Your EXCITED, ENGAGED and ON A MISSION to find that special wedding photographer that is going to help you and your spouse remember and relive the day you said, “I do.”. If this sounds a little like a match making idea then you’re right. Of all the vendors that you will choose to help you make your wedding day fantastic, your photographer will spend the entire day with you. Think about it, your baker will bring the cake and leave, your florist will hand everything over and leave, your wedding planner will check up on you from time-to-time while there but your photographer will always be there recording every moment. Once you realize this and search for “wedding photography” or “wedding photographer” in Google and you’ll find yourself staring at a list between 2 – 12 million results. You don’t have the time or the desire to even begin to click and search through all of them so here are ten questions to help you find your perfect wedding photographer.
1. You can’t know what you want until you know what you want.
Because there is uniqueness in your love and passion with each other your wedding portraits should reflect that uniqueness. As a result, you need to understand and be able to articulate the style of photography that will best fit for you. To do so you need to ask yourself two questions:
a. What types of movies do you and your fiancée like to watch and what types movies can you see yourself in? The movie(s) you choose will give you an idea as to the over all feeling of the photographs you most likely want to have. If you like family based movies then you are going to most likely want photographs that have an emphasis on friends and family. On the other hand, if you enjoy romantic, action or high drama movies, then you might be more interested in photographers who are able to produce dramatic photos that focus on you.
b. What magazines would you like to see yourself in? Every magazine has a customer base demographic. And this is not by accident. Do you like the photographs from Vogue, GQ, Modern Bride, or W? Look through magazines and find photographs that you would like to see yourself in and cut out those photographs for future reference.
2. Searching for photographer on the web
Because there are so many websites just using the best keywords to find what you are looking for can be a daunting task so here are some ideas to make it a little easier. Use words that are specific to you concerning the type of wedding photography that you are looking for. In addition you will want to search under the words of where you are getting married and/or where you would like to find your photographer. Here are some ideas:
- [city] wedding photography
- [city] wedding photographer(s)
- wedding photographer(s) in [city] [state]
- wedding photography in [city] [state]
These will give you a number of results to choose from. Each of these searches will give you a list of different photographers. You can also look at wedding advertising sites such as http://www.atlantanbrides.com and [http://www.modernluxury.com/brides/atlanta]
These sites will give you more than enough results to look through. Once you see a list, start to visit as many sites as you can but ONLY LOOK AT THE PHOTOS. Your goal is to find a photographer with photos that you can see yourself in and that you would be proud and excited to show your friends and family.
3. The Photographers’ Website
The website is the wedding photographers personal gallery of their best work. The purpose of visiting the website is to not only assess if you like the photographer’s style but also to get more aquatinted with the photographer too. Once you click on the website then take some time to visit the “about us” or “bio” section of the website. Get to know the photographer a little bit. Once you do this ask yourself if this were someone you would befriend. You may want to make a list of photographers to compare them. However, no matter how good or bad the photos are, if you do not think that you would befriend the photographer then that photographer should most likely not be considered. While perusing the galleries begin to write down some notes about what you like about the photos, if you can see yourself in those photos, and if you would refer others to the photographer. Don’t be shy about your comments; be honest as if you were looking at your own photos. If you are not impressed with the photos then quickly move on t o the next site. Never stay on a website any longer than you need to. **Remember to resist any temptation to look at prices or any unrelated categories like children portraiture and/or high school senior portraits while on the website. You are on a mission so always remind yourself to stay on task. Once you determined that you like the photos on the website then bookmark that website and move on to the next one. You, Your Best Friend, and Your Nemesis Should I really trust my “gut feeling” on such an important decision? I can only answer a resounding “YES.” Our “gut feeling” is typically comprised of knowledge, past experiences, and perception of future events based on your learned knowledge. Making a great decision is going to be a matter of research and personal experience. So take your time and learn and see as much as you can so that when the time comes to make this important decision you will be excited and extremely confident that you made this decision.
4 – LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Believe it or not, not every photographer can produce artistic portraits in any given venue. As a Bride, you need to be honest with yourself and with your photographer about your photographic expectations for that day. You must always remember that you are hiring a photographer for a specific reason, to capture individual moments from that day so that those memories will never be forgotten. A big component of your day will be the location and venue you choose for your celebration. You need to know the venue’s photographic expectations and restrictions. Here are some questions to ask your venue:
1) Does the venue allow flash photography?
2) Are there any insurance requirements?
2) Are there any time limits in any venue that the photographer should know? (You can ask the vendor this question and let the photographer know about this.)
3) Are there any places at the venue that cannot be photographed? You need to know your venue’s policies on photographs and where they can and cannot be taken.
4) Ask the venue if there is anything that the photographer needs to know that you haven’t asked. (phrase this as a question as you did with the others.)
5) What was the worst infringement of the venue’s photographic policies? (This will give you an idea of how serious they are about their policies and what is important to them.) Be sure to bring up these answers with the photographer during your meeting.
HOW DO YOU GET THE BEST PHOTOGRAPHER FOR YOU AND YOUR LOCATION?
Ask your vendor for personal recommendations and view the photographer’s website. Put those sites that are most in line with your style in the list of your other potential photographers.
When viewing websites ask yourself: –
- Does this photographer have that ability to adapt to his surroundings? (Are there a variety of photographs from a variety of locations?)
- Is the photographer creative enough to be able to take high quality portraits anywhere? (Is the photographer creative in posing?)
- Is the overall personality of the website something that you like? (Would you be confident to recommend a friend to the same website to get their advice and their recommendations on photographers)
Quality professional wedding photographers know how to use their surroundings as a backdrop for your romantic portraits. If you are going to have a candle light wedding then the photographer is going to have the equipment to correctly expose for that extremely low light setting. If you are getting married on the beach then your photographer will need the equipment and knowledge to ensure that the sun does not over power your beautiful dress and smile.
5 – Book Early, BOOK ASAP!!!!!
The key here is to make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your photographer. You never want to choose and settle on a photographer because of time or pressure from the photographer, friends, or family. Give yourself some time and space. This is really up to you. You need to feel comfortable and secure with your decision. Once you are comfortable and sure about the decision then sign the contract and be happy that that decision is out of the way.
6 – Calling or contacting your perspective Professional Photographer
Once you have a list of photographers then start calling! When you speak with your perspective photographer for the first time there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. Let the photographer know that you have seen their website and are impressed with what you have seen and you would like to ask a few questions that were not covered on the website. When you speak to a photographer you need to approach it as an interview. Remember, you are hiring a professional to do a job that cannot be repeated. There are no “do-overs” with wedding photos so try to get to know the photographer as well as possible.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
You should approach this call as an interview. It is really to find out what this photographer is about and decide if you would like to meet the photographer in person.
- When the photographer answers the phone how does he sound? Happy? Sad? Annoyed? Or glad to speak with you? Remember, you are calling the photographer’s business phone number. The photographer knows that you are calling for a business reason. [ There is no excuse for the photographer to answer any other than happy and glad to speak with you.]
- Ask open-ended questions such as: what do you like about weddings, How long have you photographed weddings, what got you started in photographing weddings.
- Ask any questions that you can think of about their personality and wedding photography career.
- Ask about date availability and the location of the wedding and reception.
- How long has the photographer been in business?
- What does the photographer like best about photographing weddings?
- Are you a full-time or part-time photographer? (The purpose of this question is still just to see who this person is.)
THINGS TO CONSIDER: When you make the appointment let the photographer know where you live and times you are able to meet. Also find out what location where the photographer is coming from then ask the photographer where would be a good place to meet in between. You want to listen to see if the photographer is flexible enough to go out of his/her way for you. If the photographer is not able to meet with you on the dates that you have given then the photographer should offer some suggestions that would help the both of you After the interview, if you are happy and your intuition says yes, then set up an appointment.
WORD OF CAUTION: Professional Photographers make their living on providing photographic services and not talking over the phone. The photographer may have a “strong urge” to have you meet them in person. This is not bad! What is bad is how they urge you to make an appointment. The photographer should converse with you and help you make the best photographic decision possible. Beware if the photographer is refusing (tone or verbal) to answer questions and wants to quickly set up an appointment. However, if the photographer is open with you and offers you advice and questions about what you want then the photographer has already decided that you are a good match for them and will want to set up an appointment with you. As always, if you feel comfortable then set up an appointment. Since there are more photographers than you could possibly meet in a year it is important to only set up appointments with 3-4 photographers. You may want to allocate four hours of time for each meeting. This takes into account travel there and back and speaking with the photographer. You can see then that if you are not careful you could end up making searching for a photographer your new full-time job.
7 – PACKAGES, COLLECTIONS, INVESTMENTS
So far we have spoken about the process of getting the best photographer for your wedding but have not even touched the topic of what you are going to actually get at the end of the day. Some photographers call the contents of what you get packages, collections, an investment, or a commission to supply you with your wedding day photographs. Surprisingly most photographers offer the same contents as other photographs. What is important is getting what you would like to have for the future and not what you think you need now. You want an album because of the story that you want to show to your relatives and your future grandchildren. Slide shows are nice because you can have music set to photos that will be heirlooms. Digital Negatives and Reprints: Some photographers will sell reprints directly to you. This means that you will only get prints of your wedding day (this is separate from your album) when you pay the photographer for them. These prices will vary depending on the size of the prints and how many you request. Other photographers will create a combination package in which you receive a CD/DVD composed of an unlimited or limited number of photos. You may be able to reprint these photos on your own or you may be only able to view them on a computer and email them with no option to make your own reprints. Albums: Albums, Albums, and more Albums! As the wedding industry grows, more and more companies are offering albums so it is important to see a model of the album you are choosing. It is important to see the album model because two photographers may use similar names for albums that in the end are not so similar.
Questions about the album you should ask:
1 – How many pages are in the album?
2 – What choices do I have about the album?
3 – On average how many photos will fit in the album? Some photographers will offer other products but the main thing that you want to consider is what you are looking for. Are you looking forward to having a plenty of prints to give away and a large album to show your friends and family or are you looking for something small like a day album? These are questions that you are going to have to consider thoughtfully. Whatever your choice is, make sure that there is clear communication between you and your photographer.
8 – CONTRACTS: Who needs them?!
A friend told me once that, ” contracts keeps friends friends and enemies from killing each other.” Because of the nature of the service you are requesting from the photographer it is incredibly important that you get everything that you agreed to in writing. Be sure that the type of album, numbers of pages, and the amount of time that you are requiring from you photographer is in writing. The reason that this is important is because if something were to go wrong then it can be held up in court. Contracts keep people a little more honest than if you didn’t have one. Personally, I go over everything in the contract before the contract is signed. This way, everyone understands what is going on and communication of what is expected is clear.
9 – PHOTOGRAPHER THE INTERVIEWER
The photographer should interview you just as much as you should be interviewing the photographer. As stated before, “not everyone is for everyone” applies here as well. The photographer should ask questions that identify your personality and the personality of your relationship with your fiancé. I always ask questions such as:
1 — When did the two of you meet?
2 – How long did you date before you were engaged?
3 – What is the most important detail in your wedding that you are most excited about?
4 – Is the venue you have chosen really important to you?
The photographer needs to ask questions that are going to tell a little bit about the couple and what’s important to them. If the photographer doesn’t know what is important to you then the photographer most likely will not photograph what is important to you. This most likely will result in you not being completely happy with your final product. In short, the photographer should have a good idea as to who the couple is and what is important to them.
10 – THE LAST QUESTION YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.
What’s your gut feeling? Remember decisions that you make cannot be based on what you thought was true or what you hoped will be true. The best answer you can make about the decision is based on the information that you have now. In short, consider your gut feeling, remember what you want out of the photographer and the style that the photographer produces, and have a great time choosing the photographer that will best photograph you.