend with us?

I do not work on an hourly rate. Some photographers will have a booking in the morning and another wedding later that day. When you book me you will have me the entire day. I will be with you from just before your makeup is ready through to the first day and usually half to an hour after.

 

Why do you not have hourly rates, I don’t need you for the entire day?

At the minute I do not have 3, 4, 5 or any other hourly booking rate. Some photographers will allow bookings of 3 or 4 hours charging £300-£400 pounds for that. Its easy money for them for it usually only consists of the bridal party arriving, the ceremony and some photos afterwards. Not what I feel is either good money spent or a good reflection of one of the most important days of your life. I was at a wedding not that long ago when the bride said to me that she was at a wedding weeks previous and the photographer didn’t turn up at the reception and people were asking where he was. I explained that he was probably booked on an hourly rate. I could see her thinking that they probably could not afford a photographer for the entire day and had cut costs. But from the photographer’s reputation, he could so easily be spoken negatively about without any due reason simply because he did stay only for the time that he was booked for.

I would rather be there the entire day, capturing all the moments that day brings, and let the clients feel proud that they could afford a photographer for the entire day. Besides why would you book a photographer for 3 hours at £300 when you can have me the entire day of up to 16 hours for a little over twice that!

 

I see you offer money back if not 100% satisfied, is this a gimmick?

No not at all. In fact it is written into the wedding contract, so it is legally binding upon me to exercise that obligation to fulfil that contractual point.

I have confidence enough to know you will be happy, BUT I know that should someone book me who did not fully look into my style or personality and they just did not get what they were looking, I will refund every penny they paid me including the non refundable deposit.

How does this work?

When I have all the images ready I will always contact the bride and groom so that they can look over them and pick the images they wish to have in their album. It is at this stage they will know if they are happy of not. I will ask them several times if they are satisfied with the photographs, and if they are I will proceed with creating their album. If they express dissatisfaction in their images, I will ask if they want a full and unquestionable refund, and if they do, I will refund their money within two weeks. They will not have access to any images after that nor will they be given or have any right to any images as the photographer holds copyright and ownership to all images. It has not happened yet, I I feel it never will, but I want prospective clients to know that should it all go wrong, they will be totally refunded without question.

 

How do I book you?

Booking me is very simple. If you have already checked my style and everything else is agreeable with you, then just email or give me a call and we can meet up and get your date booked.

Your booking consists of signing Serene Photography contract along with a 20% deposit payable within 14 days of signing. The full amount is payable within one month of your wedding date.

No date is reserved or wedding considered to be booked without a signed contract.

Should you cancel, the deposit is non-refundable. This is due to the reality that I may have had to turn away clients who were looking the same date as yourself. Notice of cancellation is due in writing as soon as you are aware of it. I would also recommend you contact all associate persons in connection with your wedding. I sincerely hope and wish that no one has to cancel any wedding, but unfortunately there may be circumstances when this is unavailable.

 

You have testimonials, are they genuine people?

Yes the certainly are. We are proud of of Clients and how they trust and give us the great privilege to photograph their day. In return they are more than happy to give a few words of thanks on the various platforms that we use.

If you would like to contact any of my clients to discuss my work, demeanour or work ethic with any of them, please contact me and I will be more than happy to put you in contact with them.

 

How do we pay?

Payment can be made through Paypal. Simply log into your account and make your payments to serenephotography.ni@gmail.com

You can also pay me directly.

 

Model & Portrait photography

 

Why do you do model photography?

Model photography has a completely different dynamic to wedding or portrait photography, and so it offers me first of all a completely different experience as a photographer. It also allows me to offer clients the ability to have images that can be glamorous on location or studio setting. It is also a service available for models to help build up their own personal portfolio in the style they are looking for.

 

Do you have a studio?

I do not own my own studio. I do however rent a studio just off Shaftsbury Square in Belfast which is both professional and private. Many studios don’t give the photographer the privacy to work with the model. At the studio I use there is total privacy plus a separate changing room where models can change at ease.

 

Who owns the final images?

I have copyright over every image I produce. That will never be given to anyone. This is standard practise through the photography profession. I do however give every model/client the licence if they purchase any files to print them as often and to what ever size they wish. None of my image can however be entered into any contest or competition without approval from me. This again is standard practise. The image that is taken is not just the photograph of the model but is a product of design by the photographer and is primarily his artistic presentation.

 

Do you have model contracts?

Yes there are model release forms that must be completed by all models/clients before any photographs are taken.

 

Do you do any free photo shoots?

There may be occasions when yes I do offer free model sessions. This is due fully to my discretion and is in no way general practise. These are usually given if I approach someone with an invite to a model shoot. The first session will usually be a get to know the model, see how they move, get a feel for them. Then I will normally offer a second free session with ideas gathered from the first session both mine and the model if they have any ideas they would like to try.

 

What if I want to cancel a booking?

This is a real hot potato through out the profession, as there are many times a model will phone up to cancel or just not show up.

If someone has booked a modelling session and I have booked the studio, travelled to Belfast, and they don’t show up, I will not be taking any bookings from that person again, as I have had to pay the cost of the studio, petrol plus I have wasted time travelling and waiting for them.

If someone phones up with a genuine reason then, by all means that is fully understandable, and I would be more than happy to reschedule the booking. If however it is that they are suffering a hang over, or just don’t feel that they look their best today, then again I will not be accepting any books again from that person. Harsh as this may seem, this again is standard practise through a profession riddled with models no showing up without even a phone call to explain why.