How to choose and hire a wedding photographer
When hiring a wedding photographer, be sure not to sacrifice quality
save a few dollars. Although cost is certainly a consideration, you have only one shot (no pun intended) to get the
wedding pictures that will properly capture your wedding day. Quality wedding pictures will bring you a lifetime of memories
- of a
once in a lifetime occasion so always try to obtain the best wedding photographer that your
WHEN TO START LOOKING
Since wedding photographers are limited when it comes to
the number of weddings and special events they can shoot on a specific day, it
is wise to look for a wedding photographer 9 to 12 months prior to the wedding
TIP: Some of the better photographers are booked up to 2 years in advance.
WHERE TO START LOOKING
Ask friends, relatives and work associates for wedding photographer recommendations. Numerous
resources are also available in the local yellow pages, on the Internet, and in local
publications as well. Start making a list. Be sure you are
going to be contacting "wedding" photographers. Although most
photographers can take good photos, an experienced wedding photographer
will have a much better grasp of the unique "when's" and "where's" of photographing a
wedding that allows for better pictures.
HOW TO START LOOKING
Call the wedding photographers on your list and inquire about date availability, prices, etc. and
ask that a brochure be sent to you. Some photographers also have examples of their
work available for view online. If there is no brochure available ask if it is
possible to meet with the photographer to see photo examples of their work and carefully look at
the quality of the wedding pictures. Do the people and the pictures look
natural? Does the shot appear to be in focus? Was the photo taken in proper lighting so you can
see the detail of the shot? Does the photographer shoot in the type of style that
you are looking for? Did the photographer you are speaking to take the
shots - all of the shots?
Photographers usually charge
for their services in 1 of 3 ways and some charge by a combination of them;
Depending upon your budget
you will have to decide which fee method best suits your needs.
Personally, since you only have one shot (excuse the pun again) at getting great
pictures of a once in a lifetime event I would rather pay a little more money for a better
photographer who will get quality shots and then opt for fewer pictures if budget was a
In the case of a wedding, prior to the
wedding day be sure to make a list of the pictures that you want to be certain to take, i.e. Bride
alone, Bride with Groom, Bride with Parents, Bride with Attendants, Groom alone, Groom
with Parents, Groom with Best Man, and so on. Be sure the photographer
list. Ask a friend (with a copy of the list in hand) to assist the photographer in getting those
shots on the event day. You can find a list of
"must have" wedding pictures in our guide.
SMART QUESTIONS TO
ASK WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS
During your conversations with the wedding photographers you should explain what types of shots
you are most interested in, i.e. mostly formal, mostly candid, etc. and find out what
shots he/she recommends. Also, briefly outline the "must have" wedding pictures that you
have in mind.
Remember, each photographer
has different creative styles and capabilities and it is possible that their
creative insight relative to "behind the scenes" candid shots, series shots,
etc. may enhance the outcome of your photos. However, be hesitant to
contract a photographer who seems totally "fixed" on a specific style of photography
that you are not thrilled about.
Looking at the photographer's
wedding photo albums
and a thorough conversation with the photographer will help you determine if his/her style
will match your expectations. Remember, personality is also an important
factor in the selection of a wedding photographer since he/she will be
interacting with you and your guests throughout the wedding ceremony and the
wedding reception. If they appear to have an attitude, go somewhere else.
An attitude is an added dynamic that you will not want to have to deal with on
your wedding day.
Following are some things that you may
want to find out during your conversations with the wedding photographer...
When looking at the photo albums, ask who took the photographs. If
you like the style of specific photographs you should be speaking directly to that person.
Keep in mind that sometimes a photographer may employ other
photographers. If you like the quality or style of a specific photographer
be sure that it is specified in writing that it will be that
photographer who will be taking the photos at your wedding.
How many weddings do they shoot
You are looking for someone who has experience with shooting wedding
photos because they will know from experience how to get the best camera
angles, which shots are the most important, etc.
On an average, how
many shots does the photographer take during a wedding?
How many hours does he/she
expect to be on site?
Does the photographer shoot more than
one wedding on the same day?
If so, depending upon the schedule it
may severely limit the photographers flexibility on the day of your wedding.
Will the photographer you are
speaking to actually be taking your photos?
If not, you are
speaking to the wrong person.
What equipment does the
Does the photographer use an
The use of an assistant allows more options relative to
lighting angles in posed and formal photo shots. There is minimal need for an assistant if
the majority of the shots are going to be candid.
How are you charged? Are
you charged based on the number of shots taken plus the selected photos, the selected
photo package, for time and number of shots, etc.?
Depending upon the selected
option, what will the total cost be and what exactly will it include?
Who selects the photos to be
included in the package, you or the photographer?
How many proofs do you get to
Does the photographer retain the digital master or negatives?
If so, this means that
you will end up paying the photographer each and every time that you want a reprint. Although some
photographers will give you a song and dance about paper quality and processing quality or
"safeguarding" the digital master or the negatives, it all boils down to profit. Some
photographers will give you a CD of the selected digital masters or selected negatives or all of the
shots either as part
of the package or for a fee. Check the fees in advance
and get them in writing.
If the photographer retains the
digital master or negatives, how much does it cost to obtain reprints in the future?
cost in writing if you select a photographer who retains the master or negatives.
Does the photographer have the
ability to add digitized special effects to selected photos?
You may want
to create a special photo memorializing your special event by enhancing or retouching the
picture. If he/she has the ability, what are the costs? Get the cost
Does the photographer
have the ability to archive the photos on disc or CD?
If so, what is the cost? Get the cost in writing.
Does the photographer
have any recent references or letters of recommendation that he/she can share
If not, go elsewhere. Again, you are
looking for experience and quality.
the photographer have a problem with guests or family members taking photos?
This is something that needs to be addressed up front rather than finding out
the day of your wedding!
Some photographers may tell you that they have a problem
with it because it will consume too much time to allow them to get the photos
that need to be taken professionally. Others may feel for some reason or
another that their photos should be the exclusive photos since the photo
composition is their creation. Others do not have a problem with friends
and family taking photos as long as it does not interfere with the quality of
the photos that they are taking.
Usually, it takes only a moment or two to
allow guests and relatives to take a quick photo after the professional
has taken their shots. Simply request that the guests wait until after the
photographer is completely finished with the shot so that the professional's
light levels are not messed up. Remember, time is money and you will want to
limit the time that family and friends are given to take their photo so the
photographer has time to get all the photos that you wanted. As far as "exclusive" photos are
concerned, the actual concern is most likely that the private photos may reduce
the number of prints ordered from the photographer. The fact of the matter
is that if the professional does his/her job properly there should be absolutely
no comparison between the quality of the professional's shots and the quality of
the private shots. People who want a quality photo will order one and the people who do not will not
- regardless of whether private photos are taken.
Do they offer a guarantee?
it in writing.
Do they have a cancellation policy?
Get it in writing.
Be sure that all of the details are clearly outlined in your contract
with the photographer, including the name of the specific photographer
who will be shooting the wedding photos, locations and arrival times, number of shots, number of
a list of "must have"
wedding pictures, the total cost, the additional costs for
reprints or to purchase the digital master or negatives, etc. as well as the cancellation/refund policies,
For added protection, paying with a
credit card is not a bad idea either since it can give you significantly more leverage
than when paying by cash or check should something go wrong.
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Wedding Planning Information