5 Tips For Hiring a Wedding Photographer
You'll have everything else planned to perfection and will also need a professional wedding photographer you trust to get things done without anyone having to micro manage them. This is such an important part of your wedding day and you'll need someone you won't clash with who can seamlessly be a part of your team and get all the right shots of not only the bridal party and your dress, but the decor and flowers, that first sight from the groom, your first kiss, and the fun at your reception!
1. Have your budget in mind before you begin looking
When you start to look for a wedding photographer, you'll need at least a general idea of your budget since you'll almost immediately begin contacting and interviewing professionals. If they're too far beyond your budget, you don't want to waste time for either of you. But keep in mind that low-budget photographers may indeed be too good to be true and you may end up disappointed.
2. Referrals, research, and photography styles
Check with friends and family, read online reviews, Google the photographer's name, and ask your wedding planner for suggestions first, then get to researching photography styles and photographer's websites. Become familiar with the different styles of photography you most enjoy in wedding photos whether they're traditional poses or those that are more "reality" shots without posing. Some photographers balance both of the above while still others may be edgy or artistic.
Don't be lured in by the website design since that's a graphic designer's doing and not your photographer's. You need to see the real deal. If the photographer's website has only selective shots of their best work, don't be afraid to ask for two or three full albums or galleries of other weddings they've shot. You really need to see exactly what they've produced for other couples, not just the best three or four pictures.
Check out the quality and crispness of the shots, in lighting that will be similar to yours, what they were able to capture in each, if they got pictures of many people (not just the couple), and were guests and the party shots with smiling, relaxed or emotional faces and actions and not stiff or frozen. Also be sure you'll be viewing YOUR photographer's albums and not someone else's if hiring from a larger company with several photographers.
3. Interview the photographer
You've found a couple of photographers on your short list and they're in the ballpark financially, so contact them to see if they're available on your wedding date first. If so, book an interview right away. Do the interview either in person, via Skype, or at the very least on the phone if you're planning a destination wedding and can't jet off to another country to find your picture pro. This is very very important as you'll need your personalities to match!
You'll need someone you like well enough to be with you at almost every moment of your very long day and someone who just knows what to do when you're in the whirlwind of your special day and unfocused. It might sound silly, but you'll need a bond with them, and you'll need someone as excited about your vision as you are so they will do their best!
They also need enough experience that they can be assertive but friendly and get great shots without annoying your guests or shrinking away from a challenge. Go with your gut here, you need to truly trust this person. If there are any red flags at all, keep looking until you've exhausted all other possibilities.
4. Talk about packages
You'll need to nail down your price by finding out what's included in the basic package, deciding how many albums you'll want, how many hours the photographer can be there, if there are overtime fees, any extras you want from their offerings, if you want them to shoot at pre-parties or post-brunches, negotiations to use their digital proofs (if you want to use them online or print your own you'll need to buy the rights to them), etc. Also, ask when or if a deposit is due and if they take a payment plan if needed and if they'll need travel fees paid.
5. Post-production details
Make sure you discuss this so you won't be expecting delivery too soon and so it can be put in your contract. Your photographer will be shooting enormous "raw files" they will need to individually edit to size, color levels, etc. Obviously, this varies, but your professional could spend 40 plus hours editing your pictures, and if there are any special effects that you've requested like retouching or using super-saturated colors, changing backgrounds and more, that will also take additional time. So it's easy to say it can take approximately 4-8 weeks to get your proofs back, depending on their client load. You'll also want to know up front approximately how many pictures to expect, if they will be viewable online or CD, and if they will be in high or low resolution.