Information on what to look for in a Wedding Photographer
Wow, I have to admit if I were getting married today I would be overwhelmed by the choices and the expense that goes into a wedding. So being able to sort through the options and knowing the difference in photographers would be one of the most helpful areas on what to look for.
So why did I write this article?
With over 21 years experience and over 800 weddings I have personally been involved in, I have seen and heard a lot about weddings and photographers. I wrote this article partly because I have heard many times from the couples that book us how their aunt, sister, cousin, friend, mother ... (and the list goes on) had a bad experience with their photographer for one reason or another. Some of the things we have heard were the photographer was rude, they lost the photos, the photos were dark and blurry, the photographer made the bride cry, the couple didn't receive the photos they thought they would get (based on the photographer's portfolio)... There is no option to re-do the wedding so getting it right the first time is important to avoid ill feelings in the future. You want to be able to look back upon your wedding and feel good.
I want to first mention that this is not to slam other photographers but to point out what we have heard and how it can be avoided by finding a photographer that is right for you on one of the most important days of your life.
1. Find a person you like. I know this sounds funny and should be a given but how do you know a person by just looking at a website or reviewing prices?
You can get a feel for what they do but YOU SHOULD MEET POTENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS IN PERSON! I can’t stress this enough. So many things come out when you are sitting in front of someone. Does this person know their stuff, can they communicate well, what is their philosophy and passion? Can this photographer do what I am looking for?
2. See an entire wedding and preferably one shot at your venue(s). While it is great to look at a photographers best work it is more important to see a full wedding. Why you may ask, well they may be able to create something cool but do they know how to see and find the light so you don't have harsh shadows across your face. Do the people in the photos look natural and comfortable - if you don’t feel comfortable your photos will reflect it.
3. Do not hire a photographer based on the effect they use to process their photos. Popular now is Vintage and a few years ago there was the touch of color (everything black and white and the red flowers in color). These effects will change over the years so basing your selecting on an effect will go out of style in a couple of years. Most photographers will be able to apply effects but few are able to create solid well exposed photographs.
4. Understand the different types of photographers, not only in style but in the studio itself. There are artisans, individual photographers and there are studios with a litany of shooters.
What's the difference?
With the artisans you are getting the photographer you typically met with and the style of images that attracted you to them. The studios with several shooters is typically one that is in it as a business and taking profits. Providing photographers to shoot any number of weddings on a given day. It is more of a numbers game and based on profits - like any big business regardless of the size of the studio. Often times these options will be less expensive and offer "bundled services" such as a DJ, lighting, photobooth, or videography will make it seem so budget conscious. Most of the photographers that shoot for studios make $500 a wedding. How many people would actually hire a $500 photographer?
Budgets are important but don't forget this is one of the most important days in your life and one that you will most likely spend the most on, regardless of photography. Also many of these studios will tell the couple they are matching the couples desires to the photographer when in actuality the studio is trying to fulfill its docket of weddings that day and reach out asking who is available to photograph it.
Anytime you have a specialist they are typically more expensive than a studio that has many shooters.
5. You should hire someone for what they can do for you and not someone that provides a too good to be true package. As the saying goes if it seems to good to be true it probably is. I often have people ask what my price is. That is so wide open - based on what you are looking for, on what you want, your timing and your take away from your event. It’s like calling a wedding gown shop and saying what is your price for a gown without respect to the style, the fit, what makes you happy. There are so many ways to shoot a wedding and each photographer is a unique individual. So trying to sort out who this person is and what they can do for you summed up into a price is for a lack of better terms ludicrous. Which comes full circle to MEET THE PHOTOGRAPHER IN PERSON.
6. The tools. I have met many photographers and each believes they have what is takes to be the next greatest photographer. I have had people say I bought a real professional camera and now I am a professional. While many cameras today can take a decent photo, can they persevere the rigors of professional photography? A Canon Rebel T7I is not one of those cameras as much as that people believe shelling out $699 makes it professional and a 50mm lens, it's not. It is true it can take nice photos but when you have to count on to get the shot will it crap out on rigorous use? You have to have the tool that will get the job done. Yes I bring 5 or so cameras during the day. Why because I know each, with that particular lens will be able to get the photos I am looking for for that specific situation - not to mention provide back up in the event 1 might have an issue (and I have never owned a rebel). In additional and probably one of the most important does the photographer know how to light with the tools they have. Meaning finding natural light that is proper, using speed lights to get the natural look when needed, and possibly even using strobes for the group photos. Don’t forget in the end, it is about hiring a person that knows how to get the photos you are looking for.
Good Luck and if you need assistance do not hesitate to email or text me.