Wedding photography is much more than having a nice camera or taking a lot of snap shots at a live event. Much more goes into it than that. The goal of this article is to prevent you from hiring the wrong photographer, or worse yet, your cousin or Uncle Fred.
We have had many sorrowful brides come to us after their wedding day saying they wished they had hired a professional. They may have hired someone with a newly designed facebook photography page (someone without a website), that had just received a camera and wanted a summer job. They may have had a cousin, friend or uncle do it for free. At any rate, after their wedding day is over, they have a lot of blurry, dark, poorly composed pictures and no clear portraits of their precious Grandmother who just passed away, no loving shots of their spouse, and nothing that captures the romance of the day.
This article will help you ask the right questions and get the right answers when you have gone to your initial consultation with your prospective photographer or are researching someone to hire:
1. Does he have strong reviews from past clients?
Look on his website. There should be a page just of reviews of past clients. Or maybe he has photographed one of your friend’s weddings, and you can talk with her. Also websites like Yelp or The Knot can be great places to receive a review.
2. How many years has he been a creative and technical wedding photographer? What is his level of expertise?
Not only should a professional wedding photographer be creative and artistic, but he should be well versed in the technical side of the trade. He will be able to describe to you how he can capture you in your venue to the best of his ability. If the venue is darkly lit with high ceilings (a challenge to any photographer), he will be able to describe in detail the plan of operation for your wedding. Chances are, if he has been in business for a length of time, he will have already photographed a wedding at your venue and can show you pictures. It is quite a treat to find a photographer that is technically savvy and creative at the same time. His past work will show both of these aspects.
3. As you meet him, what is his personality like? Is he charismatic and personable while being professional?
Not only is a photographer’s technical and creative skills important, but is he someone with interpersonal skills as well? He will be around you and your family your whole wedding day. You will not want someone who will be demanding, micromanaging your day, lag behind because he is unexperienced at the pace a wedding must take, or not be enjoyable to be around. After all, it will be the expressions in your portraits which make you adore them. If you’re annoyed, that will show through.
4. Do you like their style of wedding photography?
If he is a professional, he will have loads of wedding portraits to show you. He will have a slideshow to view in his studio, a professional website which features his work, look for his work on Pinterest boards, instagram, and hanging on the walls of his studio. He will have wedding albums on display for you to view. He can also show you whole weddings from start to finish. Make sure not only does he take beautiful couple’s shots that capture the romance of the day, but can also take group shots and individual portraits of your family that are beautifully lit and well composed. It is valuable to take the time to research your photographer’s work. After all, you will only be married once. These portraits are timeless.
5. Who are his assistants and do they have wedding experience?
The beauty of purchasing a wedding photographers package of two photographer coverage is that you see a primary storyline portrayed surrounded by smaller side stories. In essence, by having two photographer coverage you will be receiving more candid shots (action shots) and more variety. You will receive multiple side stories surrounding the moment. You will receive many different angles to the same event. There will be more creative eyes to each moment.
6. Will the same photographer whose work is displayed on his website be the same photographer that photographs my wedding?
Sadly to say, there are new photographers wanting to start a business that hire their friends to photograph the weddings they have booked. If you hire one of these photography “coops”, you may receive a skilled photographer on your day, or you may get one of his friends who has never photographed a wedding in his life. If that happens, you may be very disappointed to see dark, poorly composed, ruined images. Often these photograph “coops” will also include a DJ, catering or a venue with the photography as an added bonus. You may be very disappointed by the type of photography service you receive in the end.
7. Quality over Quantity.
When seeking a professional photographer to photograph your wedding day, it is best not to get caught up in how many images you will receive or the number of products. Rather stay focused on the actual quality or the artfulness of the work he will provide. You can purchase an album later if you decide you want more. If you’re on a budget, this might help you stay within your plans. Also look to have a Friday or weekday wedding, if you are on a budget. Photographers and venues often offer a cheaper price for weddings that are not on Saturday.
Each photographer has their own style. Chances are, if he is a professional who loves to please his clients, he will be more than happy to incorporate your style into his style. He will be flexible. Look at Pinterest boards to decide what you like. Show your style to him during your consultation. He will love getting ideas from you.
8. What is his overall experience?
Once you’ve decided that you love his personality, his style of photography, ask him how many weddings he has photographed? Is he is a professional wedding photographer, he will be able to show you whole weddings he has photographed. Best case scenario, he will have already photographed another bride at your venue and can show you a whole wedding from that location. Here is a list of how to estimate the experience of a photographer:
- 1-5 weddings – inexperienced
- 6-10 weddings – amateur (could qualify as an assistant photographer)
- 10-20 weddings – experienced amateur (a little better)
- 21-30 weddings – experienced
- 31 + weddings – professional wedding photographer