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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Five Tips for Choosing a Wedding Photographer

I had a great meeting yesterday with Jennifer from Exquisite Weddings Magazine.  I was inspired by something she said about how sometimes we just want to learn and be informed.  So today, I'm going to share five tips for choosing a wedding photographer.

1. Rely on a referral.  I am definitely one of those people who trust my friends.  If I drive by a restaurant I might think about checking it out.  But when a friend I trust tells me that their food is to die for?  I'm definitely going.  Many of my clients were referred to me by their friends.  There's a certain level of inherited trust that comes from a referral.  For businesses that I like, I promote them as much as I can!!  In fact, if you are still looking for other vendors please check out my preferred vendor list!

2. Look for consistent quality.  If you do not like a photographer's work then move on!  That's the primary reason you're hiring them: to take photos!  And it's YOUR opinion that matters.  To get a better sense of the quality of someone's photos, ask to view more photos from one shoot.  The more consistently great photos you see over time and within a shoot, the more confident you can be that YOU will receive that same level of quality.  It is easy to take one or two AMAZING photos by random chance.  But it takes a true professional to consistently produce quality photos throughout an entire shoot--and that is one of the main reasons why it pays to hire a professional, and not rely on a friend or relative who is good with a camera.  Take a look through their blog.  What is their work like day in and day out?    

3. Figure out your photography investment.  Your wedding is a truly emotionally-driven event; however, you don't want make all your decisions based on your emotions.  That might lead you to spend too much or too little.  I'll be really honest here.  Most of my clients end up spending more than they originally thought they would.  That's because they love their photos so much that they purchase additional pages for their Memory Book or buy extra copies to give to family or get a Gallery Canvas.  I bring this up so you can expect and plan for it with your photographer.  The question you have to ask yourself is... 

How important are photos--your MEMORIES--to you?  Not just today or on your wedding.  But five years from now.  Or fifty years from now.  After everything fades away and your wedding day becomes a memory that makes you smile, your wedding photos are the ONLY thing that you'll be able to tangibly use long after the food has been eaten, the DJ played that song, your beautiful bouquet wilted, and your wedding dress got hung up in your closet to never be worn again.  How important are these lifelong memories?  I wrote a blog entry about why memories are so important to me if you'd like to read it.  Both my Father and my Grand-Father have passed away from cancer.  For my Mom's Dad died when she was one and we only have ONE photo of him.  But for my Dad, I was able to take some photos before he passed and create a Memory Book for myself, my Mom, and my brother.  I'm going to be able to show that book to my future children and great grand-children.

Once you figure out how important your memories are to you, you can think through how much of an investment you want to make into them.  Work with your photographer to create a wedding collection that reflects what is important to you and what you can afford.

4. Find creative ways to afford what you want.  You may realize just how important your memories are and want to invest more into them...more than you think you have to spend.  But just because you can't afford it doesn't mean you can't have it.  Ask your photographer if they can setup a gift registry for you.  Your family and wedding guests can pitch in to buy you that amazingly decadent leather Memory Book you want.  Or some canvases to hang up in your new place.  Maybe you can make payments or installments.  If you're like me, paying $200 a month for a year sounds much better than putting $2400 on your credit card.  And while we're on the subject, check that your photographer takes credit cards.  At least then you can earn some frequent flier miles to go toward your honeymoon :)

5. Make sure you like who the photographer as a person and are comfortable with them.  You will want to enjoy being around your photographer.  With the exception of your wedding coordinator, you will spend more time with your photographer than anyone else.  So if you enjoy hanging out with them then sweet!!!  I love it when I become good friends with my clients!  Plus, the more comfortable you are with your photographer the better your photos will turn out.  If at all possible, schedule an engagement session with your photographer.  That time is crucial to building comfort and trust with them.  The more you trust them, the better your photos will turn out.

When it really comes down to it, the first four tips are relatively straightforward.  There are TONS of amazing photographers out there who fit all the criteria.  It's that last one that is the most important.  In fact, what I've started to do is instead of your traditional "client consultation", I just meet with the couple and shoot some engagement photos for them.  It gives us a chance to get to know each other and figure out if we click.  Everything else is just details to be ironed out later.


If you're interested in getting to know me better during your own engagement session, please feel free to contact me.

And if we don't click, I would love for you to check out any one of my friends below: 
Jeff and Erin Youngren - www.theyoungrens.com
Jared Bauman - www.baumanphotographers.com
Sara France - www.sarafrancephotography.com
Evan Bishop - www.evanbishopphotography.com
Jeff and Betsy McCue - www.lavidacreations.com 
Betsy Blue - www.betsyblue.com
Kevin Mudd - www.coolcakephotography.com
Tim King - www.timkingweddings.com
Sean Walker - www.seanwalkerphotography.com
David Champagne - www.davidchampagnephotography.com


Ohhh, and I almost forgot the gratuitous photo of one of my kitties.  Here's Pancake reading Exquisite Weddings :)

selkirk rex kitty reading exquisite weddings magazine

4 comments:

  1. Great post! This is some good info that helps a bride figure out the priorities & what important things to look for in their photographer.

    Thanks for the link!

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  2. You don't need to be married to be a great wedding photographer or have been in a relationship. Having passion for photography and another human being are two completely different loves. In a lot of ways I can relate to you even though I am married. I had maybe two relationships before I met my husband. And one was in high school.

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