When you’re thinking about wedding photography, consider this: nothing else from your wedding day –except your new spouse, of course – is going to stick around. The cake and meal are gone by the time the DJ plays his last song. Your wedding dress may fade and get stored in your attic, perhaps to be brought out when your daughter gets married. But your wedding photos are going to last — in five, 10, 25, 50 years, you’re going to look back at your wedding photos to remember your day.
This is all a long way of saying, choose your photographer carefully. Here are some tips.
Finding a Photographer
Before you start interviewing potential photographers, think about what kind of photographs you’d like produced from your wedding. Do you want lots of formal, posed shots with a few candids from significant events at the reception? Do you want lots of candids from the whole day with a few traditional shots thrown in? Do you want your photographs to tell the story of your wedding day (a style often called photojournalistic), with little or no traditional, posed shots? One of the best ways to answer these questions is to look at your friends’ wedding albums and wedding photographs online.
Once you know what your style is, start looking for a photographer who specializes in that style. Unlike most other vendors, you’re likely to look at a photographer’s work before having a conversation with someone. If you liked a friend’s wedding album, get her photographer’s contact info. Get references from friends and family and your other vendors, and then check out the online portfolios of those photographers. Talk with photographers at bridal shows and spend time browsing their work.
Make sure you’re comfortable with whoever you choose – this person is going to be trailing you all day, taking pictures at every turn. He or she might even be around while you’re getting dressed and preparing for the big day. It’s important to have a rapport with your photographer – it will make better pictures.
Questions to Ask
Here are some questions to ask when you meet with prospective photographers:
- How many years of experience do you have? How long have you been photographing weddings?
- Do you specialize in weddings?
- What style do you shoot in: traditional, photojournalistic, etc.?
- Are you a full- or part-time photographer?
- Do you work alone?
- Ask to see previous weddings – preferably complete weddings so you can get an idea of the photographer’s style and the types of pictures he or she looks for.
- What types of packages do you offer? What do those packages include?
- How many hours of coverage are included in your packages?
- What is the cost for additional photos?
- Who owns the rights to my pictures? Can I use them where and when I want? If the photographer retains the rights, ask about buying them.
- How many pictures do you typically take at a wedding?
- Are there additional fees, such as travel costs?
- Do you shoot with film or digital?
- Are engagement photos included?
- Is an album included in the package? Can you get the package without the album (just the prints), if desired?
- Can you put together parents’ albums? What is the cost?
- Do you come to the rehearsal dinner?
- Have you worked at my location(s) before?
- How do you dress when you work a wedding?
- How long until you get the proofs? How long after make your selections until you get the prints or album?
- Can you order additional prints in the future?
- Ask for references, and then call those people.
Working with Your Photographer
Once you’ve hired a photographer, your work’s not done. Talk with your photographer about the pictures you’d like taken, both posed and candid, and provide him or her with a written list. On the day of your wedding, make sure your photographer knows who all the important players are: the attendants, children in the wedding, both sets of parents, grandparents, etc. If you’re not able to make the introductions (or just point them out) yourself, ask a friend or relative to do it for you. This will help the photographer know who the important people in your day are so he or she can make sure he gets their pictures in posed or candid shots.