Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

January 10, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Very little in life causes more stress, anxiety, confusion, and anger than planning for a wedding. I've attended weddings as a groom, groomsman, father, guest, and photographer so I've seen it from all angles.

Planning starts months in advance. Rings are purchased, honeymoons are planned, venues are booked (it seems that church weddings are becoming a thing of the past), cakes are tasted and ordered, dresses are fitted, ordered, and fitted again, tuxes are rented, limos and horse drawn carriages are booked, invitations are mailed, flowers are ordered, Pinterest explodes as bride and mom look for decoration ideas to make at home (before finally ordering them from Etsy), and Uncle Joe is honored to be asked to shoot video of the blessed event. Whew! All done, let's get ready to celebrate! "Ooooops, we forgot the photographer..."

"Well cousin Mary's friend Betty from church has a niece who who just got a black camera from Wal Mart. Maybe she could do it? Or there is that guy that took five hundred pictures of baby (insert a name) and put them on a CD for $50. He even gave us the "full copyright" so we can print! Wait a minute, let's just ask all of the guests to take pictures and they can email them to us. That way we can have different perspectives and it'll be sweet and "personal. Better yet, let's just get on the Facebook Yardsale Site and ask those fine folks who we should use."

 

 "OK folks, Otis and Daisy are getting married and we are looking for a photographer to take pictures at the wedding. Looking for someone who does a good job but is cheap. Recommendations please!"

 

Then we get five hundred responses recommending four hundred different "photographers". How a rural community like mine supports four hundred photographers I have no idea, but that is a subject for another day.

Folks, that's just not how it should be. When your wedding is over and you've returned from your honeymoon, all you have to help you remember the day are your portraits. The dress is in a box in the attic, the cake is eaten, and the decorations are thrown away. There are only two things from your wedding that aren't disposable. Your rings and your portraits. It never ceases to amaze me that the same folks who spend huge sums of money to make everything look just right, will place so little emphasis on the one thing that will record the beauty for them! I can't tell you how many times I have had married women tell me that they wish they would have hired a good photographer for their wedding. I've also heard from a lot of young brides who ask me if I can edit their wedding portraits for them. Most of the time the answer is"no" due to copyright laws and to the poor quality of the original files.

You owe it to yourself to do a little research and hire the best photographer that your budget allows. Consider spending a little less on the dress and limo, and use the savings to hire a professional photographer. Friends, not all photographers are created equal. Some are just better at composing a shot than others. Some own better equipment (i.e. cameras, lenses, and lights) than others. Some have invested in training and made an effort to learn while others haven't. Some use state of the art editing software while others don't. Some use professional labs to make their prints while others use Shutterfly. A cute name and a Facebook page does not a photographer make!

So, what do you look for in a photographer? First look for someone who has shot a wedding before. Go online and visit their website. (If they don't have a website, keep moving! Note: a Facebook page is not a website). Look at their portfolio. Not just the wedding portion but the whole thing. Do the people in the photos look relaxed and natural? How's the lighting? It doesn't take a trained eye to determine if a photo looks good or not. Are most of the people in the photos friends and family? If so, that should set off alarms! Ask for referrals. Ask them if they use a "second shooter" (i.e. a second photographer to take shots that the main photographer might not be able to get). Meet them in person. A good photographer will always want to consult with you in person about such an important event.

How much should you spend? It varies widely based on location but a professional wedding photographer who only shoots weddings can cost $5000 and up. A professional photographer who shoots a variety of genres, including weddings can cost anywhere from $1,200 (on the low end) and up. A good hobbyist photographer may shoot a wedding for a thousand bucks. Beware of anyone who agrees to shoot a wedding for a few hundred dollars or less. The old adage "you get what you pay for" applies here!

In a nutshell, put as much effort into hiring a photographer as you do the dress and the cake. Like I said before it's all disposable except for the rings and the portraits!

Hopefully, I've helped someone to make a better informed decision. I'm available for weddings this year at the very reasonable rate of $1,349. I hope you will call me! If you'd rather use someone else, call me anyway and I will recommend a good photographer. Either way, hire a professional. You will be happier in the end!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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