A wedding takes months of planning, and choosing a photographer to record the event should be on your list of things to do early in the process. The local one I use is: Avanti Photography.
Before you make any phone calls, stop and think how you want your wedding photos to look. Do you want casual reception shots or more traditional poses? Many a wedding day has been tarnished by an overzealous photographer who dictates what shots will be taken.
Find someone to whom you can comfortably convey your ideas. The photographer’s listening ability should be a top consideration. A good photographer will spend a lot of time talking with you and asking you whom and what you would like to have photographed, rather than simply work from a list of poses. You should start your search three to nine months in advance.
Some photographers shoot with special effects, such as double exposures showing the bride’s and groom’s silhouttes in a champagne glass. One photographer shoots everything through a clouded lens so his photos look as if they were taken “through the bride’s misty eyes.” If you don’t like such styles, be sure to make it clear at the outset.
Because there are only so many ways to photograph a cake-cutting ceremony, a photographer’s success often depends largely on the technical quality of his or her work. To help you gauge that ability, as well as personal business practices, check a prospective photographer on the following points.
Is the photographer showing you an album of samples or a complete customer’s job? A photographer can pull out his or her best work from a number of weddings to use in a sample book. Examining an actual job will give you a better idea of what you can expect.
That is generally important if you have chosen a large studio that employs many photographers. Make sure you meet the photographer assigned to your event and see that person’s actual work.
What size are the negatives? Enlargements made from 35mm color negative will not be as sharp as those from larger negatives. If your photos are all going to be 3-by 5-inch prints, 35mm is fine. An 8-by-10 photo will look much nicer if taken with a larger-format film.
How is lighting done? Look at pictures taken in large halls if you will be having a reception in a small room. In a large room a photographer will need two light sources to illuminate people in the foreground and background. If the photos have a black background, probably only one flash was used. Ask the photographer if he or she can work without lights or flash during the ceremony if lights aren’t allowed or desired.
How many poses will be taken? A photographer can take 150 pictures but have only 50 poses because three pictures were taken of everything.
How does the photographer get the film to the lab for processing? Film can get lost in the mail or damaged if left in a hot truck. A good photographer will hand deliver film to a lab.
Will you receive proofs? Most photographers show proofs. Find out whether they will be finished or color corrected. Finished proofs will not have dust spots or fuzz on them. Color-corrected proofs will have the same color and density of color as the finished pictures. Most photographers will color correct, but not finish, proofs.
Beware of high-pressure selling tactics. Some photographers won’t allow you to examine proofs at home and at your own pace; you have to make your selections at the studio with the photographer sitting beside you. Others enlarge and finish every photo to enhance the possibility of your ordering more pictures than you had planned.
Will finished pictures be printed by machine or by hand? Hand printing is done to lighten or darken certain areas. “An experienced professional photographer does not need hand prints because he would know how to light the scene in the first place, unless he had a personal preference for hand prints,” says Walt Kvasnik, a St. Paul, Minn., wedding photographer.
How much will it cost? The photographer’s fee, plus an album of 20 to 30 photos (8 by 10), can run from $300 to $2,000, depending on where you live and the ability and reputation of the photographer. The fee may or may not include a formal bridal portrait in a studio. You might want to consider a casual shot at an outdoor location. Find out how much time the photographer will spend covering the wedding and reception and whether he or she will come to more than one location. Some photographers charge for travel time. Ask whether the cost of an album itself is included and how much duplicate pictures will cost. Get everything in writing.