Guide to Picking the Perfect Wedding Photographer
August 22nd, 2022 Wedding Ideas, Tips and Inspiration
GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE PERFECT WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER
If a picture is worth a thousand words your wedding photos will be worth so much more! Your wedding day is likely one of the most photographed moments in your life. This makes picking the perfect photographer one of the most important tasks during wedding planning. Not only will your photographer be capturing your special moments, but you will be spending the majority of the day with this person and their team. From getting your hair and makeup done, to pictures of your wedding dress, to your first dance, you want to choose someone who you’ll feel comfortable with all day. If there are any red flags or your intuition kicks in, listen to it and reconsider your pick.
Our first tip is to look through a handful of wedding photographer websites and samples to get an idea of different types of work. Once you have an idea of the photography style you’re after, talk to newlywed couples, family and friends, and other vendors for recommendations. If you have a wedding planner be sure to ask for their recommendations.
After you have narrowed down your pick to two or three, be sure to set up appointments to meet face to face. In person or video interviews are important because they allow you to get a feel for the person’s style and personality. They also allow them a chance to get to know your love story. Because at the end of the day, the photographs should tell YOUR love story.
Here are some important questions to ask before or during the meetings with your potential photographers.
10 Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer Before Hiring
1) Are you available for my wedding date?
This is the first question to ask and can be emailed prior to a meeting. If he or she is not, then you can move on to the next. Some photographers will have multiple events in one day, so ask if they have other photo appointments the same day as your wedding. You don’t want to be competing with someone else for time on your big day. Bottom line, make sure the photographer is available for your wedding date and for the timeframe you need.
2) What style do you specialize in?
Everyone has their own personality and perspective in life. This carries over to photography, too. Each photographer has their own shooting style and perspective of capturing a wedding day. Their main style will always produce the best pictures. The most common terminologies for style are “natural,” “dramatic,” and “styled.” Your potential photographer’s style should match the vision you have for your special day.
3) How many years of experience do you have? How many weddings do you shoot a year?
Experience is important. Photographers who shoot weddings as their full time job are well equipped with knowledge of how to handle last minute situations and challenges. A full time wedding photographer shoots approximately 20-30 wedding ceremonies a year. Keep in mind that the more experience they have, the higher their prices may be. This likely also means your photos will turn out better. Experience is the price justification.
4) What are your rates and what do they include? How many hours of coverage do we get?
Rates vary from one photographer to another. Some will charge a flat rate (say, $4,000 for 8 hours of footage) with a-la-carte extras, while others will charge by packages (ranging from least- to most-time intensive). Some will charge additional fees for overtime and if their overtime price is too high, opt for a longer pre-arranged duration. This may be cheaper than paying the overtime price. Wedding packages can include digital copies, printed copies, canvases, CD/USB copies, and albums. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when talking about packages, rates and hours of coverage. Be sure to ask about travel fees if you are having a destination wedding.
5) What types of equipment and technology will be used?
Wedding photographers use a professional camera. But, do you want your photos to be film or digital or both? Does your photographer shoot in JPEG or RAW format? RAW photos are easier to edit. Do you want pictures in all color, black and white or a mixture of both? Communicate your wants and preferences to your photographer to help them see your vision. Do they have backup equipment? Just because they are professionals doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong. Pictures look different in certain lightings. Does your photographer have equipment to help shoot in low lighting? Have they ever shot in low lighting before? You want to know that your photographer isn’t new to the game and know what he or she is doing.
6) Will you be shooting by yourself?
If you hire a solo photographer, you will get one angle at a time of each moment. If there is a second photographer present, you can expect to have multiple angles of the same moment. For instance, one photographer will capture your groom’s facial expressions as he sees you walking down the aisle, while the assistant (second shooter) will capture you in your gorgeous dress. The photographer and assistants are one team and may have similar vision and perspective, but they are not the same person. So with the assistant, you get a different interpretation of the photographer’s perspective. It will add variety to your pictures.
7) Do you require a deposit/or total fee payment before shooting?
Save this topic and discussions on the cancellation policy for the end of the meeting. Getting answers to these questions will allow you to prepare for payment and any possible situations that may arise. Typically approximately 12% of your wedding budget will go towards the photographer. When talking about finances, ALWAYS get the agreement in writing. It will save you from headaches if anything does come up later.
8) Do you have any examples of your work?
Looking at samples of the photographer’s work is great, but what’s even better is asking to see photos of an entire wedding from start to finish. This will allow you to see the style and way they shoot specific shots to see if it matches your vision. This also gives you an idea of what types of photos they’ve done similar to what’s on your must-have shot list.
9) Have you ever shot at my wedding venue(s) before?
Each venue has its advantages and challenges, ranging from lighting to reflections to size. The benefit of the photographer shooting there before is that they will be familiar with lighting and angles as well as the most picturesque locations. If the photographer has not shot there before, ask if they are willing to visit the venue beforehand to scope out the layout and lighting so no time is wasted doing this on the big day.
10) How long after the wedding will I receive my images? How will they be delivered?
Waiting can be tough when you are really excited to see your pictures. Retouching and editing takes time, but your photographer should give you a clear timeline of when you can expect to see your pictures. This normally takes around three to four weeks. Some photographers will show you the proofs or “sneak peeks” before editing and let you choose which pictures you want. They will then edit only the ones you have chosen. Others will edit the pictures before showing you any of them. Most photographers will release them in stages; same day videos, teasers, digital copies then the entire day. Some will put it on a CD or USB drive while others will upload it online and you can order your pictures from there. This depends on how you want your final pictures.