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North Hills Monthly

Preserve Wedding Memories with the Right Photographer

Jan 30, 2017 07:42PM ● By Jill Cueni Cohen

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, and photos are a tangible reminder of more than just your first few hours as a married couple.

“The couple is important, but the guests who are celebrating with them are important, too,” said professional wedding and event photographer Nick Pytel. He and his wife, photographer Marzena Podkalicka, work together at weddings and sometimes bring in a third photographer/videographer to make sure that every detail is captured on film.

“I like to think about the wedding as a Hollywood party; we photograph every single person there, so in the future the couple can remember everyone who was at their wedding,” said Podkalicka, noting that she and Pytel can’t remember their own wedding guests from seven years ago. “That’s something we would have liked to have memorialized in photos, so now we take pictures of everything from the preparations to the reception.”

Finding the Perfect Wedding Photographer

Sal Richetti of Big Day Entertainment, Video and Photography has been taking care of Pittsburgh weddings since 1995. Located in the Strip District, Big Day represents more than 80 local videographers, photographers and entertainers and assists with hundreds of weddings and special events each year.

“Bridal shows offer convenience and accessibility to the best local video and photography services to suit every couple’s needs and budget,” said Richetti, noting that it’s important to meet potential photographers face-to-face.

“You will be spending a lot of time with your photographer, and unlike the florist or the person who designs your invitations, they will be personally interacting with you, your family, and your guests during the biggest day of your life,” he added. “You have to get along well and be able to comfortably communicate with each other.”

While references from other couples are good, Richetti has a better idea. “Get photographer references from the top wedding venues because they see how these people operate at different events, and they can give you an honest opinion,” he said, noting that online testimonials are often fake.

“Make sure that the photographer has professional equipment and the experience to use it,” said Pytel. “Ask to see photos from previous weddings that they’ve shot.”

Once you choose your photographer, it’s crucial to work with a contract. “Spell everything out in your contract,” said Pytel. “This gives you the basis to receive financial compensation if something goes wrong.”

Richetti advises hiring a photographer who is easily accessible by phone and email. “Demand a 24-hour response time, because I often hear about photographers who never call back,” he said. “Make that part of your contract.” He added that couples should specify time frames in contracts regarding when to expect albums and proofs.

Video and Social Media

In an effort to make sure that wedding photos last longer than a lifetime, Pytel and Podkalicka offer their clients a website where anyone can find their wedding portraits well into the future. They can also create a wedding Facebook page and will advise clients where to go for prints and help them put together their own wedding books.

“Why should I upcharge for prints when it’s so easy now to order them online?” Pytel said, adding that couples who ‘do-it-themselves’ will have ownership of their book or collage. When it comes to ownership, both photographers advise couples to specify that they own the rights to their wedding photos.

Hiring a reputable videographer is just as important as hiring a photographer. “The videotape of your wedding is worth a million words…more than pictures,” Richetti said, noting that it’s preferable to have both a videographer and a still photographer capturing every moment.

“Video tells more of the story, and a lot of couples overlook that in favor of still photography,” he added. “I have so many stories of couples who love their video or are really angry that they don't have a video. One bride told me that she was so happy to see and hear her (now deceased) mom talking that she watches her wedding video every day. You can't replace that. Video should be more in the forefront.”

Make a Photography Plan

In addition to staged photos of the happy couple and their wedding party, consider having your photographer focus on a variety of shots as the event progresses from pre-wedding prep to walking down the aisle to spur-of-the-moment shots. 

“One of us follows the bride and groom and takes pictures of them talking to their guests,” said Pytel, noting that candid photos are often overlooked. “Our philosophy is to capture the whole event; the rings, the people, and the moments so that those memories will live on forever—otherwise, those special moments will be lost.”