Tips on How to Pick Your Wedding Photographer

Time to make that big decision!

Oh boy! So confusing! You just got engaged and so many things are running through your head. What date to get married on? Where to get married? Do we want to have the ceremony at one place and the reception at another? What wedding colors? The guest list? Oh my gosh, the guest list! Sounds like a lot of important decisions need to be made before the big day arrives.

You will probably start searching the internet, join a wedding web site, and buy a few wedding magazines. If you are lucky enough, you will live in a city that has a bridal show or two for you to check out. All of these things are an important part of the process and will help with choosing all of your wedding vendors and putting all the pieces together. One of the biggest of those decisions is going to be choosing the right wedding photographer. With that in mind, let’s look at a few things you should consider before making your choice.

One of the first things you are going to notice when looking for your wedding photographer is his or her’s photographic style or technique. Assuming that the photographer is technically proficient and capable, (which they should be, otherwise they shouldn’t be telling people they are a wedding photographer) the style of photography that you choose is a very personal decision. There are traditional or portraiture styles which tend to lean towards very posed, formal shots. These are very popular with Moms, Dads and grandparents. Very nice. Very traditional. There is the natural light and soft focus styles. These are very popular for weddings. Natural light style photography is pretty self explanatory. Your photographer will use the natural light at a particular location or setting to capture your photographs. This could be on the beach at sunset or next to a lake with the fog rolling over it. Soft focus style tends to be very dream like and romantic. Most of these techniques are done after the initial photographs are taken in the post production part of your wedding photography. Last but not least is the photojournalism style. This is very popular nowadays. Your photographer will capture you in the most natural settings throughout the wedding day. This style tends to look more like snapshots and less like the shots were posed for. It is nice to mix traditional portraiture and photojournalism to get the best of both of those worlds.

Your photographer’s personality is another big thing to consider. As you interview different photographers, you will be able to see if this is someone you are going to enjoy having around on the big day. Are they personable and friendly? Will they be able to work quickly with you and your entire families to get what you want? You want a photographer who is going to do great work and make it an enjoyable experience for the both of you and you families.

Is your photographer prepared for the unexpected? Does he or she have back up equipment in case of an equipment failure? I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. The last thing you want is for your photographer to come to you and try to explain why they missed that all important moment because their camera failed. Do they have a back up photographer in case they are ill or there is an emergency? You never know what life might throw at someone at the last minute but it is nice to know that your photographer has someone to cover for them or will assist you in getting someone if they have to bow out a day or two before the event.

Does the photographer you choose have good follow through and business skills? Do they answer your emails and phone calls promptly? It is important to get back with your clients within 24 hours or the same day if possible. Nowadays, unless you are stuck in the Sahara Desert with no wi-fi, there is no reason for a vendor to not get back to their client in a timely manner. After the wedding is over will you be updated and informed about your photography? How long will it be until my online gallery is up? How long will it take to do the post production on the chosen images? How long will it take to get my wedding album? Make sure your photographer is keeping you in the loop.

How much will it cost? Ahhh, the age old question. A good question considering how tough it is for people financially right now and how much a wedding can cost. You can spend anywhere from $500 to $5000 on your wedding photography so let us not forget the difference between price and value. Yes, you will have a budget for your wedding and only a certain amount you would like spend on your photographer. Keeping that in mind I think it is important to make sure that you try and get the best value for your money. Does the photographer your are thinking of using meet the criteria you have laid out? Do you like his or her’s style of photography? Do you like their personality? Are they going to be fun and enjoyable to have around on your big day? Are they prepared for the unexpected? Are they going to keep you in the loop and perform in a professional manner? If they are all of those things but just a little more expensive then the next photographer, then you might consider what you are getting for your money. Most wedding photographers are able to put together a package that will suit your needs. If you like one photographer but they are a little more expensive than another that you spoke with, you might try and adjust your photography package a bit so it falls within what you consider to be a good value. That might mean not getting the DVD of the images and only buying the prints you want online. It might mean having the photographer you really want for a shorter period of time on the wedding day. Most good photographer are more than willing to help you find a photography package that will work for you.

Well, there you go. Just a little food for thought for when it comes to making the big decision. It is a privilege as a photographer to be a part of such a wonderful event. Remember, your wedding day is one of the most joyous days of your life. Enjoy every moment leading up to it!

How to Choose Your Perfect Wedding Photographer

Your EXCITED, ENGAGED and ON A MISSION to find that special wedding photographer that is going to help you and your spouse remember and relive the day you said, “I do.”. If this sounds a little like a match making idea then you’re right. Of all the vendors that you will choose to help you make your wedding day fantastic, your photographer will spend the entire day with you. Think about it, your baker will bring the cake and leave, your florist will hand everything over and leave, your wedding planner will check up on you from time-to-time while there but your photographer will always be there recording every moment. Once you realize this and search for “wedding photography” or “wedding photographer” in Google and you’ll find yourself staring at a list between 2 – 12 million results. You don’t have the time or the desire to even begin to click and search through all of them so here are ten questions to help you find your perfect wedding photographer.

1. You can’t know what you want until you know what you want.

Because there is uniqueness in your love and passion with each other your wedding portraits should reflect that uniqueness. As a result, you need to understand and be able to articulate the style of photography that will best fit for you. To do so you need to ask yourself two questions:

a. What types of movies do you and your fiancée like to watch and what types movies can you see yourself in? The movie(s) you choose will give you an idea as to the over all feeling of the photographs you most likely want to have. If you like family based movies then you are going to most likely want photographs that have an emphasis on friends and family. On the other hand, if you enjoy romantic, action or high drama movies, then you might be more interested in photographers who are able to produce dramatic photos that focus on you.

b. What magazines would you like to see yourself in? Every magazine has a customer base demographic. And this is not by accident. Do you like the photographs from Vogue, GQ, Modern Bride, or W? Look through magazines and find photographs that you would like to see yourself in and cut out those photographs for future reference.

2. Searching for photographer on the web

Because there are so many websites just using the best keywords to find what you are looking for can be a daunting task so here are some ideas to make it a little easier. Use words that are specific to you concerning the type of wedding photography that you are looking for. In addition you will want to search under the words of where you are getting married and/or where you would like to find your photographer. Here are some ideas:

  • [city] wedding photography
  • [city] wedding photographer(s)
  • wedding photographer(s) in [city] [state]
  • wedding photography in [city] [state]

These will give you a number of results to choose from. Each of these searches will give you a list of different photographers. You can also look at wedding advertising sites such as http://www.atlantanbrides.com and [http://www.modernluxury.com/brides/atlanta]

These sites will give you more than enough results to look through. Once you see a list, start to visit as many sites as you can but ONLY LOOK AT THE PHOTOS. Your goal is to find a photographer with photos that you can see yourself in and that you would be proud and excited to show your friends and family.

3. The Photographers’ Website

The website is the wedding photographers personal gallery of their best work. The purpose of visiting the website is to not only assess if you like the photographer’s style but also to get more aquatinted with the photographer too. Once you click on the website then take some time to visit the “about us” or “bio” section of the website. Get to know the photographer a little bit. Once you do this ask yourself if this were someone you would befriend. You may want to make a list of photographers to compare them. However, no matter how good or bad the photos are, if you do not think that you would befriend the photographer then that photographer should most likely not be considered. While perusing the galleries begin to write down some notes about what you like about the photos, if you can see yourself in those photos, and if you would refer others to the photographer. Don’t be shy about your comments; be honest as if you were looking at your own photos. If you are not impressed with the photos then quickly move on t o the next site. Never stay on a website any longer than you need to. **Remember to resist any temptation to look at prices or any unrelated categories like children portraiture and/or high school senior portraits while on the website. You are on a mission so always remind yourself to stay on task. Once you determined that you like the photos on the website then bookmark that website and move on to the next one. You, Your Best Friend, and Your Nemesis Should I really trust my “gut feeling” on such an important decision? I can only answer a resounding “YES.” Our “gut feeling” is typically comprised of knowledge, past experiences, and perception of future events based on your learned knowledge. Making a great decision is going to be a matter of research and personal experience. So take your time and learn and see as much as you can so that when the time comes to make this important decision you will be excited and extremely confident that you made this decision.

4 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Believe it or not, not every photographer can produce artistic portraits in any given venue. As a Bride, you need to be honest with yourself and with your photographer about your photographic expectations for that day. You must always remember that you are hiring a photographer for a specific reason, to capture individual moments from that day so that those memories will never be forgotten. A big component of your day will be the location and venue you choose for your celebration. You need to know the venue’s photographic expectations and restrictions. Here are some questions to ask your venue:

1) Does the venue allow flash photography?

2) Are there any insurance requirements?

2) Are there any time limits in any venue that the photographer should know? (You can ask the vendor this question and let the photographer know about this.)

3) Are there any places at the venue that cannot be photographed? You need to know your venue’s policies on photographs and where they can and cannot be taken.

4) Ask the venue if there is anything that the photographer needs to know that you haven’t asked. (phrase this as a question as you did with the others.)

5) What was the worst infringement of the venue’s photographic policies? (This will give you an idea of how serious they are about their policies and what is important to them.) Be sure to bring up these answers with the photographer during your meeting.

HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU AND YOUR LOCATION?

Ask your vendor for personal recommendations and view the photographer’s website. Put those sites that are most in line with your style in the list of your other potential photographers.

When viewing websites ask yourself: –

  • Does this photographer have that ability to adapt to his surroundings? (Are there a variety of photographs from a variety of locations?)
  • Is the photographer creative enough to be able to take high quality portraits anywhere? (Is the photographer creative in posing?)
  • Is the overall personality of the website something that you like? (Would you be confident to recommend a friend to the same website to get their advice and their recommendations on photographers)

Quality professional wedding photographers know how to use their surroundings as a backdrop for your romantic portraits. If you are going to have a candle light wedding then the photographer is going to have the equipment to correctly expose for that extremely low light setting. If you are getting married on the beach then your photographer will need the equipment and knowledge to ensure that the sun does not over power your beautiful dress and smile.

5 – Book Early, BOOK ASAP!!!!!

The key here is to make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your photographer. You never want to choose and settle on a photographer because of time or pressure from the photographer, friends, or family. Give yourself some time and space. This is really up to you. You need to feel comfortable and secure with your decision. Once you are comfortable and sure about the decision then sign the contract and be happy that that decision is out of the way.

6 – Calling or contacting your perspective Professional Photographer

Once you have a list of photographers then start calling! When you speak with your perspective photographer for the first time there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. Let the photographer know that you have seen their website and are impressed with what you have seen and you would like to ask a few questions that were not covered on the website. When you speak to a photographer you need to approach it as an interview. Remember, you are hiring a professional to do a job that cannot be repeated. There are no “do-overs” with wedding photos so try to get to know the photographer as well as possible.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

THE INTERVIEW:

You should approach this call as an interview. It is really to find out what this photographer is about and decide if you would like to meet the photographer in person.

  • When the photographer answers the phone how does he sound? Happy? Sad? Annoyed? Or glad to speak with you? Remember, you are calling the photographer’s business phone number. The photographer knows that you are calling for a business reason. [ There is no excuse for the photographer to answer any other than happy and glad to speak with you.]
  • Ask open-ended questions such as: what do you like about weddings, How long have you photographed weddings, what got you started in photographing weddings.
  • Ask any questions that you can think of about their personality and wedding photography career.
  • Ask about date availability and the location of the wedding and reception.
  • How long has the photographer been in business?
  • What does the photographer like best about photographing weddings?
  • Are you a full-time or part-time photographer? (The purpose of this question is still just to see who this person is.)

THINGS TO CONSIDER: When you make the appointment let the photographer know where you live and times you are able to meet. Also find out what location where the photographer is coming from then ask the photographer where would be a good place to meet in between. You want to listen to see if the photographer is flexible enough to go out of his/her way for you. If the photographer is not able to meet with you on the dates that you have given then the photographer should offer some suggestions that would help the both of you After the interview, if you are happy and your intuition says yes, then set up an appointment.

WORD OF CAUTION: Professional Photographers make their living on providing photographic services and not talking over the phone. The photographer may have a “strong urge” to have you meet them in person. This is not bad! What is bad is how they urge you to make an appointment. The photographer should converse with you and help you make the best photographic decision possible. Beware if the photographer is refusing (tone or verbal) to answer questions and wants to quickly set up an appointment. However, if the photographer is open with you and offers you advice and questions about what you want then the photographer has already decided that you are a good match for them and will want to set up an appointment with you. As always, if you feel comfortable then set up an appointment. Since there are more photographers than you could possibly meet in a year it is important to only set up appointments with 3-4 photographers. You may want to allocate four hours of time for each meeting. This takes into account travel there and back and speaking with the photographer. You can see then that if you are not careful you could end up making searching for a photographer your new full-time job.

7 – PACKAGES, COLLECTIONS, INVESTMENTS

So far we have spoken about the process of getting the best photographer for your wedding but have not even touched the topic of what you are going to actually get at the end of the day. Some photographers call the contents of what you get packages, collections, an investment, or a commission to supply you with your wedding day photographs. Surprisingly most photographers offer the same contents as other photographs. What is important is getting what you would like to have for the future and not what you think you need now. You want an album because of the story that you want to show to your relatives and your future grandchildren. Slide shows are nice because you can have music set to photos that will be heirlooms. Digital Negatives and Reprints: Some photographers will sell reprints directly to you. This means that you will only get prints of your wedding day (this is separate from your album) when you pay the photographer for them. These prices will vary depending on the size of the prints and how many you request. Other photographers will create a combination package in which you receive a CD/DVD composed of an unlimited or limited number of photos. You may be able to reprint these photos on your own or you may be only able to view them on a computer and email them with no option to make your own reprints. Albums: Albums, Albums, and more Albums! As the wedding industry grows, more and more companies are offering albums so it is important to see a model of the album you are choosing. It is important to see the album model because two photographers may use similar names for albums that in the end are not so similar.

Questions about the album you should ask:

1 – How many pages are in the album?

2 – What choices do I have about the album?

3 – On average how many photos will fit in the album? Some photographers will offer other products but the main thing that you want to consider is what you are looking for. Are you looking forward to having a plenty of prints to give away and a large album to show your friends and family or are you looking for something small like a day album? These are questions that you are going to have to consider thoughtfully. Whatever your choice is, make sure that there is clear communication between you and your photographer.

8 – CONTRACTS: Who needs them?!

A friend told me once that, ” contracts keeps friends friends and enemies from killing each other.” Because of the nature of the service you are requesting from the photographer it is incredibly important that you get everything that you agreed to in writing. Be sure that the type of album, numbers of pages, and the amount of time that you are requiring from you photographer is in writing. The reason that this is important is because if something were to go wrong then it can be held up in court. Contracts keep people a little more honest than if you didn’t have one. Personally, I go over everything in the contract before the contract is signed. This way, everyone understands what is going on and communication of what is expected is clear.

9 – PHOTOGRAPHER THE INTERVIEWER

The photographer should interview you just as much as you should be interviewing the photographer. As stated before, “not everyone is for everyone” applies here as well. The photographer should ask questions that identify your personality and the personality of your relationship with your fiancĂ©. I always ask questions such as:

1 — When did the two of you meet?

2 – How long did you date before you were engaged?

3 – What is the most important detail in your wedding that you are most excited about?

4 – Is the venue you have chosen really important to you?

The photographer needs to ask questions that are going to tell a little bit about the couple and what’s important to them. If the photographer doesn’t know what is important to you then the photographer most likely will not photograph what is important to you. This most likely will result in you not being completely happy with your final product. In short, the photographer should have a good idea as to who the couple is and what is important to them.

10 – THE LAST QUESTION YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.

What’s your gut feeling? Remember decisions that you make cannot be based on what you thought was true or what you hoped will be true. The best answer you can make about the decision is based on the information that you have now. In short, consider your gut feeling, remember what you want out of the photographer and the style that the photographer produces, and have a great time choosing the photographer that will best photograph you.

A Wedding Photographer’s Guide to Choosing a Wedding Photographer

For some time now, I’ve had a suspicion that all is not well in the Wedding Photography industry. I’m a wedding photographer and I know all the tricks of “the business”. I’ve also been on the other side of the business helping friends and family choose a photographer for their wedding (I prefer to party at my friend’s weddings!)

So, with some suspicions, I surveyed a lot of married people and was astonished to find that 71 % of people said they were not happy with their wedding photographer. This was much higher than I was expecting. Furthermore, an astonishing 85% of respondents said they should have hired a better photographer and would do so if they had their time again.

Read that again, 85% of people were so disappointed in their photos they believe they should have hired a better photographer.

Clearly, something is not right in our industry.

I think there are a number of issues, I think its partly bad photographers, partly good photographers not handling expectations well, and partly couples who aren’t, and have no reason to be, experts at understanding this industry.

So here’s a little guide, by a wedding photographer, on how to choose the right wedding photographer. Note there are a million other things to consider but these are what I think are the essentials, if you get these right you will be less likely to be disappointed.

1. Style

Style is in many respects the easy thing to get right. You’ve looked online, read magazines, started a Pinterest account so you now know that you either want a photojournalist style, an editorial style, a retro style. Most photographers will have one style that they stick with so choosing a photographer who shoots the style you want is as simple as looking at the style they normally shoot in.

2. Quality

The second, and in many ways most important, decision you need to make is about the quality of photographer you want. I’m not talking about style here (documentary, photojournalism etc), or cost, I’m talking about the quality of the photographer. How many great photos do they take across the whole day.

Here’s an attempt to capture the range of possible photographers for your wedding:

# 1. Uncle Tom. He’s always loved taking ‘snaps’.
# 2. Jane’s cousin Pete. He’s a keen amateur who might have even studied photography once.
# 3. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.
# 4. A “professional wedding photographer”, found online.

Wait, aren’t #3 and #4 the same? No, no, and no! I’d say 50-80% of “professional wedding photographers” are nothing more than con-men and women who think buying an expensive camera makes them professional. Buying a scalpel does not make you a surgeon. Becoming a #4 professional wedding photographer takes years of dedication to photography. It takes commitment and passion and a constant desire to improve your art.

So how can you tell the difference between #3 and #4 professionals?

#3 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of good images from different weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

#4 will bambooz you with a flashy website full of great images from weddings, they may have slideshows set to music, they will be slick. They will offer you champagne and expensive brochures.

Notice the difference? There’s a key difference there. #3 will show you images from different weddings. #4 will show you images (especially if you ask) from ONE wedding. That’s the key difference. A #4 photographer should be able to get good or great quality images across the whole day, not just one of two good images for the entire day.

At Mr & Mrs Wedding Photography our website is designed to showcase three individual weddings, one from a beach, one in a church, and another a destination wedding. We hope this gives our potential clients a feel for the quality across the entire day that they can expect to receive.

So, my #1 tip in choosing the right photographer for your wedding is insist on seeing images from one wedding. That will give you a feel for how many good quality images you are likely to see after your wedding.

Which leads me to expectations.

3. Expectations

The first thing to know is that photographers, even true professionals with years of experience, are not superhuman, they will not get award-winning, magazine quality images of every single aspect of your day from 8am until midnight. It just doesn’t happen. If you are expecting stunning images from sunrise to sunrise, you will be disappointed.

Most #4 photographers will give you consistently good images across the entire day and this is what you should be aiming for. There should definitely be some great images in there, the sort you will be proud to hang up on your wall.

I know of two immensely expensive US based wedding photographers. Both are at the top of their game, are in huge demand, and both charge over US$25,000 for their basic packages. I’ve seen a full set of images from a single wedding and I can guarantee you, if you paid that much money and expected every single image to be a prize-winning image, you would be really disappointed. Some images are truly magnificent, most are really good, a large number are just ‘snaps’.

If you end up with 5-10 magnificent images, 30-90 or so really good photos, and the rest nice snaps, then you should be happy.

4. Cheap

Cheap is always cheap. Repeat after me: cheap is always cheap. If you pick a photographer because they are cheap you can expect the quality of your images to plummet. This might be all you can afford/budget for but don’t expect miracles and don’t expect to be anything but disappointed (particularly if you hope to share the images with your kids and grandkids some day).

Do keep in mind though that your wedding is a once in a lifetime event (usually) and it might seem like a good idea to skimp on photography but really after the day is finished, apart from memories, all you have left is the photos. Imagine your grandchildren sitting down to look at your wedding album and seeing cheap photos. Is that worth it?

5. A recommendation from a friend

If you’ve seen you’re friends wedding photos (all of them) and like them then this might be a good way to go. However keep in mind a few things. 1) Did you see all the photos? 2) How long ago did your friend get married (has the photographer aged in energy or style) 3) Ask your friend what the worst thing about the experience with that photographer was – if they suggest irrelevant things like they didn’t like the package the images came in, then that’s probably fine, if the photographer missed a key photo, that’s not fine.

Don’t take a recommendation as proof that the photographer is everything you want for your wedding, refer back to points 1-4.

Conclusion…

Take these points as a starting point. There is way to find the right photographer for your wedding and I hope this helps in some way.