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Tips for choosing a professional wedding photographer.


Choosing a photographer to capture your wedding can be a daunting task.  Photos generally create the longest lasting impressions you will have of your special day, therefore it is important to make a well-informed decision when selecting a photographer to capture your wedding day.

But when there are so many photographers out there, how do you decide which photographer is better, or which one is right for you?  For many people, price is often the main determining factor but this is not necessarily the best decision.

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The following lists a few tips on choosing a wedding photographer that’s right for you.

Personal referrals:

A good place to start is with family and friends who may be able to provide you with names of photographers they can personally recommend.  People who have had positive experiences are often happy to recommend their photographer and may also be able to show you a sample of their wedding photos.  This can provide you with a starting list of photographers you may wish to contact. 
 
Photographer websites:

The majority of photographers have a website which showcases their work.  Visiting their site allows you to view their previous work and can help you decide if their style of work matches your tastes.  Look through the wedding galleries and view the portfolios.  Does the work appeal to your senses? Does their style of photography match your personality?

Viewing websites can often save you time and hassle by identifying potential photographers you would like to investigate further and eliminating others that do not match your requirements.

Initial contact:

A quick phone call or email to each photographer on your list can provide you with a few important pieces of information and can rule out photographers before you even leave your house.  For example:

- Is the photographer available on your particular wedding day?

- What pricing structures or packages do they offer?  What do you actually receive for your money?

- What style of photography do they use e.g. film, digital, black and white, traditional or modern contemporary images, etc.

A phone call or email may also give you an indication as to the photographer’s personality.  Remember that you need to choose someone you can get along with and feel comfortable with.
 
Meet the photographer:

Once you have narrowed your list, make an appointment to meet face-to-face with each photographer.  This will enable you to view their portfolios, discuss packages and prices, and to ask any questions you may have.  Remember that this is your special day and that you are employing the photographer to do work for you.  Therefore, the more questions you ask the more confident you will feel when making the final decision on which photographer to choose.

When viewing portfolios, consider the images you are seeing.

* Are the pictures well composed?  Is the lighting right?  Are the images crisp and clear?  Do the images evoke emotion?  Do the images look artificial and composed or are they natural?

* Is there a good mixture of portraits and groups?  Do the photos tell a story of the entire wedding day?  Do the photos capture detail well e.g. facial expressions, dress detail, etc?

Also ask the photographer for references.  It is often useful and reassuring to find out from past clients if the photographer was punctual, friendly, enjoyable to work with, etc.

The specifics: common questions:


There are many possible questions you can ask your photographer. Experienced professional photographers will generally cover the questions you were planning to ask during the course of the meeting, but below is a list of questions you may like to consider when meeting each photographer:

1.  Experience level - Has the person photographed other weddings? Do they do this for a living or as a hobby? How long have they been in the wedding photography business?

2.  Photography style – Are their shots traditional, formal, classic, candid, photo-journalistic, mixed, contemporary?  It’s important to choose a photographer that suits your personal style.

3.  Technical questions – Does the photographer use film/digital/both?  Do they shoot 35mm/medium format (for very large prints)?  Will the photos be in colour/black and white/a mixture?

4.  Price – It’s important to understand what your package entails and know what you are getting.  Packages may be fixed or you may be able to negotiate a customized package to suit your needs.  What will your photographer cover (ceremony/reception/etc) and how much time will they allocate to each?  Does the photographer have travel fees additional to the cost of the package?  Do they have overtime charges?  What is the cost of duplicate prints, albums, enlargements, etc?  Are there options to change your package at a later stage and how much will this cost?  What is the photographer’s payment policy?

5.  Proofs/delivery – Who will you be dealing with after the wedding?  How long will it take to get your proofs, your finished album, etc?   Will you get a CD or an album of the photographs?  How will the photographer present the pictures for selection after the wedding (proofs, online gallery, etc)?  How long will you have to decide what pictures you want?  Are you able to keep the proofs?  Will the proofs be marked?  How can family and friends order photos?

6.  The photographer – Who will actually be shooting your wedding; is it the photographer you are meeting with or an assistant?  If it is someone else then ask to see samples of their work and meet with them personally.  Does the photographer work alone or will they have an assistant on the day?  Has the photographer shot at the same location in the past?

7.  Guarantees – Does the photographer provide a guarantee for their service/work?  Do they have a backup plan if equipment fails on the day or the photographer is unexpectedly able to attend?

Once again, remember that this is your special day and that you are employing the photographer to do work for you.  Therefore, the more questions you ask the more confident you will feel when making the final decision on which photographer to choose.

Contracts:

It is important to be absolutely certain about what you are getting and agreeing to when you sign the contract.  Read the entire contract; is everything spelled out clearly?  Check the small print; it may list extras not discussed such as travel costs, assistant fees, etc.  Does the contract discuss in detail what will happen if the photographer cancels or is unable to attend?  Does the contract include details such as what time the photographer arrives and leaves the wedding, the package you have ordered, guaranteed pricing, etc?

The final choice:

In general, allow yourself plenty of time to find the most suitable wedding photographer for you.  High quality professional photographers are in high demand so you will need to book early to secure their services.

Once you have thoroughly investigated the photographers on your list and asked some well thought out questions, you should fe

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