Wedding Photo Chat with Neal Freed, Thursday, May 8 at 11 AM

When you’re taking photos you’re going to show off for the rest of your life, you want them to look better than amazing. Photographer Neal Freed is here to help. He’ll be taking questions on anything and everything to do with wedding photos.

Neal Freed got his start under famed New York photographer Andy Marcus, soon becoming a lead photographer at NYC’s Fred Marcus Studio. In 1996, Neal and his wife Carla opened Freed Photography, their Bethesda studio. Since then, they’ve photographed more than 1,000 weddings and other events. Neal often does posed shots, while Carla covers candids, making them a perfect—and very cute—team.

Thank you for taking the time to send in your questions. If you have any other questions that I haven't been able to answer, or if you disagree with any of my answers, feel free to email me at If you want to see samples of our work, please check out



Alexandria, VA
What's the benefit of having those fancy cardboard albums with the images printed on them versus traditional photo albums?
There's really no benefit to the new albums over the more traditional albums. It's more of a stylistic choice. The design of the newer "coffee table" type albums can be much more creative and dynamic than the trditional bordered type album but there's no inherent benefit to the album.  Both types of albums should last for many generations.
Tips on fun locations where we can take pre-wedding pictures inside? It's July in DC, so we're going to be roasting like hot pockets if we do it outdoors! But inside the church seems so dull…
Obviously the weather in DC in the summer is a big if, between heat, humidity, and daily thunder showers, but if we get lucky there are lots of places in DC that photograph wonderfully with a real DC flavor. For example, anywhere on Pennsylvania Avenue shooting back toward the Capitol is a great look.  Believe it or not, when you're wearing a wedding gown, you can step right into the middle of the street and grizzly old cab drivers will hold back traffic for you. It's lots of fun and every bride should have that experience at least once in their life. Also Georgetown works great both on M street and long the canal.  The monuments are also obviously terrific but you should be aware that you will need a permit to take photographs at any monument.
Washington, DC
Now that everything is digital, how long does it take to get proofs back after the wedding? Also, how many pictures do you take at an average wedding?
We typically take 2 -3 weeks to get our brides their proofs although it can take an extra week in peak months like May and October.  We take on average about 1,000 photographs per wedding and now that everything is digital, the hard part is keeping it down to that number. We have learned that if you take too many photographs, it's too easy to get lazy with composition and confuse quality with quantity. Believe it or not, more isn't necessarily better. Better is better.
Washington, DC
About how far in advance should I book a wedding photographer?
That's a tough question that I get asked a lot. We have some dates where we are totally booked a year in advance and other times where people call us 2 weeks before their wedding and we have availability. As a general rule, I think it makes sense to book someone as soon you feel you have identified the right studio. The only things that happen as time goes by is people become unavailable and prices go up.I don't really see where there is any gain in waiting.
Washington, DC
What big moments should I make sure that my wedding photographer won't miss getting a good picture of?
Everyone knows the standard "big moments" like when your groom sees you as a bride for the first time, and your coming down the aisle, and the exchange of rings and the kiss during the ceremony, etc. These are so obvious, you shouldn't have to discuss them with your photographer beforehand to make sure they don't get missed. The harder part is the totally unexpected, fleeting moment that can never be recreated. Nobody knows when or if these will happen so they can't be put into a timeline in advance, but everyone knows once they've happened. That's one reason why wedding photograph is so difficult from a photographers standpoint. My favorite photograph from my own wedding is a totally candid photograph where the photographer "just happened" to be in the right place at the right time to take a remarkable picture.
Washington, D.C.
What's the going rate for wedding photographers these days? And more importantly: how much should a couple expect to spend on the entire package, photographer and printing included?
While there are many photographers and many pricing options these days, I would break pricing down a couple of ways.  First are "budget" photographers where you will probably pay under $2,000 and that wil include an album. Then there are higher quality self service photographers who will charge between $2,500 – $3,500 for the photography alone and you will have to make your own album and prints.  Finally there are high quality full service photographers who charge between $4,000 – $7,000 for the photography and retouched, finished, photographs in an album. While everyone is on a budget, you need to consider not only the initial price, but what is included. In terms of what you may spend for photography in total, I can't really say because if you go with a complete package including an album, you may not spend anything additional, whereas if you go with a self service package, you may need to spend quite a bit more to end up with the finished photographs and album.
Washington, DC
Hello! My outdoor Eastern Shore wedding is next Saturday and my fiancee and I just received this note from my future father-in-law: "I'm planning to wear a new, white linen suit I bought. I will wear it tastefully, like Tom Wolfe. However, if you think that I need to wear a dark suit, I can do that. I don't want my white suit to be the focal point of any photos." My reaction to this is that I'M supposed to be the only one wearing white, but maybe I'm being too sensitive. What are your thoughts? Will a while linen suit on a 62 year old man distract from me and my wedding dress in photos?
Absolutely go with your gut. The only people at a wedding besides the bride that can get away with wearing white a children under 5. I think that disqualifies your father in law. Having said that, you may want to be sensitive to how you tell him that, assuming you want to stay married for a long time.  I would tell him that you checked with your photographer and while you think he would look great, your photographer said it wasn't a good idea.
Arlington, VA
I have a brother who is a amateur photographer. Do you ever recommend family or friends shooting your wedding?
Obviously as a photographer you may expect me to say that it's not a good idea but I say that not as a photographer but based on what I hear from people who done that. I have never heard of this working out well . We have many brides who come to us and they have a friend or family member who went that route and I haven't heard of even one instance where people ended up happy with their pictures. You can also just imagine how happy their mother in law is with that decision.
Washington, DC
How do you stay original with your shots? I imagine that shooting weddings can be somewhat monotonous…
That's a great question. One of the benefits I have is that I work with so many other talented photographers. That's actually one of the reasons why we work together. We get together constantly to look at each other's work and it's a continual sharpening process.  I think it's really hard if you work by yourself. You only know what you know, and doing the same thing over and over, doesn't necessarily make you any better.
Washington, DC
For weddings, do you like working in color better, or black-and-white? Why?
Now that we are photographing digitally, any image can be printed in either black & white, color, or a combination of both. In the old days, we had two cameras, one with B&W film and the other with color film. The way the photograph was captured was the way it had to be printed. That's one of the benefits of digital photography in that we are no longer locked into that either/or. We now can look at each photograph and even look at it in the context of where it is being placed to artistically decide if it will look better in color or B&W.