Choosing The Perfect Wedding Photographer – 101

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Eeny Meeny Miny Moe… How do I choose from so many talented wedding photographers?

This is a great “problem” to have and what makes America so great!  Not only does it give you options, but it also encourages these talented professionals to remain on top of their game, listening to their clients, and ever fine-tuning and improving their services and products so that you get the best results!

Choosing The Perfect Wedding Photographer – 101 is the first of a 3 part sequence, and will be followed by Choosing The Perfect Wedding Photographer – 201  and Choosing The Perfect Wedding Photographer – 301.

This post is written on the pretense that in any bridal mag or on any Bridal index website, you can find a basic list of 20 questions to ask a wedding photographer to determine whether they are a good fit for you…  What I want to do is scratch the surface of those questions to really help brides understand what they are asking and why.

I believe that understanding brings value and appreciation.  If a bride has a better grasp on what she is ultimately getting with her professional wedding photographer, then she will receive more joy from the experience and the photographs produced there of.

Here we go!

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Experienced professionals WANT to equip you to make the best selections that are right for you and are excited to begin your guided tour into this beautiful world of photography.  We want to make sure that we are a good fit for you as much as you do!

Good Rule of Thumb: No question is too silly, You can never start asking questions too soon, and you’re allowed to ask the same question more than once!

1. Photographer’s know what THEIR style is…How do I know what my STYLE is?

There’s a pretty simple test… While browsing online photography sites, Pinterest, and galleries, You will know it’s your style when you come across a photo, or gallery of photos that give you that bubbling, happy feeling right there in the center of your chest.  That’s actually your heart skipping a beat!

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2.  If I love their style and the price is right, DEAL! Right??  

Let me just be frank (or Becca;) here… The photographer has the power to make your one special day a living nightmare.  And not just the wedding day, but the engagement session and just about everyday in between.  Okay, now that I’ve gotten your attention… Let’s approach this from the lighter side, shall we?  You will be spending A LOT of time with your photographer.  Where as you may not ever see the caterer or florist on the wedding day…The photographer is the one vendor that you will likely meet with multiple times prior to the wedding day for the initial consult, the engagement session, and any other specialty sessions, the venue walk thru, and of course your photographer will practically be glued to your hip, directing you, your wedding party and your guests throughout the wedding day! It is very important that personalities are jiving.

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One thing I absolutely LOVE about being a wedding photographer is all the texts and calls, before AND after the wedding day!  Very often a bride will text me a cellphone snap shot of a special detail that she can’t wait to have photographed, or she’ll call so excited that her dress just came in and it’s absolutely everything she hoped it would be!  And even just this week, one of my 2b|Brides who’s wedding I photographed earlier this year, texted me to share the exciting news that they just found out they are expecting!  Guess what? She broke the news to ME before they had even told their families!  So you see… choosing your wedding photographer is oh so much more than what meets the eye;)

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3.  How do I stay within my budget WITHOUT sacrificing quality and value?

Excellent question! A Bride can be a little disheartened when, after browsing for hours or even days, she FINALLY discovers a photographer who’s style embodies the very essence of the beautiful day she’s envisioned and ultimately been planning since she was 5 years old… only to click the “Investments” tab to see that there is one too many dollar signs, or blows the budget completely.  But WAIT!  Before you discount this option too quickly, there are some things you should know and consider!

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–       Very often photographers bundle packages, so at first glance the price seems LARGE, but when you break it down to what all you are actually getting(engagement session, full-day wedding coverage, second photographer, ALL your premium edited photos + print rights, Photo Book, etc… )  the VALUE is in fact quite reasonable and you will end up with a beautiful suite of images that will be a window to re-live this day and all the magnificent moments, over and over again!

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–       Don’t hesitate to contact the photographer to ask for any special pricing options or an hourly fee structure.  A photographer’s work is not their job, it’s their passion.  Part of that passion and joy is working with two people in love.  I don’t know a single photographer, personally, that isn’t open to sitting down with a couple to offer suggestions and customize a package that works for them (assuming that the budget vs. expectations are somewhere near industry standards).

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–       More is less if the quality isn’t there– what’s better, having 10 hours of mediocre quality photo coverage, or 5 hours of superb quality photo coverage?  Well, that’s really up to you to decide.  Let me just leave you with this thought… at the end of the day, the cake will be gone, the flowers wilted, and your beautiful gown will be tucked safely back in the garment bag. Ask yourself, how important is it, that the photos be everything that you wanted them to be to share with the grandmother who couldn’t travel to be there… to re-live the moments for the brother who was oversees at that time… to give your future children the comfort of seeing their parents young and in love, that they can begin to dream themselves.

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4.  When do I need to book my photographer?

Wedding Photographers can book dates as far as a year in advance.  Unlike, the caterer and florist, who typically have the staff to facilitate multiple events on the same date… your photographer IS the talent and can only be in one place at one time.  If you find the perfect wedding photographer for your special day…

–       Contact the Photographer immediately and let them know you are interested.  Booking usually occurs on a first come, first serve basis.

–       Schedule the consult, ask the “20 questions” and then read between the lines, per some of the suggestions above and more to come in the Choosing the Perfect Wedding Photographer- 201

–       You may be ready to sign on the spot, or you may want to mull it over… either one is understandable.   The Photographer will likely let you know that they are happy to give you 3-5 days to think it over. After which they cannot guarantee that the date you’ve requested will remain available.

–       Once you KNOW… BOOK, BOOK, BOOK!

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5.  What is a MUST to consider above all?

Trust.   I could’ve started this post with trust and not went a single word more.

-Ulitmately you are TRUSTING that this individual is the professional that they represent themselves to be.

– You are TRUSTING that they are experienced and skilled to handle the task of capturing these moments that will only happen ONCE and be gone in seconds.

– You are TRUSTING that they will show up when they say they will and be prepared with back ups for their backups.

– Most of all, you are TRUSTING that they CARE as much about your special day as you do.  If you trust your photographer in that, then you can rest assured that they will do whatever it takes to give you two love birds, THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME.

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