Wedding 101: Picking A Photographer

How do you plan on remembering your wedding day? That short amount of time that you spend so much time planning will pass by unbelievably fast. So many people and conversations, so many things to do. You’ll have your memories, but after some time, even those will be vague. Maybe the memory that sticks with you will be how it rained all day or the groomsmen all take off their shirts during the reception and your grandmother dancing with them. No one knows, but you can have vivid memories of your wedding with the help of a great photographer.

Courtesy: Photos By J.Kay

A wedding is not complete without a photographer. However, there are so many sad stories that go around the wedding industry having to do with photography- the photographer didn’t back-up photos and they all got deleted; there weren’t any photos of the bride with her family; taking 2 years to get the photos back, or never at all.

Most issues with wedding photography are the product of brides being misinformed when looking to hire their photographer. They are on a budget, so they just hire the most inexpensive photographer they can find, or they have family or friends take the pictures with their snazzy new camera. I’ll be honest- photography is expensive. When I started on my photographer hunt, I was in shock when I heard the package prices for some of the excellent photographers out there. But I kept looking, and I did a great deal of research. I ended up sacrificing on flowers so I could get the best photographer but I don’t regret it. Flowers only last a few days and most of them where dead when we got back from our honeymoon anyways. But remember, flowers do make the pictures look better…. so it’s a little give and take!

I’ve compiled a list of tips from articles floating around the internet. Hopefully these tips will help you pick the photographer that is best for them!

Courtesy: Photos By Cameron

Tips from From Snappy Camera Studios

Deciding What Kind of Photographer You Want:

My recommendation is to first focus on learning what style of photography you like, then find a photographer who fits your vision and your budget. Are you traditional? Do you want lots of couple portraits, family portraits, and other classic “wedding album” moments? Are you looking for a photo journalistic approach to the day with lots of candid, in-the-moment photos? Or do you want a combination of both? Focusing on price rather than getting the photos you want may lead you to make an investment you’ll regret for years!

The best way to find a photographer is to make use of all your resources. Who did your friends, family, and co-workers use for their weddings? Put a shout out on Facebook and Twitter for photographers in your area. Find talent in local publications and area magazines. For example, the Washingtonian publishes a “best of” category in wedding vendors and they have an amazing assortment of photographers in their ad pages.

Understand What You Are Purchasing

Traditionally, a wedding photographer gets paid a base price for her time photographing the wedding and the client pays separately for other photography products (digital files, albums, print, etc). This is called a la carte pricing. Many photographers also have packaged offers, where they bundle their services and products for a set price. The bundles are grouped together to provide a cost savings to the client, so it is not always possible to customize the package deal.

If you plan to purchase a CD of images and you are considering DIY printing, bear in mind that the quality of your printed photographs (prints) is dependent on a quality printer. While you may be able to get a 4×6 print at Wal-Mart for 49 cents, the quality of your photos will suffer. I’m sure the last thing you want is for your groom’s tuxedo to look brown rather than black, or for your beautiful, expensive wedding dress to look as if there’s a halo around it. In the end, you want flawless prints, not beautiful photographs printed poorly. Most photographers who provide digital files to their clients also offer an online print ordering system.

Connect with Your Photographer:

Your personal connection with your photographer is invaluable. She will be a part of a very personal, and intimate part of your life. You want to feel comfortable with her, and enjoy having her along on this beautiful experience.

This is my college friend, Jonathan, from his wedding last year (courtesy: Corey Potter)

Tips from OnceWed:

  • Get recommendations and referrals. If your photographer of choice is out of your price range, or booked, don’t be embarrassed to ask for recommendations of other photographers, either. It’s also a good idea to ask the photographer to give you one or two references from other brides and grooms. Take the time to talk to these people and get a sense of how happy they were or weren’t with the photographer and the final product.
  • Ask to see a complete shoot, including outtakes. With the advent of digital photos, it’s pretty easy to make a picture, even a bad picture, look good online. Ask to see a complete job, including outtakes to get a good sense of the photographer.
  • Understand your budget and the package. Depending on where you live, and what’s included a photographer can cost anywhere from $500 to $20,000. Now $500 may sound good, but what if you spend $500 to hire the photographer only to discover that you can’t afford to add any prints or an album? Make sure you consider the total cost of what you want when planning your budget. Don’t forget to ask the photographer about things like travel and parking charges, and how many people will be working your wedding.

As for me, tips from a former bride, I highly recommend:

– Going with a photographer who will give you a disc with your photos. That way you have rights to them and can print and do whatever you want with them. No now wants a box full of proofs anymore. With the digital age, you want them to post and share on Facebook for the world to see.

-Get to know your photographer.  My wedding photographers are family to us now. My husband and I have dinner with them pretty often and we try to see each other at least once a month.

– Make sure you hire a photographer that has an assistant. You want 2 people there to capture the best day of your life.  There will be moments one photographer just won’t be able to get because they will be focused on something else.  It also cuts down on time needed for photography before and after the ceremony.

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One thought on “Wedding 101: Picking A Photographer

  1. I agree, a good photographer is money well spent! Just don’t sacrifice too much on the flowers, they will be in a lot of the photos! 🙂

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