Category

Musings

8 Questions to ask your wedding photographer before hiring them

Choosing a wedding photographer may be one of the most important decisions you make before your big day. You can even say it comes a close second to choosing the right groom! Soon after the wedding, people will forget what your dress looked like, or how the cake tasted and or how good (or bad) the food and wine was, or even what was said during the speeches. But if you could capture those details in a photograph – the emotions on the people’s faces, the laughter, the tears – you could be transported back to that special day and relive it all over again.

That is why hiring the right photographer is so important! Every wedding photographer is different in their own unique style of work, so it’s a good idea to find out what makes them tick. Here’s what you should ask when you set an appointment to meet with your potential wedding photographer.

  1. Why do you love photographing weddings?

Most photographers are emotional beings who will gladly share their life story with you. Find out what gets your photographer excited, and look out for the gleam in their eyes when they tell their story. All the better if you feel an instant connection with them! As for me, I love photographing weddings because I get to be part of a momentous, historical moment in someone’s life. It’s about helping couples remember the happiness they felt on their wedding day, especially after the cake has been eaten and the decorations have been taken down. I consider it a privileged to be part of creating someone’s visual family heirloom.

  1. How do you ensure excellence is top priority?

Photographers provide a service, not just a product, and the amount of monetary investment should reflect excellence. Does the photographer appear detailed in communicating with you? Is he/she efficient in replying emails or has the courtesy to return your call when it is missed? Does your photographer ask you details about you as a couple or even your family? Showing our clients that we care is a big part of what we do. We even care about such details like whether your parents are divorced, because it helps us know how to be sensitive when taking family portraits during a wedding. A good photographer would know how to ask you these details either through a questionnaire or an arranged meet up prior to the wedding day.

  1. Do you have a contract?

Always hire a professional photographer who has a written contract, informing you of his/her promises to you and also listing the deliverables that you are receiving as a result of hiring them. It is important for your peace of mind and it protects both parties if there are any disputes along the way.

  1. Do you photograph back-to-back weddings?

Some photographers accept full day wedding shoots on Saturday and Sunday, which goes without saying, is really tiring! There are incidences where photographers drive 2-4 hours after a full day’s wedding shoot to another location, just to start again in another 2 hours! Usually, it might not affect the first couple as much, but sometimes, the photographer could be so physically tired the next day, that performance is affected. Naturally, some photographers are built with more stamina than others, and this scenario doesn’t affect them. It’s good to find out because physical exhaustion leads to mistakes and carelessness, which could end up with sub-standard photos for you.

  1. What are your backup processes?

For the non-initiated, this could be a hard one. Still, it is important you ask some of these questions. Does the photographer carry extra camera gear to your wedding? Are they using cameras with dual memory card slots so that back ups are done in camera? What about situations when your photographer falls sick and cannot shoot the wedding? If your photographer is part of a team, finding a back up photographer might be easier. How about what happens after the wedding is photographed, are there also other back ups on multiple hard drives? How long do they keep your wedding photos backed up for? We have had incidences of couples coming back to us 5 years after their wedding because they lost their wedding photos, asking if we still had copies of their photos! So it does happen.

  1. Do you edit your photos?

This is a really important question as some photographers deliver images as they are shot while some only edit a small selection and deliver the rest to you unedited. Or some would edit the entire set of images so that it looks consistent with the images on their website. It is time consuming but reflects on the photographer’s pride In their work. Knowing this will help you manage your expectations and avoid disappointment when the photos are delivered.

  1. How do you make life easier for overseas clients?

Does your photographer have the ability to accept credit card payments without any extra surcharge? Doing international bank transfers can sometimes be costly due to foreign exchange charges. Are there online galleries or album proofing softwares that enable you to view the images before it is delivered to you physically?

  1. What is your standard delivery time frame?

In today’s social media savvy generation, images need to be shared instantly. So if your wedding photos take 4-6 months to be ready, the excitement to share these photos would die quite undeniably. Acceptable delivery time frames would be 1-3 months after the wedding is photographed as most photographers usually have an editing backlog. Naturally, if your photographer is able to deliver the photos much faster, imagine your excitement at getting your photos within 2 weeks of your wedding date!

So if you’re looking for a wedding photographer, do take all these into consideration. If you find one that ticks all your requirements, you’ll know that you are in good hands. Then, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the journey to saying “I do”.

Strengthening Marriages and Families

Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about marriages, families and relationships. This is one topic that is close to my heart, and recently, Alex and I completed facilitating a 6 week course in our church on Strengthening your Marriage. It rejuvenated me, speaking to other couples and seeing how everyone had similar struggles in a way. One of the thoughts that I have been toying with is starting a video series related to these topics. Though we are primarily a photography and videography company, I feel as if my role could expand in its purpose… greater than what we are already doing in building a heritage of images for generations to come.

Despite talking about it with my team and of course my husband Alex, I struggle to actually get anything started. I guess because I worry a lot. Who would listen to me? Who am I, to speak authority in other people’s lives? What would the format look like? Can I actually finish something I start? (I have the tendency to start projects and end badly). But as the ideas begin to form in my head, I feel as if these questions shouldn’t matter. Let’s just start a discussion and get that going.

It clicked in my head today as I write this that we are already playing a part in strengthening relationships. One example would be when we photograph families, I sometimes ask elderly parents who might be in their 60s to do things like hug or kiss each other. Sometimes I get the incredulous look, sometimes I get brushed off, and sometimes I get the reluctant obligatory response. It tickles me but it also made me realise… Not many older married couples are comfortable with physical intimacy. 

I am not just talking about open displays of affection, but just the simple act of touching each other by holding hands or hugging. One of the topics that came up during our marriage course was intimacy, and how easily communication breakdowns lead to empty emotional tanks for both parties. With the arrival of young children, sexual and physical intimacy also suffers. One of the questionnaires we had to answer to review the state of our marriage stated, “How often do you touch each other on a scale of 1-10?” When I was honest with myself, I realised that even the goodnight and morning kisses and hugs were replaced with grunts of acknowledgment of each other’s existence.

These past 6 weeks, we made intentional time for each other, communicating to one another on a heart to heart level (conversations without kids) and in the process, filled up our emotional tanks. We felt happier.

Coming back to the elderly parents. Maybe just that simple act of asking a husband to give his wife a hug or kiss is enough to trigger a thought…“Have you done that lately?”

Why photos are important in daily life

It’s in the little moments. Those moments that we so easily forget within a year, a week or even a day. But it’s not just about capturing the moments. It’s about remembering the happiness that relationships bring. Photography helps you remember why you married your spouse so many years ago. It helps you remember those tiny little feet that brought a swelling to your heart the moment she was born. It even brings to mind that ‘slightly ugly family couch’ you lounged on years ago till your parents decided to finally buy a new one.

Sometimes we are caught up with the routines of daily life and hardly have time to reflect on things that bring us the greatest joy. If we are true to ourselves, we will acknowledge that real connections with the people most precious to us makes us happy. If we can just capture snippets of life with these people, and reflect on these memories when life throws us a hardball, we will begin to remember that feeling.

With the launch of new and better camera phones yearly, it’s no surprise that photography is pretty much a natural habit. But most of the time, we have snippets of so many memories taken without us being part of the picture. This is where I challenge you to include photography as part of your yearly personal budget… not viewed as an expense, but as an investment towards your future. You are building an album filled with happy memories.

20150909-HENG_FAMILY_PORTRAITS-043 20160616- FamilyPortraits_Aldrian_MeiMei-18920140924_FAMILYPORTRAITS_SHIRAH_FAHRIZAL_ARA_046

We’re Hiring a Studio Manager

StoriesHiring-studiomanager

When I first started out my business as a photographer, I used to do everything. Handle enquiries, shoot, edit, deliveries… even handcrafting albums myself! That was 10 years ago, and thank God I have the entrepreneur husband who told me that I was foolish to take on everything myself. Now I have a team of wonderful people who are committed to the brand, love each other (I hope!) and who have taken a load off my back.

I am so grateful to have people to bounce off ideas with, celebrate when we score an international job, and lament to when the going gets tough. So now, we’re looking for someone to come alongside us as our Studio Manager / Personal Assistant. This could be a part time role (a few work hours on weekdays, occasionally on weekends) or a full time position if it is combined with multiple roles (eg social media manager, writer, videographer… you get the idea – surprise us with your superpowers!).

Job Scope

  1. Handling enquiries via phone, email, social media sites (Facebook, Instagram) and following up with potential enquiries.
  2. Work with our online systems and handle admin work like bookings, invoicing and issuing contracts. Be technologically savvy.
  3. Following up with clients on shoot requirements, payments, setting up meeting dates, handling their final deliverables and making sure we deliver on time.
  4. Dealing with back end vendors.
  5. Keeping Grace sane and up to date when her memory fails her (poor memory runs in her family, so she needs to write everything down or someone to remind her to do things!)
  6. Being the ‘face’ of Stories as the primary contact person other than Grace… so this is a huge role to fill!
  7. Other than Stories, handling other projects like assisting to manage our corporate enquiries, kombi rental and rental of studio space to external parties.

So, if you think you are up for the challenge and have the qualities that will make us super duper efficient, please apply here. Do state if you are interested in a full time / part time role. We look forward to hearing from you.

Fun Facts about Grace

Some time ago, we created a series of videos to show you what the Stories team is like. Here are some of the videos that have been published about Chi Yin, Jamie and Jennifer. But I ‘conveniently’ forgot to post the video we created about myself until I discovered it again recently! Trying to be transparent and allowing others to talk about you (PLUS making it public) is pretty nerve wracking. Anyway, here are some random facts about myself so you can get to know me a little better! :)

Fun Facts Video – Grace from Stories on Vimeo.