The Enthusiasts Guide from “Yes” to “I Do”

Host Leah Longbrake is pulling back the veil to bring you honest advice and creative ideas from those in the wedding industry. From the Engagement to the Honeymoon, get all the details you need from wedding and event experts on how to make it your best day ever!

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Photos Last Forever! How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

Photos Last Forever! How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

Angela Bartunek, owner of Aster + Olive Photography, shares her advice on what to look for when choosing your photographer. We discuss what is involved in the budget, red flags to look out for, current trends, and why communication is so important. From the first look to the first dance- we have you covered!

Follow Angela Bartunek and Aster + Olive on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Get to know Angela

Hello my name is Angela and I’m the founder behind Aster + Olive Photography. Jen, my lead associate photographer and I have been proudly shooting weddings and portraits for almost 10 years. I’m blown away by how amazing this journey has been for us. It all started with taking a photography class in high school. Developing film and seeing my images come to life was complete magic. Photography was definitely my first love. At the same time I was also drawn to the world of fashion. It was a tough decision to make but ultimately I ended up pursuing a degree in fashion design and graduated with a BFA from FIT in NYC. After many years of career changes and life events, I switched gears, returned to my first love and started up A+O. The path that lead me here has helped me tremendously. I’m so grateful for it all.

I met Jen shortly after I started shooting weddings. I knew the moment we met we had the same vision. Our esthetics and approach to photography are seamless. We both believe the connections and friendships we make with our clients is just as important as the photographs themselves. We’re both storytellers. We know the importance and value the photos have. It bends time and lives on for generations. It’s an honor we hold dearly to our hearts.




This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producers David Moss, Gerardo Orlando, Production Director Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineer Eric Koltnow

Where to Listen

Find us in your favorite podcast app.

Leah Longbrake:
Angela, so excited to have you with us today to talk all things photography.

Angela Bartunek:
Thanks. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Leah Longbrake:
So, for those not familiar with you in your company, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Angela Bartunek:
So, Aster and Olive Photography has been photographing weddings for about 10 years now, and we love what we do. We started off pretty small, and then over the years we gained some popularity and pretty much just... It's been a roller coaster, but I love it. We absolutely love our clients, and they bring so much to the table. And it's just a wonderful experience all around for us and for them.

Leah Longbrake:
And I love your work, and how would you describe your style, though? When a client is coming to you, what would you say is your style, your focus?

Angela Bartunek:
I would say we like to emphasize that we have the style with a relaxed approach. It's definitely maybe on the moodier side, but we have a lot of fun with our clients. We don't like to stifle them in any way. We approach it with a lot of planning and thinking things through as far as locations go and scouting and getting a sense of what their vision is. And then, also, helping them bring it all together with the whole wedding in itself. So, it's definitely a team effort. It's not just what we want. It's like if their wedding style is more industrial, gritty, then we go for that. If it's more floral and very poetic and dreamy, then we encouraged to find locations to help that come to life.

Angela Bartunek:
But more importantly, it's all about the chemistry between us, and communication is huge, huge, huge, huge. You can't just have a photographer that you don't feel comfortable with because you're really, I mean, almost like best friends, in a sense. You're constantly talking things through and making it work. And the timeline is especially important, and helping each other work that through, too, is a big part of it.

Leah Longbrake:
I agree with that. That's something that I wish when I, in hindsight, the photographers we went with... They were great. They did a great job, and the photos are pretty, but I wish there was a lot more communication. So, yeah, I'm glad that you put an emphasis on that and that couples should know that communication is key between you as a photographer and them.

Angela Bartunek:
I mean, you have to be comfortable with that... For any client that is in the middle of searching for the right photographer, that's something that I emphasize as like, "You guys have a relationship. If they're not responding quick enough, if they're not asking questions..." Another thing, too, is if they're offering way too much for a very small price, that's a big red flag. If they're throwing in X, Y, and Z and promising everything, then I would question that, for sure, because it's about quality, not quantity.

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
No, so thank you for bringing up the email part of the communication because that was my issue. I would ask a question, and I'd have to send like two or three more follow-up emails, like, "Hey, did you get this?" And it's not like, I'm hounding them like, "Hey, I didn't hear from you in 24 hours," it's like, "Hey, it's been two weeks. I really need an answer on this." You know what I mean? So, yeah. So, what are some other things couples should look for when choosing their photographer?

Angela Bartunek:
I would say definitely looking at their portfolio is important. You want to look at their work and see if it's your vibe. Because, I mean, reviews are great, too, to see if they've got a good rapport with their clients, but looking at their images is definitely going to indicate whether or not this is the right fit for you. I think, also, just having a chat on the phone is important, if you can. Especially these days, meeting in person can be a challenge, and I have a lot of couples that don't even live in-state, so seeing each other face-to-face is not necessary. But having a conversation over the phone I think is really great. Because then you guys can hear each other and talk and get to know each other and hear stories, and you can even get a feel for their history, so that you just become more closer. Again, it's all about the chemistry and that vibe. It has to really fit. I can't stress that enough.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. So, obviously, budget is a huge thing to consider, and photography really does take up a lot of a budget in most cases, especially if you want to make it your main focus. Which I personally, I think it really should be considered one of the main focus because these photos are going to last a lifetime, and you're barely going to remember your day because it really does go by incredibly fast. So, every photographer is going to be different, every couple's budgets differ, but what are the things in the budget couples should be considering?

Angela Bartunek:
That's a great question because I think sometimes when couples are putting together a budget for their wedding, it can be so overwhelming. I mean, you have a lot of little things that add up. Right?

Leah Longbrake:
Oh yeah.

Angela Bartunek:
I mean, of course I stress that photography is extremely important because this is what you're going to have to look back on, to remember all the details and the family and all the wonderful candid moments. I think as far as photography, you should definitely expect to have a budget between three and five or 6,000 reserved. Depending on how much coverage they want, that'll also indicate the pricing.

Angela Bartunek:
So, there's ways for most photographers to work within their budget, but you want to be able to see like, "Do I need a second photographer, or is that included? Do I need an engagement session?" I personally love engagement sessions, and I think they're really important, because it's like, it's the one thing I talk to my couples about. I'm like, "There's not many times in your life where you will be able to hire a professional photographer to take these great photos of the two of you, aside from your wedding day, and where you guys can have fun together, you're in your comfort zone, you can have photos in your first home. And those are like memories that will one day be incredible to look back on." I'm always encouraging them like, "You really should try to put that in your budget." But again, it just depends what they have saved, and of course, they have to consider that.

Angela Bartunek:
But as far as budget for everything in the wedding, what can or cannot be, I don't know, relevant, it's like for me, I think the biggest thing with a wedding day is just having an incredible celebration. It's not so much about the details. I think invitations are incredible, but there's so many ways to have an invitation these days that are cost-friendly. And if you're looking to save money, I think that's a great way to perhaps save money. Things like that. But yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Well, yeah, because people are going to eventually throw out that invitation, but you're not going to throw out your photo.

Angela Bartunek:
Right, right.

Leah Longbrake:
And nothing can live on Instagram forever.

Angela Bartunek:
So true. So, so true. Yeah. The photo's pretty important.

Leah Longbrake:
Now, also with budgeting, there are tons of extra fun things that you can add. There's lots of trends in photography. You mentioned having a second photographer so you can get different angles and more options, but there's also drone shots and the photo booths and different things like that. What are some cool things that couples can also consider to add into their [inaudible 00:09:55] to the budget and the fun of the day?

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah. So, videography is a big one that a lot of couples go back and forth on because that is like, "Do we need it? It's expensive. Do we want to add that or not?" We offer, actually, specialize videography. It's all done on super eight film.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, how cool.

Angela Bartunek:
And it's really unique. It has this incredible nostalgic feeling because it is on film, and it's all like vignettes of the whole day pieced together with a song. And I think it's great. Some wedding videos are so long. You just want to speed through it because it's too much, but this is just a really wonderful three minute capture of the entire day. And so, that to me is a really cool trend that I'm seeing growing in the wedding industry, doing something different with wedding videography. The drone thing is for sure like become so popular. We don't offer the drones. There's a couple of things that I really like about it. I love that you can get this beautiful, huge, wide open photo of the whole space and really cool things that you can do with it, but they're super loud. I mean, one thing to consider is if you do have a drone, be careful if you want to have that during the ceremony, because it you'll hear it.

Leah Longbrake:
And the photographer should be licensed in it.

Angela Bartunek:
Yes. For sure. For sure. Absolutely. Photo booths, I feel like are still relevant, for sure. I'm seeing them a little bit less, again, probably for budget reasons, but there's just some really cool technology out there now where it's all self-contained, it's like a machine, like an iPad thing and you just press the button and it does it all by itself. So, it's a neat little add on if you want to call that. But as far as other photo trends, I mean, I'm seeing some fun things during receptions. I've seen people getting creative with dance floor toys for people, like glow sticks and things like that that make it fun. And as far as...

Leah Longbrake:
[inaudible 00:12:53] trashing the dress afterwards. Is that still a thing?

Angela Bartunek:
No.

Leah Longbrake:
Okay. Good,

Angela Bartunek:
It's not.

Leah Longbrake:
And I didn't understand it. No offense to anyone that did do it. I just didn't get it, I know.

Angela Bartunek:
No. I haven't done one, and yeah, I don't think that people are really talking about that. Gosh, I was just thinking dance floors. Oh my gosh. I can't wait till that's back up and going. Right?

Leah Longbrake:
Slowly and surely.

Angela Bartunek:
I know.

Leah Longbrake:
We mentioned photo booths. We had a photo booth, but we made it our favor.

Angela Bartunek:
Oh. See, that's-

Leah Longbrake:
Kind of cut the cost in that way.

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah. I agree. I think favors are a big thing where couples are getting really unique and personalized with that, and I think that's a really wonderful way to do it.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. They get to take the photo home as a memory, and then we also have it in our photo book that they put together for us at the end.

Angela Bartunek:
It's neat. Right?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Angela Bartunek:
It's fun.

Leah Longbrake:
So, back to the communication, once you've decided on your photographer and you're getting the ball rolling on things, But do you have to map out with your photographer like, "Hey, here's all the family members to make sure you get photos of. These are the exact photos we want"? Or is it pretty much like you as a photographer, "No. Get shots of candid and pose, whatever, of different people at the wedding and the reception," and that?

Angela Bartunek:
So, we will have our couples fill out a timeline like a month before the wedding, and it helps us know, "Okay, we have to be here at this time." And we ask them to put together a family portrait list, because at some point, either before the ceremony or after their ceremony, that's still really important for families to have family portraits. It is traditional. And I think it is important. I think it's really relevant on a wedding day because you want to have just a really nice, clean photo with you and grandma and his side, her side, and having that mapped out is important for the photographer so they know they're not missing anybody too. So, we do ask them to put that together.

Angela Bartunek:
The candids are, of course, really essential. So, if there's anything special that they really don't want to miss, that we wouldn't be necessarily aware of... Because we have a mental checklist in our head of all the things that need to be photographed. We know that we have to, of course, photograph the details, like the rings and things like that, but maybe there's a special handkerchief that was passed down that they want photographed, or perhaps this cousin and this uncle, they need to be photographed together. So, any kind of special photographs that they want, we'll ask them to put on the timeline so we don't forget.

Angela Bartunek:
But as far as also portraits of the couple and the bridal party and things like that, so depending on if they have a ceremony and reception that are back to back, where you have very limited time in between to take portraits, we'll encourage them to do what's called a first look. Do you know what that is?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. We actually did a first look.

Angela Bartunek:
Did you?

Leah Longbrake:
But for couples that are listening and don't know, describe what it is.

Angela Bartunek:
So, a first look is basically the first time the bride and groom see each other, and we capture that. We'll organize it, we'll set a time, and we'll find a location for them to be able to have that moment. And the reason why we encourage couples to do that before the ceremony is so that we have enough time, or even I should say more time, to photograph them and the bridal party, and so they are stress-free right after the ceremony. If that is the kind of wedding day that they're having. If they're doing like a traditional wedding where it's in a church and there's like a three-hour gap between the ceremony and the reception, then doing a first look isn't necessary because there's a lot of time for photos.

Angela Bartunek:
But I love first looks, and I think that a lot of couples that are choosing to not get married in a church, they do end up doing this because they know they want to enjoy cocktail hour. Right? There's maybe an hour between the ceremony and reception, and so they want to be able to see their guests and enjoy cocktail hour and also perhaps do family portraits then. But yeah, picking the first look location and then finding the locations for the photos and for them and for bridal party, it's a lot of fun. If transportation is available, then we get to go offsite and mix it up, which is great. And that's all the stuff that we discuss because, again, communication's so important.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely.

Angela Bartunek:
And figuring out like... All of it. Yeah. It's really sort of a methodical... I'm really organized. I like to have as little stress for them and for us as possible, so the more organized everything is, the better.

Leah Longbrake:
And for couples that think doing a first look is going to take away from that look, walking down the aisle myth, not true.

Angela Bartunek:
Totally.

Leah Longbrake:
My husband cried at the first look, and he cried seeing me come back down the aisle. It does happen. It does not take away... If anything, it actually helps calm your nerves a little bit because there's so much energy and nerves going on already that it doesn't take away from the excitement of going down the aisle, it just helps.

Angela Bartunek:
I agree. And everybody says that. It's like, "Now I can breathe and I can enjoy." And it's so true. You're so anxious up until that point. It's like ripping the bandaid off, and to have that before walking down the aisle is huge. But yes, I agree. So, so beautiful, the first look. I mean, some couples like to do it where it's just the two of them alone, and then I've had couples where it's like, the family are watching in the background. It's beautiful. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
So, other details that couples should consider, take what I didn't know and learn from it. I didn't tell them that, "Hey, I got matching robes for my whole bridal party." There's no photos of all of us together in the robes.

Angela Bartunek:
There isn't?

Leah Longbrake:
No. It didn't get factored in.

Angela Bartunek:
Oh, no!

Leah Longbrake:
They ran late to begin with because the hotel had him go to the wrong spot, and it's a whole thing. So, I don't have that. And then the reception is basically just all photos of the same 15, 20 of us on the dance floor, aside from like the milestone moments in the beginning, like the first dance, cut the cake, and all that. There's no wide shot of the reception, there's no... And most people didn't dance because we had... I'm in my upper 30s, my husband's in his early to mid 40s, so we had so many like older relatives and friends and friends that don't dance, you wouldn't even know they were even at the wedding. There's no shots of any of the tables and stuff like that at the reception. It's only dance floor.

Angela Bartunek:
Really?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. And that's what breaks my heart. They might be listening to this, and I'm not trying to poopoo on them, but I mean, it's just the fact of what it is. So, make sure you tell your photographer, "Hey, it's important to get the whole entire reception and the people that are there because-

Angela Bartunek:
It goes fast.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. And any one of us can go at any time, as we just learned from COVID, but I have a lot of older relatives... We both were lucky enough to have grandparents there.

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah. And that's a big deal. You're absolutely right.

Leah Longbrake:
I have the individual shots with the grandparents that we got in fast during the family session, but-

Angela Bartunek:
Nothing after that.

Leah Longbrake:
There's very few non-dance floor photos.

Angela Bartunek:
Oh, it's such a bummer when I hear stories like this. And it's true, how would if a photographer, looking at their work, you maybe really appreciate their aesthetic-

Angela Bartunek:
I think a good question to ask her photographer is how many images they can expect, and another question would be, of course, is what the turnaround is. Turnaround time, that's a big, popular question. But I think definitely expressing to your photographer the importance of certain things is really important. I mean, you might assume like, "Oh, it's a given," right? Some people just have different expectations, and I assume definitely capturing everybody in the reception is something that's important, but I've had weddings where the couple has asked me to take table shots, like every table. Right? But then I've had weddings where they didn't want anything like that. The reception photos weren't as important to them. So, I think-

Leah Longbrake:
But they communicated.

Angela Bartunek:
Right.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah,

Angela Bartunek:
They did. Yes. And I wouldn't think going into a wedding to a photo of every table, because that's not something that a lot of people would... I mean a lot of photographers wouldn't necessarily do unless they were requested. But I think, yeah, I would say expecting certain things is all about communication, for sure.

Leah Longbrake:
So, expectations, how soon can couples expect a turnaround generally on their photos?

Angela Bartunek:
I think depending on what time of year, like the season, it gets really, really crazy towards the end of summer and fall. Typically, I would say six to eight weeks is a good turnaround time. Sometimes sooner, depending on how busy it is. But if you're getting your photos later than that, it's not a good sign.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah. I concur.

Angela Bartunek:
Again, hearing those horror stories. But that's just how we like to... I don't like having anything hanging over me. I'm like, "I got to get this done." I want to deliver those photos, because it's important for them, and I want them to relive their wedding day as fast as I possibly can. But yeah, it gets insane during the wedding season, for sure.

Leah Longbrake:
And ad-ons, there's photo albums, there's frame photos, canvas photos. Do you find any of that to be more important than others? Is it important to order it through the photographer, or can they take those images since it's theirs and then better off going through a Shutterfly?

Angela Bartunek:
Okay. So, most photographers, I would imagine, include a gallery. We have a photo lab attached to our gallery link, and so couples can go into the store and they can select a ton of different products, albums, and of course prints. And I encourage them like, "You have, of course, the right to go and get your prints made anywhere. You can go to Walgreens if you want. But nine times out of 10, it's not going to be the right colors, it's not going to come out the way you expect it to, or the way it looks on your computer, because it's not done through a professional photo lab." So, probably the best bet is to go through the gallery and get it done professionally. Yeah. For sure.

Leah Longbrake:
Any other things details couples should consider when choosing their photographer. Or once you've chosen your photographer, things that they should make sure they communicate and consider?

Angela Bartunek:
I would say probably just, again, emphasis on relationship and having fun. Trust in your photographer. The more trust you have in them, the better it's going to be, because they're going to feel like they can be more creative and really work and do something magical with you. And again, trusting them means knowing their aesthetic and making sure that matches yours and having a comfort like, "Could we see ourselves going out and having a drink?" That's important.

Angela Bartunek:
I mean, because truthfully, I have a relationship with all my couples. I mean, it doesn't just stop at the wedding. It carries. I'm watching them have babies and seeing their lives grow, and it's so incredible to be so close with these couples. I think that's one of the most special things about being a wedding photographer is the connection that you get to have with them and meeting these amazing families, and then even through their weddings, you become friends with them, and then it just keeps going and going and going. And to me, that kind of relationship is really, really special. And so, for me, photographing is such an honor. It's such a huge, important wedding day. I mean, it's a moment in your life that you'll never get to have again, and so I think when you are choosing your photographer, make sure it's someone that you could potentially see yourself hanging with.

Leah Longbrake:
I love that.

Angela Bartunek:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
So true.

Angela Bartunek:
It's so true. Because you will most likely hang out with them at some point after the wedding in your life in some way. Right? That to me is the most important, because once you have that connection, then the photos are going to be so great because you guys are just going to be so happy with each other. Yeah?

Leah Longbrake:
Last question for you.

Leah Longbrake:
Do you have an all-time favorite wedding movie?

Angela Bartunek:
Cinema inspires me a Lot. I love Wes Anderson films, La La Land. I love dreaming movies like that.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Angela Bartunek:
Is there a wedding movie that I-

Leah Longbrake:
Did you grow up loving Father of the Bride or-

Angela Bartunek:
I've seen it. I've seen so many-

Leah Longbrake:
... Wedding Planner, 27 Dresses. There's so many. Big, Fat Greek Wedding.

Angela Bartunek:
I totally have seen... I've seen them all, and they're all so much fun. I mean, definitely... Of course I've seen them all. I gravitate more towards the maybe artistic style films, where it's very visual with color and lines and design. And it gets my juices flowing. I don't know. I think maybe the storyline, of course, with any wedding movie is great, but when it comes to being inspired for my photos, I like to watch movies that make me rethink a composition.

Leah Longbrake:
You saying that makes me think of a wedding scene in Crazy Rich Asians when she has that walking on water effect with the hi-lo.

Angela Bartunek:
Right. That was so beautiful.

Leah Longbrake:
Right? And over the top.

Angela Bartunek:
So gorgeous. I know.

Leah Longbrake:
Well, how can we get more information on you and Aster and Olive Photography?

Angela Bartunek:
Well, you could start by visiting our website. It's asterandolivephoto.com. And feel free to email meat at [email protected] And yeah, I would love to hear from anyone that's potentially getting married or interested in learning more, because doing this for 10 years, a wealth of wedding information, all things weddings. Right?

Leah Longbrake:
And thank you for sharing with us today.

Angela Bartunek:
Oh, absolutely. Thank you for having me.



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