Ask the Experts: The Photographer

Photo: Brad Paris

Dave Robbins

What makes a good photographer?
Someone who can adapt to changing conditions. When you meet with one, look at both indoor and outdoor shots, shots in locations with high ceilings, in dark venues. Get as wide an array of his or her work as you can.

What goes into the expense of photography?
The price reflects the uniqueness of the photographer’s vision. You’re also paying for the time it takes him or her to shoot, and for the editing process. On average, I take 1,000 pictures at a wedding; the most I’ve ever taken is 2,000.

How long are you typically there?
Eight hours is just the right amount of time. I show up about an hour before the dress gets put on. But photographers are always rushed; it’s part of the drill. Providing me with a list of the family group configurations you want is helpful. Generally, I prefer a ‘do-shoot’ list to a ‘don’t-shoot’ list—unless it’s something like, “Don’t shoot the stripper’s pole in my bridesmaid’s apartment where we’re getting ready”—which I’ve gotten before.

Are couples doing formals before the ceremony so they don’t miss the cocktail hour?
Some. I like having the obligatory shots done before the ceremony so I can dig into candids. The time of day, as well as whether you’re indoors or outdoors, plays a role. If there are fewer hours of daylight and you really want outdoor shots, we’ll adjust your game plan. I avoid taking outdoor formals when the sun is high—never flattering.

Do you shoot digital?
Yes. Digital has caught up with film in image quality. Plus, I love the flexibility of postproduction in digital; I can alter an image twenty ways to Sunday within seconds.

What do you suggest for a budget-conscious couple?
Get ownership of the prints so you won’t have to buy them back. Budget for the images, not for bells and whistles, such as albums. Second shooters aren’t always necessary—and they cost $1,000 each.

When do you need one?
If you want pictures of both the bride and the groom getting ready, and you’re in different locations that are far apart—I can’t do both.

What are some great hotel suites you’ve shot in?
The Bowery Hotel is opulent and has lots of texture—huge terraces and black-and-white awnings that are really visual. It’s not a hotel, but Capitale is great. It has oversized, colorful prints hanging everywhere.

Do you shoot engagement portraits, too?
Yes. Some couples submit them to the Times’ “Sunday Styles” weddings section. They have a strict rule that the couple’s eyebrows have to align exactly. Recently we submitted a shot and they told us the eyebrows were slightly off-kilter. We couldn’t retake it because the couple was in Singapore, so I had a friend of mine, who’s a Photoshop nerd, take the dude’s head from one shot and superimpose it on another.

Top five things that make you crazy?
101 table shots. When the mother of the bride keeps saying, “Isn’t it too dark in here for pictures?” Being referred to as “camera guy.” A videographer who during poignant moments somehow always seems to creep into my frame. Asking for food pictures—after dinner.

Tips From the Trade
“Jessica Lysons at Worker Bee Designs shoots in Super 8. It never looks corny, which is the danger with wedding videos.” From $4,500.


Camera Photo Courtesy of iStockphoto

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