Monday, August 29, 2011

Choosing the RIGHT photographer ~ what people don't always think about.

Choosing the right photographer:
     You will want to speak to many people, get referrals from friends, family etc. and use reputable resources (online, bridal shows, local magazines etc.) to find the photographers that you will spend your time interviewing, put in the time researching this and it will pay off.   Check out their website, blog and Facebook pages and make sure that you really like the style of the photographs, and look for quality photographs.  A good photographer should have a really good website.  That is a key component to running a photography business.  They also should either Blog or Facebook or sometimes both to communicate what they are up to in the social networks.
     Once you have chosen your top 5-8 or so picks from research already done, contact them and find out if your date is available.   That may eliminate several for you if you have a popular date or are booking last minute. Many photographers book up a year in advance, but I have noticed that with the change in the economy recently this has changed some.  A statistic on The Knot this month stated that wedding photographers on average were being booked 7.5 months out from the wedding day.  Find out whether this person is a full-time professional photographer, or if they have another job and do photography as a part-time job.  Why would this matter?    The full-time professional will give all of their time to you and they have invested in this as their profession so they will take it quite a bit more seriously than someone who is not. 
      You will read online and in magazines a list of questions to ask when you are looking for a photographer for your wedding.   Most of these are very good and you should use some sort of set of standard questions when interviewing multiple photographers so you can really see the differences in each.  Print off a list or two that you like and make sure to ask those questions as well as what I have added here.
     Being comfortable with your photographer is the number 1 most important thing after the quality of their work in my opinion.   You will likely be with this person more on your wedding day than any other vendor and certainly more than even your new husband.  So be SURE that you like your photographer and have a really great rapport. 
Things to ask that you won’t read about typically are things like:
- Tell me about the qualifications and experience of the 2nd photographer (if there is one).  Will this 2nd photographer be able to shoot on their own or will they solely be used to capture the candid moments and stay with you the entire time, how long will we have that 2nd  photographer – know what their purpose is.
- Ask if they are part of any professional organizations, are they insured, licensed?  Some venues require this.  And it is another sign of someone who will really make sure you are taken care of properly throughout the whole process.
 - How does the photographer handle last minute changes?  What if someone is running late?  What if the flowers don’t arrive on time?  What if it rains?   What if you change your mind on something?   How does the photographer handle delicate family situations?  Of course we want everything to go perfectly on your wedding day, but sometimes life happens and things just get hectic on the wedding day itself.  How will your photographer handle the stress of these situations?   If they are flexible and can go with the flow of the day and don’t seem stressed to answer these questions you will likely have someone who can handle the structured chaos of a wedding.  If they are uneasy about these questions, or are too stringent with the schedule, then that tension may spill over onto you and add stress to you on your wedding day.    The goal should be great photographs under any situation, so ask the hard questions about the wedding day itself.
Other things to think about:
The location itself, will there be lots of walking needed or driving to get to the locations you want to be photographed, and who will drive? – some photographers will take you around especially if they are already familiar with the location.
Are you comfortable with a male photographer to capture the getting ready shots in the dressing rooms?  Will the 2nd shooter be male or female, does that matter to you?    How will they dress? Will they bring extra lighting stands, ladders etc. that may interfere with the ambiance of your wedding, or will it be OK with you?  
Ask them to tell you what you should expect from them in detail on the wedding day and take notes.
And of course, when should you see your photos and how?  And any other items album, disc etc, what is the timeframe to get these items, how will you get them? – this can take some time so please understand that 60-90 days to create and deliver an album is appropriate, but 6 months probably is not.
I know this sounds like a great deal, however, these are the things that I hear over and over from bridesmaids, parents and friends of my brides who tell me that they wished they had known some of these things before they chose their photographer.  You are the bride, it is your day, you should have it the way you want it, and you should surround yourself with vendors who believe that way too!
Valerie Foley
VF Photography

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