Start by building a list of several wedding photographers. Asking friends and relatives for recommendations is a great way to begin. People who’ve had positive experiences with photographers are always happy to share their photographers names with you, and when you meet with the photographer, you’ll both have an immediate frame of reference from which to proceed.
Visit bridal show
Although there are so many vendors and it may be a bit overwhelming, as you visit photographers whose work and personalities you like, take their literature and mark on the ones that interest you so that you can refer to them later. Some of the best photographers showcase at bridal shows and it’s a great place to add to your list of possible.
Visit each photographer’s website. Carefully the portfolios. Try to concentrate on photos and not on website design. Today anyone can get a beautiful template flash website for a few hundred bucks. Good photographers usually show plenty of their recent work online including full weddings – you will save time by pre-qualifying photographers who have comprehensive online portfolio for possible meeting. Create a list of those photographers. Most important is – see if photographer’s work looks appealing to you, if you can feel the “click”.
Call or email each photographer on your list. A quick phone call or short email will give you a number of key pieces of information, such as the photographer’s availability on your wedding day, type of photography specialties (e.g., candid, traditional, photojournalism, combination, film or digital, etc.), and a rough idea as to how much they’ll charge you and what you’ll receive for that fee. It will also tell you a bit about the photographer’s personality. Remember, this person will be an integral part of the most important day of your life, so be sure you choose someone you feel good about.
Make appointments with the photographers who sound promising so you can view their portfolios and discuss details. These meetings should include both the bride and groom as well as the bride’s parents, and anyone else who will either be paying for the work or working closely with the photographer. Write down all your questions before you meet, and take notes during the meetings.
The more questions you ask up front, the more confident and relaxed you’ll feel on and after your wedding day. If in doubt, ask! And remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question!
Here are some questions you may consider to ask:
How will you show me pictures for selection (e.g., electronic, proofs, contact sheets, online gallery, etc.)? Will you help me choose the final pictures? How will you make it easy for friends and family to order reprints? What are the costs of the various levels of coverage? Are there different degrees of coverage? What is your photography style; photojournalistic, traditional, mixed, etc.,? How much for the duplicate prints, albums, folios, enlargements, thank you cards, etc.,? What’s your time frame for preparing the pictures for my selection? How about engagement session? How long do I have to make up my mind as to which pictures I want and how many? How long have you been in business? What kind of guarantee comes with my hiring you? What’s your philosophy to photographing weddings? Will you have an assistant? Do you have travel fees? How much is your overtime fee? What do you plan to do at my wedding to make my wedding photographs unique and personal to me? Do you have a backup? Will you be shooting my pictures personally? Will you use film or digital? Who will I be dealing with after the wedding? What’s your payment policy? Do you give any guarantees on your services and photographs? What is the possibility of the pictures fading?
There is huge number of possible questions you can ask your photographer. Most professional photographers will provide you with clear explanations about their services prior to any questions even asked. Many of them have full packages that include certain number of prints, digital files, enlargements, etc., so it is very clear what level of service and final products you should expect.
When you’ve narrowed your list to one or two photographers, ask each of them to show you complete coverage of a single wedding. This will give you a much better idea as to what you can expect than a collection of the best shots from several different weddings. Consider whether the photographer successfully captures individual characteristics and personalities. Do the pictures capture people’s feelings, or are they just pictures of people standing around looking self-conscious. Do they look natural?
Prepare to make a commitment
At this stage, if you’ve taken the time to ask good questions, you’ll know whether this photographer is for you. By now you’ve probably spent a good deal of time communicating with your photographer. Keep in mind that photographers are trained professionals and that they deserve to be treated as such. Go to your meeting prepared to leave a deposit to reserve the date. Before you do, however, you may want to assure yourself of a few more last-minute details. Ask about the photographer’s policy for wedding-date changes and what happens if he/she is not available on the alternate date. Ask about their policy for an unforeseen cancellation. If the photographer is right for you, if the photographer is available, and if you’re convinced that it’s worth the price, then make the commitment and relax; this is undoubtedly one of the best and most intelligent decisions you’ve made in planning your wedding.
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