An interview with Aaron Hogan, founder, owner and principle photographer of Eye Wander Photo.
What’s up with the name of your company “Eye Wander Photo”?
While a student at LSU studying photography in 2003 (my first major in college), I found myself eerily drawn to the intricate details of the human eye. After photographing many eyes extremely close up at parties, I decided I wanted the word “eye” in my business name. During a talk with a philosophically-minded good friend of mine, Robert, we started talking about the great all-seeing wandering eye mentioned in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I then realized that had to be the name of my business – Eye Wander Photo. It seemed to capture the process I use when I design a photo shoot for someone.
How do you identify your primary photographic style?
Documentary with an edge! I love fashion photography styled-portraits for the bride and groom while I provide purely documentary photojournalism for the wedding ceremony and reception. I enjoy capturing raw emotion without much interference on my part. When I do family or senior photography, I look for non-posed moments that really tell a viewer who that person is. I like seeing personality in a photo!
What is your favorite color?
Orange, of course! I drive an Orange Honda Fit and often wear orange pants.
Are you married?
Heck yes, to the most amazing woman ever, Jency Griffin Hogan. We married July 24, 2011 in St. Francisville on private property. f It's unlike any wedding you've ever seen.
The Process: What’s it like to work with Aaron?
What is your pre-wedding consultation like?
Super fun! We watch movies and party. Ok but seriously, whenever possible, I strongly encourage in-person meetings for the initial pre-wedding consultations. It’s the best way for both of us to know if I’m the right fit! I like to get to know my clients very well so I can truly become a part of their lives such that on the wedding day, I’m able to blend in like a fly on the wall. During my meetings, I love sharing my outgoing yet sensitive personality. If meeting in person isn’t possible due to long distances, I have no problem speaking with a couple over the phone and through email. After the initial pre-consultation process, 90% of all my communication is via email and texting. Generally am quick to respond to emails and texts (except in cases of extremely high workloads or if I’m out of town).
Should I do an engagement session or a bridal session or both?
I believe the engagement session to be a necessary addition to any wedding photo package. In fact, if you book me, you’ll get this session automatically. It’s FREE within the base package. This is a time where I really get to know my clients and they get to know me, getting comfortable in front of my camera. During a consultation, we collaborate and “design” the session by discussing the locations and clothing for the for the client as well as a good bit about the client’s hobbies. I learn how they met, about the proposal, and places they like to visit together.
Using this information, I craft a customized portrait session that is special for my unique clients. With these photos, my clients have wall art with which they can decorate their new home. This art, unlike the wedding day photos, will have a long-term place on their walls because they are casual lifestyle portraits of the couple as they really are and won’t tend to get “old” over time like the wedding day portraits. Would you really want a wedding portrait hanging in your living room 3-4 years after the wedding? You may, but it’s not likely. I even suggest multiple engagement sessions, otherwise known as a casual portrait session, during different times of the year in differerent locations so that your wall art that is derived from these sessions is extremely diverse in color, light and vibe, enriching your home’s walls even more.
Regarding the bridal session, I do them with just about every bride as a way to not only document her beauty in a relaxed two hour session but also to provide her a large portrait for the wedding reception. This session can be substituted for a post-wedding newlywed session of the couple in wedding attire or for a bridal boudoir session.
What is a bridal boudoir session? Sounds interesting.
I offer a very sensual bridal boudoir session in which a bride-to-be is photographed just before doing the formal bridal session on the same day, or even on the morning of the wedding day in ideal lighting. The session will be carried out in a comfortable studio-like environment with controlled lighting such as the bride’s bedroom or around the house. The photos will be retouched from the session to hide any blemishes including slimming certain areas. A professional makeup & hair artist will be provided for every session as well.
Depending on the level of “sexiness” desired in the shoot, the woman will be wearing her wedding day lingerie in the majority of the photos with perhaps a bridal veil in her hair, but that's not necessary. In some photos the woman may be topless either covering her chest discreetly or if desired, photographed uncovered. This session can be an excellent gift to a bride’s new husband in the form of a small book of images or a few gift prints/canvases. This session will be done with upmost attention paid to the full comfort of the subject as well as to her privacy. These images are simply beautiful works of art.
Do you take posed photos of the wedding party and families at weddings?
While my style is certainly more documentary than posed, as I prefer creating natural photos in a natural environment to create the best memories and facial expressions, I do family and group shots on request, focusing primarily on creating these portraits in a timely manner so as not to disrupt the flow of the wedding day. I spend extra time with the newlywed couple either prior to the ceremony in an optional “first look” private session or a post ceremony private session to create beautiful artwork of the couple. These relaxed photos turn into the true artwork that is the basis of the final wedding album “art book”. These flush mounted wedding albums are discussed later.
Should I have my rehearsal dinner photographed or filmed?
Yes, absolutely! In a nutshell, the rehearsal dinner is one of the most intimate and emotional times during the entire wedding process which rightfully deserves proper coverage, both with video/audio recording and photography. Think about who will attend the dinner – only your closest friends and family.
They will likely pour their true feelings both in a very relaxed yet emotional environment. I’ve captured some of the most treasured memories at a rehearsal that would never happen on the actual wedding day. There’s such an amazing energy and anticipation level during the rehearsal that it just has to be captured! Consider having the dinner filmed professionally as you won’t want to miss those rare speeches that will be given.
How many photographers do you have for the wedding day?
Two, plus a non-photographer assistant. I am the primary photographer and every package includes a second photographer not only to capture the guys getting ready before the ceremony, but also better reception photos and more opportunities for great candid shots! Also, it’s best to capture those moments with your dad (or whomever it is) just before he/she walks you down the aisle. Those tender moments must be documented. A third photographer can be available for massive weddings for an additional fee.
Do you guarantee your presence at the actual wedding?
Do you sometimes book yourself for more than one wedding in a day?
Almost never. However, if a couple has a super short early afternoon wedding I may under rare circumstances shoot an evening wedding, but ONLY if there’s NO chance of me being late for the evening wedding. This happened twice in over 13 years of shooting weddings. So again, rarely.
Do you have a replacement photographer in case you become unavailable on the wedding day?
Absolutely. A few actually. But I rarely, if ever, had had to call on these trusty backups.
Do you require a meal break at weddings? If yes, do you require that the wedding party provide your meal?
Yes, though my assistant grabs the food and drink and I sometimes keep my camera in hand in case a good moment happens as I eat.
How many breaks do you usually take throughout the day?
2- 10 minute breaks during the entire wedding day to eat/drink/use restroom.
The Details: Talk technical to me
About how many photos would you say are generally taken during a typical wedding ceremony/reception? The good ones – not the total number!
While I shoot upwards of 2500-3500 images in a 6-8 hour period, I usually edit the number down to 500-800 on average. Speaking only of the final number of images I present to my clients, I shoot about 100 photos per hour. I believe in presenting only the best images to my discerning clients and if that number happens to be less than the average quantity, then so be it. But the quality won’t be sacrificed. I don’t believe in providing so many photos to a couple that they get sick of looking through them all. In my experience as wedding photographers, I learned that fewer choices make for an easier decision when narrowing them down for the final album.
Which lighting situations do you have experience with? My wedding will be outdoors but the reception will be indoors.
Every type of lighting on earth. I prefer overcast when possible but enjoy late afternoon and dusk “magic hour” lighting also. Candlelight is great for rehearsal dinners. Yes, I photograph rehearsal dinners also. My cameras can shoot in light so low it’s hard for my eyes to even focus. It’s not the best situation, but it’s possible.
What type of cameras do you use – digital or film?
The highest quality full-frame “35mm” Nikon digital SLR D4 and D3s cameras. These cameras shoot in insanely low light. Though some days for personal work on personal shoots I bust out the old medium format film Hasselblad for fun. I don't shoot film at weddings unless requested. This comes at an extra expense for processing fees.
What kind of equipment do you typically bring with you on the day-of?
Two top-of-the-line professional Nikon bodies-- D4 & D3s (I shoot them both simultaneously), an arsenal of lenses (about 8 in all), extra batteries, 3-4 flashes, studio lights for group portraits, pocket wizards for triggering my flashes wirelessly and an assistant to set it all up and tear it down. The second photographer shoots with 2- D3s bodies as well as the same lenses I use.
Do you bring back-up equipment to the event in case of malfunction?
Yep, always. An identical backup as my primary camera actually.
What’s the Post-Wedding process like?
Wedding Photography Editing Process:
Image Editing: After your wedding day, all of the images that were taken have to be edited. There are two stages to editing. First, we go through and delete the duplicates and the images with eyes closed. We generally narrow down the original number of photos taken to about one-fourth of the original number. For example, if I shoot 2500 images on the wedding day, which is very common, then the final number of images after the deletion process will be around 650.
Do you do retouching or color adjustment? You know we want to look great!
The second part of editing involves the basic color correction process. The images will be retouched to fix any color balance, cropping, or lighting issues. Please note that “retouched” does not involve removing skin blemishes or removing background elements, but rather focuses on the overall “look” of the final image. We do retouch minimally for the final album but not as a part of the normal “editing” process. We choose many images to convert to black and white while others are enhanced through various natural coloring techniques, not trendy filters that will look dated quickly. Our style is natural. This process takes approximately 4 weeks, depending on what time of the year the wedding occurs (April-May and October being the busiest months typically).
The Big Reveal!
Once the images are edited about 30 days after the wedding, the newlyweds to come in to the studio to view the wedding as a beautiful slideshow set to music, displayed on an 8′ wide projector screen in our office. We examine all the wedding photos and we show you a pre-designed wedding album filled with our favorites that best tell the wedding story from our professional viewpoint. Don't worry, you have the ability to make changes if you don't like our choices. This appointment usually takes about 2.5 hours and I encourage the bride and groom and immediate family to attend this meeting. You will be able to purchase wall displays (framed images or canvas art) or standard prints at this meeting.
Do you offer online viewing/purchasing of images?
YES. Once you view the wedding slideshow in the studio, the wedding day images will be uploaded to the current “online proofs” section on our website. Wedding images will remain online for 1 month (30 days) after being posted. If at some time down the road you or a family member decides to purchase more wedding day prints after the wedding day images have been taken offline, there will be a $25 charge to re-upload the images.
What kinds of albums do you offer?
The finest thick page albums & thin page coffee table books available from the top album manufacturers in the world. We sell GraphiStudio and Iris Book brand albums. Albums are a beautiful, permanent memento of the wedding and keeping it out in your home encourages you to look through it often. For the wedding, I also design and create custom hard bound photo guest sign-in books designed with the couple’s engagement photos. In addition to albums for the bride and groom, I offer smaller identical books for parents that the couple can give as keepsakes.
What is the process for getting the final wedding book?
When the client comes into the studio approx. 4 weeks after the wedding to view the edited images from the wedding, The trained EWP staff select the best images from the wedding with which to complete the wedding story and we will present to you a completely designed album shown on the projector screen. You’ll be able to make changes page-by-page in the meeting until the design is EXACTLY as you like it. You can swap images or leave it as is. Once fully designed and approved by the client via email (the design is sent to you have an you have 2 weeks to make changes), the album is then added to a waiting listof albums to be printed. The process of printing, binding and shipping takes approx. 4-6 weeks. The entire process of design-through production can take anywhere from 2-4 months before delivery depending on how backed up the printer is (holidays have longest turnarounds).
Describe any special techniques and retouching you offer with the album:
We custom color correct every single image taken. We process some B&W and enhance colors on others. We do fix blemishes on a per-request basis at a small additional fee unless the request is minor. We do minor blemish removal for the majority of the photos which go into the final album at no charge.
Who owns the images? Copyrights and all that stuff.What is your copyright policy?
I retain full copyright to the images once taken. However, I offer you the ability to post images online and make prints of the images once you receive your copyright release USB flash drive 6 months after your wedding date. Due to the nature of the photography business, I rely on the sale of products and prints to stay in business. Copying the low-resolution photos off my website or making scans of my prints is strictly prohibited and is a breach of contract and is punishible by a court of law.
Do you provide clients rights to publish photos online?
I do offer free small versions of watermarked files for Facebook/online use only. Any client who receives the copyright release flash drive may print the high quality files as often as they like.
How long after the wedding can we expect to receive the finished products?
The photos are presented to the couple in an in-person meeting 4 weeks after the wedding. Products including photo canvases & paper photo prints can be ordered immediately after that point and print orders will be fulfilled within 10-14 days. However, since our custom designed coffee table books take time to finalize design and print, they could take up to 3 months after the wedding to receive.
What are your rates for wedding photography? Do you charge by the hour or a full day?
We have 3 packages based on hours of coverage and type of album with a la carte options available for each package to help customize the package to fit your budget and needs.
Here’s an outline of what you will receive from my $3850 + 9% tax starting package (tax only for Louisiana residents or Louisiana weddings)
Engagement session (Two-hour on-location session at a location we pre-determine)
5 hours of my time on your wedding day (free extra hour for couples doing the "First Look" photos together just an hour before the ceremony).
2nd photographer (4 hours coverage)
10x10 basic thick-page flush mounted album (65 images)
Low-resolution digital files (1200 pixels wide) for social media only.
An additional hour of wedding day coverage is $250/hour.
A little more about rights and usage
The USB flash drive containing wedding or wedding +engagement (and possibly bridal) photos will include all jpeg images from the final edited down number. When you receive the flash drive you’ll sign a copyright consent form which you should keep with the USB flash drive at all times. This form gives you rights to make prints so that you will not be hassled by a photo lab about copying professional photographs. You may post them online and do anything you wish except you may not sell them and you may not make copies of the files/drive to distribute to anyone other than to make a personal backup copy for yourself. Eye Wander Photo retains exclusive rights to the sale of the images and rely on sales from friends/family to stay in business. I request you keep the images for your own personal use and don’t hinder my ability to get print sales from family/friends. Do not share the digital files with friends/family as it is illegal to do so.
If you wish to purchase the copyright release photos from a non-wedding related portrait session (such as individual or family session), it’s $1000 + tax for the high-resolution digital files.
What is your deposit/retainer fee and how do I book you for my wedding?
$1000 is the non-refundable retainer fee payable via check, money order or cash only. I require a contract be signed with every client as well. All other payments can be made with credit card or cash/check/money order.
When is the final payment due? Any other terms of payment?
30 days before the wedding the balance is due in full. You can make incremental payments up until this deadline if you wish.
Do you charge sales tax?
Yes, I am a legally operating small business corporation and I charge 9% sales tax to all orders/sessions occurring within the state of Louisiana. If you live in Louisiana but your session/wedding is outside the state, I must charge sales tax. If you live outside Louisiana but your session is in Louisiana, I will charge sales tax. If you live outside Louisiana and I travel to your state for the session, I will NOT charge sales tax.
Where can I find your contract?
We process all contracts through a website where you can login to your customer portal to view your pricing proposal and electronically sign the contract. This portal allows you to make payments online easily.
Do you charge for travel?
Minimal $0.50/mile (roundtrip) to cover gas. Only charged if event is beyond 80 miles one-way from Baton Rouge, LA 70806. I am available for travel worldwide at the cost of plane ticket for myself and my assistant, with the addition of lodging/food and a $100 "per diem" (per day fee) to cover missed time in the office plus miscellaneous expenses.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, we accept all major credit cards (AmEx, Visa, MasterCard, Discover). We do NOT accept a credit card for the initial $1000 deposit (cash or check only for deposit) but we do accept them for all remaining balance payments.
Do you offer a payment plan?
Yes, I allow clients to pay as they see fit in small amounts every month if you like. We can put your credit card on file and auto-draft your account a pre-determined amount each month. The balance is due in full 30 days before the wedding day.
Do you offer a wedding registry?
Absolutely! Every client has the opportunity to allow friends and family to help pay for their wedding album by donating a small monetary gift to the bridal registry. We create a unique wedding for each client and allow guests to help you upgrade your existing package to include more products, sessions or time on the wedding day!
Each donation received on behalf of the client through our website is deducted from the client’s balance. Every little bit helps! This is all done online in a secure website payment environment.
How long do you keep the digital files in your archives? How do you archive them?
The images are redundantly stored on multiple hard drives in multiple locations for approx. 12 months after the event while simultaneously being put onto our Google "cloud" storage for permenant storage. After a year the images are deleted from my local hard drives and archived only on an off-site "cloud-based" storage. If you wish to purchase images after 12 months from the event we will pull the images from the Google cloud server for a $50 fee.
Do you offer videography?
YES! As of 2017, Eye Wander now offers video services for weddings, events, and corporate branding type films. Contact us to see our portfolio and for custom pricing!
Are you a member of any professional associations?
Yes, I am a member of PPA (Professional Photographers of America).