By Tori Rogers, Hawaiian Island Wedding Planners
photo by Wilber Bergado Photography
Selecting your wedding photographer is one of the most essential parts of your wedding planning process. Although many couples are budget conscious, it is imperative to consider more than the photographer’s packages or fees when researching and deciding on who will document your milestone celebration. Think about it…would you select your doctor based on the his/her cheapest fees? Of course not! You would consider the professional’s years of experience, how s/he relates to patients and peers, the type of equipment used, the hospital of affiliation, etc. That is how you should think of your photographer…a quality professional using quality equipment, who affiliates with reputable people and organization, has years of experience, and clicks with your personality. You can only capture the moments of your wedding day once…so make sure you choose the right photographer to capture and preserve the memories of your event.
Here are some tips on being an educated shopper for your wedding photographer:
*The Internet and local phone book are excellent resources to start shopping. Also ask your friends and family for recommendations.
* Anyone can design a great web site, so, if you can meet with the photographer in person, try to look through various albums and portfolios. On Hawaii there is a place called the Wedding Café, where some photographers keep sample albums for couples to review at their convenience. If your hometown has a place like that, take advantage of it.
*When looking at a photographer’s portfolio and sample photos, be sure to examine the photographer’s style. Does the style seem to capture the emotions of the people? Are the shots posed? Is there an artistic edge to the photographer’s style? Are the photos more traditional? What is the photographer’s signature shot or style? Some key words include photojournalism, candids, portraits, groups, etc.
*How much time coverage do you want of your event? Do you want photos taken of you getting ready? Do you want coverage of your ceremony and/or reception?
*What is your rapport like with the photographer? Does s/he seem to speak freely with you and make you feel at ease? Is the presentation very structured and impersonal? Does s/he seem helpful about offering photography tips regarding your wedding location or time of day? Did people look relaxed in the photos you viewed?
*What type of equipment is used? How are photos processed?
*Does the photographer attend workshops, conferences, classes, etc. to stay up to date on new photo techniques and equipment?
*How many years has your photographer been specializing in weddings? What type of photography did s/he do before weddings? What does s/he like about being a wedding photographer? Will the main/primary photographer shoot the wedding, or will there be a secondary photographer to take photos? How many photographers are included in the price/package?
*What services are included in the package? Will there be a CD/DVD of high resolution photos (“the rights”) included in your package? Will all of the photos taken be on it? Will there be an Internet viewing of your photos for people to see and order photos? Will photos be edited? What is the turnaround time? Is an album included? If so, learn the different types offered. What is the cost for any over-time charges? Is there a proof album? Are there special items or services that they offer that others do not offer?
*What is the backup plan if the photographer is unable to make it to the wedding? What happens if the photographer is out of business when your wedding date arrives? Is the photographer insured? Is there another memory tool of the photos if the memory card is damaged or lost? Are the photos backed up? Is the photographer insured? Are there unresolved issues with the Better Business Bureau?
*Ask the photographer how his /her approach to your wedding photos would differ from other weddings photographed.
*Ask for references and actually call or email them regarding their experiences with the photographer.
*Make sure you understand the payment policy and any contractual obligations.
*What happens if your wedding date needs to be changed? What is the cancellation policy?
***Your photographer should not be your minister, wedding planner, florist, DJ, or any other professional position in your wedding. For quality professional photography, your photographer should ONLY be a professional photographer and not a person with any other responsibilities.