I am a horrible writer, but I would really like to share some information with all of my followers. Here goes!
Let me first start out by saying I would love it if you hire me for your wedding day photography, but I understand if you go somewhere else, I can't photograph everyone's wedding, there are to many of them! However, I do want to make sure you make the right decisions when choosing a photographer. There are so many fly by night photographers out there that are just in it for the cash and don't really care about their clients. I have seen and heard all kind of crazy things happening here lately, clients hiring a photographer and them never showing up, the photographer showing up late, the photographer losing all of the image, or never hearing from the photographer after the wedding day.
Now that everything has gone digital there are so many people picking up a camera one day and calling themselves a photographer the next. I know everyone has to start somewhere, but on your wedding day you need to be extra careful with who you choose as a photographer, there are no do overs.
There are a few critical questions that you need to ask a photographer be for putting down any kind of deposit.
1. How long have you been shooting weddings on your own?
Red flag answer: Your wedding will be my first wedding to photograph.
If the photographer has never photographed a wedding I would be very cautious about hiring them, most professionals will start out 2nd shooting weddings to learn the ropes and build their portfolio.
Yellow flag answer: This is my first wedding to shoot on my own.
This is better because now you know that they have at least learned the ropes.
Green flag answer: I have shot 5 plus weddings on my own and second shot x amount of weddings.
This is a great answer because now you know they are well experienced.
2. Can I see your portfolio?
Any photographer should be more then willing to show you their portfolio. A good portfolio does not only consist of online images but prints as well, because of course, you are most likely going to want some prints of the images to hang up around your home or give to family.
3. Will there be a second shooter or an assistant at the wedding?
Second shooters and/or assistants come in handy. 1 photographer can not be everywhere at once. If the photographer is a male you may want to see if he has a female second shooter that will be taking picture as the bride gets ready, if you do not feel comfortable with a male.
4.Will you be shooting in manual mode?
A photographer who knows what they are doing should be able to shoot in manual mode. Although the modes such as Aperture Priority (AV) and Time Value (TV) can be useful at times (and some pros prefer to use those), program mode and auto modes should be avoided. When program and auto modes are used the exposures do not come out constant. A lot of photographers who do not have a lot of experience will tend to lean towards using these modes and the images can come out looking like pictures taking with a point and shoot camera that your guests are going to be bringing to the wedding.
5. Will you be using flash? If so, will it be a speed light on camera or off camera?
Some ministers and churches do not allow flash during the ceremony. When using flash correctly it gives the photographer more control over the light in the environment. Off camera flash is probably one of the best looks you can get with flash. If shot on top of the camera correctly in manual modes on camera flash can be fine. If using the flash on top of the camera in auto modes, again, the images will look somewhat like what your guests will be taking with their point and shoot. If their answer is that they are using their built in camera flash RUN! This will not have a pleasing outcome what so ever.
6.What editing program do you use?
Most professionals tend to lean towards Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom for editing software. Adobe Elements is a much less expensive version of Adobe Photoshop and if the photographer knows what they are doing they can get away with using a program such as Adobe Elements. A photographer who knows what they are doing should not rely on the software to make the images, but what they do in camera. Software programs should only be used to enhance images not correct mistakes. If you hear a lot of "I'll fix it in Photoshop" or "I'll fix it when I edit" I would shy away from using that photographer for such a big investment. Of course all photographer are guilty of doing this, but it is not something you want a photographer to rely on.
7. Is there a contract that will hold you liable/not liable for certain things?
I know you probably hate signing things like this. However, this is a good thing. Contracts should spell out everything that should be expected from the photographer. This hold the photographer to a higher standard. Contracts should be in a manner which is easy to understand. They should have times and dates clearly written down along with investment agreements such as prices, down payments, etc. When a photographer provides a well written contact that is a sign that the photographer is promising to give you their best.
8. Can I get a short list of references of other brides you have worked with in the past?
A photographer should have zero problems with giving you the names of a few previous clients if they are confident in what they do.
9. Do I get a CD containing the digital images?
Most people want their digital images. When you are asking for a cd with your digital images make sure you understand that there is a difference between a cd with print release and a cd without print release. A cd with print release will allow you to print and share images freely. A cd without print release will only allow you to share the images through email, share on social media sites, and view freely on your computer. You must also know that just because you are getting a cd from the photographer you are not the owner of the copyright and you can not edited the images in any way.
10. What are your guaranteed shots?
Just about every photographer has a list of images in there head that they will take at every wedding make sure that everything you want is on there list, if not have them add it. It may help to even ask them to carry a list on them the day of the wedding, including names of people that you have provided, to make sure they get all the shots you want to ensure you are not disappointed when you see your final images. However, things sometimes happen and photographers are unable to get some of the shots.
Please do not screen shot or save your sneak peek images.