Congrats to all you brides-to-be out there! I am sure a lot of you just got engaged on Valentine’s Day! Planning your big day is one of the most exciting times of your life! It can be filled with joy, love, and endless hours of searches on Pinterest. It can also be a little daunting! I mean most of us are not pro-event planners, and you want the best of everything for the least amount of money right. There are a ton of decisions to make such as venue, catering, DJ, cake, and that is just the start. There are many resources out there to help with all the planning but I feel there is a lack of information on how to choose the right photographer. I hope I can shed some light on this subject and help you choose the right person to capture every moment of your big day.
I really think there are 4 main things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer. I will touch on each one and give you a brief explanation of what I mean in terminology that everyone can understand!
The first thing you should consider is the photographers experience. A wedding photographer should be able to show you some of their previous work, by this I don’t mean a few snapshots. They should be able to show you an entire wedding album that they have done. While you are looking at these photos you should be thinking about how the photos make you feel and if they capture what you are looking for. Some people only want formal shots, others only want candid shots, but most brides want a combination of those two things. Do the photos make you smile, make you feel like you were there? If so you can move onto the next step, if not just move on to a different photographer. In most cases you can do this part by looking at a website or Facebook Page, but not all photographers post their work on these mediums so you may have to talk to and meet them to review their work.
The second thing you should do is ask a photographer for references. Maybe their photos are amazing, but you also want to know what they were like to work with. Were they friendly to everyone, did they listen to you as the customer, did they deliver when they said they would? I have heard stories of people having to wait more than six months for their wedding photos or worse yet, never even getting them. In this digital age of photography there should be no reason the bride and groom can’t view their UNEDITED photos in a private gallery within 2 weeks of the wedding date. I also think the photographer should be able to have a few edited images in that time frame to provide a sneak peek for the wedding party/guests as they too are excited to see the photos. After the bride and groom have chosen their photos they want edited I would say it should take no longer than 4 weeks (at most) to get their photos back complete.
The third thing you should consider is the photographer’s equipment. This is a little more difficult for the average person to understand as there is so much technical stuff to consider. Basically what I would ask or want to know is do you have back up equipment? By this I mean how many cameras do you bring, how many lenses do you bring, do you have lighting, back up batteries? I would recommend not choosing a photographer that only has one camera, what if it is not operating correctly on your big day??? Another thing you can ask about their camera(s) is do they shoot with a full frame or crop frame camera. If they don’t know the answer to this question they are probably shooting cropped. What this means to you as a bride is they will have trouble taking the large group photos. They will need to be far back and it may be hard to see faces/details in your final images. What you want, as a bride, is for them to say full framed. This type of camera captures more with being closer. On a side note if they are using a full frame camera you know they are the real deal and not just a hobbyist as these cameras have a starting price tag of $2000. As far as lenses go there are hundreds of options and each photographer has their favorites but if you want to get technical some good choices would be the nifty-50. Basically it is an amazing choice for 1-2 people in the image and the detail shots such as the rings and the flowers. They should also have another large zoom lens. Everyone debates what is best for this use and honestly the photographer needs to use what they feel will make the best shots but if they say something along the lines of a 70-200 or anything similar to that it will get the job done. This allows for the big group shots as well as close intimate shots during the ceremony when the photographer can’t be up close and personal!
The final thing to consider is pricing/packages. Now there is a huge debate about this topic and I could talk about it forever! Let’s talk packages first. What do you get vs what you want? You have to determine if you want to make your prints yourself or if you want the photographer to do this for you. Usually photographers offer 1 of 3 options. The first is when the photographer owns the images and anytime you want to order photos you have to ask them to do it for you and pay for those prints. The second is when the photographer will give you a right to reprint. The photographer still owns the images but they are allowing you to print the images where you want, when you want, how you want. Some photographers also offer a copyright release. This topic is much debated and there is so much confusion about who actually owns the photos that I am not going to get into it here. Most people these days want to be able to make their own prints if this is the case you need to make sure you will be allowed the right to re-print. After you determine how you will get your images you need to decide if they offer a package to capture what you want at a price you feel comfortable paying. Some photographers feel the need to charge $3000 plus for weddings. I am not saying they are not worth the investment and if you have an endless supply of money by all means, go for it! What I am saying is don’t go into more debt than you need to for your wedding. Yes you want to capture this day for the rest of your life but you also want to live the rest of your life without paying for those photos. There are some who feel the photos aren’t that important and that is fine! If all your looking for is a family friend to shoot some pics that you’re going to put in an album to look at now and then this is a great option for you. As a general rule of thumb price shouldn’t matter as long as you can afford it and the photographer fits your needs! If they are experienced, have good references/equipment, and offer a package that meets your needs pay what you feel comfortable paying! Whether this be $500 or $5000!