With so many photographers, how do you choose?

Recently I was asked by one of my readers “With so many photographers out there, everyone claiming to be ‘great’, how do you decide?” This is a great question and honestly I will say that it’s all about taste. Some couples may want the traditional “portrait” type of wedding album, while others want a more journalistic style. Still others want a mix. What I’ll say is this is, in my opinion the most important decision after your dress, because this is what is capturing the memories of the day.

Let’s start at the beginning…

1 – Do you have your location picked out yet?? This is by far the most important first step you should do. This, I promise will be one of the first questions they ask you.
2 – Ask the venue if they have any recommended photographers? This might come in handy if you have a ‘hard to shoot’ venue (like the Brooklyn Botanical Garden – not every photographer knows how to shoot when a venue is wall-to-wall glass – think too much flash/glare)
3 – Ask your friends who are married if they loved, not liked but LOVED their photographer. Take a look at their wedding album. Does it have the feel you are looking for? How clear are the photos?
4 – What is your photography budget? Is this the most important part of your wedding and are you willing to spend more for this than other parts of your wedding (i.e. are you willing to spend more here than for the band, your flowers, or reception)?

After this, when you start interviewing and I do me interviewing photographers, these are some questions you should ask AND be comfortable with their answer.

1. Who exactly will be photographing your wedding? Will it be him/her, or an assistant? If someone other than the lead photographer, ask to meet their assistant.
2. Ask to see proofs and a finished album. They all have them and if they don’t leave immediately!
3. Are the pictures clear or grainy? If grainy is what you’re looking for then great, but in my experience, your pictures are supposed to be crystal clear with no grainy texture or fuzzy look.
4. Find out what his/her approach to shooting a wedding is?
5. What is his/her typical shooting schedule?
6. How many shoots will be ‘posed’ or ‘candid’?
7. How many shoots will he take of the entire day?
8. What will happen if he/she gets sick the day of your wedding?
9. Ask to see the albums for the various packages, and ask what it covers? If there is an album that is in a ‘higher priced’ package, can you just purchase that album and what is the additional fee? What are the costs of parents’ books (if you decide to get them)?
10. Ask him/her to describe the most difficult wedding they have shoot in their wedding career. Ask what was the final outcome
11. How long will they keep negatives on file?
12. What kind of camera will they use? Is it film or digital?
13. Can you have a mix of black/white and color photos? (If this is done in digital this should be no problem and there shouldn’t be any additional charge for it). How many pictures will be in my finished album?
14. How long after your wedding will you get proofs? Will they download all the proofs for you to have? There is absolutely no reason for a photographer to keep your proofs indefinitely and there shouldn’t be a charge for them. If your photographer is trying to charge you
15. Get some references from recent (I mean 6mon-1yr) couples. This way you can find out if they were to do it again – would they use the same photogrpher.
Finally –
What does your gut say? Do you feel comfortable with this person? Did you pick this person because of their ‘name’ or because you think they will capture your day?

Remember even if every person has a camera, there will be only 1 official wedding book. This is what you will live with for the rest of your life so you have to be sure of the person you pick – well as sure as you can be. Don’t let anyone pressure you to making a decision immediately. Like choosing your partner, you are going to spend the rest of your life with this decision so, take your time.

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