Every photographer has had at least one bride come to her consultation clutching “the list.” And I can’t say that I blame you…certain well known wedding websites have convinced you that if you don’t ask your potential wedding photographer things like “What will you be wearing on our wedding day” then we (the photographers) might just show up in our pajamas! In a day when anyone with a camera and a website can call themselves a “professional” it is important to ask the right questions at your consultation and I want to help by weeding it down to what I think are the MOST important things to consider when choosing a photographer for your wedding day. Remember, the idea is that you are hiring a true professional who’s style you like, whos personality you mesh with, and who is experienced and capable of handling every aspect of your wedding photography leaving you to enjoy your day.
#1: First impressions are everything
Make the time to meet with your photographer face to face for a free consultation before booking. Were they accessible, flexible and friendly in scheduling the consultation? Do they respond to your e-mail and phone inquiries promptly (ideally within 24 hrs?) Are they dressed professionally (i.e not in jeans and a t-shirt). Are they organized for the consultation? How does your personality mesh? I am not saying that you need to be instant best friends with your photographer but I am saying that if you feel that they have been rude, aren’t a good listener, or if your personality does does not mesh at the consultation then you DO NOT want them by your side the entire wedding day!
#2 : The necessities.
EVERY professional photographer MUST have the following: 1)backup equipment (an absolute necessity) 2)Backup photographers (a network of other professionals that they could call on if for some reason they become unable to shoot the wedding 3)business liability insurance (your venue may require it and if so, will likely not ask for it until a few weeks before the big day). These things separate the pros from the amateurs.
#3: Ask for the full monty.
If it is not readily accessible on their website, ask your potential photographer if you can see images from an entire wedding. Just about every photographer should have online galleries for their clients that he or she would be more then willing to give you access to. The images that you see on a photographer’s website and blog have received some special editing and are what he considers his “best” work. For this reason it is important to see what the rest of his work looks like from a typical wedding. This will also give you a better idea of that photographers style of shooting is and what type of images you will receive. The goal is to be well informed about exactly what you can expect so that you can make the best investment possible in your wedding photography.
#4: Know what to expect.
Don’t you just love to hear from the air conditioning repair guy that he will be there to fix your AC sometime between 8am and 8pm on Tuesday…or Wednesday? This seems like it should be a given, but every photographer should be able to provide you with a clear contract of service that states exactly what you will be getting, when you will get it and the total amount that will be due. For example – within about 1 week from the wedding I like to give my clients a “sneak peak” at their wedding images on my blog as well as on my Facebook page so that while they are still sipping sweet drinks in the sand on their honeymoon they are already able to see some of my favorite images from their wedding day. Within about another week (for a total of no more than 2-3 weeks from the wedding date) I like to have all of the wedding images finished and posted to the clients personal online gallery. At that point, I order the client’s proof book and as soon as that arrives I compile the entire contents of their wedding package and put it in the mail to them and schedule their album design consultation to begin work on their wedding album. This means that my clients know that they can expect the completed cd of images in their hands by 4-5 weeks from the wedding date. Get a clear timeline from your photographer or you could be waiting months to receive your images!
#5: You mean you don’t want 52 pictures of your grandma doing the twist?
Almost more important than communicating what images you want, is communicating what types of images you DON’T want. Every photographer should be able to deliver a variety of what are considered the “standard” shots (the rings, the dress, the flowers, the kiss…etc etc etc). The artistic representation of these images will be different, but generally, your photographer will work to get all of the important story telling shots without needing an image list from you. What is so much more helpful to hear from a client is what types of images they don’t like or don’t care to have included. This gives me a much clearer picture of whether or not I will be a good fit for you, helps me to more clearly understand what matters most to you in your wedding images and what types of shots I can forget about getting so that I can focus my time and attention on the shots that matter the most to you!