Choosing a photographer for your wedding day is usually no easy task. They are one of the most important vendors you will hire, because they are creating the images that you will display for the rest of your life and pass down for generations. They will likely create your first family heirloom, which is the wedding album that you will always cherish, and they will be with you most of your wedding day. Here are some things to consider when choosing the photographer that is right for you.
You Love Their Work
This is the most obvious thing to consider when choosing your wedding photographer. After all, you want to love your images, right? Most photographers develop a personal style that is unique to them through both their shooting style and their editing style. A photographer whose work you truly love will always be worth the investment. Your wedding will only happen once, and this is the one time to really invest in something important that you will look back on for the rest of your life. Hiring a photographer who has a low price, but you don’t love their work, can come with risks and leave you wishing you had hired the one you initially wanted. Money is replaceable, but your memories are not, and wedding photos cannot be redone. Make sure you ask your potential photographer to show you either a whole wedding that will likely be similar to yours, or some examples from every key moment of a wedding. Ideally, you want to see at least 100 images from the same wedding to get a feel for the photographer’s style of shooting the whole day. Most photographers are happy to show you if you ask.
They Have Backup Plans
It is absolutely critical that your photographer has a backup plan for everything. First they need a backup for all of their gear, which includes a backup camera, lenses, flashes, batteries, memory cards, triggers, and more. If their camera breaks in the middle of your wedding, they need to be able to just reach in their bag and grab their backup camera. Weddings happen so fast that they won’t have time to just go buy a new one, or to stop shooting the day all together. These precious moments are too important to be missed. Technology is unreliable; hard drives crash and memory chips can corrupt. Most professional cameras have slots for two memory cards in it, which means that every shot captured will be backed up onto two separate cards at the same time. This is also critical, because it helps prevent image loss in case anything happens to one of the memory cards, so that your images stay safe on a backup memory card. They also need to properly back up all of the files after the wedding. Most photographers will back files up onto multiple external hard drives, as well as their computer. This protects your images against hard drive crashes. Ask your potential photographer about their back up gear, and how they store your images following the wedding. You can also ask how long they will store the images for, in case something happens to your album or files after you have already received them, and you need them replaced.
Another backup they should have in place is another photographer. In the rare event of an emergency before, or at, your wedding, there should be someone they can call to cover for them. Some photographers will always bring a second shooter to help tell the story of your wedding day from multiple perspectives. There are endless benefits to having a second shooter, such as having different angles captured at the same time or having the photographers in two different places at the same time. Another less obvious benefit to having a second shooter is that they act as a backup as well. This can make moments even less likely to be missed, and it also means you wouldn’t have to wait for the backup photographer to arrive in the unlikely event of an emergency. Asking your potential photographer about their back up plans can help ease any worry and give you a peace of mind knowing your wedding memories will be captured and protected.
They Have Business Insurance
Many couples don’t think to ask their potential photographer if they have business insurance, yet it is very important. Ultimately, it demonstrates a level of professionalism and shows you that they take their work seriously without cutting corners to save costs at a large risk. Every professional photographer needs both liability insurance and general business insurance. This protects your wedding as well because you can have a peace of mind knowing they will have their camera replaced quickly, if anything should happen to it shortly before your wedding.
They’ll Meet You First
It’s quite important to get to know a photographer before booking with them, since you will be spending most of your wedding day with them near you. You want to make sure that you like them as a person as well, and that they present themselves professionally. If distance is an issue, a video consultation over Skype or another similar platform would work as well. You want to make sure they are friendly, professional, and likeable. In-person meetings are also the best way to view any sample product they may have.
They Can Meet Your Needs
If you want to have two photographers provided, in order to capture your full wedding from multiple perspectives, but they only have one available, that may not be the best match. Same goes for coverage length, heirloom products, and travel. Think about what your ‘must haves’ are in a wedding collection or package. There may be something you can compromise on, but it’s important to make sure you are happy with what you choose, rather than wishing you had chosen the photographer who can create a beautiful album for you, for example. Most photographers have plenty of heirloom products available, even if they’re not mentioned in the wedding collections they have created. Simply ask your photographer if they have what you want available for purchase along with your wedding collection, or if they are able to create a custom collection for you to suit your needs.
They Have Positive Reviews
One way to know if you will be happy with the final product is to look for reviews from that photographer’s previous wedding clients. You will get a general sense of how happy that photographer makes their clients. You will also see what those clients felt really stood out for them about that photographer. For example, clients may comment on how many compliments they have received on the photos, or how flexible and friendly the photographer was. Look for qualities mentioned in the reviews that resemble what you are looking for in a photographer. If you don’t see any reviews online, feel free to ask the photographer for testimonials or references.
They Know How to Light Your Venue
Lighting is the most important aspect of photography. How the camera reads light is what creates a photo; whether that’s natural light, flash, or a combination of both. A photographer not only needs to know how to maintain proper exposure, but they also need to know how to shoot in your venue. They don’t need to have shot there before, but they need to know what works in certain situations. Barn receptions, for example, can be extremely dark with high, wood ceilings that can be very tricky if the photographer isn’t extremely comfortable with how to use proper flashes. For venues with very dark ceilings and/or high ceilings, the photographer may need to bring lights and light stands. A natural light photographer may not be the right choice in that scenario, but may work great for an outdoor brunch reception. Ask your potential photographer what their lighting plan is, and if they have examples of their work from similar venues and/or lighting situations. This will give you a good idea of whether they are able to provide the quality of work you need for your wedding. Some venues may have restrictions on flash, such as some churches, so ask your photographer what their plan is to ensure your images look their best. Inform your photographer as soon as possible about any venue restrictions so that they can plan ahead.
Once you have gone through their work, met with them, and thoroughly read their contract, you may have a gut feeling about whether that photographer is the right one for you. Many couples just know, and will realize it shortly after the consultation when they have had time to talk with their partner about what they liked. If there are any hesitations you and your partner may have, it never hurts to address them with the potential photographer. Some photographers are flexible.
At the end of the day, you want to truly love your wedding photos for the rest of your life, so considering all of these topics will help you make such an important decision.
Michelle Lewis Photography
Your Oshawa and Durham Region Photographer