5 Top tips when choosing a wedding photographer
John Salkowsky, owner of Silver Fox wedding photography has given us his top 5 tips to choosing the perfect wedding photographer.
You’re engaged! It’s awesome, it’s wonderful, it’s fun…and it’s a LOT of work! Why? Because now you’ve got to plan your wedding! And among the most
important things you need to do for the big day is to hire a wedding photographer.
It should be one of the first things you do, because the best professional
photographers book their schedules a year or two in advance. If you want
outstanding pictures (and who doesn’t?!?), start searching for your photographer
right after you book your catering hall. A wedding photographer’s peak season is
April-November. For bride’s in this season, it’s never too soon to book your
photographer. For those in an “off peak” time of year, 6-12 months is a good
timeline to secure your favorite photographer. So HOW do you choose?
1: Ask family, friends, your cater and other vendors
Good wedding photographers have a reputation of success, and therefore are relatively well known. They should be the easiest to find. Stat your search by asking for recommendations form friends and family who have held weddings prior to your event. Ask if they liked the photographer. Look at their wedding album. Your friends and family will your best interests at heart and you should get the most honest opinions. Additionally, other professionals involved in your wedding day will likely have worked with photographers in the past. Ask for recommendations from your catering hall, florist, DJ/band or limousine driver. If another vendor, such as your caterer, is willing to stake their reputation on recommending someone, odds are high that this photographer is very good.
2: Go check them out!
If you have a list of photographers from which to choose, check out their websites to begin eliminating candidates from your list. Also, give a call and see how friendly they are, if they will discuss pricing over the phone (the good ones will) and see how accommodating they are with their hours.
Upon your visit, what do you think of their offices? Are they located in a well-kept building or storefront? What is your first impression of the space visually? How are you greeted? Are you offered a refreshment? Is the place clean and orderly? All of this speaks to the small details…and if a company takes care of the small details, chances are very good they handle the bigger details in a similar fashion.
3: How are the photos AND video?
Think about the style that you want your photos to express. Do you and your fiance like traditional posing and a more “classic” look? Or do you prefer more light-hearted, playful and candid photos? There is no wrong answer! It’s what YOU like best that matters! Is there a nice selection of albums? Are they able to show you photos from the venue that you have chosen for your event? Do they handle all work in-house? Examine the basics of the pictures-such as color, clarity, exposure, and composition. Do you LOVE the photos?!? Can you see yourself in these photos?
Next, did they show you a sample video? How was the video? Do they edit their
videos in-house? Are you given the unedited footage? How much input do you have?
Do they offer high definition? Although you are not required to use the same
company for video, it will certainly give you piece of mind and ensure that your
photographer has worked with your videographer. It will also save you in research
time and may reduce overall cost.
4: How do you like the people?
The photographer is the one vendor that you spend the ENTIRE day with and is around after the wedding. So you REALLY need to be sure you like them! Gauge their professionalism. Did they answer all your questions while asking you about your day? If the person you are sitting with is not shooting your event, will you have a chance to meet the photographer who is? (a MUST!) By meeting, you will have a chance to speak with them “one on one” to discuss the details of your day plus their experience, style and vision for your event. Choosing a “studio” over a sole proprietor has it’s advantages: they will have a wider selection of photographers to choose from; they very often have a crew “on call” for back-up; they carry insurance and workman’s comp; plus…caterers and other vendors typically prefer studios for their reputation and professionalism, which can extend beyond what a single individual can offer. So although a single photographer working out of their home may provide nice pictures and good service, a studio offers the security, resources and consistency to ensure that your wedding goes off smoothly.
A word about “newbies”… While not all amateur photographers are created equal, the best way to ensure you receive a quality wedding album is to hire a seasoned professional with a solid background from which to draw. Surely an amateur can shoot some nice photos, but a wedding requires far more than knowledge of a camera. Remember, wedding photography is much different than any other type of photography. The photographer must be a ringleader, therapist, babysitter, travel guide, camp counselor and more! So choosing a true professional is a must. Don’t skimp or choose a “friend of a friend” who recently got into wedding photography. Finally, find out if the photographer has shot at your wedding venue before. If they have, they may know of places to get good shots or ways to capture moments the best.
5: Price, Price & Price!
While you want to make sure you love your photos, get along with the photographer and feel safe and secure in the studio you’ve chosen…you also need one more thing to work: THE PRICE! Budget is as important as any part of the equation when choosing a photographer. So here are a few important things to note: You DO get what you pay for! Some photographers cut corners to give you a “cheaper” price. What corners? How about no insurance…or albums that are made overseas (and fall apart)…or printing done at CVS…or photographers who have shot 3 weddings before your’s (but are cheap to hire)…or even worse: they don’t deliver what they promise, and you wind up in small claims court. You DON’T have to book the big, giant package! You should be able to include what you want…and at the time you want it. Salespeople will try to sell you packages that offer you the “best deal” when in reality, it’s a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Go through the prices and choose only what you need. You can always come back after the wedding to add additional items. Not everyone wants to pay for an album they have yet to receive. So get your pricing ahead of time. Now, packages sometimes do offer a good value, but only if it’s with items/services that you need. Ask lots of questions and make sure you get the answers you want. Remember, YOU are the one paying here!
The FINE PRINT. Make sure you read over the legal details of exactly what you will get before signing the contract. Do you own the rights to your images? Can you print them on your own? Are all the images edited at no additional cost? Will your photos be hosted online? If you add something later on, will you pay the same price as the day of signing? Will it include full coverage of the day? The answer to ALL of the above should be YES! And make sure you find this out and more. Also, make sure that your payment schedule is easily understood and find out what forms of payment are acceptable. If a company accepts credit cards (which most should) they cannot limit how/when you can use your card for payments. Credit cards also offer another layer of protection as they allow for you to dispute a charge if the photographer does not deliver. In closing, no question is a bad question!
For more information on Silver Fox and all the wedding photographers we are affiliated with across America please visit our Affiliates page.