A guide to choosing a wedding photographer.
A guide to choosing a wedding photographer.
Choosing your wedding photographer is perhaps the most important aspect of wedding planning since the photos are the only thing that remain once the day is over. Your wedding photos should be life-long memories that yourself, future kids and grandchildren can fondly look back at in many years to come. Unfortunately for some, it isn't, as they've made the wrong choice for whatever reason. This guide will hopefully give you some information that will enable you to choose the right wedding photographer for you.
1) Make sure you choose your own photographer and know what to expect.Expectation is the most important element in choosing a photographer. It's the expectation that a certain style is replicated, an expectation that the quality of a job is done to the standard required. Hiring uncle Bob or your second cousin comes with less expectation over a seasoned professional who does this every week. The quality of work and the price will also reflect this.
2) Always request to see an entire set of photos for the day.Even better, ask to view at least three, full day wedding sets that have been recently edited and photographed. Photographers only show their best work to the public (which is understandable), so ask for ALL the photos, so you can see a true representation of a day’s worth of photos.
3) Read the terms of the contract.Find out in detail what you expect to receive, whether it is edited images in high resolution provided on DVD, or prints that you must pay for later. Keep also in mind that high resolution does NOT equate to a certain image size (eg = 12MP), so learn what the terms ‘resolution’, ‘dpi’, ‘MP’, ‘watermarking’ etc mean.
The contract should also detail any clauses for no-show, sickness, editing guidelines, use of photo and liabilities for both parties. If they don't have a contract, then you should move on.
4) Ask for the photographer’s back-up procedure and in-camera backup capability.A professional wedding photographer should have multiple backup options for files that are redundant in case of loss, theft, fire etc. They should always carry at least two bodies and multiple lenses in case of equipment failure on the day, even if it's not being used.
Also, and perhaps more important, a professional wedding photographer should use a camera that has dual-write in their camera to guard against flash card failure. Only the top end cameras have this function (Nikon D3 and Canon 1Ds series). Any lower camera models come with a small, but inherent risk of card failure which can easily be avoided with professional equipment.
5) Make sure your wedding photographer does this as a full time job.Even better, find out if they have a real brick and mortar studio that they operate their business from. It is a sign of inexperience, or perhaps a lack of work, that a photographer does this as a side job. It is so easy to miss that one photo on a wedding day that can never be photographed again, so a wedding photographer that has experience will know where to stand in anticipation of the day's events and what to expect, rather than fumble around and stand in the wrong position to miss the vital shot.
A set of photos will take anywhere up to 20 hours to edit, so weekdays should be consumed by editing photos, instead of working another 9-5 job.
It's also worthy to note that wedding photographers (portrait) are VERY different to studio, landscape, architectural, car, modeling and other forms of photography. Learning how to use a camera is the only common thing that is shared between photographers of different genre. A good wedding photographer should go beyond this and capture the moment, expressions and feelings in a photo, rather than a snapshot of the day. Wedding photography is arguably the most difficult of all as it requires fast paced thought with judicial use of available lighting to make what's best of the situation. Other photography genres are usually slow paced with lighting controlled and setup with a chance for a re-shoot if the photos don't turn out! There are no second chances in wedding photography.
6) Ask to view complete albums & books.It is important to see what a finished album/book looks like and what you expect to receive. Holding and feeling an album is worlds apart form looking at an image online. A professional wedding photographer should use colour corrected prints from a professional lab and display portfolio images as a print.
7) Meet your photographer.Meet your photographer to find out what he/she is like in person. If you’re not comfortable with your photographer, and their personality isn’t to your liking, then the photos will inevitably suffer on the day.
8) Make sure your wedding photographer's studio has more than one main photographer.Photographers can get sick or things can go wrong so it's always better if the studio has more than one main photographer that can fill in in-case this happens. It's already bad enough that the booked wedding photographer cannot make the wedding, but worse still would be that he/she can't find a suitable replacement that shoots in a similar style that was paid for.
9) Look for a photographer that has a varied portfolio and an on-going blog.This will give you an indication of their experience level and how much work they do. This is important as it's very easy to setup a few bridal shoots or just follow a fellow photographer to a wedding and build a portfolio that way. An in-depth portfolio with varied locations and many different brides will show the photographer has been doing this for a while and has experience in different location settings - that's why we have over 200 brides in our portfolio! Experience as a second photographer is no way equivalent in experience as the main photographer - don't ever let your friend's sister's cousin convince you that he's a seasoned professional after following another photographer to a wedding for a year.