Your photographer is one of the most important items on your Wedding Planning Checklist. Here is a great article with helpful tips for choosing the one that’s right for you:
- It’s NOT all relative. Please do not let a relative or a friend who takes awesome vacation pictures take your wedding photos! Wedding photography is probably the most demanding branch of photography there is. It’s fast paced, and once a special moment is gone, it’s gone forever. A wedding photographer cannot have an off day, or learn on the job as a solo shooter. Uncle Bob’s vacation pictures may be wonderful, but unless he trained with a good professional wedding photographer for many years, don’t trust him with the most important day of your life. There are no do-overs! Stuff happens, and if it happens at your wedding, you want to make sure a cell phone camera is not the backup plan! The same goes for an “up and coming” photographer looking to build his portfolio and offering an unbelievably low price to gain experience at the expense of your lifetime memories!
- Hire a photographer, not a studio. Make sure you know who will be doing the actual photography on your wedding day, and that you have seen (and love) their actual work, not just photos done by “someone” in the studio. And while I’m on the subject, two photographers are always better than one. One person cannot be in two places at once, and two photographers will more easily be able to capture the special moments from different angles and perspectives.
- Money isn’t everything. Don’t shop by price alone. You’ve probably noticed that you can hire a wedding photographer for anywhere from $500 to $10,000! In the wedding photography industry, like in everything else in life, price may be a very good indicator of the quality to be expected. Unfortunately, this is especially true at the lower end of the price range. It is nearly impossible for a professional photographer to offer complete packages in the two thousand dollar range because of the high cost of professional camera equipment, backup devices, liability insurance, overhead, quality albums, etc., etc. Expect to spend $3500 and up if you want an experienced photographer and an excellent quality album. Think McHamburger vs. Ruth’s Chris. Grabbing a burger may be fine on a Wednesday night after work, but for a special date night is that what you really want??? C'mon, this is the most important day of your life! Don’t treat your wedding photography like a value menu meal!
- Personality, baby! This tip is almost as important as making sure you love the photography: Make sure you really “click” with your photographer (pun intended!) If you feel comfortable around your photogs, you will be more at ease, and that will show on your face in your pictures. When you are laughing and having fun, you will hardly notice the camera, thus, eliminating the “Barbie and Ken” (i.e. “stiff”) look.
- Wild salmon or photography? If price is a major issue for you, try to cut corners elsewhere (maybe cut down the guest list, go with a regular instead of a premium bar, DIY as much as you can, etc.) And really, who remembers what they had for dinner at a wedding? You do not want to look back and regret having an expensive dinner but not hiring the right photographer!
- Customer service (Who even DOES that anymore?) While narrowing down and interviewing prospective photographers, how long does it take them to answer your emails or return your phone calls? If you are waiting more than 24 hours (or even 12) when they are trying to get your business, what makes you think they will be any better once they have your deposit? The last thing you need to worry about is if your photographer will call you back if you have a question (or, heaven forbid, not even show up to your wedding!) Make sure your photographer gives you the warm fuzzies. Select someone who can verify their reliability through referrals and reviews. Peace of mind is golden.
- Just like being there. Sample albums say a lot about the photographer’s vision since they are the images the photographer considers to be their best. However, ask to see a copy of a real client album to get a feel for the mood, flow and “narration” of the day, as well as the graphic design. Once you’ve looked through the album you should feel like you were an invited guest.
- Postpone the extras. If money is tight, just book a photography only package for now, and add any prints or albums later on. This will lower the cost of the initial outlay, but you will be sure to have the photographer you really want. Many couples receive monetary wedding gifts and this is a good way to purchase your album!
- How long must I wait? Ask what the turnaround times are for proofs and albums. Make sure there is a reference to work schedules in your contract! Turnaround times vary due to workload, so make sure you’re comfortable with the wait time. If it’s a long one, it may be worth it to you. Or, you may even find an awesome photographer with a relatively short turnaround. They are out there, so just ask.
- Pimple? What pimple? Remember: A bad editing job is actually worse than no editing at all, so make sure there’s at least one person in the photographer's group with strong retouching skills! This includes color and density editing, artistic effects, if that’s what you’re into, as well as blemish removal, skin smoothing, etc. Ask to see some before/after images that they have edited themselves.
- It’s just good insurance. Choose a photographer with full liability insurance. Many, if not most of the large hotels and even some smaller venues will require your photographer and many other vendors to carry full liability insurance. As I've mentioned, stuff happens!
- Be a stalker. A blog stalker, that is. Blogs are the best places to view and compare images! Photographers typically post only their best and favorite shots of the day. That will give you a good idea of their style. The moment the images take your breath away is the moment you have made your decision…in your heart.
Hopefully this will start you on your way to selecting a photographer you will still be thrilled with when you show your wedding album to your great-grandchildren. We at SoCalSunshine Productions are dedicated and committed to helping you achieve everything you want, and more, from your wedding photos!