As a soon to be bride and groom, with your wedding planning in full swing, no doubt you have discovered that there is a lot more to this “getting married” thing than just walking down the aisle and saying “I do”. Yes, it will be just wonderful and your special day will be one I hope you never forget. The one way to assure you don’t ever forget is to find that photographer to capture your day in photographic memories you will cherish and cry over 10, 20, 30 years from now. As a wedding photographer, I have discovered that there are 2 types of brides who are trying to hire their photographer- those who do the things needed to get the RIGHT photographer and the other who makes the mistake of not.
So let’s get right to it and see what common mistakes I see almost daily that brides (and often grooms) make in hiring their photographer. Avoiding these will assure you get the great photographs you not only desire, but should demand. After all, you are only going to get one chance to get this one right, so let’s talk about making sure it’s perfect for you.
Trying to Find Your Photographer by Email or Text
So you found a couple of photographers that you want to find out more about. Your email goes something like this-
Dear Mr. Photographer,
Could you please send me your price list and information about your wedding photography? I am getting married in June and want to know more about what you offer and your pricing.
He or she replies and you get an email that tells you everything you want to know, right? What they offer, their pricing, and perhaps even an offer to meet with them. So what do you do?
RUN! And I do mean just that.
Your wedding photographer should be someone who cares about you, your wants and needs, and someone you should sit down with face to face and discuss in detail your wedding plans, to visually see his or her products, and determine if your personalities are a good match. If you think you are going to find that person by an email or text, you may as well close your eyes and pick the first one in the Yellow pages, call them, and hire them on the spot.
Your first question to your prospective photographers- yes more than one- should be “when are you available to meet with us to discuss your wedding photography, your products, and prices?”. Now you are going to find out if this person is right for you, cares about your needs, and shows you products that will preserve your wedding memories as you dreamed about. And if you sent the email above, you should expect a reply to meet or call to set up a consultation. If they are a true professional, they care about you and nothing more. Sure, you are busy, but this is one of those times where you should make time because of the importance of choosing the RIGHT photographer.
Hiring Your Photographer Based Totally on Price
Countless ads are out there that read something like this- “I’ll photograph your wedding for $499. Professional images on DVD with print rights”.
Your instincts should tell you something isn’t quite right there when others are asking 3-4 times that much. But I know countless couples who hire someone based on those “Cheap Prices” and find out all too late that they didn’t get what they expected for their money. I see them at least once a month and they either ask me to “fix my wedding photos” or tell me how bad they really are.
If someone gets that shiny new camera and says “it takes pictures as good as the professionals do” and all of a sudden decides to photograph weddings, about the only thing they can really “compete” with the true professionals with is on price. Most of these are “part time, weekend photographers” and rarely offer much other than a cheap price. As you have heard before, buyer beware! Chance are, they have little or no experience photographing weddings, and unless they do, any number of issues can arise that they have no idea how to handle. Sadly, you could be one of those who “wished we had better wedding photos”.
Most wedding planning professionals will tell you to budget 20-25% of your total budget for your photography. If your budget is low, you may have to adjust some things to get the photographer that will provide you a great experience. The planning pros will tell you that your photographer and photographs are one of the most important parts of your wedding, so basing your decision totally on “price” may not give you the joy you hope you are paying for. Additionally, your photographer should be one of the very first vendors you speak with after you have your date and venue established.
Hiring an Inexperienced Photographer
Part of this falls in the “cheap price” category, but deserves a bit more discussion.
Your wedding will be one where there is a “flow” to the events of the day. When I began photographing weddings, I actually began as an apprentice doing “second photographer” work. I did this for a number of years to learn the flow of weddings, the skills needed to work under any condition from poor lighting to bad weather, and to perfect the ability to be able to “solo” a wedding and never miss an opportunity for that memorable photograph.
Those skills don’t come by “showing up and taking a few pictures” as many of the lesser experienced (or novices) often believe. It’s not the “camera that takes great pictures” that will give you the memories you want, but the ability of a skilled professional who can work in any condition, and is fully prepared to overcome those conditions. If your wedding is set to be outdoors and it rains that day, a true professional is fully prepared to handle that situation whereas a “part-time” or inexperienced person probably isn’t. A pro level camera in the hands of an inexperienced photographer will still deliver amateur quality photographs. But even a consumer level camera in the hands of a professional will deliver professional results!
Only Wanting Your Photographs in Digital Format
I can’t tell you the number of couples who have their wedding photographs on the old “floppy disks”. I am sure they are probably in the millions. Each of them basically have nothing because “at that time” it was one thing photographers offered to “compete on price”. Many couples believed they would design their own photo book, and perhaps some did. Now, you can’t even find a drive to open the files with on any computer available today.
Those who did print a few photographs are lucky. Perhaps a few even designed their album and had one made. Most gave up after the 2 hours of trying to figure out the software and put their discs in a drawer.
You should consider purchasing an album from your photographer you select, and also any prints you desire from them as well. Not all “prints” or “albums” are created alike! MANY self-designed are “ink and paper” and will fade and discolor over time. A true professional uses archival photographic paper, albums that are of outstanding quality that will last you forever, and will work with you in it’s design.
As technology changes- and it will and at an even faster pace than it is today- your photographs on that DVD disc are probably going to end up collecting dust with no way to view them down the road. Still today, and in the future as well, the only way you can have your photos at anytime you want to see them is in the printed form. Even with the files, as technology changes, you will most likely not even have a way to print them later if you wanted to.
“We’ll Just Use My Cousin’s Boyfriend! He takes Great Pictures!”
Perhaps he does. And then again, perhaps he has never taken photographs of a full day of wedding activities too! These couples are usually the ones who ask me to “fix my wedding pictures” when they do this. Honestly. I really do feel sorry for them and wish I could help. But that day of memories has passed and to work on other peoples images is not something I can legally do- and don’t.
Even though you might be tempted to do this, consider first, the end results. There is nothing any sadder than a newly married couple that sees their photographs and cries because none of their images are what they expected.
I want couples to shed tears of JOY, not tears of disappointment. Making sure that happens requires more than just “showing up and taking a few pictures’. It requires planning, talking face to face with a couple to see what they like or dislike, to work on a timeline and list of photos they want, and to get to know them as a couple. This is what your true professional does and you should want.
Without that, you are risking a lot more than just bad “wedding pictures”. You are risking losing a valuable memory you will never be able to relive or “redo” ever again.
I hope you find this helpful in finding that perfect photographer just for you! If you want to find out more about me, and how I can help you plan and photograph your wedding day, please fill out the form below and send it to me. I’ll be in touch right away and give you the opportunity to discover if I am the right one to give you that great experience you desire and deserve!
I will even send you a Wedding Planning Guide to help you along the way so you don’t miss the important things of your wedding day- a $25 value absolutely free!