There have been many innovations in the world of photography over the past few years, and now you need to make some informed decisions as to what type of photographs you want of your wedding. Digital cameras have made some fabulous strides in just the past 2 years and with the right photographer, can make a major difference in the beauty of the results as well as possible savings to you. With film and digital photos, many photographers offer online viewing of your proofs as well as online ordering of the final prints. The quality has increased also with higher resolutions, computer enhancement, artistic talent, and more. While the film is still incredibly beautiful, the choice between that and digital is a personal preference of both the photographer and you.
Do you want your pictures to be more on the formal side, the candid, photo-journalistic, or a combination of these? There are so many new ways and ideas out there that you need to spend some time with several professionals to be able to decide exactly what suits you best. Here are some overall suggestions that should help you get started.
1. Hire a professional. There are many affordable professional wedding photographers out there. Watch for the ones who have never done it. You can not do this over so make a good choice.
First, decide on some of the basics you will want. Color? Black and White? Formal poses? a mix? more photo-journalistic? more artistic? Do you want the Formal Album or just a proof book? Do you want the negatives? Make up your mind about some of these so you will understand what the photographers offer and do they match your requirements. Remember, most true professional photographers are artists and very proud of their work.
2. Compare the prices between the photographer’s package prices and ala carte pricing. One of the other may work better for you. Find out beforehand if you take the a la carte plan, how much are the reprints and enlargements?
3. The higher the cost, the better they are: NOT NECESSARILY TRUE with any vendor. This is up to you and what you are looking for. You may pay more for one style of photography than another. You may also find you’ll pay more for artistic pictures, Infrared, special techniques, and hand tinting. The cheapest might not be your answer either. They may not have the experience. Don’t put your wedding in the hands of someone who is not experienced. Remember you can not re-shoot it later.
Rates: What you can expect to spend
Traditional – 150-200 proofs – $1000-$2000
Photo-journalistic – 300+ proofs – $1500-4000 (These are just examples, not written in stone)
Artistic – 300+ proofs – $2000 – 6,000
4. Do you want a female photographer (they come with the woman’s perspective of course) or a male photographer? Women have made great strides in this industry which was dominated by men. Man or woman it doesn’t matter, what does matter is that you like the person you are working with, you feel you can trust them, and you are comfortable with them.
5. When viewing the portfolio: Do you like what you see? Why would a photographer show something that was not the best work? Every photographer should furnish you with a standard portfolio. But what are you going to get? Ask to see a complete wedding in a real proof book. This will give you an idea of really what to expect. A heads up: Not every image is the perfect picture! and no photographer can guarantee a picture-perfect shot.
Do you see a variety in the portfolio? Is there a mix of candids and formal portraits? What about black and white? Infrared? Sepia? Hand Tinting? Do they offer to retouch blemishes? What about scanning to CD Roms?
6. Meet the photographer. Many companies have multiple photographers and it is important you get a feel for the personality and work of the actual person who will be there. You will also need to work with the photographer on a plan for the day and a schedule. The photographer is your crucial timing link between the end of the ceremony and your arrival at the reception. You should find out if you can adjust the number of pictures taken so that your schedule is maintained. Try to arrange for many formal shots to be taken before the ceremony to save time later.
7. Dress Code: I am always shocked when I see a photographer dressed inappropriately for the occasion. It is embarrassing!. If your wedding is formal they should be formal as well, (or at least wearing the same as the service). Men should always wear a suit. Women either black slacks or a button-down shirt (for formal they would match the caterers or the guests).
8. Processing time: Now that you know a little more about cameras and film if the photographer tells you 4-6 weeks that is very reasonable. Some 35mm photographers can get the proofs to you in 3-4 weeks depending on the lab. Digital Photographers may provide a special website page for you to view all the shots they took and may let you choose from those. It generally takes between 3-7 days for the page to be uploaded and made available to you.
9. The contract: Do you understand the payment terms? When does the photographer require full payment? What is their guarantee to deliver the proofs?
10. What happens if the photographer is sick?
11. What is the cancellation policy?
12. References: Get a few references from each vendor you contact. When speaking with the references remember they are regular people taking time out to answer questions. Be courteous to them and remember one day you may be a reference.
Your gut feeling about a person or photographer may be your best guide. If you don’t feel comfortable, they probably are not the photographer for you. Move on to the next on your list and be sure to ask the same questions to use as a comparison.