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Do you have any tips for an engaged couple before taking engagement photos?

An engagement shoot is the best way to really build a comfort with your wedding photographer before the wedding day. You get to see how they direct you and how comfortable it feels. As well, it is a great way for us to discover how the two of you interact as a couple, and what type of images you connect with. To make the most of your session time, we suggest choosing a location that has lots of great environments to work with.

Sometimes it can be fun to think of something you like to do together as a couple and create more of a scene for your engagement shoot. Having fun within your environment can really reflect your personality as a couple, and show off the love you have together :) We have a lot of great locations if you are wanting some inspiration.

We suggest keeping the engagement shoot short and sweet. More time on an engagement doesn't make it a better shoot. It's actually better to shoot for less time and be more efficient. We find that after an hour and a half, couples tend to look tired, and you see that in the photographs. We use the time well, and can produce amazing results from a shoot that lasts an hour or so.

As for attire, we suggest that you bring two changes of clothes. The first outfit can be a little more dressy, and the second can be a bit more casual. The key is to NOT match. Matching is not cool. Dress like you are going out on a date together. One suggested outfit is a dress and heels for the bride to be, and denim jeans and a nice collared shirt for the guy. The second outfit could be the bride wearing blue jeans, and the groom just changing his shirt to a favorite tee or something more comfortable.  If you plan on incorporating outfit changes, you'll want to ensure you have booked sufficient photo shoot time. For example, typically 1 hour=1 outfit, 1.5 hours=up to 2 outfits, etc.

All of your engagement  pictures are guaranteed to be ready within 14 business days. If you are using the photos for save the dates, or need them sooner, we should be able to turn them around quicker for you. All of the engagement images are provided full-resolution, to be displayed or printed as you wish.

Do you have any tips for a bridal couple before photographing for their wedding?

There are a few things you can do to help us prepare before the wedding. Let us know if there are certain people that you definitely want photographs with. As well, if there is a special shot or detail that you have been wanting for a long time, let us know of that.  We are an open book and want to make sure you are happy.

If you have ideas for the photography, please feel free to share them. But, try to keep them to a minimum to allow the photographer to push their own creative envelope.  On the day of the wedding, we feel that your job is to show up and look pretty, and trust that you've hired an amazing photography team :) Allowing your photographer to be creative will allow you to see images that you haven't seen before!

Do you have a sample timeline?

Below is a sample timeline. It is meant to just be a starting point to help give guidance and is based off a seven hour package. If you have more or less hours it will greatly vary and definitely needs to be discuss directly with your assigned lead photographer. Also there will be different wants, as well as events that take place that day to make sure to discuss with your photographer.

Example Timeline based off a 7 hour package with wedding starting at 5:00pm and 2 photographers. If clients want a first look, 45-ish minutes more time is suggested to the beginning of the day.

  • 3:00pm-3:45pm arrive to photograph final getting ready shots. Bride should be 90% ready with exception of dress being put on. Bridesmaids should be 100% ready
  • 3:45-4:15 photograph bridesmaids
  • 4:15-4:45 photograph groomsmen
  • 5:00-5:30 photograph ceremony
  • 5:30-6:30 cocktail hr (one photographer will head to cocktail hour and photograph the room details)
  • 5:30-6:00 photograph family (this is the most important part of the day, it is vital that all family know where to be and are present. If we are chasing after an uncle that went to cocktail hour by accident, there is a domino affect and it takes away from the couple's photos as there isn’t a lot of makeup time on the wedding day.) After the pics, the family heads to cocktail hour
  • 6:00-6:15 bridal party  (bridal party needs to stay and not head to cocktail hour until after the pictures)
  • 6:15-6:35 Pictures of the wedding couple (If more time is needed we will pull you out during salads to get a few more portraits)
  • 6:35-10:00 Photograph dances and traditional reception events

Do you have a replacement photographer in case you become unavailable on the day of the event?

We always have a backup photographer on standby in case of any unforeseen emergency. The photographer will be of equal caliber. To date, over the 15 years that True Photography has been in business, we have never missed a single wedding day.

Do you have a list of preferred vendors you can share with me?

Absolutely! We have many preferred vendors who we have enjoyed working with over the years, and who we highly recommend. We have vendors listed from almost every category, and you can find the complete list by clicking on this link.

Do you enhance and retouch all of your photos in Photoshop?

We primarily do use Photoshop to do our enhancement and retouching. Every image that a client receives has been adjusted by hand to ensure the very best color and contrast along with our own unique style to the photograph.

Do you do reprints, enlargements and fine art printing?

Yes, we offer a range of printing options. Keep in mind that we are one solution. You will get all your images full-resolution for your event. These printable files give you the freedom to print when and where you wish.

When your event is added to our shopping cart, you will be given a link to the gallery, and an event code to share with friends and family. Any time you click on a gallery image, you'll see the print options available for that photo, which will give you the most current pricing.

If you choose to print with us, you'll find that we have actually priced our standard printing lower than most photography studios charge. We did this in an effort to be reasonable for your family and friends that log in to see your pictures online.

Here is an explanation of the two types of printing we do.

Standard Printing: Outsourced to a pro lab and printed on professional paper. Archival up to 40 years without fading. Machine printed.

Fine Art Printing: All Fine Art printing is done in our studio on a high-resolution large format inkjet printer. We use the finest, soft cotton archival papers with a light watercolor texture and delicate feel. The matte papers and premium inks produce images with smooth tones and rich colors for an extraordinary presentation. The prints have a no fade life expectancy of 200 years. (We highly recommend matting and framing your Fine Art print for a beautifully finished look).

Every single image is available to be printed in a variety of sizes, which are priced accordingly.

Do you do a walkthrough or scout the location of our venue?

Yes. We always scout a venue inside and out if the venue is new to us. If it is a location that we have photographed for years, then typically we don't need to do a walkthrough. To produce the very best results and to be most efficient we have found that it is best that we do a walkthrough on our own, versus with the clients. This allows us as photographers to focus without distraction.

As trained photographers we are looking at things from a completely different perspective. We are looking at how the light is falling in a particular area, we are looking for clean backgrounds, distractions in the background, and how we want to expose for the image. We look for little nooks and crannies that to an untrained eye may not be amazing, but behind the camera it will be.

We have found that it is most important to scout a new location on the day of the wedding. That way we can see what the light presents, as well have everything very fresh in our minds as to the best spots to photograph. We typically arrive an hour before shoot time, to allow for plenty of time to really get to know the location. Before the wedding day, we also like to go online and view photographs that have been taken in the past at the venue. We use that as inspiration and then give it our own twist.

If you are doing a walkthrough, we suggest that if you have any special locations that you want to be photographed in, that you send us an email list and we will be sure to take note. But ultimately we will make sure on our end that we know the venue blindfolded before photographing. If you can put your trust in our process, I can promise that it will produce the very best end result.

Do you charge hourly or full day?

Hourly. Every wedding or event is different, and we believe that you should be able to choose the number of hours that works best for you without being locked into a day rate. To make it easy to see our pricing, we have a price customizing feature on our web site where you can choose the number of hours and other specifics, while a rolling total appears in the side column.

Do you charge for travel?

For weddings within the continental United States, the rate you see on our online customizer is the actual rate that you pay. There are no added fees :) You can type in any zip code on our pricing customizer to see the rate in your area. There will be no additional travel fees added after the fact.

For destination weddings overseas, and multi-day events, there will be added travel fees. Please contact our studio for specific details. We look forward to hearing more about your big day!

Do you bring back-up equipment to the event in case of malfunction?

Yes. To say the least, we are VERY cautious and paranoid ;) To date, we have never lost a single file. Typically (at most weddings) there are two photographers, so we instantly have a backup person in case of any issues. Then each photographer has two camera bodies, in case a camera malfunctions. Inside each camera body are two card slots. What this means is that we photograph on two cards simultaneously, so if one card fails, it is saving to another card at the same time.

After the wedding, the cards are downloaded and backed up on two separate hard drives. That way, the images are in two places.

The end results is that it would take two photographers, four cameras and eight cards all failing at the same time to lose images. With that said, there can be a blurred image here and there when capturing moving subjects. Or rare instances where the flash could not recycle quick enough to capture an image. But those would be a per-image scenario, rather than an entire event not being covered.

If we were to ever lose an entire event (which simply won't happen), we would of course refund every penny paid and would probably move to Canada ;)

Do we get every single picture that you take?

We always make sure to do very little removing (editing/culling) of the images from your event. Here is the process. 

Throughout the event, each time we are in a different scene, we will test our light. As we set up our shots, we are constantly making improvements in the moment. Sometimes, we will photograph four or five shots to get to that sixth or seventh perfect image.

After the event, we download the images and preview all of them in our studio. As part of our post-production, the occasional test image will get removed, as those are usually pictures of the ground or sky, or are very dark or light. But if we think an image may have any interest at all, it is kept. So you will have essentially every image photographed (a lot of photos!)

Finally, we look at the full series. Let's say that when we took family portraits, we took six nearly identical photographs of the same group. Out of the six shots, there will be maybe three that are most flattering, where all eyes are open and everyone is looking great. Instead of selecting only one photo, and limiting the images you receive, we will still include the alternates in our deliverables, so you have options to choose from. 

For peace of mind, let's say we photographed a picture and it may not be our favorite as an artist. But it has an uncle walking by or someone laughing. We will always leave those images in there for you, so you have the option of viewing them :)

Do I have full use of my wedding images?

We believe that when you hire us to photograph your wedding, you are entitled to enjoy your resulting photos. We don't want to hold your pictures hostage, and we happily provide you with a download of all of your images in full resolution, without our watermark, so that you are free to use and print them however you choose. You will have unlimited usage of those files. The only restriction is that you can't sell the images for profit. Otherwise, feel free to print the images, and pass them on to any friends and family as you wish.

Can you take pictures of a Dinosaur chasing us?

We have actually seen the dinosaur picture quite a bit. We agree, It is a really funny shot :)  We really try on our end to have our own creative images for you. That way you have pictures unique to you rather than just duplicating other photographers' ideas. We want to make sure that when you get your pictures, they feel original and unique rather than a duplicate of a lot of other weddings you have seen.

We love to have fun, and my suggestion would be to think of something that can be your own. Example: Lets do a shot of all the guys on jungle gym bars hanging upside down if we are going for humor. Or do a picture where it looks like the groom is levitating. Or do something really stylized and unique.

These are pictures that nobody else has because we used the environment and got creative within it. That really is our style and represents what we do best. We want you to be very happy clients while also staying "True" to what we produce for you. Expect the unexpected and  you will treasure those images even more.

Can you suggest a nice engagement shoot location?

San Diego offers many amazing locations for a perfect engagement shoot. In order to be most efficient with your engagement shoot time, we suggest choosing an location with a lot of cool backgrounds within a close proximity. That way, we spend your allotted time photographing, rather than driving. Here are a few spots that we are drawn to:

  • Downtown San Diego / Gaslamp District: This is one of our top suggestions. Our headquarters in the Marina district is a great place to kick off your shoot. In every direction, you'll find diverse and picturesque backdrops, including century-old buildings, a waterfront view, trolley stops, and eclectic storefronts. It is near the hustle and bustle of downtown, but has its own cool vibe. There are beautiful city parks nearby, as well as attractions such as Seaport Village and the Headquarters at Seaport District. And the Gaslamp District is a few short blocks away, which makes for great nightlife photos!
  • Solana Beach: We were located on Cedros Ave in Solana Beach for several years, and it is for a good reason. Location, location, location :) Cedros is perfect because it's an artistic street with many different backgrounds. Cool spots that are steps from our studio include a bridge, bright red and blue brick walls, lush vegetation, an iconic music venue... the list goes on. You can walk 100 yards and it looks like you went all over the city. The other nice part is that it is a 2-minute drive to the beach (Fletcher Cove). Because Fletcher Cove sits on a bluff, it has cliffs overlooking the ocean, as well as nice sandy beach areas.
  • Balboa Park: Balboa Park has many great backdrops. You can have photographs in the trees, under archways, in rose gardens, by a pond, and in a funky cactus field. There is also a Merry Go Round just down the street, which makes for more fun shots!
  • Salk Institute and Torrey Pines Glider Port: These locations are right next to each other and make for a diverse photo shoot. The Salk Institute offers minimalism at its finest. It is all concrete, and is understated and modern. If you are looking for that clean, sleek look, this is the place to be. Just down the street is the Torrey Pines Glider Port, which features cliffs overlooking the ocean, for a nice backdrop. If the timing is right, there may even be hang-gliders and para-sailers in the background of your photos.
  • San Dieguito Park: This park is very natural looking, with big lush trees and colorful fall leaves. Although it is groomed, it doesn't feel overly manicured. Other features include a nice pond, big rocks, and open space. If you are wanting all-natural, colorful scenery, this is the place to be.
  • Belmont Park: If you want more of a seaside carnival theme, and would like to be kids the day, then Belmont Park is the perfect spot. There are rides, skill games, and an overall nostalgic vibe. Also, it is right by the beach, which means scenic natural backdrops within walking distance. One consideration is that it can be crowded at times, especially the nearby beach areas.

These are a few of our favorite and most requested spots. For more insight and tips, please visit our engagement shoot guide. If you have any questions regarding our engagement shoots, please feel free to contact us!

Can we have our pictures private?

There are two steps to viewing the photographs. The first step is that our photographer's favorites from your wedding are posted on our main site. This is viewable to the public as well the vendors from your wedding will have access to them. This is nice because instead of the vendors contacting you to ask for pictures (which they would) to show the details of what they do, they just get an email from us with access.

A promise that we make to all of our potential couples is that when they go onto our website, they are not just seeing our favorite weddings over the years, which can be mis-leading on what they can really expect, they are actually seeing every wedding that we have taken. So these photographer's favorite images will need to be public. Of course if a picture was posted that you really didn't like we would be happy to remove it.

The next viewing step is an online private login gallery of all of your images. These are completely private unless you decide to share the code with family or friends. This gallery is typically posted a week or so after the favorites gallery.

Can we choose which pictures are enhanced in order to save money?

Image enhancement is critical step in the process, and an integral part of the service you receive from our studio. Images without enhancement are like raw materials and are not as pretty to look at :) That is why each and every image goes through a standard enhancement process, to adjust for color and contrast.

From there, we focus our time and attention on the images we feel are the absolute best, and give these an extra round of premium enhancement. This involves reviewing and correcting these favorites by hand, and crafting the final product. You will also have the same opportunity to select your most favorite images for premium enhancement.

Can we choose what pictures are taken and not taken by our photographer based on our style of photography?

We love inspiration and invite it. So yes, if there are pictures on our site that you love and connect with, please feel free to share. We are an open book and promise not to be photo snobs ;)

We do have advice/insight to go along with this in an effort to help. In the past, we have had many couples hand us a written list of exactly what they would like to have photographed. Sometimes, that list can be a long one. We want to first give reassurance that whether or not we have a list, your pictures will be amazing. So please don't feel obligated to make one, with the fear of: "If I don’t do it, I won’t have nice pictures."

The reality is that every couple is different. What may look great for one couple might not be as flattering for another couple. Here is a funny example: there is this image take that I LOVE and it is a profile of a groom looking off in the distance. It’s a very cool shot. Now if I (Aaron owner of True) personally was in this image, it just wouldn't work, because I have a big ole nose. So me being positioned at a 3/4 angle would be a much more flattering shot. It is our job as photographers to bring out the very best in each person.

If you have a few must-have shots, it is very important to make sure that the requests are limited. When a list gets too long, then we find ourselves just copying our old shots, but not creating new photographs. We are a creative studio, and always want to produce something unique for each of our couples. So allowing that creativity will bring a much better end result for you than if a shot list were to become very long.

We understand that it can be tricky to put that much trust in a studio for such an important event. That is why we always suggest to the couples to look at our website, as well as others, to make sure that overall you really connect with the majority of the images that we produce. We have posted over 135,000 images to show our consistency and creativity every time.

Aaron (owner of True) note: I always say, the couples that say yes to everything seem to get the best pictures. Keep in mind that part of the creative process is that there will be pictures that you don't like. Some you will want to get rid of right away. Sometimes it will take shooting ten pictures in order to get that one great photograph. It is our job to provide enough variety that you have plenty of amazing pictures to choose from.

I remember that at my engagement shoot, I had to take my own advice. I wasn't a big fan of piggy back ride pictures. I thought they were a bit cheesy. Then my photographer (I hired True Photography) said to April (my wife) "hop on Aaron's back for some fun shots." I almost said no, but then remembered the advice I give to our clients. So I went with it and embraced it 100%. The end result is that there were a few in that series I LOVED. I got this one shot where my wife is smiling at me, and it is so genuine and real.

Once you are in the photograph, your opinion of that shot or pose may drastically change. The easiest thing to do is throw away a picture. The hardest thing is to not have it.

As a final thought, some shots are just not possible based on time allotted, time of day, location and style. As an example, we may get a request for a shot that has really moody evening light, but the wedding is outdoors, in broad daylight. Or the couple wants a bunch of really silly fun shots of the bridal party, yet the bridal party is super reserved and quiet. What we find produces the best result is to make sense of your style through your wedding. We play off of your dress, décor, natural personalities, location, time of day, etc. We love to push the envelope while also making sure that we aren't pushing too far. We want to make sure to represent the true essence of who you are as well as the wedding day. We promise within our name to keep everything TRUE.

Can our engagement photo shoot take place during the weekend?

Yes. This is much more doable during our slower season, which is primarily November – March. During the spring and summer months, our weekends are typically all booked up photographing weddings, so weekdays are much more feasible. Also, throughout the summer, it tends to stay light until 7:00pm or later. Since the best lighting opportunity is about an hour before sunset, it generally works well to photograph during the week, after work hours. We want you to show up relaxed and comfortable, so we will ensure the time and date work well for you. If the weekend in the summertime is a must, we will do our best to accommodate.

Can I stagger my first and second photographer hours to get more coverage?

Your first and second photographers work together as a team, dividing responsibilities and coverage during the contracted shooting time. As well the second shooter is at a fraction of the price of the lead photographer. For these reasons, all photographers have the same start and stop time, and cannot be staggered separately throughout the day.

Here are a couple of solutions. If you are needing just one photographer (for the time being extended) this is possible and will be at the first shooter rate. For example: You have contracted our studio for 6 hours from 3pm-9pm. There is a little ceremony with just 15 people before the main ceremony at 2:30pm and you would like that captured with only one photographer. We can accommodate that at the first shooter solo rate in an effort to help financially. Another example that gets requested is having one shooter from 2:30-8:30pm and the other shooter from 3:30-9:30pm. This would be billed with lead photographer for 7 hrs 2:30pm-9:30pm and second photographer for 6hrs 3:30pm-9:30pm. Additional time (for extended coverage) may be added to your contract at any point by contacting our studio.

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