By Shawna Schofield
Weddings can be a once in a life time event, and they certainly are one of the most special and important moments you will ever experience. You want to be able to look back on your photos years in the future fondly. Photos that not only capture the special moments, but do so in a beautiful and professionally captured way. Photographers can be a dime a dozen these days, and it’s important you do your research before booking one, so that you can get the best quality photographs for the price, in addition to good looking photos you can be proud of for years and years to come. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are shopping around for the best photographer for your wedding.

Navigating Photographers

  • Look at wedding photography online and see what styles suit you and your partner best. If you have a couple types that stand out to you, communicate this to your potential photographers and see if they have experience blending the styles. This will also help you pick potential artists, as finding one that specializes in the style you like best can help narrow the playing field.
  • Interview potential selections in person, and not just over the phone. Being one on one with a person can help you gauge if you’ll be able to work well with them, and if they are someone you feel comfortable around. Make sure that they listen to the vision you have, and are willing to work within the parameters for your chosen style. You want someone that you can openly communicate with, and who will give you beneficial feedback should any of your ideas need to be tweaked due to unavoidable limitations of venue, location, or things out of their control.
  • Ask to see an entire wedding album created by them, and not just the best of the best that they have selected. This can tell you a lot about their personal shooting style and if they are capable of catching emotional moments in good taste. You want pictures that show the happiness of the day; photos of you and your guests smiling and looking natural, not like deer caught in headlights. A photographer with more experience will be more adept at knowing how to capture these moments naturally, but it is still important to see the whole of their work. You may also want to ask specifically see any albums of weddings that have had similar venues to yours. This can be beneficial if you are hosting an outdoor wedding, or one that does not have controlled lighting. Ameuter photographers may not know how to effectively compensate for different lighting, which an lead to missed shots, or under/over exposed images that have no place in a wedding album.
  • Compare packages offered by different photographers, and keep in mind that most wedding photographers worth their titles won’t come cheap. See what deals and packages they offer, as well as how many albums you will need, how long you want them to be shooting for, and how many days they will be booked. All of these factors will influence the price, so be sure that you know what you want so that you can find a package that best suits your needs and your price range. Additionally, consider if you want to add engagement photos, or any photos with special effects as those will also influence the overall price.
  • Ask about what right you have in regards to the photos taken. While you may think you own the rights to any photos of you that are taken, many photographers stipulate that they own the rights to the photos. This means that they can use them in promotional material, advertisements, and on their websites. It also means that you can’t go a head a post the proofs that are sent to you, and want photographers will provide watermarked images that you can use instead.  If you want to print out any images from another source that isn’t the photographer, you will more then likely have to buy the rights to the photos. You may think this sounds unreasonable, but this type of branding is often the only way wedding photographers can get advertised. If the customer automatically owned the rights they can do whatever they want with the photos and no longer have need of the photographer. This means they can lose out on not just money, but due credit, while the photos they worked hard to take are passed around, edited, or printed without them every getting credit for their work.
  • Don’t expect to get your photos back in a couple days. Photographers shoot in RAW format, which means individual files are exponentially larger than a typical jpg formatted image. The benefit of this is that the images are more easy to edit without degrading any aspect of the original image, meaning the final result is much better, and a higher resolution than standard compressed image files. However, this means that it takes longer to upload the images, and depending on how many that is, it can be quite a while, and that isn’t including any edits that need to be made. For a standard wedding with a medium guest list, a photographer can spend upwards of 40 hours after the shooting just conducting touchups and color corrections. In addition to any other wedding photos they have to finish ahead of yours and you can be looking at anywhere from six to eight weeks of waiting before you are sent any proof images. Keep in mind that this is a good thing, and that the quality will likely be much better than images received over a couple days. You want to know that your photographer is doing a quality job and not just turning out straight from the camera shots. You should ask how many photos you should expect back, their estimated resolution, and if special effects need to be specified, or will they be added out of ones you choose from the proofs.
  • Preparation the day of. If you have a photographer who has shown that their work is high quality, you more than likely won’t have to stress about putting together a full shooting list for them to go off of. Sometimes it’s best to let the photographer do what is produces the best shots in their experience, with only a few suggestions of must haves that you know for certain you don’t have to have missed. You can also give them a heads up as to any relations that you’d like to get pictures of, you that they should avoid. Sometimes family members or members of the wedding party don’t get along, so a warning that the photographer shouldn’t try and get a photo of them together is good information to have. Also any medical issues that may prevent a guest from standing for portraits can be good to share with them as well. This way they will have an idea of what you want, and what they should be looking out for, but they still maintain the free will to be creative with some of their shots.

Keep In Mind

Wedding photographers often times don’t come cheap, and if they do it may be because they are new to the field. This doesn’t mean you should automatically flee from them in favor of someone more experience however! A portfolio or previously done wedding album can say a lot about an artists style, and ability to photograph effectively. Always ask to see more than the upfront provided examples of previous wedding photos, even from experienced photographers. You want to know that your vision will be met by their style and shooting methods.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for photographers either. Interview multiple candidates and talk about what you want with each of them. Gauge how well you get  along, and how well they take to, and interpret your vision.  You may instantly hit it off, or you may find that the fourth time is the charm! With so many photographers around you are almost guaranteed to find someone who suits your needs.