Now that you’re engaged and you’re in the midst of planning your dream wedding, there are many different aspects to keep in mind. For example, you’ll need to choose a date, a venue, a caterer, a florist and so much more. Perhaps one of the most important vendors you’ll need to hire is your wedding photographer. You’ve spent months, possibly years, planning out every minute detail of your wedding and you’ll want to make sure that it’s properly documented in the best quality and method possible.
Why Is Wedding Photography So Important?
Hiring a professional wedding photographer is crucial for capturing the essence of the day and the preserving the emotion and joy that was felt by you and your loved ones. A wedding photographer has a trained eye and extensive experience photographing special days just like yours. You may think that asking a friend who owns a nice camera to shoot your wedding is a great way to cut costs, but this friend doesn’t have the hands-on experience that a professional does. Being aware of how to take advantage of lighting and angles, understanding how to use the different settings on the camera and knowing the best ways to achieve the best shots are just a few of the things that professionals bring to the table that your friend with a nice camera will not. When the wedding is over, the bouquet is tossed and the last piece of cake is eaten, the only thing left from this big day will be the wedding photos. You’ll want nothing more than the images to truly represent how spectacular and beautiful the day was so that you can cherish these memories for generations to come.
Where Do I Find My Perfect Wedding Photographer?
Finding the ideal wedding photographer that suits your personalities and fits your needs requires a bit of research. You’ll want to consider a few things when looking for your dream photographer, such as location, cost, packages and photography style. Although it’s important to stay within your budget, finding a photographer who works well with you and your partner who also has a photography style that you enjoy is key to a happy working relationship. There are several different resources you can use to start your quest for the perfect wedding photographer.
A good way to start your preliminary research is by conducting a simple Google search. If you’re having your wedding in San Francisco, searching for “San Francisco wedding photographer” would provide you with many results that could work.
WeddingWire is one of the largest online wedding resources designed to connect wedding vendors and merchants with engaged couples and party planners. Its extensive online directory provides information on each vendor including contact information, images, FAQ and real client reviews. It’s a fantastic place to start your initial research to help narrow your selections down to a few photographers to choose from. The client reviews are especially helpful as you can see how their past customers felt about the working relationship, the quality of the product received and the value for the money paid.
While WeddingWire is a great directory for all wedding-related vendors, SnapKnot is an online directory specifically for wedding photographers. By focusing on this niche market, SnapKnot is able to provide more specific information such as pricing, affiliated professional associations and detailed package information. Start by entering your budget and location to narrow down your options and browse their image galleries and bios to find a photographer suitable for your tastes. SnapKnot is another great place to look for your dream wedding photographer.
In addition to all your online research, one of the best ways to find a wedding photographer is by asking your friends and family members for referrals. Chances are, more often than not, your network will be able to recommend a wedding photographer and you’re more likely to trust the opinions and suggestions of people you know personally. You’ll be able to ask them what it was like to work with them and if they think that you’ll be a good fit. You’ll also be able to view their work firsthand and ask your friends questions about the photographer that you may not be able to ask otherwise.
How To Choose A Wedding Photographer
You’ve begun researching your potential candidates and have a pool of photographers to choose from. Now you’ll have to consider what traits are important to you. Would you like to have a photographer with many years of experience, or many weddings under her belt? Is it important for you to be able to establish a friendly rapport with an easy-going photographer, or would you prefer for her to remain professional and businesslike? You’ll also want to think about what her photography style is. Many wedding photographers today shoot in a photojournalistic style, meaning they capture moments as the day unfolds in a story-like manner. Maybe you have a few specific posed shots you’ll want to include. If so, you’ll want to find a photographer who is okay with having shot list requests. Make sure you spend some time looking at each candidate’s portfolios so you can see how the final edited images will look. Some photographers combine natural light to create the faded, vintage look while others make their images bright and vibrant with bold colors. If her portfolio does not reflect the type of images you want to have, then this photographer is not for you.
What Questions Should I Ask My Photographer?
Now that you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of options, it’s time to ask each photographer the important questions to evaluate whether or not she would be appropriate for you. The first and most important question to ask is whether or not she has your date available. If not, then unfortunately it’s time to move on to the next candidate. You’ll then want to ask about her experience level and whether or not she’s shot weddings similar to yours. If yes, be sure to ask to see sample galleries. This will allow you to determine if this photographer’s shooting style is one you like.
After you’ve determined that this photographer would be appropriate for you stylistically, you’ll need to find out the logistics behind hiring her. For example, you should ask her how many images you can expect to receive and how long you’ll need to wait for them after the wedding takes place. Some photographers will also edit and retouch these images, so double check to see if yours will be too. Some other important technical questions to ask are whether or not they have liability insurance, when you can receive a written contract, pricing and packages and what her cancellation policy is.
How Much Does A Wedding Photographer Cost?
Wedding photography pricing is difficult to name a number for because of the wide ranges of prices photographers list and the variety of different packages that each photographer offers. While some photographers may quote you in the low thousands, other photographers may quote you in the tens of thousands. Though these prices always take experience level into consideration, they also are varied because of photography packages.
Most professional photographers offer a few different packages to suit their clients’ needs. A typical wedding photography package includes wedding day coverage, a second shooter, the images in a digital format and a wedding album. Of course they offer other items a la carte, such as printed products, enlargements, engagement sessions and day-after sessions.
Given the fact that wedding photographers typically list prices based on package options, wedding photography can range anywhere from $1,500 to $6,500 for a basic photography package.
But does cost really dictate a good photographer? The price tag is not the only factor you should consider when you are searching for your perfect photographer. Just because a photographer is more expensive does not necessarily mean that the quality of the end product is worth that price tag. Though budget is an important thing to consider, the overall quality, experience and skill that your photographer will be able to provide is a much better way to determine whether or not she is the right fit for you.
Though their price tag may initially seem steep, remember that the resulting product you’ll receive is one that will preserve the memories from one of the most important and happiest days of your life.
As you may have noticed during all of your research, many photographers offer wedding albums as part of their photography packages. A wedding album is a gorgeous, tangible keepsake that showcases the wonderful memories and moments from your wedding day in a format that will stand the test of time. Although online galleries are good for sharing instantly, they don’t provide the same look and feel as a beautifully handcrafted, professionally printed wedding album. The quality of the printed images are completely unmatched by any digital format and the durability of a wedding album guarantees that you and your loved ones will be able to enjoy the album generation after generation.
One of the key characteristics of a sturdy, beautiful wedding photo album is that it is flush mount. A flush mount wedding album features pages that are digitally printed as a single image and then mounted on a thick, durable cardstock that does not fold. The pages lay flat to provide a seamless viewing experience. The ink and materials used to create the album are of the utmost quality to give your wedding images the attention they deserve.
Some wedding photographers offer photo books as part of their packages instead of albums. It’s important to distinguish between photo books and photo albums as the difference between the two products is quite measurable. A photo book is printed by a digital press on regular, double-sided paper with either lay flat or regular pages. It can have a soft cover, hard photo cover, leatherette cover or genuine leather cover. A photo album is printed by a photographic process onto professional photo paper, typically in a flush mount format with lay flat pages. It can have a bound genuine leather or premium leather cover or even a metallic cover. When comparing photo books and photo albums, the difference in quality can be seen and felt instantly.
Planning My Wedding Day With The Photographer
Before the actual wedding day, you and your partner will need to set a time to sit down with your photographer to discuss all of your expectations for the big day. You may have a few photo ideas that you’ll want to incorporate into your wedding day shoot that you can run by your photographer at this time. She’ll most likely have a general schedule of the day outlined out, so if you have any special shots you want make sure you’re all on the same page. This is the time for you to discuss what time you expect the photographers to arrive at the venue, who will be shooting the bridesmaids and who will be shooting the groomsmen, when the family shots will be taken and any other logistical concerns you may have. If you are unsure what to expect on the actual day, don’t be afraid to ask your photographer to explain a typical wedding day shoot so that you have a better idea of what will actually happen. The most important thing when aligning expectations is to have an open dialogue so that there are no surprises when the big day finally comes.
Wedding Photographer Etiquette
Wedding photographers are professionals, and they treat each individual wedding as their job. They will arrive at the time you have both agreed upon with the equipment and second shooter that you are expecting. To stay as unobtrusive as possible, wedding photographers will dress appropriately to maintain a professional appearance. Typically, photographers will wear all black in business casual and do their best to blend in with the surroundings. This way they are able to capture natural, candid moments which truly represent what was felt at that time.
It is also important to remember that the purpose of having a wedding photographer is so that she can document your wedding. It may feel strange to have one or two people walking around you snapping photos as you say your vows or share your first kiss, but that is their job and you will be grateful that they were able to capture these moments.
A professional photographer will not drink alcohol at any time, nor will she mingle with the guests an excessive amount. Your photographer will most likely talk to a few of your guests throughout the day because this is their opportunity to network and find future business, but anything outside of a professional topic is inappropriate. If you feel uncomfortable with the amount your photographer is casually mingling, feel free to speak up – this is someone you are paying for their services and a gentle reminder will put them back on track. It is also common courtesy to feed your photographer at the end of the night and treat them as one of your guests.
What Shots Should My Photographer Take?
If you’ve done any browsing online of photographer wedding portfolios or even your married friends’ galleries, you may have noticed that there are a lot of similar poses that pop up over and over. These common shots are popular for a reason – because they are touching, adorable and flattering. They capture the essential moments from your wedding day that you’ll look at and reminisce about the great memory of that moment. Here’s a sample list of some of the most common wedding photo shots:
- Bride’s dress and bridesmaids dresses on a hanger
- Engagement ring and wedding bands
- Bouquets and boutonnieres
- Bride, bridesmaids, groom, groomsmen getting ready
- Family shots
- The first look
- Walking down the aisle
- Exchanging of vows and rings
- The first kiss
- Exiting the venue
- First dance, dance with parents
- Cutting of the cake
- Detail shots of all the décor
- Bouquet and garter toss
- The newlyweds’ departure from the evening
What Exactly Are You Signing Up For When Hiring A Wedding Photographer?
As you go through the process of hiring a wedding photographer, you’ll most likely meet a few times and exchange several emails and phone calls. You’ll establish a friendly rapport with this person, and may even form a strong friendship. However, when it comes down to it, you are forming a business relationship with this person and it’s important to be able to distinguish between the business logistics and the friendly aspects.
A photographer automatically has the copyrights to all images that she shoots. These photos are considered her intellectual property and therefore she is allowed to use these images as she wishes. This means she’s allowed to sell and distribute them if she wants to, while you are legally not allowed to do anything with them.
This may seem unfair, but to level the playing field the majority of wedding photographers grant their clients licenses to use the photos as part of their photography packages. This allows you to distribute and use your photos as you wish, such as uploading to a Facebook album, ordering printed products or creating wedding albums.
During the hiring process, you’ll want to clarify who owns the rights to what and what this means for you. If the photographer does not include the rights in her contracts, you’ll want to negotiate it into the contract and mutually reach a fair price. Before embarking on this journey together, ask your photographer to walk you through her contract section by section so that you both are clear on what is expected and what exactly you will be receiving.
What Do I Do With My Wedding Images?
Now that you’ve gotten the rights to your images and your photographer has sent them to you, either on a flash drive or DVD or an online gallery, what are you going to do with them? Most couples today like to share some or all of these images with their friends and family on Facebook or another social sharing website. While these types of mass shared photo galleries are great for reaching your outer circles, the quality and experience of viewing your beautiful wedding photos online simply does not do them justice. These galleries will also slowly become forgotten as time goes by and they are pushed further and further down your friends’ newsfeeds. You don’t want the blissful memories of your day to fade like these digital galleries will. A gorgeous wedding album is the perfect way to preserve your memories, and you’ll want a sturdy, durable, beautiful, professional-quality album to do the job.
BrideBox offers the same sizes and professional-grade photo albums with a variety of features and options to fit your needs. Our easy-to-use online tool allows you to personally design every aspect of your gorgeous keepsake and save money in the process. BrideBox wedding albums are guaranteed to be as beautiful and durable as any other professional-quality album.
How To Store And Archive Wedding Images
When you’ve completed designing and creating your wedding album, you’re going to need to store and archive the digital images in a way that makes them easily accessible in the future yet well-protected so that nothing will happen to them. Simply saving them to your computer desktop is not sufficient for protecting your cherished memories.
There are two ways to store and archive your wedding images. The first is physically, on a flash drive, external hard drive or other tangible storage method like a CD or DVD. Although this is a good backup method for storing your images, it should not be the only method you rely on. These items can be easily lost or damaged, and with the rate at which technology is changing these days who knows if you’ll be able to find a machine that can read a CD or DVD in ten or fifteen years?
The second method of storing and archiving your wedding images is in a digital format. There are many cloud-based storage services online today, many of which offer plenty of storage for free. BrideBox Pro utilizes Amazon Cloud to provide a year of free storage and allows you to work with your professional photographer seamlessly and easily via the simple delivery platform. Other good cloud-based services include Google Drive, DropBox and Box. These digital storage systems offer secure and reliable backup while allowing you to easily retrieve the photos whenever needed.
Hiring a professional wedding photographer is the best way to document one of the most important days of your life. An experienced professional will be able to capture the candid moments of raw emotion as well as stunning, flattering shots of you and your loved ones. Choosing a professional photographer to shoot your day will give you peace of mind that the resulting images will be every bit as beautiful as your special day. Spend the time to really find the one that’s the right fit for you and your wedding – it will be worth it.
A very special thank you to all of the photographers who shared their insights and contributed to our essential guide:
- Banga Studios
- Catherine Hall Studios
- David Beckstead
- Davina + Daniel
- Divinemethod Photography
- Kristen Weaver Photography
- KT Merry
- Simply Bloom Photography