How Do I Choose My Wedding Photographer?

img_1581I love photography, especially wedding photography. The detail shots, the fun bridal party shots, the gown shots, the ring shots, I love it all. There are so many different photography styles out there and there’s not many that I can say that I dislike. Everyone is different though, so be sure you go into the hiring process asking the right questions. Here are some to get you started:

Do you specialize in weddings? There’s a big difference between a “wedding photographer” and a “photographer who shoots weddings”. Make sure you hire someone who knows the flow of a wedding, how to handle large groups for portrait sessions, and who will be on his or her toes when it comes time for the first kiss, bouquet toss, or other moments that cannot get a “do-over”.
Do we receive an album with our package? Wedding albums have come a long way since your parent’s album. With digital photography, albums can be beautifully customized, flush-mounted and personalized. If you want an album, be sure to find out if one is included in the cost you are paying.
Is there a time limit for coverage on the day of the wedding? This is extremely important, especially if you want your photographer to capture those “getting ready” moments. If there is a time limit, be sure to schedule the times so that special moments at the reception can be captured. Some may take place towards the end of the evening. If you know your photographer is only scheduled until 9:00pm, be sure to do any special dances, cake cutting, and other significant events before then.
Do I get all of the images on a high resolution DVD with rights to them? In today’s day and age, this seems to be the norm, but there are still some photographers who do not want you to take their photos and have them printed at a discount store. Either way, make sure you understand what is offered and that it is in writing.

How many weddings have you photographed? Everyone has to start somewhere, so I’m not knocking newbie wedding photographers. However, if you have very high expectations for your wedding photographer, you may want to be sure you’ve hired someone with quite a bit of experience. While he or she may take beautiful scenery photos, weddings are a whole different ballgame.
Do you shoot candid/photojournalistic/posed? Each style can be beautiful when done the correct way, so just make sure your style meshes with the photographers and that you are clear about what you want.
Will my photos be available for online viewing? Again, with digital photography being what it is today, this is the norm with most photographers. There is usually a password that you will be assigned and you can share the link to your gallery with family and friends.
How long after the wedding will my photos be ready? Wedding photographers work many hours beyond the big day, editing away. Be patient, as you are not their only client. However, a guaranteed timeframe is usually written in the contract. If it is getting well beyond that time, you have the right to ask, but at least get through the end of that before you start badgering them. Many will also post “sneak peeks” on Facebook and Instagram very soon after the wedding.
Will YOU be my photographer on the big day? Oftentimes with larger companies, you may meet with one photographer, love his or her work, then be assigned another photographer on your wedding day. Make sure that it is clearly stated in your contract who will be shooting your wedding to avoid disappointment or even worse, lawsuits.
Will you have an assistant or a second shooter? Depending on your venue and what you want captured, some photographers offer a second shooter or assistant photographer for an additional cost. Be clear about what you want so they can plan accordingly, and then make sure what you discussed is in the contract.
Do you have a backup in case of illness, injury, etc.? Every professional in the wedding industry should have a backup plan, weather it be a close connection with other professionals or someone within their company. Don’t be afraid to ask this question. It’s important, and things happen.

Lastly, I will leave you with this. Make sure your wedding photographer is someone you can have fun with! This person is going to be with you for the majority of the biggest day of your life. If you can’t stand this person, you are not going to be happy.   ab_partytime-130