10 Timeline Points to Discuss During the Initial Meeting | Transcription

Once again I want to remind you all that all of the things that we are talking about should be tailored to your client’s specific needs and interests. If they’re incredible far away from discussing the timeline, and they’re clearly not interested in discussing the timeline, don’t discuss the timeline. But, if that is something that they would like to discuss, or if it’s something that they are thinking about, there are a few points here that I like to actually cover and just discuss so that it can be on their minds when they go into planning and preparing the actual timeline.

1. Great Pictures Take Time

Let me just show you something. Great pictures take time. Ninety percent of weddings run late. Late for two reasons. Pad the timeline. Three hour rule of thumb. One, two, three, four, five. The top half of this slide all relates to time, having enough time. Time, time, time, time, time. Because this is the number one unrealistic expectation that somebody is going to have, that a couple is going to have, regarding their wedding day.

I basically have created a slide and created these different points because these are all points that I like to discuss with my clients because it’s different ways of hammering that point home. Five different ways of hammering that point home. Believe me, by the end of it they will know that we need time.

Number one, great pictures take time. I always tell my clients that you know the number one reason why one client has twenty incredible, epic images, along with two hundred beautiful portraits and emotional photographs, and so forth, is because we had an hour versus fifteen minutes. If I have fifteen minutes to shoot, I’m going to get my must haves, and if there’s any extra time, we’ll go for all of our artistic and creative stuff too. But, I got to get the must haves. Great pictures take time. I want them to first realize that.

2. 90% of Weddings Run Late

Number two, ninety percent of weddings run late. Most weddings, and if you’ve been in wedding photography, you should know this by now. In general, most weddings do not run on time. What’s the reason? Typically, weddings are late for two reasons. In fact, I would say this. Nine out of ten weddings run late and nine out of ten times they run late because of preparation and transport issues.

3. Late for Two Reasons: Prep & Transport

Preparation, being basically makeup. Girls always underestimate the amount of time it takes to get makeup. In general, what ends up happening is that they start the makeup process. They want corrections and fixes and so forth. Before you get out of preparation, you’re already thirty minutes or forty-five minutes … Or even I’ve had clients, and this is not a rare thing, to be ninety minutes behind schedule, coming out of makeup and hair. That instantly is going to come out of the photographs. Why? Because if you’re running ninety minutes late, you can’t push back the ceremony by ninety minutes. You can’t push back the reception or the program by ninety minutes. Everything that’s revolving around times that the guests are showing up, times that guests are expecting certain things … Those are going to stay the same. The only place to take away time is from the photography, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

This isn’t to by the way slight makeup and transportation. It’s just that these two areas are the number one areas where people are underestimating the amount of time it takes to do makeup and prep, and the amount of time it takes to get from point A to point B. Also, for some reason, oftentimes drivers are notoriously bad at being late. I don’t get that. But, here in California, we have tons of traffic, and so you’ll want to advise them to make sure that they pad and double the transportation time from what it typically is without traffic.

4. Pad the Timeline and be Realistic

That’s exactly what we’re saying here. Encourage them to pad the timeline. Have additional time for preparation, additional time for moving from scene to scene, additional time because guess what … If you get out of preparation early … Heaven forbid we actually get out of preparation early. If you get out of preparation early, I can take photographs of you guys, and I can utilize that time to do bridal portraits, and portraits of the girls, and all sorts of things before we go and we do a first look, or before any other time of the day. We can use all the padded time. Build it in.

5. The Three Hour Rule of Thumb

This is the last thing that kind of give them a little hit home, a little gauge on in terms of what we are expecting as photographers for the amount of time it takes to do pictures. We give them the three hour rule of thumb. This means that we want one hour for the couple, one hour for the wedding party, one hour for the family. This can be in different times during the day. It’s going to vary on whether they are on a first look or traditional timeline. We’ll talk about that in one second. But, this is our expectation.

Can I do the couple section in fifteen minutes? You bet. I’ve done it a million times. Is it going to give far less images? Absolutely. If I had an hour, could I use it? Absolutely. I’m asking for the amount of time that want, and the amount of time that I can use. Same thing, I can do fifteen minutes and have the wedding parties have that one shot of the wedding party … Have the girls and the boys done. But, if they want to do all the fun stuff, all the creative stuff … If they want to do a cool Vogue Magazine type shots … They want to do just the girls and do a shot with each of the girls and then do goofy stuff … And just the guys and then goofy stuff, and so forth … That takes an hour.

Same thing with the family … Small families, if you want to bang out five different family formals … Yeah, five, ten minutes … Great. But, we could also do so more fun stuff. We could build different iterations, and so forth, with the family formals. That’s our three hour rule of thumb. Again, just to give them a heads up of what we are expecting.

6. First Look vs. Traditional Timeline

Let’s go on to number six, first look versus traditional timeline. I like to discuss what the differences are in the day, and how it kind of impacts the day, in general. We’ll talk about this later on. In general, the first look ends up yielding better photography and a more relaxing day. Because why? We’re pushing forward all the photographs prior to the ceremony. We do a three hour block to do the couple session. We do a first look with the couple section. Then we do the wedding party, and then the family. Separate them. They go into the ceremony. They have their first kiss, and then it’s fun and journalistic stuff throughout the rest of the day and the night. We’re not two hours at that point. We’re not taking an hour at that point. We’re not trying to do crazy things after that point to get in all of those images just right after the ceremony. It’s more relaxing for them and generally, it’s going to yield better photographs for you, the photographer.

The traditional timeline, though … You know what? A lot of people have this in their heads. They want to see each other for the first time, coming down the aisle, and that’s totally fine. We’re still going to get great images. But, what happens with the traditional timeline … We’ll talk about our timeline or ideal timeline guides. The traditional timeline is going to push forward the family formals on each side, wedding party on each side. Meaning that the girls are shot separate. The boys are shot separate. The families are shot separate on each side of the bride and the groom. Their portraits are done separately. Right after they say “I do” and the ceremony is done, we gather and we do all of our together shots on the alter and wherever we need to do it in that little time block between the time that the ceremony is done and that they need to show up for the reception. Generally, it’s about a sixty minute window. Okay? It’s not a lot of time to get those photos. That’s why we say generally, you’re going to yield a more relaxing day and better photographs with a first look timeline versus the traditional.

7. Lead vs. Second Coverage Timelines

What that simply means is I love when my clients build a timeline where I can shoot bride prep, go then and do groom prep, then do the couple session, and do everything myself. I love that because that way all the images are super consistent. My second can shoot creative angles on everything that I’m doing, and I love the product that it creates. But let’s be honest. One out of every ten weddings will follow that timeline. Most timelines are a lead plus second coverage, meaning the lead is going to cover the bride and the bride’s side. The second is going to cover the groom and the groom’s side because things are happening simultaneously, not one after the next. We kind of talk about a little bit of the differences between those two types of timelines.

8. Listing and Guiding Family Formals

This is a must have for us. We want them to list out the family formals that they would like captured, and set one person, whether it’s a friend or family that knows the people to be able to follow the list and call people out, making sure that they’re ready for the next photograph. I’ll pose them, but having that person there is going to mean the world when it comes to getting people organized and me being able to get people in and out of each photograph quickly and in an efficient manner. Also, having a list prevents you from forgetting anybody, or not getting certain shots, protecting feelings, making people feel awkward, and so forth, if you’re just sitting there trying to figure out who to get photographs of on the day of. Okay.

9. Mid-Day vs. Golden Hour Imagery

Number nine, midday versus golden hour imagery. One thing that I like to do is … Again, the mood board helps to tailor expectations here. Because, if on the wedding day, they have just a ton of sunset images, a ton of golden hour images, in their wedding mood board … Yet, during golden hour they’re in the ceremony … Then, that’s probably one of their expectations that we need to address before continuing.

I’d like to discuss the differences between midday photographs versus golden hour photographs. Make sure if they want golden hour, we have the time to do it. Also, to let them know if a venue is outside, it’s probably not best to plan noon portraits outside in midday, harsh sunlight. Unless we can find shade, and we can find trees and other types of things to help us out.

10. Day After Sessions for Tight Timelines

Last thing that I like to bring up is a day after session. What I do is I let clients know right from that initial meeting when again we’re talking about the timeline. Hey look, if the timeline is too packed, and you simply want lots of great images and there’s not enough time to do it on the day of, we can do a day after photo session with you and your fiance. You guys can dress in the same attire. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the day after the wedding. It can be any time. You dress just like it was the wedding, and we go choose a location of your choosing, and we go out and we do these couple portraits.

Obviously the day after session is an up sell, but it’s something that gets it into their heads. A lot of times a client will go, you know what? We just couldn’t work out the timeline to get the photos that we wanted to on the day of so I would like to book you for a day after session. It’s an immediate additional $1500 or $2000 booking to go and do that. It’s an immediate up sell. It’ll help them to basically gauge the timeline and to plan accordingly, and to have that expectation that … Hey, you know what? We’re going to add on an additional day of shooting for this amount and we’re going to get these awesome images after the fact.

These are the ten possible timeline points to discuss during your meeting. Again, gauge their interests. Please, do not do an information dump and cover all this. If you were to cover all of this material that we’re going through in the initial meeting, it’s going to be a two or three hour meeting. Give them what they want, and leave them always wanting more because there’s going to be plenty above points of communication and contact for you to discuss and describe additional things.



The Initial Meeting

Prepping for the Engagement Talk Through

Engagement Shoot Prep & Communication

Prepping for the Wedding Day Talk Through

Wedding Day Preparation & Communication


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