For a bride and groom, choosing a wedding photographer isn’t easy. Why? Because you’re bombarded with misleading advertising, confusing claims, simply bad information, super-low prices and high-pressure sales to unqualified photographers and near-worthless gimmicks. I’ve dedicated my business to educating and serving brides and grooms just like you. Now, with this information, you can make an informed, intelligent decision.
Here are 5 steps to help you avoid Wedding photographer rip-offs.
1. The Portfolio- Check out their website. Most professional photographers keep a curated portfolio on their website. This is a good way to gauge their style of photography and see if it’s the way you want your wedding to be shot. If they have a portfolio, look a little deeper. For starters, Consistency. Is there a consistent Style and level of professionalism? Have they covered a full wedding? Do they have consistent portraits that meet your artistic taste? If the photos look good to you, you’re off to a good start. Checking the portfolio goes hand in hand with examining the second step, lighting.
2. Lighting- Proper lighting is essential. Be prepared, there are a lots of "Natural Light Photographers" out there. They may be amazing photographers that can take great Natural light photos, but it generally means they don’t know how to use off camera lighting. It could be in your best interest to hire a photographer who is equipped and proficient with off-camera lighting set-ups. For example, if you've ever been to a ceremony or reception that was poorly lit and dark, or outside with unfavorable, harsh unflattering, natural light, likely the photos taken without use of off-camera lighting, do not come out too flattering. In these less than favorable situations, off-camera lighting can take the ordinary to extraordinary.
3. Budget- The big question now, do they fit your budget? This may be hard to determine, since not all photographers post their prices on their website. In addition, it may be difficult to understand the all the different combinations of services to be offered. Some will offer all your photos on a disc, while others will include an engagement session. They may shoot by themselves or with a second photographer. They may have albums or canvases, or they may only allow you to get prints through them limiting third party options. This will require some inquiry on you part. If the prices are available on their website, you’re off to a good start. Photographers usually have their price points based on hours of coverage. To better understand how long you need your photographer start by accounting for preparation time, travel time if there is going to be more than one location you will be at during the day. Make sure to listen and trust your photographer on recommendations. It’s surprising how fast the day will go and every photographer’s nightmare is running out of time. Time is needed to get you the best possible shots we can.
4. Contract- You need a contract! NEVER EVER hire a wedding photographer without one. It can turn into a negative experience very fast for either party if there isn’t one. Things to make sure are in the contract- their legal obligation to fulfill all services they promised to render. This includes the time they start to when they leave. Also the delivery time of physical products like prints and albums. How many photos are to be delivered and when. Things to double check are if there are limits to your photos, such as altering them after delivery, where you can print them, sharing them on social media or even with the other venders that you used for your wedding. Also there will be the terms of the deposit to retain their services. Check to see how many days before your wedding day you have to pay or cancel. But there are somethings to expect too. For example a standard model release. In layman terms, you are giving us the right to use your image as we see fit. Now this isn’t really anything to be afraid of because most of the time it is for us to add to our already carefully produced portfolio. We love our photos so much we want every client to see how our newest wedding turned out. But if you’re a privet person don’t be afraid to inquire privacy options. No matter what, look through your contract and make sure your comfortable with everything in there.
5. Communication- And this brings me to my last and easily the most important thing to consider when picking a wedding photographer. COMMUNICATION. It should be easy to talk to them. And they should be wanting to talk to you. Your photographer should be able to communicate with ease about what you’re getting through them and make it easy to understand all the little things your getting. If you need more clarification about the photos, the products or even the contract, they should be able to put your mind at ease. Do they meet your priorities when you’re ready to hire them? And above all else do you get along? They are going to be with you and sharing all those precious moments, being there for the laughs and the joyous tears. So do your instincts tell you to book them or maybe they are telling you to look for another photographer? If everything screams Book this Photographer now it’s because now you know how to make the best informed, intelligent decision to have the best wedding photos possible.