If you are in the process of looking for a wedding photographer, there are some things you should be thinking about and although some of these are obvious, there are also the less obvious, except perhaps to another wedding photographer.
Photographic style. First off and above all other considerations you need to like the photographer’s images. A wedding is possibly the single most important occasion for anybody and it is images of this occasion you are going live with. Potentially having one or more of your favourite images from the day framed on display somewhere. So you need to like their work. Ask to see a portfolio past images, if you’ve not already. As each photographer has a certain style about them. If you don’t like their images from the start then you’re off on the wrong foot.
Photographer’s personality. Strange as it may seem, but liking the photographer is not just a big bonus it could potentially could affect the atmosphere of the wedding! After all, we are there for all or at least part of the day. If you can, see if you can pick up from anybody who’s used the photographer before what they are like to work with or from any testimonials (you might have to read between the lines and think what was not said rather than just what was said). This issue of behaviour is perhaps a bit contentious among photographers as some believe that getting brilliant images is all important, but this can mean they ignore other people like the vicar/minister/officiary! Others like myself prefer to be low key and in the background as much as possible. We only get a little more bossy, when it comes to posing individuals for the group and couple shots :-)
Not how much! However, the issue of money for many (most?) cannot be avoided, but it should not be a first priority. To reflect the opinions of other’s such as Julia Boggio writing as a guest post on Kat William’s Rock n Roll Bride, it’s better to invest more money into the photographer for images you’ll like as you’ll be living with the results for a long time to come. After all, do you buy clothes or a picture you do not like just because they are cheaper?
What is the package? You’ve probably noticed that each photographer prices themselves in a different way. Generally the cost of a photographer reflects what they are offering, whether they are treating this as a business and their experience. So what might sound like a good deal is at the end of the day not so great, either because of hidden costs or they just don’t provide some thing you want either now or later down the line.
Albums: Album quality can vary greatly from the type you can buy in a shop and stick your own images into, to the professional albums, which are in a totally different league of their own and offer a number of advantages over shop bought, not just in quality.
If the photographer offers any albums ask to see a sample of one or several. Do you like the actual album build and way it is made? Most professional albums are digital which means each whole page/spread is a composite photo of one or more photos. If it is a digital album, things you can look out for and decide whether you want include:
- Are images printed on photographic paper rather than plain book type paper.
- Do the individual pages lay flat?
- What are the size and cover options?
- Are parent and/or guest albums offered? (smaller copies of the original album).
- Do you have any say into what pictures you want in the album?
- Do you like the actual album design the layout of the pages?
- Has the photographer done the design work themselves? Designing the content of albums takes time and a different set of skills, so some photographers farm out the design to others. Personally, I prefer to keep creative control over the album design so do all my own designs.
Digital Images: Can the photographer offer digital images either for printing out yourself for sharing by the internet? On the professional photography discussion forums this often raises a lot of differing opinions. However, you might find that even if they don’t offer the full resolution digital images, they might be able to provide a lower resolution image suitable for sharing via the internet.
By the way if you are just thinking of getting the images as a digital copy, that’s all well and good, but how are you going to show the images? I often hear from other photographers and have myself designed albums for clients who had their weddings several years ago, but down the line realised they should have had an album done at the time. Browsing images on a computer screen is not the same as seeing the images printed. The only problem here is that if you leave it till later, it is unlikely to be the original photographer and there will be additional cost for doing the design work (and you are likely to be talking days, not hours) as well as the cost of the album (these are not cheap).
Second photographer: The advantages of a second photographer is that more than one angle can be covered during the day or act as an assistant for certain shots, and to a certain extent they are also a backup (second person and at least a second camera). However, a second photographer will add to the cost.
Engagement Photos: Some photographers (I’m one of them) offer engagement photos as part of a wedding package. An opportunity you should take advantage of as it give you an opportunity to work with the photographer and get a feel for
What is the photographers back up plan? Okay this is very much the photographer’s problem, but if they don’t have one then it could be potentially disastrous. This includes simple things such as a second camera with them on the day.
Does the photographer provide a contract? This is something of mutual benefit to you and the photographer as it should have clauses that protect you should something happen. For instance what happens if the photographer falls ill? or there is a loss of images?
Something I’ve not mentioned? or do you have any other questions? Just comment or email me :-)