Questions you might want to ask a photographer

In my humble opinion, you should not engage the services of a professional who is not prepared to answer your questions openly. Doctor, lawyer whatever! And I include my profession in that as well. If a photographer won’t answer to your questions or listen to your input, and believe me there are many who still believe you must take what they offer, then my advice is find another photographer. Hopefully the questions below will provide some answers that help, but if there is anything not covered here, or it just doesn’t make sense, then please call or email.



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Q. Who will take my photographs?

 I will. Sandra Keddie Photography is all about me and my photography. I never sub-contract and I am not an agency. I always work with an assistant / second shooter for weddings. It is always me in the studio, and I retouch all my own images.

Q. Are you a full-time or part-time photographer?

 I am a full-time and professional photographer qualified with the Master Photographers Association, the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers and also The Photographer Academy. Weddings, portraits and commercial photography is where I get my income. By being a full-time photographer I can concentrate exclusively on my customers and their photography. I can promise you will get a personal service.

Q. How many weddings have you photographed?

I stopped counting at 100! I have been in the wedding photography business since 2007. I am more than happy to meet with you and show you samples of my work, and to answer any questions.




Q. Do you have a studio or shop?

 I have a residential studio and office in Hillcrest, KZN.

Q. How do you dress when working?

 For weddings I always wear smart but practical clothes. Please remember I am not a guest. I will look smart and my colours are conservative, but I may need to lie down in the mud or stand in the rain if the perfect image requires it and while we do everything to keep you dry and out of the rain, this does not apply to me or my assistant. We get the best shots, no matter what the weather!  In the studio I like to be smart casual and comfortable.

Q. Do you have insurance?

 Yes, I have very comprehensive business insurance which includes Public Liability insurance.

Q. What happens if it rains on my wedding day?

I get wet, and so does my assistant! Strangely enough it rains in South Africa, but not so much and normally not for so long or as cold as in Scotland, where I used to work! I suggest that a good best man/bridesmaid thinks about having a couple of nice white umbrellas available for just in case. I normally have a couple as well, a habit I picked up in Scotland. When I arrive at the venue on the day of the wedding, I always introduce myself to the coordinator or event manager to discuss the running order of the day, which also includes what happens if the weather is poor. Good venues are used to this, and will have a plan. We will try to get outside, the light is so much better, but I do carry lighting equipment if we have to we shoot within the available space in your venue. It is always worth asking an event manager where the photographs are taken on bad weather days.

Q. What if you’ve never worked at the venue before?

If I’ve never worked at a venue before, I visit the venue before to familiarise myself with the venue. I will discuss timings and space with the event manager and make sure that I have ideas in my mind about where to shoot.

Q. What if your camera kit breaks down?

 My equipment is all of a professional level. I have spare everything. I regularly maintain and replace my equipment. I am also registered with the Canon Professional Network CPN which means if my kit is lost, broken or stolen I can quickly get replacements.

Q. How long does it take to view images?

Wedding proofs are normally turned around within two to three weeks, portrait proofs within 5 working days and for commercial images within a few hours to two days depending on the task.

Q. Do you have an assistant?

Yes, I always have a second shooter / assistant for weddings. I sometimes have an assistant in the studio, if the lighting setup is complex, and mostly on location. Never for boudoir.

Depending on the circumstances or the size of the wedding, I may bring an extra assistant with me, to carry equipment or organise lighting. My assistant helps organise groups and poses, and also takes reportage photography, capturing casual and candid moments. I am currently married to my main assistant!




Q. Do you have a privacy policy?

 I keep clients details in a password protected database I have on my admin computer. Your data is completely private and secure at all times and I never pass on or sell personal details or contact information. I firmly believe that passing personal details onto other agencies is both unethical and completely wrong. Like all photographers, the copyright of the images is mine. Even if you purchase the images on disc and reproduction rights, the image remains mine. But I respect peoples right to privacy, so if you state in our contract that you do not wish your images used for marketing or sold then I will not use them.

Q. Why is wedding photography so expensive?

 A. Consider first that you are hiring a professional. There are numerous costs involved in providing a quality service, including professional grade equipment, insurance, taxes, travel, training, etc. Then remember, it is not just about the wedding day: We meet at least once, probably twice, before the wedding to discuss your requirements. After the wedding day – which is a long working day – I process the images, present them, retouch selected images, design an album, present the album proof for your approval, adjust if necessary, then meet with you a final time to deliver your album to you.

Lastly, I believe that I am as inexpensive as I can be. I try to keep my costs as low as possible, working from home for example and trying not to charge travelling costs unless absolutely necessary. The main cost in your package will depend upon the type of album you choose. Graphistudio make beautiful albums that I am very happy to present. They are a gorgeous quality product, a truly breathtaking way to present wedding images – but they do attract a premium price. I also offer other albums which may better suit a budget while still being an extremely good product.



Q. Why should we choose you?

A. You are entitled to choose the person who you think will best suit your needs, whether that is for wedding, portrait, corporate or whatever. I believe I offer exceptional value for money. I believe that I present a creative vision that people enjoy, I hope that you enjoy my style of photographic presentation. I will work tirelessly for you, with a sense of humour, to get those images that you want to capture and I will present them just as well as I can to try to delight you. If you want something else from your photographer …

Q. What should I wear for my portrait photoshoot?

 A. Wear whatever you feel suits the image you want to portray. Long sleeves are generally better than short for adults. Try to find outfits that are plain, rather than patterned, and it is normally better for people to wear a similar colour. For a one hour photoshoot I would recommend two outfits. I have a short guide that I send to photoshoot clients.
Q. What about boudoir?
A. Please read the other blog entries on my Stylish Sexy Boudoir offering.

Q. Will you take my pets portrait?

 A. I will come to your home or to a location and we will agree a rate. I cannot bring pets into the studio because of possible allergies. Pets can be unpredictable and sometimes we will not get as many images as I would like. However I have yet to have a dog defeat me, and have always been able to get a portrait that an owner has been happy with.

Q. What do we need to do to book you for our wedding / event?

 A. Firstly, please contact us to confirm we are available for your date and advise us of your requirements. Once we have met and agreed, we will send out two copies of our standard terms and conditions for you to sign, returning one copy along with the required booking fee. Once we have received these, and the booking fee (currently R2000) your booking is confirmed.

Q. If we cancel the booking, do we get our deposit back?

A. Your “deposit” is a booking fee which holds your day for a wedding and means that I cannot take other work on that day. Usually if I can find work on your day after you have cancelled then I will refund, but otherwise I am afraid it should be considered as a fee for the administration and planning involved in preparing for covering your wedding or event, and for my loss of earnings. For portrait and studio work, we can normally come to an arrangement on rescheduling. I may offer services or product to the same value instead of a refund.

Q. Your website mentions the MPA, SWPP and CPA – what is that?

 A.  I am a qualified member of the Master Photographers association (MPA), licentiate member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers, SWPP, both of which means I have displayed a significant level of photographic professionalism. To be qualified as a Master Photographer you need to be able to prove that you are a full-time professional and submit a panel of images that are judged. For SWPP you are required to submit a panel of images, again that are judged. CPA is the qualification of being certified by the Photography Academy run by Mark Cleghorn, one of the UKs most successful photographers, which delivers mostly online training and mentoring.
If I have not covered your question here, please do not hesitate to contact me.
079 752 2124

Really useful posing tips

The Ford model agency has handled some of the all-time super models – Christie Brinkley, Elle MacPherson, Bar Rafaeli – and knows a thing or too about how to make girls look great. This short video has some really great tips for all of us, not just models, and is very good advice for brides to be and anyone coming for a studio or location shoot. It is also worth looking at and remembering for those times when you are at a social function and the camera comes out – this is why your cousin, best friend etc always looks good in pics … she isnt better looking or thinner than you, she just knows how to stand and lean her head (probably found it on the internet!!)

Hope this helps


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Wedding Planning Advice

colin cowie weddings

Credit to Pamela Hanson/

I very rarely write about other blogs or websites, but I found Colin Cowie Weddings, a wedding planning and advice site, and some of the content is just invaluable for brides to be as well as photographers!! I am always looking for resources that keep me on trend and up to date with weddings. I also find that as the person who has been at the most weddings – apart from the event coordinator and maybe the limo driver, but these guys are responsible for limited bits of your day – the photographer often becomes a reference point or go-to-guy when something goes awry, not quite to plan, or when there is a decision to be made. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked “what normally happens now” or “what do you think we should do”?

I know some photographers who do not give advice – and there are quite a few times when I have said that whether the service should be outside or not is a matter for the groom/best man/event coordinator – yes, that is where the best light is, and as a photographer I would love you to be outside, but am I going to assure you that it will definitely not rain? No way! But I will help out … I know how to put on a buttonhole (quickly), lace up a dress (girls, gowns with corset style bodices, the ones that lace at the back look gorgeous, but please practice at least once, if you do not have a professional dresser on the day because these things take a while to do up! I should be taking photographs!!), which side your dad should be on and a whole host of other things picked up along the way. And I want you to relax and look great in your photographs, so I am your best friend … up to a point!

Your other best friend should be the professional industry, like Colin Cowie. This is from a great article on the site called Underneath it All, really sensible advice about what to have under that fantastic gown –  “Every bride dreams of looking her most beautiful and feeling her finest on her wedding day. If you love frilly and sexy underwear, its your choice, but make sure it does the heavy lifting, too. You want the undergarments you wear under your dress to support you, smooth you and keep it all in one place. Make sure you pack some sizzling underwear for your wedding night and honeymoon–your groom will thank you later!”


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Boudoir Photography Helpful Do’s and Don’ts

I am always on the lookout for tips and hints I can pass on to, especially to brides and girls who may be contemplating boudoir shoots. Both can be quite daunting, in different ways. i found this on Pinterest, which is a great resource for getting ideas for photographs, I always recommend starting a pin board. That we you can explore ideas, share, get feedback, and it can all be done “secretly” so that you only share with those you want to know 🙂 I especially like the slimming tips in this post that have nothing to do with losing weight, but are rather about those visual effects that can make us all look slimmer.

Thanks to Boudoir by Elizabeth, at Artistic Images Photography, who I deserves credit for the original post.

If you ladies, single, married or brides-to-be (in the West of Scotland until September 2014 and in Hillcrest, Durban, KZN from October 2014) are interested, why not contact me or have a look at a small portfolio on my website called ‘Gift for Hubby’ (or anyone else you love, including yourself!!).


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boudoir do's & dont'ts

Guide to the Perfect Wedding Dress


As a wedding photographer I have seen quite a few wedding dresses. It is such a focal point for the day. I don’t think I am in anyway an expert on dresses. I have learned how to photograph a bride in a style of dress to best effect, how to emphasise that long flowing style or flatter a “fuller” figure, but I found these guides as to what dress best suits which body type really interesting. It won’t find the perfect dress for you, but I thought it was a really useful staring point.



Thanks to Ev at Evanna Wedding Planner for sharing these.


What wedding photographers really do …


I promise myself that I will spend less time in front of a monitor this year …


12 Questions about choosing a Wedding Photographer

I was recently interviewed by an online wedding magazine, specifically to give some guidance from a professional photographer’s point of view about what to look for in wedding photography. It was fun, and the magazine liked it enough to publish it here.


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” Choosing the right Wedding Photographer for your big day is probably one of the most important decisions you will make during your wedding planning.

The photographs captured on your Wedding Day will inevitably become one of your most sentimental keepsakes over time, and so compromising on quality in order to save money needs to be taken seriously. But, with so many questions about Wedding Photography often going unanswered, how can you ensure you are on track to make the right decision?

We spoke to the talented Sandra Keddie from Sandra Keddie Photography in Glasgow, and asked her twelve questions which will help you in your search for a Professional Wedding Photographer.

Thanks to Sandra for providing us with some really insightful and useful answers for this article; I never knew so much work went into every booking, and it is clear that there are some really talented and professional photography services about who really do put the couples.”

1.)           There are so many Wedding Photographers available; How do we narrow down and find one that suits us?

Do your research. Go through the wedding industry publications, both hard copy and online. Listen to your friends who have been married recently; did they have a good experience with their photographer? What did they like about their photography and what didn’t they like? Contact photographers compare quality, packages and pricing. Make sure that you see a full wedding day from your photographer and that they show you photographs shot indoor and outdoor, in sunshine and in the dark (especially if you are having a winter wedding). Try to think about what is important for you about your photographs: how do they fit into your day? Do you really want some stunning images that will end up as art on a wall, or do you want a photographic memory that will please you and family members or do you want a bit of both? To find a Wedding Photographer that suits you, you have to know what you want from your wedding photography.

Let me tell you about my approach, it is different to some other wedding photographers. To begin with, I shoot every wedding myself – you know when you book Sandra Keddie Photography you always get Sandra from start to finish! So ask your photographer; Are you booking the person you are talking to? Some photographers and agencies sub-contract to other photographers.

I also do my own retouching and album design. This, for me, is about delivering a personal service, creating a vision that comes from understanding the needs of a couple in combination with my expertise and experience. Different photographers work in different ways. This is mine – we meet, we chat about you, we agree on an approach, exchange ideas, you have a wonderful day and I photograph you, I process your images, enhancing and retouching where necessary and once you have chosen images for your album, I draft a design. Before finalising your design and sending it to the printers, we agree any changes you would like, then you approve it and we go to print. The outcome is a beautiful album that you have been part of the process of creating and that I feel is also true to me and my style. So ask your photographer; do they do their own album design and retouching, or is this outsourced?

My approach might not be for everyone. I believe I am quite flexible but I have a style and a perspective that I want to remain true to. I want to create at least one unique image a wedding; something different, something about the couple in front of the camera and my vision for them. Not everybody wants that, some people just want a record of their day, maybe with some formal family groups. 

So, the short answer: agree with your partner what you both want from your photographs, consider your requirements (indoor photos, outdoor photos, daylight and/or evening photos) contact photographers for prices and budget accordingly, then try to find a photographer who matches style, quality and budget expectations.

The industry average budget for a photographer is 10% of the wedding cost.

2.) We have a friend who is currently doing a Photography course; should we just ask her to do our Wedding and save some money?

Remember, wedding photography is not only about photography, its so much more than that. Its about the experience of knowing how a wedding day works, its about organising people in an efficient and timely manner and managing a shot list,  its about having the range of equipment and expertise to photograph in any weather and in any lighting conditions and its about having insurance against equipment failure.

I don’t know your friend, and I don’t know how good a photographer he or she is. Have they been working in the photography industry for quite some time, and have they gone to college to improve their technique and maybe get a qualification, or did they get a camera for a birthday and decide they wanted to do a course? That might sound like a flippant answer but while the technical skills of photography can be taught at college it does not necessarily make someone a good photographer. Equally, some of the best in the world have no college training. As an example, I like Brett Florens – the South African photographer who is now considered one of the best in the world – he has major commercial contracts (Quiksilver and Roxy are just two) and commands top dollar for wedding shoots. He started off as a police officer working in the forensic department – they literally said “who wants to be the photographer” and he stuck his hand up! Self taught and amazing, and now with over 20 years in the wedding industry. To the best of my knowledge he never went to photography college!

Seriously, should you save the money? And risk the images of your most special day that will last a lifetime? The truth is you probably will get some good images. Probably.

3.) How far in advance should we book our chosen Wedding Photographer? As far in advance as possible. Once you have a date and venue, start to think about your photographer. Very good photographers will be taking bookings at least a year and maybe two years in advance. 

4.) What will happen once we call a Wedding Photographer; will they be all ‘salesy’?

Some will, yes. And if you are going to choose your photographer by price, rather than quality, play them off against each other, just like buying double glazing or whatever. But remember, you are then buying the cheapest product available. Is that how you picked your gown, your reception venue, your wedding rings? If you don’t want to be sold to this way, choose to filter by quality and style, rather than price. And if someone trys to get all “salesy” with you, you are entitled to be assertive and choose not to continue. All of this should be your choice, not a pressure sale. you should be comfortable with your chosen photographer; ideally they make you laugh, or at least they make you smile and relax. 5.) We like a particular style of photography, but we’re not sure what is called. How can we find out if a Wedding Photographer ‘does’ this style without sounding rude?

Just be natural, and don’t be afraid to ask, if someone tries to baffle you with … jargon, ask them to explain, if they make you feel uncomfortable, then maybe you don’t want them to photograph your wedding.

There are basically three types of photography for weddings: formal posed, informal posed, and reportage/photojournalistic. Reportage is that journalistic, mostly blank and white, candid, “oh wow you captured that moment” style of photography. For this your photography supplier needs a long lens, an understanding of how weddings work, patience and a least two photographers, to do it properly. Formal posed is self-explanatory, while informal posed tends to be that “we just want some of those really nice, relaxed, natural photographs”. Sorry, those were posed, but sympathetically, gently, by a photographer who listened to what the couple wanted.

6.) Why is Wedding Photography so expensive? It is only a days work, isn’t it?

Only a Days work? Ok, lets work out the real time; I meet with you to discuss your requirements at least once, normally twice (say 2 hours each time), I consider your ideas, add some of my own, and we collaborate to get the best outcome for your day. Once we agree; I shoot your wedding (6-10 or maybe even 12hours), I employ an assistant/2nd shooter who attends as well (6-8 hours). I sort your images (2-3 hours), removing images with eyes closed or bad expressions etc; I then process your images, enhancing colour, lifting shadows and relaxing highlights (another 2-3 hours); I go through all your final images subtly retouching where necessary (another 3-6 hours);  After you have chosen your album images, I design an album from your choice of images (8-16 hours); I upload the album to my supplier then I deliver the final product to you once printed (this is my pleasure); we laugh, we cry, we have a glass of wine, you leave with the most beautiful collection of memories.

Only a days work? More like 4-7 days for a quality product.

And now what else adds to the cost? First, and maybe most important, I am a full-time photographer, this is what I do. It is not a hobby, something I pick up at the weekend or in the evening. I own a wide range of professional quality equipment, with spares of everything, that are insured and regularly serviced and I budget for regular replacements. I have an annual budget to attend training courses to maintain my skills and update my approach and I submit myself to scrutiny from professional bodies which charge me a membership fee – this also means that if I break my leg the day before your wedding I can request that another available professional member can shoot on my behalf. As a professional I pay for professional indemnity insurance which actually includes that if something drastic happens on your wedding day and you have to re-shoot your entire wedding, the policy will pay out and enable me to do so. I also own substantial computer equipment so that I can store and back up your images – copies are available for 5 years. 

Lastly, the cost of printing and binding a good quality wedding album is also quite a substantial cost with each wedding, and is quite often the single biggest variable in the package.

After due consideration, is professional wedding photography that expensive?

7.) We have heard of cheaper Wedding Photography options, such as ‘Shoot & Burn’. Why shouldn’t we just go for that then?

This is about an informed choice. I am not going to tell you not to go for a “shoot and burn” package, in the same way that I am not going to tell you not to get your friend with the good camera to take your photographs, or to go for the part-time photographer trying to break into the industry who has a weekday job, no insurance, no qualifications and no spare kit. What I will say is, “shoot & burn” is exactly what it is; images provided to you exactly as shot, no colour correction, no lighting adjustments, no straightening, with good and bad expressions included, no subtle retouching, and no copies archived. Don’t expect anything more.

If you want all the post shoot processing and reliability that goes with a good quality photographer and a dearer package then think about choosing a professional photographer with a portfolio and style that matches your expectations.

8.) We’re really nervous about appearing on camera, and hate having our photograph taken; will our Wedding Photographer be able to help with this and maybe suggest some ideas to help the jitters?

If you have followed my advice above, you will have met and booked a photographer that you are comfortable with, so on the day, you should feel at ease. However, I always recommend a pre-wedding shoot, this means that you get a chance to get to know me (or your chosen photographer) better, we talk about natural poses that look good in camera, and you get a chance to tell me what you are comfortable with. It is your wedding day, as a photographer I promise you I will listen to you. I will be sympathetic and mindful of your needs and wishes.  And I would respectfully suggest that any photographer who does not adopt that approach and attitude is not worthy of your business.

9.) Will our Wedding Photographer be able to just “airbrush” or “Photoshop” any photographs we are not happy with?

Not all photographers provide this service (certainly not in “Shoot and Burn” packages) and some charge additionally for this. Back to what I said earlier: your relationship with your photographer involves communication, discussion, agreement. When meeting with your photographer, you should really ask them this question. As part of my package, I provide subtle retouching and effects to make sure that the enhancements give your photographs a “wow factor” but I still want you and your friends to recognise you. If you want your body or face shape changed, this retouching is usually charged in addition. If there is an exit sign in an image, it is a reasonable request to ask me to remove this if it is an image that is being enlarged or going into an album, if I haven’t already done so.

10.) We are not technical at all, and really don’t understand many of the terms our Wedding Photographer uses. Should we just agree with everything they suggest?

No. No. NO. NO! NO!! Seriously, … NO!!! Even if you go in for major heart surgery you have to give informed consent. Which means that if you don’t understand you are allowed to ask questions. And if you don’t understand the answers you are allowed to ask more questions. Personally, if people are hiding behind jargon and technical stuff, I would wonder why they are hiding!!

11.) What basics should we expect for our money in our Wedding Photography package?

I don’t want this to be a comedy answer, but it does depend on the package agreed between you and the photographer. However, remember that you may need to pay a bit more for a quality and style that you are looking for.

How long do you want your photographer for – coverage goes from getting ready all the way through to last dance/fireworks. Or just guests arriving to cutting of the cake before the speeches. Maybe you want a pre-wedding shoot, something that I think should be included as part of a package. But there is a growing trend for a day after shoot, like a cherish or trash the dress shoot.

Agree a list of family photos, remember its the only time everyone will be together in their Sunday best!

Then you have to decide on whether you want just digital images – disc, USB – or an album. Please, please, please choose an album. Photographs last, we know that. they are timeless, and those who come after us will wonder at the images found in suitcase in the loft. In a hundred years time what are they going to do with a disc?

But, the least you should expect; At least 1 pre-wedding meeting with your photographer, a signed contract agreeing the terms, the coverage and family photos you agreed, to a professional standard, in the specified style, capable of at least minor manipulation to create a pleasing image, delivered in the agreed format. You should expect someone who is prepared to listen to your wants, needs, concerns, respond in a reasonable manner and deliver a product which is pleasing to the eye.

12.) Our Wedding Photographer isn’t listening to our ideas or what we want. What should we do?

If your wedding photographer is not prepared to listen to your ideas, don’t book them as your photographer. There is a need for a dialogue, an understanding of what you are getting and how much it will cost. If you are not comfortable about both of those things, do not sign a contract. If you are really unhappy, break the contract, but be prepared to lose your booking fee. This is why you should not rush in to a “lowest price, I will match that price if you sign today” deal. This stuff is important. It needs to be properly spoken through, understood and agreed. If your wedding photographer isn’t listening to you, in my opinion they are a BAD wedding photographer and not worthy of you business. Please refer to questions 1 through 11, before signing a contract.