Choosing the Wedding Photographer for you
No vendor will have a bigger impact on your wedding than your photographer. Not only will they take the photos that document your wedding for years to come, but they will also work more closely with you than any other vendor that day. There are many things to consider when picking your photographer.
- Photography Style
- Quality of Images
- Method of Delivery
- Personality fit
- Experience/Proven Track Record
Each of these is important but it is up to you in which order you value them. In this column I will try to inform you of some aspects of packaging and styles that you may not have considered yet in hopes you can make the right decision for your wedding.
Wedding Photography Packaging:
- Without a doubt the most common question I am asked, "What are your starting packages?" Though you must know pricing to figure out if you can even consider a photographer, the starting price is the most misunderstood aspect of wedding photographer packages. Very few photographers actually sell their "starting package" simply because it lacks the basics of what they would like to include. And when they do sell it, it usually comes with upcharges after you sign your contract. A better way to phrase the question is "What is your average package price?" The down side to that is it still is not likely the package you will choose, but is much more likely to be in the range you'll spend.
- Packaging may be the most complicated part of shopping for your photographer. The hidden charges can easily double your package price after your wedding. For example, the high resolution dvd that everyone asks for is often not print ready and if it is, is still not the same level of quality as what is shown in studio. To get the same look to your photos that you saw in studio, your images need to be color corrected and often cropped and enhanced individually. This can be a significant expense after your wedding or may limit the number of photos you have "finished". Many packages only include a select number of corrected images. Be aware of how many your package includes. It's a good idea to ask your photographer to see an entire wedding with all the photos to get an idea how your photos will look. It is important to have your high resolution files but look out for watermarks and file types that you cannot print from. You also want to be aware that an entire wedding in full resolution would only fit on a DVD if the number of photos is limited. What you truly want is a Flash Drive with all of your images.
- Hours/Time line: Few couples really understand the amount of time they will need in their package. If you are headed to a park, then a ceremony site, then the reception and want your photographer to get any candids at your reception, expect to use 8-10 hours or so. The last thing you want is to be rushed through your day because of your photographer’s package.
- When looking at albums, make sure to look for additional charges such as: Charges for number of photos included, revisions to the initial design, cover upgrades, custom work, or anything that is "special or unique". Chances are if there is something the photographer loves, it will cost you extra.
The Right Photographer for YOU:
- Style: Nearly every photographer will call themselves photojournalistic because it is popular. It’s up to you to determine if you like their style. Don’t worry about what style they consider themselves.
- Quality/Format of Images: Do not assume that because someone is a "professional" or because they have a website with some nice photos on it or have an ad in a magazine that they are a quality photographer. Many people with little to know wedding experience are running their own photography companies. Some with more exprience still do not provide professional quality photography in this age of photoshop. Though photoshop is a great tool, nothing replaces taking a quality photo in the camera. Editing a photo is never ad good as taking it with good technique. A quality professional photographer should be able to explain their photography technique if you ask them. If they explain their editing technique when you ask about photography technique, you may want to consider someone else. If they describe their lighting or camera technique in good detail in terms you understand, you should feel a little more comfortable. If they are talking in terms you don't understand, they probably are trying to sound like they know what they are talking about.
- Experience: A full time professional with 5-10+ years of wedding photography experience should inspire confidence, be organized, prepared for all situations and truly guide you through all the excitement of your wedding day. Most photographers at that level will charge $2,000-$3,000+ for their experience. If that is out of your pricer range, you may want to consider one of their associates with less experience that works for their studio in a lower price range. The advantage to this is that you still have the studio's experience and training behind them. In this case, it would be wise to get a background on that photographer, see some of their work and make sure you get a chance to work with them or meet them prior to your wedding. You may also find someone with less experience but still a quality photographer for a lower price just by doing your homework or maybe just by getting lucky. You just need to be sure there is enough experience that you are comfortable. Don't assume that a higher price means more experience or better quality either. It's a good guideline, but not a perfect science. You will find some photographers for a few hundred dollars all the way up to nearly $10,000. Fortunately, most fall somewhere in between.
- Personality. Probably the most overlooked aspect of your photograpehr is that you will be spending your entire day with your photographer. Make sure that you can not only tolerate them, but actually enjoy being around them. Your photos will suffer if you can tell you are getting impatient with the person taking them. There is nothing more important on your wedding day than how you feel. If your photographer has developed a personal realitionship with you, it will reflect in your photos.
- Ask your friends for referrals. However, know that they likely picked the best vendor for them and also have only used that vendor once. Also ask other vendors what they think. The combination usually results in a very good idea of what type of quality any one vendor offers.
- Check out online reviews. Though these can be inflated by vendors asking for referral, it is still very usefull. Search by lowest rating to get a better idea of what questions you should be asking.
- Check out the BBB. Much like the reviews, most everyone is in good standing, but that one or two negative reviews can be worth 10.
If you have any comments or questions, please ask here. You're question may be shared by others.
Thanks for reading!