Right? You just got engaged, the world is spinning, life is good, you booked the most amazing venue – and then you do a search for the perfect photographer, and your jaw hits the floor. Who do you pick?
After you have your date and venue – time to hit up the vendors, including your photographer.
First – look at their work!!! Straight up – they are posting what they believe is their BEST work. Is this what you want? If all their images are outside and you are having an indoor wedding – might wanna think twice. Look at the lights, the shadows, look at the composition of the photos, are the photos of the back of people’s heads at the reception? Is everything wide angle or really tight? Do YOU like their work? There is no wrong or right – photography is an art, it’s subjective. What you hate, someone else will love.
Second, price and availability. Check the posted price or email and ask the photographers that you know you like, if they are available for that date. I only book one wedding a day. Some photographers book multiple weddings in a day, so if you have a time for the wedding – ask them about that as well. Ask them about their packages and their prices. Straight talk, if you are having a small two hour back yard wedding, you probably don’t want to spend $6k on the photographer.
Third, after you make a list of photographers that you want to talk to…TALK to them! Meet up and talk face to face. At least on the phone… Texting back and forth or emailing tells you nothing about the person. When I meet with brides, I tell them tips and secrets that make the day go smoother. I am relaxed the day of the wedding and that helps others to relax. I’m a problem solver and odds are, with 30 years of wedding experience, I can help out if something goes amiss. I tell my brides this when I meet with them over coffee. My personality comes through face to face, fortunately, my photography skill far exceeds my typing ability.
When you do meet… have a list of questions for them.
- How long have they been photographing weddings? (Anything under 2 years and you are looking at someone pretty new to the business. Doesn’t mean they are bad, but they probably won’t be a go to guy if there is a problem.)
- How many weddings have they photographed?( For me, LOTS!)
- What was their favorite wedding and why? (Mine? Probably one of my Bahama weddings, because I love free trips to the Bahamas. J )
- Do they shoot on their own or do they have a second shooter? (There is nothing wrong with having a second shooter/intern (it’s a huge fad right now). However, if the photographer can’t cover the wedding on their own…move on. There have been three instances, in the last 30 years, where I actually needed a second shooter – The first was a wedding in a cave where there was no room to move around, so I could not get different angles. The second was on a boat – same reason, I could not move around. The third wedding was the opposite – a huge cathedral in Washington DC, it was like a maze and I simply didn’t have time to get to other spots.)
- Their equipment? (Honestly, all cameras do the same thing – some do it a lil better than others. They open and close a shutter at a certain speed. The glass up front is definitely the most important. Pro level lenses work much better in low light, such as inside a church where a flash might not be allowed.)
- BACK UP equipment? (Oh yeah, this is a huge one. I don’t care who you are – life happens. If the photographer doesn’t have a back-up camera body, lens, and flash…move on. I carry two bags, one is my primary, the other is my back up – and they carry the same equipment in each.)
Other questions you can ask…
Turn around time to get your images? (personally, I usually take a couple of days, NOT weeks)
Insurance? (The only reason this realy applies to a wedding couple is the fact that some venues require photography insurance)
Release for the images? (If you want to reproduce your photos digitally, make an album, or print them on a mug, you will need a release from the photographer. Otherwise, you will have to constantly go back to the photographer anytime you want to print one of your wedding photos.)
Are the images fully edited and color corrected? (If your wedding takes place in a building using incandescent or fluorescent light, it can really throw off the color of your images. Some photographers set their cameras to balance for the lighting, some will edit the color of the images in post. Other editing can include cropping, adding a vignette, and touch up work on parts of the image.)
Are the images you receive print or digital? (Depending on what you want – this could be important.)
Travel fee? How much and how far…
Deposit? Due date for the balance?
Refund or cancellation policy?
What is included in the photo package?(Some people simply don’t ask this…make sure you do)
Most importantly, the meeting is simply to find out if you connect!!! Does the meeting go well? Do you feel good about the photographer, did they make you smile, did they make you feel positive and confident that they can do the job in the way you want?