You only have one shot at perfect pictures. If you choose the wrong photographer, your once-in-a-lifetime wedding pictures can be lost forever. Here are some tips for finding a great photographer:
- How experienced is this photographer? Does he specialize in wedding photography? While everyone needs to start somewhere, do you really want one to begin with your wedding, no matter how good the price? Choose a photographer who not only has experience with wedding photography, but who also can show you examples of his or her work at previous weddings.
- What is the style of the photographer? Do his sample shots look the way you want your wedding photos to look? Look for a great mix of styles, from formal and posed to more casual and relaxed styles. Look for how the photographer uses light in the pictures. And look for a photographer who takes shots that you like.
- Ask the photographer if he’s the one who will be handing your wedding personally or if he plans to send a staff photographer. You have the right to know who you’re going to be paying for. Asking in advance eliminates nasty surprises.
- Do you like the photographer? If he’s nasty or bossy or has a trait you don’t care for, his presence – and direction for posed shots – can ruin your otherwise perfect day. There are plenty of photographers; pick one you can live with.
- How does he dress? Is he well-groomed? And what does he intend to wear to the wedding? Especially if you have a dress code at the wedding venue, you need to be certain your photographer presents a certain appearance.
- How expensive is this photographer? You don’t have to choose the cheapest photographer, and probably should not, but you want someone in your price range. Get an idea of all his prices, including any reordered packages. And find out how long he keeps negatives. You may want to order more in five years.
- How prompt is this photographer? How quickly will they get the proofs, pictures and albums back? Does he supply electronic media as well, or just printed photos?
- Look carefully at the offered packages and a la carte deals. Are they the wedding photos you really want, or do you think you can do better with a different plan? Try to arrange a deal if you don’t like any packages. If you’re making a large order, your photographer should work with you.
- How much time will he take photographing you and the wedding party at the event? You don’t want someone who will take too few shots, but you also don’t want to spend your entire wedding day in front of a camera. Ask how many different shots he takes on average as well.
- Does the contract make sense to you? It should be clear, with everything addressed you’ve discussed with the photographer. You should feel that it’s fair. Make sure deposits and cancellations are spelled out, as well as the photographer’s not showing up. If you don’t understand it, talk to a lawyer. This can be a very big investment, and you don’t want to find yourself in a legal bind over it.
- Use our Wedding Photo Worksheet to help you choose all the perfect photos for your wedding, quickly and easily. Go through the shots you want with the photographer, and make sure he’s going to work with you.
- Make sure you get references from previous clients, from the Better Business Bureau, from the Chamber of Commerce. Ask around at reception halls and churches the wedding photographer has worked at to see what they think. Is he a member of the Professional Photographers of America or another professional organization?
And one last thing: besides the wedding photographer, you really should have disposable cameras on the tables. You never know what’s going to happen: the photographer not showing up, or being busy photographing the wedding party while Uncle Milt is doing that weird thing with his nose. Sometimes the photos taken by guests become the most treasured keepsakes from your wedding.