Wedding Photographer Kendra Dott

Wedding Photographer


Your wedding photos are one of the most important aspects of your nuptials. You’ll keep them forever, and they’ll be the primary way you remember your wedding, your reception, and all the happiness and excitement you and your guests felt. Here’s what to know about wedding photography and how to make sure your wedding photos are picture perfect.

John Maher:  Hi. I’m John Maher. Welcome to our series of podcasts with wedding vendors for the Essex Room, Woodman’s wedding and function facility on the north shore of Massachusetts. Today, I’m here with Kendra Dott, a photographer with Sharon’s Studio of Gloucester.

Welcome, Kendra.

Kendra Dott:  Hi, how are you?

Wedding Photography Styles

John:  Good. Kendra, can you tell me a little bit about your business and your style of wedding photography?

Kendra:  Yeah. We, basically, I would say, have a mixed style of photography. We do photojournalism. We also do traditional portraits and also get into the creative side of the pictures too, because we want to make the grandmother happy as well as the bride and everybody in the wedding.

What to Know Before Hiring a Wedding Photographer

John:  What should couples who are getting married know before hiring a wedding photographer or a videographer?

Kendra:  I guess you definitely want to know what you’re actually paying for. I think a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of photographers do copyright images and that is something that we do specialize in, in that we don’t copyright our images.

John:  Which means that you don’t own the pictures that you took.

Kendra:  Right. We can use them for advertising. If somebody said, “No, you can’t use them,” we would not use them. We’re not going to make somebody unhappy. We do keep a copy of them in our files and then they can do whatever they want. If they want to go to Walmart and get a crappy picture, they can.

Also, you want to know who is actually taking the pictures. A lot of photography companies actually hire people out. I’m the only one that is taking pictures. Generally, we have people that are backups and we have second photographers if something were to happen to me. I just don’t really trust somebody else to do the work for me.

When to Start Thinking About Wedding Photography

John:  That’s interesting. At what point during the wedding planning process do you think that a couple should talk to a photographer and how far out?

Kendra:  I guess they can certainly do it when they book the venue because we could be probably helpful in the timing of pictures, but we’re going to do what we’re required to do. If pictures have to be taken in lighting that’s not ideal, that’s what we’re going to do. An hour before sunset’s the best time for portrait photography, but you can’t always depend that the wedding venue is going to have that time set aside for you.

Basically, anytime, we’re just going to make it work.

John:  Once the bride and groom know the date and where their venue is going to be and, of course, what time their wedding is at, both the ceremony and the reception, then that helps you to figure out what is your time frame, when do you have to be there.

Kendra:  Right, exactly. If you want to have us there early before to take pictures of you getting ready, those are really nice pictures.

John:  Those are nice pictures when you have the bride getting dressed.

Kendra:  They’re much more relaxed, and you can really get some special pictures at that time.

John:  How far out from the wedding do people generally call you? Is it a year before their wedding that they’re booking?

Kendra:  Yeah.

John:  How far in advance do you book up?

Kendra:  Sometimes I do get bookings, not that I’m surprised, but people do book half a year in advance. I have had gotten things a month or so before, whether people were thinking, “Nah, we’re not going to do it.” Everybody’s kind of do‑it‑yourself first sometimes these days, where they’ve got people deejaying their own weddings and stuff, and then they, I think, panic.

John:  Hit the last minute to go, “Geez, we really should have a photographer.”

Kendra:  That was a bad idea, and it can be a bad idea. Ideally, a year out. It’s not unusual to get stuff even a couple of months before.

John:  You can work with somebody who comes to you and says, “Hey, are you available in the month? I’m getting married.”

Kendra:  Yes.

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

John:  What are some of the questions that people should ask of a photographer when they first meet with you, what are those important things that they should know?

Kendra:  Of course, whether you’re available because you don’t want to waste a lot of time talking to somebody that’s not available. Maybe what your deposit is. We charge a $250 deposit. I think other photographers may charge 50%. Usually, that’s non‑refundable. You don’t want to show a lot of money, and then something goes wrong.

Just basically, the copyrighting process. Ask whether it’s copyrighted, whether you have that control. It’s confusing and tricky, because we are also a photo lab, so we’ve always had people come in and ask for pictures that they want copied from weddings and we say, “No, we can’t do that. It’s copyrighted,” and they are so upset, they can’t believe that, “These are my pictures,” “Oh, no, they’re not.”

The Importance of Wedding Photography & Videography

John:  That’s interesting. Many people say that the photography or the videography is one of the most important things at a wedding. Can you elaborate a little bit on why it’s so critical to have a good wedding photographer or videographer?

Kendra:  I don’t know about you, but anytime I do anything, the next thing, you can’t remember anything. It’s pretty much a blur.

John:  Especially at a wedding. It just goes by so fast.

Kendra:  Oh, my God. Yeah, it’s ridiculous. I think the photos are there just to keep the whole memory of it alive, of course. You can forget what food you had or things like that. I think it’s similar to, like a song that you remember. In the 80’s, I remember being at work and hearing a song. I still remember exactly where I was. You can just look at the picture and be like, “Oh, yeah, I remember that.”

John:  It really captures that moment in your brain in a way that just your brain by itself just doesn’t do.

Kendra:  Yes, it’s amazing what you can forget.

John:  A nice picture can really trigger that whole memory of that time.

Kendra:  I have a daughter, and she just look at pictures of herself when she was young. She said, “I remember that.” I’m like, “There’s no way you remember that,” but it’s funny that she believes it.

John:  You’re remembering it through the photography.

Kendra:  She believes that she remembers it.

John:  She’s really remembering the picture and seeing the picture over and over and over again. That’s interesting.

Getting Specific Shots

John:  Are couples requesting specific kinds of shots? Have they changed from the more traditional style photos that were popular in the past?

Kendra:  Yeah, definitely. With Pinterest right now, there are so many different things that you can go on and spend hours flipping through images that are really creative. I’ve definitely gotten a Pinterest folder sent to me, and it was like, look at these. I don’t mind recreating something if that’s what they want. I’m not going to get mad, but then it will give you ideas to move onto something else.

John:  It’s nice to have a jumping off point of knowing where you’re going into the photography session at the wedding, knowing what the types of pictures are that the bride and groom are looking for, and what their style is that they enjoy. You’re trying to recreate that without exactly, you’re not posing them in exactly the same way or whatever, but you’re trying to capture that same sort of style.

Kendra:  I have my style and I’ll mix those in. Like I said, if there’s a particular picture they said, “Oh, I want to hold my hands up in a heart shape,” great, that’s fine.

John:  Let’s do it.

Kendra:  We’ll do it. We’re going to make it happen.

John:  Do couples, today tend to prefer a more candid shots rather than posed shots or both?

Kendra:  Yeah.

John:  Which do you like to take better?

Kendra:  I definitely like the looks of a candid picture. I’ll tell you, sometimes, the candid ones aren’t the most flattering ones. At some point, you’ll say, “Lower your chin or something,” you know what I mean? Just saying, “You got a double chin.”

John:  You could be on an awkward position.

Kendra:  Yes, exactly.

John:  Maybe you’re in the middle of talking and you get that weird shot where your mouth is wide open.

Kendra:  Yeah, exactly. You just want to have a really good picture. You want to have that freedom of maybe even sometimes looking candid and laughing out loud and you definitely get those, but you can also help them along a little bit so you’re not getting a half eyes closed look.

John:  Do you sort of guide the bride and groom and say, “OK, Hold hands and look at each other, and then laugh a little bit,” and you take a picture?

Kendra:  Yes. You do. I think it feels kind of silly but . . . .

John:  I remember that feeling, a little bit awkward at my wedding, when another photographer was like, “Look into each other’s eyes and laugh.”

Kendra:  We don’t do this.

John:  It just seems really awkward. Those pictures, when they came out, they look really good. You don’t really remember. Certainly, anybody else who sees those pictures doesn’t know that the photographer was behind the camera, telling you what to do at every moment.

Kendra:  There are people that can pose and do things and do that, but I’d say the majority of people are a little on, maybe, a stiffer, more uncomfortable side. They’re like, “Are you going to help me?”

John:  They don’t know what to do.

Kendra:  The husband is just standing straight at me with his arms down. I’m like, “Relax, relax. Put a hand in your pocket. Do something. Give me a little sass.” You know what I mean? With the girl or something. Shove your butt out or something a little bit nice.

Even if it feels, sometimes, uncomfortable, those might be the ones you like the best. If you don’t like them, throw them away.

Benefits of Hiring a Wedding Photographer

John:  You’re not required to keep any of the pictures that you take. What are services or benefits that a wedding photographer can provide to a couple that maybe they don’t think about?

Kendra:  Sometimes, I feel like a wedding planner, because I know what to expect. There’s times when I’ve gotten to a church and there are a group of guys standing there and I say, “Where are your boutonnieres?” A couple of more minutes, everyone’s coming down the aisle. They’re like, “I don’t know.”

John:  They are sitting over in the corner somewhere.

Kendra:  They’ll be like, “Can you put them on me?” I say, “Yeah, I can, but I should really be taking a picture of somebody putting them on you.” I’ve gotten to the point where I’m like, “You know what, just fake it, put it on, and then I’ll fix it later.” You know what I mean? I want the mother putting it on. You don’t need somebody else.

We just don’t want to waste time. I think that’s the important thing, is just, I walk in and I’m like, “Wait a minute, why is this not happening? We’re wasting time sitting here?”

John:  Like you said, you have been to more weddings than anybody. Any of the brides and grooms probably. That’s really interesting that you end up being sort of [a wedding planner].

I think I remember, at my wedding, really almost relying on my photographer to tell me where to go next and what to do.

Kendra:  What do we do?

John:  She seemed to know what was going on a lot more than I did.

Kendra:  I know. She’s not getting pulled in a million different directions with the bride. She’s like, “Oh, I’m going to go get that person.” I said, “No, you can’t, because you will never come back. Everybody is going to hug you.”

John:  You have good advice for them and it can help to keep things moving smoothly.

Kendra:  I had a bride who set up a table at a beach wedding and she wanted to have drinks out on it. It was a great idea, but she didn’t have the foresight to send anybody down to do it, had a table set up and a box of waters and champagne sitting on top of the table and I was like, “Oh, my God. She’s going to be so mad when she comes down and realizes it’s still sitting on the table.”

I found Dad’s girlfriend or something, I was like, “Can you put these out?” She was like, “Me?” I was like, “Somebody’s got to do it.” She started arranging it. It was like, “I can’t do it. I’m holding the camera. Somebody needs to do it.”

John:  That isn’t really added service that you’re providing. Definitely, brides and grooms wouldn’t even think about it.

Kendra:  Yeah. Because she was going to come walking down the aisle, on the beach and looking over there. She’s going to be looking over there, going, “What the hell?”

John:  That’s good. That’s good that your style is that you’re watching out for them throughout the day. Obviously, your main focus is, I have to be here to take the pictures, but if I see something a little bit out of place, I’m going to say something. We’re going to make it happen.

Kendra:  Yup, exactly.

John:  That’s really good.

Kendra:  I’m not afraid to say anything.

When to Get Your Wedding Pictures

John:  How long after the wedding do the couples typically get their pictures?

Kendra:  It depends on, obviously, how busy that weekend was, but I try to get them out pretty fast. The images take anywhere from a week to two weeks, and that would be online and a link sent to them. Then a proof album would be maybe another week or two.

John:  Can you photograph the picture that goes on either a wedding invitation or maybe a save‑the‑date card as well as the wedding?

Kendra:  Yeah, because we do engagement photos beforehand, and that’s probably the kind of picture you’d want on the front.

John:  How do people typically arrange that? Is that usually a groom, obviously, who’s giving you a call and saying, “Hey, I’d like you to be there when I get engaged and take some pictures?” Or is it after the engagement and then they’re setting up a separate session with you?

Kendra:  Usually.

John:  Have you done it as a surprise?

Kendra:  No. It’s a cool idea.

John:  When people get engaged and have you popped out of the trees or something like that?

Kendra:  That would be cool, that would be cool. I haven’t done that yet. Generally, obviously, the women call. Occasionally, I get a guy who does everything. I’m always amazed that I never hear from the bride, it’s just occasionally. It’s just the personality type. It’s pretty neat. You know what I mean? They end up being that.

John:  Maybe it’s just the bride that said, “You handle the photography.”

Kendra:  It might be, because usually, the guy will drop the ball if she throws a tantrum, but it’s usually just the personality of the guy, whether he’s a caretaker or something. He does everything and she just relaxed. It’s happened to me a couple times this summer. They were sweet. The women were sweet, sweet, sweet, but he was taking care of everything. It was funny.

How to Get in Touch With a Wedding Photographer

John:  That’s funny. How can couples get in touch with you if they’re interested in hiring a photographer?

Kendra:  The website’s the easiest.

John:  What is that?


John:  That’s easy.

Kendra:  Then emailing is Obviously, we do have a Facebook page under Sharon’s Studio. We do have a storefront. We are there in Gloucester on 179 Washington Street from 9:00 to 2:30, Monday through Friday. Then we can obviously make appointments. Obviously, we have a phone number.

John:  People can go onto the website and they can see some of the pictures that you’ve taken.

Kendra:  Yes, that’s the easiest, because there are so many pictures on the website. You can see basic photos and then you can see full weddings. You can go onto a link that’ll take you and see the last year’s pictures.

John:  Every picture.

Kendra:  Every picture, right. Good, bad, ugly.

John:  That’s good. That would really give you a sense of all of the different pictures that you’re taking and then the ones that you might choose.

Kendra:  We’re not just giving you the perfect advertising photo. It’s everything.

John:  Great. That’s really great information, Kendra.

John:  Thanks for speaking with me today.

Kendra:  Thank you.

John:  For more information about the Essex Room and tips on wedding planning, you can visit the Essex Room’s website at or call 978‑768‑7335.