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WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER SELECTION TIPS
BY D&G PHOTO STUDIO

We put together wedding photographer selection tips below based on our experience and the feedback of our customers. This is our attempt to help you choose the best wedding photographer for your wedding.

Why can't you just open the Yellow Book and pick any photographer? You can but it means that you don't realize the drawbacks associated with this choice. By reading our Wedding Photographer Selection Tips Article you'll learn the importance of carefully selecting a wedding photographer. We are not after the ultimate truth, the objective is to give you head start and make you aware of issues that we deem important when it comes to a wedding photographer selection.

The memories of fun and enjoyment of your wedding day will fade over time. Your wedding pictures will be telling the story of the event to your friends, relatives, kids and grand kids. Think about it and take the task of selecting a wedding photographer very seriously.

Wedding Photographer Selection Tip # 1:
DEFINE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

How to choose wedding photographer
Develop a clear vision of your wedding at an early stage of preparation. Browse the Internet, visit bookstores, peruse friends' and family albums, and subscribe to wedding magazines to get ideas. Look through as many wedding pictures as possible and note which ones appeal to your eye.

Do not pay attention to types pictures and techniques yet if you do not know the difference, - photojournalistic, formal, candid, etc, - all irrelevant at this point. Just concentrate on pictures that catch your attention. Try to collect them in one album or folder. It will help you selecting the wedding photographer that appeals to your style, taste and budget.

 

Wedding Photographer Selection Tip # 2:
HOW TO DO A RESEARCH ON A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Come up with a list of photographers to visit. It should be constructed from different sources but mainly from:

  1. References from your friends and social circle.
  2. Internet sites visited while researching.
  3. Weddings and other photography shows.
  4. Wedding magazines and publications.

Visit Wedding Photographers Websites

Before visiting a wedding photographer - check the website. Pay attention to the following aspects of it:

Does the website answer your questions?

Here are a few to start:

  • How close is photographer's location to your wedding location(s)?
    • You'll have to pay traveling expenses in case of a distant location
    • Photographer may not be willing to travel
    • Local photographers may have more relevant references
  • Does photographer provides additional services?
    • Wedding albums
    • Online Private Photo gallery
    • Online Order Gallery
    • DVD Presentation of pictures taken
    • Etc...
  • Does the site clearly list photographer's phone numbers, email and full mailing address?
  • What wedding packages are offered and what do they include?
  • Does pricing model make sense to you?
  • Can you afford the package of your liking?
  • Is there an option to create a custom package?

Site's general look and feel - does it have style and class?

The website should offer:

  • Easy navigation
  • Consistent look across pages
  • Interesting and useful information
  • Sample pictures

Most of D&G Photostudio clients visit www.dgphotostudio.com and www.dgflorist.com prior to paying us a visit. It is convenient to us and most importantly to our clients as they have a chance to review our work on line prior to making an appointment with us.

A poor site should set an alarm but it does not necessarily mean that you are dealing with a bad photographer. After all, we all have different perceptions of what looks good or bad to us.

However, website's aesthetics should set your expectations on photographer's ability to design wedding albums and other post wedding materials. Make sure that you review photographer's album samples and other media produced for other brides. They should match your style and taste.

If the website does not exist, there should be a very valid excuse in place as to why not. Any photographer should have a site where clients can review her/his work. We consider it a courtesy to our customers by providing the opportunity to review our online wedding photography gallery prior to making a visit. It saves time to both our clients and us.

Review Wedding Photography Samples

Before spending time on face-to-face appointments, call the photographer and ask to review samples of the entire wedding coverage or several of weddings online. If online option is not available, make sure you request the same during your appointment.

Think about it, any photographer who is in business for a long time can easily put together a gallery of impressive samples from different weddings. However, you need to review a few complete wedding day coverage samples to get a much better understanding of several things. Namely:

  • Wedding photographer's style

    By reviewing full wedding day coverage samples you can tell whether you like photographer's style, what gets photographer's attention, how well people react to the photographer, how well the photographer captures important moments of the wedding.

    Ask yourself a question while reviewing these samples: Is this a person who only takes pictures included in the list or this photographer continuously takes pictures throughout the wedding, hunts for candid moments, fun situations, etc? Either way might work for you but if you ask our opinion, we would suggest avoiding photographers who wait for the "next item" on the list instead of looking for great moments throughout the wedding.

  • Wedding photographer's creativity

    If you notice many common poses, common set up scenes and other similarities between reviewed samples it should raise a flag.

    Some photographers treat wedding photography as a craft rather than art and, therefore, tend to shoot all their weddings in a similar way. Unless sample pictures are excellent, you should ask yourself whether you want to work with such photographer.

     

     

  • Pictures Quality

    Take a close look at wedding pictures quality. See how well details are preserved. For instance, a wedding dress should not look washed out or blurred unless this is a part of a specific effect in a few pictures. There should be plenty of crisp, high quality, rich in details pictures. See how well photographer takes pictures in low-lit environments - churches, synagogues and other places that lack lots of natural lighting. The exposure should be clear and grains should not stand out to the level of being obvious. The formal pictures should look organic with proper lighting and composition.

Check Online References.

Search for photographer or business' name on the web. You may find a good amount of information about a wedding photographer in Google's Groups, YAHOO! Local Directory, various consumer rating sites and websites dedicated to consumers protection such as Better Business Bureau, etc. This information is useful as you may learn things the photographer does not want to advertise - dissatisfied clients is one of them.

Be reasonable and use your judgment on the negative feedback about a photographer. There are people who are hard to please and some of the negative statements might not be fair. Discuss this with your photographer and see if you are comfortable with explanation.

If you find lots of negative feedback, you probably should move on unless you really like the photographer.

Visit Wedding Shows

Find out whether your favorite photographers have plans to participate in a wedding show that you can attend.

Seeing a photographer at a wedding show has many advantages. Here's just a few:

  • You save time by reviewing a hopefully great variety of presentations from several photographers at the same place.
  • You have an opportunity to identify photographers for further follow-up without spending time on traveling and appointments.
  • You can observe how photographer deals with people from the distance and see if you like the attitude
  • You may book a photographer right on the spot if you are so impressed with his/her work.

 

 

Wedding Photographer Selection Tip # 3
Wedding Appointment. Things to consider and address.

Book Wedding Photographer in Advance.

Do not wait until the last moment to hire your wedding photographer. A good wedding photographer gets booked a year or two in advance. The earlier you call - the better chance you get to book your top choice photographer. Depending on a wedding photographer, you may get a better deal on the advanced booking as well.

So, call in advance and set up an appointment. Ask whether your date is available first. You have to know the date to book the services. Make sure you keep the appointment and arrive on time. If you cannot make it or running late - call as soon as possible to cancel and re-schedule. Wedding photographers like any other professionals have a schedule that might not be adjustable on a given day. This is especially important if a photographer has several appointments in a row and would not be able to see you if you do not come on time.

Meet with your photographer.

Once you meet with the photographer, the first question you should ask is whether she or he will actually be doing your pictures.

Do not talk to photographer's reps, do not talk to their assistants, and do not talk to anyone prior to speaking with the actual photographer. At least ensure that you have met with the photographer if the company that provides the services has to put you through their sales people first. Learn why this is important by reading other tips below.

Ask for references.

A good photographer should have a list of references available with names and phone numbers to call. Have a list of specific questions when you make your calls. Make it short and up to the point to ensure that in case the other party is busy or in a bad mood, you still get your answers.

Ask for the overtime policy.

Sure bet - you will have a well-organized wedding. Keep hoping.

So far, we have never seen a wedding that did not experience some type of a delay. You are counting on too many variables to come together perfectly on wedding day of yours.

Well, limos break, traffic happens, it rains, it snows, it can be very hot or cold, an important party can be late, and flowers delivery can be delayed... we can write a huge list of things that can possibly throw your wedding significantly off schedule.

If you hire a photographer for a set number of hours, you need to pay for the services even when photographer has nothing to shoot. If delays are not photographer's fault, you cannot deny the payment. To make it worse, unless overtime clause is present in the contract, whether or not photographer stays overtime depends on photographer's will.

Theoretically, photographer can leave and many actually do if you do not reach an agreement on the overtime compensation. Please ensure to discuss the overtime coverage, agree upon it and entered it as a clause in your contract.

Ask about photographer's assistant

If you want a better coverage - consider paying for photographer's assistant(s)

Photographer assistants come handy in many ways. Here are just a few to consider:

  • Any wedding photographer has very expensive equipment to carry around and willingly or unwillingly, it would draw photographer's attention away from you and your event. An assistant takes care of the equipment while photographer concentrates on the wedding.
  • If you have to drive from location to location during the wedding, an assistant comes handy as a driver of photographer's car while photographer is traveling with you in the limo.
  • Photographer can have some extra equipment in a car and instead of running for it can always send an assistant.
  • If photographer uses lightning equipment such as reflectors, umbrellas, etc, an assistant would take care of setting them up, allowing photographer to concentrate on taking other pictures.
  • A good assistant can temporarily substitute wedding photographer or can take additional pictures if photographer allows this option.

These seemingly little things can improve your wedding photo coverage.

Of course, there are photographers who do not use assistants on weddings and still produce great coverage. Discuss this topic with the photographer and if assistant is an option and you can afford them - take it. You will not regret it.

Discuss Equipment.

Discuss what kind of camera and equipment photographer is planning to use for your event. Even if you do not know much about photography - ask this question anyway. Photographers like to talk about their equipments and you will learn a few things about photography.

However, your objective is to ensure that photographer has at least one additional camera and extra set of lens for your event. Cameras break and you do not want to get into is a situation when there is no replacement camera available.

Discuss Negatives or Source Files.

A negative, or in digital photography a source file, is produced when photographer takes the actual picture. It is raw, meaning no effects were applied to it in a lab; it has not been processed through picture editing software, etc.

Usually, photographers provide wedding pictures in electronic and printed format. However, most photographers never give up the negatives. In digital photography, the compromise is easy to reach as photographer can burn a DVD or two with high-resolution versions of all the digital images. Normally they are big enough to yield a huge poster printout, although it depends on your photographer's camera and willingness to increase the resolution of the images.

If you feel that you may want to need the negatives, discuss this with your photographer up front. You should be able to formulate the reasons why you want them and prepared to get "No" for the answer or pay considerably more for photographer's work.

If you reach the agreement on the negatives, do not forget to add this clause in the contract and make it very specific as to what types of files photographer will return to you.

Measure Your Level of Comfort.

Ask yourself - Am I comfortable with this person? Can I spend the entire day with this photographer around? Would my guests be comfortable with this photographer? Do I like this person? Literally, you need to like your photographer to get great pictures. There has to be positive energy flowing between you and the photographer. You should be absolutely comfortable and relaxed during your event. Otherwise, you will get ordinary pictures if even that much.

Male or Female Photographer. Is this important?

The answer largely depends on you. Most of the best, award winning wedding photographers are male. However, many brides feel much more comfortable with a female photographing their preparation stage. A bride may feel much more at ease walking half dressed when female photographer is around. It allows a bride to concentrate on the actual preparation instead of paying attention to the photographer. This results in excellent candid pictures.

Often times Gala helps brides with their preparation since she has done so many weddings and knows many useful tips. Brides are generally more willing to do boudoir pictures for the future husband to enjoy when Gala is taking them because they feel at ease posing in lingerie in front of a female photographer.

It is a very important factor to consider. Some brides just do not feel comfortable dressing up around strange men - photographer or not, and there are even fewer grooms that like it. At the same time, preparation pictures are very much in fashion now as they set the mood and help to deliver a story with an intimate touch.

Define your package and sign a contract.

To ensure common understanding of services that photographer needs to provide to you - put every single detail in the contract. Be very specific and leave nothing to assumption. If you are getting an album the contract should describe what type of an album will be produced - number of pages, quality of paper, type of cover, total number of pictures, album's manufacturer, specific design and layout requirements - the more details, the better.

Read the contract very carefully to ensure it has every item agreed upon with the wedding photographer. If you are taking a predefined package – check that all items listed have detailed explanation. A custom package must have the level of clarity that leaves nothing to assumptions and imagination as well.  

Do not underestimate this part of hiring a wedding photographer. Protect yourself from miscommunications, misunderstandings by having a document that brings your on the same page with your wedding photographer. Following this advice will do well to both you and your photographer. Having a point of reference will be of huge help to both of you. It will make following up much easier and greatly ease communication process.

No one wants this to happen but in case you would ever need to go to court, the contract will be your proof of the agreement. Proving verbal agreements is a difficult task, if not impossible but if you show a supporting contract to a judge, you will have much higher chances of winning the case.

Of course, ensure that you and the wedding photographer sign the contract.

Wedding Photographer Selection Tip # 4
Wedding day.

Pictures taken by guests.

There is nothing more disturbing to a wedding photographer than guests taking pictures and getting in the way during the ceremony and other important moments. Sometimes, photographers may get abrupt in attempt to clear out the way for a key picture. It upsets guest, it upsets photographers, and it will most definitely upset you as well.

You have two options to deal with this issue:

·         Control your guests yourself

·         Leave it up to photographer to control your guests

Let us review both options.

A wedding photographer is a hired professional. To us, capturing your important moments is a matter of justifying our fees, meeting your expectations and finally a matter of personal satisfaction with our work.

Often times guests travel from afar, have descent photography skills and professional cameras. To them the ability to take pictures may be the integral part of the event. The downside of guests participating in photographing the wedding is obvious. Pictures that should show your first kiss or ring exchange most likely will feature your guests’ backs, instead.

Some moments cannot be repeated and if your wedding photographer fails to capture them, she/he will get very upset and attempt to take control by asking guests to get out of the way. It may be a very abrupt call as the time of your moment is short and photographer's objective is to record it in the most accurate way possible. If guests do not oblige and continue blocking photographer's way, you will have a conflict on your hands very quickly.

We are not even bringing up the issue of pictures spoiled by guests' flashes. It disturbs photographer's flash and as a result, no one is getting a good picture. A good professional will deal with this disturbance with a varied level of success but the risk of losing great moments will increase significantly.

Therefore, if you let your photographer to manage your guests, chances you will get upset people on your hands are higher than if you would do it yourself or assign a significant other - a family member or friend who everyone knows and respects to take care of this issue. Besides, you hire a photographer to do pictures, not guest management.

It does not mean guests should not take pictures. Ideally, they should enjoy the event and forget about cameras but since it only happens in the Hollywood movies, a compromise is still possible to reach. We use several techniques to establish a healthy balance between our objectives and guests desire to participate.

We ask someone who is responsible for the wedding to announce to the guests that we will allocate guest time to take pictures once we are done with a particular scene. It gives guests the advantage as we have done all of the important work for them – scene and lightning set up.

We also talk to the most "active" guest, explain our objectives and demonstrate how their activities prevent us from capturing quality pictures. This approach works with about 50% of the guest. We always appeal to bride and groom to arrange the appropriate behavior if everything else fails and it always brings the most productive results.

Second Photographer on the set.

If you are planning to have more than one photographer to shoot your wedding, make sure that all hired photographer(s) have explicitly agreed to it. Normally, a professional photographer who cares about the results of the shooting would not agree to this arrangement.

A hired photographer does not like to come to an event and find another unexpected professional photographer or someone with a professional camera ready to work with him. Many photographers put a clause in their contracts regarding additional photographer(s) on the set and reserve the right to leave without any money refunds if such person does not leave the premises immediately or puts the camera away.

Even if the hired photographer stays, and agrees to the auxiliary "helper" the pictures will not come out that good anyway. Your hired photographer will be distracted; guest will look at different photographers during the shoot, etc. So, unless your hired photographer provides the second photographer, do not even think of going this route. Say thank you to your friend who wants to help by taking additional pictures and ask him/her not to do it. You will be much better of this way both emotionally and picture wise.

Many people are asking why this is important to a photographer. It depends. We do not like it because it is always an additional disturbance, because each photographer has a unique way of working and adjusting to other photographer is always counterproductive. Because everyone has little trade secrets and may be does not want to reveal them to another professional photographer. Because guests get confused, as to whom to pose for in case both photographers are shooting the same scene.

Please discuss this with your wedding photographer in advance and see how she/he feels about a second photographer if you are planning to have one.

Watch the timing.

If the set is great, your photographer can forget about time constraints and take pictures longer than planned. It can result in outstanding pictures but will also lead to delays for your wedding. Make it known to your photographer how much time you have for a particular shooting and ask your wedding planner or someone else who is always around to remind your photographer about time constraints. Normally a good photographer does not have this problem but it does not hurt to have checks & balances in place rather than taking a chance.

Feed you photographer and his assistant(s).

As strange as it may sound, it happens quite a lot - photographer and the crew are often forgotten when it comes to food and water.

Although, a professional will never complain and always has a snack in reserve, it is your responsibility to see to it that photographer and the crew has eaten and has access to liquids during the wedding. Can you do something creative when you are hungry and tired? Probably not. Trust us; it is much better for you to remember about this point. It does not take much of an effort on and you will get much better pictures in return.


This page is a work in progress and will always evolve so visit often.

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR WEDDING!

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