FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONs
"A photograph isn't necessarily a lie, nor is it the truth. It's more of a fleeting, subjective impression. What I like most about photography is the moment that you can't anticipate: you have to be constantly watching for it, ready to welcome the unexpected" - Martine Franck
hOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?
After getting my start with portraits and model portfolio work in the mid 1990s, I photographed my first wedding in 1999, and have personally photographed over 600 weddings all over the world in the 19 years since then. Wow, that happened quickly. I now have a callous on my shutter button finger the size of a Buick. OK, it's not that big. In 2002, I photographed 55 weddings, averaging 3 per weekend during peak season. While I definitely enjoyed them all and loved the immersion into doing what I love, that was far too many for a personal life. Now I try to limit myself at 20 weddings a year so I can give clients my full attention and lead a real life hanging out with my family, being a parent, seeing movies and traveling.
hOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
When I was 10, I got a camera from my parents, a beautiful silver Voigtlander with a normal lens that they brought back from Germany. I was immediately hooked. I bought my first camera on my own with my first job, a Minolta X-700 with a 50mm lens, when I was 14. When I was 16, I was my high school yearbook photographer and I shot for the school paper. This gave me my first experience in the darkroom and developing film. I then took some college classes in photography to use their darkroom. At age 24, I worked in a professional photo lab in Minneapolis, I photographed model portfolios, images for album covers and live music, and later was a freelance photographer for the two weekly papers in Seattle covering news stories, live music, political candidates, restaurant reviews and whatever else they wanted me to photograph. I lived in Seattle for nearly 13 years and had a studio there in the Pioneer Square neighborhood downtown, right next to the lovely Elliott Bay Bookstore. I loved taking landscapes because it was a peaceful, solitary activity. I started taking portraits, model head portfolios and band promotional photos, as well as images for album covers. My first wedding in 1999 came from a portrait client, and it snowballed from there.
WHAT IS YOUR STYLE?
This one is just as difficult for photographers as it is for musicians. My work has been referred to as "cinematic," "documentary style" and "wedding photojournalism" as I act in the role of observer rather than director. I think a more useful answer would be to elaborate about my approach to photography. I see photographs in everything. I am always looking at light and carry a camera with my all day everyday. Unless I'm swimming, of course. Although I am by nature a very social person, I try to be as discreet and invisible as possible. I don't direct the action: I observe and wait for specific moments. I am drawn to beautiful light and strong compositions. I have a background in graphic design that also helped shape the way I shoot. I operate under the assumption that being photographed is really weird and uncomfortable for most people. I know it is for me. I find that my clients value seeing beautiful images of things that really happened rather than situations manufactured or staged by the photographer. Most of the time, I begin photographing you getting ready, which gets you used to being photographed and allows me to disappear into the background for the rest of the event. The highest compliment I can receive is "How did you get all these? I don't even remember seeing you!" What you are saying when you hire a photographer is "I like your style. Please take photos like these at my wedding."
People inspire me. My wife and children inspire me. Music inspires me. Ideas inspire me. Movies, particularly surreal French movies like "Amelie," inspire me. I don't look at wedding magazines or wedding photographs. I don't follow trends and I don't like gimmicks. I shot film forever and when I made the slow, late transition to digital, it was only after I was able to make my digital work look exactly like my film portfolio. Your images should look timeless and classic so they look as good in 50 years as they do today.
I don't go into a wedding with a pre-determined idea of what I'm going to do. I react to what is going on and make images as they unfold. While this approach technically puts more pressure on me because I don't know exactly what to expect, it gives me the images that are in my portfolio and it gives you real images of things that, in many cases, you will be seeing for the first time. I continually push myself to see things in new ways and would never approach a wedding with a template of standard photographs because I am not interested in repetition or formula. I am interested in you, your friends, your family and the things that make your wedding unique. I'm reacting to what I see at your wedding rather than telling you what to do and putting you in the exact same poses and scenes as the wedding last weekend. When it comes to photographs of the couple, my approach evolves depending on the comfort level of the couple, how demonstrative they are and how they naturally interact together. I will NOT ask you to dip your spouse or have you and the wedding party all hold hands and jump up. I will NOT ask you to make your hands in the shape of a heart. I will NOT ask you to stand far away from each other and look bored like two teenagers in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. I do everything in my power for you to feel comfortable and natural in front of the camera, because I want you to look great in the photographs as much as you do.
Technical: I bring 3 cameras to weddings, each with a fast prime lens because I want to gather as much light as possible and don't like zoom lenses. My favorite focal lengths are 35mm, 50mm and 85/90mm. Almost all of my portfolio was photographed with either a 35mm or 50mm lens. I wear the wide angle on my left shoulder, the normal lens around my neck, and the short telephoto on my right shoulder. I've been doing this since the beginning of my career, so when I see something in front of me, I rely on muscle memory to instantly reach for the right camera. I prefer natural light from the back or the side, and rarely use flash at weddings, despite years of shooting with ProFoto studio lights. To me, a little bit of motion is much more romantic than the harsh look of flash, and it allows me to shoot discreetly and not disturb the scene.
What is your price range?
Custom pricing for your wedding, corporate event or bar/bat mitzvah is something we will discuss in email or over the phone. I have a range of starting prices that can be modified to best suit your needs. For weddings, I usually start at 5 hours and go all the way to whatever you need for your wedding. I regularly shoot 3 day events like Indian/Hindu weddings, and sometimes destination or travel weddings are multiple day affairs. Rather than force you into an arbitrary set of package prices, I recognize that each situation is unique. We will cover pricing specifics during our first conversation. My pricing ranges from $3500 to $12,000, depending on your needs, the time of year, day of the week and desired level of coverage. Most of my clients fill out their desired budget in my contact form. If your ideal budget is less than my range, I will gladly do my best to pair you with a photographer with that experience level.
WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH SALES TAX?
There are a lot of misunderstandings about sales tax, understandably. I photograph weddings outside of Minnesota and outside of the United States. For weddings in Minnesota, the required state tax will apply because I have to pass it along to the state, as required by law. For weddings in other states and in other countries, your wedding is tax exempt.
HOW DO WE reserve you for our wedding?
Contact me and let me know your date and location. If I'm still available on your wedding date and in your budget, we can meet or talk on the phone/FaceTime/Skype to discuss the details.
If you want to move forward in hiring me to photograph your wedding, I merely require a deposit and a signed contract. I accept all major credit cards, PayPal, and checks.
HOW MANY PHOTOS DO WE GET?
There are countless factors that determine quantity, like the number of guests, number of locations, specific customs, the duration of your wedding, etc. For a 6 hour wedding, I typically deliver 400-600 images. My editing rule is simple: if they aren't awesome, I toss 'em. I will give you everything I think you will want, but I think the best photos can be diluted if they are in a sea of duplicates or less successful photographs. One analogy that seems to work well is when you think of your favorite movie. Telling a story effectively through editing determines the length of the movie. If you love it the way your favorite movie is currently edited, you probably would like it less if it was another hour longer and included discarded plot and scenes irrelevant to the story.
WHEN WILL WE SEE OUR WEDDING Photographs?
I'm as excited to see the photographs as you are. During peak season (June through October), I typically deliver images to clients in about 4-5 weeks. In the quieter months, it's usually more like 3 weeks. I operate on the premise that quality is more important than speed. I always do my best rather than just crank things out to get them done. I am a perfectionist and personally do all of the editing myself. A lot of photographers outsource post production/editing to assistants or to editing companies that might even be in other states. I'm way too picky to do this, so I prefer to control the whole process for quality control and consistency. I won't settle for second best and neither should you.
DO YOU MAKE WEDDING ALBUMS?
I do! I take your favorite wedding images and use them as a starting point for your album design. Making albums is not only rewarding, but a permanent, beautiful piece of artwork preserving your wedding rather than merely making a few prints or having your images sitting on a hard drive. In the digital age, your favorite photos can often end up as Facebook profile photos or computer wallpaper. There is a lovely quality to well made, tangible things that also makes them impervious to loss due to hard drive crashes or format obsolescence. The books are leather bound, printed on archival photo paper and hand made to last a lifetime. They will not fade or discolor. One of the greatest things about the new Blade Runner 2049 movie was that people were still holding paper photographs. Print will always be forever.
YOUR PORTFOLIO HAS A LOT OF B&W. Don't you like color?
I love color, but my favorite images have always been black and white and my portfolio reflects that. Images where color alters your emotional response *have* to be in color, images that are more graphic, compositional or abstract tend to read better in black and white because the layer of abstraction draws your eye more toward the shapes and lighting. I typically give clients about 60% color unless they have specific preferences. I've done weddings entirely in black and white and once entirely in color. I photographed a wedding in Rajasthan, India in 2005, all in film, and that was 95% color because of the setting and the vibrant colors. Similarly, my coverage of Indian weddings in the US is about 80% color.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS?
Ralph Gibson, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Anton Corbijn, Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, Josef Koudelka, Sebastiao Salgado, Alex Webb, Andre Kertesz, Bill Brandt, David Alan Harvey, Rene Burri, Martine Franck, Garry Winogrand, Sam Abell, Marc Ribaud, Robert Doisneau, Antonin Kratochvil, Michael Kenna, Michael Crouser, William Eggleston, Fred Herzog, Martin Munkacsi, William Klein, Chien-Chi Chang, Guy Le Querrec and most of the Magnum photographers.
I am also deeply inspired by cinematographers. My list of favorite movies would be far too long to list here, but my two favorite cinematographers are Bruno Delbonnel, best known for the French films "Delicatessen," "Amelie," "City Of Lost Children," "Micmacs," and "A Very Long Engagement." I also love Roger Deakins, who is best known for his work with the Coen Brothers, including "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Barton Fink," "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "Millers Crossing," "Raising Arizona," and most notably, the high contrast black and white of "The Man Who Wasn't There."
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET SICK or can't make it?
I've never missed a wedding in my 19 years of shooting, but in the winter of 2002 I photographed a 6 hour wedding with what could accurately be described as "flu-like symptoms." Aside from sweating like Elvis, turning down an amazing dinner and the pervasive feeling that my cameras weighed 50 pounds each, it was business as usual and a great wedding. If I were in a position where something worse than that happened, I would pair you with one of the great photographers in Minneapolis that I refer clients to when I am already booked.
Where have you photographed weddings? DO YOU TRAVEL?
Most of my weddings now are in the Minneapolis/St Paul area and the Seattle/Tacoma area. My first travel wedding was November 3, 2001, to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Some people know that name because it was the final location mentioned in the movie "Shawshank Redemption." After that, I've photographed destination weddings all over the world, including Bali-Indonesia, Hong Kong-China, Udaipur-India, Bangkok-Thailand, Seoul-Korea, Zihuatanejo-Mexico, Honolulu-Hawaii, Washington DC, Anchorage-AK, Vancouver-BC, Portland-OR, Sun River-OR, Seattle-WA, Tacoma-WA, Orcas Island-WA, Spokane-WA, Fargo-ND, Sioux Falls-SD, Spillville-IA, La Crosse-WI, Minneapolis-MN, St. Paul-MN, Duluth-MN, Chicago-IL, New York-NY, Burlington-VT, Atlanta-GA, Phoenix-AZ, Napa-CA, Sonoma-CA, Fremont-CA, Palm Springs-CA, Palo Alto-CA, Berkeley-CA, Carmel-CA, Los Angeles-CA, San Diego-CA, Sausalito-CA and San Francisco-CA.
HAVE YOU WON ANY ACCOLADES OR AWARDS?
I do what I do because I love it. That, and I've lost every other marketable skill.
2003 19 WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) Masterpiece image awards
2004 PDN Top Knots Wedding Photography contest winning image
2005 PDN Top Knots Wedding Photography contest
2006 Gallery show of music photography at Bumbershoot in Seattle with William Anthony and Ryan Schierling
2007 The Knot Best Of Weddings
2008 The Knot Best Of Weddings
2009 Named to Grace Ormonde Platinum list
2013 CBS Minnesota/WCCO Best Wedding Photographers In Minnesota
2015 Wedding Wire Couple's Choice winner
2016 Wedding Wire Couple's Choice winner
2016 PDN Top Knots Wedding Photography contest First Place winner
2017 Olympus Summer Sun photo contest winner
2017 Wedding Wire Couple's Choice winner
2018 Wedding Wire Couple's Choice winner
2018 3 WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association) Masterpiece image awards
2018 Member of invite only group Best Of Wedding Photography
DO YOU DO A PHOTOGRAPHY PODCAST?
I do! On every other Wednesday, UK Photographer Ian Weldon and I do a photography podcast called Outerfocus with a simple concept: we interview a current photographer while discussing a historical photographer. It’s very free form and philosophical. We don’t talk about equipment or do product reviews. We talk about what we love about photography and what we are thinking about everything about it. We’ve had some amazing guests, and more to come. Most recently, we’ve spoken with Fadi Boukaram, Ed Templeton, Jillian Edelstein, Martin Parr, Charles Peterson, Goncalo Delgado, Julia Coddington, Ross Harvey, Gina Milicia, Jonathan Higbee, Melissa Breyer, David Carol, Facundo Santana, Jordi Cervera, Kym Skiles, Paul Rogers, Nima Taradji, Kirra Cheers, Spencer Lum, Niki Boon, Edoardo Morina, Cam Neville, Gisele Duprez, Kirk Mastin, Steven Bollman, and Joao DeMedeiros.
You can subscribe by finding Outerfocus podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts or by going to Outerfocuspodcast.com
ARE YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Yes. I'm on everything. Well, not everything. I never quite did get the hang of Snapchat, or understand the value of temporary images. I am on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even post my favorite iPhone photos to the VSCO sharing network, which is the golden circle at the end of the row of icons below this paragraph. In order to divide personal and professional, I have two Instagram accounts, @bradleyhansonphotography is my professional account with weddings, portraits and landscapes from my cameras, and @bradleyhanson is more like my diary of personal images from my iPhone. The links are below this paragraph, starting with a link to email me directly. I answer my own email. You know, old school.