So you are planning your wedding and you need help choosing a photographer. It is a hard decision to make. No two photographers are alike! There is a lot to look for when making that tough decision. So to help you in your journey for the next few weeks I will be publishing weekly tips. Please feel free to comment or email if you would like more information or have any questions about these tips.
The first tips are about those first couple of steps
You should be looking for your photographer as soon as the date is set. Most photographers book out 9 months in advance. Some of the highly in demand photographers book almost two years ahead! By starting your search early you can book with your first choice, instead of settling for who is available one month before your wedding. Give yourself plenty of time. This should not be a stressful time. If it starts to get too stressful then step back and let someone help you!
Ask your friends. Ask your family. Ask your co-workers. Who did they use? Would they recommend them? Do your research. Check them out online. Look at the BBB and other wedding sites. Do they have a nice website? A lot of times you can get a feel for the type of people they are from their website.
Call them! Do they return your phone calls within a reasonable amount of time? (24 hours) They should respond to an email in a timely manner. Be considerate when contacting your vendors. If you email at 9pm on a Friday give them time to get back to you. A photographer may have a wedding on Saturday and not be able to respond until Monday. Also remember that your vendors are human and have lives. Some of us have children and we may not be able to meet with you at noon on Sunday.
Tips for choosing your wedding photographer
Remember you will be spending your whole day with this person, so you should feel comfortable with them. You should actually like them. You want your photographer to mesh well with your family and friends, someone who can blend in. When you meet with photographers try to meet with who will be shooting your wedding. That way you can see how they will be on the wedding day. When you don't even realize that the photographer is there, they are doing their job. You want to have a good time on your wedding day, so choose someone who is energetic and fun to be around. Who wants a killjoy at their wedding!
Look for clarity and good bright color. The images should be in focus. The photographer should be using professional equipment and know what to do in any situation. Lighting is key! Photographs should be well exposed, meaning there should be color in people’s skin, not white. Posing is just as important. You want groups that are posed well so that you can see everyone and no one looks uncomfortable. Groups should not look like a prison line up!
Look at multiple photographers. Find one whose samples are in a style that you, personally, like. Don't let the current fads determine the wedding photographs that you will have the rest of your life. Fads will not last. Remember this is a once and a lifetime event. You should love both the photographer and the photographs!
Would you trust a doctor who had never performed a surgery to practice on you? No! Your photographer should be experienced. An experienced photographer can make the difference in how your whole wedding day goes. Knowing what to photograph and where to photograph is not something you need to be worrying about. Your photographer should know basic posing and lighting techniques, as well as what actual images to take. An experienced photographer will know which family photographs and group shots you will want, as well as making sure that there are plenty of gorgeous photographs of the two of you. You should not have to do any posing or arranging. An experienced photographer will also be able to help with the scheduling and planning of the day. They will know when certain photographs should be taken and how to interact with the church staff. An experienced photographer will have proper training. Continuing education is important to learn new techniques.
The Pro vs The Amateur
A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialized educational training. The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field.
An amateur is a person who engages in an art, science, study, or athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession.
A professional photographer is usually full time. They will usually photograph more than just weddings. They will have photographed many many weddings. So they will have the experience required to make your wedding day run smoothly. A professional will have professional equipment and backup equipment. They will have business insurance to cover both you and them. They will offer multiple products and usually have regular business hours.
An amateur is usually a weekend warrior. They photograph a few weddings a year to supplement their regular day job. They may or may not have professional equipment and will usually not offer products aside from digital files. They may not have backup equipment or business insurance.
"It's not the camera, but what you do with it" However equipment does matter. It matters more for quality and color. An amateur camera is not going to produce the same quality image as a professional. Digital cameras have different sensor sizes, just like film is available in different sizes. A professional digital camera has a larger sensor size than an amateur camera. A larger sensor size will print larger better quality images than a small sensor. Lighting equipment is a must. Available light is wonderful but is not good for everything. Shooting in a church a flash is required. Knowing how to use that flash is important also.
Ask your friends. Ask your family. Ask your co-workers. Who did they use? Would they recommend them? Do your research. Check them out online. Look at the BBB and other wedding sites. Do they have a nice website? A lot of times you can get a feel for the type of people they are from their website. Call them! Do they return your phone calls within a reasonable amount of time? (24 hours) They should respond to an email in a timely manner also.
This is something you should determine early on. Are you a scrap booker and do it yourself-er? Your photographer should have multiple options for you to choose from.
If you are a do it your selfer you may want to purchase the digital files/negatives. But you should be careful. There is a quality difference in the different types of files. To get good prints from a digital file it should be 5+ megabytes. A smaller file size will only allow you to print small prints, such as 4x6. There are photographers who call a 1-4 megabyte file hi-res, they are wrong! When digital cameras first came out the best they could produce was a 1-3 megabyte file. With the advancement in technology a professional photographer should be shooting with at least a 10 megapixel camera, which produces a large file, 6+ megabytes. Keep in mind that if you do it yourself you may not get the same quality images as your professional by having prints made at Walmart , Walgreens etc. A professional will use a professional lab with an archival printing process. You should also keep in mind how much time you have. Ordering for your friends and family is very time consuming. Also consider if you want an album. The quality of the albums you will get online is not the same as what you will get from a professional.
If you are looking for a full service photographer, that does not mean you do not want to purchase your digital files. You may still want them for future use. But when looking for a full service photographer you are looking mainly at the albums. They should have lots of different styles for you to choose from, anything from the traditional to the contemporary. The quality of the actual albums themselves should impress you. Find out who is actually designing the pages in the album. Is the photographer sending the images off for someone else to design? Or is it designed in house? Do you get to have input into the design before it is ordered? Are you in charge of designing it? Is there a limit on the actual images, if there is, are there extra charges for more images? Are there multiple cover choices? Do you like the design? You should like not only the actual images but the actual design also. The design should flow from start to finish. You should be able to view multiple albums with possibly different types of designs. The album design should reflect the couple’s personality.
The old adage that "You get what you pay for" comes into play. It may seem harsh but remember if it seems too good to be true it usually is. DO NOT choose your photographer based on price alone. Remember that the photographs are the one thing you will have left after the wedding. No one will remember the cake or the food, but you will have photographs of them. Price is pretty low on this list because it should not be your first priority. Obviously your budget is important but be realistic about it. You are hiring a professional. A professional has a lot of overhead and time included in their pricing. They are not just charging for the day of the wedding, but also editing time and equipment upkeep. Price is usually dictated by a combination of factors. Determine a realistic budget based on the type of wedding you are having. A small single location wedding will not require as large of a budget as a full blown all day affair at multiple locations. Comparing pricing between photographers can be very confusing. Determine what you want as far as product is concerned. When you meet with photographer describe your wedding day and details and they will guide you to a coverage that will fit your wedding. Be flexible with your budget. If you find someone you really like be willing to look at your budget to be able to book them. Don't compromise based on price, you will not be happy in the end.
You should be looking for your photographer as soon as the date is set. Most photographers book out 9 months in advance. By starting your search early you can book with your first choice, instead of settling with who is available one month before your wedding.