Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Great Debate

OK, let me first start off, before going any further, by saying that originally, I had convinced myself that I needed several options for photographers and that I couldn't just meet two and choose between them. HOWEVER, this was before I met two photographers, one more expensive than the other, and found them almost equal in many ways, if there's anymore choices, my head will explode.

OK, stepping back, a little background: Kyle and I have met Shea Roggio and Ben Weldon and we are officially stumped! I thought it would be an easier choice because Shea has more experience than Ben and a more photography-based background, education-wise. But it totally wasn't! Before I get carried away, I'm going to go ahead and do this in true scientist fashion!



The Basic Package:
8 Hours of photography with Ben Weldon                              9 Hours of Photography with Shea Roggio
An assistant to help with equipment and maybe act as a second photog
Formal portraits and candids
Images color and density corrected to be print-ready
A private website showing all images online for 3 months, for ordering and sharing
A DVD with all high-res images, and license to reproduce
One 16x20" custom fine art print ($100 value)                                                   $200 print credit
$1900                                                                                                         $3500

The Upgraded Package:
An engagement session
An entire day of photography
A second photographer
An assistant to help with equipment and maybe act as a third photog
Additional lighting as necessary
Formal portraits and candids
Images color and density corrected to be print-ready
A private website showing all images online for 3 months, for ordering and sharing
A DVD with all high-res images, and license to reproduce
Two 16x20" custom fine are prints ($200 value)                                                $400 print credit
$3400                                                                                                       $5500

Degree in music                                                                                                       Degree in photography
1 year experience photographing weddings                           3 years experience photographing weddings
Musician before being a full time photographer                                 Photographer for the NY Times first

Gritty, odd angles, emphasis on rusticity                                Sharp, crisp, straight on, emphasis on colors
Both like to play with focal points (bride in the front in focus, groom in the background out of focus)


The quality is there but you can see how he's made it extra gritty and by playing with the light processing, he's made it seem dreary. I also love how the branches are hanging just in the frame

Next, he's playing with the sunlight coming through the clouds but he's emphasized the darkness on the left side and the field looks spectacular

He's also not afraid to play with angles, which I really like, see my post from yesterday! It's unique and confusing in a nice abstract way.

I posted Ben's wedding photography a few posts ago, so I won't post them again, but my opinions on his wedding photography is this: it's good... You're not going to be disappointed at the very least. If I can communicate to him that I want the images to look rustic and gritty like his rural shots, I think I'll be happier with him!


I know I already posted this, but I can't get over how great I think it is. It's specifically color corrected so the blue pops and the gray looks extra dingy by comparison.
This one is my favorite in terms of the sky and the color correction to make this look like a dreary day. However, I'd like there to be a graininess about this photo that's not there. For the message that this picture is trying to portray, it's too crisp... if there is such a thing
This is what I was talking about when I mentioned color, I mean look at it! Everything is so clear and the colors just pop. I can tell you one thing though, as much as I love him and his quality, I think that the mood I want to capture for our wedding is more muted...

So, from a business perspective, Shea does seem the smarter choice, but what about from a personal perspective?

E-mails between Shea and me:

Hello Shea,
Thanks so much for getting back to me! I am going to talk to my fiance and figure out when we can meet. We are unfortunately not available the next two weekends because of some international travel... I am very glad to hear you'll be available. I'll cross my fingers that it stays that way long enough... stupid vacation :)
Thanks again!
Hi Ashley,

Thursday, October 28th works great for me.  Can we shoot for 6pm?
Very much looking forward to seeing you shortly...


OH, and just out of curiosity where are you and your fiance traveling too?  I international travel :)
Hey Shea,

We're meeting up in Rome, spending the week there with the exception of one day when we will travel to Naples and Pompeii. You wanna come? I can squeeze you in my luggage!
YES, please do squeeze me in your luggage!!! :)
OK, *conspiratorial whisper* meet me at the airport at 4 PM tomorrow...
*i'll be there...*

How can you say no to that??? Well, When we met him he couldn't have been nicer, ESPECIALLY because our flight home that day was delayed and we got there a half hour late. I apologized profusely but all he cared about was whether or not Kyle and I were worried about the time! We met for about an hour and a half, looked at every album he had, talked about style, inclusions, prices, his previous work, his travels, image processing. He was wonderful! You could tell he was passionate about his work, but (in hindsight) he didn't ask us anything about us. We did talk about the venue a little and the time of year though, but from a photographer's perspective, you have to talk about those things. That being said, I feel ungrateful just writing that out, he really was amazing, I don't want to take anything away from him, but you got just the tiniest of impressions that if we didn't choose him, it wouldn't bother him... Now I know that modesty might make good people give that impression anyway, but it was a tad more than just modesty.

When we got in the elevator, Kyle said "I'm sold" as soon as the elevator doors closed. I reminded him that while I shared his enthusiasm, we needed to keep an open mind. So, a few days later, we went to meet Ben. Our e-mails were normal people e-mails, not like two 12-year-old girls text messaging each other :) so I don't need to post them. We met for about an hour and a half, and he was also, just really really passionate about photography.

When we got there, I was immediately struck by the fact that he couldn't be much older than the two of us, but I was struck second by how he seemed adorably flustered that he didn't have his paperwork all in order (we were early, amazingly). We were more than happy to let him get his things in order, and he took us into a conference room where he had a slide show of his work going, which I appreciated, a lot. He surprised me immensely by telling us that he had gone on Riverdale's website and looked at the grounds and reception hall... Is it just me?? Please someone else tell me that this would mean a lot to you... Well, moving on, he surprised me again by commenting on and complimenting my ring and Kyle's taste. He was more modest and humble, BUT he stuck in a lot more stories about himself, his experience, his background, his recent marriage, his proposal, etc... He's also in a band, which Kyle didn't mention on the way home but I think that resonates more with him because Kyle plays guitar and drums and used to be in bands. Ben also spent more time talking with us about lighting and timing for the best picture taking. He also obliged me when I asked to see some of his editorial stuff, which, as I just posted about, is some of my favorite stuff, and he explained the image processing. When I said the processing was what I really liked most about it, his face lit up, as if he'd been waiting for someone to tell him he could shoot an entire wedding just like that. He asked us more questions about our style and proposal and likes and dislikes. Lastly, again, maybe it's the scientist in me, but he took notes, which didn't resonate with me until we left, and I realized Shea didn't take notes... Now, I can understand a busy photographer like Shea may already know, in his head, what he's going to do with a couple without needing to take notes, so that's nothing against him if note-taking is not his style. However, Ben gave the impression that this was all about us and that he was going to give us his enthusiastic, undivided attention, and that made both of us feel really special.

Kyle remarked that Ben is fresher and greener and may be more enthusiastic just because he needs the work more, and that you can't knock Shea just because he's more comfortable and less 'needy' (just for lack of a better word). He also remarked that as much as I may be a girl, I cannot make this a decision about who I like most. This is a business deal. (can you picture Kyle standing over me looking cross pointing a finger?) I couldn't agree more, of course these are valid points, but I do feel that the enthusiasm counts for a lot when I want someone to be at least almost as excited as I am.

Oh speaking of, I forgot one really funny moment with Ben. He says, to me:
"Do you want getting ready shots?"
"Absolutely, it's one of the things I'm most looking forward to." I say. He says, to Kyle:
"Do you want getting ready shots? I mean," he turns to me, "Do you want getting ready shots of him?"
The man gets me.

So I'm supposed to make this decision, like, very soon, before either of them gets booked, and I need some objective help. Let me pinpoint what I want:
  • Rustic, muted, kind of grainy images
  • Abstract, candid, dreamy images
  • Spectacular quality images... should go without saying
  • To not go broke
Is that too much to ask?? Ideally, I would book Shea and ask Ben to be the second photographer (I don't think I could do it the other way around because I'm pretty sure the lesser experienced photographer does not get to ask the more experienced photographer to be his second), but that would cost me over $5000 which is half of my whole wedding budget!! Alternately, if we went with Shea, I would constantly be trying to cut corners to get the cheapest package from him, and I feel dirty doing that. I actually found myself thinking the other day "Do we really need that online gallery?? You probably have to rent that 3 month space, I bet that's good for a few hundred bucks off the package!" Really?!

Ultimately, what I want is to make this decision, have no regrets, and no spender's guilt. I want to know we're getting what we want and that we didn't spend money we really don't have to get it. BUT, we will spend whatever is necessary to get this one very pivotal piece of our wedding puzzle just right.


  1. i like ben. he seems genuinely interested and concerned with your wedding. and if you keep bringing up the cost, i think deep down, even though you really like shea's work, that you just don't want to spend that much. i think ben's more open to things too. Shea seems like he has a set way of doing things and that's how it's gonna be. so i vote for ben!

  2. I like Ben's work. If you are worried about the cost now, you are going to worry about them later.