What’s your photography background?
I started out as a newspaper photojournalist about 20 years ago. I’ve photographed hundreds of assignments for the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, New York Times and many others. I’ve won two Fulbright Fellowships, worked everywhere from Pakistan to pig farms, and once had to ask Vice President Biden to change his shirt before a group portrait (I’ll tell you the whole story if we meet).
As a newspaper photographer, you deal with technical challenges, strict deadlines and the need to find the picture in both quiet moments and chaos. You can’t tell the editor at the Washington Post that the light just wasn’t right or the parade was boring. There’s a big square hole in tomorrow’s newspaper that you can’t fill with excuses.
I think it’s the best photographic training there is.
What are you like to work with on the wedding day?
In my Wedding Wire reviews, lots of folks refer to my calm presence. I find this funny, because on the inside I’m a quivering mass of anxiety, ready to burst into tears at the slightest provocation.
Just kidding, though I was a bit nervous for my first 50 weddings or so.
For the most part, I calmly and confidently do the work of capturing your event while trying not to be obtrusive. I’m not shy and can certainly get people’s attention when I need to (like when organizing a large group portrait), but for the most part I’m happy to fade into the woodwork.
Why do you shoot weddings?
Early on in my career, one of my newspaper colleagues asked me to photograph her wedding. Imagining myself a rugged, world-traveling photo-stud, I was appalled. “I’m not going to spend hours arranging bridesmaids!” She told me that she didn’t want any of that. “Just take your own pictures. We like those. Pretend you are shooting for the paper.” I was flattered, and I relented, and the rest is history.
Weddings have everything photojournalists love to shoot - emotion, pageantry, drama - all wrapped up in a neat eight-hour package. I also learned that there are hordes of people in the world who want my sort of pictures, candid photographs that reflect their own particular personalities and relationships rather than Martha Stewart’s idea of how things should be.
Also, like most photojournalists, I love to make a difference with my photographs, to illuminate, to educate, to make people see through my eyes. And while my wedding photos are seen by far fewer people than my work published in newspapers, the effects are deep and long-lasting for the families. And so is my satisfaction when a bride tells me my photos made her hands shake with emotion, or a groom says that I took the best picture of his grandfather he has ever seen. Or when I run into a couple ten years after the wedding and learn that my photos remain fresh and powerful in their minds and hearts.
How many photos do I get and when? How are they delivered?
My focus is on quality over quantity, and I edit carefully to select the best images and eliminate redundancies. I typically end up with approximately 75 to 100 images per hour of shooting time (so around 700 images for an eight hour wedding). My guarantee is to deliver images within six weeks, but they often come much sooner than that.
I deliver images via an online gallery that you can share with your friends and family. The gallery is set up for downloads and print ordering so you don’t have to deal with any of that after your event. I will also mail you a USB drive with the high res images.
Are the images you give me high resolution? Can I make my own prints? Do I own the copyright?
I give you high-resolution jpeg files (17 inches at 300 dpi) that are large enough to print billboards. You can order prints through me, but I am happy to let you order them on your own. I maintain the copyright, which means you can’t resell the images for a Donna Karan ad without talking to me first.
Do you work with two photographers?
I shoot a lot of weddings with my wife Karen (who is way more fun and better looking than me). Two photographers cost more than one of course, and we can have a discussion about whether you really need the second person.
Do you retouch photos?
I tend to shoot in naturally flattering light, and I also adjust all of your final images for ideal color balance, contrast and exposure. Advanced Photoshop work (things like blemish removal, teeth whitening, and the addition of bloody vampire fangs) is not included, but almost never necessary.
What if you get sick or otherwise can’t make it to the wedding?
I’ve only missed one wedding in my career, the fault of a nutty horse named Duke who broke my collarbone. When that happened, I reached out to my network of fellow wedding photojournalists and found a replacement who did a great job.
So if I couldn’t make your wedding I would give all your money back immediately. I would also find potential replacements who shoot in a style similar to my own, and present you with some options.
But again, only missed one wedding out of more than 400… (Knocking on wood now).
Can you provide references?
My blog has many of the weddings I have shot over the last few years. Pick any of these events and I will give you the couple’s email address and you can contact them yourself to see what they thought of my services.
Or you can just check out my reviews on Wedding Wire here: https://www.weddingwire.com/reviews/dennis-drenner-photographs-baltimore/3938cac2742fb53a.html
Do you bring additional lighting?
I have a whole truckload of lights, but modern cameras are now so sensitive to low light that I can often get by without them. I prefer this approach because it enables me to preserve the look and feel of the event. If you have a romantic dinner service with dim lighting and candles, I don’t want my photos to look like they were taken at outside at noon.
How do you handle group portraits?
I like to keep the group portrait sessions pretty snappy. I get the various
groups together quickly, keep things light and fun, knock out the pictures and let everyone make their way to the cocktail hour.
I arrange groups so that everyone can be seen, but you won’t catch me fussing with flowers or arranging groomsmen like dominoes. I think the key to a good group photo is to have everyone looking relaxed and happy, and the way to do that is to be fast. I prefer to shoot these portraits outside if possible. I especially try to avoid shooting at the church altar because of space and lighting problems.
By the way, I recommend you appoint someone to help herd folks to wherever we are doing portraits. Doing this sort of thing is a poor use of my time and slows down the whole process. Plus I have no idea what your Uncle Jimmy looks like.
What do you charge?
There are many variables affecting the complexity of a wedding job, so I can’t just say “I charge X.” A three hundred person black tie event in Washington, DC is a completely different animal than an intimate backyard wedding with 50 guests.
To get a quote for your particular event, please email me as many details as you can, including your date, venues and approximate number of guests. I usually respond in 24 hours or less.
We want to work with you. How do we lock in our date?
You would just need to fill out and sign my contract, and send it to me with a 25% deposit. (The remainder is due a month before your event).