Planning your wedding is complicated enough without having to hand pick each of your vendors. It is important though that you know each of the vendors that you are sharing your day with. One bad vendor can turn a phenomenal day into something less than you had hoped for. This is especially true for your wedding photographer.
Excellent wedding photography requires competent photographers who are well prepared and equipped for the day.
A lot of novice photographers get their start in the wedding scene and it isn't always a great showing. The day of your wedding your photographer has to be part diplomat, part entertainment and 100% in tune with what is happening.
When choosing your photographer look for the following things:
Do you like your photographer? While this would seem like a no brainer we have talked with too many brides,grooms and family members that have had bad experiences. It is critical that you meet with your photographer in person (be sure to ask to meet with the photographer for your wedding day if there are more than one photographer). This person is going to be spending a lot of time with you and you need to like their appearance and their personality. The only reason we add appearance is because if the photographer in question doesn't look professional then maybe they aren't and you need to start asking a lot more questions starting with how many weddings they have shot.
The photographer should also be willing to see your wedding from your viewpoint. While the photographer is critical to producing the artwork and end products, they need to understand what it is you ultimately want. You should be prepared to ask for certain shots that are important to you during your day. A good photographer will be willing to listen to your input and willing to help you capture your vision.
Do you like the photography style? Each photographer develops their own style over time. It is more than likely the reason you contact one photographer over another. Make sure you that you get to see a good sampling of the photographers work. Like any business we always put our best foot forward when we market to our customers. With that in mind most photographers only show their very best work on their websites. To get a better feel for the photographers style ask to see proofs from other weddings they have shot.
Do you understand what you are buying? Comparing one photographer to another is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. Each photographer typically offers a range of wedding packages including everything from hours of coverage to specific products. When you are price shopping you need to make sure of what you are actually purchasing because one photographer may quote a price of $2000 for your wedding but that is only for their time while another may quote $2400 for both their time and an album. It is important to make sure you are comparing like things between photographers.
Another area to be cautious of is package credit. It is not uncommon for photographers to price attractively to draw you in. Package credit is typically included to do this. While package credit is not in itself bad it can be problematic when you realize after the wedding that you need to spend more to get what you want. Be sure you understand what is included for the price you are paying so that you are not caught by surprise after your wedding.
Photographers that offer CD's of their work as the final product should also be scrutinized. Why don't they offer prints, albums and other traditional photography products. Often times it is because they don't have the expertise or are not professional. If you are looking to have a proof book of your images, parent albums and a storybook album of your day this type of photographer does not typically provide that. You are then left to do the work of the photographer and create the products yourself. We don't believe that our brides and grooms should have to be their own graphic designers. You should also consider that many of the high quality products associated with wedding can only be purchased through photography vendors that require a sales tax number. You simply will not be able to purchase these products on your own.
Does the photographer sign a contract? Contracts are an important tool for both the photographer and the couple getting married. Photographers don't just shoot one wedding a year and it can become difficult to remember what was promised to one bride versus another. That is where the contract comes in. The contract should state clearly what you are purchasing from your photographer and be signed by both you and the photographer. Each of you should have a copy in case of any difference in understanding. If your photographer doesn't use a contract you should strongly urge them to put in writing what you are purchasing. If they are not willing to do this for you, you should look for another photographer.
My Uncle has a "Good Camera". While it might be attractive to use a friend or family member to shoot your wedding for free or cheap it is usually a bad idea. They do not typically have the experience or equipment to do the job right. Besides your family and friends should be enjoying the day with you and not trying to be part of the day. Unfortunately it is also our friends and family who are the first to cut corners when things get difficult because they know you won't mind.
Why are you so expensive? Professional photographers are commonly faced with the question why are we so expensive. There are many things to consider when we photograph someones wedding day. The first and foremost is we only get one shot to do it right. there are no second chances when it comes to a wedding. The second critical component is that competent photographers have backup equipment and the right equipment for the job. We can tell dozens of stories about having camera's and other equipment malfunction during a wedding day. As professionals we pull out the backup and keep on going on. None of our brides are ever aware that we had a problem. Other often overlooked expenses for professionals are continuing education, insurance, organizational fees and equipment repair and replacement. Good photographers understand that these expenses are all part of doing business the right way. They also want to be paid for their time so they can continue to provide their art to interested customers. This all combined and more factors into the cost of professional photography.
In the end go with your gut feeling. Your wedding day is a key milestone in your life and you should be able to go back and remember the day with love and emotion, not that your photographer sucked.