Monthly Archives: June 2011

How to Ensure Your Wedding Photography is the Best

Whether you are just beginning the process of selecting a wedding photographer, or are well into the process, you will probably be asking yourself at some point “Why is wedding photography so expensive?”  Well, there are a myriad of reasons why.  The primary reason is because of the equipment (both quality AND quantity) that is needed for this special event as well as the skill of the photographer.  A professional photographer also expends a lot of time, effort, and money on honing their skills through training and marketing those skills.

Equipment

Cameras. A professional photographer will be equipped with cameras and lenses to provide you the best possible images.  Digital cameras are sophisticated devices (not unlike computers) which are designed to transform light into digital information, and to store that digital information for later processing.  Like computers, camera technology is constantly changing, allowing photographers to capture images in low light conditions, and to capture those images clearly and accurately.  Your photographer should be using a camera that is capable of capturing images in low light conditions, and to capture those images with accurate color representation.  There are many great cameras on the market which are being utilized by professional photographers, and this article will not discuss the technical merits of each camera.  In very general terms your photographer should be using a camera which is designed to have interchangeable lenses; is designed for the use of off camera flash; allows the photographer to have full control of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO; and captures high resolution images (12 or more megapixels).  While some of the “point and shoot” cameras on the market can do an adequate job, they simply don’t have the flexibility to capture really beautiful images.  In very general terms, a professional grade camera will cost $2,500 or more.

Lenses. Your photographer should have “fast” lenses.  In general terms a “fast” lens has an aperture value of 2.8 or greater (smaller number).   A larger aperture allows more light to utilized and also provides pleasingly dramatic effects (bokeh) to your photographs, allowing items in the foreground and background to be out of focus.  If your photographer doesn’t know what a fast lens is, you should probably steer clear of that photographer.  Most of the lenses today also have technology which minimizes blurring under certain exposure conditions (low shutter speeds).  There are a number of terms for this technology, but in generic terms the technology is known as “image stabilization”.  Your photographer should be using camera equipment which is image stabilized.  A professional photographer will have a number of lenses in his or her arsenal including; fast wide angle lenses, a macro lens for doing extreme closeups, telephoto lenses, and a series of fast “prime” lenses.  In general, a good quality professional lens will cost at least $500, and in many cases will cost $1,000 or more.  Your photographer should have at least one wide angle lens, at least one telephoto zoom lens, a macro lens, and at least one prime lens.  An optional lens which may be used is a very wide angle lens (“fisheye” lens) which provides some very dramatic effects.

Lighting. A professional photographer has the ability to shape light to provide beautiful images.  It is not only the knowledge of how to capture the light effectively (posing) but also the use of lighting equipment modify the light effectively.  The use of pop-up flash on your camera is not adequate for adding fill flash and removing shadows.  Most professional photographers use auxiliary lighting devices (“flash” or “strobes”) which are not physically attached to the camera (“off camera strobes”).  Utilizing off camera strobes provides light which is dimensional and flattering to the subjects.  On camera flash does not provide this dimension and is quite frequently when used by itself.  If on camera flash will be used, it should be indirect of softened via the use of modifiers to reduce the harshness of the flash on the subjects.  A professional photographer will utilize off camera lighting for your images.  A professional photographer should have at least two strobes and should have equipment to use at least one of these strobes off camera.

Backup Equipment

In addition to quality, a photographer has to have sufficient redundancy (backup) in the event of equipment malfunctions, accidents, or other unforeseen circumstance.  You don’t get a chance to re-photograph a wedding so it is necessary to have at least 100% backup for all critical equipment.  You should ask your photographer to provide you with a listing of the equipment which will be used to photograph your event.

Computer Hardware and Software

Photographing your special event is labor intensive, but processing the photos is also very labor intensive.  Professional photographers take pride in their images and will edit them to provide their client with the best possible image.  Editing includes, cropping, color correction, exposure correction, sharpening, and adding special effects.  A wedding shoot involves hundreds of photos, and all of these photos should be edited to make sure that the best possible image is provided to the client.  Many photographers will not edit photos, or will provide minimal editing to their client.  The client should have an idea of the amount of editing which will be performed and the software which is used to edit the photos.  Additionally, the editing which is performed should be performed on a monitor which is color calibrated.  Color calibration assures that the colors which are seen on the monitor will be true and accurate when the photos are printed.  Your photographer should be using a monitor which is color calibrated and is calibrated on a routine basis.

Workshop, Seminars, and Education

As previously stated, a professional photographer is constantly honing their skills through training, seminars, and networking with other photographers.  Photography is constantly changing and it is necessary to keep up to speed with everything which is happening.  Ask your photographer for the professional associations they are associated with and what type of training they have had.

The Intangibles

You probably have noticed that some photographers demand a higher price simply because of their reputations.  Some photographers have national prominence, and other photographers have local prominence.  While the experience of a photographer is important, grey hair is not essential to getting some great images.  You should find a photographer whose work you really like, and use that as a basis of comparison with other photographers.  In making this comparison, special attention should be given to composition, lighting, sharpness, and color representation.  Some phenomenal wedding photographers are located at the following websites:

www.joeelariophotography.com

www.ziser.com

www.schwarz-bild.de

 

 

 

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Choose the Best Wedding Photographer in 8 Simple Steps

wedding photographer flowers

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your lives, and for this reason you should make informed decisions when choosing your photographer. If you have been actively looking for a photographer you are probably aware that there are large variations in the prices that photographers charge. Obviously price is important, but the most inexpensive wedding package may not necessarily be the best, especially if you are provided with a product which is less then you expected. I am offering this advice in the hope that it will be useful in selecting a photographer who is best suited to fit your needs.

1. Decide what style of wedding photography you prefer. Are you looking for a traditional approach with mostly posed images? Or do you prefer lots of candid shots in which the subject may not even know he or she is being photographed? Do you like the glamor approach of fashion photography? Would you prefer a photographer who combines all of these styles (a freestyle or eclectic wedding photographer)?

2. Decide what level of service you want from your wedding photographer. Perhaps you only need photographs of your ceremony so having just 1-3 hours of photography may be enough for you. Other couples may prefer a complete package that may include a pre-wedding engagement sessions, rehearsal dinner photographs, bridal portraits and newlywed photos.

3. Determine how much time and expertise you have to process your images yourself. Many brides who choose photographers that only give them a disc of their images (no album, prints or other items) find that they lack the time, software or knowledge to create their own albums, properly edit the photos (crop, color correct, etc.) Often, years later, these couples just have a stack of dusty, cheaply processed proof photos or photos on a disc that are not being lovingly displayed as a reminder of the wedding day.

4. Determine your budget. Photographer fees, prints, albums, etc. generally come to approximately 12% of the entire wedding budget. This will allow you to quickly discard candidates which you cannot afford.

5. Decide how you will use your pictures. Do you plan to purchase just an album for yourself, or also pictures for your walls, prints to give to friends and family, or even put the images on stationery, invitations, calendars, mugs, T-shirts, and magnets?

6. Determine what form of your pictures you will want from your photographer. Just purchasing the prints is sometimes economical if you do not want an album. If you expect to need a large number of prints, it may be better (and faster) to purchase the negatives from your photographer and have the copies made privately, at your leisure. If you plan to use the images in numerous creative ways, or want to post them to a website or include them in a screen saver, you will probably want to receive the digital photo files directly from your photographer via the Internet or on a CD-ROM.

7. Discuss with your spouse-to-be all the photographers you visited. Spend time together comparing the packages available from the photographers you both like.

8. Decide which photographer and package best fits your needs and expectations. Most photographers are flexible with regard to pricing and would be pleased to work with you if have budgetary restrictions. Although price is important, it is also important to note that all photographers are not the same. You should carefully compare the style and quality of your photographers work. You should also be comfortable and have a good rapport with your photographer.

Final Tips

Call your chosen photographer and ask them to pencil you in on their calendar until you can come back to sign the contract. Most photographers will be willing to hold a date for a period of time. Call your photographer and ask if he or she will hold a date. The most popular wedding dates fill up quickly and most photographers work on a first come first served basis where signing the wedding contract seals the deal.

Make an appointment to sign the contract. By all means, after you select a photographer make an appointment to review and sign the contract. Ask to see the contract in advance of the signing and review it carefully. If there are any questions, or any proposed changes you would like to discuss with the photographer, let the photographer well in advance of your contract signing date.

Confirm, confirm, confirm! This is the golden rule of wedding planning. Remember: your wedding is more important to you and your spouse-to-be than to anyone else. As such, you must confirm appointments, plans, reservations, etc., several times:

  • once at contract signing,
  • a second time 3-6 months before the event, and
  • again 1-2 weeks before, at which time last minute details, changes, and requests can be worked out.
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