Choosing a photographer for your wedding
Brides deal with the challenges of securing all the services necessary to produce their wedding day. It's amazing the level of production that it takes to pull off such an event for 75-150 people. It seems that the title "bride-to-be" might be more accurately read "producer/ director". At many of the wedding planning resources on the web, you will find a long list of details to fill your days and months before the big day. It must be overwhelming.
I've been witness to hundreds of beautiful weddings and I can tell you that it is a magical time. Do everything you can to make it perfect, then take a step back and leave room for "Beauty... as it occurs naturally".
My tip for every "producer/ director" bride-to-be is in a word PRIORITIZE. Sit down and take that huge list you've just downloaded and reorganize it.Make your own list with the most important thing to you at the top then work your way down.
If you are planning to use a wedding planner or event coordinator, get them on board early. It will cut your work load considerably and possibly even change your title back to "bride-to-be".
Next, consider that the two most TIME SENSITIVE services to hire are your wedding VENUE and PHOTOGRAPHER.
Typically, the really excellent photographers and the great venues book a year in advance and can take only one client per day. So at the top of that list should be VENUE and right after that should be PHOTOGRAPHER. Both will require a non-refundable deposit to reserve the day for your wedding. Understand that we're not crafty devious individuals looking to snatch your deposit money. To the contrary, we are professionals scheduling our next year's work the most secure way possible. Sound and fruitful relationships are all about commitment.
In the past I've taken bookings with the promise of the deposit in 2 weeks during which time I turn down as many as 2 other clients that wanted to book me on that same day. Then, I get the phone call saying "Oh, we're very sorry but we've changed our date and decided to use someone else." Now, I make it a point to tell my potential clients that it is the deposit that books the day and I give them a comfortable time to go over the contract, ask questions and send me the check. Basically I set a closing date, after which I will accept the next interested client.
Every wedding is different. Possibly, the venue and the photographer may not be at the top of your list, but the point is PRIORITIZE around your #1 and #2 TIME SENSITIVE resources or vendors. Then do your homework, and secure the details that are most important to you and every thing else will fall in place. Ok, so... you're shopping for a wedding photographer or you wouldn't be here reading my website. The truth is, choosing a photographer for your wedding does not have to be a difficult process. Here are some tips to help you find the right person for the job. So, do the research and make sure it's a good fit. If you remember these 6 tips during your shopping, your photos should be something to enjoy for a lifetime.
Tips on Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Tip #1 Photos... Photos ... Photos!
First of all choose the photographers to interview by the photos they produce. You will find a wide range of descriptive terms attached to today's wedding photography. For example: documentary, traditional, photojournalistic, contemporary are all terms used to describe style and approach. The descriptions you will NOT find are inexperienced, uninsured or ill equipped! Do the research, look at as many wedding photos as you can and see what you like. Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions about insurance, digital back up, training, education and back up equipment.
Today that's quick and easy research because serious professional photographers love to talk about what they do. They will have a website you can visit and when you ask the difficult questions they are happy to answer. Other's may use Facebook or other social media. Use these to study their style and abilities. In this way, you can save time doing personal interviews by narrowing the selection before you start making appointments. AND... by all means, go and meet the photographer face to face or at least Skype with them to get a good idea of who they are. Remember, you will be working together for a major part of your wedding day!
Tip #2 Personality matters
We are all unique individuals and as humans we get along better with certain types of people. When you interview photographers ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Do I like this person?
- Is he or she comfortable to be around?
- Would I choose to spend the day with this person in a close professional situation?
A photographer is hired to photograph the event, not to direct it or command more attention than the Bride and Groom. My approach to wedding photography is more photojournalistic in that sense. I believe that a wedding photographer should blend into the event, look for and capture the magic of the day and direct only the creative portraits of the bride and groom, wedding party and family grouping.
Some portion of the day should be devoted to personal portraits and if you want the best work out of your photographer, give him the time and space he needs to produce for you. Photographs are among a very few items that you will have in hand after the day has passed.
Tip #3 Performance
As a professional I love it when I get personal referrals. It means someone was very pleased with my services. Don't hesitate to ask a photographer for personal references.
An excellent photographer will have any number of couples that are willing to field questions about their wedding photography experience. Other wedding professionals such as the florist, or the event coordinator may have valuable input, but I suggest that you go to the source, talk to the couple.
Tip #4 Experience counts
To be an excellent wedding photographer takes a tremendous amount of technical and personal skills (as well as the willingness to be lassoed by a bride!) . Skills that are learned from both formal education and real time experience. Keep in mind that not all wedding photographers do this professionally. There are all levels of commitment and proficiency ranging from the hobbyist or the aspiring student to the experienced professional that does this for a living. Dealing with every detail of a wedding and interacting with the Bride & Groom, their families and at times hundreds of people and still maintaining the highest level of technical application possible; that takes experience and proficiency.
Find out how much experience a photographer has and consider this:
Getting a ‘great deal’ on your wedding photography may or may not produce the images of your wedding day that you were envisioning.
Tip #5 Price
The old adage "You get what you pay for," is usually true for wedding photography. There are only so many weekends in the year and the number of weddings a single photographer can book is limited. Therefore as a photographer comes into greater demand by developing his artistry and experience the price will most likely reflect that fact.
So, as you are planning your budget, if excellent photos are important to you don't scrimp in this area. Ten years from now, the photos you bought will be there on your table to remind you of the other details that might otherwise be forgotten.