Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

January 19, 2013

Congratulations on getting engaged!  Or maybe not yet engaged but looking for your future photographer.  I am often asked about my services in a seemingly formulaic way, brides to be often ask about the important things in the following order: price, style, availability, amenities and personality.  I would encourage you as a bride, or groom, to be to look for the important things in a different order.  I mean, obviously, I would love for you to choose us, but most of all you should have great photos, so let's talk about it.

First things first, STYLE - 
                Before you meet with a photographer, and you do need to meet with them, even if it is via Skype, do your homework.  Take a look at their style.  Now picture your wedding day going exactly as you had planned, do the photos you looked at match how you'd like to remember your day?  If not, I wouldn't count on that changing.  Every photographer evolves and adapts to each situation but each photographer also has their own aesthetic that they have worked hard to hone and develop.
              Also, remember there are a lot of trends that happen in wedding photography.  Ask yourself if the vintage hues, tilt-shift focus, heavy-grained look is something you love and will love forever or if it's maybe just you this season.  There is nothing wrong with the trends, but remember you don't get a do-over on those pictures.  If their style matches what you hope then that's excellent, move forward to meet.

               Obviously asking if your photographer is available on the date of your wedding is a no-brainer, but checking style first saves you the hassle of asking 20 photographers if they are available on your date and finding out none of them match your style.  When you confirm availability, either by email or in person, ask about a deposit to guarantee your spot.  Which brings us to our next subject -

Third - PRICING - 
               Money is always a concern when working with a wedding budget and we photographers know that you have to be cautious with every penny. Because of that, price is often the first thing on your mind and the first reason you might dismiss the right photographer.  Before the sticker shock scares you away, sit down and talk with the photographer.  Many of us have packages that are customizable and change based on time spent, one versus two shooters, amenities offered and the like.  We are people, many of whom own our own businesses and because of that little bonus, we can negotiate our own prices without running it by corporate first.  Truth be told, sometimes, if your wedding sounds like work we want to do, we might cut you a deal.  Being an artist means you ache for beauty and if I had a choice between my full fee and a boring day or cutting a deal for a DIY dream, I choose the art over the cost every time.
             That being said, remember your photos are an investment.  You walk away from your wedding day with your spouse and your photos, you should love both.  (Please love your spouse more than your photos)

               I cannot stress this enough, you need to like your photographer as a person!  You are not going to be a studio model with a diva behind the camera shouting at people and calling you "dahling."  This is a person who will be interacting with your family, friends and very closely with you for an entire day.  If their photos are perfect and the price is right on but spending an hour at coffee with them leaves you feeling like rocking yourself to sleep in a corner, walk away.
               In that same light, don't be shy about your personality.  Don't adapt to your photographer's vibe to seem "cool" or "laid back" when really you love lists and time tables and spreadsheets or vice versa.  Be honest about how you handle stress, because there will be stress, and honestly ask yourself if that photographer strikes you as someone who would add stress or take away from it in those situations.

             If the one thing you want more than anything in your photos is a beautiful, leather-bound, lay-flat, 30-page album and that isn't included in the package, don't worry, most of the time we can do that.  Ask about the things that come with the service you're paying for and then ask about the extras.  Also don't shirk the value of a print credit.  Most photographers aren't giving you prints from Costco nor would they truly want you to take your digital files there.  They want you to have art that lasts and quality that reflects them as an artists, and frankly Costco or Target might be great for deals on chicken or bulk mac & cheese, but not necessarily fine art.

I think no matter what the most important thing you can do is ask.  Don't forget your photographer is a real person who understands life has its ups and downs and turn-arounds. We can only hope to truly be one of your ups.

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