Weddings

Susan's style is simple but she believes that her images should speak volumes - about who you are as a person, about the relationship between a husband and wife, about the subtle nuances of everyday life. She strives to create images at each and every wedding that illuminates the relationships; both of each individual family and the new family being created that day. Her goal is to provide you with a documentary-based illustration of your wedding day with minimal guiding or posing. It's not her intention to just "make pretty pictures" but to truly make images that capture the relationship between two people in love.

Frequently Asked Questions
Style:
What type of photography do you do?
Susan covers weddings in a very journalistic style but doesn't think photography should be limited by a "genre." While she is very hands-off and unobtrusive in her coverage of the day she does believe that there is a time and place for gorgeous, casually posed images of the bride and groom together. So while she won't stop you and make you pose while cutting the cake, she would like about an hour (or more!) alone with you both (if possible) sometime during the day to create some images of you without your wedding party or guests looking on. Susan also believes strongly in preserving all of the details of the wedding; from your cake to your shoes, so her work is very flush with detail images. Her images of the guests at the wedding are almost 100% journalistic and she won't stop entire tables at the reception and make them pose for "table shots", preferring instead to capture them laughing, smiling, dancing, drinking, and having a great time.
Do you still take posed family images?
Absolutely. Susan strongly believes in those family images, as they are records of your entire family at an important time in their history together. A few weeks before your wedding she will send you a questionnaire covering the details of the day and among the other questions is a list of posed images - these are the family groupings that Susan traditionally photographs at each wedding she covers. You will have space to write in your own additional groupings. Please bear in mind that the hallmark of Susan's coverage is journalistic and real-time, so a very long list of posed images will hinder her ability to cover the event in a documentary manner. She provides you with nine groupings and strongly suggests your final list include no more than twelve or thirteen total. These groupings are quick, easy, and largely informal and Susan tries to make them pleasant and enjoyable for everyone involved!
Can we give you a shot list of photographs we want you to take?
Other than the family groupings, no. It is very helpful to know what important relatives and friends are coming to your day, and if any events bear special significance, but repeated requests for posed images and having Susan work "from a checklist" is counterproductive to the work you've seen here on her website. "Shot lists" provided by many major bridal magazines are a great idea, but please understand that Susan generally will capture those images without prompting. Providing her with a very long list of college groupings or high school friends or extended family at the reception will result in a lesser amount of documentary coverage and more time spent rounding up guests to check the groupings off of a list.
Travel and Coverage:
Do you work with a second shooter?
No, the only photographer shooting on your wedding day is Susan. She does bring an assistant who helps with gear, lighting, and managing groups for family formals but Susan is the only one actually taking the pictures on your day. If you're still unsure as to how the day can be documented by only one photographer please contact us - we'd be glad to provide some full galleries for you to see how Susan covers the entire day fully on her own for you to peruse.
Do you edit the images before we get them? All of them? How?
Yes, we do. Every image that you receive has been hand-edited, one at a time, without batching in bulk groups or mass-producing the results. The editing team also often selects a few favorites for special attention above and beyond the individual image editing.
Where do you live? You travel? Right?
Susan lives in Brooklyn during the week and Philadelphia on the weekends - sometimes that moves around as she has family in both cities and calls both home. She's been all over the world for weddings, to the Caribbean and Bahamas, to South America, California, Wisconsin, Georgia, her former home state of Florida, North Carolina, France, Finland, and many, many other places to cover weddings. Susan is a destination wedding specialist and is very, very comfortable traveling for events. Rest assured that should you commission Susan to cover your wedding and travel to you then you are hiring someone very experienced with travel for business. 
 
Travel is billed very simply - if airfare and hotel and rental car are needed all you are responsible for is a direct reimbursement for the charges.
Is Susan the only photographer?
Yes. Susan is the sole primary photographer with Susan Stripling Photography.
Does she have an assistant?
Yes.
Can we get the black and white images in color?
No, you cannot. Images in black and white are only available in black and white. If you would like more color images and less black and white images in your coverage please let us know before the wedding is photographed.
We see a lot of shadow and darkness as well as light in your images. Can you shoot with less shadows and less bright light?
If what you're looking for is a more evenly lit style of photography then Susan might not be the photographer for you. She uses a great deal of shadow and light in her natural light images as well as her flash/lit images during the receptions. Please make sure that you look through all of her sample galleries provided when you inquire with her to make sure that the style you see in the galleries reflects the style that you want for your wedding day photography.
How long does it take to get our products and images?
Online galleries are posted within six weeks of the wedding date. Printed proofs and the digital files are available within nine weeks of the wedding date. Upon final approval of album designs most albums are ready for delivery within twelve weeks.
How many pictures will we get?
The number of photographs taken depends on many things - the number of guests, hours of coverage, types of events. Our bare minimum is 500 images, but often it's much, much higher.
Do we get to keep the negatives?
We provide the selected, edited high-resolution digital files (the digital equivalent of negatives). When the files are released to you, we will provide you with a list of resources from which to get quality prints if you so desire. We do retain the copyright to the images and the right to use them for promotional purposes, competition, professional review, and so on. If you need we are glad to provide you with a written release that will allow you to make unlimited personal reproductions and copies for your friends and families.
Do we get the raw, unedited files?
No, these files are not available for viewing or purchase. This is very much like asking your caterer to give you the leftover ingredients used to make your dinner. The images selected for editing and final delivery reflect our very high standards and everything else is not archived in the studio.
Can we see the outtakes and all of the images that didn't make the "final cut"?
See the answer to the question right before this - in short, no. The images delivered to you are very loosely edited, taking out only eyes-closed, flash-didn't-fire, person-walked-in-front-of-the-lens true outtakes. If there are a handful of images of you together with your mom laughing we're going to include everything that isn't an absolute duplicate and so forth. Please know that when "editing" we're not striving to hit some number of images to deliver and throwing out "good" pictures. The images not selected are not archived and therefore not available.
Do you come to the rehearsal?
Rehearsal dinner coverage is available if you'd like to add it to your collection; otherwise Susan does not attend the rehearsals.
How does the album design process work?
Susan gives you a year to make your album selections before the book is subject to a fee due to increases in yearly production costs. You do get to preview your album design and make three rounds of changes to it before a change-fee is assessed. Once you approve the layout Susan will help you choose your album cover style, color, imprinting, and other small details. Then you'll sign off on the book and it will go to print. All of this process can be completed online simply and easily. Once you choose your images it takes about four weeks to produce your first draft and each round of changes generally takes two business weeks to complete.
What will my album look like?
You have two choices - in a traditional style book your images are printed on photographic paper and set down in mats. The pictures and the pages are separate from each other. This is the look of most older wedding albums where the images were inset into the pages. In a modern book the images are printed directly onto the pages, much like in a coffeetable book you'd buy at the bookstore.
What is the online gallery?
The online gallery is a private, password protected section on our website where all of your wedding photographs will be placed online for you and your family and friends to view. It is also a secure shopping cart - which allows you (and your family and friends) to order prints and cards and select album prints online. All you have to do is provide the password to anyone who you want to be able to view the images.
I see that some galleries on your proofing page have a lot of images and some have much less. Why is that? Can we request more images?
Please understand that the galleries all vary based on many different things. Length of the day, amount of coverage, number of events covered in a day, rehearsal dinner coverage, full weekend coverage, etc. Every wedding is different and all are covered to our best ability - and since each is different each will result in a differing number of final images.
Do you do engagement sessions?
Yes, I do. Please take note that most engagement sessions have to be done Tuesday-Thursday because of a heavy wedding schedule but there is occasionally Friday or Monday availability.
Can we bring my mom, a friend, or our coordinator to our engagement session?
I totally understand how nervewracking a photo shoot can be! I was a nervous mess myself on the day of our engagement pictures! While I know it might be comforting to think of having a support system with you I don't allow anyone to attend the engagement sessions except the bride and groom. The session is a wonderful time for us to get to know each other and for you to become comfortable in front of the camera. For this reason the session needs to only include three people - myself and you two! If you are wanting to bring your pet or child to the session you can bring a third person along to wrangle the aforementioned pet or small person but bringing along an entourage or your wedding coordinator is not a possibility. I'm looking forward to getting to know just you two during this session!
Business and Details:
Do you have insurance?
Yes.
What kind of equipment do you use?
Top of the line professional Nikon equipment and extensive backups.
My venue needs a certificate of insurance. Can you provide that?
Yes. We do request that you let us know at least two months in advance of the wedding as it does take time for our insurance company to process and provide that document.
How long have you been in business? How many weddings have you photographed?
Susan has been in business since 2001 and has photographed over six hundred weddings.
Can you hold the date for me?
I'm sorry, but we can't hold the date or pencil you in. To be fair to everyone we can't "hold" a date without a retainer and a signed contract. We accept bookings on a first come/first served basis.
What is your payment schedule like?
A booking fee/retainer of approx. $1,000 is due to reserve your date. The remainder is due the week prior to your wedding.
Can we pay you part of the amount after the wedding?
No, I'm sorry, but we do require full payment before the event.
I have to cancel my wedding. Can I have my retainer back?
No you cannot. The retainer fee and all monies paid are non-refundable. The retainer guarantees that we will hold the date exclusively for you and once you've signed the contract we do turn down all other commissions for that date.
What if you, like, die?
If Susan dies we can guarantee she will not be at your wedding - which would be rather sad. However, we will still supply you with coverage from our contracted assistant or second shooter (based on your contract). Susan is also a member of many national and local organizations and networking groups upon which we could call to find you a replacement photographer. Her husband is also a wedding photographer, and while her untimely demise would pain him terribly he would be able to work to find you a suitable replacement photographer.
If we decide to commission Susan for our wedding, when should we book?
ASAP. Since we cannot "hold" dates or "pencil you in" dates are booked when...well, when they're booked. Most of Susan's commissions contract her within a year of the wedding date, sometimes as close as two months prior, sometimes a full calendar year or more in advance.
If we run overtime, will you stay?
Surely. Susan does have an overtime rate and it goes into effect only with your permission and approval that she continue coverage. She will bill you for those hours after you return from your honeymoon.
Do you offer discounts for off-season or non-saturday events?
Occasionally discounts are available but are based on time of year, Susan's travel schedule, and availability. If you have concerns about your budgetary needs, please contact the studio and let us know.
Do we need to feed you at the reception?
It would be really lovely if you did. It doesn't have to be the same as your sit-down meal (many caterers offer "vendor meals" as an add-on option) but feeding Susan ensures she stays cheerful, mobile, and that she doesn't faint from starvation or waste away in a very tragic manner. We prefer to be fed when you are fed, not afterwards, because when you are eating you're not at your most photogenic. And when you're done, we want to be done as well to continue your coverage.
Can our family and friends take pictures with their cameras? Will that bother you?
Of course they can and it doesn't bother Susan in the least bit! She does request they not swarm the family photographs right away because she'd prefer all eyes facing her in your images, but she doesn't mind at all if they snap away from the background. Susan does not allow family or friends to come along for the bridal images or the images of you two alone for privacy purposes and because, frankly, other people can be distracting! She welcomes other cameras during dancing, cake cutting, and other events just asks politely if people could please not push her out of the way and respect her presence.
I'm a photographer and I really like this FAQ. Can I copy it word for word and put it on my website?
Please tell me you didn't really just ask me that. No, please don't steal from this FAQ for your site. Like investing the time to perfect your photography skills takes time writing good website copy to educate and help your clients takes time. I really care for everyone that I work with and have written this to best help them answer their questions and work on their wedding day plans. When you take this without permission it's neither ethical nor legal. I thank you for taking the time to research what questions YOUR clients need answering and writing something original to best serve them!