Choosing a Wedding Photographer
Weddings are a stressful time leading up to one of the most important days of one’s life. In this post, we will attempt to help smooth the way concerning The Wedding Photographer. Below are 5 things to consider when choosing a Wedding Photographer.
1. The Decision to Use a Friend or Relative with a Nice Camera – Before you make this crucial decision about the lifetime memories you will be documenting, ask yourself these questions:
A. Is saving a little money worth having horrible and disappointing photos that you will live with the rest of your life?
B. Is saving a little money worth the risk of damaging your relationship?
C. What are the things that are most important about my wedding? What will last and what won’t really matter in 10 years or even a year or a month? What will we look back on for the rest of our lives?
The fact that someone has purchased an expensive camera does not mean they will be able to capture your once in a lifetime moments. The camera is only a tool and merely does what the Photographer directs it to do. A good Wedding Photographer will be able to take substandard equipment and get better results than someone who has no idea what they are doing using extremely expensive equipment, because a professional photographer has spent years training and educating themselves about not only the technical aspects of the camera, but also about framing, composition, lighting and editing among other skills. A professional photographer will have the hundreds of hours of experience and study to do what an amateur cannot even fathom.
Another thing to keep in mind: If your friend or relative is busy trying to photograph the wedding, they will be unable to enjoy the celebration and will also not be in any of the photos. This is not fair to them and could possibly cause resentment at some point. Don’t be another statistic of a failed friendship or family relationship.
I would like to share a personal experience with wedding photography. Before I became a photographer, a friend stated he had been a “photographer since he was a kid” and offered to shoot my wedding. I thought, “Wow, how could I refuse such a great offer?”. The wedding was during the day, a beautiful day, with plenty of light and natural shading from trees, the type of light for wonderful wedding photographs. Instead of amazing photos, we ended up with dark and out of focus prints. The disappointment was great and the memories we hoped to document and cherish for the rest of our lives were ruined. It was definitely not worth it to save a buck. If I could go back, I would have spent the money to guarantee beautiful memories of our event. Needless to say, I learned the hard way.
2. Price - Let’s assume at this point that you’ve decided that the pitfalls of having a friend or relative photograph your wedding is just not worth it. Just as the most expensive car doesn't necessarily mean it is the best choice for our transportation needs, the highest priced Wedding Photographer is not always an option for everyone. That doesn't mean the least expensive Wedding Photographer is your only option. There is a happy medium. Be cautious of shopping by price alone. It has been said that the excitement of a low price is quickly replaced by the agony of a poor product/and or service. Do you really want to trust your special day to the Wedding Photographer just because they have the lowest price or even the highest price? This is not like shopping for a TV. Your best bet is to find a balance of skill and value.
In my next blog, I will address the questions you should ask every Wedding Photographer before you make the decision to hire them. There are many things to keep in mind when choosing the person to be responsible for your wedding photography. The work involved in wedding photography is not limited to showing up at the wedding and taking photos. The initial consultation, wedding schedule review and planning, venue evaluation, equipment considerations and planning, equipment procurement and/or rental, preparing for some wedding schedule changes to reorganize, assistant(s) to schedule and/or hire, the actual wedding shoot, sorting uploaded photos, choosing photos (culling), editing photos (a very tedious process), presenting photos to the client, re-editing photos, ordering photos and/or photo books, phone, text and email communication with the client, among other things are all important steps in the Wedding Photography process. If a prospective “photographer” is not familiar or willing to put in the work necessary for your wedding, he/she is not someone you should consider to document this very important moment in your lives.
3. Comparing the Work of Photographers - When comparing the portfolios of Wedding Photographers it can be helpful to not only look at wedding shots they are featuring, but also their Event Photography, since more and more weddings are comprised of "candid" photos. It's not enough for someone to simply hold down the shutter button and fire away like a machine gun. The skill involved in that type of photography is zero and an expensive camera will not increase that skill. Quality candids take a good sense of timing, awareness and attention to detail to capture the feeling of a moment, which is lost on the photographer whose attention is simply focused on holding down the shutter.
Take a look at the photographer's editing technique. Non-staged events can be challenging, and while a photographer may have had good timing on a particular shot, the lighting and/or composition may be lacking and will need to be adjusted. Too many people who call themselves photographers pay zero attention to or know nothing about editing and present appalling photos of great moments.
4. Offering Food in Exchange for a Discount - Do not insult your photographer, or any other artist for that matter, by offering food and/or drinks to lower the cost of Wedding Photography. Food is customary and you will sound deficient in class by offering $15 in food in exchange for a discount. This is similar to your employer offering to buy you lunch instead of giving you a full paycheck. The reality is that most Wedding Photographers will be too busy working and will have no time to relax and eat.
5. Communication of your desired outcome - Communicating with your Wedding Photographer is paramount so they will best understand and appreciate your individuality. It is important to communicate the types of shots you prefer (Candid shots, Pre-wedding photos, Group Shots, Family Shots, Individual Shots, Creative Shots, etc.) as well as a complete schedule and hours needed for the pre-wedding, wedding and reception. Communication is key to ensure you and your Wedding Photographer are on the same page and everything turns out to your satisfaction.
At Matt Sweadner Photography, we strive to provide a terrific value combined with quality and professional photos that you can cherish for a lifetime. Our Wedding Photography rates start at only $395 and include fully edited prints as well as digital images which can be enjoyed for generations to come.