Michael Caswell Photography

Frequently Asked Questions

How would you describe your style of wedding photography?

I shoot primarily in a documentary style. Although I do the standard group formals and portraits of the bride and groom, the bulk of my wedding day coverage consists of unobtrusively capturing the beauty, splendor, and emotion of the day. My style is not traditional, but also not excessively artsy or eccentric.

How long have you been photographing weddings? 

Experience is crucial in wedding photography. I began shooting professionally in 2005, and have photographed around 500 weddings, numerous other events, and many engagement and bridal portrait sessions. Photography is my full-time occupation, not a side-job, and weddings represent the vast majority of my work (by choice). I also enjoy occasionally shooting family portraits and seniors. Before starting my photography business, I worked for over 12 years in the advertising graphics field, primarily performing imaging-related work such as graphic design, photo scanning, and photo color correction. This experience with digital imaging carried over into my photography work and enabled me to immediately be comfortable with the technical aspects of digital photography and making it easier to concentrate my efforts on creating beautiful pictures and wedding albums for my couples.

What areas do you serve? 

I'm located in Slidell, Louisiana, and though I've photographed events in Memphis, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC, I primarily work in southeast Louisiana (New Orleans, Northshore, Baton Rouge, Lafayette) and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Do you bring backup equipment?

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.

How far in advance should I book you?

As with all wedding vendors, you should book as early as possible to help ensure you get your first choice secured. 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 (so far, my record is a wedding that was booked a mere 3 days before the event)!

How do I go about reserving you to photograph my wedding, and what is the payment schedule?

We can 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), we can have a phone call or a virtual meeting via Facetime or Skype if you would like, and the contract can be signed online. One third of the package price is due upon signing the contract, another 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.

Is digital photography as good as film? Are my images safe?

The quality of professional digital SLR cameras has, for several years, exceeded 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 advantages provided by digital in the fast-paced and unpredictable environment of photographing weddings. Digital also provides for a level of protection of 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. Immediately after the wedding, additional multiple backups are made (including off-site backups). All this was simply unfathomable in the film days where only one true original (the negative) existed.

Do you edit and/or retouch the photographs?

I do edit every image, but retouching is an additional service that is 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, 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 something such as a facial blemish or an exit sign in the background, I would be happy to take care of that for you.

Are the photographs posted online for friends and family to view and order prints?

Yes, the gallery stays active for 6 months.

Are you comfortable photographing same-sex weddings?

Absolutely! And though much of the text on my website refers to "the bride and groom", please do not interpret this as a slight on bride/bride or groom/groom couples. It's simply a matter of convenience and readability, as I can't always use the more generic word "couples", and coming up with a more inclusive substitute phrase for "bride and groom" that doesn't read awkwardly is a tall order!

Can guests also take pictures during my wedding?

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 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 during the formal group portraits.  If they do, the individuals in these photographs will be looking in different directions, 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 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!

Even though I get the digital image files, do you also keep my images indefinitely?

Once the images are received by you, I am no longer responsible for their safekeeping. That said, I do retain all of my images both for my own uses and as a courtesy to my clients, and there have been several instances where a bride has asked for a replacement disc due to a catastrophic event or inadvertent loss, which I was happy to provide. However, for older weddings I do reduce the number of redundant backups I actively maintain, so please remember to make multiple backups of your images and keep at least one copy in another location. Additionally, you should periodically copy the images to new media, to protect against corruption 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! More information about how to properly preserve your digital images.

How long after the wedding before the images are ready to view?

Typically, about a week 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 3-4 weeks, at which time your gallery is posted and the high resolution print-ready image files are shipped to you. My contract allows me a longer timespan for this editing and delivery (to allow for unforeseen circumstances or particularly busy periods), but in actuality it rarely (if ever) ends up being more than 4 weeks.

How many photographs should I expect to receive?

As a very rough estimate, I usually capture an average of about 100-150 images per hour of wedding day coverage. 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), there's not as much for me to shoot during that hour or so.  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 times. Regardless, there is no predetermined limit on how many photographs I take.

How long does it take to get my album?

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, the contract gives me more time for these steps just in case.

What is your cancelation / refund policy?

Once your wedding is booked, I have reserved this time specifically for your event. Therefore, the retainer and second payment are non-refundable and non-transferrable for any other service or date.

What else can you tell us about yourself?

I have a fairly quiet, uncomplicated life. I've been married for over twenty years, and we have four kids, ranging in age (at the time of this writing) from college to kindergarten. I enjoy cycling (mostly road, but occasional trail riding as well). My main hobby is music... I play clarinet in a local community orchestra, and am also learning violin. I've lived in the New Orleans area my entire life.

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