So you're interested in hiring me to shoot your event but you have some questions? Well, let me see if I can answer them before you even reach out and contact me. Thanks to a couple of cool photography websites out there, I've come up with a list of Frequently Asked Questions that I hope help. I'll update this page as I go along, adding new questions as they come up.
Who are you?
My name is Paul J. Spetrini. I am a photojournalist with more than 17 years of experience in writing, reporting and photographing events in the Rhode Island area. I have been photographing weddings in New England for the last 10 years and, in that time, have more than 85 five-star reviews from past clients such as yourself. I am an award-winning photojournalist and wedding photographer whose works has been honored in press association editorial award contests on the state, regional and national level. In addition, I was selected as a Best of Weddings 2018, 2019 and 2020 award-winner for the Knot and have won the WeddingWire Couples' Choice award in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
To view my full resume, click here.
How did you get into photography?
I’ve always had an interest in taking photos ever since I was a child but it wasn’t until I began working for a small string of community newspapers in Southern Rhode Island in 2006 that I began to get serious about it as a career choice. As a full-time sports reporter at a very small organization, I was often tasked with shooting my own photos to go along with games I was covering and, the more I did it, the better I felt I got.
How long have you been in business?
While I didn't photograph my first wedding until late 2010, I have been a professional photographer since 2006 and have been in one form of journalism or another since my freshman year of college in 2002. Because I started at my college newspaper as a reporter who took photos for his assignments, I count that time of my life as professional experience ... even if I wasn't really getting paid for it. When I say I have 17 years of experience, this is what I mean.
More specifically, however, I started my actual wedding photography business on a full-time basis in 2014.
How would you describe your style of photography?
First and foremost, I am a photojournalist. What does that mean exactly? Well, simply put, that means my style is very candid-heavy and "in the moment." I try my hardest not to interfere in the natural course of events I am asked to photograph and I document what I see, how I see it so that the photos capture a real life moment as it happened.
How can you be a photojournalist AND a wedding photographer?
I know it seems like a bit of a contradiction but I believe weddings are, by far, the greatest events a photojournalist can shoot. While it's true that a lot of a typical wedding day is highly organized and structured down to the last detail, HOW you capture those details matters.
As a photojournalist, I specialize in documenting your day in a way that remains timeless and there's no better way to do that that to focus on the candid moments that make a wedding day special. Most of my clients are drawn to the emotions they see in my photos of a bride getting her hair or makeup done, or the look on a groom's face when he sees his bride for the first time. These moments, while easy to plan on a timeline, are impossible to predict in real life and being ready to capture all of them at a moment's notice is a skill not every photographer has.
If you'd like to learn more about the different styles of wedding photography, check out this helpful article that goes into greater detail.
Does that mean you don't do 'posed shots?'
I'm a realist. While my goal at a wedding or engagement session is to capture beautiful candid moments, I understand there are plenty of moments you need to set up ahead of time, especially formal portraits or detail shots.
I enjoy the process of shooting things like your wedding dress hanging up or the cute shoes you bought to show off your Star Wars of Boston Bruins fandom. I will absolutely photograph all of the "traditional" shots you expect to see on a wedding day but, for most of my couples, it will be the ones you weren't expecting that mean the most.
Do you serve same sex couples?
Not only do I serve same sex couples but I do so enthusiastically and only wish I could do so more often. I am a big ally of the LBGQT community and believe whole-heartedly that love is love. While I understand that for some conservative couples, any support of same sex marriage could be a deal-breaker but I refuse to let my business interests change who I am as a person and would rather lose those bookings than try to be someone I am not.
I will never discriminate against a potential client for their sexual orientation. Not now. Not ever.
How much do you charge?
Pricing is such a hot-button topic in photography, particularly wedding photography. For this reason, I believe in being open and honest with my pricing and explaining exactly why I charge what I charge and what it covers. Generally my prices for wedding photography range from $1,200-$3,500. You can read more about it below but if you're interested in just getting information on my wedding photography services, click here.
What kind of equipment do you use?
While I feel like this question is inspired almost exclusively because of easy-to-find online articles about 'What to ask your wedding photographer,' I do know that in a time where almost everyone uses a camera on a daily basis (usually through their phone), it might matter to some.
I am a Nikon guy. I shoot with a pair of Nikon D-750s and have an old, rugged Nikon D-3S that I use for sports assignments. I have a series of top-of-the-line lenses including the Nikkor 24-70 mm F/2.8 for close-ups and general candid shots, the Nikkor 70-200 mm F/2.8 for ceremony candids and a fixed Nikkor 50 mm F/1.8 lens for details. I use Nikon speedlights for flash photography, most often set up on a flash bracket and with a TTL cord for quality lighting on the go. If I'm at a dark wedding reception, I also typically use a video light to help with focusing.
Are you insured?
Like most photographers, when I first started shooting events, I didn't think it was necessary to carry insurance. But as my business expanded beyond shooting for just friends and family, it was clear to me that I needed to protect my assets and my clients in the event of an unforeseen circumstance.
Because of this, I am fully insured through All-State on a Business Owners Policy (BOP) that includes general liability, professional liability (errors & omissions), business personal property, off premises equipment coverage and more.
Are you worried about equipment or computer malfunction?
I don't know any professional photographer who isn't.
For me, there's no greater worry than capturing an incredible moment at a wedding or engagement session and having something go wrong that leads to you losing that image.
Because of this, and because of how once-in-a-lifetime these moments are, I are incredibly paranoid about equipment and/or computer malfunction and take a ton of steps to ensure I never lose a photo. I've been doing this for nearly two decades and have had a ton of issues with faulty cards and hard drives but have never lost a photo because of my preparation ahead of time.
In addition to shooting all of my images on two cards, I also make sure to keep the cards separate after the wedding and I never reuse a card until I've delivered all of the photos to the client. I have over 50 different 32 GB memory cards and buy at least 10 new ones a year.
When I get home from shooting a wedding, no matter the time, I immediately download all of the photos from my cards onto my computer hard drive AND two sets of external hard drives, one of which I keep in a safe deposit box down the street from my house. Is it excessive? Perhaps. But I would rather be safe than sorry.
I always have at least two cameras on me at all times in the event one fails and have multiples lenses and flashes on hand for that very reason.
Do you use film?
While I have used film in the past, I only did so because it was the late 90s/early 2000s. Digital cameras have become so advanced that I can't ever see myself going back. Often, I'm only able to capture the photos I capture because I am constantly making on-the-fly adjustments to my settings after looking at how some of the shots are coming through the back of my camera screen.
I don't think any less of film photographers. It's definitely an art. But it's not an art I'm particularly interested in at this moment.
How did you start shooting weddings?
Like most people who find their passion during their 20s, I began shooting weddings by complete accident. One afternoon, while at a cookout at my sister-in-law’s house, I was playing around with her new Nikon D-90 camera and took some photos just for fun. She liked them enough to recommend I shoot a wedding for her friend Kelly, who couldn’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on a photographer for the event. I reluctantly agreed and, despite my nerves, shot the event and had a blast doing it. I then shot a couple more weddings for family friends and, a little while later, began taking on new clients.
Why do you shoot weddings?
Weddings are a lot of work and very stressful. It makes sense, then, that a lot of photographers either shy away from them completely, charge exuberant amounts to 'make it worth their time' or just out and out refuse to do them. But that’s not me. I enjoy the challenge of documenting the most important day of a person’s life and the difficulty in making sure I capture every unique moment. To me, weddings are the ultimate rush. They’re a day full of once-in-a-lifetime moments and I make it my goal to capture every one of those moments … all the while staying out of the way of the events themselves.
Why should I hire a professional to shoot my wedding?
I see this question online ALL THE TIME. With the rise in popularity of cell phone cameras, many people are starting to wonder why they should pay a professional to document their day instead of shooting it with their phones or having their "uncle Bob," who sometimes photographs bird, do it for free.
Weddings are a once-in-a-lifetime moment and simply hoping someone will capture all of those little moments that make the day so special simply isn’t going to cut it. Not if you want to look back on your wedding day in 20 years with no regrets.
Nowadays, almost everyone has a camera or a phone that can take remarkably great photos … if they’re outdoors and the sun is shining perfectly and everyone stays absolutely still.
But the fact of the matter remains that there is a substantial difference between a wedding shot by 'Uncle Bob' and a wedding shot by someone hired to do the job professionally.
Every couple is different and not all couples want the same thing from their wedding photos but, if you want your day captured the way it is meant to be, simply having someone you know shoot it won’t cut it … especially if they’ve never shot a wedding before.
How long does it take to get my photos?
One of the most frequently-asked questions I hear from brides is in regards to turnaround time for their photographs.
I get it. In an age where you're used to taking a photo on your phone and having it in your hand a split second later, the idea of waiting six months for your wedding photos is agonizing.
That's why I try my hardest to communicate exactly how long your photos will take me to edit and deliver, right from the moment we first meet.
Generally speaking, I can fully edit and deliver a wedding in about a week but, as you might expect, that would assume I had nothing else going on with other clients, with other work or in my life as a whole. Though my wife may disagree, I do more than just work all day, every day.
This doesn't even factor in the fact that, during busy season, I can easily find myself shooting three weddings a weekend and three engagement shoots during the week on top of my normal day-to-day responsibilities.
The last thing to consider is, I don't want to rush your photos back to you and make them seem like I didn't take the proper time to edit them and/or have them mean less since your wedding memories are still so vivid. Having a couple relive their day after some time has passed is genuinely one of my favorite parts of being a wedding photographer.
With all this being said, I get that you want your photos and try to finish them as soon possible, generally delivering a full engagement session two-three weeks after it is photographed and wedding photos one month after the event.
This may change during busy season but it's rarely more than six weeks and my clients receive a direct link to my editing queue (a page I update daily) me the night of their wedding so they can track my progress as often as they'd like.
Do you provide sneak peeks?
The night of your wedding or engagement session, as part of my backup process, I quickly scan through all the photos I've shot for you and send you a handful of images I feel best represent the shoot. For engagement sessions, this will likely be two or three images to give you an idea of how things came out. For weddings, it typically ranges between 5-10 photos overall.
They are delivered the night of the wedding or, if I have a super late night and an assignment planned for early the next day, the next night at the very latest.
Why are your prices lower than other wedding photographers?
Every photographer charges what they feel is a fair price for their services and while I won’t begrudge anyone for wanting to make the most they can on each assignment, my primary motivation in shooting weddings isn’t financial. Sure, I love making money but, to me, shooting a wedding is about much more than a cash grab … it’s about taking the time and making the effort to capture one of the most important day of your client's life.
And, in my opinion, part of making your clients come away from the experience feeling their best is charging a fair price that compensates you for your time and services competitively but doesn’t break their budget or price them out completely in the process.
I know how difficult it is to plan a wedding as I was once on the other end of the camera lens. Working with an extremely limited budget when I was getting married back in 2010, my wife and I were shocked to see just how much some photographers were charging and what little came with the actual cost we were going to have to spend. The idea of spending $3,000 for a bare-bones photographer to simply attend our wedding without us getting so much as the rights to print the photos just didn’t seem fair to me. Having photographed weddings seriously for the last few years, I now understand WHY prices are the way they are but I go out of my way to keep my prices as low as I can to attract the types of clients who appeal to me most: Real, fun loving individuals having real, fun weddings.
Do you deliver every image you shoot?
Like most photographers, I take countless photos at each and every event I shoot. Unfortunately, not every photo is worthy of being printed and framed on a mantle (though, it is my goal to one day make that the case) and, many times, I simply don’t have the luxury of being able to go through the photos on site and trashing any misfires or photos where someone's uncle jumped in front of the lens the moment I clicked the button.
Before I begin editing photos (I.E. color-correcting, cropping, sharpening, adding effects, etc), I go through all the photos I’ve taken at your event and delete every photo that is either out of focus or unusable. From there, I create a folder of photos that I believe are worth delivering to you and, depending on the package, will either deliver them directly to you or continue editing and paring down in order to bring out the best and brightest photos from your day.
Do you provide videography services?
I get asked this question a lot. As of right now, I do not provide videography services as part of my overall wedding package but video is an area I would love to explore in the future (Assuming I ever get to the point where I feel I've learned everything I ever want to on the photography side first.) At the present time, I do not have a go-to videographer whom I recommend to clients but I have a few who I have worked with whose names I would love to provide to get your search started off right.
Do you offer a photo booth?
A couple of years ago, photo booths were one of the hottest trends in weddings and while that trend has died down a bit, I am still asked this question now and again. At this time, I do not offer photo booth services as my focus is squarely on the photography of your wedding day but I have worked with many photo booth vendors and could offer you some recommendations if you are interested.
How far would you be willing to travel to shoot my wedding?
The majority of the weddings that I have shot have been in the Rhode Island/southeastern Massachusetts area but that does not mean I would be unwilling to go further to accommodate a client. In the last two years alone, I have photographed weddings in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Florida and in 2020, I am scheduled to shoot my first wedding in South Carolina this fall. I offer free travel for any weddings taking place within 100 miles round-trip of Warwick, Rhode Island. Beyond that, I will travel anywhere within a two-hour driving radius of Rhode Island for a modest travel fee which covers my costs for gas, mileage and tolls. If you are having your wedding day farther than that, I would love to discuss your options as I can be had in most places for fairly easy accommodations.
If I hire you to shoot my wedding it will be you shooting it, right?
Yes. While I have a number of professional acquaintances whose work I admire and trust, at this time all weddings booked through Paul J. Spetrini Photography will feature me, in the flesh, as the main photographer. I also have a number of reliable work colleagues that I have and will continue to hire to assist me should a couple ask for an assistant photographer as part of their package but, unlike some other companies, you’re getting the actual person you’re talking to when you hire me for your event.
Do you provide partial day coverage?
While I have listed a number of sample wedding packages on my site, I know that every couple’s needs are going to be different. That’s why I am willing to discuss any number of options to shooting your event. Feel free to contact me.
Are there any types of things that you don’t shoot?
In the past five years, I’ve shot just about everything you can shoot as a professional photographer. I’ve been hired to shoot almost every sport imaginable and events that range from high school class reunions and Nigerian naming ceremonies to business conferences and high-profile political visits.
That being said, I no longer shoot family portrait sessions and I do not do maternity, newborn or child photography. While I may pick it up again in the future, at this moment I currently do not offer boudoir shoots either.
Why? Well, quite honestly, I've learned over the past few years that you should only shoot things that you truly enjoy and while I have nothing but respect for those willing to do family portraits or child photography, it's not what I enjoy doing and not fair for my clients for me to just go through the motions for a paycheck.
I would love to recommend you to some of my favorite family photographers however so, if you'd like a list of great family-friendly professionals, shoot me an email and I'll send it right over.
PRICING & PACKAGES
What does your pricing entail?
I've spent a LOT of time thinking about my pricing over the years. When I first started shooting weddings, I tried to keep my pricing as low as possible because I was still learning and didn't feel confident enough to charge a fair-market value for my services. Nowadays, I still keep my prices as low as possible but I factor in the costs of doing business and what I consider a fair rate for my experience.
Generally speaking, I try to bill my services out at around $250/hr. Now, I know that sounds like an awful lot, especially since I enjoy photography, but when you consider what that actually entails and the amount of work that goes into a wedding or engagement shoot, not to mention the costs of running a business, it's nowhere near that much profit for me.
To start with, before I make a single dollar from any shoot I have, I have to account for nearly 1/3rd of it going toward taxes as a self-employed individual. So, right away, that $250/hr becomes roughly $166/hr. Again, that's before I even start working. After you take in my fixed expenses related to running a photography business (insurance, equipment, software, hardware, second photographer fees, album costs, website hosting, client galleries, production-related expenses like USBs, etc), it comes out to even less.
I got keep roughly half of my post-tax profit last year. That means, roughly, I expect to make $83/hr of photographing weddings and engagement sessions. But even THAT can be misleading.
Ever hour that I shoot comes out to roughly five or six hours of total work once you factor in editing. This doesn't even include time spent on consultations, timeline planning, delivery and the other intangible elements of running a photography business. All told, I make roughly $15/hr for the actual work I do shooting weddings. Could I make more? Absolutely. But I don't *just* do it for the money and I genuinely enjoy what I do.
The point of breaking this down for you is so you understand WHY I have the charge $250/hr and why a wedding photography package can easily cost as much as $3,500 for a budget-friendly photographer like myself.
What types of packages do you offer for weddings?
For the 2020 wedding season, I currently offer four sample package options for prospective clients. They are real-life packages based on previous clients and their individual needs. You can view them by clicking here.
What comes standard with all your packages?
While my packages vary greatly on what is offered and what the total cost is, there are a handful of things that all of my packages come with.
First and foremost, all of my wedding photography packages include a USB flash drive with high-resolution images. I also include a print release and an online gallery for you to view the highlights of your wedding through a company called Pixieset. That gallery is good for up to one year from the date of your wedding.
Can I share my photos with friends & family?
While a lot of photographers restrict what you can do with your images, I allow all of my clients to share their photos with their friends and family members as much as they want. My thinking is that you're paying for your photos and have the right to share them for personal use.
The one exception I make to this policy is commercial reproduction. If you want to submit your photos to a magazine or professional publication or commercial organization, I need to be notified first. This is strictly because I value your photos and want to make sure that if I see them somewhere, I know they were given with your permission first.
Can I share my photos with my other wedding vendors?
Before I can agree to allowing your other wedding vendors (Your venue, your DJ, your florist, etc) to use the photos I've taken of your big day, they must contact me directly first. I have no problems allowing other vendors to use my work when appropriate but I must retain my rights and make sure I know how they are going to be used first.
As an example to illustrate what I mean, I seen first-hand some DJs who want to start a photo business and use other photographer's work as their own. I won't name names but, because of this, I need to make sure that I can hold anyone who misrepresents my work accountable and protect my legal rights with the photos I take.
In addition, I get a lot of shy couples who don't feel comfortable telling vendors they weren't satisfied with "No" when asked if they can send photos out. For this reason, I have intentionally created a system where your vendors come to me to ask to use photos. I then check with you to make sure it's OK and will only send them the photos if you agree.
Can I print my photos on my own?
While a lot of photographers restrict how you can get prints of your photos, I allow all of my clients to create their own prints. I'd like to say this was entirely altruistic of me but that would be a half-truth. I do believe you should be able to print the photos you paid me to take. At the same time, I offer this as a service because I simply don't have time to track down one or two 8x12s or try to upsell you on buying an overpriced product from me that you could get cheaper and faster from someone else.
Who do you recommend I use to print photos?
I print all of my photos through Kerry's Warwick Photo in Warwick, Rhode Island. She does exceptional work and I love supporting local businesses whenever possible. I also routinely use Nations Photo Lab and can vouch for their work.
I would stay away from businesses that do not specialize in photo prints as, in my experience, the colors and ink offered at these locations tends to fade faster and not last nearly as long as a true professional photography print.
How do I inquire about booking you?
If you're interested in booking me, the first thing I ask you to do is check my availability to make sure I am available for your date. I routinely update my calendar to make sure I am providing prospective clients with all the information they need to move forward with me.
If I am available, the next step is for you to contact me through this form. That will put you on my radar and you'll get an email from me, typically within a few hours unless I'm on a shoot. In that initial email, I'll send you my information and ask if you'd like the schedule a consultation.
CONSULTATIONS ARE A MANDATORY PART OF MY BOOKING PROCESS.
Why? Because I get a LOT of spam email inquires from scam artists trying to pull a fast one on me. A consultation lets me know you're a real person, you're serious about booking me and helps me get to know you as well as go over my concept of wedding photography to make sure we're a good fit.
Generally speaking, the consultation lasts about an hour or so and is invaluable in helping me figure out what it is you're looking for. I recommend doing these in person but occasionally I get an inquiry from someone outside of the Rhode Island/Southern Massachusetts/Connecticut area and when it's not feasible to meet in person, an online Skype chat can be arranged.
After our consultation, if you still want to proceed, we can discuss packages and pricing.
How do I figure out which package to book?
Generally speaking, the easiest way to start planning your wedding photography package is to figure out your budget first and then how long you think you'll need me for on the day in question.
My packages are all customizable but, generally, most clients book me on this scale:
• 5 hours: Simple affairs or budget weddings that don’t require many prep photos or have short receptions.
• 7 hours: Slightly more detailed. These weddings typically have some prep time factored in as well as a fair amount of dancing coverage during the reception.
• 10 hours: These couples usually want all of their prep time documented as well as most of the reception.
• Full-day coverage: For clients who have a lot going on, booking all-day coverage allows the chance to not worry about having anything missed or running out of time. I’m there as long as you need me, up to 16 hours.
After you figure that out, the next question you need to answer is what additional services you may want. I offer engagement sessions, second photographers and premium wedding albums. The question is: Do you need one?
Should I book an engagement session?
While I can, and do, shoot weddings with couples I haven't worked with before, many opt to book an engagement session before the wedding and I find it's super helpful when possible.
So is an engagement session right for you? Well, it depends what you want it for. If you'd like professional photos of you and your soon-to-be spouse for your invitations, wedding website, Save the Dates or just for your own home, they're a great chance to get a real memento of this time in your life and your love. They are different than wedding photos in that you are wearing "regular" clothes and, because the sessions aren't nearly as stressed as a wedding day can be, they may bring out more of your personality.
If you don't want or need those photos, don't book a session. If you've already had an engagement session with a friend who takes photos or you're happy using a selfie you took, don't book an engagement session.
It's entirely your choice!
Do I need a second photographer?
After you decide how long you need me and whether or not you'd like an engagement session, the next question is: Do you need a second photographer?
While I am fully capable of shooting a wedding on my own, having a second photographer is a great addition to your package and allows you to have a dedicated shooter focused on your spouse during prep time as well as alternate angles during all of the ceremony and key moments of your reception. Second photographers are available for a minimum of five hours but can be booked to start at any portion of your day.
I have five second photographers that I work with based on availability and they're all quite awesome at what they do.
Do you offer albums?
We live in a time of digital photos and, sadly, one of the unexpected side effects of that transition is a real lack of printed photos.
Perhaps thats why I love wedding albums so much. The biggest keepsake of any wedding photography package is the album and, as you can expect, I give my clients a number of choices here as well. My albums are custom built as part of your wedding photography workflow and are a great option for couples who want a printed reminder of their special day.
I charge clients what the albums cost me to make and a slight fee to design them so they are kept fairly inexpensive. If you’re on the fence about an album, I can show you real-life examples that I’ve made for clients and we can help you decide if it’s right for you.
After I decide on a package, how do we proceed?
Once you decide on a package and we confirm the price, I will send you a contract that outlines everything regarding your wedding photography. Even if you don't book me, please don't work with any vendors who don't offer you a contract that spells out, in writing, exactly what the terms of your agreement are.
Once you sign the contract, you will be asked to pay a $100 or $200 non-refundable retainer fee to secure my services for the day. This fee goes toward the price of your package. The rest of the money is due on the day of, though you are certainly welcome to pay in advance if you so choose.
Why can't I pay after the wedding/after I see the photos?
Unfortunately, the world is not a place full of rainbows and lollipops and not everyone has the best intentions when conducting a business transaction. Because of this, and to protect myself and my work, I require payment be made no later than your wedding day, before I begin taking photos.
Just like you can't pay your venue after the wedding is over and your caterer requires your bill be settled prior to your meal, I require payment be made before I begin my work on your day.
I will not release any images taken prior to being paid in full.
What payment methods do you accept?
Cash or check. I do not take electronic payments for two reasons: First, I do not want to have to charge you the extra three-percent financial institutions like Venmo or Paypal require. Second, I don't take electronic payments because there are far too many scams from nefarious individuals to trust the systems in place.
What if I have a question you didn't answer?
I'd like to think this page has addressed every question I can think of but, honestly, wedding photography is so detailed it's entirely possible I missed a couple. In that case, contact me and let me know what's on your mind. I will gladly answer any and all questions you have.
I look forward to speaking to you about your wedding photography needs. Best of luck!