Avoid the Top 10 Pit-falls when choosing a wedding photographer!
Thoughts of a professional photographer…
Ok….so I’ve heard my fair share of wedding horror stories over the years as I’m sure you can imagine. Everything from “I never got my pics” to “I hated every one of them.” Now keep in mind that the stories weren’t about me or my studio (of course!). I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire a professional photographer for your wedding day. Your wedding is a BIG DEAL. You can’t have ‘do-overs’ for the truly meaningful moments: The looks from your Dad as he tells you how proud he is of you, or the joy and glow in your eyes as you feel the magic of the day.
There are a LOT of people with fancy digital cameras and think that because they got the new Canon Rebel they can take on the responsibility of photographing one of the most important days in a couples’ life together. Amateur photographers have no idea how to lead the day, how to direct the portrait session, or break the ice to get everyone comfortable. A professional wedding photographer is confident and knows how to set proper exposures in any location and how to find (or create) the most flattering and exciting light for your portraits. Professionals know how to deal with crazy family members (I have many…lol) and how to get rid of that zit that appeared the night before your wedding. Most importantly, your wedding photographer knows how to step up and be in charge when you need it most. Many “2 hour windows” for photography get shortened to 20 min, and you’ll need someone who can work fast and still get the best photos of your special day.
There are some really amazing Wedding Photographers out there (and studying photography at school has nothing to do with it). My advice, regardless of who you choose to photograph your wedding, is that you make the decision based on how their images make you feel and how well you connect with the photographer on a personal level. If you have no chemistry in a normal conversation, a high-stress, emotion-filled day is not going to be easy.
Here are my Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid-ensuring you don’t get stuck with a “Lemon” photographer (even though I was a lemon when I first started 🙂
1. Are they less than $1000? These are usually people trying to build a portfolio, because they don’t have enough experience, or it’s a friend hookup. BEWARE of the friend/family hookups. These are where 80% of the horror stories I hear of come from. They will be the most optimistic before hand, and then you’ll get stuck with the, “Well… what pictures do you want me to take?” After you get the “we-just-came-out-of-the-temple-and-kissed” poses, that we all do, most amateurs can’t think of anything else. It is HARD work posing people, and amateurs will fail 100% of the time here.
2. Did they ask you to sign a contract and give a deposit? Amateurs don’t have well thought out contracts detailing out what to provide, and what happens in a worst case scenario!!
3. Were they interested in getting to know you and your fiancé? As stated before- Chemistry is huge!
4. Do they seem to only have 3 or 4 different brides in all their portfolio shots? This screams lack of experience. Beware!
5. Ask to see a sample wedding album. You can’t fake a portfolio with an album. You’ll get to see a whole wedding, and not just the top 3 pictures of each. Anyone can get lucky on a few images… even a first timer.
6. Do they use modern techniques to make their images great looking? – High background blur to focus on the subject – Fun photo-shopping styles – Good contrast (whites and darks to make the image POP) – Beautiful B&W images – Good detail shots to showcase the decorations and little details that go into the whole day – diverse poses besides the standard head to head, and kissing shots. – Wide angle lenses are very popular today as well as low angle shots (sounds unflattering right?)
7. Don’t choose a photographer based on a few hundred dollar difference in price, or package option. Good photographers are artists. You DO NOT get the same end results, just like painters making a portrait of you will vary dramatically. Follow your gut after meeting with them and reviewing their style.
8. Book EARLY – even before you have a date, get on a photographer’s radar so you aren’t left picking through the scraps on a popular temple day.
9. Make sure they have shots of at least 1 LDS wedding so that they know the routine and what we do with the crowds after-wards. LDS weddings are very different from traditional weddings
10. Chose a photographer you LOVE and LOVE the photographer you choose. Nothing helps me shoot my best than an easy going bride and groom that I feel really LOVE my work and are thrilled to have me shoot them. My worst wedding ever was in 90 heat and the Bride’s parents booked me as a gift for the bride and groom. They couldn’t care less who I was and made me feel like a burden on their big day. I was just happy to be done.
Even though I like to travel… clients who have asked me to fly out to NJ or Utah don’t realize that there are already some amazing photographers in their own backyard-they just needed to keep looking to find them. Try searching on terms such as “urban wedding photographer” or “destination wedding photographer”. Once you find the really good ones (which can be $7K to $10K in some places) try asking them for their favorite second shooter or to recommend someone within your budget. I’m always happy to refer my lower budget clients to a second shooter of mine who fits within a bride and grooms’ price range.
I hope these tips help you choose a great photographer. I know costs vary a lot and it’s hard to figure out where the value is. I find the biggest differences exist between the “under $1500” and the “over $2000” photographers. You can find amazing photographers who charge just over $2000. Between the $4000 to $10,000 price ranges, the differences are usually a particular style. And of course the Utah and Arizona markets are usually $500 to $1000 less than California. Bless those poor photographers in that competitive market!! Feel free to ask any questions, or send me a link to your potential photographer’s blog and I’ll be happy to offer my professional opinion of their work for you. And remember…
— BE YOU —
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