Sunday, July 6, 2014

Picking The Right Photographer For Your Wedding

There are a couple really important things to consider when picking the right wedding photographer to you. There's no one-size fits all - someone who is your dream photographer may be a bad pick for your best girlfriend. My advice is coming from ...
(1) being wedding photographer,
(2) having worked for a couple wedding photographers and
(3) hearing first-hand horror stories from both other wedding photographers and couples.

Here are the things you really need to consider when picking the right photographer for you...

Their personality 
Your wedding photographer is someone you need to feel comfortable with and confident in. Just think about it - you need someone you are comfortable talking about money with, someone who can make you feel at ease posing romantically, someone you trust to show up on time.

If you're not comfortable and confident in them for any of those areas, then they will add to your wedding stress.

Their Price
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to be aware of all the costs up front. Your photographer should be honest and clear with you about all the price and you should be planning all costs (the day-of fees as well as packages and products later) into your budget. Nothing makes a situation go downhill as fast as people disagreeing about money whether you're feeling ripped off after the fact or the photographer feels he or she is not getting their paycheck. It's awful for the couple who feels like their photos are being held hostage and it's awful for the photographers who feel like they're not going to get paid their agreed upon wages.

Their Photography
It goes without saying that you should like their style. Just like you shouldn't date someone with the intention of changing them, you shouldn't hire a photographer and expect them to produce the same photos as the 45 different photographers who took your favorite Pinterest wedding shots.

Ask to see a gallery of a full wedding. Seriously.  Take a guess as to what all photographers put on their websites... If you guessed 'their absolute best shots', you're right! A great photographer is one that can produce the quality and style of photography you're wanting consistently. Some photographers are fabulous at candid shots but not as great at posing groups. If having a nice family photo is really important to you, you want to know up front that they're able to produce that.

Their Policies
Price increases: Many photographers have a policy that the prices they quote you are good for X amount of months. Make sure you know when your prints and packages may be subject to price increases so you don't miss your window for ordering your photos and albums.

Digital negatives: Make sure you're clear on the terms of the use for digital negatives. Policies can range vastly - Some photographers do not give out digital negatives while some ask that your purchase X amount of prints first. Some have options to pay less for the disc of low-resolution, watermarked images or more for a the disc of print-worthy resolution pictures. And some give you a disc with the photos on them but they're locked so that you can't use them in slideshows, share them on Facebook or get them printed anywhere. Talk to your photographer about their policies on digital negatives.

Turnaround time: This varies wildly as well and I can't tell you how disappointed people are when they didn't ask for an estimate of turnaround time beforehand and ended up getting their photos a year later.

Second shooter: Second shooters can be a great choice - you can have one photographer take pictures of the bride and her dad right before they walk down the aisle while the other photographer is getting the shots of the groom seeing his bride for the first time. One photographer can do the family group shots after the ceremony while the other photographer can get candid, fun shots at the cocktail hour. The pros: more coverage, less chance of a moment being missed. The cons: the added cost and they may not be as good as your main photographer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dear Brides... From, A Photographer

Dear Brides... From, A Photographer 
What I've learned from wedding day bumps, wrinkles, catastrophes, near disasters and narrowly avoided calamities.

This is definitely a work in progress but here are a few pieces of advice I would give to all brides-to-be as a wedding photographer.

1. If you don't want to see your groom before the wedding, be careful of social media! I've been at weddings where the bride was just on her smart-phone and saw a picture of her groom posted to facebook by one of the groomsmen. 

2. If you have any something special in your hair or your hair parted to one side, make sure you're standing on the correct side of the altar to show that off.

3. Kiss a litttttlllleee bit longer than normal for the 'You may now kiss the bride moment"... It ensures you get a nice, good shot of it.

4. Always budget a few minutes extra for each scheduled event so that there's never a rushed feeling. You'll be happy for any down-time but you'll regret any rushed time. 

5. Along that line, make sure to leave enough time between when the hairstylist and makeup artist actually LEAVE and the ceremony start time to do photos of you as well as you and your bridesmaids.

6. If you're doing a first-look, make sure to coordinate that with your photographer and if there's only one photographer, figure out which of you you want him or her to photograph first (i.e. your face as you see your groom or his face as he sees you). 

7. Make sure to dry off the bridesmaid's flowers before taking them out of any vases/water or they'll drip. The drips wont stain people's dresses but they may show up in photos.

8. Bring needle, thread, safety pins, etc. I've had several weddings where one or more of the bridesmaid's dress zippers broke. And it wasn't a catastrophe because we had sewing supplies on hand!

9. If you're getting ready at the venue, make sure it's clear who's bringing what. I've had brides realize 20 minutes before the ceremony that no one was 'assigned' to bring their undergarments and so no one did.

10. Ask your officiator to make an announcement to have family and the bridal party stay close by after the ceremony if you're doing family photos then. Family photos can be either 15 minutes long total if everyone's nearby or it can turn into 45 minute fiasco (cutting into the celebration fun!) if you lose grandpa to the bar and Aunt Edna to her catching-up conversations.

11. Don't forget to talk to your photographer about their dinner/break. Nobody likes to be photographed while they're eating so normally dinner is the best time to let your photographer eat. If you are providing a meal for your photographer (and his or her assistants), follow up with your caterer about it! I've been to weddings where the bride and groom intended to feed me but they forgot to follow up with the caterer and I had to photograph for 8+ hrs on an empty stomach. Or they had buffet food for everyone (me included) but no plate or cutlery for me.