10 Questions with Ellen Gustafson

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most popular and sought-after wedding photographers in Minnesota, Ellen Gustafson Photography. Minneapolis based Ellen is the founder and owner of Ellen Gustafson Photography.

Ellen Gustafson Photography

Photographer - Ellen Gustafson

10 Questions with Ellen Gustafson

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hi, I'm Ellen. I'm a Minneapolis based photographer who travels often work work & pleasure.

I've been photographing weddings for about 5 years now and am so thankful for the hands on experience I received from my apprenticeship when I first started out. I knew I wanted to be a photographer but I didn't know what I wanted to concentrate on. Weddings have it all; the emotional moments, the thoughtful details, the fast pace, the quiet breaks and the lively parties.

Documenting weddings is pretty much everything I could ask for in a career.

2. How long have you been shooting weddings? How many weddings have you photographed?

When I started my professional photography journey 5 years ago I was so incredibly nervous.

The first wedding I ever second shot with my mentor was an elaborate event with tons of guests and I felt totally out of it! The more shoots I shadowed, and the more I did on my own , everything clicked into place.

I'm a lifelong learner so I will never claim to know everything but I do know that year of only second shooting was the best thing I ever did. I shot my first solo wedding in 2016 and have added on 60+ to my portfolio over the years. I love having an eclectic client base and trying anything at least once!

I've been lucky enough to shoot all over my base in Minnesota and travel to Kauai, NYC and Florida for some amazing nuptials as well. The variety of the weddings I shoot keeps me on my toes-anything from a few people in a field to a jam packed warehouse rager, I'm there for it!

3. How would you describe your photography style?

There are too many words to describe my style!

I don't like to put myself in box which comes as a given with the variety of clients I have the privilege of working with. I photograph weddings as they are and focus on life as it happens. I don't shy away from embarrassing moments or getting shots that may not be "traditionally" beautiful.

I also love portraiture and like to make sure I get enough portrait time in with couples on their wedding days so they can look back and not only on the moments but also say "damn, look how good we looked looked on our wedding day" years down the road. I like to make portraits that actually represent people, that you can see a piece of their personality in. In my eyes, portraits can have the power to preserve memories and moments like candids can.

4. How well in advance should couples book their wedding photographer?

At least a year for busier seasons! I'm sure anyone reading this can correctly assume that Minnesotans get a little less comfortable outdoors time throughout the year with our very exaggerated seasons. If you want a prime summer or fall weekend date, definitely don't wait until the last minute to book.

My wedding season is the busiest from June through October. I think especially in Minnesota July can actually be a pause in the summer because people want to take advantage of prime summer weather and actually slow down and enjoy it. June & September are my months that go the quickest (again, about a year out) but I often get smaller last minute bookings throughout the year that are always fun surprises!

5. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

I like to keep my pricing simple and customizable. I know that no wedding is the same as the last and couples have different needs for their coverage.

I start with 3 base options that all include timeline/planning assistance and your digital files delivered and sorted into a beautiful online gallery and range from $2,800 to $3,300 for 6, 8 & 10 hours of coverage.

During the summer and early fall the 10 hour package is most popular because wedding timelines tend to last longer with the day light. I offer add ons like engagement sessions, extra time, instant film, additional coverage, boudoir sessions, second shooters and travel packages.

Extra coverage can only be added on to package #3 (10 hours) and is $250/per added hour. This year I started a custom small wedding package to cater to those who kept their wedding plans but shortened the time and cut guest lists.

I have 4 macro/micro wedding packages that have the same base as my main wedding options that come in 1, 3, 5 and 7 hour segments and range from $600-$2,100 that can be customized with the same a la carte add ons.

6. Are you the wedding photographer who will be shooting on the wedding day? Who else is there in your team?

My team consists of myself! I am the one who will be shooting your wedding, I do have a second shooter option where I can have a trusted fellow photographer by my side all day making sure every moment is caught.

I recommend adding a second shooter in situations where you have over 200 guests, have multiple venues that you're traveling between on your wedding day or have a schedule that requires two people to be in different places at once. However, I always wear two cameras strapped to me during ceremonies, speeches and any other time I want to capture the near and far or different types of light with ease.

7. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

I don't charge a travel fee if the wedding is within 90 minutes of Minneapolis. After that, I charge a $50 fee up to 3 hours and beyond 3 hours I require lodging supplied by clients.

If it's a destination wedding I require travel and lodging that is bundled into a travel package which varies depending on the location. I'm lucky to have friends all over the place who I love to visit so you might be lucky enough to have your wedding in a place where I can save us on lodging and stay with a loved one instead!

8. Are albums or prints included in your packages?

Albums and prints are optional add ons but I do offer both! I stand behind the high quality, professional printers I work with that are located in Minnesota who I cannot rave about enough. I don't require I print purchase but I always offer a discount code as an incentive because these photos don't belong ONLY on the screen!

In my opinion, printing your memories is the best way to give them life and honor them with the appreciation they deserve. Ordering both are easily accessible right in your gallery link and I am the one lucky enough to design the albums for my clients.

9. How long after the wedding will the couple receive the images? How will they be delivered?

My contract states up to 10 weeks as a safety net for those extremely busy times in a wedding season. However, the average delivery time for a full wedding day is 6-8 weeks.

I know that it's hard to wait for these photos (I know, I'm impatient!) but I explain to anyone that wonders what takes so long that you really don't want me to rush! Taking the time to make sure your photos perfectly crafted in color balance, exposure, composition and more is worth the wait to have a beautifully crafted, cohesive set of images in the end. You'll love your photos even more when you have that time to step back from one of the biggest days of your life and then get relive your day all over again when your gallery arrives!

You'll receive your photos in an alluring online gallery that's as easy to use as it is fun to look at. I sort your photos into a story order where I encourage my clients to make a special date out of looking through front to back in the slideshow mode the first time. They're also sorted by section of the day like "getting ready" or "reception" so it's easy to go back to find specific photos to share or add to your favorites list.

Downloading is available in high resolution along with web sizes and can be done as an entire galley, in section/favorite batches or as single photo for tasks like a quick profile pic change!

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

Your deposit is non refundable if you cancel your wedding but if you change your date and I have it free it's no problem for me to adjust your date. There are a million "but what if.." scenarios the universe could throw us and I've had great luck with my clients in the past but if we hit a bump in the road along the way, I will do all that I can to keep my clients happy while staying in business!



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