Tips for Choosing a Wedding Photographer

Wedding PhotographerWhen you’re planning every detail of your special day, don’t skimp on research for the photographer who is going to capture all those special moments. Your Aunt Cathy might have a fancy camera, but does she have the training and the accessories needed to take truly unforgettable photographs? Here are a few tips to make sure you pick the right photographer to chronicle your unforgettable day.

Choose Your Style

Before you start contacting photographers, you should have a clear idea of what kind of pictures you want. Do you want a documentary-style capturing of candid moments or posed portraits?  Do you want a more artistic approach, playing with film grain, saturation, and focus? Or some combination of all of the above? Do you want absolutely every moment chronicled, or would you prefer the photographer hang back and not intrude? Make sure you and your spouse have a clear idea of what you want your wedding album to look like. Most photographers can work in a variety of styles, but make sure your photographer is proficient in your favorite style.

Do Your Research

Be ready to invest a good-sized chunk of time evaluating the photographers in your area. The proliferation of cheap, quality cameras has led to a boom in the photographer business, but you want to make sure you get a professional who knows how to work that camera. Websites like Yelp have customer reviews to help you weed out the obvious bad apples and pick a dozen or so to follow up further.  Once you have your top ten, visit their websites and browse their digital portfolios with a critical eye. Do you share the photographer’s vision? Look at the use of color, focus, and staging to see if they match your expectations.

Look Through Wedding Albums

For each of your finalist photographers, make sure you look at least one full wedding album. You want to see how they capture the day from start to finish, not just a few carefully-chosen shots in a portfolio.

Evaluate Personality and Communication

The last piece of the puzzle is how your personality meshes with the photographer’s. If you don’t get along, odds are the pictures won’t be what you want them to be. If you’re comfortable with the photographer as a person, it’ll make it much easier to communicate. And communication is key. Your photographer should have a clear idea of your expectations, what shots you absolutely must have, and what degree of intrusiveness you’re willing to put up with to get a good photo. That communication works both ways, though: you’ll want to feel comfortable having the photographer make suggestions based on their experience.

Explore Pricing, Packages, and Rights.

Once you’ve found the right photographer, keep up that communication as you agree on a price and exactly what you’re buying. Does the photographer provide physical prints? If so, what service do they use? Do you want the photographer to curate the best photos of the day, or give you access to every picture taken?

One thing couples might forget to discuss is the issue of the rights to the pictures themselves. Generally, the photographer reserves the right to reproduce and distribute the pictures they take, and may use them in a portfolio or for promotional purposes without asking permission every time. You also may be free to distribute the digital photos, or you may be asked to buy the right to reproduce them on your website, Facebook feed, additional photo albums, etc. It can be a bit confusing; that’s why good communication and compatible personalities are so important!

Your wedding photographer is a professional with the equipment and experience necessary to capture memories that last a lifetime. But for him or her to do their work, you need to have a clear idea what it is you want and pick a photographer whose style and personality meshes with yours. With clear expectations and excellent communication, the right photographer will make your wedding album a priceless heirloom.

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