How to Choose a Wedding Photographer – 10 Tips For Selecting Wedding Photography

You want your wedding photographer to capture everything that makes your day special, to capture you at your best, to deliver photographs that live up to your expectations. Here are 10 tips for selecting wedding photography that you can live with throughout your new life together.

  1. A reputable wedding photographer should have a physical location. A physical location where you can find them when you need them and where you can meet with them safely is important. Brick and mortar wedding photography studios build trust within the community and with their clients. If your wedding photographer does not have a local address (not a PO Box) that they will share with you, it’s a good reason not to trust them. They might work out of their house, but do you know where that is? A physical office or studio is paramount to them being trustworthy. Would be you be willing to have a random stranger come to your house, or for you to go to their house? It’s safer and more reliable to choose a wedding photographer with a studio or office you can visit and where you can find your photographer.
  2. A good wedding photographer should help make your day go more smoothly. Aside from a dedicated wedding planner, your photographer is the only vendor who is going to be spending the entire day with you. A good wedding photographer should make things easier for you. They should solve problems. Your wedding photographer should be flexible. They should be able to adapt and thrive in difficult situations. Find out more about their abilities and ask about a difficult lighting scenario, bad weather, or other catastrophe and find out how they dealt with it in the past.
  3. You need your wedding photographer to be focused on you. When you meet with any wedding photographer for the first time, do they ask about you, get to know you, and find out what you want? Or do only they talk about themselves and what they do? Find a photographer who is willing to spend time getting to know you so you know they understand you and your needs. This is the best way to find out if they are a good fit for you.
  4. Your wedding photographer should be knowledgeable and helpful. They should offer suggestions about options you have for different things, provide advice on scheduling and setup, be full of ideas, and be ready to make your day and your planning easier. A good photographer is big on planning. Your photographer should work with you before an engagement session to select clothing and location. Your wedding day photography should be scheduled as part of your day rather than as an afterthought. Photography does not have to be inconvenient – it can be a fun and integral part of your day.
  5. It might sound strange, but not all wedding photographers are the same and not all photographers are a good fit for every client. If your wedding photographer meets you and finds out about what you are looking for and then tells you that they don’t think they would be a good fit for you, it might be surprising, but it’s nothing personal. Wouldn’t you rather a professional be honest about this than trying to change to meet your needs? Sometimes photographers realize that what they specialize in is not the same thing a client wants. Photographers don’t want to make you unhappy, and if a wedding photographer thinks you might be happier with a different style of photography or with a different situation, we will tell you before you book so you are not disappointed later.
  6. Price is NOT the most important factor when choosing a wedding photographer: You definitely get what you pay for. Photography is like anything else in life: You get what you pay for. It is not logical to think you can hire someone for little to no money and get the same results you would get if you had spent twice what you paid. Price is normally a factor when it comes to quality. Photographers who charge more are usually backed by their reputation, their brand, and their experience. You should also understand that your photographs will become the lasting memory of your wedding day. There are two things you should spend money on for your wedding, it should be your venue and your photography. People will probably not remember the food, you will only wear your dress once, and most of the other things are not huge investments anyway (flowers, music, makeup). You will look at your wedding photographs regularly – perhaps even every day – for the rest of your life. Shouldn’t your wedding photos be great?
  7. Your wedding photography studio should be insured and licensed as a legal business. Many venues actually require insurance from vendors working there. Camera equipment is expensive and you should make sure your photographer is fully insured by a reputable insurance company to make sure you are protected. Many photographers are just individuals with cameras and maybe a slick website. Make sure your photographer is backed by a legal, legitimate business.
  8. Your wedding photographer should have backup equipment and a backup plan. Mandatory: Cameras with two slots for memory cards that can be written to simultaneously in case one card fails, backup cameras and lenses, a data backup plan including offsite backups, and a disaster plan. Protect your investment. If your photographer only has one camera, it’s not enough.
  9. Multiple photographers with your package are much better for you than having just one. Your wedding photographer should have multiple photographers on staff in case someone get sick or God forbid injured. A lone photographer cannot be in enough places at once to possibly cover a wedding day adequately. For all but the smallest weddings, your wedding photographer should have at a minimum a photographer and assistant/second shooter. Anything less and you will be missing out on important moments, angles, and opportunities.
  10. Your wedding photographer should NOT dump a disc of photos on you and disappear after the wedding day. Some photographers will sell you a disc of high resolution photos, give them to you, and that’s it. Your wedding photographer should provide value-add services and products after your wedding day – for example, photo books or albums, photo prints, and wall art. Other services you should look for are in-studio viewings and selection, retouching and editing services, and gift options. A photographer that shoots photos for a disc is going to give you a result that is a completely different set of photos than a photographer who is shooting with an album in mind or to create artwork. You are going to get a much better selection of photos from a photographer focused on artwork and an heirloom album than one who is going to shoot-andburn a disc for you and call it a day. Will you really want to spend time and money designing your own album? Probably not. Make sure your photographer provides you with personal usage rights for the images, but you do not need raw files or ultra high resolution photos if your wedding photographer designs for you an amazing photo album, gives you a disc of JPG digital negatives, and offers print, artwork, and design options after the wedding. Consider what you really need and talk to your photographer about what they provide.

If you choose a wedding photographer who you get along with, whose portfolio or example photographs you enjoy, who offers products you want, and whom you feel you can trust, your wedding photography experience should be a positive one.

Photography is one of the most important decisions you will make for your wedding, and you owe it to yourself and your future legacy to invest in selecting a good wedding photographer instead of just the cheapest photographer you can find.

Life Might Give You Second Chances – Wedding Photography Will Not

Trough the years of your childhood up to the present day you might have felt once or twice that life gave you some second chances. But there are times and occasions when something goes wrong, and no matter what, not even life itself can help you. You can say that Wedding Photography is one of these occasions.

You have waited and dreamed about this magical day for your whole life. The day that you were finally getting married to the man of your dreams, your price charming. You have made so many special plans so you would have the perfect ceremony and reception, the most beautiful dress, flowers, etc, etc and etc.

Now it is time to choose your Wedding Photographer. Note that it didn’t say to you to choose just a regular photographer, neither someone like your friend or uncle just because he or she has a camera. Wedding Photography is a very detailed specialty inside the photography business and if you really care about the only memory that you are going to have from that day and that you can show to generations to come, here are some tips:

1- A Good Plan

You need to start planning ahead before you go checking websites for samples, prices and etc. You need to put together all the information that you already have, like; wedding location, date and time, details of flowers, dress, etc.

2- Style

Once you go through some wedding pictures that you’ve found in few different websites and magazines, you will need to start selecting what kind of pictures you would like to have of your special day. Don’t just say that you want a Photojournalistic or Traditional Style, because this is an old way to define Wedding Photography. Today’s Top Wedding Photographers go beyond old styles incorporating some artistic, modern and creative style to their collections creating the most beautiful piece of art.

3- Finding a Wedding Photographer

Do a simple Google, Yahoo or MSN search: “Wedding Photographer in ____________ (name of the city)”. This will bring hundreds, if not thousands of different sites that you can start doing your research. Start filtering all that information avoiding sites that don’t say the name of the photographer on its description. You want to connect with a Top Wedding Photographer, not just another search engine channel or some photography studio trying to get you into their studio without saying the name of the photographer. If the Photographer is good, his name is going to be there.

4- Samples and Testimonials

Once you’ve found few different Websites with pictures that match the style that you are looking for, go ahead and write down the name of the photographer and the phone number. It would be better if the samples that the photographer is showing in his or her website came from at least few different weddings and different areas. The Photographer might not post any negative testimonial in his or her own Website, but it is always good to check what other clients had said about that specific Photographer and how good was the connection between the photographer and the previous clients.

5- The Budget

This is one question that most of the brides get it wrong and most of the Photographers are terrified to explain it to them. There is a simple rule for that; you should spend between 15% and 20% of the total wedding costs. This a general figure that works very well in most of the cases, but once a while you can go a little lower or a little higher. The investment for the Photography Packages of a very basic and simple wedding will be totally different from the investment for the Photography Packages of a wedding were you are investing a huge amount of money, time and expectations. You can expect spend between $3,000 to $30,000 on your wedding pictures, depending on the wedding Photographer that you are hiring, the photography package and/or extras.

6- Contacting your Photographer

Once you check the website samples and prices, it is time to call the Photographer to check if he/she still has the date available and to set up an appointment. It is recommended that you meet the photographer in question as soon as possible, so you can be sure that he/she would still have the date available for your wedding.

7- Signing the Contract

Since you already saw the Photographer’s Webpage, the samples, the testimonials and the prices, the only logical thing to do now is to meet the photographer and be sure that there is a good connection between you and him or her. You also might want to check some more of his/her work, ask few last questions and if everything seems fine, just sign the contract. Remember that Wedding Photography is not a Department Store and that you are not going to find another Photographer like that one. You already did your homework, you know that you came to visit this Photographer because his work, prices, style are exactly what you were looking for. There is no reason to not close the deal.

8- Final Product

Imagine if few years ago, when digital cameras didn’t exist, would it be OK if after you spent a huge amount of your time and money to create the most romantic and perfect day of your entire life, the photographer just gave you the negatives and you would have to develop the pictures yourself? I don’t think so! As we live now in a digital era, most of the Photographers have digital cameras, and most of the cheap photographers will try to make a good deal and give you just a CD with all the pictures from your wedding on it.

Is that what you want?

If you forget everything else from this article, I hope you remember at least this one…

Don’t treat your wedding photographs like the pictures that you took on your last vacation. The ones that you didn’t even had time to print or the ones that you printed in a cheap department store.

The beauty of Wedding Photography is when the Photographer makes the transformation to the pictures and memories that were once captured through his lens, to create the most beautiful and elegant Costume Designed Story Telling Album that you and all your family and friends will cherish for the rest of your lives.

Wedding Photography – How to Market Yourself Successfully As a Wedding Photographer

Oh boy, there are a lot of wedding photographers out there aren’t there? Or at least, there are a lot of photographers out there that claim to be good right? I have seen some really terrible shots, and hideous wedding photos, from people who are charging premium prices for their work.

There are many really talented photographers out there, who are not getting the work. So why is this? It can be put down to one simple fact.

Marketing

Let us ponder this point for a moment: If you do not know how to market yourself, then you may be the most talented photographer in the world, but you will remain a very talented, and unemployed photographer. Here are some key points to help you on your way to success as a wedding photographer.

Get Good Quality Printed Material

Nothing says, “I’m awesome” like some really great, good quality printed marketing material. The fact that you are able to produce such good quality material, inspires confidence and trust in your potential customers. Get the best that you can afford. You do not need 1000 brochures, or business postcards etc Quality rather than quantity is paramount if you are to court the right kind of clientele.

Some suggested items include: High gloss promotional postcards, business cards of at least 300gsm (gsm indicates the weight of the paper), glossy tri-fold brochures.

Be Clever with Where You Target your Printed Material

The most obvious place to leave a business card (along with 1000 other budding photographers) are bridal emporiums.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a business card there, but try at least to build a rapport with the staff when you visit, so that you are more memorable than the other 999 photographers who walked in before you.

Feel free to offer them an incentive if the client books you as a result of getting your card/flyer/brochure/post card from them. A simple gift certificate will often suffice. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, then at least reward them if you receive a booking from them anyway – flowers and a box of chocolates are always appreciated, and you can be sure that you will be recommended again.

You can even offer to photograph some of their merchandise, and offer to reciprocate the referral to any brides who approach you, who may not have heard of their particular bridal shop.

If a bride is referred to you by a particular bridal shop, then it is an absolutely wonderful idea to take the bridal shop some of the photographs (displaying their merchandise on the bride) after the wedding. They will be so appreciative to see the end result and it will give them something concrete to show future customers proof of your photographic skill!

Other suggested places to take marketing material include: Premier Wedding Venues, Fabric shops (who specialise in wedding/evening dress fabrics), hair salons (hair stylists are chatty by nature, and if you can get them to talk about you – even better!), wedding planners, event planners etc.

Advertise in Local Business Directories

Sometimes simple is best! Often a local yellow pages (sometimes called white pages in some parts of the world), will have a special ‘pink’ bridal section.

For most brides, they may not know where to start looking for wedding vendors, and the yellow pages is an often overlooked advertising medium for photographers (our local yellow pages does not have one single listing for a childrens portrait photographer) which could be a potential gold mine if you place the right advertisement at the right time.

Remember that yellow pages get delivered free of charge to all homes and businesses with a listed telephone number – hello!

Join a Local Business Network

Local business networks operate in most major cities, and often have suburban chapters. In many cases they will only permit one person of each profession to join (e.g. one real estate agent, one lawyer, one optometrist, one graphic designer etc), so try to find one that either doesn’t have wedding photographer, or photographer at all, or is a new chapter and looking to increase its membership.

They usually meet once a week at a local coffee shop or restaurant, over breakfast, and the meeting allows members to speak about their businesses for 3-5 minutes each (depending on how large the membership is) and then to exchange referrals. e.g. the graphic designer is working on a the invitations for a wedding, and has promoted your services to the bridal couple, and they then pass on the contact details of the bridal couple for you to contact, and showcase your work to.

Be More Versatile in Your Work

Most photographers do not just shoot weddings. When I started out it was in the Sports Action genre, particularly Equestrian photography, and my very first wedding client, was one of the riders who had always liked and purchased the sports photographs that I had taken of her, and asked me if I would shoot her wedding.

It was the perfect opportunity to cut my teeth in a new direction, a small family wedding at home, and it was a huge boost to my confidence when the photos were so well received.

Remember wedding clients can be found anywhere, even in the current economic climate, people are still getting married, and still have wedding budgets so there is no reason not to go out marketing with all guns blazing as normal.

Network with Other Photographers

Believe it or not, other photographers can be your greatest source of work. Have you ever wondered what would happen, if you booked a wedding client, and then the day before the wedding you were suddenly involved in a car accident? What if you were unable to show up and shoot the wedding? Can you imagine the brides dismay when they’ve probably paid you a hefty deposit, and you suddenly can’t produce?

That’s why it’s best to have back up at every wedding you shoot. Offer another photographer a chance to shoot alongside you, or act as runner, or equipment set up person. Chances are they will do the same for you. If you are suddenly hurt, or unable to shoot for whatever reason, then they can cover the wedding for you.

Just make sure you have clear rules and boundaries regarding who shoots what, who edits, and who gets paid what before you even begin. Most photographers will have a network of photographers with whom they work well together, and it makes it very easy, and smooth if something should happen to go wrong.

It’s a good selling point to your potential clients if you are able to reassure them that even if something happens to you, that they have nothing to worry about, and someone will be there to shoot their wedding.

Lastly, Bridal Magazines

While this may seem the obvious choice, advertising in high end magazines is a very expensive though fruitful option. The exposure is good, the readership is huge, and it will in all likelihood yield a great number of bookings for you.

However, it is probably an avenue best left to the wedding photographer who has already made an impact on the local industry, and is just looking to keep exposure and name to a maximum, and perhaps to begin to take bookings on a national or international level.

The best of luck to you with your wedding photography marketing efforts.

A Unique Style of Wedding Photography

When you consider engaging a wedding photographer to photograph at your wedding it is important to remember that every photographer has a different ability. With the advent of sophisticated digital slr cameras at affordable prices there has been an explosion of individuals who have purchased a medium range or even a fully professional digital slr camera and set up shop as a wedding photographer. Some of these photographers are actually extremely good at what they do, even to the point of being able to make it as a professional photographer. However the vast majority do not have the technical expertise or understanding that will enable them to capture the perfect wedding picture time and time again. Wedding photography is actually one of the most difficult areas of photography because there is so much that is out of control of the photographer. From poor lighting to crowded venues, from a tired bride to a screaming child, inclement weather to guests who refuse to have their photograph taken there are literally hundreds of things that can cause a problem for the average amateur. Everyone needs to gain experience but do you really want them gaining the experience at your wedding?

Every wedding is unique and your wedding is no exception. You can find a really cheap photographer who may well have an expensive digital slr camera but unless the photographer actually understands how to use and control the camera then there can be a real problem that will affect the results of your wedding photographs. Most of these amateur photographers use the camera in either full automatic mode or programme mode. For taking snapshots when you are on holiday the his options are fantastic for the amateur, letting the amateur photographer create decent images just like using any other point and shoot digital camera. A little anecdote at this point may help to illustrate an extreme of this happy amateur photography. I was taking photographs of a newborn baby when the mother said that her oldest daughter was at college studying photography. She asked if her daughter could take some photographs two, of course I said yes, I’ve always try to accommodate the requests of my clients as long as it does not affect my work. I asked her daughter what camera she was using for her photography course. Her reply was something of a surprise, “I use an iPhone” she remarked. I’m not too sure I was able to hide my amusement, but you could just imagine the reaction I would have got turning out to photograph this new baby if I then pulled out my smart phone and started taking photographs. There is far more to photography can simply pressing a button and this is especially true when it comes to events that can never be repeated such as weddings.

Every bride and groom has an idea, or should I say usually has an idea of what they expect from the photography that their wedding photographer will give them. Unfortunately there are so many bride and groom’s who have been so disappointed with the results of the photography they have received from a so called professional photographer who actually was an amateur who set up his own or her own website after purchasing a digital slr camera. Some brides want the photographer to capture the whole day from having their make-up and hair done right through till the first dance. For others they are only looking for the wedding ceremony to be photographed. Occasionally the bride or wants photographs of the groom getting ready rather than herself; as I said earlier I’d try to accommodate the wishes of the client and when it comes to the photography that they require. I have been known to arrive in order to photograph the groom and best man getting ready for the wedding only to be turned away due to the fact that they were still in bed and an asked to return in a couple of hours when they have finally sorted themselves out.

Sometimes the bride and groom are happy to be led by the photographer and when this is the case there is a real opportunity for the photographer to really show why it is of such value to book an experienced wedding photographer. There are of course some cheesy photographs that some brides asked for, the one that is often requested is where the bride is lifted horizontally by all of the groom’s man. I’m perfectly happy to take said photographs but for myself I never suggest it. Now there are some images that I have taken that I get requested by a other bride and groom’s to take because they think the images are perfect or standing or original. The problem with anything that is original is that the venture he is copied. So I’d try to take some images at each wedding where the bride and groom are happy to let me have a little free rein, that are as unique to that wedding as the bride and groom our unique. Sometimes of course when you client sees a particular image they can’t understand why such a photograph would be taken or indeed why somebody would want to have a particular image. This is perfectly understandable, but because I spent a time getting to know each client I have never taken and image where the client has said why have you taken that. This again is something that comes with experience as a wedding photographer. I once had a couple of clients who were getting married near Leicester who only wanted what they termed ‘traditional wedding photographs’. The groom commented that one of my images from a previous wedding was a “waste of a photograph.” So what was this disaster of a photograph? It was a picture of four Bride’s Maids all of whom were under 12 years of age. Needless to say they had no children at their wedding; they were not an old couple but were in their twenties.

So having established with the client exactly the style and result that they are expecting from their wedding photos I then set about trying to be as creative as possible within the boundaries and constraints that are set by the bride and groom’s expectations. The purpose of wedding photography is to capture the story, joy and the uniqueness of the wedding day. There is nothing better than bringing a sense of delight to the bride and groom when they recall the events of the day while looking through the wedding photographs I have taken for them. By understanding how to control the camera in order to get the very best results possible by using the Manual settings and customising the results for each photograph of a professional wedding photographer is able to produce a record of your wedding that can far exceed your expectations. You may have ‘uncle Bob’ with his new super duper digital camera standing over the shoulder of a professional photographer taking almost exactly the same photograph from the same place in the same light, yet each with totally different results due to the fact that the professional wedding photographer understands how to control the camera to create the result that is designed, while uncle bob simply takes a snapshot with inexpensive camera.

Any real professional photographer will have developed a particular style of photography, but with an understanding of the client he or she also has an expectation that may require that style to be subtly altered in order to create the effect and results that are expected by the photographer and exceeding expectations of clients. There is a lot of advice on the Internet regarding finding the cheapest possible wedding photographer, but I would recommend that you consider the fact that this is one day there will not be repeated and therefore you need to make sure that you have booked a photographer that has the technical ability and artistic creativity to capture your wedding or other event in such a way that will give you the very best memories.

Please ensure that your photographer is a member of a professional photography body.