How Do I Find The Right Wedding Photographer?
Last year I wrote a few articles on the subject of weddings and wedding photography and this is one I’d like to share again in case you missed it. I think it has some great little bits of information and it’s written by a real wedding photojournalist – me! 🙂
Finding a wedding photographer can be a daunting task given the sheer number of photographers in large Texas Cities like Dallas, Austin & San Antonio; A search of the Austin, Texas Yellow Pages yields over 393 professional photographers alone! And let’s not forget the “weekend warrior” photographer, who operates off of the photography grid and whose numbers can only be estimated. So how does a bride find the right photographer in a sea of wedding vendors? Here are some suggestions:
1. Referral = 1st hand experience. If you know someone who got married recently then make this your first lead. Check out the photographer’s website or portfolio and talk to bride/groom who hired them. If you like a particular photographer’s work and he/she gets a favorable review, make an appointment to meet with them. If you like a photographers work that you’ve found elsewhere, don’t be afraid to ask for references.
2. Pick a photographer based on his/her style. If you like his/her photos from past weddings, then you’ll probably like the photos they capture at your wedding! Find out what is the photographer’s primary style? Traditional posed shots? Candid or artistic? Photojournalistic? Other? Then decide which style you like best.
3. Try not to meet with too many photographers. Ideally you will want to select less than 5 wedding photographers in your area whose style you like and who are in your price range (don’t be afraid to ask this question when telephoning). Meeting with too many photographers will get confusing and will likely be counterproductive to your search.
4. Do you like the photographer you met with? This is the person that will be following you around for hours photographing you, your fiance’ and family/friends on your big day. Be sure it’s someone that you feel at ease with; otherwise your uneasiness will show up in the photos.
5. Ask to see images from an entire wedding (start to finish). Just about anyone can put together a slideshow of good pictures they have taken over the years. But a professional wedding photographer can capture great photos from every segment of a single wedding – bride dressing beforehand, ring exchange, kiss, formals, 1st dance, bouquet toss, etc.
6. Request a wedding day photo schedule. One element (possibly the most important) of wedding photography that is frequently overlooked is the Wedding Day Photo Schedule, which details when shooting begins/ends (i.e., number of coverage hours), who will be photographed during formal photos and provides a specific time line for each wedding event that will be photographed. If the photographer doesn’t provide one, then request it – it will be invaluable.
7. Is there a limit to the number of photos captured? Find out how many photos the photographer estimates will be captured on wedding day and how many photos will be provided after image selection/editing. Most photographers who use digital cameras can give you an estimate based on the number of hours of coverage provided at the wedding.
8. Do you get a CD with full-sized images? Many photographers are reluctant to provide you images from your wedding on CD, even though you may pay them handsomely for covering the event. Ask about getting the images on CD and if this costs extra.
9. Inquire about back-up cameras and equipment. Does the photographer you are meeting with have back up equipment in the case that his/her equipment malfunctions or fails? Professionals will frequently have on hand 2-3 cameras, numerous lenses, and at least 2 of everything else. Wedding photographers always have to be prepared for the unexpected!
10. Beware of inexpensive photographers. The old saying “you get what you pay for” is applicable when it comes to wedding photography. If someone posting on Craig’s List offers to shoot your wedding for $250, it’s probably b/c they are new to photography. If your wedding budget doesn’t allow you to hire a professional and you think that photographs from wedding day aren’t that important, then hiring an amateur may be OK. However, if images from the big day are important to you, then don’t skimp on photography; hire an experienced professional. You’ll be glad you did.
|Martin Whitton is a professional wedding photojournalist who lives and works in Austin, Texas.
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