Jun 072011
 
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Most folks who have planned a wedding will tell you that one of the most important aspects of planning their wedding was selecting their photographer.  Obviously you want someone who is going to capture all moments of your wedding and reception, both big and small.  Someone who has an eye for the little details, who will fade into the background and snap great pictures without you tripping over them, who can calmly guide your friends and family into posing without causing sighs or tears.
Engagement Photo by Damie Ann Photography
Here are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself when choosing the best photographer for you:
  1. What kind of photography do you prefer?  Whether you like the thought of mostly classic, posed shots or you prefer more candid photos, or even a combination of both, you want to know what you’re looking for so you can find someone that’s a good match.
  2. How long do you want them for?  You may just want them for the service and then a few pictures before or after of the bridal party.  You may want them for pre- and post-photos, and the ceremony plus the reception.  Or your may want someone that will capture all the moments from the first day forward and have them take your engagement photos, bridal shower, wedding, reception and everything in between.
  3. How many pictures do you want?  Some photographers may just try and capture the key moments or posed pictures, and others will basically hold the trigger down and take 1000s of shots.  Decide how many images you want to be able to pick from so you can articulate that with the photographer.
  4. Do you get along?  That may seem like a strange question, but you want to have a good rapport with them so that you feel comfortable asking for what you want.  They may be the professional, but this is your day!
  5. What is your comfort level with “the technical stuff”?  If you’re going to need someone to do more than hand the image disk over to you, consider that when you’re interviewing.  You may want someone who will also crop, color, do corrections, make prints, and create albums.
Engagement Photo by Damie Ann Photography
 After you’ve decided what you want, here are some tips for signing someone that fits the bill:
  1. Start early.  Many of the best photographers have booked their schedules years in advance, so once you know your date(s), you’ll want to get on their calendar.
  2. Ask for recommendations.  Check with family, friends, aquaintences, colleagues – anyone whose opinion you trust that’s recently used a professional.  Be sure to refer back to your list of questions, though, because being the top pick of someone else doesn’t automatically make them them right for you.  It’s a good place to start, though.
  3. Check their work.  Ask to see their portfolio, look at their website and ask for references.  When perusing the photos keep your own wedding in mind.  For example if you are having an outdoor wedding but their indoor pictures are stronger than their outdoor one, you might want to keep searching.
  4. Conduct interviews.  Hold a phone interview with your list of favorites to further narrow it down.  Use the list of the above questions and ask them of the photographer to see if you really do match up.  Some additional questions you may want to ask:
    • Do you have backup equipment, and is it the same quality?
    • When will my proofs be ready?
    • Do you mark your proofs?  If so, is there an extra charge to receive unmarked proofs?
    • Have you worked at my particular location before?
    • Do we get to keep our negatives?
  5. Meet them.  Once your list is narrowed down to the top two or three finalists go and meet them in person.  You’ll get a better feel for their personality, can check out their equipment and may see more recent examples of their work in their studio.  You’ll also get a sense of their professionalism; is their studio well-kept or are notes and appointments scattered around?  You want your photographer to be organized.
  6. Sign a contract.  Negotiate the price (everything is negotiable, no matter what the “list” price is), solidify the details, specify the photographer (this is important; some larger studios may just send whomever is available that day and not the person you’ve met and worked with), double-check the date, include the engagement, shower and any other parties if applicable and then get it all in writing.  This isn’t class pictures that can be redone fairly easily; this is your wedding, so it’s a one-shot deal.
There are so many things to consider!  Hopefully these questions and tips will help make it go a little more smoothly for you.

If you’re in the northern Maine area you may want to consider one of the Goin’ to the Chapel event sponsors, Damie Ann Photography, for any of your photography needs.  The engagement photos above are her work.  And if you’re not in the area but are looking for someone to do editing work on existing photos (black & white, coloring effects, corrections, adding text, etc.) she also offers that service.
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About Liza

Liza is a mom (5-year-old daughter, 20-year-old stepson, and 24-year-old stepdaughter) and wife living in Louisville. She loves spending time with her family, visiting the local zoo and parks, as well as planning travel adventures. Cooking and baking, DIY projects and crafts, and coffee - lots and lots of coffee - round out some of her other hobbies.

  One Response to “Goin’ to the Chapel event – Week 1: Choosing a photographer”

  1. My feedback is that you shouldn't skimp on the photographer but the most expensive doesn't mean they are the best either.

    We had a good friend who was an amazing photographer take pictures on our wedding day. He knew us well, so he really captured the moment. He has since passed away, making the photos that much more meaningful.

    If you don't know your photographer well, schedule a casual session before the wedding so they can get to know you. It's well worth it and you will feel more comfortable with them on your wedding day!

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