How to choose a Wedding Photographer
Follow these guidelines to locate the perfect wedding photographer to document your Wedding Day
When You start planning Your own Wedding, You have a ranking of priorities of all Wedding Services You might need. But usually, the first three positions are hold by: Wedding Venue, place where celebrate the Ceremony and Photographer. In this first article of How to plan Your own Wedding series let's see how to choose a Wedding Photographer!
Choosing a Wedding Photographer won't be easy as it sounds: outside it's so plenty of Photographers that You could be confused. In the rush of booking one of them, You could be mistaken or regret Your choice.
How can You take the right choice? take a breath, keep calm and always remember: planning Your own Wedding is funny as the Wedding itself!
Below are my simple tips about how to choose a Wedding Photographer:
Looking for the Wedding Photography Style tailored to You"It takes all kinds", as they say. There are many style of photography and, I dare say, every Photographer has his own style, but You should look for the Wedding Photography Style that suits You best. I consider three Wedding Photography Styles: photojournalism, traditional and glamour.
In photojournalism style the photographer shoots totally unstaged. In traditional style the photographer gives suggestions to bride, groom and guests and is a guide for posing and timing. Glamour style is totally staged, but bride and groom need to be used to posing.
Be aware about photo editingThere's a style in photography, but there's a style in editing photos too. Your photographer told about it, right? Be suspicious of ones who deliver Your photos just few days after the Wedding Day (or the same day!): a customized and devoted editing needs time, a lot of time.
This doesn't concern actions like smoothing Your skin — it's a quick task. This is about the photographer's interpretation of the whole Wedding Day: the emotions and feelings that merge into a balance of tones and colors, even in black and white developing. Just like an artisan who works on his creations, to find the perfect harmony through the different moments of the Wedding Day takes a long time.
So, while You're choosing a Wedding Photographer, make sure he will be clear about his editing process, because it's a key element for You to choose him consciously.
Look for mutual empathyDuring my meetings with couples I always say that they will spend a lot of time with their photographer. It's very important that will be mutual empathy for many reasons: photographer will shoot having sincere fun and emotional involvement, You will be at ease from the very beginning of the shooting, even if You're not used to it. And, maybe, You will find an italian friend as well!
Rely on a Professional PhotographerProfessional Wedding Photographers have no official register here in Italy. So, how are You sure to find a Professional Wedding Photographer?
A first clue could be his (or his Studio's) VAT number (Partita IVA or P.IVA or P.I. in italian): You can easily find it at the bottom of the websites, because here in Italy it's mandatory to make it public. If there's no VAT number, maybe You're dealing with an amateur.
A real and pleasant Website showing his work is another positive signal. Don't trust photographers who present their work only on a Facebook page.
Always ask to see complete wedding photoshoots — and photobook layouts, if You're going to buy one of it —, more than one, if they are not available on the website. Distrust people that shows few photos — maybe the only good ones — from different weddings.
Another good sign of a trustworthy and going on business is a Studio where meet the clients and collaborations with luxury photobooks makers.
In the end, since today there are many online wedding photographers communities (no, WeddingWire and Zankyou aren't such communities), if a Photographer is a member of one or more of them, it's a guarantee that he passed usually strict requirements for the enrollment.
Let the Studio be clear about the Photographer assigned to You for the photoshoot and editing / photobook layoutSometimes unpleasant things happen. I know about Photographers that book more than one Wedding per day. Then they choose only one of them and go for the photoshoot, sending their colleagues to other Weddings. Sometimes they inform You before You book them, sometimes they don't. I think this is a disrespectful behaviour: You chose a Photographer, his style, the way You feel comfortable with him and... You have to spend Your Wedding with a stranger!
So, before signing a contract, be sure about the Photographer assigned to You and demand his name to be written on the contract itself.
Be well-informed about photobook makers and layout editorsIf You're the kind of persons that imagine Their memories printed on a luxury Wedding Book or Photobook, while You're choosing a Wedding Photographer it's crucial to define who are the photobook makers and the layout editors.
Every product can be manufactured or hand made at different quality levels, therefore each product has his price range.
Making a photobook could be easy, making a Luxury Photobook is very difficult. Thecnology is always developing, but high quality printing is not easy to achieve: only few people master adjustment of new HD printers and Fine Art papers in order to reach perfection. Also, it's difficult to find innovative materials to cover books and boxes with: and find the right way to print on them! So, there are this few Masters and other manufacturers of mediocre products: faded or low-res prints, non customizable and fagile photobooks.
When a Photographer will show You a photobook, always ask the name of the manufacturer and find out information on the Internet about them: You'll soon know the quality of their products abd their value.
7. Deal and contract
Demand a contractIf You come this far choosing a Wedding Photographer and Your likely Photographer passed all the previous tests, You should begin to trust him. But don't leave Your deal unwritten: write a complete contract with a list of all included services, their costs and all the possible extra costs (e.g. overtime, photobook, prints). The contract is patchy or extra costs are not clear? Have it clear or change Photographer!
Meet Your Photographer!Previous suggestions were about Photographer's shortcomings, this point is for You, bride and groom to be!
Most of the time We receive requests of quote by e-mail, which includes only few information (date and place of Wedding). Well, it's the worst message You could send! I know, You need to know how much do Wedding Photographers cost but, believe me, if the Photographer will send to You that information, it will be totally useless!
Every Photographer has his working method and his costs depend on that. How can a Photographer tell about his working method with a quote, with a couple of numbers? He could write an e-mail but, honestly, how many of You will read a long e-mail?
So, what should You do? You have a list of Photographers You like most, You have this list of suggestions: start slimming down the first one, then make some phone calls to the remaining Photographers. If They're abroad, arrange Skype videocalls or write down an accurate e-mail — now You know what to ask.
This is a good way to know if there's empathy and if someone can't pass any of the aforesaid tests. Try to set a budget for Photographic services and let the Photographer know it, tell him about You and what You're looking for: now He has enough information to give You the best offering for You, having the chance to speak about his working method.
Next step, if the Wedding is not abroad, is the real meeting with the few selected Photographers: meet (really or virtually) them is the only way to choose Your Wedding Photographer among them.
Now You have no excuses: You have all the information about how to choose a Wedding Photographer!
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