Before becoming a wedding photographer, I really had no idea how to find the right photographer for my wife and I, and I was totally clueless about what I was really looking for when I met her the first time.
Ever since I became a wedding photographer, I had the opportunity to be on the other side of the table explaining myself to the brides-to-be. I’ve been asked countless questions, and a lot of them came from the cheat sheets you can find on the Internet just like this – Questions to Ask a Wedding Photographer or How to interview a Wedding Photographer. At least read one of those before you continue thou! They’ll give you a good idea how the process works and prepare you well!
But then again, the problem is when I start going into length, I usually get this… “ohh… ok….” puzzled looks from the clients. So instead of compiling yet another list of questions for you to print out and ask during the photographer’s interview, I’m going to share a few tips with you and hopefully help you better prepare yourself to find the right photographer for your wedding.
- Ask your friends who were recently married – Yes, isn’t that obvious? ;-) Your best friend who was married recently, why not check with her and see what she thinks of the experience? Was the photographer and crew friendly and helpful? Has the whole experience been enjoyable? How long did it take her to receive the pictures, etc. That is in fact your best bet to find out firsthand if that’s a good candidate to be considered. In this case, facebook is your friend!
- The Photographer’s Speciality – This is one of the most important and yet confusing aspect in wedding photography. A lot of professional amateurs and photographers with other specialities try to do some occasional weddings, and you’ll probably get to save a few bucks hiring someone with minimal experience. In my humble opinion, I would prefer someone who concentrates on wedding photography and does it well. Wedding photographers, or Wedding Photojournalists spend a lot of time dealing with constant changes in lighting, moving subjects and events that unfold over a whole day. We rely on our experience and instinct to predict precious moments and prepare our shots before they happen. We also have to create pretty images on the fly as we continue to document the day, and that’s something rather unique. So make sure you identify the photographer’s speciality and come to your decision wisely.
- Do your homework – Once you have narrowed down to a brief list of candidates, make sure you do your homework and check their websites and blogs for their recent work. Compare your wedding plans and their portfolio and see if you can make a connection. Check the style of the photographer on your own instead of asking it at the interview! Does the photographer do a good job capturing the essence of the day? Does the artistic approach of the photographer connect to me? Is my own style more natural, or is it more edgy? Do I prefer the more traditional approach or do I prefer the modern fun and natural style?
- The cost – Let’s face it, weddings aren’t cheap. But in fact wedding photography is actually not as overpriced as most consider consider the amount of work a dedicated wedding photographer puts into each project from planning to execution on the engagement photo shoot and wedding day coverage, to all the untold hours they put into post processing, design the albums and preparing everything to print, to all the small details and effort they put in to make your wedding pictures memorable.
But then again, it doesn’t always have to cost an arm or a leg! Set aside a budget and see what you can get from the short list of photographers of what you can get, weigh the pros and cons and most importantly… (continue next section)
- What to look for at the interview – This is it. All that hard work searching for the right person and now you meet the photographer face to face. You prepared a long list of questions you googled up and you keep going down the list but you don’t really know what to look for…
The short answer to the question is – chemistry. Your wedding photographer is the guy who will be working with you throughout your wedding day. You’ll be coordinating your timeline with him/her, and you’ll continue to be in touch with even after the wedding to get your prints and albums. Make sure your photographer has a personality that clicks with the both of you!
Also, make sure your photographer is reputable, trustworthy, and last but not least you want somebody who is reachable! You’ll find horror stories of photographers who disappear after the wedding that give the rest of us bad names. Those who are reputable and promptly answer your emails and calls are most likely a better choice.
- The Album – First and foremost, ask yourself – do you want one. On the plus side: It is a precious book that will last a lifetime, something that you’ll treasure and pass on to your kids and grandchildren. The minus – obviously the cost. The high end flush mount albums can easily cost $1,000 or more from the well known printers – WHCC, Kiss, Forbeyon, Azuka, just to name a few. Ask your photographer where he prints his/her album, and you may want to think twice on the ones printed overseas! I personally print all my albums through Forbeyon because I just love their attentiveness to all the small details and their beautiful craftsmanship that I can trust.
Weigh the pros and cons, and compare the books from different photographers/studios and educate yourself and make the most sensible choice. There are countless ways to customize your wedding album out there – such as size, shape, cover materials, cameo, slip covers, coating, paper, etc. Familiarize yourself with some of those and if in doubt, ask your photographer at the interview to show you the details of the albums they include in the package!
and last but not least…
- Making the choice – This is very important, and please read carefully!
No 2 photographers are alike, and chances are – you will be comparing apples to oranges. Do not, and I repeat, do not choose a wedding photographer solely based on the price they charge or you’ll be sorry! I have heard countless stories of people try to save and end up hiring an amateur because they’re cutting corners and only ending up full of regrets!
Don’t give up because you see that price list and think none of the packages your photographer includes in the list doesn’t look right to you, and don’t just let go if you find that right photographer and it just almost fit into your budget! If you’re on a tight budget, you can always try to work with your photographer and see if you can skip on some of the optional items. Remember, your wedding only happens once, and you can never go back and have it re-captured; some items like canvas prints or your wedding album, however, can be ordered at a later date.
That’s it folks! Feel free to let me know what I’m missing, and I’ll be more than happy to tweak this guide to hopefully help some brides-to-be down the road!
I wish you all Happy Holidays and I hope you’ll all enjoy your wedding pictures! =)