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The Top 10 Things Couples Look For In A Wedding Photographer

So you are getting married and there are so many things to do. You have the hall, your dress, flowers, invitations and now it comes time to hire your photographer.

After doing some research on the web and “hanging out” on different wedding sites I have found that most brides are looking for more or less the same things. What follows is sort of a wish list of things couples want from their wedding photographer.

10. Negatives/Digital Files – One thing that couples want these days is the opportunity to purchase or have included in their package the option to buy the negatives or (in the case of digital) the digital files. Many couples feel that they should be able to make as many re-prints as they would like, whenever they want. While many photographers do offer their negatives, many do not and feel that the labs that they use will be able to give a higher quality print rather than just taking a negative to the local drug store for printing. In addition, many photographers will sell their negatives after a certain amount of time, for example a year after your wedding date.

9. Black and White – Everything old is new again. Almost all couples want a mixture of color and black and white. Black and white gives that photojournalistic look to a photograph as well as a fine art look. If your photographer is shooting digital, any photograph can be converted to black and white. If your photographer is shooting film then most likely they will be shooting with B&W and color film separately.

8. Unlimited Time – When hiring a photographer couple like to have the security of someone who will be with them to capture all of the wedding moments. Having unlimited time can give you the peace of mind to know that those moments will be captured.

7. Experience – Does your photographer have the necessary experience to handle the stresses of wedding photography? There are many things going on at once during a wedding. The experienced photographer knows how to bring everything together and in an orderly fashion.

6. Price – This can vary a lot and price was not the main criteria in choosing a photographer. Prices can range from several hundred dollars to over $10,000. At the low end are usually people who do wedding photography part time. In wedding photography, you usually get what you pay for. As you go up in price, so does the “art of wedding photography”.

5. Professional – Being a professional means many different things to different people. Those photographers who didn’t respond in a timely manner and/or who were rude (and amazingly, some are) were axed off the potential list immediately. Being professional also meant that couples wanted to know the photographers “style and philosophy”. Things that also bothered couple: rudeness, disorganization, insulting comments about other brides or photographers and other unprofessional comments.

4. Flexibility – Brides put flexibility high on their list. To many flexibility is key. They said, packages are nice, but a photographer that refuses to be flexible, is not going to get very far with brides. Brides also commented that photographers get caught up in the OLD way of doing things, and never change with the times. Again, this relates to being flexible.

3. Style/Approach – Today couples are looking for something different – artsy photojournalism, not the same cheesy photos. Brides are drawn to photographers who have developed their own unique (but consistent) artistic style/approach. Details are very important to brides. They appreciate a photographer who focuses on details.

2. Personality – What can you really say about this. It is obvious. When you spend upwards of 10 hours with someone on an important day like your wedding you had better clique. Brides often said that they “just knew” when they met their photographer that they were right for each other.

1. Listen – And the number thing that kept on coming up was that brides wanted from their photographer was that they “LISTEN”.
This means that a photographer really heard what a bride said before they stated speaking about the next topic. This is really important because it is the ability to understand what a client wants that will make a photographer really deliver what a bride was expecting.

So there you have the top ten. So, when you go shopping for a photographer see how he/she measures up in each of the categories listed here. Remember, your wedding is a once in a lifetime event. Take your time, enjoy the process and you will find the perfect photographer for you.

6 Ways To Get Better Wedding Photographs Without Spending More

After two decades and over 1000 events in the wedding photography business, Michael Barrett moved on to photo booths in 2011. The insights in this article come from Michael’s vast experience in and around the Kansas Metro area. Many of the points here would be what your wedding photographer would tell you if they could.

Hire the right photographer. Do not hire someone based on price and then try to turn them into someone they are not. A photographer is, or should be, an artist. Every artist has a unique style. Choose the one for you based on your budget. Then, encourage the photographer to let his or her creative juices flow! No photographer wants to see your clippings of other photographers work. This does not inspire but instead stifles the creative process.

Do an engagement sitting. If offered, always take advantage of the engagement sitting offered by your photographer. This is a great opportunity for you to get comfortable with each other and for you both to become at ease in front of the camera.. When the wedding day rolls around, you can get rolling more easily. You want your break-in time to be before the wedding. Not on the big day.

Practice your smile. Most people can not just turn on a smile on queue. Practice in front of a mirror. Find a smile that you can live with. You will be using it a lot on your wedding day. After all, it is likely the only time in your life you will be photographed several hundreds of times in a single day

Be on time on your wedding day. This is not easy. You must build in a lot of extra time into your schedule. Mishaps will happen. Hair and make up appointments almost always run late. If you start on time, your photographer will have the opportunity to photograph you and your wedding party in those unique locations that they have scouted out. They may also have time to experiment with some unique lighting or angles. If you start late, much of that goes out the window. Your photographer will have to go into catch up mode. Meaning speed becomes the most important concern. You pay the same for ordinary photographs as extraordinary. Give your photographer the chance to do their best work for you on your wedding day.

Be willing to get creative with poses and locations. If you want fresh, creative photographs, think outside the altar. Be willing to try some of those off-beat ideas presented by your photographer. Often, the photos you didn’t think you wanted turn out to be your favorite.

Be nice to your photographer. It sounds obvious but it makes a difference. Photographers feed off of positive energy. They love to feel appreciated. If you follow this simple tip, you will get their best work.

Your wedding photographs will become a cherished heirloom for your new family. Anything you can do to ensure the best possible outcome will benefit you and yours for years to come.

Top 10 Wedding Photography Myths: Wedding Photographers and Brides, Oh My!

You might be getting married (congrats, by the way) and trying to decide whether or not to even hire a wedding photographer. You might be trying to decide now on which photography professional to choose for your wedding day. You might be a wedding photographer, trying to understand the delicate and confounding psyche of those who engage in wedding planning.

Whoever you are, for your reading pleasure, check out the top 10 myths of wedding photography as relayed by a photographer who still loves taking pictures. These are broken in to three categories: a. Myths about not hiring a professional at all; b. Myths about the selection process; and c. Myths about how the photography should be done.

CATEGORY A: I don’t need/want a wedding photographer because:

1. My cousin’s roommate from college just got the new Canon 999D and a plethora of ‘L ‘ professional series lenses; it will be great (and, did I mention, FREE!).

Is it impossible to find a good free photographer? No. Is it likely? No. Is it a good idea? Almost never. But hey, it is your wedding day. You can chance it on the stranger who could very well be overly intrigued by the bridesmaid who has just a little bit too much to drink at the reception and starts to dance provocatively. That way, the bulk of your photos could be of her. Perfect, right? And free. In this situation, you can just point out to your kids, twenty years down the road, that the photographer did take these photos with really cutting edge technology, which is why you can see just so much detail of the lewd woman at your wedding with, how shall we say… ‘perky’ breasts. No, she isn’t the bride, but doesn’t she look like she is having fun?

2. Why would I get a photographer? Everybody and their dog has a camera (even cell phones pictures are creeping up in the ‘megapixel’ race). The snapshots from guests will suffice.

Yes, it is true to state that most of us now carry a camera on our body at all times (on our phone at the very least). Moreover, at a wedding, many if not most guests bring some type of additional camera to memorialize the event (particularly things that go wrong, if they don’t like you; tears from the groom if they do). However, rigorous double blind studies have been done on the data stream to which we are referring, and they all show one thing. These pictures have a 99.9982% chance of sucking. Really badly. There might be one great photo of the bunch, of a dog at the end of the aisle that meant so much to Great Aunt Esther. It will be perfectly exposed, focused, and display Sparky with a beautiful stance using great composition.

3. Wedding photography is too expensive – why would I support an industry of so-called ‘professionals’ who really only work a few hours a week. I don’t know whether to be angry or jealous.

You can be angry if you would like. You can even be jealous, since we have a job that (hopefully) we love, and take great pride in. If you think we work a few hours for a single wedding, you are fooling yourself. Those are the hours that you see us at the wedding; suffice it to say, many hours of preparation went in to that particular wedding, countless hours will proceed upon the end of wedding day in post-production. When done correctly, the work is extensive, fun, and pays decent.

CATEGORY B: I do need/want a wedding photographer, but the selection process should be limited:

4. I’ll hire my photographer after all the other planning is done. I’ll select the flowers, the venue, the dj or band, the bridesmaid dresses, the honeymoon hotel, and more. Then I’ll think photography.

Of course you will wait till the last few months to hire a photographer. Why would you want a wedding professional like a great photographer to help you with smart referrals for all the other services you will be seeking? While a good photographer will have worked with a spectacular cake business in previous weddings and gladly suggest that you check them out, you can spend forty-seven hours pouring over brochures featuring batman shaped carrot cakes (a theme which will certainly to take off when new brides really stop and think about it). Really, though, consider this – waiting will only limit your choices. Photographers contract for specific dates. When your arch enemy plans her wedding on the same day as you (out of spite), she will also try to wrap up the services of the best photographer in town. Beat her to that photographer for years of bragging rights.

5. I don’t want recommendations – why would I care what some other couple says about this photographer? I love her website; it is shiny, happy, and new. It makes me smile on the inside.

Classy websites abound among wedding photographers, for all of the obvious reasons. You are considering paying them money for an art, so the designs they use for marketing and information delivery, then, should be equally artistic. However, take a quick look at the photographers in your location, and I’ll bet that you find one with an impressive website, with dramatic motion and animated vines growing out of the monitor and instant chat functionality with on demand videos… and other cool technological things I don’t even know about. However, you may also find that this particular photographer has acceptable photographs, and nothing more. Then, I hope, you will realize that you deserve more than acceptable photography from a marketing guru who dabbles in photography.

6. I’m looking for a photographer who can take pictures – that is ALL. Give me the product, and then keep on your merry way, Mr. Camera Man.

Well, it is not the case that I am going to suggest you develop a relationship with your photographer that you would develop with, say, the groom. However, the talent or skill of taking good photographs really is only part of the package. A photographer ought to also be able to show up on time, dressed appropriately, converse with the guests, corral the wedding party, and so on. Otherwise, you will have the photographer who shows up at the wrong location, late, wearing her parka in the Florida summer because of her ‘extreme anti-social’ nature and a desire to photograph only the frogs near the wading pool. Again, the frog photos might be great. But you will have to reminisce about your wedding without any visual evidence to support the memories.

7. I want a photographer who does the latest post-processing fad, and proudly displays it. An absurdly heavy vignette with color spot and ‘double exposure’? Groovy.

Some photographers, myself included, groan just a little bit on the inside when clients request a particular photographic fad that jeopardizes the timeless nature of photography. What we typically shoot for are photographs that will speak to the event itself, and not serve as an indication of the era. Granted, some of the content of the photo – the people and places photographed – will pick out clothing styles, automotive or architectural design, and the like. But the photography itself – the image – should fail to scream ‘This happened in 1984 – no one superimposes a ghost-like image of the grooms head over the bride praying anymore.’

CATEGORY C: I’ve got a photographer, and here is what is going to happen:

8. I want ONLY [formal or candid] shots. Any shots other than [formal or candid] are stupid, make me cry, and give me stomach pain.

Use antacid and just stop it already! No, really. Virtually every wedding photography professional practices the craft in a way that utilizes the benefit of multiple ‘styles’ of wedding photography. Some photographers emphasize one over the other – mostly heavily posed fashion shots, say, with only a few candid shots from the ceremony and reception. However, understand that both styles, and so both sets of images, will tell the story of the day, whereas the absence of one of those sets would yield a collection that isn’t as rich or descriptive.

As you select your photographer(s), you will take a look at the collection of photographs that he or she chooses to display prominently, and these will speak volumes about the style of photography that is most important to that person. However, it is perfectly reasonable to expect (dare I say, assume) a certain amount of variety in the final collection of images.

9. I’ve got a shot list. It is important to me. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Deviation from this list will result in a world of pain. To the photographer who dares to cross me.

Please understand, it is the opinion of this author that certain wedding planning resources overstate the rigid and unyielding nature of wedding planning, which can be far more organic and fun than you might otherwise believe. That is right, I just claimed that wedding planning can be fun. So that means that you don’t need to hang your head in shame when you haven’t selected the caterer by the 18th planning day when the moon is in decent. THERE AREN’T STRICT RULES ABOUT THIS STUFF.

Nor is there a strict rule about the beloved (alternatively: dreaded) shot list. Such a list can be quite useful in many situations, particularly when family members in attendance are especially important (for whatever reason) and certain shots are needed of them prior to, say, their imminent demise. (This happens to photographers, unfortunately, with some regularity. The groom will pull us aside midway through the reception, and mention the fact the we should really try to get some great shots of the brides father who “will not be with us much longer.”)

For those that can’t resist looking over typical shot lists, your best bet will be to print out one that you like, highlight a few that are especially important (‘a few’ in English means three or so; I didn’t write ‘highlight all of them’), and hand it to your photographer. Nicely state that, while you are sure that she would capture these regardless of the list, the highlighted shots are REALLY important to you. Message sent, right?

10. I will direct my photographer throughout my wedding day like the pitiful waif that he is. (Alternatively, the photographer will direct me throughout my wedding day and I’ll obey every command.)

Neither of these options will occur; no one should allow it. Your wedding day is YOURS in every sense, and you are given enormous powers to direct the vendors you hire. However, the vendors you hire, including your wedding photographer, are professionals and know what they are doing. While this may very well be your third wedding day, presumably your photographer has had even more.

The service provided by wedding photographers is one best performed in the presence of open communication. There may be a situation where your photographer has an idea, pitches it to you, and you decline (nicely, of course, but firmly). “No,” you say. “I will not place that stuffed animal under my arm while humming the Battle Hymn of the Republic, gazing thoughtfully towards the east.” Similarly, there may be a case where you suggest a shot and your photographer says ‘no thanks.’ “No,” he says. “I will not take that photo; it makes me uncomfortable and I have never worked for Larry Flynt, so I don’t have that kind of training.” This type of open communication is the best (and only) way to conduct business for a photographer, and we expect it of our brides as well!

And there you have it. 10 myths of wedding photography, laid plain in all of their deserved glory.