When I was researching photographers for our big day, I may have went a smidge overboard. I researched our future photographer so intensely that I knew all the studios he had worked under, how long he had been at his current studio, his studio that closed and I had printed out every review I could find. I also came in with a list of questions. Why? I had heard too many horror stories of couples who never received their pictures due to their photographers claiming bankruptcy or skipping town. I personally know FOUR couples that this happened to and I didn’t want to risk it. I also just recently had a photography studio shutdown after taking Christmas photos of my newborn son…needless to say those pictures are gone too. =(
Now you don’t have to hire a private detective but here are some tips to make sure that you and your photographer have a good, trustworthy relationship and that you are receiving everything in the package that you will want and need after the big day.
- Google Them! : Research the studios name and the photographers names. This will tell you if they had other studios and how long those studios were in business. Maybe your photographer left a studio to open one on his own, maybe there is a history of jumping ship. Either way it is important to know and to ask!
- Ask to see reception photos from previous clients. : With all the amazing photo software out there it is easy to take portraits and pictures when people are posing or in low action mode (such as a ceremony). The real challenge comes from capturing photos when the subjects are unaware or really active (such as an entrance, cake cutting or dancing). Reception photos will tell the story of your potential photographers photo skills and style.
- Ask about style.: I love photojournalistic photographers. I must have had that stamped on my forehead because all five of my potential photographers said that was their style. However, as I looked through the books of two of them I didn’t see ANY photojournalistic photos. I even tried looking through other albums but there was no evidence of this style. All the albums were collections of posed pictures and portraits. Be sure to look through samples of your photographers work and as them what style they prefer. Your photographer may say one thing but the work may demonstrate another.
- Ask about proofs.: Are the proofs digital? Are they hardcopy? Digital prints may be easier to look at initially but hardcover prints are easier to envision in album pages if you are picking yourself. However, the print digital copy is better to have in the longterm especially if the words PROOF aren’t written across each image.
- Do you have rights to the pictures after?: This is KEY. Not all the photographers give you the rights to the pictures. I HIGHLY suggest you find a photographer who will. This will cut down on your costs big time. Printing through the photographer is almost ten times more expensive than printing yourself through online services. Most photographers don’t want to be involved in the printing either. They just want to focus on the work. Having rights to the pictures, especially in a digital form, will allow you to make thank you cards, parent albums and even just prints for yourself and your home. KEY!!!
- Who will be your photographer?: You have to ask. We found out that our photographers (whose work we loved) had to be specifically requested or other freelance photographers who work through them would be used. Make sure you are getting the exact photographer you want!
- Do a test run with an engagement shoot.: Ask your photographer if they will do an engagement photo shoot for free or for a discount. This will help you see their style and quality ahead of time. It will also let you know if you are a good personality match since you will be spending lots of time together on the big day!
- Create a list of must have shots!: Every bride is different and you can’t assume that the photographer will read your mind. Create a list of shots you must have so that you aren’t disappointed after. Include specific names and maybe even thumbnail photos so it easier to find them on the day of the affair.
- Add them to your guest list!: It is a common courtesy to feed your photographer! They are usually half price but be sure to include them in the count as vendors!
- Ask about hours: How long will they stay? This is important because many only stay 4-6 hours. You may want them longer if you are doing before ceremony to the cake cutting!
- How many photographers does the package include?: One is fine and can produce beautiful work. Two photographers allow them to shoot the reception hall and groomsmen while the bride is getting ready and also having pictures done. I find it to be a bonus and ease of mind to have two photographers. I also didn’t find a large price difference for two.
- What does your package include?: Find out specifically so there are no surprises. Have it written out in detail.
- Look for reviews.: Check out their Facebook Page, Wedding Wire and other wedding sites to hear feedback from actual customers. Don’t just look at the quality of work but also how easy they were to work with on the special day.
- Don’t forget your friends!: Your friends are an incredible resource and won’t steer you wrong! Ask to see their wedding albums and ask them about their experiences.
- Ask your reception hall.: Usually reception halls are familiar with many photographers. The bonus here is that they are connected to your hall so they should have a relationship. It also means that your photographer is familiar with the venue and will even have samples of work taken in your actual venue. BONUS! Sometimes you also get a discount for working with the venue connected photographer.
- How long do you have to choose an album?: We had a year which was plenty of time. Know your time frame so you won’t miss it!
- Give permission to take a break,: We were a little overwhelmed taking so many portraits after our ceremony. My husband and I hit a point where we just wanted to enjoy cocktail hour. We told our photographer and he was a little upset because he thought we would complain that we didn’t have enough photos. We had plenty! We had to reassure him that we were okay and felt good. We just wanted to join our day. This is their job and they want to do it well so the photographers may forget that you want to spend some time not under the lens. Take that into consideration.
- Ask if you can have a discount on parent albums if they are duplicates.: We did and we received!
- Discuss any concerns ahead of time.: I have a huge blinking issue and we discussed it before our wedding. I felt comfortable knowing that they were considering light and options to prevent it!
You will see your photographer probably more than any other vendor before, during and after the big day. Doing research and building a relationship will help you ensure that the day is a success for both of you and leave you with beautiful memories to fill your albums and walls with for years to come!
Also, I make sure I research any vendor that I recommend on this site. I will always try my best to point you in the right direction!
* This article is the intellectual property of Kelly Maver and copyrighted. All copies or references must include the original author and website.