The shutterbug you select shapes how your wedding will be remembered forever. So, choose wisely.
The wedding day is one of those days that you will want to look back and remember good times for many years and share it with your children and grandchildren. Having well-made images are crucial to keep this special event’s memory.
And for this reason I decided to list some tips for choosing your wedding photographer… from a wedding photographer’s point of view.
1. DEFINE YOUR BUDGET AND KEEP IN MIND IT MUST BE FLEXIBLE
Deciding a maximum amount of money is almost ever useless and unrealistic because not based on objective informations. It’s better, instead, to give yourself an average expense idea and start looking for photographers who fall into that economic range keeping yourself open to adding some money to bring home the best choice for your tastes. Beware of those who sell out themselves: too low prices are often the cause of a lack of professionalism that will make your memories something more like a nightmare than a dream.
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Search on Google, on wedding sites, on professional associations that bring together photographers and couples, on the website of the photographers of your interest, ask wedding planners, friends, relatives. In short: seek feedback on the photographer. And then meet, because a good photographer for your wedding must have first of all a character compatible with yours, further to how wonderful his/her style may appear to you.
If the photographer’s website has only selective shots of their best work, go ask for two or three real weddings galleries or full albums of other couples they’ve shot. You need to see what they’ve already produced for other people.
Check yourself the quality of photos even if you are not a professional: sharpness of the shots, light, captured mood, expressions etc. Make sure you see the shots taken directly by the photographer and not by others who have collaborated with him/her.
3. INTERVIEW THE PHOTOGRAPHER
You’ve found a couple of photographers on your short list and they’re in the ballpark financially, so contact them to see if they’re available on your wedding date first. If so, book an interview right away. Do the interview either in person, via Skype, or at the very least on the phone if you’re planning a destination wedding and can’t jet off to another country to find your picture pro. This is very very important as you’ll need your personalities to match!
A pro photographer need enough experience to be assertive but friendly and get great shots without annoying your guests. You really need to trust this person.
It’s very important that you detect sensitivity in photographer’s ability in capturing people’s emotions; make sure the subjects look relaxed, natural and that all your friends are smiling and in a happy environment.
Go with a pro who puts you at ease and doesn’t irritate you in any way. Remember: the more comfortable both of you are with the photographer, the better the photos will turn out. You want the photographers to shoot parents and friends in their best an unobtrusive way. They should ask lots of questions and be a good listener.
Your photographer will be with you all day, so it’s important you get along with them and enjoy their company. Your instincts will tell you a whole lot!
4. TALK ABOUT PACKAGES
You’ll need to find out what’s included in the packages, deciding the number of wedding albums (the master and two or more for families), maximum amount of time (in hours) the photographer can be there, if there are any overtime fees, travel expenses, etc. Be sure the photographer you select will be personally present at the wedding day and with many (if any) assistants him/her will work.
If you have a small budget for wedding photography, put the money in the photographer and not the album. If you look for a less expensive photographer to get an album, you will end up with bad photos in a cool package, so you are better off with great photos in a shoe box. You can always get a nice album down the road in the near future.
If you can only afford the services of a great photographer, with little or no products included in the package, at least the day is captured forever in wonderful images that will take your breath away.
Albums or other products can always be ordered when budgets allow, but hire a photographer based on his or her professionalism, integrity and photographic skills. Do not hire a photographer solely based on the biggest package deal they are offering.
Find out what’s included in the basic package, ask for any extras you may want, like an engagement shoot, special effects or additional coverage. Don’t forget to ask exactly how many hours of coverage are included. Ideally, you want your photographer to be there for your full wedding day, from bride’s home until your last friend exit from the venue.
Also, check if there’s a second shooter included in the contract, and if there’s not, ask about the possibility. The main benefit of having two shooters is you get twice the coverage.
5. POST-PRODUCTION DETAILS
Make sure you discuss this so you won’t be expecting delivery too soon and so it can be put in your contract. It can take approximately 4-8 weeks to get your proofs back, depending on their client load and amount of editing and personal skill. You’ll also want to know approximately how many pictures they will give you and if they will be viewable online and/or on a USB PenDrive, and if they will be in high (for print) and/or low resolution (web, social sharing, email).
6. UNCLE BOB
In wedding photography, you get what you pay for. The less you spend, the more disappointment you risk. A friend or family member (usually uncle Bob) who want to be your special day photographer for free, will have much different results than a dedicated professional one. So the question for yourself is: ‘How much do I want the photos of my wedding to be beautiful, to see and see them again for years to come?” And then consider experience – an amateur can show you a few good images, but can they do that day in and day out? Do they have the experience to deliver high quality images on a consistent basis? Probably not. At the end of your wedding day you’ll say “I can’t wait to see the pictures”. You will say this, trust me and you will repeat this mantra for weeks. And imagine what does it means to be nervous for all that time because you left the wedding photos in the hands of family and friends. But in the end there were disposable cameras on all the tables, and uncle Bob has an SLR digital. What a disaster!
If you truly want things to go smoothly and have a wonderful memorable event, you need to hire proven professionals: the most common brides regret is that they did not choose a professional wedding photographer.
Unlike other suppliers for your wedding (flowers, cake, musicians) the true quality of the photographic work can only be confirmed after the event has ended. For this reason it is important to reiterate that going for the best photographer who impressed you for the images (and not the albums) and for the personality match that he/she created is priceless.
7. STYLE, STYLE, STYLE
Decide what kind of style you prefer for your event, as that will help determine which photographer you’ll want for your wedding. Maybe formal-posed portraits, a classic photography style or a photojournalistic feel. Remember: you don’t need to stay in just one style because so much wedding photographers nowadays blend portraiture with documentary-style work, black-and-white and color images and so on.
Start your search on Google, continue on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram and at the end of selection process go on the individual professionals websites to better evaluate the personal style. The design of the site itself is also a clear evaluation parameter for the photographer.
8. ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS
Usually and legally photographer owns the rights of all photos taken at your wedding and can use them promotionally (personal website and blog, ads, social sharing and so on). But this also means that you simply can’t post anything without the explicit permission by the photographer itself. And this is legitimate. But too many times, unless you negotiate otherwise, if you want to print the images yourselves or order an album from another source, you’ll have to buy the rights to the images straight from the photographer. So be clear before sign anything.
And remember: the most important quality is to be in perfect mood with each other during your special day.
I am sure that these tips will be useful in choosing the photographer that best suits your needs. If you believe this article can be useful to others, feel free to share it. Thanks!