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I'm Tori, a portrait and wedding photographer based in central New Jersey. Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet; I'm so happy you're here. Come check out the full galleries from recent weddings and portrait sessions, behind the scenes, personal posts, helpful tips and more. Please feel free to take a look, and let me know if there is anything special you'd love to see in a future post. I hope to hear from you soon!



Choosing a Small Business Photographer VS a Big Photography Company

Tori Kelner Photography WeddingsI recently had an incredible couple who decided to cancel their contract with a larger photography company and hire me for their big day instead. I was literally speechless that someone would make such a drastic change just a few months before their wedding because it felt RIGHT to them. EVERYTHING my amazing bride was telling me about why she was feeling so unsure about the company she had hired just hit the nail on the head as to why I always recommend couples search for small business photographers as opposed to larger photography companies.

Here’s the Difference:

Larger Photography Companies

tend to be a good deal, which is awesome when trying to stick to a budget and not totally break the bank. However, what you seem to get in return is a lack of connection, uncertainty, and that icky feeling of being ‘just a number’ or ‘just another wedding’ to the company. Typically, you contact the company and they will hire out one of their many photographers to show up on your wedding day and shoot with you. There’s very little communication between you and the photographer during the planning, as they’re simply there to provide you with a service and that is just about it. It’s not a bad thing, but knowing that you could have an epic and amazing experience elsewhere makes me think maybe that ‘good deal’ isn’t always worth it!

A Small Business Photographer

is typically a one-man or one-woman show; aka what I do! You’re getting someone whose name you know, whose work you adore, and whose experience is tailored to you. This is a boutique experience versus a department store. When you’re choosing to invest in a small business, you’re not just a number to them. You’re VALUED, you’re SO cared for, you get so much personal interaction and connection with the person who will be there with you on your wedding day, and you will truly gain a friend in the process. The KEY to not feeling 100000% awkward in your photos is to have a photographer who you connect with! Having someone you’ve barely ever spoken to is freaking WEIRD, but having a friend show up and feel more like an honorary bridesmaid or groomsmen will make you feel SO much more comfortable. The entire experience from first inquiry to final hugs goodbye is just that – an experience! 

I personally am in contact with my couples so often, from grabbing coffee together to video chats, emails, texts, and just following along with life on social media. Those connection builders are what help make you feel so comfortable in front of the camera and what make you ADORE your images for generations to come. I could ramble on forever, but it’s just night and day when it comes to the experience and value you’re getting from a small biz versus a big company!

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

Your Wedding Photography is so Important

Wedding days can be expensive, let’s just say it how it is. I am all about my couples doing everything they can to save and be smart when planning by sticking to budgets and not losing sight of what is really most important on a wedding day – your marriage! However, I LOVE a wedding day with stunning details and unique decor just as much as the next person, so I am always majorly excited when my couples spice up their day with fun and unexpected touches!

Keep in mind though, that the only thing that truly lasts from your wedding day are your photos.

Your flowers wilt, your music ends, your food is gone, your dress gets hidden away, your venue is just for the day, and so on. And yes, post-wedding blues are totally a thing!! You’re going to MISS everything from planning to celebrating and more, but again, the ONE thing that truly stays with you from your day are the tangible memories that we capture. Your photos. So, why cut corners on one of the most valuable aspects of your day?

Tori Kelner Photography WeddingsMy heart breaks for all the couples who have received their wedding gallery and been in tears because they regret who they chose to document their day. It literally crushes me to know that couples feel like they don’t have all the memories captured or feel like their images are generic or don’t show off their personality.

I don’t want that for you. I want you to cry tears of HAPPINESS at your insanely abundant gallery full of laughter, love, joy, and all of the hilarious and meaningful moments of your day. I want you to be excited to share tons of images because you feel like they reflect your personalities and the way that your day felt. I want that ONE thing that lasts beyond your wedding day to be so insanely special to you.

You are not just another couple and you deserve to FEEL like that from each and every one of your vendors.

Here are some snippets of what my bride, who canceled her contract with a photography company and hired me instead, said to me as she was working through making this tough decision! I added my thoughts on each point to give a little more insight!

Bride: We didn’t even talk to the photographer we chose directly. We only saw 3 wedding sets of photos from them. There was nothing wrong with the photos! But they just felt generic.

My Thoughts: You deserve to be aware of what you’re getting! You should feel SO secure and obsessed with their work. You want to know that they can produce that stunning work for YOU and your day! Seeing just a few images isn’t going to give you that confidence. You should get to see blog posts, sample albums, an Instagram account full of amazing work, etc. to make that decision! And they should be willing to show that to you without making you jump through hoops!

You’re not generic. You’re not typical. You don’t want photos that feel like you’re either of those!

Intimate Backyard Wedding Elopement NJ Wedding Photographer

Bride: I messaged [the photography company] with the concern of an early sunset and winter wedding, and just a worker responded with a big selection of weddings at our venue and said there are some winter ones mixed in there.

My Thoughts: Yeah.. just no. That hurts my heart. Your photographer should be able to provide you with helpful, informative, truthful and educational information on the situation of your day. THEY are the expert, it should not be left up to you to figure it out. They need to give you all of the options so that you are able to make the best decision for you and your day!

Bride: I feel like I want to speak to the person photographing our wedding and talk and come up with a plan…but I’ve never even spoken to them? It feels weird…

My Thoughts: You are SO worth someone’s time. So if they’re not willing to even hop on a call to talk to you, it’s likely that they don’t actually care about WHO the couple is, and instead, they just want to do their job and get paid. Find someone who makes you a priority, cares about knowing you, and gives you their time.

Bride: We jumped on it because we got Black Friday pricing which was great AND it’s photo and video which was like one less vendor to go find.

My Thoughts: It’s definitely a huge perk and benefit to have photo and video in one, but I will say, having an amazing connection with every single one of your vendors is going to make your experience so much more special. Videography is the same – you can go big company or small biz, but I will say that small biz experience truly is unmatched.

Bride: It didn’t seem like a problem at the time, but I’m feeling so disconnected. I’m sure if I asked for them to call us, they would.

My Thoughts: You shouldn’t have to work so hard just to get to know your vendors. They should actively be inviting you to chat with them, not the other way around. A connection is SO key in all of this! You deserve to feel 100000% excited, confident, and comfortable with everyone you choose. Your vendors should genuinely care about you two, your story, and your big day!

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

Bride: It’s a difficult feeling because it wasn’t like I saw their photos and went WOW, which I feel like at the end of the day, I won’t go WOW to my own photos.

My Thoughts: They’re not going to do anything differently for you and your day. What you see is typically what you get, so your photos won’t magically be different from what you were shown. You want to be OBSESSED with your photographer’s portfolio and work and trust that they do that for you!

Bride: I feel like your photos actually have movement and warmth vs cheesy posed pics.

My Thoughts: I’ve worked SO insanely hard to elevate my posing and style so that it isn’t awkward, cheesy, staged, or too posed. It’s just not my vibe. Your images should show how your love FEELS. Putting you in some weird, generic prom pose isn’t going to feel genuine. I LOVE those candid, raw, real moments and I will absolutely get that for YOU!

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

Bride: We’re a little shy in front of the camera. I feel like it’ll really feel like a stranger that day even if we do an engagement shoot.

My Thoughts: This is exactly why I provide an engagement session in my package! I never ever want my couples feeling like we’re strangers. Having that personal connection is SOOO freaking important for creating authentic and genuine photos, so an engagement session is such a perfect time to get to know each other, get you two comfortable in front of my camera, and create awesome images. If you know you’re a little shy in front of the camera, having someone you barely know show up and try to get you to show your genuine side might feel quite a bit harder than it should, but by having the experience of an engagement session with me, we can get to know each other BEFORE the wedding day!

Check out this blog post all about the perks of having an engagement session with your wedding photographer!

Tori Kelner Photography Weddings

Please understand, I KNOW budget is a factor, but there are small business photographers and videographers for EVERY price point. Your best bet to find them? Avoid Google searching and start with Instagram! For example, if you live in New Jersey, try searching #njweddingphotographer or #newjerseyweddingphotographer or some different variations there! Search your venue or specific local locations where photographers shoot! You’ll stumble upon so many more REAL humans running small businesses who are loving on their clients so well and wanting dream couples like you to pop into their inbox! We WANT couples like you to be a part of our experience that we’ve worked so hard to craft!

At the end of the day, I just want you to LOVE your photos, regardless of who you choose.

I truly think photography and videography are worth spending money on and that you shouldn’t take this decision lightly! Again, these photos and videos are pretty much the only things that last beyond your wedding day. Those are your memories for years to come, so I just feel so strongly about making sure couples feel so solid in that choice!


Interested in chatting about your big day or a session this year?! Come say hi here!

Choosing a Small Business Photographer VS a Big Photography Company

May 7, 2020

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