Choosing a Wedding Photographer
By Tom Harmon
Owner, Tom Harmon Photography
So you just got engaged and started the planning of your big day. Great, now where do you start? Of course you need to choose your venue, cake, flowers, and on and on. But one of those most important decisions you need to make is which photographer you are going to hire to document your wedding. You will be sharing your wedding images with your friends and family for the rest of your life, so you need to make certain that those images are exactly what you want and need. There are several areas to consider when choosing your photographer, so let’s take a look at a few.
When you start planning your wedding, immediately start looking at several of your local wedding photographers. Look at their websites and their portfolios. Look at the style they represent in their images. Photographers use a variety of cameras, lenses, and lights to create the effects that make up their style. Is their style photojournalistic? traditional? contemporary?
The images should show the emotion and beauty of your wedding, not just snap shots that any Uncle Bob could take. The photographer’s style is the most important aspect when choosing because you will have these images forever, and they can’t be taken again.
The second most important aspect of choosing a photographer is his/her personality. You absolutely have to like your photographer, because you are going to spend your entire wedding day with them. A good photographer can not only just photograph your wedding, but provide direction and guidance so that he makes sure he gets the most beautiful shots. He/she will not be intrusive but still be confident to keep the action moving along. The photographer should be able to hang out with you and your whole family the entire day. If you’re not comfortable with your photographer, it will show in your images.
Once you think you have found the photographer that represents your style the most, ask to meet face to face. This is the best way to get a feeling about the personality of the photographer.
So you have a family friend that has a basic digital camera that takes some nice snap shots of your kids and pets, and this person in willing to photograph your wedding for $200? Great. But what if this person’s camera breaks? Do they have a back-up? What if someone trips over their tripod? Do they have business insurance?
The photographer you choose should have an established business and be able to show you several weddings in their portfolio. Photographers have certain aspects of their business in place to ensure that you, the client, are protected. If something goes wrong, they usually will do everything in their power to fix it.
This is where the presence of a contract comes into play. A wedding contract is very important because it not only protects the photographer, but it protects you from faulty business practices. A good photographer will also require a deposit when the contract is signed to ensure your day is completely booked.
Some photographers offer packages, while others will offer their products a la carte. When choosing your photographer, be sure to get a complete price list so you can see exactly what you are buying. Does the photographer offer all day coverage or just a certain amount of hours? Do you want the images on a DVD so you can make you own prints, or do you want to see actual proofs before you order? Are custom designed albums offered? There are an endless amount of options and you need to decide what products you want and which ones you can live without.
The last thing you want to do is go budget shopping for a photographer. Wedding photography is definitely one type of business that uses the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Photographers spend thousands of hours learning and honing their art, just like any specialized service. Therefore, a good quality photographer is not going to come cheap. Some have said that photography services should involve up to 30-40% of the wedding budget. Flowers will wilt and cakes will go bad, so you need to decide if you really need the best and most expensive decorations. Do you really need those chair covers you ordered? If you are willing to sacrifice some of the small things that eat away at wedding budgets, you may just be able to hire that perfect photographer.
With that said, many photographers offer price levels for their products and service to ensure they can accommodate the wide variety of wedding budgets. If you have a found the perfect photographer but he/she may be out of your price range, ask them if they can adjust their packages to make it work for you. Some will and some won’t, but it’s worth a try.
While there may be many more aspects you might want to consider when choosing a wedding photographer, these few points will get you on the right track. The right photographer should be able to document your wedding and make you look like a million bucks. Choose wisely, because you won’t be able to get those moments back. And have fun planning your wedding day!