How to Hire a Photographer
We had a great time at the Reno Bridal and Beauty Expo last week. It is always nice to see the vendors and meet all the new brides. One question we heard most frequently was "What should we look for in a Photographer?
This is an important question, one that's difficult to answer quickly, so here is the extended version.
When you are planning your wedding the photographer is the only vendor you hire for after the wedding. Think about it. The dress is for your wedding, so are the flowers, cake, food, reception hall and entertainment. The photographer is there, sure. But the product you are buying is for after the wedding. Your wedding photographs are there to remind you and your spouse of all the details and people that made your day special decades later.
Hiring a photographer can be intimidating. You know how you want to dress, what food and music you enjoy, but what kind of photographer do you want? Photographers have different styles and personalities, but if you are unaccustomed to carefully looking at photography they might all start to blend together. So here is your guide to hiring the best photographer you can.
1. Decides what you want the pictures for. Do you want a wedding album? Prints to hang on your wall or canvases to give away? Do you want to put them on your social media and never look at them again or do you want a calendar to hang at work? Knowing what you want to do with the photographs after your wedding will help you choose a photographer that best fits in your price range.
2. Search the internet and ask friends for recommendations. Also ask people if they had any negative experiences with photographers. Some photographers are more aggressive than others. When viewing a photographer's website, look for images that you love, and more importantly that you would hang on your wall. Check Yelp and Google Reviews for more information and ask your social circles. If everything checks out, then...
3. Contact the photographer. Before setting up a consultation verify the photographer is in your price range. If they are not, it is okay to ask if they are willing to work in your price range. If the photographer declines then move on to another. If the price checks out the next step is to ask if they still have your date and set an appointment to meet in person. Beware a photographer who refuses to give you any sort of price range over the phone. However, don't expect them to give you an exact estimate of cost until you meet face to face and discuss all the details.
4. The photographer should bring you some printed images, either books, prints or wall art to show you. Photographers should show you a few sample weddings from beginning to start. This is important as it gives you an idea of their storytelling ability. Photographers need to not just be able to take a few amazing shots during your evening, they need to capture your day.
5. Listen to what the photographer has to say and ask questions. Ask about gear, photo backups. photographer backups, deposits, payment options and make sure you are clear about what is and is not included in your package. Some photographers charge a flat rate to shoot and then require a print purchase which may or may not include the digital images. Contracts should be an easy to read language and be clear on what is and is not included.
6. You should feel at ease around your photographer. You should feel comfortable around him/her/them. You are paying this person to follow you around the entire day. If you don't feel at ease with them then you should look at other photographers. If you are uncomfortable during your wedding it will show in all your images.
When to be wary:
1. People who are not professionals. Weddings are not novice level events to shoot. It might seem easy, but it takes lots of work and knowledge to capture a wedding. Professional wedding photographers have technical mastery of their craft and also coordinate with other vendors, be an advocate for the couple, blend into the background and also take charge during group shots. Have a friend who is dying to shoot your wedding? Ask your professional if they mind having a second shooter around.
2. Having a family member shoot your wedding. I have turned down requests from friends to shoot their wedding because I wanted to be a celebrant at the wedding and not work. It is impossible to do both well. Weddings are social events and the last thing you want your photographer to do is become lost in conversation catching up with all the other guests.
3. Price. You will only have one wedding. Having nothing but cell phone snapshots and selfies from your wedding will not a wedding album make. What to do if you just can't afford the full package price? Hire a professional for just the ceremony and formals. The ceremony is the most important part of your day, and often the most difficult lighting wise. Hiring a professional for the ceremony lets you have the best images of the moment you say, "I do" and have your first kiss as spouses.
4. Anyone who doesn't require you to sign a contract. A contract is there to protect the photographer and you. If the photographer doesn't have a contract and model release forms then do not hire them.
Editing: Reputable photographers will never release unedited images. The reason being, just taking the image is only half the work. Even in the film days photographers would develop the film and then the paper in ways to increase and decrease contrast as well as dodge and burn parts of the images to get the perfect final print. Photographers who release unedited images don't care about their work or your wedding. They care about getting paid.
I hope that helps give you some thing to think about when choosing a photographer for your wedding.
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