Choosing your wedding photographer

Evening!
So… you’re getting married and looking for a photographer and wondering where on earth you should begin? Below I’ve put together a few pointers as to where to begin, what to keep in mind and then decisions… decisions… decisions…

Hiring a wedding photographer is one of the first things you should consider, as the best professional photographers have bookings already six months to a year in advance. Prior to searching you will need to have a date set to base your enquiries around.

At this point it isn’t a bad idea to possibly be a little flexible with your dates as, if you find a photographer you absolutely love, and they aren’t free on your Saturday, consider a Sunday perhaps. I have met with many brides personally who changed their dates to book their photographer. One changed four times until she had her photographer free to shoot her wedding.

A wedding photographer’s peak season in Canberra is generally starts in August and they work right through until April. The busiest months tend to be around October/November and then March/April. This is based on local activity for Canberra and may change depending on where you live. Saturday has always been the favourite day to get married but with more popular spots being booked people are also going for Friday and Sunday weddings.

For many too often, price ends up being the primary deciding factor, which isn’t always the best decision as you only get to do this once. Your wedding memories will be captured through the eyes, heart and talent of your wedding photographer, not through how cheap they were… Remember the saying ” you get what you pay for!”, this is often true for photographers.

Begin by asking friends and relatives for recommendations. People who’ve had positive experiences with photographers are always happy to show you their wedding photographs and give referrals. It’s equally important to find out if the bride and groom enjoyed working with the photographer. Don’t just base your decision around a recommendation- I know I know I said it was a good place to start- which it is, however you need to meet with photographers yourself as your tastes and your friends may not be the same. Are you marrying the same person, in the same dress?

When you begin looking through bridal magazines or on the internet, mark companies that you like as your favourites and send email enquiries to them to get key pieces of information from them. Your email should have the following:
*Both the couples names

*Your wedding date

*Where your ceremony and reception will be held

*An idea of how long you might like a photographer for- be open to suggestions
Ask them
*Are they are available on your wedding day?
*What packages do they offer?

*How much are their prices?

I find as a photographer, an enquiry that lets me know the clients date of marriage, how long they are thinking for photography and where the wedding will be held, is a HUGE help to me and to them as it sets up an immediate rapport between us and gives me an idea of what they have in mind.

I always find it frustrating when I get an email which has “Please send me your pricing” and nothing else is mentioned. I don’t know if I’m even going to be free on their day. As you can imagine it then becomes frustrating for the enquirer if I am already booked in their day and we’ve spent time emailing or calling to find out further information.

Make appointments with the photographers to view their work and discuss your requirements. These meetings should include both the bride and the groom. Make sure you are prepared and write down all your questions before you meet and take notes during the meetings. This is totally normal and helps you to remember meetings later on.

There are many questions that you can ask your wedding photographer. Most professional photographers will have answered most of these questions during your initial enquiries or during the meeting with them, but if not feel free to ask:

How long they been in the ‘wedding’ photography business?
What is their philosophy to photographing weddings?
How they will make your wedding photographs unique and personal to you?
Will they be shooting your pictures personally?…if not, ask to see the work of the actual wedding photographer and meet with them before the day
Who owns the copyright to your images?
Do they have a backup if something happens to equipment/them for your day?
Are there any extra fees such as travel?
What is their overtime fee?
Will they use film or digital?
Who will you be dealing with after the wedding?
How will you be shown the pictures for selection after the wedding? (Electronically / proofs / contact sheets / online gallery/ DVD etc.).
How can it be simplified so that friends and family can order re-prints directly?
How long until the selection prints are available?
What is the cost for duplicate prints, albums, folios, enlargements, thank you cards, etc.? Are the proofs for sale?
What is their payment policy?

When you’ve narrowed down your list to one or two wedding photographers ask them if its possible to see a complete photo coverage of a recent wedding (a package similar to that of what you would like to book them for helps) to give you a much better indication as to what you can expect, rather than a collection of their best shots from different weddings.

Perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a wedding photographer is the photos they take! Be critical when viewing their work: do you like the photos?

There’s a lot to consider, but trust your instincts and tune in to what you like and whether the photos you are seeing match up well! If they don’t, you might be best to look elsewhere. The great thing about wedding photography is there are numerous suppliers to choose from, so you are bound to find someone who matches your style and takes the kind of shots you’ll end up loving.

Finally, your wedding photographer will be an integral part of one of the most important day of your life, (sometimes even getting you a glass of water or helping you with your dress) so make sure you choose someone that has a relaxed and friendly personality and most of all, you feel comfortable with.

Once you find a professional wedding photographer you like, you should sit down with them and plan your day in terms of the photography and the photos that you would like from it.

It pays to have a plan because the day and the photography will be much more relaxed and memorable if you space things out and allow enough time to get everything done.

Consider a basic plan for the day to be:

Pre Ceremony:
I do try to persuade couples to accept some pre photos at the brides house before the wedding as she gets ready. That way details are all photographed, but most importantly it gives the bride a ‘warm up’ for the rest of the day and puts her at ease with the photographer.

It does sometimes help to have the extra set of hands. I’ve been everything from ironing lady, to florist delivery driver, to dresser and the list goes on.

Ceremony’s
Garden weddings ½ hour -45mins max
Church weddings 45mins- depends on if you have a full mass or not.

Family pictures:
These are always dependant on the number of guests and how many pictures you want to take but generally factor in about an hour at the most. This gives you time straight after the ceremony for congratulatory cuddles and well wishes without imposing photography straight away.

Location Pictures:
Depending on the number of locations you’d like to go to a minimum of an hour usually gives you enough time to cover two or three spots depending on distance. The longer you have the better and more relaxed the location pics can be!

A big step a lot of couples over see is that you will need a break between the location photographs and reception away from everyone just to be with yourselves. Ten minutes can make a huge difference to re entering into the reception to more hugs and well wishes. It can get a little overbearing sometimes for couples. By the reception they just want to relax and enjoy the night but just remember your guests weren’t with you at the photos and are still very keen to see you some more!

My final points for selecting a photographer are:

Just LOVE your photographer before you book them.

See their work

Make sure your budget for photographs is reasonable from about $1800 upwards is usually the base mark.

Read over your packages and choose one that suits you the best.

Talk with your photographer and ask them questions. You haven’t don’t this before and they have. It does pay to ask their opinion and hear their suggestions.

Relax! Enjoy the planning stage because if you find people who are easy to work with now, your wedding day will run so smoothly and they all will be there just for you two.

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