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Wedding Photographers - How to Choose the Best
By Candy Osborne

If you are reading this, chances are you are recently engaged. Congratulations! The task in front of you to plan your wedding may seem overwhelming but this article should help you in at least one major area - choosing your wedding photographer.

Hiring your wedding photographer now will have consequences for life, so it is incredibly important that you choose a reputable photographer. If the cake turns out chocolate instead of marble or if daisies are in your bouquet instead of carnations will you remember it five years from now? Will it really matter? Probably not, but what will matter is having bad photographs or video of your wedding day.

Just as soon as you've chosen a date for your ceremony, you should choose a photographer. Peter Clayman, senior photographer for NH Images, says his business typically books up to 10 to 14 months in advance. He stresses the importance of booking as soon as possible, "In a perfect world, they should book twelve months in advance. If that's not possible, they should do it as absolutely soon as possible." This is because many photography companies that consist of a sole photographer can handle only one wedding in any given day. NH Images, for example, has a team of photographers that can shoot up to five weddings at a time.

After setting the big date, determine your photography budget. Photographers are among the highest-paid vendors for weddings so be sure to plan proportionately. Next, decide on the style of photography you like. According to Peter, there are several photography styles to consider. Photographers may shoot all styles or just one or two. Knowing the style(s) you want will help you select the appropriate photographer.

Photography Styles

Photojournalist-style photography (AKA candids) is a very popular way to document your day in a non-obtrusive fashion while capturing all the emotion and events as they unfold. Conservative photography (AKA formal portraits) usually consists of groups that are organized and posed. They are usually shot after the ceremony but before the reception but can take place at any point when there is "down time" and the groups can be assembled. Artistic photography is an unconventional, edgy way of presenting lasting memories. The way the photo and/or subjects are cropped, the use of special filters and creativeness with location are just a few examples.

After you have decided which style(s) you prefer, you can research photographers and schedule interviews. You can find photographers through online searches, regional wedding directories and specialty magazines and books. Before setting up the interview, email or call with these questions first.

Questions to Ask Before the Interview

"Do you have my particular date available?" There's really no sense continuing if they are already booked.

"What photography style(s) do you shoot?"

"Where will we meet for an interview?" Find out if you will be meeting at his/her studio office or if you will be meeting in a neutral location. It is easier to confirm if you are dealing with a legitimate business when you have seen a physical address associated with it.

"How long have you been in business?" This answer will give you a better understanding of whether or not you want to proceed based on their experience level.

Ask the photographer to send his/her references and any unsolicited kudos of any kind that you can check up on before the interview.

During the interview, expect to learn about the pricing and packages available, see samples of the photographer's work and get a feel for his/her personality. Liking his/her personality is important because you will all be spending a lot of time together on your special day; therefore, you need to find someone that you "click" with and who won't pressure or intimidate you.

Take this list of questions with you to ensure you are getting a professional, high-quality photographer.

Questions to Ask the Photographer During an Interview

"How many weddings have you shot in the last few years?" Even though they may have been in business for awhile, ensure they have shot a number of weddings that complement the number of years they have been in experience.

"How many weddings have you booked so far this year?"

"Are you affiliated with any professional organizations?" Although not a requirement, belonging to organizations such as the Digital Wedding Forum and Professional Photographer's Association to name a few, demonstrate the photographer's desire to remain current with industry standards and technology.

If you know your venue: "Have you shot at my specific venue?" If so, there is value because he/she already knows the logistics.

If the photographer has not shot at your venue before: "Will we have a planning meeting?" This is a meeting where you and the photographer meet on location ahead of time to go over the specifics of the ceremony and/or reception. This is very valuable because the photographer needs to understand how much space he/she will have to work with as well as an understanding of light and other technical aspects.

Something to consider is whether or not you will want videography. There are at least two benefits to hiring a company like NH Images who offers both stills and video. For one, if you hire the photographer and videographer from the same company, chances are good that you will save money because they often offer package deals. Secondly, when hiring from the same company, you can be confident that the still photographer and videographer have worked together before and will stay out of each other's way. Hiring the photo/video team from the same company makes for a smoother day and cleaner end result.

Final Steps

Expect to sign a contract and read it thoroughly. Make sure that you understand the policy regarding deposits in the event you must cancel. Also, make sure there is a contingency plan clearly outlined in the event an emergency arises and the photographer cannot perform his/her duties. Oftentimes, there will be a statement in the contract explaining a backup photographer. Make sure this exists and that there is a backup plan in writing. You can also expect to pay approximately 25 to 50 percent at the time of the contract signing with the remainder due by the wedding.

Most of the time the photographer will not be able to "hold" the date for you while you decide to hire him/her. Usually, only a deposit will secure the date. Keep in mind, holiday and long weekends are especially popular and will be the first to book. When meeting with the photographer, if you determine that he/she is reputable, has a great personality and falls within your budget, book that person immediately. Chances are good that if you are planning twelve months in advance, so are other determined brides-to-be.

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© 2008 by Candy Osborne

About the Author:

Candy Osborne is a freelance writer and former photojournalist with experience hiring photographers. http://www.nhimages.com is a reputable wedding photography and videography company for couples planning weddings in the New England area and beyond.

www.nhimages.com

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