Q&A with Aspen Zettel, wedding photographer
Interview by Lindsay Shapka
What should clients ask when looking for a photographer?
The Internet offers many lists pre-made to help a couple ask the right questions. I love when clients come to me with these lists because I get to tell my story and prove to them that I have the skills and experience to meet their expectations. I expect my clients to ask me how long I’ve been shooting and how many weddings I have done, as well as what kinds of self-development and education I invest in. It’s important to ask about pricing structure and what is specifically included to avoid any surprises. All photographers structure their pricing and products differently, so ask every time. References are also a great thing to ask for — 100% of my business is referral based, so it should be easy for a photographer to provide references from previous clients.
What information does a photographer need?
When I first meet with a client, I love getting to know them on a personal level. This helps me to outline what kind of story to tell visually, as well as figure out what they may or may not be willing to try. After we hit it off and they book their wedding, I need timelines, venue information and locations, as wells any house rules (church or temple restrictions, etc.) Effective communication is key. Misunderstandings are easy when a bride and groom are swamped with family, emotions, and all of the time that planning demands. I strive to answer all communications within a couple hours so a couple knows they can trust me to communicate effectively. I work best when the couple replies to my questions in a timely manner as well.
Is it important to give the photographer a shoot list of poses, people, etc. ahead of time?
Brides often come to me a few times on the lead up to the wedding day with an extensive Pinterest board full of inspiration. I like to look at these boards because it shows me what kind of story the bride wants to tell, as well as what kind of light they aremoved by. On the wedding day, it’s good to let go of any preconceived notions about what things are going to look like in photos because the people, location, mood, and light will all be different, so recreating something exactly is impossible. What I really love is a shot list for any sort of unconventional event. If the bride is surprising the groom with a choreographed dance for example, I like to know ahead of time so I can plan accordingly. Also really handy is when I get a list of family members in their different groupings. This gives me everyone’s name so I can call them over with authority. It streamlines the family portrait portion, which can get out of hand really quickly.
What type of lighting is best?
A really good photographer said to me once that any light is good light. This is true and yet not true on a wedding day. Lots of natural light certainly makes life easier when it’s diffused — everyone looks good when the light is soft and pretty — but a good photographer knows how to work with the light available, and brings artificial light with them in some form or another. It’s important to consult with your photographer when working out timelines and locations so as to get the best light. Edmonton especially has a magic hour of golden light just before sunset. Many brides and grooms are choosing to have their formal photographs later in the day to take advantage of the colour and angle of the sunlight, thanks to the coaching of their photographer.
What are some poses that you like to see couples do in their wedding photos?
I always tell my clients that the more points of contact, the better. Poses that show off the intimacy and love between a couple, without looking contrived, are my favourite. They take time to get comfortable with, so it’s great to have lots of time to shoot. Committing to a pose and the moment you’re in is crucial to getting great shots, more so than hand placement. That being said, a bride can never go wrong with bringing her elbows out and slightly bent. It helps to limit spill over on the top of the dress, as well as accentuates the right muscles in the upper arm — two areas brides are most self conscious of.