Many couples look at style and cost first when selecting a wedding photographer. While this may help narrow your list from the thousands of potential vendors, the below are a list of considerations that couples should keep in mind before making the investment in a wedding photographer. I put together this list to sum up my years of experience and to help couples navigate their decision making process.
Regardless of the style and the cost of the photographer, there are certain factors you need to keep in mind when are shopping for a wedding photographer:
1- Registered and Insured Business.
You’re paying a large sum of money and you should make sure you get it back in value! Make sure that the quoted price includes all forms of taxes. Working with a registered business guarantees that whatever contract you have in place will be followed.
In addition, more and more wedding venues require an insured business (liability insured photographers) to operate on their property.
Ask your wedding photographer if they have liability insurance and if they are a registered business
2- Rights to Print
These are your wedding pictures and I believe that every couple has the right to print their wedding pictures and access the edited high resolution digital images of the wedding day. Regardless of the products that any photographers offers, make sure you are getting the digital images and you have the right to print.
Ask your wedding photographer if they will give access to digital images and right to print
3- Back Up
Equipment back up is a vital differentiator between an amatuer and a professional wedding photographer. Making sure that your wedding photographer has another set of equipment (e.g.., an additional secondary body and additional set of lenses and flashes).
In addition, ask your photographer about his/her back up plan in case of sickness or other emergency. A professional photographer will have an emergency backup plan for your day and should present the plan clearly to you. Your wedding happens only once in a lifetime and if any equipment malfunction or emergency happens, your photographer needs to be ready and prepared for it.
Ask your wedding photographer if they have backup equipment and emergency plan
4- Consistent Quality
With the start of digital photography, it is a lot easier to take quality pictures with your digital camera. However, only professional wedding photographers can provide a consistent quality throughout the day from the moment they start till the end of the reception. Since photography is dependent upon lighting, ask to see the different low light situation pictures (inside the dark church or inside a reception while guests are dancing). This is the best way to judge the quality of the photography and his / her technical ability to produce good quality artistic images in difficult lighting situations. I encourage all couples to see at least 2 full weddings (yes, the 500+ pictures) to make sure the quality is consistent throughout the day.
Ask your wedding photographer to see two full weddings that are similar to your wedding (vineyard, outdoor, barn wedding, ballroom….etc)
It is important to read all the online reviews about the photographer. It is a great indication about the experience that other couples have had. In addition to online reviews, I encourage couples to ask their photographer to speak with previous clients to ask questions and share their experience and notes.
Ask your wedding photographer if you can speak with a previous couple who shares a similar style wedding
A contract is an agreement between you and the photographer outlining all your expectations and the deliverables. Having a clear timeline for the delivery of the image is an important point to have in each contract.
Make sure that above points 1, 2, and 3 are also included in the contract.
Ask your wedding photographer to review a sample of the contract to make sure all the details that you discussed are included.
Imagine getting stuck during the most happy day of your life with someone you don’t feel comfortable following you around with a camera? NOT COOL!
It is really important that you feel comfortable during the consultation meeting with the photographer. The wedding photographer is another guest in the wedding and you need to make sure you actually would like to invite this guest to your wedding.
Ask your wedding photographer to meet with you before the wedding and make sure your personality is good match.
Best of luck planning your wedding!
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