When the time comes to hire your wedding photographer, there are several things you should take into consideration before making a final choice. In this article, I have highlighted some key points to consider when searching for a professional wedding photographer.
First, make sure that you start the selection process early, as most good photographers book up at least six months to one year in advance. Visit a minimum of three photographers — this will help you make comparisons and choose the right person for you. Ask for referrals from friends or co-workers who have been through the selection process already, and ask the event staff where you will be getting married — chances are they will have a few referrals to give you.
Demand Professionalism: Make sure the appointments you set are with reputable professionals. Take note right from the beginning about how you are treated on the phone and how soon you get a call back if you leave a message. The little things make a big difference. Never forget, this is a service business. Also, make sure that wedding photography is at least 50% of the photographer’s business.
Portfolio: Ask to see the photographer’s work. Make sure that the person whose work you are viewing will be the one actually photographing your wedding. Ask to see work from an entire wedding, preferably an album or a set of proofs from a recent wedding they have photographed. Look for examples of styles that you would like to see in your wedding images, such as photojournalism, black and white, family groups and possibly, special effects. And remember, you must not only like your photographer’s work, you must also like your photographer.
Ask About Prices And Services: Find out what type of services are offered, such as how many hours of the photographer’s time are included in the price and what his/her overtime rate is. Ask how many images you will get back, and if the price will include black and white film as well as color. Does the package price include an engagement sitting and, if not, how much does a sitting cost? The most important thing to know up front is what the package price does and does not include. Also be sure to ask how much reprints, extra albums, wall portraits, frames, etc. will cost. TIP: Often you can negotiate a better deal up front for extras than if you wait until after the wedding.
Don’t be pressured to commit to a package on the spot. You are not buying a used car; you are investing in images that will appreciate in sentimental value over time. Make sure you make the right investment.
Schedule An Engagement Session: The engagement session is a casual portrait session done with your photographer months before the wedding. I recommend it to everyone getting married. It’s a great way to get to know your photographer and for he/she to get to know you. Also, you get to see yourselves on film before the wedding, and if you are happy with your engagement images, you will feel more at ease in front of the camera on your wedding day.
Ask About Backup Equipment: No matter what type of equipment your photographer chooses to use — 35 mm or medium format – he/she should have backup equipment available on your wedding day. Cameras do break — it’s happened to me, but I keep extra equipment on hand for such times.
The Contract: Make sure that once you agree on price and pertinent details, you put them in writing. A contract is there to protect you and your photographer. Items you should outline in the contract include the name of the person you chose to photograph your wedding, the date and exact times of the day’s events, the total price and what that price includes, and any other information you deem necessary. If your photographer doesn’t have a standard contract, insist on one or look elsewhere.
Your Photographer’s Wedding Attire: Make sure to discuss what you expect your photographer to wear. Understanding the appropriate dress code helps your photographer to blend in with the crowd and appear less obtrusive.
The Wedding Day: On the day of the wedding, you should expect your photographer to be punctual and well organized. He or she should be appropriately dressed to attend your particular wedding and should maintain a pleasant attitude throughout the day. TIP: You might ask the photographer you are thinking of hiring for three to five recent clients to contact for references. If a photographer is confident in his or her work, there should be no problem granting this request.
Turn Around Time For Proofs: You should expect to get your wedding proofs or images back within two to four weeks after your wedding. I tell my clients two weeks, which gives me enough time to edit and sequence the proofs so they are displayed in the order of the day’s events.
With the Internet adding convenience to every aspect of our lives, wedding photography hasn’t been left out — there are quite a few companies that work with professional photographers to post your wedding images on a secure web page. You and your family and friends may view proofs and place orders online, making it possible for your friends and relatives all over the world to see your wedding images. If this is a service you are interested in, ask your photographer if he or she has a company that they work with to provide online proofs.
Your Albums And Prints: The length of time it takes to process your complete order will vary from photographer to photographer. I tell my clients to expect the pictures in 10 to 12 weeks. There are many factors which can affect the length of time you may need to wait for your finished order, including the size of your order, the number of albums in your order, the extent of retouching required, and any desired framing. If you choose to get references for your photographer, you might want to ask the other clients how long it took to get their completed orders and albums.
Finally, once your wedding day has past and your relationship with your photographer appears to be over, be sure to tell your friends and family if you were happy with his or her services. Photographers work off referrals and they are always greatly appreciated. Also remember that most wedding photographers do other types of photography as well, so keep us in mind for your family portraits in the future. It’s always nice to get repeat business, and to see familiar faces and watch families grow.