Recruiting a wedding photographer is a big task. When the speeches are over, the vows are made, and the dress is tucked away, the images will be important memories you’ll have of your special day. That can give you a little anxiety when it comes to hiring a photographer, however knowing what to look for will help you be at ease with your decision. Here are a few great ways to get familiar with them and figure out if they’re capable of meeting your expectations.
Note: A friend or relative with a camera can’t be a professional wedding photographer. Even for a professional, photographing a wedding, under certain circumstances, is challenging. If the event is important to you, having a professional wedding photographer by your side would be priceless. Your cousin or best friend will feel bad if your pictures don’t turn out the way you wanted them to but you’ll have to live with that decision for the remaining years of your life. You get the picture. Hire a wedding photography professional.
1. Ask If He/She Is Insured
Professional wedding photographers should hold two types of insurance: Equipment insurance and liability insurance. Many venues out there won’t allow your photographer to take photos at their site if they don’t have liability insurance.
What this implies is that if an individual were to get hurt due to the equipment of the photographer (which isn’t likely to occur), the venue won’t be held responsible) as the photographer has his/her own insurance. Also, it’s vital for the photographer to have insurance on his/her equipment.
A good camera can cost you more than 3000 USD and the average price of a camera lens is 2000+ USD. There are many unfortunate stories of photographers who’ve experienced equipment theft or had their equipment broken and because they didn’t have equipment insurance they were unable to comply with their commitments.
2. Ask to See Most Recent Work
Ask the photographers you’re comparing for a portfolio that showcases their most recent work. Also, request to see a full wedding from beginning to end instead of just the best photos from a couple of weddings. Yes, you can see their work on their official sites or even in their albums; however, you only see the best imagery they want to share.
Instead, a potential client should be able to see a complete wedding so you can judge the consistency of a photographer’s work. This is important for ensuring that the images as a whole fulfill your expectations, not only the portrait snaps.
In addition, make sure the work they share shows their ability to shoot in real weddings rather than inspiration shoots. In real weddings, photographers have to do compelling photography despite bad weather, tight schedule, harsh light, and other challenging situations.
On the other hand, beautiful images are easy to create from a styled shoot when the photographer has total control over the weather, time of the day and creative freedom with no stress. Make sure the photographer can take the same types of photos on real wedding days.
3. Ask How Many Weddings They Shoot Each Weekend
This is a subject many photographers may not like to discuss, and honestly, the bride or the groom may not be concerned about. However, it’s something all couples should have knowledge of so they can make a choice on how comfortable they are with the concept. Some photographers only cover one wedding each weekend (apart from the smaller shoots they might be asked to cover on the day after the event). They follow this schedule because they feel it’s crucial to give their clients their undivided energy, attention and time. Other photographers will have more than one person on board and have the capacity to cover multiple weddings in a weekend. However, that doesn’t mean they’re sacrificing quality over quantity. A single photographer can do justice at more than one wedding on weekends; however, you need to be comfortable with the possibility of your recruited individual covering another couple’s wedding a day before your event.
4. Ask About the Charges
Most people severely under budget for wedding photography. That’s understandable as you’ve probably never recruited a professional wedding photographer before. But know that an experienced professional can bring as much as $50k worth of equipment to your wedding, which will make a big difference in the final look and quality of your photos.
As all photographers aren’t the same, so it is a mistake to assume that all equipment is the same. Likewise, a seasoned professional is going to charge more than an individual covering events on the weekend. Their equipment is likely to be superior, and the way they interact with everyone will be far more professional.
Many people do not realize that professionals can invest more than 50 hours of their time at weddings. The actual photography of the wedding day is only a minor part of the service a professional will offer. When all this is taken into consideration, it’s understandable how a real professional may charge more than you budgeted or expected
5. Ask The Right Questions
It’s always a good idea to have a handful of questions ready to ask the photographer when you get in touch. Some examples include:
- Is there any time of the wedding day you want or don’t want to be photographed?
- Are other guests allowed to have cameras on the day of the event?
- What’s your style? How’d you describe it? How’d others describe it?
- Is your price negotiable?
- Our wedding will be in a dimly lit room. Do you have experience of this?
- What’s your favorite aspect of a wedding?
- How will you handle extremely busy parts of the day?
- What vendors do you recommend we get in touch with to help things go smoothly? Can you refer someone to us?
- How long will you take to provide the final images after the wedding? (faster doesn’t always imply better)
- What publication rights will you retain? What rights will we have?
Don’t be shy of getting specific. In fact, the finer the details, the better. The photographer you ask these questions from might be shooting several weddings per year, but that doesn’t mean he/she has dealt with an event that’s similar to yours. And even if they have, then great. You’ll be aware that they already know how to manage potentially stressful situations.
6. Ask for Real Reviews
In general, couples tend to give great reviews of the photographers who’ve covered their weddings, and they tend to deserve it. However, just because someone did a great job doesn’t mean they don’t have weaknesses.
If you want to know how previous clients would rate a photographer that you’re planning to hire, ask if you can be connected with one or two former clients and specific questions (if they’re okay with giving answers).
Past couples are likely to feel more comfortable sharing with you the less-than-positive and positive aspects of working with a certain photographer.
7. Ask How They’d Handle Lighting
Before we dive too deep into the idea of “just hire someone who makes you feel good,” let’s go through a reality check. The most comfortable shoots happen during the daytime, with great natural lighting and a ceremony taking place under the shade. If that’s your case, ignore the rest of this section.
However, if you’re having an outdoor reception or are getting married in a dark church, it is essential to look for someone who is skilled in such lighting environments. And don’t make the mistake of assuming that experience equals low lighting.
Ask for weddings shot in similar environments when the photographer shares his/her portfolio, and ask them how they’d handle your situation (some would be using external lights for dark backgrounds, while others will utilize their high-end cameras to their maximum strength).
If you see that after it gets dark, all the photos in the portfolio are edited in black and white, that’s an indication that a photographer might not make great use of a darker environment.
8. Ask How They Will Provide You the Photos
While some photographers can give you an unfinished CD, the more experienced professionals won’t do this. While some couples feel this is all that’s needed from a wedding photographer, most don’t understand what they’re getting, or “not getting” in most instances. A CD of photos most common is a set of unfinished files that most couples don’t know how to deal with.
A professional photographer spends years learning how to enhance and finesse images once they’re captured. This is at least half of what creates the final look of an image. If someone is just offering a CD, know that it is an unfinished product that will get thrown somewhere at the end.
A couple is much better served if they invest in an elegant custom book with beautifully enhanced images that they can proudly share with their loved ones…and later with their children and someday, even grandchildren.
At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is think, act smart and ask a range of questions. A true professional would welcome someone who knows what they want and would appreciate that the groom and bride understand what to look for in a professional.