What every bride needs to know before hiring a Wedding Photographer

Your wedding is a once in a lifetime event. There is no do over. Hiring an experienced professional photographer will help ensure success. If great wedding photography is a priority you should consider the following.

Your wedding is one of the most important events you will ever plan. Of course you want everything to be perfect. One of the most important decisions you will make when planning your wedding, is who you will hire to photograph this very special day. Your photographer is the one vendor that will be with you most of the day. It is very important that you are at ease and have complete confidence in the professional you have entrusted your memories to!

Photography Tips

Below are eight tips every couple should consider before hiring their wedding photographer

1. First and possibly most important is understanding that “what you get” from your photographer is not nearly as important as their artistic ability to create professional finished images that you will love. In other words think quality over quantity! Choosing a photographer based on quantity rather than quality is a huge mistake many couples make. When initially contacting a photographer you are interested in hiring, it is much more important to meet them in person, see their work and see how your personalities mesh, rather than just emailing and asking about pricing. You can get pricing from many photographers and try to compare them, but that can be really time consuming and overwhelming. In the end you really do get what you pay for. All photographers are not the same. While some have many years of experience, many will be just getting started in business. It would be a mistake to compare pricing unless you know how the photogrphers experience and qulifacations may differ!

2. Keep in mind that your photographer is the only vendor you will continue to do business with after the wedding day. Make sure you consider best business practices as this can be much more important than any other consideration.

You should consider asking the following:

  • Do you carry back up equipment?
  • What happens if you are sick or for any reason unable to attend the wedding as planned?
  • Do you carry liability insurance?
  • Are you a member of a PPA and other professional associations?
  • Are you a certified professional photographer?
  • How will you back up and protect my images?
  • Do you accept credit cards?
  • Do you have a business phone number, a place of business and a business license?

These questions are so much more important than “what you get” but few brides and grooms don’t consider how important this information is until it’s to late. It’s not your fault, after all you have never done this before. We have all heard the stories about photographers that didn’t show up, or they do show up, but with no back up equipment. All of the above should be thought about so you can make the best decision for your wedding day photography.

3. Always ask a photographer you are considering hiring if they routinely book more than one wedding on a given day. You should also ask them if they will be the photographer actually photographing your wedding. It may seem like a silly question, but many photographers will double book weddings and send an associate to cover one of the weddings or show up for while and then leave to go to the other wedding. You should always know this upfront! Unless there is an unforeseen emergency… it is not professional to let a couple find this out on their wedding day.

4. Ask your photographer if they are a member of Professional  Photographers  of America. All PPA members have indemnification insurance included in their membership. This insurance will cover most things, photographically, if anything unforeseen happens. Every couple should consider the importance of this insurance and should ask any photographer they are considering if they are a PPA member. Don’t be confused or misled. Normal business liability polices do not cover this type of loss. There is NO insurance available that will cover this type of loss, other than through PPA’s indemnification insurance.

5. Ask any photographer you consider hiring how long they have been in business. Ask to see a complete wedding instead of just the  best images from a few weddings. Find out if they are a full time professional and if they have an actual place of business and business telephone number. Beware of meeting at the local coffee shop and doing business only by cell phone. This can cause problems if you are unable to get in touch with your photographer as you get closer to you wedding day. Since your photographer is the only wedding vendor you will continue to do business with after your wedding it is equally important that your are confident that they will still in business and available after your wedding!

6. Most couples seriously under budget for a professional photographer. That’s completely understandable since you have probably never hired a professional photographer before. An experienced professional may bring as much as $40,000 in gear to your wedding. This will make a huge difference in the quality and final look of your images. As all photographers are not the same, it would be a mistake to a assume all photography equipment is the same. Accordingly, a more seasoned professional will certainly charge more that someone “taking pictures on the week end.” Their equipment will be superior and the way they interact with you and your guest will be far more professional. Many couples do not realize that a professional photographer can have in excess of 40 hours of time invested in their wedding. The actual wedding day photography is only a small part of the service a professional will provide. When you take all of this into consideration it’s easy to understand how a true professional may cost more than you expected or budgeted for.

7. While some photographers are happy to photograph your wedding and hand you an unfinished CD, most more experienced photographers will offer wedding albums and other products using your images. While some brides feel this is all they want from their photographer, most do not really understand what they are getting…or in most cases” not getting.” A CD of images most often are unfinished files that most brides do not know how to deal with. A professional photographer spends years learning how to finesse and enhance images once they have been captured. This is at least 50% of what creates the look of the final image. A CD is an unfinished product that will usually get thrown in a drawer somewhere and forgotten. Many photographers that provide you with a CD from your wedding don’t feel obligated to archive and store your images. If your CD is lost or for some reason “doesn’t work” you often are left with nothing! A bride and groom is much better served by investing in a beautiful custom book with fully enhanced images they can proudly share with friends and family… and someday their children and yes, even grand children.

8. A family friend or relative with a good camera is not a professional photographer. Photographing a wedding, even for an experienced photographer is, under the best circumstances, difficult  and technically challenging. If photography is important to you, having a business relationship with a professional is priceless. Uncle Harry, your cousin, or your best friends sister that is in photography school will feel bad if your pictures “don’t turn out”, but you will have to live with that decision the rest of your life with no recourse. Lets face it, all of us  can blow dry our own hair but it’s funny how much better it looks when your hair dresser does it. Would you consider letting your uncle pull your tooth if he isn’t a dentist? Of course not! How about asking your best friend to make your wedding cake! You get the picture…or maybe not if you trust your wedding day photography to an amateur.

Think about it!

The most important thing you can do when hiring your photographer is be smart, think and ask a lot of questions. A true professional will welcome a couple that ask questions. A true professional has spent years learning and perfecting their craft. They always appreciate working with a bride and groom the can see the difference!