Congratulations! You are getting married and now starts the process of who, what, when, where and why.
Like everything else, choosing the right photographer is a process. The first part of your process should be the process of elimination. You should first eliminate all and any family members. Though they have the best intentions, they are family and will be distracted, as can be expected. If the family member happens to be a professional photographer, ask them for a referral. They won’t be offended if you tell them that you want them to enjoy your wedding and not work. Next, eliminate all photographers who do not specialize in wedding photography. Commercial photographers, fashion photographers, baby photographers, etc, may do an excellent job in their respective fields of photography, but have little to no knowledge of how to capture the feelings and emotions of a wedding.
This next elimination process is the most crucial. Eliminate the amateurs! You would never hire an amateur, so why even mention this? You may find this unbelievable, I know I did, but over half the weddings photographed today are done by amateur photographers. The photography profession is unregulated, no educational license necessary. Digital technology has brought about amazing flexibility and control for the professional, hobbyist, and amateur photographer. However it takes more than just technology to create beautiful, memorable wedding images. A true professional possesses the skill of posing, composition, lighting, and experience. So how do you tell the difference between a professional and an amateur? Listen! Amateurs tend to sell themselves as “Photojournalist” or “Lifestyle” photographers. They shoot with one light on camera or in some cases, no light at all. They have no Business License, no sales tax number, no liability insurance, and no occupational license. Their prices are usually too good to be true and in most cases they work alone. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A professional will have all the necessary licenses and insurances, even if they work out of their home. They use multiple shooting styles and multiple lighting for most desired effect. Professionals generally work with an assistant or second photographer and the sample work they show you is their own work.
Once you have eliminated the amateurs and narrowed down your list to a handful of professional photographers, it is time to evaluate. Use the technology available to you to aid in your quest for the right photographer. Look at the web-site of the professional photographers you are interested in and most important, when you finally meet with the photographer, make sure you are meeting with the photographer who is actually going to photograph your wedding. Companies that sell everything, i.e. DJ companies selling photography and video, will use part time photographers and you generally don’t know who your photographer is until the day of your wedding when they show up. It is important to get to know your photographer. Meet with your photographer a minimum of three times prior to your wedding so that there is a comfort zone between you and your photographer. Voice your opinion. Tell your photographer what you like and what you want.
In conclusion, if your photography is truly important to you, then remember to base your final decision on quality, not cost. Before you meet with a photographer, figure your photography budget and let the photographer know that budget is before your appointment. Don’t waste your time if the photographer can not accommodate your budget. If you meet with a photographer, who’s work you love but is out of your budget, you are setting yourself up for a major headache. In your continued search for the right professional photographer, you will base every photographer on the work of that photographer who was out of your budget. Finally, be realistic with your photography budget. The reality is professional photographers charge accordingly. Bottom line, you get what you pay for.
Article Contributed by: Larry Capdeville- Master/Craftsman Photographer
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