Questions to Ask Yourself and Your Potential Wedding Photographer
The following is a list of questions and ideas to help you choose your photographer. It is somewhat in order of importance, however varies to some degree.
The most important thing to think about when choosing a photographer is the quality. If you don’t like the work, then there is no reason to go any further. Quality includes many things. Does the work contain sharp images, correct exposure, non-blurry content, proper coloring, and the best cropping? Do the photos offer the best angle? Is their any variation in shots? Do they photograph everything? Is the content of the photographer’s pictures a style you like? This leads to the second suggestion.
This can be included with quality. However, it puts more effort in considering the subject matter of the photos. Are the photos candid, are they posed, or are they photojournalistic? There are generally two types of wedding photography. One, being traditional, and the other photojournalism. Trends today are going to photojournalism, however that is a preference. I would suggest someone who tends to do both Kauai wedding photographers.
3. Do you like the photographer’s personality?
Personality is very important. If you do not gel well with the photographer, then there can be issues when taking photos. You need a photographer who can take command at times, but also step back behind the scenes as well. Also, is the photographer humorous? If they can’t make you smile, then all your pictures will have a frown.
4. What equipment do they have?
This is not a question of what brand name do they use. It is a question on what do they have. Do they have professional grade DLSR equipment? Or do they have a $600 camera? Correct camera equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars. They all should have a least one back up camera. All photographers should have back up batteries, and back up flash drives. Photographers should have an external flash, if not more than one. They should have tripods and reflectors. The most important thing in their equipment, and yes I said most important, is their lenses. A great photographer can produce great images with a decent lens on most consumer cameras. Add a professional camera, and you get better images. Of course if you like fish-eye effects, and other effects then they will need those lenses as well. Most people forget about the computer. Many effects you see in photos are done on a computer. If they don’t have a decent computer and computer software, then how are they going to offer you the best results? Also, ask if they have a calibrated monitor, as that is an important issue when printing your photos.
5. What does the photographer offer?
If the photographer doesn’t offer anything other than a CD, they maybe not be your best bet. Make sure they offer albums, print photographs, or have other things you may be interested in. A photographer who knows how to print is going to give you better photographs. It is plane and simple because output is as important than just a cd of pictures. Just because you have pictures does not mean the photos are calibrated correctly.
6. What experience do they have?
Many people will suggest that experience is one of the most important things. I tend to say that it less important. I have 5 years of wedding photography experience, with years of film experience. When I got into wedding photography, digital was fairly recent. A few years prior film was the norm. So a photographer with 20 years of experience is irrelevant. If a film photographer hasn’t grasped the digital age well, then you may not want them to photograph your wedding. Also, I am a proponent of new talent. There are a lot of photographers who are new and are far better then many who are out there for years. Why? Many trends exist in photography. If you are new to the scene, often times you are immersed in those trends. Some photographers stay with the old trends and may not know about new styles, or even new equipment. The down side of someone who is new is that they don’t have a reputation of reproducing great images. They may have great images, but can they continue to produce great images? That is something that you will have to weigh cost verses benefits. Most new photographers have been an assistant. You could always ask for references if you have a concern about a photographer.
7. What is their education?
I often see people suggest that you ask about their education. That is flat out irrelevant. I have a B.A. in Photography. I hardly learned anything in school. Universities in America often don’t teach practical experience. You may learn to take photos in school, but it doesn’t help with personal skills, or even how to run a business. If a person has a degree it may be beneficial, but that’s it. It also goes with what clubs they are apart of. Most people suggest you be part of a club or an association. There are many benefits to it. Often though you pay money to be a part of it, however it is no statement of the quality of photos. This is why it goes back to the importance of quality. Many of the best photographers have no degree whatsoever.
Your investment in photography is very important. It is one thing that will last a lifetime. The wedding day only lasts one day. Prices can vary from city to city. However, generally photographers under $1000 for just them to show up are not that great in quality. They may tell you they are, but do a side-by-side comparison and you will see the differences. Who knows though, you might get lucky. A really high priced photographer doesn’t mean they are the best. Some people have a higher overhead and therefore have to charge more. When considering price you still have to consider quality. Also, often times when you look for photographers outside the major metropolitan areas the prices go down. So you might be able to find bargains there. The downside is that they may not be as familiar with the locations in your city. A rule of thumb for pricing can be the following and includes just for the photographer to show up:
0-$500 – still learning, assisting, creating a portfolio (Craigslist)
$500-$1000 – has some technical skill, but needs lots of improvement
$1000-$1250 – has a lot of skill, experience, and knowledge, but can still improve
$1250-$3000 – Almost the best
$3000 + – The elite of the photographers
Now, just because I said this it doesn’t mean you can just pick and choose a price range. The trap by some photographers is that they think that if they charge more, clients will think they are better than everyone else. Unfortunately clients fall into this game and get lousy photographers.
8. Other concerns
There are many photographers who often take about 6-12 months to deliver you your photos. That is way too long, and unnecessary. However, you don’t want them too soon. If they are rushed then quality of your images will be rushed as well. If a photographer is overburdened with too many weddings, then problems can also arise. Mistakes can happen, and they may also neglect your photos.
Also, does the photographer offer online proofs? This can be a major benefit to you and allow you to see your photos sooner. Also, what does their portfolio look like? How they present their portfolio will also reflect the quality of their work. Do they have a great looking website? Believe it or not, the website itself is one of the biggest ways to check a photographers quality. A photographer isn’t going to spend thousands of dollars on a website if they haven’t had at least some success.
Also make sure to sign a contract. This is for the safety of you and your photographer. Just make sure to read the fine print.
Copyrights are also important. Many charge extra money for copyrights. See if you can arrange a way to get them, or expect to continue to return to your photographer any time you want photos. Which in the long run might cost more.
Also, do the photographers dress appropriately? You don’t want someone dressed in shorts or a red shirt walking around a church. It is very distracting, and I have seen it done.
Lastly do the photographers charge extra for travel? Any extra costs can create a big toll in the end.
There are many other things that could be asked, but these are some of questions that I have discovered over time. Ultimately it is up to you to decide whom you like the most. Good luck.
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