Kathy Thomas is AWESOME. We love talking to photographers on the podcast and we’ve had a few episodes with guests that are professional wedding photographers. Kathy has great advice for hiring a wedding photographer - stuff we haven’t heard before. She even surprised us with some of her tips and tricks - specifically for couples heading to their initial consultation with a photographer. You know, the meeting where you decide if you want to hire this photographer or not! It’s important! We talk a lot about how this decision isn’t just about budget. There’s more to it, much more, and Kathy is showing us the way...she’s wise. We loved having her on the podcast.
Kathy Thomas Photography began 5.5 years ago after Kathy moved from NYC to Orlando. She has been named one of the Top 3 photographers in Nashville, and only wedding photographer by Nashville Scene while also having been nominated twice for RangeFinder Magazine 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography Worldwide 2 years in a row. Kathy’s photography is influenced by 17 years in luxury fashion retail. She brings her love for fashion, beauty, architecture and the art of craftsmanship into her wedding style. Her goal is to never be trendy, yet timeless, modern, stylish and romantic. She has shot weddings in seven countries and over 14 states. Kathy also mentors a number of wedding professionals and believe in building other up and when we all win that is the real success of this industry.
A photographer’s ‘ideal client’ for weddings is a couple that trusts the photographer. Kathy knows she will be a great fit with the client when there is an immediate connection between her and the couple. You can’t fake that connection. She takes the initial interview as a way to really get to know them. She is clear that a client (couple) has to let her in for the relationship to work, and the product to be what the client wants.
Nashville is a cool mix for wedding styles - there are places that elicit pride for locals, or people raised in Nashville. There are historic venues, the music industry, high budget minimalistic wedding style, huge wedding parties and elaborate entertainment at weddings.
You are HOSTING a wedding...implement the skills of your favorite hostess in life. How does a great party feel? How can you ensure that your wedding feels that way? In Nashville, the weddings are more traditional (and bigger) than other places in America...and a value is placed on the idea of ‘hosting’ - people take pride in how a guest experiences the wedding weekend. Families are involved. Heirlooms and family traditions are present...and a photographer needs to know about these things so that they can make sure to shoot them!
Pricing...we know it’s vague with wedding vendors and we know that it’s frustrating! Kathy has a starting price for packages that she is transparent about with clients upfront. Pricing can go up from there. In general, if a couple reaches out and the first thing they talk about is pricing, Kathy knows that they likely won’t book her. Not a good fit. (Good rule of thumb...if the photographer you want is more than the event rental fee, you may not be able to afford that photographer.)
An engagement session is important! It allows the photographer to get to know the couple. It helps to start with a cocktail! (She is not the first photographer that told us this.) But Kathy doesn’t consider the engagement session totally necessary. But the face-time is what’s really important. So if you aren’t going to have an engagement session for some reason, make sure you at least get to have one face-to-face meeting with the photographer. You need this familiarity.
Things you can ask your photographer (before you hire them!) And do a little research ahead of time so that you are prepared for different answers...
- What camera equipment does she use?
- How does she back up her files?
- Does she bring extra equipment and backup batteries etc on the wedding day?
- What’s up with the assistant? Is the assistant a second shooter? Will Kathy review and oversee the assistant’s photos after the event? Does the assistant have their own company? Can you see the assistant’s work too?
- Do you edit the photos or outsource that service?
- How will the time be spent during the wedding day? (Like half and half with bride and groom each getting ready, for example)
- Will you create a wedding day timeline for us? The important thing is to be forthcoming and honest!
“We’ve been very efficient here in Nashville. We’ve been getting shit done.” - Michelle
“We keep hearing that Nashville is the place to come for weddings!” - Christy
“Millennials are into unique experiences and I am too. I don’t blame them one bit. You do this once, you hope. You do it once... and this is that one big kabam to get everyone together to celebrate in a big way. And with everything going on in the world, it’s becoming more and more important. My couples specifically care about the experience and they care about what the experience is like with my photography team. They want to entertain their guests. So everything tends to be a little over-the-top.” - Kathy Thomas, on priorities
“I love the dynamic of a huge wedding party. I love it. I live vicariously through their weddings a little bit.” - Kathy doesn’t want to shoot an intimate ceremony on a mountain top...she wants a huge ass wedding in a gorgeous church with lots and lots of bridesmaids! (I mean, she loves big weddings is the point.)
“I have a pretty lengthy interview process. I either want to meet with them in person, or we’ll have a good hour long talk on the phone. This is your opportunity to talk to me, and for me to talk to you. I tell them often that the imagery of mine that they see, I can’t achieve that unless there is trust there.” - Kathy on booking clients. There has to be a connection.
“If a couple doesn’t really touch each other in the hour that they meet me, they probably aren’t my people.” - Kathy, intuition!
“Most of my weddings have a full planning planner and the planner and I are getting paid about the same.” - Kathy, as a reference point for budgeting
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