April 27, 2020

Bridal Basics: Have you worked at my wedding venue before?

One of my favorite parts of the inquiry process with potential brides is getting to hop on the phone and talk through their day. I love getting to know my brides personally, so this time together is always a great way to get a better feel for what it would be like to work together!

More often than not, potential brides come prepared with specific questions to discuss. I love making sure my couples feel completely informed and comfortable with my entire process — after all, while weddings are second nature to me at this point, it’s the first time they are going through any of this! Well-thought questions show me my couples truly care about booking the Indianapolis wedding photographer that is the best fit for their day, which I can always appreciate.

One question I find myself answering quite regularly is whether or not I’ve worked at the couples’ specific wedding venue before. I always find this one interesting…mainly because it feels like it comes across as a negative in my potential bride’s eye if the answer is no. This has always surprised me! According to The Knot, there are over 500 wedding venues just in the greater Indianapolis area (let alone the state of Indiana or surrounding states, too). Most photographers typically photograph anywhere from 10-25 weddings a year, so that would make it nearly impossible to have experience at every single wedding venue.

Which brings us to today’s question: Does a lack of familiarity with a specific wedding venue mean that a photographer is less equipped to capture your day? I firmly believe the answer is NO, which I always share with my potential brides. And, for today’s Bridal Basics post, I thought I’d share my thoughts behind my answer with you, as well!

#1: Lighting always changes.

Lighting always changes. The very first thing I always share is that the LIGHTING on your wedding day is always more important than the location. Lighting is never ever the same, so even if it is a venue I’ve shot at several times, I am always arriving early to check out the lighting and scope out good portrait locations. It’s one reason I rarely visit venues before hand even if they are new to me — the lighting on a Tuesday afternoon will differ drastically from a Saturday morning or evening. This means that even if it’s a venue I’ve worked at before, I am going to approach it completely differently than the last time.

For example, one of my favorite repeat venues is the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Indiana. I love everything about that place: the chapel on the grounds, the gorgeous Garden Pavilion, the ballroom options — so many great things. However, the weddings I’ve photographed there are completely different! One was in the middle of summer without a cloud in the sky, and the other was on a rainy April day that barely let up. It wasn’t my experience at the venue that allowed the second one to be as stunning as the first — it was my experience as a professional photographer who knows how to find good light no matter the circumstance!

#2: A venue is just a location.

As I mentioned above, lighting is so much more important than the location. However, that doesn’t mean the location isn’t significant! Rustic or elegant, indoor or outdoor, traditional or modern, it’s my job to capture what’s around me! It doesn’t matter if your venue has vaulted ceilings or orange brick, a true professional will be able to handle any lighting situation he or she faces.

#3: At the end of the day, I’m not capturing your venue. I’m capturing YOUR STORY.

This might sound silly…but it’s truly the most important reason why experience at a venue previously simply doesn’t matter! If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you’ll see that there are several venues I shoot at quite frequently. And don’t get me wrong, I love being a Central Library wedding photographer, and any chance I get to work with the Conrad is always exciting, too! However, my repeat weddings in those locations truly look nothing alike. Some are shot in the fall, and others in the peak of summer. Some have vibrant colors and contrasting details, while others are more muted and neutral. The locations may be the same, but it’s the couple that truly is the life source of the day!!!

It’s why I believe it is SO much more important to hire a photographer who cares about investing in their relationship with you. Knowing a venue is nice…but knowing your couple is infinitely more valuable. It’s why I believe in the importance of capturing stories: moments in time, relationships, exchanged glances, laugher, joy. Experience with THOSE kinds of things should be the defining decision maker in my opinion.

Again, I hope none of this post is taken to discourage asking questions! I really do love when potential brides want to learn all they can about the wedding photography process. However, I also hope this helps you realize why a “no” to the specific question of whether or not a photographer has worked at your venue shouldn’t keep you from working with them.

Oh, and if it’s helpful: every image in this post (besides for the Ritz Charles comparison shots) was taken from my first time at each venue! :)



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Sami Orndorff is a Wedding Photographer & Lifestyle Newborn Photographer located in the greater Indianapolis area.