After the dress is worn, the flowers die, the food is eaten, and the guests leave, the photographs are the only thing remaining to document your wedding day. Choosing your wedding photographer is one of the hardest wedding decisions because you can’t see the photographs you’re buying until you’ve already made the decision. This article will help you choose the best photographer to ensure you get the wedding photographs you want.
1. Price. Choosing a photographer based on price may not be the wisest decision. A photographer’s price not only reflects the quality of their work (generally), it also reflects how that photographer values their own work. You may be able to find a photographer advertising weddings for $299, but do you really believe that photographer places a high value on artistic quality? Do you really think they will spend hours culling, sorting, editing and retouching your wedding images? Chances are they will shoot and burn straight to a disk because, frankly, they’re not getting paid enough. Do you feel that you will get beautiful photos of you and your spouse to have for the rest of your life – to show your kids and grandkids? As far as wedding photography goes, you get what you pay for.
Note: Just because you have a smaller budget does not mean you have to sacrifice on your wedding photographer. Before you go asking your cousin’s boyfriend to shoot the wedding (because he has a nice camera), know this; there are many new wedding photographers who may be very talented, but do not have a lot of wedding experience. This does not mean they are horrible photographers, it just means they haven’t shot a lot of weddings. Because of this, you may be able to get reduced pricing, sometimes called “portfolio building” discounts or “introductory” pricing, etc.. It may be difficult finding these photographers because they may not be listed yet on search engines, as their websites may be brand new. So, you’ll have to do some digging.
2. Do some research: Ask your friends and family for referrals. People who love their wedding photos love to talk about their photographer! Search the internet. Go several pages back – don’t just look at the first page of search results. Check the listings of professional organizations like PPA – Professional Photographers of America or WPPI – Wedding & Portrait Photographers International.
3. Make a List: Once you’ve found 5-10 photographers that you like, make a list. Go to each photographer’s website and thoroughly review their portfolio. I cannot stress enough; the photographs you see in the photographer’s portfolio are the same types of photographs you will have of your wedding. How do you know if the photographer is any good? Follow these guidelines:
– Are the images too light? Too dark? If the some images are too light and others too dark, or if they seem all over the place, that could indicate inconsistent quality.
– How are the photographer’s Photoshop skills? Do the photos seem “over-photoshopped”? Do you see a lot of plastic looking skin or alien eyes? A good rule to follow; if you can’t tell the images are Photoshopped, then the photographer has excellent photoshopping skills. It’s like make-up – the best make-up is the kind that doesn’t look like you’re wearing any make-up at all.
– Do you feel emotionally moved by the photographer’s images? Do they make you stop and stare? Gasp? Do you feel a connection with the images? This is the most important aspect of choosing a wedding photographer. You can spend all the money in the world on the most famous photographer, but if you don’t feel a connection with their images, you will most likely not love your wedding photos.
4. Check for Availability: After you’ve narrowed down the list, email or call your top 5 or so photographers. Check to see if each photographer is available on your wedding date, and get a quote or estimate. Emailing or calling each photographer will also give you a little insight into their personality. More on that later.
5. Ask for a Consultation: Your list should now be narrowed down to 2-3 photographers. Ask to meet each photographer – or at the very least, ask for a phone consultation. Talking with your photographer either in person or on the phone will also give you insight into their personality. Are they easy to get along with? Do you feel good about them? The photographer will be a big part of your wedding day and it’s important that you are comfortable with them. Some questions to ask:
– What do you include in your wedding photography package?
– When can I expect to receive my photos?
– Can I review a copy of your contract?
– Are you licensed?
– Do you provide a second shooter?
– Note: Be sure the photographer you hire is the same one who will shoot your wedding. Some photographers send their assistant or contract another photographer to shoot their weddings. Make sure you know who is actually photographing your wedding and ask to view their portfolio.
6. Make your Final Decision: Once you’ve talked with each photographer, you will now be armed with all sorts of information to be able to choose your wedding photographer. Remember, money comes and goes, but you can’t re-do your wedding day.