10 things to look for when choosing your wedding photographer.
Congratulations!!! You’re engaged!!!
Now it’s time to plan your wedding and find a wedding photographer. You’ve been looking through numerous smiling faces in wedding magazines, wedding websites and now you are more overwhelmed than you were before you started your research.
The following is a guideline that may help you in finding your match for the wedding photographer or wedding photography studio.
Best way to start your research for any of your wedding vendors is to ask your friends and family first. If you know anybody that got married recently, ask them first. They will be your best source of referrals because they went through the process already. Find out who they hired and if they were happy with the service. Google is a good start to see who’s out there, but people who actually went through the process will be the best source.
Be wary of paid referrals from other vendors. When I was starting out I used to visit all my local banquet halls to leave samples of my work for potential wedding couples to look through. I was asked to join a preferred vendor list for a fee. The way it works is that some venues will refer their vendors only. Some of the wedding planning websites will do the same. I’m not saying that’s their only criteria, but make sure you’ll do your homework.
This is one of the main aspects that makes photographers distinguish themselves from the rest. Make sure you like their style of photography. Is it basic, formal, candid or is it more artistic and editorial with interesting composition. Maybe you would prefer little bit of both. Have all your formals to be traditionally posed with even natural lighting then have some bold photos of the two of you with more dramatic lighting. Look at their portfolio and ask to see a whole wedding gallery. Most photographers only showcase the best images and refrain from showcasing their candids. There's nothing wrong with showcasing only the best photos, but if you don’t see any photos of the family, ceremony or reception... that should be a major red flag.
Look for consistency in their style. Make sure their outside photos with natural lighting are just as good as their reception photos with artificial lighting.
Cost could be a major factor when planning your wedding, but don’t let it be the only factor. Price for a wedding photographer can range between $900 a wedding up to $10,000 or more. Beginning photographers who are looking for exposure and experience will charge much less than experienced photographers. Be aware of those too good to be true deals. Most of the time if it’s too good to be true it probably is. It’s ok to take advantage of a reasonable offer when the studio is giving away a free engagement session or a weekdays weddings discount. Many serious photography studios like to take care of their clients and offer many rewards not included in their price list. Our couples for example receive free passport photos and free basic in studio sessions for life.
Do they have a studio or retail space? Can you visit them anytime you want? Will they meet with you in the local coffee shop take your deposit and run? Maybe I went too far with the last statement, but I’ve heard those horror stories.
Photography studios with a brick and mortar location are more likely to stay in business for the long run and not just for a season or two. After all they've invested a lot more time and money to let go of their investment too quickly. It gives them a place to meet with their clients and It shows that they are serious about the business. It also could serve as a potential location for your wedding photos.
5. QUALITY OF WORK AND EXPERIENCE.
This is probably one of the most important aspects of choosing your wedding photographer. Ask how many weddings did they photograph? You don’t want your wedding to be a training ground for an inexperienced photographer. Look closely at their work, see if the photos are sharp, color corrected, well composed. Look for verity of composition and overall look of the images. Did they capture different angels of view or most photos are taken from eye level height. Use of different focal length lenses creates verity of looks thus making the whole body of work more interesting. Are the family photos there? What is the quality are they well lit and composed or seem like snapshots. If your family is large do they know how to handle a large groups. Those are the things that an experienced photographer should be able to handle.
6. QUALITY OF THEIR PRODUCTS.
Album is usually one of those products that is offered included with wedding packages. Make sure the album and other products such as prints and canvases are looking good and professional. Many photographers try to cut cost by offering lesser quality products from local non professional printing shops. We are happy to offer all of our couples in house photo lab and printing services. Having an in-house lab gives us ability to keep a close eye on the quality of printing and craftsmanship. Making sure that chemicals are fresh and photo paper is calibrated is some of the things we go through on a daily basis. All of our albums have a lifetime limited liability. If there's anything wrong with them we'll fix them or reprint them.
7. PLAN B.
One of the most popular questions we've been asked during our consultations is what happens if it rains? My usual response is to bring an umbrella. The truth is, there is nothing you can do to influence the weather on your wedding day, but you could prepare for the worst and expect the best. No one can control the weather on your wedding day, but you’ll be more at ease if you know your photographer knows how to handle difficult situations. See what they say when you ask them about it. Did they handle similar situations and have suggestions for indoor locations? As I mentioned before... their studio could be one of those locations.
8. BACK UP EQUIPMENT.
Equipment breaks and there's nothing you can do about it. Professionals know about this and they do their best to prepare for it. Wedding photographers should always carry back up equipment. Not only back up for their cameras, but for their lenses, flashes, strobes, stands, tripods etc. A true wedding photographer may also surprise you with a spare safety pins, bobby pins, duct tape or even small set of travel tools.
Photographing a wedding faces photographers with many challenges. Most weddings require a photographer to be focused and mobile for long hours. On average wedding coverage lasts between 8 to 12 hours and some of the ethnic weddings we've photographed can last up to 16 hours. During that time wedding photographer is expected to be ready to capture all of the important moments, drive to multiple locations, carry the equipment, look and act professionally at all times. Check with your photographer if he or she can handle all of it. Are they ok to stay overtime? Are they open to suggestions?
Last but not the least, you have to like your photographer and the studio. After all you will spend most of your wedding day with that person. Listen to your gut feeling. Are you a good fit. Ask what attire will they were on the wedding day. Is it formal or casual. It’s ok to be both as long it goes well with your wedding theme.