How to make your photographer feel like a friend-tographer

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Angie Gaul
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You might Remember Angie Gaul of New York-based Milestone ImagesThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them from her helpful wedding planning tips. She's back to tell us how she strikes the balance between friend and photographer.

This is why I always bring my own shower curtain to weddings: for moments like this OR to help keep your dress dry on a rainy day.
This is why I always bring my own shower curtain to weddings: for moments like this OR to keep your dress dry on a rainy day.

I am an avid Offbeat Bride reader, and have been since I started planning my own wedding way back in 2007. I keep coming back because I love the community here, along with the other Offbeat Wives who still read after their weddings. I love weddings, obviously, and I love learning about people's cultures and subcultures, and I really love the respectful tone and intelligent level of commentary and discussion that Ariel, Megan, and the rest of the team work so hard to maintain.

But this also means I really have my finger on the pulse of what Offbeat Bride readers want, and I am especially in tune with what they are worried about. I read the same articles you do — the guest posts from Mike Allebach particularly have me punching the air with agreement! — so I know that Offbeat Bride readers are really debating going back and forth between having a friend take their photos and a vendor. I so get this — I started shooting weddings for friends way back in 2000 when I was majoring in photography.

That's why I try to offer the best of both worlds. I strive for the same sense of warmth and authenticity that you'd have working with a friend who really *gets* you. I just also have thorough contracts, a full set of backup gear, an extensive network of assistants and backup for emergencies, great insurance, studio management software, and a defined workflow with hard deadlines as to when you'll get your pictures.

For people who decide that the cons outweigh the pros when it comes to working with a friendor, here's how I shoot weddings like a friend…

long island wedding

First, ease your fraudtography worries

You can easily check me out. Do a reverse image search. Ask to see full weddings. Google me. Every single wedding that you see on my blog and my website are real people on real wedding days with real budgets, bodies, and time constraints.

Tell me whatever you're into: religion, culture, style, etc…

meaningful bedecken

If it's not my culture or subculture, I will educate myself about it thoroughly. I had a bride that is a bad-ass ecofeminist with a passionate love of Judaism who had a wedding with all of the Orthodox customs, from a meaningful bedecken (where the bride and groom takes a moment before the ceremony to affirm, "Yes, it's really me, right here, loving you and seeing you and choosing us, with nothing between us," before lowering the veil) straight through to post-meal prayers.

solitude with her prayerbook

Then, it was important to her to spent a few moments in solitude with her prayerbook. So I'm sure to be there, documenting it discreetly and loving it all. Afterward the bride told me, "You know, when you plan an Orthodox wedding, everyone says, 'you need to hire an Orthodox vendor; otherwise, they just don't get it. You really, really get it.'"

showing off ink
This bride is very proud of her ink (each flower and symbol represents a different, meaningful person in her wedding party, who were not coincidently in her wedding party). This pose shows that off, but I love the love between them, too.

comic con engagement shootAre you nerds who want to do an engagement session at ComicCon? Psst… this Whovian couple is wearing my husband's fez and holding our Doctor Who sonic screwdrivers for this shot. (We had ours with us; they didn't that day.)

Then let's even talk about your Pinterest boards

crushing wedding party with your shoe photo

As much as I like making my own dark, geeky, tongue-in-cheek version of a WIC-y "Must Take!" fad, you know, I get the appeal of Pinterest, too. I see what inspires my clients, and you know what? If there's a photo you just love? Maybe something went viral during your wedding planning and became an inside joke between you and your sweetie. Now you really kind of want it for yourself… talk to me, I'm up for it.

smegel ring photo
Want to subvert this viral Pinterest pose? Let's do it with a Sméagol statue!

Finally, it doesn't hurt to have a special deal

OFFBEAT DISCOUNT: Offbeat Bride readers save 15% when they book with a contract and retainer by January 20, 2014. (Psst: Between friends, the 2015 prices go into effect on January 1, so you'll get the best deal if you book by midnight on December 31, 2014.)

At the end of day, the secret to my friendly success is about combining artistry and your passions and quirks with kindness, professionalism, and affordability.

And at the end of the day, YOUR secret to friendly photographer success is to hook up with Angie Gaul!

  1. As insane as ComicCon was, it was surprisingly navigable – and even though the backdrop was incredibly nerdy, our totally conventional parents had to admit that our engagement photos were amazing, and it was all thanks to Angie! I am a major camera-phobe, but for the entire session I completely forgot I was in front of a camera at all. Best idea I've had about this wedding was the decision to hire her!

    The shot in front of that King of the Nerds sign was probably one of the funniest parts of the day. We stop under the sign, FH and I turn to each other and say, “Oh no, we forgot to pack the screwdrivers!” Angie turns to Joel, who was holding her bag, and says, “Time to bring out the surprise props!” And out pop the screwdrivers my FH had left at home, plus a fez and bow tie for my Matt Smith-obsessed fiancé. From that point on, he was sold, and not even the 75th anniversary of Batman display (while amazing, and gorgeous) was as awesome as bonding with Angie over Doctor Who.

  2. Angie is the best friend-tographer a bride (or groom) could dream of! We hit the jackpot when we found her! She was by far and away the best vendor we worked with for our wedding, and the only one I am still in close contact with. She is an amazing photographer, an excellent family and wedding party wrangler, and an all around pleasure to work with. I cannot say enough great things about her and her work.

  3. I wish this article 'said it all' but you have to experience Angie in action to really experience her incredible value to any special occasion. Our family and friends loved working with Angie throughout the wedding day and were thrilled we found someone who was so quick, efficient, and fun! I had a lot of concerns about photography (from mediocre engagement and shower photographers) and every time I had a question leading up to the wedding, Angie was there, almost immediately, day or night, with thorough, calming answers. I found myself constantly feeling reassured before the wedding and, of course, throughout our wedding day. I'm so happy I came across Angie online and I hope that this article and all of the *perfect* reviews of Angie's work encourage others to pick her to capture their special day as well!

  4. Can I just say that Angie is the most amazing thing to happen to weddings, and mine in particular? Not only is she an amazing photographer (if you haven't checked out her work yet, you're missing out) but she's freakin' awesome as a human being as well. Over the booking process, she gets to know you. Over the engagement shoot process she REALLY gets to know you- not just your likes and dislikes, but how to read the little cues you're sending off that say, "I feel too silly to be comfortable" or "I've had enough." Never once did we feel overwhelmed or pushed around. Every shoot with her was less a photoshoot than three buddies having a fun outing. And when the wedding rolled around? Let me tell you guys a thing.

    On my wedding day, Angie was literally the only thing that kept me sane. She was always there, helped deflect crazy guests, wrangled an impossible group of people (my friends and family are chronically grumpy on their good days) and managed my mother's constant photosnapping with such finesse that my mom is STILL singing her praises. She told me a joke when I needed a joke, snarked with me when I needed to be snarked with. She made sure I was okay. All while taking pictures. I forgot she was taking pictures. I forgot that that was *why she was there.* When I look back to that day now, all the sharpness has gone out of the mental image: it's a soft, fluid memory, with a few standout moments. My husband is in clear focus, so is my mother; so are other little things like the way my dad's coat sleeve felt under my arm or my grandmother holding back tears as I passed her. I remember getting mad at a couple of guests for [reasons redacted] and I remember Angie, just being there with me as I went through all of that.

    This article is the spot-on truth. Angie and I went into this wedding as two halves of a business relationship, and somewhere along the way we became fast friends. She is able to balance being the friend you need with being the photographer you need. She's the only one of my vendors who was able to do that. Or maybe, she's the only one of my friends who was able to be a vendor! I cannot say enough nice things about this wonderful lady. <3

  5. I too want to join in and send some luv to Angie! As soon as I saw the lead pic of a a photog on the ground I thought, "That looks like something Angie would have done." Of course, when I clicked the link, it was her.
    She really got us and what our wedding was about, and she is just a generally awesome person to have around! She wrangled family like a pro, cued the videographer into important moments, and even managed to charm my type-A-difficult-to-please sister in law who was playing wedding coordinator for us that day. So much so that sis in law booked her for our nephew's Bar Mitzvah this June.
    My only wish on that day was that our justice of the peace and DJ could have been as half as awesome as Angie was.
    Four days after the wedding I checked her blog and she had already posted a sneak peak of over 60 pics. There is nothing like chilling on the beach with a rum punch, on your honeymoon, and looking through your wedding photos!
    I was able to talk hubby into a maternity shoot, but he stated, and I quote: "Only if we can use Angie." See you soon 🙂

  6. These comments are really nice, you guys, thank you! I am so glad that Offbeat Bride brought you all to me. I love making pictures that mean the world to you, and I love the clients who find me through this community. The special offer knocks almost $500 off the most popular package, and brings the being for six hours of coverage and rights to the at least 600 edited photos as high-res files to under $2,00o, which is sometimes hard to find in NY, CT and NJ (although I travel to lots of other places too.) If you're still looking for your photographer, I'd love to hear from you!

  7. Angie is sweet and amazing and this deal is AWESOME so anyone who hasn't booked her yet should jump all over this!

  8. Pretty positive I'm wishing Angie had done our wedding all those years ago. Thanks for being an enviable friend-ographer.

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