Make sure that the style of your wedding photographer fits the feel of your wedding day, and the style of you as a couple. Often, finding a photographer is such an overwhelming task, that brides just want to find a decent one, and are more concerned with checking that item off their wedding to-do list than actually finding the perfect fit. If you don't want staged photographs, you need to find a true photojournalistic photographer. If you want some edgy magazine style photographs, you need to find someone who focuses in that. Now, there are photographers who do a little of both. all of this comes back to great communication between client and photographer, and understanding what kind of style fits you best.
If you don't know, don't be afraid to cut out pictures from magazines or wedding blogs that you just love, and share them with your photographer. Of course, photos can never be fully replicated (nor would you want to do that, it ruins the moment and individuality of your day) but it does give the photographer a great idea of what style you gravitate towards.
During your initial consultation meeting with your photographer, make sure you have any pertinent people who are in the decision making process present. if your parents are footing the bill for photography, it is important that they come to the meeting. They (most likely) have a different idea of what wedding photography is about (it’s much different since their wedding!) and we don't want any surprised parents on the wedding day. I definitely want to be clear on expectations on both our parts.
You can not undo bad photography, so its much better to get the photographer you really want, with no products, and less hours, than a wedding photographer that’s only pretty good with an album, 12 hours of coverage, 2nd shooter, etc. etc. We know we will never be the cheapest photographer out there, but that is because we value giving you quality products. We will also never be the photographer who gets you images a few days after your wedding, because again, we value our products, and take our time to make the images just right. You’re investing a lot of money and trust into us, after-all, and we want to live up to our own, and your, expectations.
Hours of Coverage: You’re going to want to figure out a rough idea of a timeline before deciding on hours of coverage. we’re going to talk about timelines in a minute, but for simplicity we’ll just say right now that if you decide to do a first-look, you’re timeline will be streamlined, and therefore you can cut out a good chunk of money for hours of coverage. Make SURE you discuss your timeline with your photographer, and coordinate your wedding planner’s timeline with your photographer’s. You may not have realized that sunset is at 5 pm, and your ceremony ends at 4:45, leaving you just 15 minutes for formal photos (not enough time!) and zero minutes for intimate photographs of you and your husband.
Engagement sessions: This is NOT just to announce your engagement or to order save the dates. This is a practice run. This is to get to know me as a photographer, to get to know you as a couple, and to learn how to be relaxed and candid in front of a camera. Rarely are we photographed without looking at the camera and saying ‘cheese’ in real life, and you don't want to be practicing looking natural (but feeling very awkward) on your wedding day. It is also a big confidence booster, to take those engagement photos where you may feel a little uncomfortable (most people haven’t been photographed since they were a senior in high school) and then see amazing shots come out of that. It will give you confidence to know that your wedding photographs are in good hands. Also, if you end up hating your engagement photos, it gives you a big heads up to look at other wedding photographers ASAP before it is too late. The difference between couples who have had an engagement session to those who haven’t is incredibly evident in their final portfolio.
High Resolution images: For many brides this is a make or break deal. 1) if you’re worried about having your wedding images safe and secure, we have you covered. We keep all our images redundantly backed-up. 2) you have just invested at least 1,500.00 for a photographer. I am not naive enough to think that is a small amount of money; it is a large investment. Do you really want to go print your images at Walmart? By doing that, you will have just turned that amazing shot into a run of the mill wedding photographer’s image. It would be like just getting a 1,500.00 manicure, and then going home and changing the oil in your car. 3) we keep our printing prices low so that you WILL be able to afford to print images with us after your wedding. We want you to have physical prints in your hands of your day, be it an album, canvas wraps, or traditional prints. 4) We keep your gallery up forever, so that you don't have to pay a re-posting fee. If you want to order prints in 6 months, in 2 years, in 10 years, you can go do it instantly. It will actually take you less time to do that than to go find your disk of high resolution images, take it to a drug store, print it, pick up the prints… you get the idea. It is SUPER EASY.
layout design: Are there distracting design elements (like swooshes, clip art, etc)? are some images crooked (think like you’re thumb-tacking an image to a board)? Are there images in an oval shape? Are there images in ANY other type of shape (diamond, star, etc)? Are there images laying over top another image? is there any text or words? These are things that may seem “cool” or “trendy” or “unique” right now, but they will not stand the test of time later. They will look dated, and in ten years from now you will laugh about the design instead of remember the moments and appreciate the photography. Design should be clean, clear, concise. The Image should take priority, not the design. The design should only enhance the images, not be the dominating factor. This is not a high-school yearbook, this is a fine art album that your grandchildren, and their grandchildren will look through.
traditional vs. modern: We have both styles of binding. the library pages that are traditionally bound, and the lay-flat album which can host a large panoramic image spread across both pages. one is not better than the other, it is merely your personal taste. make sure the photographer carries what you prefer.
sides vs number of images: Our albums are 20 pages in our basic album. You can always order more pages if you’d like! And, we never put a limit on number of images you can put in the album, within reason. One must understand that the more images you give to me while saying you’d like to stay in a certain number of pages the more degraded the design quality will be. It would be crazy to try and fit 10 images on one page. We stick with anywhere from 1 to 4. So, if you want a lot of images included, purchase more sides (pages). If you want to keep it low-budget, narrow your images down to what you really really need to have.
Pro vs. consumer albums: Professional albums are expensive. For you, AND for us. Some basic albums cost us anywhere around $200.00 JUST to purchase them. That doesn’t take into account any customizations, additional pages, printing of images, design time, ordering time, album ordering consultation meeting time, shipping, etc. I promise you, photographers out there aren’t buying their albums at $50.00 and making $1,000.00 off of them. In reality, our profit margins for creating albums is miniscule. But, this is the grand culmination of the efforts we’ve put in, and we like to see it come all together in print. The reason these albums are so much more expensive than the consumer ones you can purchase yourself is because these album companies have book artisans that hand create each album individually. They have gone to school for book making- it is an art, not just a job. It is their field, their profession, their craft. Our more expensive albums are archival, meaning they wont degrade your photographs. Photography, by nature, is unstable, and will always degrade.
When i say budget in an extra hour for hair and make-up, i really really do mean it. what is the worst that can happen? you get an extra hour with your girls? you get an extra hour to soak up your wedding day? you get an extra hour with your photographer?
Please, have someone (a bridesmaid, a master or mistress of ceremonies, a favorite aunt, a wedding coordinator, a personal attendant… anyone who knows who is who) to call out names and make sure that people are present, ready, and waiting to jump into the shot. If you are having any more than 8 formal photos of family members, with anymore than 8 people in each photo, this is absolutely a necessity. If you are not doing a first meet, and plan on having photos of just the two of you after these formals, i can not stress enough the importance of making this streamlined as much as possible. it is so important.
things to help:
I always keep an energy bar with me and a protein drink in the car for worst case scenarios, but you really do want your photographer to have the energy it takes to be creatively thinking for 12+ hours during your day lugging 20+ lbs of equipment on their shoulders. You don't want to see them fizzle out at the end, and food and water have a big role in that. Also, appreciation goes such a long way. If we know YOU want us there, then WE want to be there. And we also want to do a stellar bang up job on your wedding so you can be even happier. We’re only human, and if we’re working with a bridezilla, sometimes it’s hard to be excited about the things she’s excited about and it shows through in the photography. We want to create the best possible relationships with our clients. We want to know and remember your wedding date years from now. We really do care about what we do.
Remember that you are on camera all day long, not just during formals. So if you really hate how you look when your nose is scrunched up, try and not do that. i never want someone to be who they are not, and i always prefer brides to not really notice that i am there, but in the same way a celebrity is aware that at any time someone could be photographing them, you can apply that same principle to your wedding day.