Top Class Portraits | Questions & Answers

 Portrait Club, full service portrait & wedding photography studio & digital photo lab


John is a full-time professional photographer with full service studio & digital design photo lab.

  Accredited Member of the Better Business Bureau. A+ rating over 21 years.


Q:  How long before the wedding date should you be retained to photograph a wedding?

A:  The best answer is actually the sooner the better.  If you really have your mind set on a certain photographer, you are probably not the only one.  So the sooner you retain that photographer, that photographer is yours.  Generally, most photographers and also wedding planners recommend at least six months in advance to secure the best or photographer of your choice.  Established wedding photographers are often retained around a year in advance.  May be hard to believe.  But this is true.

Q:  My wedding has already been photographed.  But the photographer's work doesn't look as great as the examples he showed me before hiring him.  Are there any legitimate reasons for this?

A:  I've heard this a few times over the years.  There can be legit reasons and reasons not so legit.  More recently over the past 10 years I suppose there have been more photographers shooting bridal gown and groom tuxedo model shoots for retail outlets.  When this is also arranged at a wedding venue, it makes it look like actual wedding was photographed.  The difference is that the photographer had all the time in the world to photograph, no light restrictions, no posing restrictions and no places during the shoot the photographer was not allowed to be at to get great shots.  Then those photographers present this "model photography" or advertising photography as "wedding photography".  Very deceptive in my opinion and highly unethical.  I never show model photography as representing my wedding photography work.

Q:  Do I have to order a wedding album if I choose you to be my wedding photographer?

A:  I have never forced or required the purchase of a physical wedding album or book.  I think it is in the best interest of my wedding photography clients and my own for the client to first see all their wedding day images I present to them.  These are provided in the form of full resolution, custom enhanced and copyright released on archival M-Discs in deluxe padded disc albums. When we determine how many images you love to tell your Wedding Day story, I can organize those into album pages for your wedding book or album.  Once we see the number of pages, the size pages you are considering and the features of the book or album, i.e., covers options, imprinting, etc, I can quote you some prices for what may end up being the perfect wedding photography pages for you.  But I do include a digital wedding album design of up to 20 pages.  Once these high resolution wedding photography pages are created, I burn them to an archival M-Disc so you may have a wedding book or album printed someday.  You may use my own Digital Design Photo Lab or any other photo lab of your choice which provides printing and assembly of wedding books or albums. 

Q: How long have you been photographing weddings professionally in east Tennessee?

A: Over 25 years in various places around the United States as I traveled and lived in different places over those years.  I specialized in wedding photography for over 21 years in the eastern Tennessee area. There were some busy years and not so busy years.  So there were times over the years I was working professionally full-time and other years I was working part-time as a professional wedding photographer.  Now that I have a permanent and fully dedicated portrait/wedding photography studio, I'm able to provide a variety of photographic services which keeps me busy full-time.  I really do enjoy the portrait/wedding photography industry and plan to do this full time for as long as I have the ability to do it. The studio and my digital design photo lab keeps me pretty busy now.  So I'm inviting other professional photographers to join my team.  I may eventually find myself doing more digital lab work.  If so, I will offer my wedding photography services as a back-up and as a second shooter to the wedding photographers who work out of my studio and who use my digital photo lab services.  The goal of my studio is to keep the other portrait and wedding photographers busy with photography while I take advantage of the investment I have in the studio and digital lab to better serve all our photography customers and clients as a team.

Q: How do I know if I hire you that you will actually show up to photograph my wedding?

A:  That's a good question. I have heard stories of photographers not showing up.  The problem which happens more frequently are photographers showing up, but clients waiting months to a year or longer before they get and sometimes even see the first image.  Easy to Google and see how rampant that problem is.  Well, to answer your question specifically.  Unlike many other kinds of businesses providing various services under a contract, you know where I live.  My studio address of 677 County Road 616 Athens, TN 37303 is also the same address as my home next door.  Also, in the 21 years I have been providing wedding photography services in the eastern Tennessee area, I have not received a single complaint on my Better Business Bureau profile.  I also provide all my wedding photography clients a copy of my Tennessee Drivers License for proof of my identity. So, when I sign wedding photography contract with you, there is no question I'm the photographer authorized to sign the contract.  On the wedding photography contract I guarantee delivery of your package within 30 days after your Wedding Day.  My business license can also be verified with the McMinn County Clerk at 5 South Hill Street, Suite A, Athens TN 37303.  Phone: (423) 745-4440 website  I also carry liability insurance protection which can be verified 24/7 with this link: Live Certificate of Insurance provided by my insurance agency.

Q: Do you have back-up cameras?

A: Yes. I sure do. There is no second chance for photographing the wedding day.  I always have extra cameras which have different lenses on them so I don't have to slow down changing lenses on a single camera.  Plus these extra cameras are available in case one camera malfunctions.  For the same reason, I also carry five camera flashes with me.  I like the creative effects I can achieve when shooting with multiple flash for certain set-ups and having the extra flash as back-ups.  I will be happy to show all my cameras and flashes to you during a wedding photography consultation.

Q: Do you have a loyalty/rewards program?

A: Yes. The PHOTON Rewards Program is an in-house managed rewards program.

Property Plan

Q: Where is your studio located?

A: My studio address of 677 County Road 616 Athens, TN 37303 is also the same address as my home next door.  Studio is available by Appointment Only.

Portrait Park is available exclusively to Portrait Club members and Top Class Portraits™ photographers only by appointment.

Q: Do you conduct photography workshops?

A: I teach portrait training sessions for Top Class Portraits™ photographers and for members of our Portrait Club.  These portrait training sessions are conducted strictly in the studio and outside in the Portrait Park portrait session area behind the studio.  We specialize in portraiture of people.  So a "workshop" at various locations throughout Tennessee or even extravagant tourist attractions around the world is not needed.  In the studio we teach posing of individual people to groups of people.  Working with multiple flash, diffusers, props and various light modifiers.  In the Portrait Park we have large photography scrims set up and also work with hand-held diffusers, reflectors and other light modifying devices to create very exceptional portraits.

Portrait Park is available exclusively to Portrait Club members and Top Class Portraits™ photographers only by appointment.

Q: I see you will provide a wedding photography discount when bride gives permission for you to bring Portrait Club members for training on her wedding day.  But wouldn't this hurt the quality of the wedding photography you provide?

A: When a bride permits me to bring one to three Portrait Club members with me to assist with wedding photography, the Portrait Club members are MOSTLY observing.  The only interaction they have with wedding guests is helping to set up formal poses IF formal poses are desired. They mostly function for all practical purposes as photographer assistants.  Depending on how many come with me, one may be assigned to always fluff the bride's dress and make sure it is laying flat and symmetrical for photos.  Another assistant may be assigned to make sure the groom and groomsmen ties, jackets and vests are properly positioned.  If there is a third, that person may help ensure more effective communication between me and the day of wedding coordinator when we are all working at various locations on site.  But all the Portrait Club members who come to assist me will also have their own cameras especially during the reception where they keep a lower profile and all their best shots will be provided as well. 🙂