How To Find A Wedding Photographer
Now I know what you must be thinking: “Why is a wedding photographer giving advice on how to find a wedding photographer?” Some of you are probably cynical thinking it is some sort of trap. I assure you it is not. Most newly engaged couples set forth on their journey of planning their wedding with absolutely no idea on the cost of any vendor. They have a budget in their head which may or may not be realistic. It may however, be all they have to work with. If that is the case then they need to prioritize what is most important to them in the overall scope of the wedding day. Now I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, I’m going to say that photography should be a top priority in your wedding day. Here is why:
*You will never go back and re-create those memories. You need a skilled professional to capture those memories for you.
*They are part of your family history. Think about looking at your grandparent’s wedding pictures and how your children will feel looking at your wedding photos. Why would you want to cut back on that?
*Your photos are the only thing you take away from your wedding besides your new spouse and your memories. You may visit your venue again on special occasions like your anniversary, you might see your DJ at another friend’s wedding, your flowers will only stay as pristine in the photos you have of them, and you will only remember how yummy your cake was. Your photos will be art pieces on your wall and in a gorgeous album to share with your love and your family.
Wedding Day Photography
So, how do you pick a photographer for your wedding day knowing they play such a significant role on your special day? You have your own unique style and so does every photographer. From the time you became engaged you have probably visited many wedding sites and picked up numerous wedding magazines. All those gorgeous and fun photographs you’ve seen from those awesome photographers take a lot of knowledge of photography and time to prepare for by good communication between the photographer and the client. When you see things that appeal to you start searching local photographers that match your style as well. If it is within your budget you can hire someone from out of state and bring them in to your wedding. When you have narrowed down your search via the photographer’s online portfolios and from recommendations from friends, other professionals, or family then set up a face to face meeting to view their other products, the services they offer and their personalities.
Here is where you will determine who really speaks to you. You must work with your photographer longer than any other vendor. You will most likely work with them before your wedding for an engagement shoot and long after for designing your wedding album. You must have an easy flow with them and feel comfortable with their personality. Try to get to know them and how they would handle a variety of situations such as bad weather, a ring bearer who is having a bad day, or a crying mom of the bride. You really want a photographer who is willing to listen to your ideas and work with you.
Professional Wedding Photos
Equipment, CD’s ( digital files) , and Budget OH MY!
These are often the questions that stop many brides and grooms from booking the photographer they want or going with another because they feel they are getting a better deal. What many couple’s don’t understand is all CD'(digital files) and equipment are not the same and that is why photographer’s prices vary so greatly. You honestly can go on Craigslist and look up wedding or portrait photographers and get a “wedding photographer” with a CD of images for $500.00. You might all be running to Craigslist right now! HALT! Let me first give the disclaimers and what you need to ask ALL “photographers” NOTE: The technology is changing rapidly and many photographers are going to USB drives. This is because newer computers and tablets don’t support CD/DVD drives. Again ASK what media your digital files will be put on. Just like the floppy disc, the CD/DVD for computers will be a thing of the past.
The CD or DVD or USB Drive of images: I have been asked and seen many couples who want the full rights to the digital files. No one is going to give you the full rights to the digital files of images and if they do then they have written their license incorrectly and would be breaking the law if they used the images of you on their website, postcards, etc. Let me explain. Any person who takes a photo automatically owns the copyright to that photo. When we as professional photographers grant the right to our clients to print copies or share those photos on social networks we are granting them “permission for personal use.” If we handed over the copyright then we could never use those photos for our own use on our websites, demonstration albums, etc. You could also sell them to say the florist for their promotional use. That is not what we are doing when we give a license for personal use. Clarify with your photographer when you speak to them.
Do you know the difference between JPEG, RAW, TIFF? What are you getting on that CD/USB drive? I have heard stories of photographers giving the disc at the wedding of RAW images. Shot as is. If you don’t have the programs to open and edit the files then you can’t print those RAW images. You’ll have to pay someone probably more then you paid that photographer to edit those images. IF you get JPEG’s are they watermarked? Are they high resolution? How many PPI’s ?(Pixels Per Inch) If you are only getting a web resolution disc you will not be able to make prints from it.
So you are getting high resolution, non-watermarked, JPEG’s. Are they edited at all? ASK! They might not do any editing. They might do basic editing but, major edits are an extra charge or they may just edit the album prints. These are all questions to ask. Speaking of albums, make sure the albums you look at are the albums you get with your package.
Equipment. Now a days you can pick up a really good camera for a relatively low price. (all in relative terms ) Back in the day you had to spend up to $10,000 for a good camera kit. It is not the same these days. However, picking up a good camera does not mean you know how to use it. But, more importantly then the camera are the lenses. The kit lenses that come with these digital SLR’s are not suitable for wedding or portrait photography. They don’t have the capability to shoot in low light and they don’t have the speed, sharpness, or the bokah that clients love about professional portraits. Professional lenses are expensive. You will not pick one up for $200.00 they are more like $2,000.oo Your $500.00 Craigslist photographer is not shooting with a $2,500 70-200 L Series Lens.
Most of you will not know what to ask except what kind of camera do you use? How many megapixels? Canon and Nikon have a rivalry but, are both wonderful cameras. Let me teach you a new term and question to ask: “What is the maximum APERTURE or F-stop that your lenses go to?” If they answer anywhere from 1.4 to 2.8 then you are good! They have fast lenses that can open wide to let light in darkly lit places and can also create those artistic photographs that many people love. If they say 5.6 is the best they have then run. It just won’t cut it in dark churches or reception halls even with flash. In fact flash will make the photos look over lit and flat.
Budget: That is the do all end all or is it? People might start off saying they have a $5,000.00 budget for everything. The first place they start is the venue or the dress and they immediately see that most of that budget is gone already. So now what? No cake? Less guests? Or where do we get more money? The national average budget for a wedding is $28,000.00 More people are choosing to do smaller weddings so they can focus on themselves and the people who are closest to them instead of having to put all the budget towards the food and feeding two hundred guests. So, when it has finally hit you what things really cost, when you get some good quotes from venues, florists, photographers, and dress boutiques then you need to make a list of what is the top must haves. If the top two are photographer and dress then maybe you can have the reception at your house and have it catered for less money. What if it is DJ and food? Then you might find a less formal dress and do your own invitations and flowers. There are ways to have a beautiful wedding and getting what is most important to you. Remember, that this is your special day and what is most important is to enjoy it. So, stress less and pick professionals that will make your day roll smoothly and give you products that emphasize the importance of such a special occasion. Don’t scratch someone off your list right away if they don’t fit within your allotted budget, see if you can move some of your funds around for what your top priorities are, you will be happier for it.
Award Winning Photographer
Becky is an award winning wedding and portrait photographer. She’s been featured in Colorado Weddings Magazine, Koru Wedding Style, Wedding Elite Magazine, Done Brilliantly-Two Bright Lights Blog and has won Best of the Knot 2013, and Best Photographer by the Colorado Springs Independent 2007 and 2008.