Choosing a wedding photographer

Choosing a photographer today is much different than it was 5 years ago. When I got married, only some photographers had switched over to digital. Many of the photographers I met with were still using film. I, myself, wasn't on the digital bandwagon yet, so I chose an excellent photographer who shot with traditional film. She was great, and I don't regret using her, but I do wish my photos were digital. I will have to take on the painful task of scanning in my negatives if I want my photos on a disk.

Today, most photographers use professional digital cameras, and you can see your photos as early as the reception. So, now that we are in a digital photography world, what do we look for when selecting a photographer?

Do I like their work?
When you meet with a photographer, you will have the opportunity to see their portfolio. Make sure they specialize in weddings. Although they will have other work in their book, they should know the ins-and-outs of shooting a wedding. When looking through their book, ask yourself if you like their photos. It's a matter of opinion, you don't have to understand the art of photography, you either enjoy their work or you don't. Do they specialize in photojournalistic photography or formal photography? Are their photos natural, or does it look like they use special digital techniques to enhance their photos? If they are digitally retouched or enhanced, does it look real, fake, awesome, or awful? Overall, do you find their photographs appealing?

Are they creative?
Most photographers are artists, well, they should all be, but no-one is stopping someone with a camera from calling themselves a photographer. Is the photographer creative, do they have offer suggestions that you might not have thought of? Are their photographs unique, do they capture moments that some people might miss. A great photographer has done enough weddings to know what moments are priceless in photographs, and which moments might even be missed by some. Ask them to see photos of an entire wedding, rather than one or two of the best shots from various weddings. This will show you if they are consistent, or simply lucky to have gotten one great shot.

Are they easy to talk to?

Do they make you feel comfortable when meeting with them? Make sure they are concerned about your priorities, after all, it is your wedding. If they seem like they aren't listening to you, or they insist on color photographs when you want black and white photographs, then run. You are interviewing them, and if they aren't right for the job, they don't hire them. Just because they are professional photographers, doesn't mean they fit your taste, style, or are listening to you priorities. Remember, they will be with you all day, so they should make you feel at ease.

How many photographers or assistants will be there?

One photographer will do, but two is better. When the bride is getting ready, the photographer should be there. When the groom and his groomsmen are hanging out before the wedding, the photographer should be there. When guests are arriving, guess what, the photographer should be there. But one photographer can't be in two or three places at once. Some photography studios will send out 2-3 photographers and assistants with multiple cameras, lenses, lighting accessories, etc. Since many brides are looking for photojournalistic photos as well as some formal photographs, more than one photographer will be necessary. If you are only doing formal photos, then they should have an assistant to deal with the lighting and equipment. This will make for a smooth and relatively quick photo session if the photographer doesn't have to adjust everything for each photo.

Are they worth it?
It doesn't matter how great a photographer is if they break the budget. Shop around, there are affordable photographers that will meet your criteria. Don't settle for less than you deserve, it's your wedding day, and when the day is done, all you have are the photos. I adjusted our budget to allocate more money to photography, but that was a priority of mine. It's well worth it. Make sure you ask the right questions when you find a photographer within the budget, find out what you get with your package and get it in writing. Do you get proofs, a photo album, one 8x10 photo, etc. Sometime the more expensive photographers include these extras and it's worth it.

Ask for references
It can be awkward to call a complete stranger to ask about their wedding photographer. But some people have very strong opinions about how their photos turned out, or how the day went with the photographer around. Ask the photographer for references, and make sure to contact them.

Questions to ask your photographer or Photography studio:

• Do you specialize in weddings?
• What style of photography do you specialize in?
• Do you shoot in color, black and white, or both?
• Do you have photos of an entire wedding I can see?
• Do you have a shot check-list? (Download a checklist for reference)
• What photography training do you have? How many years have you been photographing wedding?
• Will you actually take our photos?
• If not, who will. Can I see their portfolio?
• Will multiple photographers be on location?
• Will they have assistants?
• Is there an extra charge for assistants?
• How prepared are you for unexpected disasters? (Film exposure, dropped camera, malfunctioning camera, disk space, etc.)
• Do you have a back-up if you can't make it to the wedding?
• How early will you arrive? How late will you stay?
• What do you charge for overtime?
• Do you have any other events booked that weekend or that day?
• How many pictures will you take?
• Do you develop your own film?
• Can we buy our negatives from you?
• Do you post our photos on a website?
• Can I get our photos on a disk? How much will it cost?
• How soon will I have my proofs?
• Do you have references I can call?
• Can I see a sample contract?

Download a wedding photography checklist right now. Use it as is, or as a guide, either way, it'll be a huge help so you won't miss out on those important photo opportunities.

wedding photography checklist

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