How to find your wedding photographer

I was at a wedding consultation last night with a bride-to-be.  We were discussing the importance of investing in a wedding photographer.  Yes.  Investing.  That is the exact word I use.  It means to put money to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or APPRECIATE IN VALUE.  That’s right, your wedding photos will APPRECIATE IN VALUE!  I hear sad stories all the time about wedding photos that didn’t turn out good.  Choosing the wrong photographer seems to be the most common regret of brides and grooms from their wedding day.   It’s sad because they can’t go back and retake them.  Your wedding day happens once, and you get one shot at it!  This doesn’t mean that you should go with the most expensive or popular photographer.  It means you should put time, energy and effort into finding the right one.  The future bride I was talking to last night has taken photos at weddings before and completely understood what I was saying.  She knows that it’s one of the most important decisions and investments she can make for her wedding.  It was refreshing to meet up with someone who understood the value of it all.  Below is an article I wrote last year on how to find a good photographer that fits you. 

HOW TO FIND YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER by Kristen Purrington

You probably expect me to say that choosing a wedding photographer is the most important decision of your day.   Well, it’s not.  The most important decision is choosing the right spouse.  Then in a close second, is choosing a good photographer.  *smile*  In the great words of Aaron Siskind, “Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving.  What you have caught on film is captured forever.  It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.”  They best way to feel, touch, and experience your wedding day over and over again is to choose the right photographer.

The first step in finding the right photographer for your event is to research, research, research!  Think about when you go shopping for a home or a car.  You usually invest a lot of time, energy and money into it before you find what you want.  The same concept is true when you are shopping for a wedding photographer.  Invest the time, energy and money into one of the most important days of your life!

One of the biggest factors in choosing a photographer is deciding what type of coverage you want?  Believe it or not, there are different ways to cover a wedding.  I’ll narrow it down to three types: traditional, photojournalistic and portrait journalism.

Traditional coverage is just how it sounds.  These photographers usually rely heavily on print sales.  They might pass up the fun detail and candid shots and aim for just the traditional portraits.  Their goal is to take photos that people will purchase for albums or Christmas cards.  Sometimes their packages look inexpensive up front, but be careful, you may end up spending more for prints then you did the initial coverage.  Just make sure to factor in that cost before you make your final decision.  

Photojournalistic coverage is the exact opposite.  This trend was heavily introduced by newspaper photographers who were trying to make some extra dough on the side.  A photojournalist’s approach to photography is to record events as they are happening.  If you want unobtrusive coverage of your wedding with no posed formals, this is the way to go.  Just make sure that you’re okay with not getting any posed shots of family and groups.

Portrait journalism is the happy medium.  Wedding photography is taking on this trend.  It’s a variable blend of both traditional and photojournalistic styles.  Portrait journalists are usually unobtrusive but will occasionally ask people to pose for group formals.  Many of these photographers now offer the digital negatives of your wedding in a package or at an additional price.  I highly recommend looking into that option!  You can save thousands by having the prints made yourself instead of through a studio.   I would just recommend having them printed at a decent lab.  Ask your photographer what they recommend.  There’s no point in paying for professional pictures if you have them printed looking like amateur pictures from Walgreens, Walmart, Target, etc! 

Once you decide what type of coverage you want for your day, determine what your budget is.  Remember not to skimp on this one.  I’ve talked to too many grooms and brides that wished they would’ve spent the money up front for a good photographer.  They saved money by having an uncle or friend take pictures, but ended up paying for it in the long run with dark, noisy and blurred images.  If you want to have good, quality, professional photos, look for someone who has the equipment, experience, and portfolio.  BOTTOM LINE: years from now, the money you spend on your wedding photos will be irrelevant.  What’s important is getting great photos that capture the joy of your wedding day.

When you decide what type of coverage you want and what your budget will allow, start shopping.  Make sure to get referrals from friends and family.  Look through photographer’s websites and blogs.  Compare portfolios between the prospects.  

Remember that you’re also searching for a photographer that will add to the experience of your wedding.  This person will not only be a huge part of your special day, but they will also be a part of the days before and the days after.  Make sure you “click” well and are comfortable with them.

There are so many things to go over before choosing your photographer.  Below are just a few ideas of some of the questions you may want to ask them.

What other items do they offer?  (i.e. digital negatives, album, web gallery, prints)

Will they have a second shooter?

How long do they backup your pictures for?

How long will it take to get your pictures?

How many pictures do they take/give you?

Do they shoot digital or film?

Do they have a sample wedding you can look at?

Are there any additional costs? (i.e.: tax, editing, traveling fee, extra coverage)

Is there a non-refundable deposit?

Do they offer engagement or day-after sessions?

Do their photos reflect an awareness of putting people in flattering poses?

Do they shoot in a style that I like?

Once you decide on the photographer that is the right fit for you, BOOK THEM!  Many photographers fill up more than a year in advance.

Happy shopping!

Here is a funny picture to get all of you future brides and grooms excited to cute the cake!

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