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.
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.