Michael Caswell Photography

Frequently Asked Questions

Experience is crucial in the craft of wedding photography. I've been shooting professionally for over 18 years, and have personally captured about 800 weddings, huge and tiny, traditional and unconventional, in a wide variety of locations and lighting conditions.
Chances are very good that the answer to this question is yes, as I've worked at most of the wedding venues in New Orleans and the surrounding area. And it is indeed helpful to already be familiar with a venue. But even if I have not shot at your particular venue, rest assured that my many years of experience means that I've at least shot at a very similar location, and am able to quickly evaluate the photographic challenges and positive attributes of a space.
Yes, I have enough backup gear so that I would still be able to cover your wedding even with equipment failures. This is a crucial aspect of wedding photography that is often overlooked by newcomers to this type of work or simply ignored due to the burden of the added expense. Equipment can and will fail, and while one camera body, a couple of lenses, and a flash or two might be sufficient for portrait work (where you have time to troubleshoot a failure, and worst case would simply mean the inconvenience of rescheduling the session), a thorough level of redundancy is an absolute necessity when you are entrusted with the responsibility of photographing a wedding, and I take this very seriously.
Both! As one of the most experienced wedding photographers in New Orleans, I'm perfectly comfortable working by myself for most events, but can also make good use of a second photographer, and can help you decide which option is more suitable for your particular event. My album packages include a second photographer by default, and it's an option that can be added to my photography-only packages as well.
This is probably the most frequently asked question, but is also the one that is impossible to definitively answer. As with all of your wedding vendors, you should book your photographer as early as possible to help ensure you are able to secure your first choice, and for most couples, the photographer is booked very soon after the venue is confirmed. You do, of course, need to carefully consider this important decision, but don't procrastinate, as even if I am available when you first contact me, another couple might subsequently snatch the date up. On average I tend to book about 8-10 months in advance, with some popular dates (such as Saturdays in the Spring or Fall) tending to fill up earlier. But even if your date is only a few months or even just a week or two away, it still doesn't hurt to inquire about my availability, as I may have an opening... I book several weddings every year that are just a few months out (or less), and (not counting a couple of weddings where I was brought in as an emergency replacement on the day of the event) so far my record is one that, incredibly, was booked a mere three days before!
The entire booking process can be completed through email and with my online contract system. We can also either meet in person, or if this is not possible (if you are not in the New Orleans area, for instance, or if your schedule does not allow) but you would like to discuss details before booking, we can have a phone call or a virtual meeting via Facetime or Zoom if you would like. A non-refundable retainer of one third of the package price is due upon signing the contract, a middle (also non-refundable) payment of one third is due at approximately the halfway point between then and the date of the wedding, and the final balance is due two weeks before the wedding.
This question and answer have been on my FAQ since I first started my business, back when digital was just overtaking film in terms of popularity for wedding photography, and although it's been revised over the years, it's quite obsolete at this point, since although there are still some niche film shooters, virtually all wedding and portrait photographers shoot digital now, and digital photography is established and mature enough so that most people feel perfectly comfortable with it. But I'm leaving it up just in case anyone might still be curious about this.

The quality of images from professional digital SLR cameras has for quite some time exceeded that of 35mm film, and quite dramatically so in terms of the ability to shoot in low light. In addition, in the hands of an experienced photographer there are numerous other operational advantages provided by digital in the fast-paced and unpredictable environment of photographing weddings, particularly with not having to switch to different types of film when lighting conditions change (as they very often do throughout the course of the wedding day).

Digital also provides for a level of protection for your precious wedding photographs not possible with film. My cameras capture to two memory cards simultaneously, providing an instant backup that drastically reduces the chances of image loss, and digital photography enables me to, within hours of the conclusion of your event, have additional multiple backups (including an off-site cloud backup). All this was simply unfathomable in the film days where only one true original (the negative) existed, with prayers being said by the photographer in hopes that no rolls of film would be destroyed or damaged during chemical processing. Any other copies or prints from film-shot images would be of reduced quality, while there can be an infinite number of backup copies of digital images that are exact duplicates of the original.
I do edit every image, but retouching is an additional service that would have to be quoted on an individual basis. What's the difference between editing and retouching? Editing consists of adjusting the exposure, contrast, white balance, cropping, etc. of an image to make it pleasing overall to the eye and ready for reproduction and display, while retouching is most easily defined as "altering reality" (for instance: adding, removing, or changing the appearance of people in a photograph, getting rid of objects in the background, etc.).

Now, if you are making your album selections and love a particular image except for a minor detail such as a facial blemish or an exit sign in the background, I would be happy to take care of that for you upon request.
Yes, the gallery stays active for 6 months. The gallery is password-protected, and the couple gets a separate special password that enables them to hide images from other visitors (who are using the regular password). As an example, if there are some photos from the "getting ready" portion of the day that you'd prefer not be seen by all your family and friends, you have the ability to, with a simple click, remove these images from what other visitors can see in your gallery (they still remain visible for you though).

This gallery is also useful for couples who have an album included in their package, as it allows them to easily make and refine their selections, and then instantly send the list of selections to me.
Yes, yes, and yes! And I actually had a bride/groom couple several years ago who were particularly active in social causes select me to photograph their wedding, in large part, because of my open-minded nature in this regard.
Although wedding photography is not considered a particularly hazardous activity, my business does maintain appropriate liability insurance, which is a requirement that many wedding venues impose on vendors who are providing services there. If your venue requires that they be named on a certificate of insurance, I can provide this upon request.
Sure! But there are a few important caveats to recognize. First, guests should refrain from (or be exceedingly careful) taking pictures during the ceremony. The ceremony, more than any other portion of the wedding day, presents numerous time-critical instances when I have to be in a particular spot to get the shot for you, and it's very easy for a guest to obstruct this line of sight by trying to get their own shot while perhaps not even realizing the problem it is causing (leaning out or sticking an iPhone out into the aisle during the processional or the kiss, for example). For this reason, consider having an unplugged wedding, at least for the ceremony, where guests are asked to leave the photography to the hired professional and to just sit back and enjoy the ceremony, gadget-free. An unplugged wedding also makes for a more intimate and memorable ceremony for the two of you, as you will have a greater emotional connection with your family and friends if you are able to see their faces instead of a sea of electronic devices that they are holding up!

Additionally, guests should not try to shoot alongside me during the formal group portraits. If they do, the individuals in these photographs will be looking in different directions (some at my camera, some at the guest off to the side), which may not be obvious at the time but is very noticeable in the images. This also makes these photographs take longer to complete than it otherwise would.

Lastly, if you have a friend or relative who is an enthusiastic amateur photographer or perhaps an aspiring professional, you should discourage them from using your event as a portfolio-building opportunity, as their efforts to "get the shot" will likely adversely affect my ability to produce the level of work my clients expect. In short, ask that they respect the substantial investment you have made in hiring a professional photographer!
Once the images are received by you, I am no longer contractually responsible for their safekeeping. That being said, my standard practice and my continued intention is to retain all of my images indefinitely, both for my own uses and as a courtesy to my clients, and I still have the image files for every wedding, portrait session, or other event I've ever photographed, dating back to 2005. There have been several instances where a past client has asked for the image files to be supplied again due to a catastrophic event or inadvertent loss, which I was happy to provide. However, please keep in mind that for these older weddings and portraits that have been delivered, I don't maintain the same number of redundant backups as I do with current weddings that are in the process of being edited or were recently delivered, so I cannot unequivocally promise you that I will still have your images available at a later date.

So please remember to make multiple backups of your images and keep at least one copy in a different location. Additionally, you should periodically copy/verify the images to new storage devices, to protect against degradation from old age, and to stay ahead of media obsolescence. And don't forget, printing your wedding images is the best way to ensure you and future generations can enjoy them! I've written a helpful article with more information about how to properly preserve your digital images.
As a very rough (and admittedly broad) estimate, I'd feel comfortable saying about 75-200 images per hour of wedding day coverage (a bit more if your package includes a second photographer). But every wedding is different, and various factors can influence how many pictures I take. For instance, during relatively quiet seated formal dinners (which are actually fairly rare for New Orleans weddings, as receptions here most often have buffet-style meals), there's not as much for me to shoot during that hour or two. But during a lively reception or second line parade, I'll tend to be shooting more just by the nature of these more action-packed periods. Regardless, there is no predetermined limit on how many photographs I will take.
Absolutely not! Thankfully, the vast majority of videographers in the New Orleans area are respectful of the fact that you have invested a significant amount of money in a photographer, just as I am regarding the investment you've made in your videographer, and we will work together in a cooperative manner to beautifully document your wedding.
Knock on wood, I've never missed a wedding! But if something like that were to happen, the way it's addressed in the contract is that I will attempt to find a replacement photographer (wedding photographers in New Orleans are a pretty tight-knit community, and every photographer doesn't typically have a wedding every single weekend). However, you are not required to accept that replacement, and can opt for a full refund instead.
Typically, a week or so after the wedding I'll do a blog post with a dozen or so of my favorite shots as a sneak preview. The editing of all the images is usually complete after about 4 weeks, at which time your gallery is posted and the high resolution print-ready image files are sent to you. My contract does allow me a longer timespan for this editing and delivery (to allow for unforeseen circumstances or especially busy periods), but in actuality it rarely (if ever) ends up being more than 6 weeks.
Once you get your album selections to me, the design process takes a few weeks. Once you approve the design, it takes another 4-6 weeks to have the album produced. Again, as with the editing and delivery of the wedding day image files, the contract will allow me more time for these steps, just in case.
Once your wedding is booked, I have reserved this time specifically for your event. Therefore, the retainer and middle payment are non-refundable and non-transferrable for any other service or date, except as noted below regarding hurricanes.
If your wedding is unable to take place because of the direct effects of a hurricane (for instance, a mandatory evacuation is in place, or the venue is badly damaged or will not have power restored in time for the event), I do allow for a penalty-free rescheduling to a new date, as long as you select a date for which I am available (you must check with me before committing to a date with the venue). Hurricane season is June through November, and although such storms are always a concern for weddings during this time of year, August - September are the peak months. For extra peace of mind consider purchasing wedding cancelation insurance, especially if this is a destination wedding where travel difficulties after a storm could be problematic.
I currently shoot with Sony A1 and A9 mirrorless cameras, which, combined with fast aperture prime lenses, gives me the best ability to work in challenging low-light situations.
I dress to be as discrete as possible, with no bright colors or loud patterns... my goal is to blend in to the background, not to call attention to myself and make a fashion statement! Typically I'll wear black pants, and a black or other dark-colored shirt.

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